Monday, December 19, 2005


Daily Dose recently posted some images of Zaha Hadid's proposed design for a new expansion within the Visconti courtyard at the Louvre that will house its Department of Islamic Art.

The design is certainly a radical departure from the surrounding architecture, even more so then the iconic glass pyramid must have been when it was proposed. However, I dig it, and even find the gold embellishments of the skin panels somewhat "French" (like a modern Fleur-de-lis). As Daily Dose points out, there is also something Escher-like to the fluid yet geometric form of the building.

More images of Hadid's design are available here. Although her entry was not selected for the new wing, it is an interesting "what might have been."

The winning design by Bellini and Ricciotti that was selected is far less interesting in my opinion. In related news, a Saudi prince has already pledged $20 million towards the construction of the new wing, which is slated to open in 2009. It will be interesting to see how much fanfare the wing's opening will be greeted with in light of the recent racial and religious tensions that have surfaced in France.

The winning design houses the wing underneath an undulating wave-like form.

Friday, December 16, 2005

New PRADE Header

I thought our new SF digs merited a change of scenery here at PRADE.

Reactions? Comments?

Clinton Presidential Library

While passing through Arkansas on my cross country road trip, I stopped by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.

Located on the Arkansas River waterfront adjacent to downtown Little Rock, the building is superbly situated to capture sweeping views of the city while maintaining an unobtrusive presence along the river. NY based architecture firm Polshek Partnership also designed the campus to maximize public space, even preserving a historic railroad bridge that harks back to the site's previous incarnation as an industrial warehouse district. The cantilevered Library building itself references the nearby bridge, although some cynics claim the building owes its design more to the familiar shape of a double wide trailer. (The bridge motif is also said to extend to Clinton's familiar slogan of "building a bridge to the 21st century")

We arrived only an hour before the museum closed, giving us little time to sweep through the vast presidential collections. However, we did manage to catch the Arkansas sunset, that bathed the striking building in a warm pink and orange glow. I was impressed with the buildings internal use of natural light in general, but it was only at sunset that the structure can be fully appreciated. It becomes a gorgeous building at dusk.

The internal layout takes advantage of vast open spaces with elevated walkways that look down onto the lower floors of the museum. There is a plethora of multimedia presentations, and detailed recreations of Clinton's Oval Office and Cabinet room.

Of all the places we stopped, Little Rock was the one I most wish I had more time to explore. Despite the brevity of my stop in Little Rock though, I can definitely recommend a trip to the Clinton Presidential Library (especially to catch an Arkansas sunset).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

PRADE is Back

After a short period of being out of commission, PRADE is fully operational again and just in time for your Christmas shopping lists. While PRADE encourages you not to get too wrapped up in the sensationalized commercialism of the Holiday Season, we do hope you will seize the opportunity to bestow thoughtful and interesting gifts on your friends and family.

For the friend stuck in the 80's:

Diplo - FabricLive 24
This mix CD will help usher your friend into the 21st century while never getting them out of their comfort zone. A mix of updated synthy 80's pop songs (Debbie Deb's "When I Hear Music" and Cybertron's "Clear" are stand outs) that transitions into a more eclectic and diverse synthesis of everything from familiar hip hop bangers to funky dance tracks. Diplo is a genre bender and will help broaden anyone's horizons (I guarantee Turbulence's "Notorious" will stick in your head if you haven't heard it before).

For the Science geek in the family:

The Genographic Project
Order the amateur scientist in the family (or anyone who subscribes to Wired and likes watching the Discovery Channel) the
Genographic Project Public Participation Kit , allowing them to take part in the most comprehensive study of the human migration ever attempted. National Geographic, IBM and geneticist Spencer Wells are collaborating to help map human history using DNA analysis. While the creationist in the family might scoff at the idea, the project attempts to figure out how humans migrated from our ancestral birthplace in Africa to the far corners of the Earth using genetic markers found in the DNA of isolated indigenous populations around the globe. It is slightly more complicated, but the home kit includes a DVD that explains it all, as well as swabs to collect DNA of your own to submit to the study. A few weeks later you receive a full genetic history that traces you back tens of thousands of years to your earliest ancestors. Not only that, but your participation helps fund the project's ongoing studies. PRADE covered the project back in May, but I recently saw someone's returned analysis and was blown away. Truly fascinating stuff and a gift that the whole family can actually enjoy.

For the historian in the family:

PBS American Roots Music
I took an American Music class in college, and probably learned more useful knowledge in that class than in all my econ and international relations classes combined. America has a rich musical history that parallels much of the social and political history of our country. This series is a compelling and comprehensive survey of American roots music, covering everything from Blues to Zydeco. You can
purchase the series as a 2 DVD set and I highly recommend also scooping up the hardcover book to add insight to any coffee table collection.

More recommendations to come this week. If you have any good ideas to share, feel free to drop them in the comments section.

It's good to be back.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Road Trippin'

My bad.
I haven't been able to update at all during the trip, so let me catch you up now and then promise you some more detailed posts on my American Odyssey in the coming weeks.

We're in Flagstaff, AZ right now. Spent today soaking in the expansive views of the Grand Canyon. It is a truly remarkable natural phenomenon, one that pictures can't even capture. Just breathtaking. If you called it a "spiritual" experience - I wouldn't even be mad at you.

How'd we get here?

Well, we left from Greensboro, NC, hit a great country breakfast spot in Nashville, TN and stopped long enough to check out some live music. Made our way through Memphis, pausing to pay our respects ot the King. We were Banging in Little Rock for a couple of hours, before making it to OK City. Took in its elegant memorial to the bombing victims in the morning and then continued on through Texas as fast as possible (kidding, sort of) to reach Albuquerque, NM (yes that comes before AZ for the geographically disinclined). Spent the night there, then passed through the Petrified Forest (supremely cool place) and made it to Flagstaff last night (and had a scrumtrilescent dinner at a spot called Josephine's - look it up if you find yourself in AZ).

Still to come on the DC Farewell Tour- the Hoover Dam, Vegas baby, get discovered in LA, and cruise up the Pacific Coast Highway. Then on to San Fran to unhitch the wagons and settle the new frontier.

I'll try to post more detailed accounts when we arrive in SF, but the most striking thought I've had so far is:

America is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to America.

I think we lose track of that being all squashed together on the East coast, but when you drive for a few hundred miles of open space or see your first tumbleweed cross your path on an empty highway, it becomes startlingly clear.

Well, the road calls . . .