Hank Willis Thomas Unveils MLK Memorial, and Other News

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Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group's proposed MLK memorial. Photography courtesy of King Boston

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Hank Willis Thomas unveils visuals for MLK memorial in Boston, due for completion in 2020.

The Embrace, a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King by the artist Hank Willis Thomas, will debut in Boston next fall. The 22-foot-tall bronze sculpture is inspired by a photograph of the couple hugging after MLK won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. In collaboration with Mass Design Group, Thomas will unveil the monument in October 2022 at Boston Commons, the country’s oldest public park. “Our country has been for a long time, and in a really rapid way in 2020, having a conversation interrogating the meaning of monuments and memorials,” says Imari Paris Jeffries, executive director of King Boston, a private nonprofit organization working with the city on the project. Memorials are “inherently political and hold meaning, and so we thought about what it would mean for Boston to be a place that is inclusive, and to build one to that,” he adds.

Saudi Arabia reveals the next phase of its $500 billion smart city, a linear metropolis. 

Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, has announced more plans for the kingdom’s ambitious $500 billion smart city, Neom, part of a larger framework dubbed Vision 2030 whose aim is to end its reliance on oil. A new video has revealed details for The Line, a 100-mile-long linear city with no cars or streets, run entirely on clean energy. The series of walkable communities and linked housing modules will connect the coast of the Red Sea with north-west Saudi Arabia by an underground train system. The proposal is billed as preserving 95 percent of Neom’s natural wilderness. Construction is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2021. Watch the promo video here

After Nancy Spector’s exit, Naomi Beckwith becomes the Guggenheim’s chief curator.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York has named Naomi Beckwith as its deputy director and chief curator. Beckwith replaces long-time curator Nancy Spector, who resigned in October amid allegations of racism and sexism. Most recently the senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Beckwith will oversee collections, exhibitions, publications, curatorial programs, and archives in her new role, and will help shape Guggenheim’s wide-ranging strategy and vision. She’ll also be the first Black woman in the role. “One cannot overstate the iconicity and consequence of the Guggenheim Museum—yet, refusing to rest on its laurels, it readily presents projects that disrupt art history’s mythologies,” Beckwith said in a statement. “I’m excited to join Guggenheim and its passionate team at a pivotal moment.”

Moynihan Train Hall. Photography by Lucas Blair Simpson, courtesy SOM

New York City details an ambitious $51 billion plan to redevelop Midtown West’s infrastructure.

During last week’s “State of the State” address, New York governor Andrew Cuomo discussed particulars behind a dramatic overhaul planned for Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood. Part of his proposed $306 billion infrastructure plan, the Midtown West scheme includes a multitude of controversial projects that have already been announced or are in progress. One involves transforming Pier 76, currently an NYPD tow pound, into 5.6 acres of riverfront parkland that links to the High Line. Another will see the maligned Port Authority Bus Terminal completely replaced with a modern facility that reduces congestion and improves the area’s lackluster transit experience. The $16 billion Empire Station Complex, meanwhile, will see Penn Station entirely reconstructed and expanded to the south, boosting the crowded hub’s capacity by 40 percent. The proposal also outlines a spate of residential and commercial development, including 1,400 units of affordable housing. Details of the ambitious plan arrived shortly after Moynihan Train Hall was unveiled at Penn Station earlier this month.

European dealers are moving millions in art from the U.K. before the Brexit cutoff. 

With the threat of import duties, some European art dealers have moved works by Matisse and Montana, among others, across the border before the United Kingdom officially leaves the European Union’s single market. Thousands of trucks were backed up in Dover last month, attempting to cross into EU borders before Dec. 31, when European artworks could, like all other goods, move freely between the EU and the U.K., with minimal restrictions and without tax and customs procedures. Several galleries and collectors, meanwhile, shipped works into the EU before the deadline, in hopes of evading future import duties. 

The United States sees a dramatic decline in skyscraper construction amid Covid-19.

The coronavirus pandemic may have single-handedly ground building construction to a halt in 2020, but new data from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) shows that the number of skyscrapers completed in the United States fell by 20 percent. Over the past year, 106 skyscrapers were completed compared to 133 in 2019. Despite the downward trend in building completions, the CTBUH anticipates construction to pick up in 2021. “For many people, 2020 will be remembered as the year that nothing went to plan,” the report reads. “The same can be said for the tall building industry.” It’s also worth noting that the tallest two buildings completed last year—Central Park Tower and One Vanderbilt—were both in New York City, marking the first year since 2014 that the tallest building wasn’t completed in China.

Goop x Heretic's "This Candle Smells Like My Vagina"

Today’s attractive distractions:

Goop’s infamous “vagina” candle explodes inside a British woman’s home.

The ancient Saudi Arabian city Hegra opens to the public after 2,000 years.

An IKEA store tailored for cramped New York apartments opens in Queens.

These inflatable trousers will deploy airbags during motorcycle accidents.

All Stories