There's a new sizzle reel for Cool Spaces, a docu-reality show featuring Boston architect Stephen Chung, AIA, and coming to public television. As the show's host, Chung appears to be traveling to sites and studios to see architects at work and architecture in place. In the new reel for the premiere episode, Chung showcases the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health by Frank Gehry, FAIA, in Las Vegas. There's more than just that project to see: I spy the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and the Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by Preston Scott Cohen.
Here's my moment in the reel. "Architect Frank Gehry thinks like a sculptor. Like a lot of architects, he may start with a sketch," Chung narrates. "But from there, he begins to shape the building using cardboard, paper, plastic"—here it comes—"maybe even a napkin." I'll watch this show forever out of simple allegiance to Chung for channeling a Gehry gag from The Simpsons.
Chung interviews Gehry on the Ruvo Center, of course, but he also interviews Lou Ruvo, who appears to be a happy client. While in Vegas, Chung also hits up the CityCenter, focusing on the Crystals shopping mall by Daniel Libeskind. And there's plenty of shots of the larger city, and even some scenes that tease at speculation about what the future of Vegas holds.
The Las Vegas Sun reported on the arrival of the Cool Spaces crew to Las Vegas back in December. And with good reason: Footage from the reel, and presumably the first episode, makes for good PR for Vegas architecture. Vegas is a good choice for Chung and company, who will need some luck to get the show off the ground.
The most encouraging part of this Cool Spaces preview—beyond the notorious napkin reference and, of course, all the architecture—is the scene where Chung's on a bike with a guy who appears to know Vegas. Maybe the guy's a local; maybe a local architect, even. Chung appears to getting the on-the-ground perspective, riding around Vegas on a bike with him. It reminds me of the way that another great docu-reality show host approaches his particular area of expertise. Chung is fond of saying that he hopes that Cool Spaces "does for bold 21st century architecture what Julia Child did for French cooking." I'm betting Cool Spaces is a little less The French Chef and a little more No Reservations.