In our pilot Midwest issue, I wrote about The Ledge, a new viewing platform at the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago. At the time, only renderings were available of the SOM-designed all-glass cubes that protrude off of the tower’s west face, and the project was expected to open in mid June. Well, it appears that the dizzying new viewing experience is now accepting visitors, as a whole rash of pictures have popped up on flickr. Among them is the above image, which reminds us that sometimes the highest achievement that architecture can aspire to is to fuel the dreams of a child.
The Monacelli Press has announced publication of a five-volume monograph on SOM. According to the publisher, the five books offer a near complete history of the iconic firm’s work from the 1950s to the present. Each project featured is illustrated with archival and new photographs, as well as drawings, and each volume begins with an essay from such well-known architecture critics as Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Albert Bush Brown, and Kenneth Frampton. The first three volumes are reprints of editions published by Verlag Gerd Hatje in 1963, 1974, and 1984, though their layouts have been updated and their covers redesigned to create a consistent aesthetic with the two new volumes. The monographs go on sale in October, though they are currently available for pre-order on Random House’s website.
Today, The Wall Street Journal ran an article on the High Line, written by none other than AN‘s Executive Editor, Julie V. Iovine. Employing the same skill for observation and elegant phrasing that she applied to our own sneak peek of the elevated park back in April, Iovine has brought the wonders of this industrial-wreck-turned-lilly-scented-promenade to a whole new readership: the brokers and bankers of The Street. The Journal also put together this video on the High Line just before its opening. Enjoy!
Yesterday, New York real estate blog Curbed picked up a rather nerdy feature in the UK-based Architect’s Journal: their top ten list of the most important buildings from Star Wars. In addition to judging each project by aesthetic and programmatic merit, the journal draws parallels between the architecture of that galaxy and that of earth. Notables include the Cloud City of Bespin (“a well-appointed luxury resort… complete with hotels and casinos”), the Bright Tree Village on Endor (“rated BREEAM Excellent, the development—by architect Wicket W Warrick—makes use of locally sourced materials, is carbon neutral, and far exceeds Endor’s notoriously strict building regulations”), and Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine (“originally built as a monastery by the B’omarr Monks”). The “run-away winner” however is the second Death Star (“a menacing spherical chunk of Brutalist infrastructure”).
What if one block in Texas became the sustainable model for the world? Such was the question posed recently by Urban Re:Vision, a California-based group bent upon creating better cities through rethinking the components that make up a city block. Earlier this month, the organization unveiled the three finalists in one of its latest design competitions: Re:Vision Dallas. Contestants were asked to create proposals for a mixed-use development near downtown that would do “no harm to people or place.” Find out more about the finalists after the jump: Read More
My In Detail article in the current issue covers Rafael Moneo’s Northwest Corner Building at Columbia University. In addition to filling the final vacancy in the 1890 McKim, Mead & White master plan, the building had to bridge a subterranean recreation center with a 120-foot clear span. In answer, Moneo—along with executive architect Davis Brody Bond Aedas and structural engineer Arup—designed the building’s steel framing system as one big truss, with diagonal members bolstering the perimeter moment frame. The majority of the gravity loads, however, are supported by three gargantuan trusses that run the length of the building four levels above the street. These trusses are so big and heavy that Turner Construction had to assemble them on site, on a shed built above the sidewalk, and then slide them into place. The above stop-action video was also assembled by the construction manager, documenting its elegant solution to this seriously heavy erection.
Construction projects are dropping like flies everywhere you look, falling in the water deader than Air France Flight 447. It’s gotten to the point that when a major milestone is met on a significant piece of architecture there is cause not only for rejoicing, but commentary by the architectural press. And lo, our latest great happiness comes (yet again) from the Arabian Desert: In the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, work has completed on the structural frame of O-14, an office building somewhat redolent of a block of swiss cheese. Designed by the New York City firm Reiser + Umemoto, the structure makes a significant departure from the otherwise glass-curtain walled edifices of this arid city by the sea. It’s exterior is composed of a perforated concrete bearing wall, which does double duty as a shading device, protecting the building from the blazing middle-eastern sun. For a full low down on O-14’s uncommon framing system, as well as more construction photos, see our 2008 feature on concrete.
We’ve blogged about the oil infrastructure in and around Houston, Texas, a couple of times: here and here. But we hadn’t managed to get a level view of the massive installation until stumbling across ship pilot Louis Vest’s time lapse video of a nighttime trip down the Houston Ship Channel aboard a 600-foot-long Panamax tanker. Vest strapped his NIkon D700 camera to an outside rail and programmed it to capture an image every six seconds, documenting a 3 1/2-hour journey cruising at 5 to 10 knots through this gloaming industrial landscape of exhaust stacks, burning lights, and gas flares. Mmmmm… Creamy!