In late January 2014, an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Advisory Services panel presented recommendations for the dilapidated Houston Astrodome. The report follows several ill-fated dome reuse attempts, including a plan and $200 million bond referendum to turn it into a convention center that was shot down by Harris County voters in 2013. The ULI panel was definitive in its assessment. The dome, it stated, must be saved. It also unveiled a plan, complete with design sketches and funding strategies, to transform the former stadium into a public park that could be completed in time for Super Bowl LI, which Houston is hosting in 2017.
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The facade’s stainless steel panels form a wave pattern, cutting down on glare and heat loads while representing the contribution computing has made to design.
The recently completed Bill & Melinda Gates Hall at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, combines the schools’ Computing Science and Information Science departments under one roof. Designed by Morphosis, the facility encourages spontaneous interactions between these two disciplines with common spaces for comingling and transparent partitions that allow views, and daylight, to pass from space to space. The building envelope, a unitized glass curtain wall system, is wrapped in a band of perforated stainless steel panels that forms a dynamic, angular wave pattern across the surface. In addition to creating a sense of movement across the exterior, it serves as a fitting symbol of the contribution that computing has had on the arts and sciences: The architects used advanced digital modeling tools to design the geometry, pattern, and details of this additive layer, and made it to function both as an aesthetic gesture as well as a performance enhancing element of the architecture. “The goal was to establish a consistent level of daylighting throughout the interior,” said Cory Brugger, director of design technology at Morphosis. “We maximized the exterior glazing to get the light coming through. The design of the screen reduces the amount of glare and heat gain and starts to help with the performance of the facade system itself.”
On November 30, the Arts Council New Orleans launched LUNA Fête, a large-scale, outdoor light and sound installation that can be experienced free by the public at Lafayette Square. The centerpiece of the event is a projection mapping display by French art group La Maison Productions that transforms the Crescent City’s former city hall (Gallier Hall, 1853) into a neoclassical canvas. The nine-minute animated work plays on the columns and contours of the Greek Revival edifice with a richly layered spectacle inspired by the music and cultural history of New Orleans.
On the evening of Thursday, November 13, temperatures in Austin, Texas, dropped below freezing. In spite of the fact that most locals are unaccustomed to this degree of frigidity, more than 1,000 people turned out for Creek Show: Light Night 2014. The event, which ran from five in the evening until midnight, celebrated the unveiling of a series of light installations along Waller Creek between 5th and 9th streets.
Whatever you may think of video games (new media art form, societal ill, lame waste of time) there was no avoiding them in downtown Denver this summer. From June 7 to July 26, three blocks of Champa Street between 14th Street and the 16th Street Mall were transformed into one big video arcade. Known as Oh Heck Yeah, the project assembled local and national arts groups and businesses to activate this stretch of turf with a variety of programming centered around a series of custom designed, family friendly video games. Designed by Denver-based creative teams Legwork Studio and Mode Set, the games were played on the Theatre District’s giant LED screens.
Earlier this month, the Van Alen Institute announced Future Ground, an international design competition that is hoping to attract fresh strategies for reusing the many vacant lots that dot New Orleans. The competition is seeking submissions from landscape designers, architects, planners, public policy wonks, and pretty much anybody in the business of shaping urban environments and is supported by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), which owns more than 2,000 vacant lots.
There are somewhere around 30,000 empty lots and abandoned structures throughout New Orleans today, most of them left by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city in 2005. As the 10-year anniversary of the storm approaches, Future Ground is looking to create design and policy strategies capable of adapting to changes in density, demand, climate, and landscape in New Orleans over the next half-century in an effort to turn these abandoned landscapes into lasting resources.
Nearly a month has passed now since the more than 800 people from all of the globe who attended this year’s New Cities Summit in Dallas, Texas, packed up their bags, and returned home. Each is now equipped—if the Summit proved its purpose—with a slew of practical ideas on how to positively transform the urban environment, or at least a more robust list of contacts in the fields of government, business, and urban design. For those of you who missed it, the New Cities Foundation has just released an ebook recapitulating what was discussed in its many keynote speeches, workshops, and panel discussions. The foundation has also produced a four-minute highlights movie (embedded below), which captures some of the enthusiastic spirit of this international gathering of urban thinkers and doers, which is now in its third year.
It is well-known that Frank Lloyd Wright was an automobile enthusiast, both foreseeing the prominence that this form of personal mobility would occupy in American life and, indeed, laying much of the foundation of how architecture might be designed for and around the car. Less-known is the fact that in 1927 he designed a gas station for Buffalo, New York, which was never built—or never until very recently.
On June 26, London’s Serpentine Gallery opened its 14th annual Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens. Designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, the pavilion is made up of an organically formed semi-transparent fiberglass shell structure perched atop giant boulders sourced from a local quarry. Over the next four months, visitors will be encouraged to interact with the 1,700-square-foot installation, which is occupied by a cafe and multi-purpose event space.
Friday the 13th just got a whole lot scarier. Tomorrow, on the tail of The World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, Oregon (NSFW Link), a similar clothing-optional bicycle boosting event is coming to Brooklyn. Topically dubbed Vision Zero Clothing (in what must be an honest homage to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, which proposes to stop people from getting run over by cars), the event is scheduled to get underway at 6:00 p.m. at Grand Ferry Park in Williamsburg (which, incidentally, is a favorite hangout of the Hasidic Jewish community).