Street Art (4): The Berlin Billboard Single Room Pod Hotel Visited

When I wrote about this now closed Berlin object of art/experimental one room billboard hotel in December 2007, I didn’t imagine that people would actually sleep in it. I visited it in March when I was in Berlin for ITB Berlin. Henri Roelings, who is one of the guys behind WiWiH (Who Is Who In Hospitality) had booked it during ITB Berlin and had actually slept in it a during ITB Berlin.

The Berlin Billboard Single Room Pod Hotel Visited By Happy Hotelier

On the corner of Kommandantenstrasse and Neue Gruenstrasse one finds this billboard that hides the hotel room behind it. The room has no windows, so it is definitely a room without a view.

The Berlin Billboard Single Room Pod Hotel Visited By Happy Hotelier 02

Henri commented that when he stayed in the room, he had slept very comfy,but he was a little bit afraid that people could easily fire him up by making a fire under the room. Luckily the giant steel watchdog opposite of the hotel room has been watching over his safety.

Berlin Billboard Single Room Pod Hotel Visited By Happy Hotelier 02

Henri had the ladder to enter the room so that he could advertise WiWiH.

Berlin Billboard Single Room Pod Hotel Visited By Happy Hotelier 03

Once entering the hotel room I was surprised to find a real bathroom. There was water for the wash bin and the shower via a reservoir. There was a chemical toilet and there was electricity.

Berlin Billboard Single Room Pod Hotel Visited By Happy Hotelier 04

Here you can see that you could hang your clothes, had a TV set and a drawer chest and an easy chair. All very doable.

Berlin Billboard Single Room Pod Hotel Visited By Happy Hotelier 05

The Guest Book

Not only the hotel room is artsy. According to the Guest Book its guests are artsy a well and they liked it!

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This Swiss comment reads: “First sushi, then Victoria, thereafter Paul and finally here: Reason: Birthday!”

NYC: How to Save a Marcel Breuer Building

Whitney Museum of Armerican Art NYC

Titled Whitney Museum to Receive $131 Million Gift, Carol Vogel of The New York Times reports that Leonard A. Lauder, chairman of the Estée Lauder Companies and, according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $3.2 billion in 2007, said on Tuesday in a telephone interview that his art foundation would give the museum $131 million, the biggest donation in the Whitney’s 77-year history. Mr Lauder is also chairman of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

One requirement of the gift is that it is not to sell its Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue for an extended period. Mr. Lauder as an architecture lover believes the Whitney and the Breuer building should not be separated.

The Whitney announced last year that it planned to open a satellite museum downtown in the meatpacking district of Manhattan, which stirred speculation that it might sell its Breuer building.

The gift includes $6 million to cover expenses until the donation is complete, which is expected to be by June 30, 2009. The money is a major infusion for the Whitney, which has been historically under-endowed. Its new endowment total of $195 million will still pale in comparison with those of institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, with an $850 million endowment. (Ronald S. Lauder, Leonard Lauder’s brother, is a trustee and former board chairman at MoMA.)

In November the Whitney announced that it had reached a conditional agreement with the city’s Economic Development Corporation to buy a city-owned site at Washington and West Streets, the same place where the Dia Art Foundation had planned to build a museum. (In October 2006 Dia said it had scrapped that idea and would seek a different site in the city.) The Whitney satellite is to be designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano.

Mr. Piano was also the architect for a proposed nine-story addition to the Breuer building that was abandoned in 2006.

The Piano scheme was the third time in more than a decade that the museum had commissioned a celebrity architect to design a major expansion, only to pull out.

Mr. Lauder’s gift is not the first major donation he has made to the Whitney. Since becoming its chairman in 1994, he has led the campaign for the new fifth-floor galleries in the Breuer building, which are devoted entirely to the permanent collection.

Six years ago he led a three-year initiative to acquire about $200 million worth of art by masters like Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock.

Mr. Lauder’s American Contemporary Art Foundation was responsible for the largest single group of art in that gift, including major works by Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Warhol and Pollock.

My Thoughts

This is a brilliant move to save a Breuer Building in a time frame where Breuer buildings seem a bit less loved than they used to be.

This is the solution when the US Ambassador to The Netherlands will leave his Marcel Breuer designed American Embassy in The Hague City Center after pressure from the The Hague Municipality because of the cumbersome safety measures put into place after 9/11:

Create a Whitney satellite in The Hague….

The Finger of Suspicion

The Finger of Suspicion 1
The Finger of Suspicion by Lisa Roet

Fellow Travel Blogger Darren Cronian informs us in his Compulsory Fingerprinting to be introduced in UK Airports that soon to be opened Heathrow terminal 5 will have installed fingerprint taking machines and that more airports will follow suit.

Many of my posts are inspired by mere association. As soon as I saw Darren’s post I had to think of the photos I took this summer at 2007 The Hague Sculpture

The Finger of Suspicion 2
The Finger of Suspicion by Lisa Roet

Actually the sculpture of Lisa Roet, an artist of Down Under is not coined The Finger of Suspicion, but an earlier solo exposition of her.

Why the association?
It demonstrates a bit how I feel when I read such nonsense: Like a Caged Ape and that is a subject that intrigues Lisa Roet a lot.

Further investigations

If you Google on The Finger of Suspicion you get some interesting results:

  • Once It was a song by Dicky Valentine. Very poetic and romantic
  • J.F Kennedy used the phrase in a famous speech:
  • Shelley Jofre reports on a series of disturbing cases that have revealed serious flaws with some fingerprint evidence in Britain, see BBC
  • Within hours of the attacks in New York and Washington, the US and other western intelligence organizations put Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born terrorist in …the Guardian

Will it ever stop?

Happy New Year: Austria – Switzerland: 1-0

Georges Prêtre
Georges Prêtre

For us 2008 started traditionally with viewing the Vienna New Year’s Concert.

This time the French conductor Georges Prêtre was invited by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to conduct this concert.

The vital 83 year old conductor delivered an excellent job and gained a standing ovation from the the very critical Viennese public that seldom stands up when applauding.

History of the Vienna New Year’s Concert

The following excerpt is taken from the site Hilton Destination Guides:

The history of the event dates back only to 1939, when the first concert was conducted by Clemens Krauss, preceded by a public dress rehearsal the day before. It has now become traditional to have a public dress rehearsal on 30 December, a New Year’s Eve concert and the New Year’s Day morning concert, which is televised around the world.

Krauss and Josef Krips shared conducting honors for the first 15 years, then Willi Boskovsky conducted every year until 1979, leaving a fantastic recorded legacy of this joyous occasion. Lorin Maazel, another Maestro equally at home with a violin in hand, took over until 1986. In 1987, the great Herbert von Karajan took to the podium on New Year’s Day for the only time (an experience which he reported was completely rejuvenating for his music-making).

Since then the baton has changed hands annually between a small number of top maestros: Claudio Abbado, Carlos Kleiber, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti. In 2001 Nikolaus Harnoncourt became the first Viennese conductor since 1980 and he returned again in 2003, while in 2002 it was the turn of Seiji Ozawa, on the eve of him taking up the music directorship of the Vienna State Opera. After Muti (2004) and Maazel (2005), in 2006 another newcomer was introduced to the tradition – Latvian-born Mariss Jansons, one of the most popular and sought after conductors in the world today. After Zubin Mehta’s return for 2007, French conductor Georges Prêtre makes his New Year debut in 2008.

This is a good example of what a Hotel website can offer as destination information.

Why 1-0 versus Switserland?
During the concert’s pause the Austrian Television Broadcasting organization ORF showed an interesting introductory documentary to the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship (European Soccer Championship for our American readers) starting with a kickoff at the Swiss – Austrian border and followed by “the ball” at various touristic and interesting locations throughout Austria. The concert itself is already an interesting marketing tool to boast tourism to Austria. With this documentary, that off course is criticized by the “true music lovers” and probably also by the co-organizers of the championships the Swiss, the whole is an excellent example of destination marketing.

Georges Pretre with EC Ball
Photo thanks to the Opera Chic Blog

After the pause Prêtre drew extra attention to the championship by coming on stage with a football and a referee’s flute and issuing a yellow card to the concert master who granted Prêtre a red card, while the whole orchestra wore football shawls.

The Rom and The Piano

ROM CRYSTAL NAPKIN SKETCH
ROM CRYSTAL napkin sketch

On june 2, 2007 The official opening of the ROM extension was celebrated. The what extension? The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Who’s Crystal?

Okay okay I’ll try to explain.

The ROM is not Read Only Memory, but the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. The Piano is not Renzo Piano, but a real piano (see below). The ROM extension is a new building designed by Polish born, USA raised and Berlin Based Architect Daniel Libeskind who is also responsible for rebuilding Ground Zero.

Inspired by the ROM’s gem and mineral collection, architect Daniel Libeskind sketched the initial concept on paper napkins while attending a family wedding at the ROM. The design was quickly dubbed the ‘crystal’ because of its crystalline shape.

“Why should one expect the new addition to the ROM to be ‘business as usual’? Architecture in our time is no longer an introvert’s business. On the contrary, the creation of communicative, stunning and unexpected architecture signals a bold re-awakening of the civic life of the museum and the city.”

– Daniel Libeskind

ROM CRYSTAL

Michael Lee-Chin is a Canadian businessman who donated $ 30 mio to the ROM and hence the new building got his name.
The Piano
Via The Globe and The Mail I learned that Liebeskind, whose first vocation was to become a virtuoso pianist designed a Grand Piano.

The idea for the piano arose in 2002, when Toronto piano dealer Robert Lowrey arranged a meeting between Libeskind and Nicholas Schimmel, head of Schimmel Pianos, one of the few remaining companies to make pianos mostly by hand. Libeskind had initially wanted to be a concert pianist, Lowery said, and Schimmel has already produced instruments with designs by the likes of German artist Ottmar Alt.
‘It’s a piano to be played, but also to be admired as a piece of architecture,’ piano dealer Robert Lowrey says.

Libeskind Limited Edition Piano
Rendering by Studio Daniel Libeskind

Three 16-foot-long (five-metre) specialty models will be made, as well as a small number of seven-foot (two-metre) grands based on the same design.

Libeskind designed only the exterior case; the interior works will be essentially the same as in a normal grand.

“It’s a piano to be played, but also to be admired as a piece of architecture,” Lowrey said.

Like the Crystal, the Libeskind piano poses stiff engineering challenges. The enormously long lid, for instance, must be light enough to be raised by an ordinary person, and strong enough not to warp or bend. Lowery said Schimmel is experimenting with titanium as a material for the cabinet. The case for Schimmel’s playful Alt piano, which looks like a gigantic child’s toy, employed steel, glass and fibreglass.

“It’s taking longer to make this piano than to build the Crystal,” Lowrey said.

Thorsell said he expected the piano to emerge from Schimmel’s factory next year. But the head of Schimmel’s American office, to whom the German office referred questions, said he had “no idea” when the piano might be completed.

Lowrey said Schimmel hopes that the publicity value of the large instruments will help sales of the limited-edition models, which will probably number fewer than 120. One of the other long models may be displayed near the ground zero site in Manhattan, he said.

I wonder whether this will revive the classical piano.