Is Mercury in retrograde? Not yet, but it’s coming. Mercury returns to retrograde on October 31, 2019, meaning that there might be more tricks than treats this year for Halloween.
The final retrograde of the year won’t go quietly into that dark night; you can expect it to last until November 20. Some people also swear by a retrograde “shadow period” whereby Mercury’s frustrating effects are waning but still present—all for a whopping two weeks.
What better time, then, to brush up on a little astrology? We at Curbed wouldn’t advocate for just any old horoscope, though. See how closely your star sign aligns with your favorite architects and designers, below. And for Zeus’s sake, remain flexible, allow extra time for travel, and avoid signing contracts, at least through Thanksgiving.
August 23-September 22
Born in the pregnant pause right after summer’s harvest, Virgos are consumed by the nagging feeling that, no matter how much you’ve saved, it won’t be enough to last through winter. And so, like Renzo Piano, you hoard projects that will last you: The $422 million construction of The (new) Whitney took three years, the $135 million Kimbell Museum addition took seven, and the $100 million Centre Pompidou sustained him for six.
It’s only from a bird’s eye view that these projects reveal your true self: fundamentally practical. The New York Times headquarters, The Whitney, The Shard, the Menil Collection are all muscular buildings whose true virtue lies in their containment; they easily hold everything tasked to them within the brevity of a single outstretched palm. They are almost never over-budget and rarely past schedule. Virgo, have more faith in what you’ve done. Come winter, it will be enough.
September 23-October 23
If Bjarke Ingels could travel back in time, he would probably tell himself that under no circumstances should he be filmed biking through the Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai 2010 Expo set to the soundtrack of “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. That BIG-designed pavilion—ambling, infinite, white, temporary—is anchored by two things taken directly from Copenhagen’s harbor: a small pool of water and a bust of the Little Mermaid.
Libras take for granted that each light thing in their lives must be offset by a heavy one, and each fall should be proceeded by an equal rise. Ingels pleaded with the Danish parliament to let him carry the body of a beloved national symbol across the world. Keep this in mind: Temporary gestures won’t sustain you, but will only keep you afloat. Like Bjarke, you must seek authentic and tangible objects to weigh you down in times of crisis.
October 23-November 21
Just a short walk from the banks of the Tigris on a eucalyptus-lined street, the late Zaha Hadid’s childhood home is a Bauhaus-style concrete testament to Baghdad’s short-lived love affair with modernism. Zaha hadn’t returned before her death in 2016, having no idea what it looks like now: Abandoned, emptied of her family, boarded up.
Even Beirut—her second home, the perennial site of family vacations, and where, eventually, Hadid spent her college years—has been torn asunder by a civil war. Every time she left home, her home left her.
In the last years of her life Hadid lived in an austere East London flat that evoked the heartfelt intimacy of a bank lobby. With nary a cushion, carpet, or curtain in sight, Hadid explained that she spent most of her time at the office: “It’s not my project,” she explains with the air of someone who is done with the romantic notion of home.
With a stern upper lip and a cadre of assistants wielding iPhones, Hadid had no time to pretend she was something that she’s not: Unyielding, insistent, and blessed with visions of the future. Scorpio, you must make amends with the fact that you were born with weapons where you should have had hands. Like the Bauhaus home that Zaha Hadid grew up in, you must jolt the rest of us out of our stupor with your vision of the future, even if, afterwards, you find yourself empty.
November 22-December 21
Frank Gehry, upon entering Oscar Niemeyer’s office for the first time, was handed a sketch of “a row of women lying on the beach, alternately chest up, chest down” and told that it “explained everything.’’ Niemeyer, whose mantra was “form follows feminine,” was never shy about his vices: women, Brazilian landscapes, and cigars.
Only another Sagittarius can understand Niemeyer’s dual selves: the head of a man paired with the body of an animal. The city of Brasilia is, from an urbanist’s perspective, a complete failure: cold, unwalkable, abandoned, hubristic. Yet, it’s Niemeyer’s architecture—inverted parabolic arches, off-rhythm geometries, a complete dismissal of gravity—that saves it from our ire.
Instead, we’re charmed by it. Sagittarius, do you know the story of the Trojan horse? Let them talk to a man; reason with a man; shake hands with a man. By hiding what you truly are, they will give you money. Sagittarius, this is how you’ll trick them into doing what you want.
December 22-January 19
When LA-based architect Thom Mayne was out of work early in his career, he would re-occupy himself with whatever project he had just finished. After reworking each one to the point of exhaustion, he would turn it over and begin again. Capricorn, you subsist on continuously reworking the same project, but expecting different results.
And yet, while Capricorn is preoccupied with waiting, they accidentally transform into the final version of themselves. Mayne’s work has taken on the fatigue of “fucking 30 years” of toil. The Cooper Union—fissured and glitched—is the architecture of being interrupted mid-sentence and forced to begin again.
January 20-February 18
In 1926, Grete Lihotzky was summoned by Ernst Mays to design 10,000 modular kitchens for postwar Frankfurt. When she entered his office, she was struck by a sign over his desk—red letters that read “Keep It Short.” She did just that. For the kitchen, she designed a 90-centimeter doorframe (wide enough to keep one eye on children in the living room), adjustable lights (so as to never to cast shadows on the cutting board), and space between the refrigerator, sink, and stove that was dictated by the length of a women’s gait.
Grete meticulously measured out every second women spent in the kitchen and, like a gift, sought to give it back. It wasn’t really a kitchen; it was design alchemy. Tasked with righting the wrongs of others, Aquarius, the cleaner, is forever tied to a water vessel. Grete, who was the first female architect of Vienna, spent two years in a Nazi internment camp for resistance and was professionally blacklisted for the rest of her life. Aquarius, the job you do won’t be glamorous, but it will be necessary.
February 19-March 20
Luis Barragán, who loved nice suits and Catholicism, hid three unintentional prayers in his Mexico City studio. The first one is a Madonna, sitting adjacent to the bed in his guest room. The second one is a relief crucifix over the serving table in Barragàn’s private dining room, which forces the server to lean down to pick up food, bow before it, and pass under it to leave. The third is the shutters, divided into four quadrants so that, when the sun is strongest, the shadow of a cross will float across the studio floor like an incoming tide.
Pisces, don’t be misled by the seemingly secular body of the fish. The story goes like this: Chased by Typhon, Aphrodite and Eros took refuge in the form of a fish, but were condemned to constant motion. Like Barragàn, you must surround yourself with quiet and profound reminders of your own divinity or else you will forget that you are a god.
March 21-April 19
Nearing the end of his life, Mies van der Rohe made one final pilgrimage from Chicago to Berlin. Hunkered in the back of his chauffeured car, Mies had his driver sit motionless in front of the Neue Staatsgalerie. The glass museum floated atop the construction site, taunting art collectors with the building’s impossible task: mounting art in a wall-less museum.
Its predecessors had come years earlier, the all-glass Farnsworth House and the Seagram Building, but this was Mies’s final crescendo. Without rolling up his window, Mies coldly surveyed the site’s progress and felt like his job—as modernism’s bible salesman—had come to a quiet conclusion. The Aries architect is more methodical than your typical Aries, but no less stubborn.
April 20-May 20
An unlikely lunch: Tobey Maguire and his wife, Jennifer Meyer, are attempting to woo Peter Zumthor. Critic Michael Kimmelman is close by, listening to everything. Zumthor, the notoriously reclusive Swiss architect, has kept an aura of divine mystery around him. His Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, built in 24 days, weaves 112 tree trunks into a tight-lipped labyrinth. Described as an “an essentialist of the sensual,” the building’s only window is a small slit at the very top.
Ten years ago, this meeting would have been out of the question. But, Zumthor confided to Kimmelman, he was beginning to “put aside a little nest egg” at the age of 67. Zumthor agrees to consider the Hollywood home on only one condition: Maguire must embark on a European tour of his work which shall end at his Swiss studio—only then will Zumthor decide.
You, Taurus, will also be constantly tempted by fame and quick money, but neither will make you happy. Like Zumthor, you are an earth sign. Bask in materiality, solitude, and remember: Never agree to design Tobey Maguire’s house without making him do some crazy shit first.
May 21-June 20
Albert Einstein famously eschewed the idea of a tomb. In 1980, Lebbeus Woods proposed one for him that could never exist anyway—cremate Albert Einstein’s body within a cross-shipped spaceship, set it to travel across a beam of light, allow it to vanish, and then, due to Einstein’s own principle of gravity, wait for it return to Earth in perpetuity.
The sheer bewilderment of Woods’s fantastical projects was tempered only by his insistence that none of them were without intent or plausibility. To be clear, Lebbeus Woods became one of the most revered architects of the modern era without ever finishing a building.
Gemini, you must trust your inherent duality to take you far, far away, and then—the moment you’re about to lose hope—it will drop you off exactly where you’re meant to be, just like Einstein’s tomb.
June 20-July 22
“I am a whore and I am paid very well for high-rise buildings.” It’s not even the most shocking thing Philip Johnson ever said. Phillip took a few too many years to graduate Harvard, nursed his trust fund, had a brief flirtation with fascism, was an epigone of his contemporaries, designed the deeply paradoxical Glass House, and was always blunt about his wants—he loved fame, money, and beauty.
Like Philip, the emotional Cancer is in a constant state of falling in and out of love with different versions of themselves and, just as quickly, forgetting the version they had been before. David Grainger Whitney, the quiet partner of Philip for 45 years, bought the property next to the Glass House so, at the end of their lives, the two could be together. Closeted, but open. Cancer, find someone who will keep you still in your paradox.
July 23-August 22
Leo, you must abide by Eileen Gray’s example in order to not be insufferable. The daughter of landed aristocracy, she wanted nothing to do with her birthright—a drafty nineteenth-century estate in Enniscorthy, Ireland. The penance of the self-exiled aristocrat began with the construction of E.1027, an ill-fated seaside villa on the cliffs of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.
On one hand, the home is an exquisitely simple nonpareil act of modernism; on the other, it can’t stand the thought of modernism. The house achieves perfection and then, at the last moment, whispers in your ear that it never really cared anyway. And that might be why Le Corbusier had to vandalize it, why Nazi soldiers chose it for their target practice, and why, for a short while, the world chose to forget its architect.
The revival of her work has been swift and sweeping. Gray’s Dragon Chair sold at auction for $28 million, her biopic stars Alanis Morrisette, and E.1027 is no longer misattributed to her dead lover. Leo, if you wish to deserve the royalty you were born with, you must first denounce it and then, like Eileen, slowly earn it back through daring acts. Don’t worry, it will never fully desert you.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated with the latest information.