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Eavesdrop: Aaron Seward

Ever since the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s, architects have pondered a way to soften the oppressively phallic nature of skyscrapers. The latest and perhaps most hilarious (and probably subconscious) attempt at this dubious endeavor comes from Daniel Libeskind. In his design for an office tower and art museum in the heart of Milan, Libeskind has delivered a design that seems to mimic the flaccid male member. That, at least, was the impression it made on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who, in a characteristically snide remark to the newspaper Corriere della Sera, expressed his dissatisfaction with the design by saying that the drooping structure emanated a “sense of impotence.” Italian writer Umberto Eco seemed to agree. “Milan is full of people with crooked members,” he said. “There will simply be one more in need of Viagra.” Not one to suffer such a slight lightly, Libeskind fired back in an interview in the same newspaper with some wounding words of his own. “In Fascist Italy, everything that was not ‘straight’ was considered ‘perverse art’,” said the architect. “My tower is inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, and great Italian culture. [Mr Berlusconi] does not have the time or intellect to study these.” Libeskind also accused the prime minister of hating foreigners. Anyone care to wager whether he’ll still get the commission?

William Drenttel, co-founder of design wunderblog Design Observer, has taken Rem Koolhaas and his CCTV Headquarters to task for being blatantly unsustainable, calling the building “the architectural equivalent of a gas-guzzling SUV.” In order to keep the design’s flying bridge from toppling over, the engineers at Arup had to load the structure with an inordinate amount of steel. At 55 stories and 4.8 million square feet, CCTV uses 40 percent more steel per square foot than the World Trade towers used at a combined 220 stories and 13 million square feet. Should we hobble our greatest flights of inspiration with environmental and social sensitivity? Well, as long as we have mercurial minds like Koolhaas’ (he accepted the Beijing commission based on advice from a fortune cookie) and autocratic rulers of slave nations like China, we won’t have to answer that. 

In his hit HBO show Entourage, Adrian Grenier may cruise the strip in Maseratis and Hummers, but in real life he’s an environmental crusader! The curly-headed hunk is now hosting a show on the Discovery Channel called Alter Eco, in which he and another entourage, a “team of green activists, experts, and friends,” renovate his 1920s Spanish villa in Los Feliz to the highest of 21st-century environmental standards. We assume that they also take bong hits, play video games, and rack up notches on the bedpost.


Aaron Seward