Good morning, architects. Last night's vice-presidential debate included a bunch of stuff, to quote Vice President Joe Biden, but it didn't touch on any issues directly pertaining to architecture, construction, or housing. The candidates did discuss sequestration, though, and the mandatory, across-the-board federal spending cuts that will take effect on Jan. 2, if Congress doesn't pass a permanent or temporary fix soon, will have an enormous impact on architects. The AIA estimates that the design and construction industry stands to take a $2 billion hit in lost work if Congress doesn't take action. The analysis finds "48 separate budget accounts targeted for spending cuts that directly fund the design, construction and rehabilitation of buildings and other vertical infrastructure, including the iconic Capitol dome that is the symbol of American democracy throughout the world." Nor did the veep debate cover housing, but that may be a blessing: As Matthew Yglesias wrote yesterday for Slate (and last year for ARCHITECT), it's a persistent myth that the U.S. suffers from a huge oversupply of housing stock. "America has never spent years at such a low level of construction activity, and the low's so extreme that the spike looks awfully cheap," he writes—still, the myth persists. And on myths: If you're that rare unicorn architect who is still an undecided voter, see the ARCHITECT primer on the stakes in November and take our reader poll.
DRAGONSLAYER. Providence Journal's David Brussat is very excited about penning a takedown of Frank Gehry, FAIA. Brussat is so excited about it, he even wrote a whole story on Tuesday teasing his takedown, which he posted yesterday. Now, every writer has his bête noire, and there's nothing wrong with that on its face. But there are some weird aspects to Brussat's grudge. Check out the URL for his Tuesday teaser: "coming-up-yo-mamas-fancy-chicken-coop-1.html," as it reads, must refer to Gehry's use of chain-link fencing ... and his well-known sass? What's that about? Diving into the text of the takedown, it's the typical ad-hominem complaint: "Gehry is famous for doubling down on modern architecture's least admirable traits. [...] In short, he has become a celebrated bore. So I pick on Gehry because his ugly work epitomizes the flaws of modern architecture. He is arrogant, hypocritical and uncreative, arguably the most arrogant, hypocritical and uncreative modern architect living today." Sure, but then Brussat likes New York by Gehry. Brussat may personally believe Gehry is Smaug, but if he approves the architect's major addition to the New York skyline, how much does he really dislike Gehry's work?
STIRLING THE POT. The BBC's Tom Dyckhoff looks at the Stirling Prize finalists and finds a common thread: They are "anti-icons," he says. It's a high bar for "icons" that does not include London's Olympic Stadium, but there's a fair point there: None of the six Stirling Prize finalists is a statement piece. It's hard to read too much into the aesthetic state of affairs, as it may be a function of the economy or U.K. building policy that so many of the eligibile projects are fairly low-slung buildings. The build-up to the London Olympics probably sucked up a lot of oxygen, too.
MOTHERS OF INVENTION. ArchDaily's Vanessa Quirk introduces readers to architect Samara Greenwood, who has been writing about the difficulties she has faced balancing her role as mother with her career in architecture. It had been my understanding that architects are not allowed to even have pets, so childrearing architects is news to me. Quirk connects the dots between Greenwood's story and an excerpt from Hannah Rosin's book, The End of Men, published in The Guardian. In her book, Rosin talks to women executives at Facebook (Emily White), Twitter (Katie Stanton), and Yahoo (Marissa Mayer), who tell different stories about how Silicon Valley is making the motherhood-career balance right. Does architecture get it right? For Greenwood's part, the answer was taking time off, then restarting her career as a sole practitioner.
SOME CALL IT LIVING. A high-flying piece of Googie architecture in downtown St. Louis that faced the wrecking ball this time a year ago has been saved. The flying saucer-shaped building, designed by Shwarz and Van Hoefen as part of St. Louis's Council Plaza, started its life as a Phillips 66 gas station, but the saucer's fans refer to it by the name of its last tenants, Del Taco. Council Plaza was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by the very developers who decided last year to tear down the Del Taco saucer, but as I wrote at The Atlantic Cities at the time, Mound City takes its saucers seriously. Thousands mobilized a "Save Del Taco" campaign, and it appears to have worked, if you consider a Starbucks moving in as saving anything.
... AND REMAINDERS: Thirty-seven firms have submitted designs for Kent State University's College of Architecture and Environmental Design, finalists to be announced in November; Philadelphia architect Gerald M. Cope dies at 84; Canada has too many building apps; Unfinished Spaces debuts tonight on PBS.