Cathleen McGuigan

A PROBLEM WITH AUTHORITY

Thom Mayne hasn't been sleeping well. The radical L.A. architect, whose edgy designs seem to mirror his notoriously intense personality, keeps waking up from anxiety dreams. "They're all connected to figures of authority," he says.

HOUSES OF THE FUTURE--NOW

If you're cruising through the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York this week, stroking the buttery leather Italian chairs, coveting the coolest couches--and wrinkling your nose at the design world's inevitable excesses--you'll come upon a one-room "house," all glass and wood, filled with nifty, well-priced furniture from Blu Dot (page 64).

Walker On The Wild Side

As everyone knows, winter is still blasting the American Midwest. Besides the blustery snow, a giant ice cube has landed in Minneapolis--and it's not going to melt by spring. "A big ice cube for Ice City," jokes the avant-garde European architect Jacques Herzog, one half of the Basel-based team of Herzog & de Meuron, who've designed the expansion of the city's Walker Art Center, opening next month.

Curiously Strong

So you want to see a show in New York City? Maybe score tickets to "Spamalot"? Fuggedaboutit--they're harder to find than the Holy Grail. Broadway is having an amazing late-blooming season, with certifiable megahits like the just-opened Monty Python musical ($20 million in advance ticket sales), word-of-mouth wonders like "All Shook Up" and plays with heavy doses of star power: Denzel Washington as "Julius Caesar," Kathleen Turner as the monster Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" and...

WALKER ON THE WILD SIDE

As everyone knows, winter is still blasting the Midwest, and besides the blustery snow, a giant ice cube has landed in Minneapolis--and it's not going to melt by spring. "A big ice cube for Ice City," jokes the avant-garde European architect Jacques Herzog, one half of the Basel-based team of Herzog & de Meuron, who've designed the expansion of the city's Walker Art Center, opening next month.

DONNY GEORGE

It's been two years since the start of the Iraq war, and with increasing news coverage of insurgents, torture scandals and successful elections, one issue has taken a back seat: the looting of the Iraq museum in Baghdad.

A STAR: NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTZ

In old Hollywood, a press agent would've changed Norbert Leo Butz's name to something like Chad. But since audiences are going nuts over his hilarious turn in the Broadway previews of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," his name is now unforgettable just as it is.

ORANGE ALERT

Thousands of people in the city that never sleeps got up extra early last Saturday morning to see Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveil--actually, unfurl--the vast, long-awaited public art project "The Gates," by Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, in Central Park.

TRANSITION

PHILIP JOHNSON, 98 One of the most famous American architects of the 20th century, Philip Johnson will be remembered as much for the influence he wielded as the buildings he designed.

A VERY SWORDED AFFAIR

Monty Python humor has always been an acquired taste, acquired mainly by guys barely old enough to shave. The stupefying deadpan silliness, lightly sauced with true irreverence, has been a cult thing ever since the British troupe first crossed the pond on public TV in the 1970s.

DESIGNING SPACES

Kazuyo Sejima is sitting in a New York City sidewalk cafe, smoking a cigarette and talking about her far-flung design projects. She is dressed in a black Issey Miyake skirt and a Murakami T shirt with a cartoon space girl printed on it.

SUITS US IF IT SUITS HIM

Thom Browne, 39, the ultracool menswear designer, was talking about how much he's inspired by movies--Sean Connery as James Bond, say, or Steve McQueen in "The Thomas Crown Affair." But the moment he really treasures is when Edward Fox takes off his suit jacket in "The Day of the Jackal": "the waist of his trousers is up to here!" There's a dash of the chic geek in Browne's custom-tailored, perfectly detailed clothing.

A CASE OF THE WILLYS

British playwright Michael Frayn likes to peer into the corners of history. In "Democracy," the London hit newly arrived on Broadway, he turns his sharp eye from "Copenhagen" to the cold war, when West German Chancellor Willy Brandt was reaching out to Soviet-bloc East Germany, only to be brought down by the revelation that a trusted aide was a Stasi spy.

SNAP JUDGEMENT: THEATER

RecklessRachel (Mary-Louise Parker) is having one of her Christmas Eve "euphoria attacks" when her husband tells her he's taken out a contract on her. Talk about a buzz kill.

REDESIGNING THE WORLD

If you stroll down the chic boulevard of Omotesando in Tokyo, you'll find plenty to catch your eye. Nearly every major fashion house has a boutique here, and the hip kids in fabulous outfits who amble along the leafy avenue compete with the lavish shop windows.

DESIGNS: TO DIE FOR

If you're really into cool stuff--your vintage modern ranch house or your signature-architect chairs--you may want to mull your final design decision: your resting place.

RED HOT MOMA

Early one evening last spring, on the edge of the Inland Sea in Japan, architect Yoshio Taniguchi was showing off the construction site of a small museum he'd designed.

HOT & COLE

Late in Irwin Winkler's "De-Lovely," the musical biography of Cole Porter, an old friend of the now embittered composer urges him to work again. "You can write from memories," she says. "You've had the most fascinating life." Unfortunately, the audience hasn't seen much proof of that.

SNAP JUDGEMENT

The Stepford WivesDirected by Frank OzMaybe I've been robotized, but I laughed my way through this uneven comic remake of the 1975 thriller about a leafy suburb where the women are suspiciously compliant Barbie dolls.

GOODBYE, MR. BOND

In Helen Fielding's new comic thriller, "Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination," the title character escapes more tight spots than Spider-Man, including a terrorist explosion.

Architecture: Bridge & Tunnel

Visitors tend to think that going to New York City just means Manhattan. But on your next trip, venture out to the other boroughs to see some of the city's latest design treasures.New York Botanical Garden: As part of a multiyear plan to restore the bucolic 250-acre site in the Bronx, the Botanical Garden just opened the Leon Levy Visitor Center, with an expanded shop and new cafe, among other amenities.

Architecture: A Kool New Library

Remember the fuss a few years back when San Francisco opened a new main library and everyone griped, "Where are the books?" (There were still books--though some 100,000 had been dumped in a landfill.) The boom in info technology--and the big role of public libraries in providing Internet access--has turned libraries into online data malls.

Transition

MARY MCGRORY, 85 Part her ladyship, part street fighter, columnist McGrory best fulfilled the motto of fellow columnist William Safire: she comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable.

DESIGN: A BOOK BUILT FOR BROWSING

Say you're planning a trip to Tokyo and you want to see all the up-to-the-minute design hinted at in "Lost in Translation." Where do you start? Maybe with "The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary Architecture," due in stores next month and probably the only global look at cutting-edge building that's available between two covers.

FATHER OF A REVOLUTION

You may find it hard to believe that all the stuff in "Shock of the Old," the current show at the Cooper-Hewitt museum in New York, was designed in one era, let alone by one man.

COME FLY WITH HIM

As a radio personality, Jonathan Schwartz is an acquired taste. For more than 45 years--against the tides of rock--he's played classic show tunes and ballads by America's greatest pop singers, from Sinatra on down.

CALATRAVA TAKES FLIGHT

When the Spanish designer Santiago Calatrava unveiled his plans for the $2 billion transit station at the World Trade Center site in New York last month, he apologized for his imperfect English. "Let me draw for you what I cannot say," he told the crowd, and, taking a piece of chalk to a large tablet, he fluently sketched a child releasing a bird--a spellbinding image that had inspired his design.

MONUMENTAL VICTORY

The memorial to the victims of 9/11 was supposed to be the centerpiece of the new World Trade Center. But Daniel Libeskind's master plan--and David Childs's Freedom Tower--made all the noise in the press, and the competition to design the memorial seemed to stall.

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