Virgin Galactic Spaceport

Virgin Galactic announces a spaceport for its new fleet of Scaled Composites designed suborbital tourist vehicles. Surprise! It’s not in Mojave, it’s in New Mexico. Design by Philippe Starck. Read the announcement here. Photographs of the first launch by Steve Rowell and myself will be available in 2006 in a book on the Desert, to be published by ACTAR. See this link for the photos.

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So Just What Kind of Recovery is Los Angeles Having?

The LA Times recently carried an editorial observing that the city now has fewer recorded workers than in 1990. These results, from the Los Angeles Economy Project, suggest that 16% of the city’s workers are in underground economy jobs. More and more, this is the city of “bare-knuckles capitalism.”
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The Suburban Loft

Reblogged from Archinect, Sunday’s the New York Times looks at the phenomenon of the suburban loft. The spread of this building type from city core into countryside is further evidence that with urban life now accessible, at least to some degree, everywhere, anytime, both city and country are slowly converging into exurbia. Karrie Jacobs wrote about this in more depth in a 1994 Metropolis article titled “I am the Uncool Hunter.”

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Building the Post-Bilbao City by Wrecking it: Disaster Tourism on the Rise

I have long been suggesting that the affective city will one day tire of Guggenheim-Bilbao style formalist architecture. If the urban screen was a threat, it seems increasingly clear that if you want your city to succeed, you need to destroy buildings, not build them. At Joi Ito’s blog, Thomas Crompton points us to a piece he wrote for the International Herald Tribune on the newest form of tourism: Disaster Tourism. In London, Ufi Ibrahim, vice president of the London-based World Tourism and Travel Council writes of the period after the London bombings, "It was almost as if people who stayed away after the bomb attack then decided to come back twice." Tsunami-inundated areas are reporting an upswing in tourism over pre-tsunami levels.
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Phantom Streets and Map Traps

I ran across a post at The Map Room today which brought up the mysterious means by which cartographers protect their work. In order to ensure that their work isn’t copied wholesale, they set up map traps””?fake streets are common””?that will be dead giveaways if an unwary carto-plagiarist pilfers them. See this group of emails in the alt.folklore urban newsgroup. Cartographers aren’t the only ones to create fake entries. Encyclopedias also have traps in wait, as do dictionaries. Read here. As a child growing up in rural far western Massachusetts I was always struck by some streets that were listed on maps but that I could never find even a trace of. Well, now I know why.

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RAND Reports on the Arts

The RAND Corporation recently issued a study on the visual arts that throws cold water on the over-optimistic picture that art museums are being successful in reaching out to the public.

Not so quick. RAND writes:

bq. The growth in museum attendance in recent years is primarily a product of population growth and higher education levels rather than a result of efforts by museums to attract larger and more diverse audiences. Underlying social trends ””? driven by changing leisure patterns, increasing population diversity, and more intense competition from the entertainment and leisure industries ””? suggest new growth in demand will not come easily.

Blockbuster shows may bring in a more diverse audience, RAND concludes, but that audience isn’t staying.

Art is a niche market, albeit a wealthy one (for those artists and dealers lucky and canny enough to rise to the top). Nor should we hold any faith that art critics hold any sway over the market, the study suggests. On the contrary, the ever-more-thorough capitalization of art is sidelining the critic.

bq. At the same time that prices have reached headline-grabbing heights, the arts market has become increasingly like other asset markets. The value of an artist’s work is determined not, as was traditionally the case, by the consensus of experts, but increasingly by a small number of affluent buyers who are drawn to purchase works for their potential investment value.

See A Portrait of the Visual Arts: Meeting the Challenges Of A New Era

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Psychogeography and the End of Planning . Reyner Banham’s Los Angeles. The Architecture of Four Ecologies

The Getty is showing the 1972 video “Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles” tonight. Although I won’t be able to make it, I thought it’d be appropriate to post a draft of this essay that I’ve written on Banham and Los Angeles. Footnotes not included. This is a teaser. For the notes””?and much more””?you’ll need to buy Pat Morton’s edited book on Taste, which should be out in 2006 and promises to be well worth the money.
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