Tag Archives: Aileen Roberts

Wednesday , August 26 , 2015

Barnes Foundation “Greenwash” Can’t Clean Up Toxic Waste of the Move

 

“Greenwashing” is all the rage.  The London Olympics were promoted as the “greenest” ever and sponsors Dow Chemical and British Petroleum (BP) stepped up to reap the publicity benefits.  Now the controversial Parkway Barnes is getting a good hosing down of “greenwash.”

 

 

The New York Times’ RandyKennedy reports that the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status to the Barnes Foundation for the Parkway building that houses the art
collection of Albert Barnes.  A green roof, a cistern for watering the gardens, flooring in the galleries salvaged from Coney Island, etc. helped to win the USBC over.  How nice!

photo credit Tom Crane
We would love to know how they figured in the environmental impact of bringing stone from Israel’s Negev desert to cover the exterior of the 93,000 square-foot building!  (LEED requirements call for building materials that have been extracted, harvested, or recovered within 500 miles.)  But that is a detail. 

 

The real point is that for all of the “greenwashing” this LEED status offers, the Parkway building’s very existence meant destruction of the internationally-revered, sustainable, accessible cultural site of the Barnes Foundation in Merion just a few away, on the border with the City. 
Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA
The Barnes movers (a.k.a. Philly-stines) are being praised for a building that should never have been erected.  These are not people following the tenets of good stewardship of natural and cultural resources.  These are people motivated by commerce, political, gain, and “status” by exploiting amd debasing the Barnes legacy in a Big City power grab. 
Barnes Board Vice Chair Joseph Neubauer, former PA Gov. Rendell
As Philadelphian Sandy Bressler put it in a comment on the blog “Hidden City Philadelphia 

 

 

“Seeking LEED Platinum Certification for an unnecessary and inferior Barnes “Museum” less than 5 miles from the fully functional, recently renovated and historically significant original mocks the notion of sustainability.This whole endeavor is the essence of waste and destruction.”

 

Nice try, you guys, but the manipulations used to move of the art collection to Philadelphia (documented in the film The Art of theSteal”) have left an indelible toxic stench that even a “LEED Platinum” award cannot wash away. 

Wednesday , August 26 , 2015

Barnes World: Awards for Philly-Stines-in-Chief

 

(photo credit Tom Crane Photography, Inc.)

Philadelphia Inquirer’s Culture writer Peter Dobrin broke the news last night that  Aileen Roberts (Comcast) and Joseph Neubauer (Aramark Corporation) were the unanimous choices for The Philadelphia Award.

No reflection on Mr. Dobrin, but this news  is about as surprising as time marching on. 
We won’t bore you with the multiple layers of connections among Philly-stines that wormed their way into the Barnes and are ripping it apart. Just to mention that the Chair of the “Independence” Foundation that gives “The Philadelphia Award,” is Phyllis W. Beck, former legal counsel for the Barnes Foundation. And Comcast executive David Cohen heads the Barnes Corporate Council.  All very cozy in Philadelphia, as usual.

The award announcement does include a couple of real gems.  Joe Neubauer is given credit for raising $150 million for the new building and more than $50 million for the endowment.  Wonder what happened to Rebecca Rimel of Pew, who used to get credit for raising the big bucks? 

But wait a second. let’s remember that about $50 million for the pork barrel project is from Pennsylvania TAXPAYERS, part of the 2002 $107 million appropriation put in place when former state Senator for Philadelphia Vincent Fumo was the head of the Appropriations Committee.  He’s in jail now.

Then there are Aileen Roberts’ self-serving comments about the building on the Parkway, including “…it takes your breath away.”  But gee, she doesn’t explain why.  According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung piece, “The Revenge of the Rich”  “The ‘Barnes on the Freeway’ is going to look like a cross between a multiplex cinema and an upside-down milk carton. 

Having seen it, we can tell you that it really is breathtaking, but not in a good way; rather in a “what were they thinking?!” way.

But on the occasion of the “honors” bestowed within the clique known as true Philly-stines, let’s turn to Dr. Albert C. Barnes and his words at the dedication of the Barnes Foundation in Merion on March 19, 1925:
“The Foundation is an educational institution and not an entertainment bureau for ‘aesthetes.’ Anybody serious can link up with us, but nobody is rich enough or prominent enough to get in with us on those qualities [alone].“  
(Reference taken from Art, education & African American culture by Mary Ann Meyers)

If only the Barnes Board members’ and supporters (Pew, Annenberg, Lenfest, et al.) wealth was matched with enough sophistication, imagination, creativity to let them see how to embrace the unique place that Dr. Barnes bequeathed instead of remaking what was already here, already accessible, and already financially sustainable.