Pruitt Overgrown. Thirty three acres in the middle of St. Louis are now densely overgrown with forest, but the site was once home to the infamous Pruitt Igoe homes. Preservation Research Office led a tour of the site last week and took some great photos on the way to a screening of the Pruitt-Igoe Myth documentary.
Ciclovia Transformations. While LA shut down city streets over the weekend for its first CicLAvia of 2011, Project for Public Spaces imagines how such car-free events can invite new thinking about the use of public space in cities across the world.
Tobacco Troubles. On Friday, the latest round of drama surrounding Brooklyn’s Tobacco Warehouse played out, and it wasn’t the latest performance by the indie theater troupe of St. Ann’s Warehouse, who plans to renovate the abandoned building. A judge has issued an injunction against developing the property on grounds that a public hearing wasn’t conducted. Brownstoner and the Brooklyn Paper have the latest.
Lego Love. The Overhead Wire spotted a lego train with an actual operating sliding door. OW says it best: “I like legos, I like trains, and I like them together.” In other Lego news, Curbed found the world’s tallest Lego tower in Sao Paulo, Brazil standing 102 feet high, and Unbeige reports that Mies’ Farnsworth House is the newest architectural icon to become a Lego set.
Bedside Manor. The folks at Fast Company featured a beautiful hospital by architect Koen van Velsen in their blog today. The cantilevered casa for care trusts itself so elegantly into the woods, it almost makes you wish you were sick. The hotel, er, hospital in Arnhem, Holland is one of six finalists for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award.
Goal to Go. After holding out for several years, the Rudin family finally took home the prize. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the $260 million sale St. Vincent’s Hospital in the Village to the Rudins and the North Shore-LIJ Health System. The brown-brick complex on the east side of Seventh Avenue will go condo, while the white tiled maritime-sque O’Toole building on the west side will become an emergency care unit. In a bizarre fourth quarter twist, Crain‘s reported that several NFL veterans attempted Hail Mary pass to outbid the Rubins, promising to smack the NFL logo on the side of the building.
Mega Mansion. Even by L.A. standards, plans for this mega-mansion went over the top. After causing a huge stir among neighbors in Benedict Canyon with his plans to build an 85,000 square foot compound, Saudi Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz al Saud promised to scale back designs for the 5.2 acre plot. The prince tried to keep his identity under wraps, but the L.A. Times busted his cover last month.
An Urge to Merge. HMC Architects is pulling their resources with San Francisco based Beverly Prior Architects reports Architect. Prior had always poo-pooed the idea of merging with a faceless corporate entity, but she told Architect that the larger firm had certain “joie de vivre to them” that won her over.
Nature’s Benz. LA Autoshow reveals a radically green Mercedes-Benz concept called Biome– it’s made of organic fibers, powered by the sun, and releases pure oxygen into the air! The system behind this model is called “Mercedes-Benz Symbiosis,” in which vehicles are seamless part of the ecosystem.
Facebook’s Exodus. According to the New York Times, Facebook is moving out — of the office clusters in Palo Alto — and into an insulated 57-acre corporate campus in Menlo Park, California, which is to be renovated by San Francisco-based Gensler. About 2,000 workers, including Mark Zuckerberg, will be moved in within next 10 months. These young 20-somethings don’t want a sleek corporate office, but something idiosyncratic and soulful, which the new campus aims for.
Code Green. Crain‘s reports that the New York City Council continues to green up the city’s building codes. A trio of bills looks to “create more energy-efficient roofs.” While the first bill requires more reflective and less heat-absorbent roof materials, the second removes building-height limitations from solar thermal equipment and electric collectors and the third bill will add heat and power systems to the list of allowable rooftop structures.
Well-spoken Vowell. Chicago magazine talks to Sarah Vowell about Chicago — and a little New York — architecture. “It’s what I do for fun: Go see buildings. I like architecture because it’s so nonverbal,” she said, and then goes on to discuss her personal relationship with the Carson Pirie-Scott Building. Vowell recently finished her new book on Hawaii called Unfamiliar Fishes.
Boardwalk Empire. The Brooklyn Paper reports that Coney Island will not be getting a concrete boardwalk, at least not if Community Board 13 has a say in the matter. The board members recently voted down a proposal from the Parks Department that would cement over parts of the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk while covering some of the famed seaside path with recycled plastic lumber.
Heckling Hadid. The New York Times reports that the city council in Elk Grove, California is reconsidering its Bilbao moment. Once upon a time before the recession, the community hoped a community center designed by Zaha Hadid would bring acclaim to the suburban city. Now as plans are being reconsidered, the council only sees a “squid” or an “animal from another planet.”
LA on HL. Usually found prowling around the west coast, Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the LA Times, has found his way to New York and takes a look at HL23, that condo tower perched above Manhattaned beloved High Line by LA architect Neil Denari.
Gimme (Smartly Planned) Shelter. It turns out that when Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell isn’t rocking out, he’s pondering smart growth. Smart Planet relays a recent event at the National Press Club where Leavell and co-author J. Marshall Craig talk transportation, sustainability, and community growth.
Ennis House Blues. Curbed reports that Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1924 Ennis House in LA just can’t seem to find a buyer since it was put on the market in 2009. Originally listed at $15 million, the price has steadily dropped to its current $5.9 mil.
NYC DOT: Pedestrian-on-Pedestrian Crashes Alarmingly Frequent (Transpo Nation)
Children’s Museum out, Walmart in at Grant Park (Yo Chicago)
My Toddler Will Become America’s Next Great Architect (McSweeney’s)
Celebrities Who Look Like Houses (Curbed)
BYO Cloud. Not since the Romans stretched the vela around the Coliseum has there been such a radical solution for stadium shading. Qatar plans to create man-made clouds (“a lightweight carbon structure carrying a giant envelope of material containing helium gas”) to float over the stadium where the World Cup will be held in the summer of 2022. More details in The Daily Mail.
Fatal attraction? Why do we live in dangerous places? Scientific American investigates their allure and the ecological consequences–good and bad–for both plant and animal life.
ESI 2 DC. The Washington Post reports that President Obama has tapped New York’s own Edwin Schlossberg, founder of the interactive design firm ESI, to serve on a federal panel that helps oversee the architecture and design of the nation’s capital. (Schlossberg is the more designer-y half of Caroline Kennedy and also one of the founders of the not-for-profit desigNYC.)
More rigor, less speed. At Slate, Witold Rybczynski makes the case for slow architecture: “No wonder that Renaissance architectural treatises often seem cerebral; architects spent a lot of time thinking before they started drawing.”
Cabrini Green Kablooey. This Wednesday, the last high rise tower at Chicago’s Cabrini Green site will be demolished, marking the end of the famous housing project. Polis reminds us that artist Jan Tichy and social worker Efrat Appel plan to mark the occasion with an art installation. Project Cabrini Green translates 134 poems into light and will begin display at 7:00pm tonight. (Also catch a live internet feed here.)
Aspirational Geographic. A recent trip to Appalachia didn’t satiate photographer John Mann‘s wanderlust. He continued his travels via cutting and sculpting maps into three dimensional forms then photographing them through a narrow depth of field. Design Observer runs the nifty slide show.
Priority Parking. Developers of Philly’s 1 million square foot Pennsylvania Convention Center touted their greenness by providing minimal parking; the argument was it would encourage the use of public transportation. Now PlanPhilly says the city council has approved a 530-space garage to rise across the street. So much for synergy. Just north in Newark, they’re having the opposite problem: they want to lose parking lots. Newark’s Star-Ledger reports that March Madness at the Prudential Center won’t hide downtown’s glum outlook: nine parking lots surrounding the arena are still awaiting development.
D.C. Detail. WSJ Magazine explores the oft-overlooked Philip Johnson Pavilion at Dumbarton Oaks where the curvaceous facade slinks knowingly beside the Beatrix Farrand-designed gardens.
Parisian Pulse. Théâtre de la Gaîté Lyrique ain’t your everyday gallery-cum-theater space. The Guardian writes that this “theater for the digital arts” has given its stately old facade a swank makeover aimed at the 15 to 35-year old theater goer.
Sustainable Sound. WBUR spotlights a Boston band that found a way to make music that’s off-the-charts and off-the-grid. Generators hooked up to human-propelled bike peddles provide energy for electric guitars, plus a very John Cage-ish backdrop to the music making.
Icelandic Borders. Today at 5PM, “the largest temporary public art exhibition… in New York City Parks history,” titled BORDERS, will be unveiled at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza. The UN-conscious installation is a collaboration between the Parks Commissioner, an Icelandic Ambassador, and Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, consisting of 26 androgynous, life-size sculptures.
Painted Trees. Gerry Mak of Lost at E Minor adoringly shares the curious images of the vibrantly painted trees around Colorado by artist Curtis Killorn. Because of the unexpected colorings, these trees do not look like they came from land, but from the sea.
Green Carnegie. We were worried when gbNYC reported that the good ol’ Carnegie Hall is planning to undergo a massively ambitious, full-spectrum retrofit this year. But don’t worry, the architecture firm Iu + Bibliowicz, which is in charge of all this, swears to preserve “the building’s distinctive 19th-century architectural grace notes” while making dramatic green building improvements.
Parking to parkletting. The SF Examiner reports that more temporary public spaces, called
‘parklets,’ are exploding throughout San Francisco parking spots. The public battle between those who want to park cars and those who want to seat customers out on the sidewalk seems to have a clear winner– the Department of Public Works is stamping out countless approvals for businesses to have their own parklets despite complaints.
Shifting Skyline. London’s famed skyline may be getting an addition, and it’s not a new building. The Architect’s Journal tells us that Mayor Boris Johnson recently approved a plan by architects Wilkinson Eyre and Expedition Engineering for a proposed cable car system designed to link two key 2012 Olympic venues, the O2 Stadium and the Excel Exhibition Hall.
NYC’s Youngest Landmark. The New York Times City Room blog reports that NYC has four new landmarks: the Engineer’s Club, the Neighborhood Playhouse, Greyston Gatehouse and the Japan Society, which having been completed in 1971, makes it the youngest of the city’s historic landmarked structures.
Red Hook North. Meanwhile NYT Magazine reports that Red Hook developer Greg O’Connell hopes to do for tiny Mt. Morris, NY what he did for a slice of once-decrepit Brooklyn waterfront. Will the former NYPD detective’s progressive form of gentrification and downtown revitalization work in an ailing upstate town?
Onion domes in Paris. Inhabitat shares the news that the Russians are coming to Paris, in the form of a new domed church and cultural center. Situated near the Eiffel Tower, this new structure is the result of bi-national collaboration from the architects at Arch-Group and Sade Sa.
District Review. Blair Kamin reports on the Dallas Arts District – the nation’s largest contiguous urban arts district – and finds the architecture inspiring but the street life a bore. In an area where Pritzker-winning architecture abounds, can a new park and residential development create urban vitality?