"[This book] embodies the Buddhist wisdom about change, life, and the
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Robert Stone

August 2010 Archives

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August 17, 2010

Architecture and Tears

I recommend W.M. Akers's piece in last week's New York Observer on plans for the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

I recall my first visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, in the early 1990s, which proved to me how architecture could actually provide a completely devastating and overpowering experience. So moved was I on that occasion that I remember phoning a friend (in the hierarchy of Time Warner, where a worked at the time), whose father was on the board of the museum, and said, "Every day, I see atrocity pictures coming out of Bosnia and Serbia and Croatia. There should be a space in the museum devoted to modern-day genocide." She agreed. And within two years, with her help and with the impetus of Time magazine, a stunning and provocative show was mounted. (I was director of photography at Life at the time and had no involvement in the curation, which was the work of Jim Gaines, Michelle Stephenson, their colleagues, and a dozen or so photographers, many associated with Time).

As it so happens, in last month's issue of Vanity Fair, Matt Tyrnauer wrote movingly about the moment Philip Johnson first laid eyes upon fellow architect Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. The year was 1998. And Johnson was 91 years old. Writes Tyrnauer: "He stood in the atrium of the massive, titanium-clad structure...as TV cameras from Charlie Rose captured him gesturing...and saying, 'Architecture is not about words. It's about tears.' Breaking into heavy sobs, he added, 'I get the same feeling in Chartres Cathedral.' "

August 9, 2010


Trumpets, clarions, strings, harps. This, Dear Reader, is the 250th posting on this website. Just FYI: To access the Postings Archive from 2006 to today, click on the "Archives" link at the bottom of the center column.

….ALSO: The Downtown Mosque (Islamic Cultural Center) Controversy continues unabated. Yours truly weighed in on the subject weeks ago, stating what should be obvious. This is a free country: Bigots, Get Beyond It!

…AND FINALLY: Come 2014, it looks like Conde Nast, the company which owns Vanity Fair—the magazine I work for--will be moving to 1 World Trade Center a.k.a. The Freedom Tower a.k.a. whatever-name-eventually-evolves. For all the hassles and angst inherent in the southward migration, this move is great for the city, great for the journalism business (and New York business in general), and a sign of corporate and civic boldness.