Norma Merrick Sklarek, the first African American woman to become a licensed architect in the country, died on Monday in Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Times reports. Sklarek, a native of Harlem, went to Barnard College before graduating from Columbia’s architecture school in 1950. She passed the New York State exam in 1954, becoming the first African American woman to receive her professional architecture license and earning her the nickname “the Rosa Parks of Architecture.” She later moved to California where she was turned down for work 19 times before going on to work for SOM, Gruen Associates, Welton Becket, and the Jerde Partnership.
SOM Chicago has won a competition to design a mixed-use tower in the new Chinese city of Suzhou. Located along a lake front, the tower includes a distinctive void carved out the upper portion of the tower, splitting the floorplates in half to better serve hotel uses. Offices will fill the lower, larger floorplates. “We’ve been doing these kinds of mixed-use towers since Hancock,” said Ross Wimer, a partner at SOM Chicago. “Instead of tapering the tower, we’ve carved away a slot to bring fresh air and light into the building.”
SOM returns to LA with a new office to be led by Michael Mann, Paul Danna, and Jose Palacios, all coming en masse from AECOM. The new studio will start out with ten to 40 people in a temporary office, with plans to eventually find a permanent home in downtown LA.
The Boston Society of Architects announced the departure of executive director Margaret Wigglesworth. Wigglesworth, who only assumed the ED role in February 2011 and oversaw BSA’s move to a new home, will be returning to the commercial real estate sector.
In Chicago, Crain‘s reports that FGB, an architecture firm based in Oak Brook, has acquired Deerfield-based SRBL, specialists in schools and institutional work, to create a 95-person strong office.
On January 18, John Hatfield will join Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens as executive director. Hatfield leaves the New Museum of Contemporary Art, where he has served as deputy director since 2008.
Fore Solutions, a green building consulting firm, has joined Thorton Thomasetti to create the Thorton Thomsetti Building Sustainability practice area, to be led by Gunnar Hubbard.
Why can’t every school be like the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)? First it’s located on a lush, sun-soaked site overlooking the Pacific Ocean. And then this: the school just named a team led by SOM and including Daly Genik, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Kieran Timberlake and WRNS Studios to design the San Joaquin Apartments, a new student housing complex. The project will include two apartment buildings housing a total of 1,000 students; a 600 car mixed-use parking structure; a new dining commons and a renovated 78,000 square foot neighborhood center. Other big names on the shortlist had included Brooks+Scarpa, Machado and Silvetti, AC Martin, Stanley Saitowitz, Lake Flato, Moore Ruble Yudell, Frederick Fisher and Partners, and several more. Stay tuned for info and images in the coming months.
Today, SOM announced it has been selected by Beijing-based MCCC Real Estate to redesign the Nanjing waterfront. The redevelopment will extend two-kilometers from the Yangtze River levee to the old city wall. The plan calls for renovating existing rail bridges and an old power station into new cultural and commercial spaces, preserving existing trees, and adding a hotel and other amenities along a renovated shipping canal. The plan also calls for remediating waterways for public access and recreation.
The view from LaGuardia Place includes the symphony of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s 7 World Trade Center at 250 Greenwich Street and its ever-rising companion, One World Trade Center, beyond. I see the buildings every day from the Center for Architecture, and have become a fan of 7 WTC’c magical properties, both geometric and optical. It is a building made out of reflections, refractions, inflections, and colors, expressed in glass and stainless steel.
As spring rolls around, deadlines loom for coveted summer internships. AN has collected a list of five prestigious firms that are looking for their 2011 class of interns. Good luck!