Cathleen McGuigan

Stories by Cathleen McGuigan

  • Saving Havana

    One day in early 1961, just two years after the revolution, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were playing golf. (True story.) Strolling a once exclusive course in a leafy suburb of Havana, they dreamed up the idea of putting a great art school on the fairway. They imagined the students, from families of workers and peasants, bunking in the nearby fancy houses that had belonged to wealthy Cubans who'd fled the country. Before long, three architects, Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti, were designing--with astonishing speed and creative abandon--a stunning complex of buildings. They were brick and terra cotta, with beautiful domes, vaulted passageways and elegant courtyards. "You cannot begin to understand what were the hopes of those years," recalls the painter Ever Fonseca, a student in the first class, in John Loomis's fine book, "Revolution of Forms: Cuba's Forgotten Art Schools." "We truly believed that all could be transformed merely by our work into a utopia." But...
  • Saving Havana

    If you drive west along the sea in Havana, through Miramar, with its grand villas lining the boulevards, and into the chic leafy suburbs of Cubanacan--home now to embassies--you'll eventually come to a strange and magical place. Scattered across acres of rough lawn and overgrown jungle is a ghostly complex of buildings, in brick and terra cotta, with beautiful domes, vaulted passageways and silent courtyards--the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte, or National Art Schools. Wandering among these semi-abandoned ruins, you occasionally come upon a student. One young artist was using a white-tiled bathroom as a studio, working on a Warholesque painting of a big cigarette pack with Che Guevara's face on it; a scattering of teens practiced lifts and turns in a sun-dappled dance space. But in the never-finished School of Ballet, with its domes open to the sky, the jungle has won, and long tentacles of branches and roots creep through the interior.In early 1961, just two years after the revolution...
  • Moma Cops Street Cred

    For the architect, the terms of the job were daunting: a tiny budget, an impossibly tight deadline--and a shelf life for the finished project no longer than a car warranty. But the client was the Museum of Modern Art in New York, so for Michael Maltzan, 42, an up-and-coming California designer, the challenge was irresistible. MoMA, shuttering its old Manhattan museum to make way for the construction of a huge new $800 million building, needed a temporary space. This week Maltzan's MoMA outpost is opening--in Queens, of all places. It's a borough many Manhattanites rarely venture to, unless they're going to the airport. But that will change. Not only does the new "MoMA QNS," as it's dubbed, raise the profile of its architect, but more profoundly, it changes the image of MoMA itself--from an elitist institution detached from the messy making of art, to a grittier place, more embracing of diverse audiences and artists.For its new home away from home, MoMA bought the old Swingline...
  • Newsmakers

    BRANDYBrandy, 23, grew up before our eyes as a singer and the star of "Moesha." In the late '90s, she faltered under the pressure and struggled for years with her self-esteem. Today she's newly married, pregnant--and the subject of an MTV reality show, "Brandy's Special Delivery," which debuts this week. NEWSWEEK's Allison Samuels spoke with the mommy-to-be.You've gone through so much in the last few years, including what you've described as a breakdown. Why let MTV into your life now?I wanted people to see what it's like--what you have to go through to do what I do. It's always a battle about something when you're in the spotlight, be it fighting with my weight, or how I felt about myself and the way I looked. You can't help but shut down at some point because it's too much to deal with.Were the cameras everywhere or did you control what they saw? That must be tricky with a pregnancy and a new marriage.Yeah. There were definitely days when I wanted the cameras to go away, but this...
  • Rising From The Ashes

    On a lovely spring Saturday, half a dozen people were hunched over a map of lower Manhattan, with architects' tracing tissue stretched across it. They took turns sketching feverishly: a swath of green marker here for a park, a pair of brown lines there for a new street, two crisp squares of green to mark the sacred "footprints" where the Twin Towers once stood. Elsewhere in the New York City meeting room, other groups were similarly coming up with big ideas for the World Trade Center site. For the most part, these people weren't pros, just ordinary New Yorkers who'd leapt at the chance to be part of a program called "Imagine New York." "I never felt the average person's feelings were taken into consideration until today," said Steven Fromewick, a lawyer more used to wielding a brief than a pen.Two weeks later, at a conference for planners held at a midtown-Manhattan hotel, another ordinary citizen, Diane Horning, of suburban Scotch Plains, N.J., stood up to make her feelings known....
  • The Twin Towers | Engineer's-Eye View Of The Fall

    In scrap yards around New York City, workers have almost finished cutting up the hulks of twisted metal that once formed the skeletons of the Twin Towers. From the thousands of tons of that debris, volunteer engineers culled key pieces of steel in their search for clues about exactly how the towers collapsed. That forensic evidence, plus original blueprints, interviews and video footage of 9-11, helped a team from the American Society of Civil Engineers determine the causes of structural failure of the buildings. Their conclusions will be presented at a congressional hearing this Wednesday. Though the report will contain no "super-duper hot surprises," says a source, you can preview the details in a PBS "Nova" special, "Why the Towers Fell," on April 30. The buildings were engineered to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707--the largest aircraft at the time--but not in combination with a massive fire. The engineers will also cite the way the floor trusses connected to the towers'...
  • O Pioneers

    "Oklahoma!" is the granddaddy of modern American musicals--the first, it's famously said, to use the songs to advance the drama, rather than to temporarily derail it. If you're a fan of musicals, you know this show by heart. The Richard Rodgers melodies are as familiar as the national anthem, the Oscar Hammerstein lyrics hard-wired in the brain. You likely saw your high-school production (maybe you were even in it) or watched the old Technicolor movie version on TV. About 600 new productions are still staged in North America each year. So you probably think you need to see another "Oklahoma!" like you need a surrey with the fringe on top.But timing--and fresh talent--are everything. This week a gorgeous, long-awaited production of "Oklahoma!" opens on Broadway, with the kind of advance buzz and box office ($12 million) that could make Max Bialystock go legit. In a spring theater season heavy with revivals and adaptations, this show is the one to beat. It seems providential that ...
  • Newsmakers

    Was Cindy a Turncoat? ...
  • Modernism For The Masses

    There's probably no trendier house you could buy in Los Angeles than a vintage midcentury modern-all steel, wood and glass, with a flat roof and sliding doors that lead to a tidy patio, encircled now by mature trees and fragrant shrubs.Of course you'd need to write a whopping check for such a cool place today. You see pictures of '50s and '60s houses-lovingly restored and furnished by young Hollywood hotshots-in the pages of upscale shelter magazines. But many of these million-dollar houses weren't built for the very rich. They were part of a trend to use modern design and off-the-shelf materials to create modest houses for the masses.The most famous of these postwar California residences were the "Case Study Houses," which continue to inspire architects and fascinate design groupies. Now Taschen has published a lavish, large-format book (priced at $150) that documents each of these designs. The houses were created as part of a program sponsored by Arts & Architecture, a...
  • 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...
  • 130910-mcguigan-icon-tease

    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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...