June 2012 Archives

The Wall Street Journal's Homes section catches up with Kaywin Feldman, the former director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, to take a look at the home she shares in Minneapolis with her husband, architecture professor Jim Lutz. While in Memphis, the couple had fixed up the striking Seagle house on Poplar across from Overton Park. Looking around for something similar modern in the Twin Cities, Feldman made an interesting choice:

When Kaywin Feldman moved here to take a job as the director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, she knew it would be difficult to replace her home in Memphis. Designed by a student of famed architect Louis Kahn, it was a 1950s-built midcentury modern that she and her husband, Jim Lutz, an architecture professor, had worked to restore and improve over nine years.

After looking at nearly 30 homes, Ms. Feldman finally found another modern house with a boxy exterior and glass walls. But this one had a different provenance. Constructed five years ago in a Wisconsin factory and installed in a few weeks on-site, it was a "weeHouse," one of a series of prefabricated homes designed by local architects Geoffrey Warner and Scott Ervin of Alchemy Architects.

At 2,900 square feet, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom house is one of the largest of the series--the couple jokingly refer to it as their "not so wee house." Located in the Linden Hills neighborhood, which is lined with more-traditional early 20th-century homes, the house is made up of four glass-and-cedar modular units stacked just slightly off-center, with small cantilevers, topped by a flat roof.

The couple say they like the low upkeep of the weeHouse compared with their architecturally significant fixer-upper in Memphis. They're also enjoying more privacy these days:

For the glass wall overlooking the street, Ms. Lutz insisted on installing window coverings, strung on simple hospital-track metal fixtures, for privacy. At their previous home, which overlooked a city park, "I would sometimes have someone come up to me and say, 'Oh, I saw you getting a book off the shelf,' " she recalled. "I said, 'When we move here, I want drapes and I want them now.' "

Don't miss the slideshow with pictures of the interior and the exterior of the weeHouse.

Who would replace Fred Smith at helm of FedEx?

 
Financial Post has an article today examining the question of who might succeed FedEx chairman and CEO Fred Smith when he finally leaves the $27 billion company he founded. Smith once indicated he might leave by 2013, but he now says he has no plans to leave any time soon.

"I'm extremely concerned," said Ron Wickens, FedEx's former vice president for strategic projects and a shareholder. "Who is that replacement? And does he have the vision that Fred Smith has?"

Smith's eventual successor at Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx will face the burden of following a pioneering CEO, said John Haber, executive vice president of the transportation division at Atlanta-based NPI LLC, which helps clients manage supply-chain costs. That means he or she will have to figure out what to change to build on the company's success.

FedEx has "good bench strength, but their bench strength, they're not visionaries like Fred Smith," said Haber, who previously worked at competitor United Parcel Service Inc. "What is at risk is, 'What is the next great idea?'"


The article also tosses out a few names as possible successors for Smith's CEO title. It appears that this would be an internal hire or someone who has been groomed to step in.

Possible candidates for Smith's CEO job include Chief Financial Officer Alan Graf and Mike Glenn, executive vice president of market development and corporate communications, according to Ross and Satish Jindel, president of SJ Consulting Group Inc. in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Dave Rebholz, the head of FedEx Ground, and Dave Bronczek, who leads Express, also are potential choices, Jindel and Ross said.


The National League of Cities' website carries an item about Memphis Mayor AC Wharton's participation in a recent Mayors' Institute on Children and Families workshop on increasing college attainment among cities' adult workforces.

The four participating mayors and their staff and local partners shared similar concerns. Too few workers have the educational attainment and skills needed to obtain well-paying jobs in fast-growing industries, such as advanced manufacturing, bioscience, renewable energy and health care. Moreover, each city struggles with racial, ethnic and economic inequalities in access to postsecondary education.

Wharton has been on board on this issue most recently with a $1.7 million grant from between the Plough Foundation and a partnership with Leadership Memphis to help about 200,000 adults in the Memphis-area adults complete their degrees. The mayor himself provided another anecdote on his work in this area during the workshop, which also included Wharton's counterparts from Salt Lake City, Louisville and Berkeley, Calif.

Mayor Wharton held up the example of a local brewery struggling to find qualified workers that partnered with a Southwest Tennessee Community College to offer specialized training that met their employment needs. 

The article also mentions this appalling statistic, which helps explain why Memphis has so many adults who haven't completed their postsecondary education:

Of the 70 percent of students who graduate from Memphis City Schools, only four percent of those students are considered to be ready for college.
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