Thelen: [Feedback] Now why does it doing that, is it because the mics are too close to each other? That seemed to be… Franz

Thelen: Did you ever read what people wrote? Charles

Download 0.61 Mb.
Size0.61 Mb.
1   ...   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   ...   21

Thelen: Did you ever read what people wrote?

Charles: At the Sixth Floor. Oh, they are great books. There should be a publication of the books, we have talked about it, but never done it. Some of them are, some will be where that person was on the day, remembering where they were. Some were reporters who were there at that time, coming back and writing again, coming back later. You some will be kids just saying oh this is foolish or I hate Oswald.

Thelen: Awesome or something.

Charles: Yes, but there is enough really pithy good stuff in there. They have been saving all the pages and we designed the books so that you could take the pages out. It has some very nice area where we have the books. It was carefully designed to encourage you to use the books.

Thelen: Do you have any you remember Bob? I wait until you have your mouth full with sandwich and then I ask you. None in particular?

Staples: Nothing comes to mind.

Thelen: Is it a field where you pay a lot of attention to what another person has done? Applebom or somebody, oh that was a clever way to do that or that was a stupid way to do that.

Staples: Well, you measure what you see by what you do, in some respect. Applebom has a tendency to make text run, a single line of text run three feet. You cannot read that. Maybe you can read one line, but you cannot read ten lines like that because the starting point and the turnaround point are too far apart. It is something we would not do. Also, I think even though we are known to be expensive, we do not generally use materials because they are rich and famous. We have done things with stainless steel and that kind of stuff, Applebom’s tendency is to use glass and stainless steel a lot.

Thelen: And they tend to be expensive?

Staples: Generally they are, yes.

Charles: We are not even very good about going to museums.

Thelen: That is interesting.

Charles: I mean here in Washington we have not seen the Spy Museum, the Newseum or the Capital Visitors’ Center.

Staples: Nor I have been to the top of the Washington Monument.

Charles: I have, when I was twelve. [pause] It does not interest me enough to say, “on this Saturday that is what I am going to go do.” I went to the Marine Museum twice now. Once because Jeanne, our friend Jeanne Opalwat from the Eames office was in town. She is very good about going out and seeing everything that is new, so she wanted to go see that. We went to the Air Force Memorial which I was interested in seeing because we know the general who worked on it particularly and the Marine Museum. That was good to go to. Then we went back and saw it again. I mean, maybe it is crazy, but museums are not necessarily where I want to spend all my free time.

Staples: Or spend all day.

Thelen: Now that invites, where would you like to spend?

Staples: Carousels.

Thelen: Carousels.

Charles: Well right now unfortunately it is getting moved and trying to catch up with things or you are always working, trying to catch up with things. We have actually never even vacationed very much. We have had the good fortune of traveling a lot with projects. Even there we are more likely to go out and have a glass of wine with our colleagues when we get a little bit of free time then go to see another - no, I like art museums probably. I do like, I like going to museums, I should not say I do not. It is not to say, “oh I have to go see what Ralph just did or I have to go see what Patrick Gallagher just did,” that is not so interesting. I mean we do what we do, we know we are going to lose a lot of jobs to the big boys and that is the way it goes.

Staples: We mentioned one exhibit that I have always liked and that is the John Deere wall that Alexander Girard did in Moren.

Thelen: What did you like about that?

Staples: It just was layered stuff I guess. It was nicely done. That was one of the first that we have seen with that kind of…

Charles: Sort of the texture of history. I like the exhibits, again Europeans more than us, Americans I think will attack, tackle more difficult things like death. We saw a fabulous exhibit about AIDS in Sweden. We did make a point to go see a new museum in Sweden we were interesting in Bodenburg. It tackled AIDS [background noise] kind of, if I remember five or seven stages of AIDS in a very creative way that included real people and real people’s stories and artifacts that people made about having AIDS and film.

I mean the artifacts were just one of many ways to get the story across and I think that is increasingly what is happening with museums. That was a very interesting show, it should have traveled more widely. I do not know if anything has happened with it. There was a show [pause] now I am blanking. Bob what is that picture that you have of me at the doorway in Austria, in Graves? Is it arrows and…what was that show?

Staples: I do not know, I have the poster over there.

Charles: But it was looking at love and sex and things like that, but using…

Staples: Classical stuff.

Charles: Classical stuff and a historical pallad in Gratz that was all decorated with the Mars room and the Neptune room and all that kind of stuff. It was really fun and kind of different exhibits in these different rooms talking about different subjects. A much more fun way to use a historic house or a historic place [phone ringing] than just the art itself.

A friend of ours [answering machine in background] just hang it up it is garbage. A friend in Europe, Ula Hies, that we worked with briefly on a coffee museum did an exhibit called Café, but it is really coffee she is meaning erotica, that was a very nice exhibit. The whole when you had coffee and who you might have had coffee with…

Thelen: The experience of coffee.

Staples: And the big lips or something.

Charles: Did she have big lips in that? Just funny, fun stuff. I do not think - I do not know if it is a funding issue, I do not know what it is. [paper crinkling] But I do not think that American museums tend to either tackle either really difficult stuff. Other than I remember the drug exhibit that was many many years ago at the City Museum of New York that caused a lot of controversy. It is not too often that people really take on stuff and you know as they say, whether it is funding…

Oh I know a great exhibit I saw in Berlin. Again Bob did not see it. It was two temporary exhibits. One was called the Perfect Body and it was all like Greek art, what is the ideal, the classical ideal. It even had a Monticello model there. It was all kind of what is the ideal? The other exhibit upstairs was the Imperfect Body. It was all about handicapped issues. It had phenomenal interviews with handicapped people and what their lives were like. Different ones, one was in the theater and different people. It dealt with the Nazi approach to how you deal with handicapped people. It was a great exhibit on its own. I think that exhibit was done by the Health Museum in Dresden and had been brought to Berlin. I do not know if the museum in Berlin had the idea of pairing them then to do this Greek classical one.

Thelen: Sounds neat.

Charles: Really really good, wonderfully challenging ideas. Either we have never been asked to work on one, but I cannot even think about much of that idea in American museums.

Thelen: Did you ever get to the Flandersfield Museum in Heeper, Beligum? That was amazing.

Charles: Again, why?

Thelen: Because it reconstructs - it makes you think about how can there be war and in particular there is an exhibit there is one piece of it that focuses on the December 1914 truce between the two armies, well it was not between the armies, it was between the soldiers. They illustrate four mannequins.

Charles: The Christmas Truce?

Thelen: Yes, the Christmas Truce. On one side are the two British fellows and on the other side are the two German fellows. You could recognize the uniforms and so on, but they are all covered in mud, the whole thing is mud, and they are shaking hands. Then they give you the song, they give you reenactments, replaying of things people actually said. “No shoot us, we friends.” Then when they break out singing Silent Night. Then on the other wall are the generals. I remember the British ones in particular, down to the lieutenants. Down the chain of command rather saying you must permit this to happen, the next thing you know the soldiers will take us out of this war and we cannot have that happen. You must interfere to stop any more of these fraternizations and then there are pictures of them fraternizing and playing ball.

Suddenly you are in this whole room, you are sort of, “oh my God.” It is the soldiers actually had something to do with whether there was a war. In the next room they have a gas mask, talk about artifacts, one of those horrible World War I gas masks and they are in columns about this wide and every once in a while gas rises in these columns and obliterates the mask and you look over your soldiers and there are three of the great poems that came out of the war. Of course the one in Flandersfield, Where the Poppies Blow. The one over here that I remember is Wilfred Owen saying and so, it is a beautiful poem and he says and so they make us do this they make us do that, but when all this is over, let it never ever, we must put an end to the biggest of all the lies, dolce est decorum est … it is honorable to die for your country, never again. Tough issues.

Charles: Tough issues, but approached creatively.

Thelen: Very creatively with artifacts and with hard ideas, so that you are left, oh man. There are scenes of that incredible trench warfare, one hundred thousand people die to move the line a foot or two. It is probably the strongest anti-war museum I ever saw.

Charles: I would love to see that.

Thelen: Well if you are ever in Belgium, it is not far from Amsterdam, it is not far from anywhere in that part of the world. It is really worth the trip anyway. We should go back to.

Charles: To Sixth Floor.

Thelen: Let us make sure that, well we are actually done with eating. Go to the Sixth Floor. We actually have been talking about some of the exhibits we were going to talk about anyways, like Monticello, but let us talk about the Sixth Floor. How did it happen? How did we get there? Who were you dealing with? What were the attractions that first? What kind of challenges did you face?

Staples: The biggest challenge was should you do it or not do it.

Thelen: Okay, let us talk about that first.

Charles: Lyndalyn Adams who has been president I think of every historic group around Dallas.

Staples: …queen.

Charles: She is a SMU belle, very elegant lady.

Staples: She does not sweat.

Charles: Her husband was a doctor at Parkland Hospital.

Thelen: On that date?

Charles: Yes. I do not think involved with Kennedy. She actually - there had been a demonstration against Stevenson, Addly Stevenson, earlier that year or the year before or maybe a couple of years before, right wing people. She was actually involved with that. She believed and other in the historic community that they had to deal with the schoolbook depository building.

Long before we got involved, I think in 1976, they got an NEH grant to study the building and think about what could happen in this building, interview people and all that kind of stuff. They - part of the outcome of that or maybe this was after the county bought it. The county in the seventies bought the schoolbook depository building.

Staples: Which is seven stories tall and this incident took place on the sixth floor, presumably.

Charles: The county, I mean the county needed office space, the building was available. It also was a way to keep a wax museum or keep something else from going into this building, which was a very smart move. The county was putting in plans to put in their office space and they put them in most of first, second, third, fourth, fifth, through fifth, sixth was saved and seventh was saved separate. Long before we got involved, the Hertz sign from the roof had been taken off for historic preservation reasons. It was a very heavy on the roof.

Staples: Structural problems.

Charles: As they had worked on the county offices they saved the lunchroom from the second floor because that is reportedly where Oswald was seen, in the lunchroom. We got involved in, I think eight-two. We designed a puppet show, which was just a fun show, interesting design problem, which we have encouraged AU to take it for the design aspect. The puppet show was in Dallas.

Staples: Fairpark.

Charles: Fairpark at the historical society. You are having drinks at the opening of the puppet show and Lyndalyn Adams and Conover, we had met Conover once or twice before, Conover Hunt.

Staples: Was Shirley Cowill?

Charles: No it was just Lyndalyn and Conover that first time, I am sure of it. Conover says she has somebody she wants up to meet, so we meet Lyndalyn . Then they start talking about the sixth floor. They want to take us up on the sixth floor. Sort of an incongruous environment.

Thelen: Meanwhile with a couple glasses of wine.

Charles: And you are at a happy puppet show.

Thelen: Yes, let us go to the sixth floor, okay.

Charles: I remember being surprised, but we agreed to go. We went up to the sixth floor when it just was sort of as it had been left. The books had been taken out, but the sixth floor was just an empty warehouse space.

Thelen: Was that how it was, I have forgotten.

Staples: It was empty when we were there.

Charles: When Oswald was there, no no no, sourrounded by books.

Thelen: Surrounded by books.

Charles: That was one of the ways he could have been hiding up there.

Staples: Supposedly.

Thelen: Right, we will stipulate that on everything you are going to say.

Charles: So it was very powerful and they wanted us to work on a study about how this could become an exhibit. It is about, what, ten thousand square feet up there and it has these columns, fourteen feet on center and so on.

Thelen: Remind me what year was this we are taking about?

Charles: About eighty-two.

Thelen: Okay, continue do not look it up I did not mean to distract you.

Charles: I have been trying as I find things to stick them up here for AU. No, I thought maybe I had the Sixth floor report.

Thelen: So about twenty years later, plus or minus.

Charles: In that sense, possibly even they were planning to make an announcement in eighty-three, but I do not remember it having to be so tied to that. We worked with them about six months on plans for this, we built a model. We worked with Gene Georgia, preservation architect, really brilliant guy. I think Bob may have first said, let us, we will just keep the whole structure, we will just do our signage.

Thelen: Now you are already talking about building it. How did you decide to do it period?

Charles: I will be arrogant.

Staples: We came home and we discussed this thing quite a lot. Then we talked to people like Earl Stramstead about it. Then afterwards we had second thoughts and said, “well if it is going to get done, we ought to do it.”

Charles: They were determined, it was obvious.

Thelen: They were going to have a museum.

Charles: They were going to do it.

Staples: They were going to do something with the sixth floor. It was still the schoolbook depository, there was not really the sixth floor.

Charles: No, it got named in the process. We felt we would do as good a job as anyone else and that they were determined so we sort of had an obligation.

Staples: And we liked the people.

Thelen: You liked the people, so did the historical moment.

Charles: Interesting topic, stimulating colleagues. Not an important institution at that point, but challenging. Real intellectual problems, it sort of fits. Pretty much control of the design solutions, not totally, but pretty much. I mean there were architects involved, but it was clear we would be responsible for the exhibits. Good client, decisive client.

Thelen: Was there something about that event or that place that was particularly, was it a generic challenge? Was there something, you know all of us of our age have some engagement with that moment somehow? I assume you guys did too.

Charles: I do definitely.

Thelen: That might have been triggered, oh my God I am in the place where. Talking about reality as we were earlier. I am putting words in your mouth.

Charles: The decision to me was really that, there was sort of two choices. Not our choice, but on this project, whether you say, “you should not do anything, you obliterate the sixth floor, just make it into offices” or you do what they were determined to do and that was to make Dallas - to give Dallas a place, a public statement and not we are the place responsible for the assassination, but what people said to us then, Lyndalyn said it, Shirley Colwill said it. If they traveled anywhere at this time and they said they were from Dallas, it was you are the city that killed Kennedy.

Thelen: I recognize that.

Charles: That was pretty horrifying, they loved Dallas, they loved their town, but they also knew it was the place that Kennedy got killed. This group of women had really determined that we have to talk about it. We cannot put our head in the sand.

Staples: We cannot keep ignoring it and think it is going to go away. So that is what they were determined to do.

Thelen: But you guys are not from Dallas, you do not have to buy into that.

Charles: But you knew they were - we were the right people to do it. We felt we were the right people to do it.

Staples: We bought into the women’s argument to keep it.

Thelen: You wanted to help them find a way to express the sentiment.

Charles: We could not think of any other designer to tell them to go to that we thought would do a better job than we would. That is a fairly arrogant statement, but it is true.

Staples: We had to deal with the architect on record there, who was a Texan who had to create the solution, how do you get the public from the ground up to the sixth floor without disturbing the courts and all that stuff. They had to build a little, what he calls a hyphen.

Thelen: A hyphen?

Staples: It was a tower with a little bit of connection to this building?

Charles: Have you been there?

Thelen: No, well yes, but not since 1982. I was there shortly…

Charles: You have not seen the exhibit.

Thelen: The last time I was there, there were glasses and people put little wildflowers so it must have been a few - not very long after. No I have never seen it.

Staples: Anyway there was some architectural issues. If you are going to create a public space on the sixth floor, how do you get them up there? And there were historic building issue, not to destroy the sixth floor building, which is Delee Plaza and so I cannot remember, Hendrix.

Charles: Jim Hendrix.

Staples: Jim Hendrix is the architect who did the, they call it a hyphen, to mask it through the various committees. Once you got them up there what is the travel, everybody wants to go, you assume, to the corner window and you are entering the back of the building. Then you have to think about the story you are going to tell and you have only a few feet between the entry point at the back of the building to the corner window. You have to get a certain amount of the story told before you get to the window. Then from the window you can tell another part of the story, which is Oswald and Ruby.

In the process of doing that you have to establish Kennedy as the president, the White House, the trips to Dallas, the meetings et cetera, et cetera. Anyway, we plotted out the story and we set about the process of doing it. We called on a graphic designer, Kevin Osburn, to help us establish a kind of look, textual look of this show. The fact is that most of show is black and white photograph of the time, sixty-four, you know color photography is certainly there but it is not as prevalent in the news business as it is today. So the idea is that it is a reportage show.

We established it from the historic building’s sake we wanted to disturb as little of the original texture of the building, the columns and the ceiling, but there are all of these issues that have to be taken into account. There are sprinkler systems now that you have to add, you have to have elevators and you have to have air conditioning systems and ducting and all that stuff.

Charles: This is some of what it looked like, either when we first saw it or when we came back in eighty-eight or eighty-nine. We started in eighty-two or eighty-three and just did a study. Then they could not fund it.

Thelen: So there was a gap.

Charles: About five years or so, maybe more.

Thelen: Gestation period. Sorry, I cut you off Bob.

Staples: The point is that this space then had to be accommodated, has to accommodate a public gathering space, so HVAC and DEX, Dallas is important. There was a lot of huffing and puffing about where do you put all the equipment, what kind of ducts are you going to do, how much of the fabric are you going to destroy?

Charles: Gene Georgia was great in that.

Staples: Well, Hendrix, who was good too because he had to make stuff work within the space. I do not think you are going to isolate him, even though he was a little bit cantankerous.

Charles: Gene really, we had…

Staples: I do not know who.

Charles: Gene George was the historic preservation architect who basically was responsible for preserving the fabric of the building. Gene is the one we talked with - he may have even said, “what if we just brush this wood, let us not paint it, let us not do anything.”

Staples: Let us just clean it.

Charles: He was good in turn I think we had to get all the duct works flattened so they would fit up in the eves. Gene as an architect could talk to Jim Hendrix and make it all happen and so forth. We pick a color that we called brindal and I had to define it recently for them because they had to repaint. We kind of went around and picked a color that blended in with all of this to paint walls like this in places that were clearly new that had to get put in. they had to put an elevator in for example.

Download 0.61 Mb.

Share with your friends:
1   ...   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   ...   21

The database is protected by copyright © 2022
send message

    Main page