Cathleen McGuigan

Stories by Cathleen McGuigan

  • How Kool Is Rem

    One night last month, just before Christmas, the Italian fashion house Prada threw a party to unveil its new Manhattan shop. But the scene that unfolded looked more like a movie premiere than the opening of a store, for heaven's sake: the velvet ropes, the flashbulbs, the crush of almost-famous faces. And suddenly, there was the star. Not Miuccia Prada, the Italian designer who turned her family business into a global fashion empire. Not the boldface names who wear her Prada clothes. No, it was unmistakably Rem Koolhaas, the avant-garde Dutch architect who'd pulled out every stop--at a cost of some $40 million--to create a vast new Prada showcase in SoHo. It's just a mile north of Ground Zero, and there was an undercurrent of anxiety in the face of all the extravagance. Yet as Koolhaas--his lanky 6-foot-5 frame hovering slightly above the crowd--watched the hundreds of partygoers, a bemused smile crossed his usually serious face. This was, after all, his American coming-out. ...
  • A House With History

    The house was called "Windshield"-for all its glass and its windswept setting-and it would turn out to have a history as dramatic as its name. ...
  • A Tree Grows In Midtown

    New York is still shellshocked from September 11, and the city's cultural institutions, such as Lincoln Center, are waking up to a sober new year of postponing their capital ambitions. That makes the stunning new home for the American Folk Art Museum, which opened just before the holidays, especially welcome. The architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien faced a daunting challenge: putting a $22 million building on a tiny plot, 40 feet wide, and nearly surrounded by a cultural behemoth--the construction site for the $650 million mega-expansion of the Museum of Modern Art next door, which will open in 2005. But they took advantage of the small scale to make something elegant, intricate and memorable. With its golden facade of bronze-alloy panels, its crisp modern lines and rich details, the Folk Art Museum is a jewel, a brilliant emblem for this historical moment. "We see architecture as an act of profound optimism," say the husband-wife team in "Work/Life," a book about their...
  • Nesting Instincts

    Not so long ago, we Americans were excoriated for lounging on our sofas, chips and remote control at hand, when we were supposed to be out training for a 10K race. But no one's hurling the epithet "couch potato" these days. If it's not exactly patriotic to retreat to our nests, it's become good citizenship to feather them. Retailers of home furnishings are noticing distinct trends toward the comfy and cozy. Before September 11, furniture sales were flat, along with the economy, but since then certain items have spiked. (People who aren't buying holiday plane tickets may feel they can spend more on the home front.) At Pottery Barn, for example, upholstered-furniture sales are up. "People are hunkering down and being at home," says Peri Wolfman, vice president of product development for Williams-Sonoma. "I would say that people who'd been putting off purchases are now saying, 'What the hell, let's not put this off'."What this yearning for comfort means for design is just beginning to...
  • Up From The Ashes

    In a packed midtown-Manhattan hall one evening last week, 400 architects and design buffs got together to talk about the future of the New York City skyline. Since September 11 dozens of similar forums and meetings have taken place all over the city, convocations of people swapping ideas about the reconstruction of the 16 acres where the World Trade Center used to be. They toss around notions for new buildings, memorials, parks. At last week's confab, which included architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and historian Mike Wallace, some speakers argued that a skyscraper should be built on the site again. Others expounded on the need to make the downtown streetscape friendlier. There were few specific proposals--and surprisingly, even fewer arguments. "It was amazing how much consensus there was," said one observer. Usually architects are trying to one-up each other. But since the attacks there's been an unprecedented outpouring of desire from designers to be part of civic life and...
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    Requiem for an American Icon

    The World Trade Center got a bad rap, but it became an indelible part of the Manhattan skyline.
  • Books: A New Day For Ms. Millay

    Still tacked above Nancy Milford's desk in Greenwich Village is a photo of two women taken 20 years ago. One is Milford; the other's a sharp-eyed old lady with cascading white hair. It's Norma Millay, who, after years of denying other scholars, allowed Milford to plow into the thousands of letters and notebooks of her sister Edna St. Vincent Millay that form the basis of the new biography of the poet, "Savage Beauty." To call this book "long awaited" is a gross understatement: Milford first approached Norma in 1972. The author was fresh from the huge success of "Zelda," a groundbreaking biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife that brought to sympathetic light a woman who'd been buried by conventional literary history. Since then, Milford, now 63, has gone through two publishers and several editors--and is utterly unapologetic about the three decades she spent on this project. "I needed the sustaining juice of a real life," she says--a life that included three children, a divorce,...
  • Flying High

    You're leaving the Delacorte Theater in Central Park after seeing the new production of Chekhov's "The Seagull," and suddenly you see something eerie under the dark, looming trees. Lanterns are glowing, flashlights are shining and there's a cot here, a lawn chair there--it's a bunch of people camping out for the night. They want to be first in line for tomorrow's tickets, dispensed only on the day of each performance. What they're waiting for is no humdrum restaging of a classic. "Seagull" has flown into the park in a witty new adaptation by Tom Stoppard. It's directed by Mike Nichols. And it stars Meryl Streep in her first stage role in 17 years. No wonder it's the hottest ticket in heat-struck New York. But is it worth spending the night on the hard, damp ground? Da. Absolutely.Though his plays are full of Russian gloom, Chekhov himself called "The Seagull" a comedy. He didn't mean it was a knee-slapper. This is a saga about a household of unhappy people on a Russian country...
  • It's A Pop-Up World

    Artists, photographers, filmmakers and poets all have paid tribute to the power of architecture. Think of Monet's paintings of the Rouen cathedral or Alfred Stieglitz's images of New York City. But surely the homages to great buildings made by Masahiro Chatani would qualify as the wackiest. Twenty years ago, Chatani, a professor of architecture at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, developed "origamic architecture." Taking off from the 17th-century Japanese art of origami, Chatani began making little paper models of famous buildings. ...
  • War Seen Through The Lens Of A Soldier

    When I was growing up, I used to thumb through my mother's photo album of her post-World War II years in occupied Germany, where she worked first as an American Red Cross "girl," then as a journalist for Stars and Stripes' Weekend magazine. I was mesmerized by the black-and-white snapshots of two clashing worlds: images of bombed-out ruins of cities or orphaned kids were glued in the album alongside shots of officers-club cocktail parties and sailing trips on the Rhine. So I was excited to come across photographer Tony Vaccaro's book, "Entering Germany: 1944-49" (192 pages. Taschen. $30), a remarkable look at this often neglected chapter of history. After the greatest generation whipped the Nazis, there was still another huge task: turning America's devastated enemy into an ally.A Pennsylvania-born infantryman who carried an Argus C-3 35mm camera into battle, Vaccaro set out to record the brutality of war and took thousands of photographs, from Normandy to the Elbe. After VE Day, he...
  • Arts Extra: Before Bilbao

    This summer on the East Coast, some of the biggest art museums have nudged aside exhibitions of paintings and sculpture in favor of architecture. In New York City, two museums are collaborating to show the work of the legendary modernist Mies van der Rohe; the early work, "Mies in Berlin," is at the Museum of Modern Art while "Mies in America" is uptown at the Whitney. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has opened a retrospective of the influential hometown team of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. These shows have fascinating and beautiful architectural models, drawings and photographs. But if you really want to get inside the head of a great designer, check out "Frank Gehry, Architect" at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.Gehry is the guy who broke out of the modernist box, and this exhibition is installed-appropriately enough-in the radically spiraling museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. In part, the exhibition is an infomercial to promote another Guggenheim Museum...
  • Arts Extra: Designing Men

    Jacques Herzog, one half of the ober-hip Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, stood on the steps of Monticello last Monday as a golden twilight began to fall on the mountaintop mansion near Charlottesville, Va. It was an incongruous momsent. Here was Herzog-wearing a tuxedo with a ruffled pink shirt open at the neck-about to accept the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize on behalf of his partner, Pierre de Meuron, and himself. Most famous for their design of the Tate Modern art museum in London, built in a huge re-habbed power station, Herzog & de Meuron get at the essence of architecture with pared-down forms and inventive materials. So why were these two avant-garde Euros being honored at a paragon of 18th-century Americana, designed by our only architect-president, Thomas Jefferson? ...
  • American Beauty

    What would you wear to ride an elephant? In 1962, on a state visit to India, Jackie Kennedy climbed aboard such a beast wearing a pale yellow silk dress with little cap sleeves and a pair of white gloves. By the end of the '60s, the hippie revolution would destroy such vestiges of ladylike dressing up, but for the brief shining moment that Jackie Kennedy was First Lady, she made Sunday best look chic. Sleeveless sheath dresses. Soft suits with covered buttons. Coats like those Audrey Hepburn wore in the movies. And hats--though she hated them. It was the last gasp of prefeminist decorum. "She put a little style into the White House," wrote the legendary fashion arbiter Diana Vreeland, "and suddenly 'good taste' became good taste. Before the Kennedys, good taste was never the point of modern America--at all." ...
  • May The Farce Be With Them

    With more than two weeks until its official Broadway opening, Mel Brooks's musical version of his 1968 classic film farce "The Producers" is playing to sold-out preview audiences. Nathan Lane is the outrageous Broadway producer Max Bialystock, while Matthew Broderick is the jittery accountant Leo Bloom--the two schemers who cook the books on their surefire flop, "Springtime for Hitler." Last week the two stars dropped by the Broadway hangout Joe Allen's to schmooze with NEWSWEEK's Cathleen McGuigan. ...
  • Arts Extra: Some Buildings Are Like Supermodels

    I recently asked a friend of mine who's an architect what he'd thought of Philip Johnson's Glass House the first time he saw it in person. The Glass House-which Johnson designed in 1949 on a verdant swath of lawn in New Canaan, Conn.-is one of the most famous modern houses ever built. It's an icon for architects and a key pilgrimage to make if you can secure an invitation from Johnson, now 94, who still uses it on weekends. So my friend surprised me when he said, "Actually, I was disappointed. To me, it looked better in pictures." ...
  • Mega Museum, Riv. Vu

    President Clinton wasn't the only pol burnishing his legacy while everyone else sweated out the recounts. Last week New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced he'd back the Guggenheim Museum's plan to build a huge arts complex, designed by Frank Gehry, on three city-owned piers in lower Manhattan. Giuliani hasn't always been a pal to local arts institutions--last year he threatened to block city funds to the Brooklyn Museum over a controversial painting. But now the mayor was invoking the oath of fealty of the leaders of ancient Athens, to leave their city "far more beautiful" than they had found it. The project, he said, "will make a distinctive contribution to the culture and architecture of the city." Then he put $68 million of city money where his mouth was.The Guggenheim's ambitious director, Thomas Krens, has been lobbying to re- create the success of the museum's branch in Bilbao, Spain, with a Gehry building in New York. (The Guggenheim's also opening a branch in Las Vegas...
  • Critical Moment

    Our Opinionated Guide From One to Five Stars MOVIESBounceGuilt-ridden Ben Affleck falls for widow Gwyneth Paltrow. Nice chemistry, but slim pickin's from the maker of "The Opposite of Sex." D.A. ***Despite the valiant efforts of Jim Carrey, Ron Howard's extravaganza is more frantic than funny, more cluttered than charming. D.A. **With stunning images, Lynne Ramsay's first film transforms the bleak tale of a harsh childhood in the Glasgow slums into visionary cinema. D.A. **** BOOKS(Atlantic Monthly Press) These novellas aren't quite the equals of the peerless trio in "Legends of the Fall," but they prove again that Harrison is our greatest nonwriterly writer. M.J. ****(Knopf) Ninety-four dramatic, beguiling pages about a miner's son in Australia who learns to believe in his "fruit loop" sister's imaginary friends long after we already have. Count 'em: ***** S.M.(Walker) How a Florentine goldsmith engineered the then world's largest dome in 1418 is one of architecture's great tales.M...
  • A Role He Can Feast On

    Oooh, the marquis would have liked this!" Geoffrey Rush says with a gleam in his eye, as he bites delicately into a little foie gras ravioli in chestnut broth. "He was a bit of a gourmand. He ended up quite bloated, and I think he was short. Physically I'm completely wrong." The tall, lanky Australian actor was talking about playing the infamous 18th-century pornographer, the Marquis de Sade, in Philip Kaufman's new film, "Quills." But in every way but size and shape, Rush is, of course, completely right.The movie looks at the marquis's last days, locked up in the madhouse at Charenton. At first, he's treated royally, surrounded in his cell by his books, drinking fine wine--and writing his pornography on the sly. "He's like some dreadful old legendary rock star up in the deluxe suite," says Rush. But a harsh new warden arrives, and the marquis becomes locked in a psychological battle with a cruel oppressor. The complexity of the character is an actor's banquet: the marquis is...
  • Designing Smarter Schools

    In the middle of the drug-infested Rampart neighborhood in Los Angeles there's a bright patch of hope. Out of an abandoned strip mall, a talented architect has created the wildly colorful Camino Nuevo Charter Academy for 270 local kids. Before Camino Nuevo opened this year, most of the kids had been bused to overcrowded city schools, many of them dreary and run-down. "The people who live here were undertaking something very remarkable by creating this school, and we wanted the design to reflect their sense of mission," says architect Kevin Daly. "It was essential that it didn't look like these kids from the poorest part of town got a repossessed mini-mall as their school." So, first Daly stripped away all vestiges of the strip mall: he put a courtyard-playground where the parking lot had been and arrayed 13 classrooms around it, each with a big window looking out. Then he designed pale green latticework that lightly covers the second-floor balcony, wraps around corners and then...
  • Back On Broadway

    Talk about a time warp. Here we are in the new millenium, taking a jump to the left and a step to the right, and doing "The Time Warp" again-25 years after "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" began its rocky climb to cult movie status. This time the film has come to earth as a Broadway musical, which is how it all began.Richard O'Brien's twisted send-up of cheesy sci-fi flicks hit was born on the London stage and reached Broadway once before, in the early '70s, where it quickly closed-one critic dubbed it "the fiasco at the Belasco." This time, it's likely to be a runaway hit. You remember the story: wholesome teens Brad and Janet are stranded on a dark and stormy night and seek shelter at the scary castle of Frank 'N' Furter, a high-stepping transsexual from Transylvania.Today, the gender-bending antics seem fairly tame, and we're all so steeped in "Rocky's" knowing irony that this show-so bad it's good-is finally ready for prime-time Broadway packaging, nicely wrapped in a red feather...
  • Almost Famous: Dish Queen Liz Smith

    Don't read Liz Smith's memoir, "Natural Blonde," for dish. She's already printed her scoops--Jackie marrying Ari, the Donald leaving Ivana--in her gossip column. Instead, think of being at the next table at 21, catching bits of her chats with the famous. Liz is the good ole Texas gal who started partying hard in the '50s, meeting stars like Lena Horne. But about her own life she's quite discreet--except for a poignant account of a love affair with a woman after Liz's first marriage ended. Always nice, she gets close to her subjects, sometimes too close: she once ran a press conference for Liz Taylor rather than join in asking the questions. Early on a reporter warned her, "Don't become one of them!" But, of course, that's just what happened.
  • Buildings That Are Huggable

    I was in a funk for six weeks," Frank Gehry was saying recently, sitting at a little cafe table in front of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain. Behind Gehry, shimmering in the sunshine, are the gorgeous titanium curves of the building that has made him the most famous architect in the world. He was talking about the low point in his design of the Experience Music Project when his client, Paul Allen, didn't like the way the scheme was shaping up. The California-based architect had taken three wildly curvy forms and begun to "mush them together." Allen liked it better when the shapes were discrete. Making a radical brand of architecture isn't easy, but Gehry, 71, feeds on the challenge: "I only work out of a lot of insecurity."EMP is the first major public building of Gehry's to open since the Bilbao museum nearly three years ago. Gehry has said that the pressure to top Bilbao didn't really affect EMP--he'd started designing it long before the Guggenheim even opened. And despite...
  • Reinventing Sydney

    Around the sprawling new Olympic Park in Sydney are scattered four humble buildings, dwarfed by the sports complexes that will be home to the Games that begin in September. The little structures are identical except for the color of their fat steel arches, each a different hue plucked from a kid's crayon box. At first it's hard to figure out what the buildings are: they look like giant caterpillars, their puffy, twisting white fabric roofs stretched over the bright steel ribs. At night, lit from inside, they look like glowworms. OK, they're the bathrooms--but they couldn't be further from the dank cinderblock public loos you usually find at sports arenas. They look so cool and the concept is so witty that the toilets are upstaging the multimillion-dollar structures.That's not quite what was intended. Cities fight to host the Olympics because they're desperate to show their face to the world, and for Sydney, the stakes are enormous. It's remote: 14 air hours from Los Angeles and nine...
  • The Good, The Bad, The Boring

    Around the vast new Olympic Park in Sydney, Australia, there are four humble buildings scattered like dice, dwarfed by the sports complexes that will be home to the Games that begin in September. The little structures are identical except for the color of their fat steel arches, each a different hue plucked from a kid's crayon box. At first it's hard to figure out what the buildings are: they look like giant caterpillars, their puffy, twisting white fabric roofs stretched over the bright steel ribs. At night, lit from inside, they look like glowworms. OK, they're the bathrooms--but they couldn't be farther from the dank cinder-block public loos you usually find at sports arenas. They look so cool and the concept is so witty that the toilets are upstaging the multimillion-dollar structures.Cities fight to host the Olympics because they're desperate to show their face to the world, and for Sydney, the stakes are enormous. It's remote: 14 air hours from Los Angeles and nine from Hong...
  • Ruling The Waters

    The sun had set on the empire bar, and for many of the French, Japanese and American sailors hoisting Steinlager beers in the old Auckland saloon one evening last week, the sun had set on their hopes of taking home the America's Cup. They had been eliminated from the Louis Vuitton semifinals, which determine who challenges the New Zealanders for the Cup. Now left floating were two formidable yachts that will begin to battle in the fluky breezes off Auckland this week: AmericaOne from San Francisco, skippered by sailing's rising superstar, Paul Cayard, and Prada, underwritten by the Italian fashion tycoon Patrizio Bertelli (his wife is designer Muiccia Prada). The winner will meet Team New Zealand for the Cup in February. Both Prada and AmericaOne are so sleekly designed that Bill Koch, who successfully defended the Cup in 1992, predicts their duel will be "one of the closest finals in history."The America's Cup is the Academy Awards of sailing, with big boats, big money and some of...
  • Everyone Will Want A Bilbao

    You're going to be hearing a lot about the "Bilbao effect." No, it's not some puzzling new strain of virus, or a rare psychological condition first identified in the Basque country. What people are going to be talking about is that Frank Gehry's shiny, sexy Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, wasn't only the most important building of the end of the century. It has also inspired an amazing new faith in the power of architecture, rarely seen since the builders of Gothic cathedrals figured out that flocks of worshipers would be awestruck by their soaring vaulted interiors. Gehry's museum has held out the possibility (more closely allied to marketing than religion) that a single, beautifully designed building could wake up a snooze of a town and draw a million tourists and new business to a place nobody wanted to go before.Cities around the world suddenly want a Bilbao museum of their very own. "We've had calls from China, from Brazil, from Belgium," says Gehry. "These are well-meaning...
  • A Fiennes Romance This Is

    Ralph Fiennes had already been nominated for one Oscar when he got a second nomination for "The English Patient." But he also got something else with the role: the kind of idolatry that women usually reserve for screen heroes with abashed grins, who save the leading lady, if not the entire planet. Instead, the count in "The English Patient" was a mysterious loner, kind of an oddball. But he was also a guy so madly in love with Kristin Scott Thomas that he ripped her dress off in a fit of passion, and later quietly sewed it up. Now he's once again playing a complex romantic lead in Neil Jordan's hauntingly beautiful adaptation of "The End of the Affair," Graham Greene's novel of passion and faith. "I've always sort of hankered to play a Greene character," said Fiennes recently. "They seem very real, not simplistically heroic. In fact, often they're antiheroic."The film, which opens this week, is set in London during World War II. Fiennes plays a moody novelist, Maurice Bendrix,...
  • Renaissance On The River

    Where will you be popping your Dom Perignon at midnight on Dec. 31? If you're anywhere near London, the hot spots for ringing in the next thousand years are the Millennium Wheel and the Millennium Dome. The huge wheel of steel--450 feet high--that sits on the far side of Westminster Bridge across from Parliament is visible these days from most of central London, and would be the perfect vehicle to swing up in for a spectacular view of fireworks over the Thames--if you could get a ticket. A New Year's Eve invitation to the wildly controversial Millennium Dome at Greenwich--at 1,100 feet across, it's the world's biggest big top (and yes, there'll be a trapeze act)--will be just as tough to snag. That's where the queen will party on. All the millennial hoopla is focused on these two circular symbols of the future, but what will be more significant is what's going on between them, along those four winding miles of the River Thames: a huge revitalization of a dreary stretch of the city,...
  • Mann Is In The Details

    Over a piece of broiled fish and a cup of coffee, Michael Mann is talking about a smudge on Jeffrey Wigand's eyeglasses. The smudge, visible in a key scene in "The Insider" between Wigand and the wife he is losing, is of course deliberate--there are rarely accidents in the movies of this brilliant perfectionist. "The smudge helps me feel the awkwardness of the man. My heart goes out to him," explains Mann, 56, in a voice that's never shed the accent of his Chicago boyhood. "I was reacting against the airbrushed perfection of characters we see all the time in the media. Jeffrey and Lowell [Bergman] are so complex and edgy." More than the saga of the tobacco wars, it was the characters of the whistle-blower Wigand and the TV journalist Bergman that drew Mann to the project. "I felt a strong identity with them, they were so human and flawed."Mann does exhaustive research at the beginning of a project (he can still detail the sociology of Iroquois families, which he explored for the...
  • Flashbulbs And Flashbacks

    It's not easy to conjure up the spirit of the '60s--look at this year's loveless Woodstock--but Richard Avedon's new book bottles the era's essence. It's not just his elegant, telling portraits (many of them familiar) of figures from Bob Dylan to the Chicago Seven to Veruschka that resonate in "The Sixties" (RandomHouse). It's a remarkable series of previously unpublished oral histories that thread through the book. Thirty years ago Avedon began taking photos for this project, carting his 8x10 camera and roll of white paper for his stark backdrops to the South, to campuses, to Vietnam. He tapped writer Doon Arbus (daughter of photographer Diane Arbus) to interview many of his subjects.You know you're in the '60s when you hear these voices: there's wit but no irony; there's hopelessness but not jadedness. People talk about dying, going to jail, fighting injustice, smoking pot. (And--back to the pictures--a lot of people get naked.) There are free spirits in the book--a guy splashing...