Here’s the Urban Land Institute’s plan for turning the Houston Astrodome into a park

Even though it has been an empty, rotting hulk for nearly a decade, Houston hasn't been able to make a decision on the Astrodome. (Courtesy Uffah!!!/flickr)

Even though it has been an empty, rotting hulk for nearly a decade, Houston hasn’t been able to decide whether to save or raze its beloved/neglected/hated Astrodome. (Courtesy Uffah!!!/flickr)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Morphosis Computes a Facade for Cornell

Architecture, East, Envelope
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
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Gates Hall's facade features stainless steel panels that mitigate heat loading. (Courtesy Cornell University)

Gates Hall’s facade features perforated stainless steel panels that mitigate heat loading. (Courtesy Cornell University)

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.”

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On View> New Orleans’ neoclassical Gallier Hall washed in dynamic light for LUNA Fête

21st century technology animates an 18th century facade. (Courtesy Arts Council New Orleans)

21st century technology animates a 19th century facade. (Courtesy Arts Council New Orleans)

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.

Watch a video after the jump.

Creek Show shines a light on Austin’s Waller Creek

High Watermark by Thoughtbarn (James Leasure)

High Water Mark by Thoughtbarn (James Leasure)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

HiWorks Architecture Redesigns Houston’s Rocket Park, Without Being Asked

HiWorks' scheme posits a segmented building with glass sections that allow views in to the moon rocket. (Courtesy HiWorks Architecture)

HiWorks’ scheme posits a segmented building with glass sections that allow views in to the moon rocket. (Courtesy HiWorks Architecture)

When I was a boy growing up in Houston, Texas, one of my favorite field trips was the drive down to Clear Lake to tour NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. One of the highlights of the visit—in addition to seeing Mission Control, eating astronaut ice cream, and picking up a new zero-gravity pen in the gift shop—was the enormous Saturn V rocket, lying on its side in sections, that greeted you as you approached the facility at the corner of Saturn Lane and 2nd Street.

Continue reading after the jump.

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Video> “Oh Heck Yeah” turns downtown Denver into a communal video arcade

City Terrain, Southwest, Urbanism
Thursday, August 28, 2014
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A series of custom, family friendly video games occupied three blocks of downtown Denver this summer. (Courtesy Oh Heck Yeah)

A series of custom, family friendly video games occupied three blocks of downtown Denver this summer. (Courtesy Oh Heck Yeah)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Van Alen Institute Launches Competition Seeking Land Reuse Strategies for New Orleans

(Courtesy Van Alen)

(Courtesy Van Alen)

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.

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Shigeru Ban-Designed Aspen Art Museum Opens With A Bang, Literally

Architecture, Art, Newsletter, Southwest
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
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Workers were still putting the finishing touches on the building when it opened to members and the press. (Courtesy AAM)

Workers were still putting the finishing touches on the building when it opened to members and the press on Saturday, August 2. (Courtesy AAM/David X Prutting)

On Saturday, August 2, I had the opportunity to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony and member’s opening of the new Aspen Art Museum (AAM), designed by this year’s Pritzker Prize winner, Shigeru Ban. The event took place at the tail end of AAM’s annual ArtCrush festival, which gathers artists, art collectors, curators, gallery owners, celebrities, and philanthropists from around the world to celebrate contemporary art and raise money for the museum through an auction.

Continue reading after the jump.

2014 New Cities Summit Calls for Re-Imagining the Urban Environment

The Summit workshop "Dallas: A Case Study in Re-imagination and Transformation," June 17, 2014, at the Winspear Opera House. (Courtesy New Cities Foundation)

The Summit workshop “Dallas: A Case Study in Re-imagination and Transformation,” June 17, 2014, at the Winspear Opera House. (Courtesy New Cities Foundation)

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.

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Frank Lloyd Wright–Designed Filling Station Finally Built in Buffalo, New York

(Courtesy Pierce-Arrow Museum)

(Courtesy Pierce-Arrow Museum)

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.

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14th Annual Serpentine Pavilion Opens in Kensington Gardens, Designed by Smiljan Radic

Perched atop several large boulders, this year's pavilion is an organically shaped fiberglass shell that houses a cafe. (Courtesy Serpentine Gallery)

Perched atop several large boulders, this year’s pavilion is an organically shaped fiberglass shell that houses a cafe. (Courtesy Serpentine Gallery)

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.

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Drop Your Drawers For Cycling: Vision Zero Clothing Comes to Brooklyn

City Terrain, East, Transportation
Thursday, June 12, 2014
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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).

More information after the jump.

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