Daily digest: Pop art legend Claes Oldenburg passes away, the U.K. broils during historic heatwave, and more

Hot Stuff

Daily digest: Pop art legend Claes Oldenburg passes away, the U.K. broils during historic heatwave, and more

Cupid's Span by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. (Gianluca Cogoli/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0)

Happy Wednesday! Today’s top stories include sculptor Claes Oldenburg’s passing, fires being put out at the RIBA and in greater London, and other explosive news. Read on for more:

High temperatures in U.K. prompts the government to declare a national emergency

Extreme heat in the United Kingdom and across Europe is continuing to shatter records, spark wildfires, and cause general misery. In Coningsby, England, temperatures reached 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, the highest ever recorded in the U.K. With hot weather comes a number of adverse climate and environmental responses, including melting airport tarmacs and houses going up in flames. Schools, businesses, and cultural institutions have shuttered across Britain in response to the unprecedented red alert extreme heat warning.

According to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the British capital city alone received around 2,600 calls reporting fires, in what is said to be the London Fire Brigade’s “busiest day since World War II.” Images from local news sources show aerial photos of complete neighborhood blocks engulfed in smoke and scorched down to the framing, with many houses and buildings completely destroyed.

And just north of London, Luton Airport reported a “surface defect,”as bits of the tarmac started popping out of the ground cover on the tarmac and in airport parking lots.

RIBA launches a hotline for employees to report misconduct

In more news coming out of the U.K., the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has organized an anonymous hotline, called Speak Up, for staff to report “instances of unacceptable behaviour and difficult interactions.” A series of staff workshops hosted last year as part of Mental Health Awareness Week were the catalyst for this new program; during the sessions several employees cited concerns surrounding the work culture at the London-based organization.

“The workshop facilitator shared their findings with the RIBA Board on a confidential and anonymised basis. RIBA Board repeated their zero-tolerance of poor behaviour and agreed a set of immediate actions,” read a statement. “These included providing targeted support for individuals, reiterating advice on making a complaint for formal investigation, committing to a review of our codes for volunteers and setting up a specialist independent hotline for staff to raise concerns on an anonymous basis.”

Following the workshop an internal investigation by the Human Resources department confirmed the concerns surrounding workplace culture, however, these findings were never publicly shared. In the statement the institution reiterated that poor conduct “will not be tolerated.”

RIBA’s full statement can be read here.

H/t to The Architect’s Journal

Pop artist Claes Oldenburg passes away at age 93

A large spoon with cherry resting on its hollowed end, a massive clothespin, and bow and arrow wedged into a hillside, are among the sculptural installations designed by Swedish-American artist Claes Oldenburg, who died on Monday, July 18 at his home and studio in Manhattan.

Oldenburg was known for his funky, larger-than-life designs of seemingly every day objects. Born in Stockholm in 1929, Oldenburg moved to the United States to study literature and art history at Yale University and later studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago. His work was influenced by artists including Marcel Duchamp and Jean Dubuffet.

“My intention is to make an everyday object that eludes definition,” he said.

H/t to The New York Times

Transformer explodes at Hoover Dam

Kristy Hairston was touring Hoover Dam on Tuesday morning when she heard an explosion. Large plumes of dark gray smoke billowed out from the site’s electric facilities near the base of the concrete arch-gravity dam on the Colorado River; flames followed. Upon further investigation, officials found that one of the historic structure’s fifteen transformers had exploded.

Although the accident startled visitors, the explosion didn’t result in any injuries at the electricity-producing tourist attraction. Residents in Arizona, Southern California, and Nevada, where Hoover Dam is located, continued to receive electricity generated by the dam’s power station without interruptions, the Western Area Power Administration told AP News.

“There is no risk to the power grid,” said Jacklynn Gould, a regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns and operates Hoover Dam.

Newsweek reported that it took about a half hour after the explosion for staff to bring the fire under control. Tours then resumed and the dam’s regular operations remained largely unaffected for the rest of the day.