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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vision-zero-clothing

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.

Q+A> Mathieu Lefevre, Executive Director of the New Cities foundation

Mathieu Lefevre (Courtesy New Cities Foundation)

Mathieu Lefevre (Courtesy New Cities Foundation)

This year, the Europe-based New Cities Foundation is bringing its annual New Cities Summit to the Dallas Arts District, from June 17 to 19. Eight hundred global thought leaders will convene at the Winspear Opera House to listen to speakers, engage in workshops, and take advantage of world-class networking opportunities. The Architect’s Newspaper is one of the summit media partners. AN Southwest editor Aaron Seward recently spoke to Mathieu Lefevre, the Executive Director of the New Cities Foundation, about what the organization has on tap for this year’s summit, whose theme is Re-imagining Cities: Transforming the 21st Century Metropolis.

Aaron Seward: Let’s start by getting some background on the New Cities Summit. What is it? Why did it start? And what does it hope to achieve?

Mathieu Lefevre: The New Cities Summit started when the New Cities Foundation was set up, in 2010. It’s a non-profit whose mission is to make cities better. The event is aimed at shaping the global conversation and adding to the creative thought leadership surrounding how to shape what we are calling the Century of Cities. We held the first summit in 2012 in Paris; then we went to São Paulo, Brazil, in 2013; and this year we’re coming to Texas.

Continue reading after the jump.

Gensler Tower in Houston Becomes One of First in U.S. to Receive LEED V4 Platinum Pre-Certification

Newsletter, Southwest
Monday, January 20, 2014
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The high-performance design includes daylight harvesting, rainwater collecting, and bicycle amenities, among other green features (Courtesy Gensler)

The high-performance design includes daylight harvesting, rainwater collecting, and bicycle amenities, among other green features (Courtesy Gensler)

The Gensler-designed Capitol Tower, a 34-story speculative office building developed by Skanska USA on the site of the former Houston Club in downtown Houston, Texas, has been awarded Platinum Pre-Certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED v4 ranking system. According to a press release put out by Skanska, the project is one of only a handful of in-the-works buildings to earn the distinction under the fourth generation of the LEED system. The company also stated that it wished Capitol Tower to be the greenest building in Houston. The design includes a high-performance facade system, daylight harvesting technology to reduce energy use, 90 percent access to daylight and views for tenants, a garage with daylight occupancy sensors and a green roof, alternative vehicle charging stations, a rainwater collection system, and bicycle amenities to encourage cycle commuting, among other sustainable features.

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Glass Tower May Replace Johansen’s Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City

The 16-story tower will serve as the headquarters of OKC-based OGE Energy Corp. (Courtesy adg)

The 16-story tower will serve as the headquarters of OKC-based OGE Energy Corp. (Courtesy ADG)

Fans of John Johansen‘s legendary Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City have yet another reason to shake their heads in amazement. Not only is the idiosyncratic modern masterpiece set for a date with the wrecking ball, there is now a proposal for the building that may replace it.

Kestrel Investments has filed an application with the Oklahoma City Planning Department to demolish Mummers—now known as Stage Center—and put in its place a 14- to 16-story tower that would become the headquarters of OGE Energy Corp. Designed by local architectural practice ADG, the $100 million proposal master plan also includes a second tower of eight-to-12 stories that would be developed separately.

Continue reading after the jump.

Is That A Dhow In Your Pocket, Or Just Zaha Hadid’s Stadium Design For The Qatar World Cup?

International, Newsletter
Monday, November 18, 2013
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The design is allegedly based upon the Dhow, a type of Arabian sailing ship. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

The design is allegedly based upon the Dhow, a type of Arabian fishing boat. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

Zaha Hadid Architects has unveiled its design for a 40,000-seat soccer stadium to rise in the Arabian kingdom of Qatar. The project is slated to be complete in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and is only one of several such facilities that the oil-rich nation plans to build—in addition to miles of roads, a seaport, airport, and a rail system—in a $140 billion spending spree to lay down the infrastructure necessary to support the event and the international crowds it attracts.

Hadid’s office has stated that the design of the stadium is derived from the dhow, a type of fishing vessel that is common among the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. Several commentators have pointed out, however, that the renderings more closely resemble the mounds, folds, and cavities of a certain very private part of the female anatomy.

Continue reading after the jump.

Two Polls Indicate the Disposition of Harris County Voters Regarding $217 Million Astrodome Bond Fund

Southwest
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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The Astrodome during the 1999 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (Courtesy Gary Hunt/flckr)

The Astrodome during the 1999 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (Courtesy Gary Hunt/flickr)

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that two recent polls have given clues as to how the denizens of Harris County will vote in the matter of approving $217 million in bonds to fund the reuse of the Astrodome. Previously, the Harris County Commissioners Court set the matter of the bond fund to a November 5 referendum. If voters approve the fund, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation will be able to proceed with its plans to create a New Dome Experience in time for Superbowl LI in 2017. Harris County property tax will also experience a slight hike to pay for it all. If voters oppose the issue, the Astrodome will in all likelihood meet the wrecking ball. Either way, entrants to AN and YKK AP‘s Reimagine The Astrodome competition will be watching with bated breath.

Continue reading after the jump.

Pictorial> Library of Congress Documents Houston’s Astrodome in 2004

Southwest
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
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The Astrodome looking east from the roof of its neighbor and replacement, Reliant Stadium. (Jet Lowe, Courtesy Library of Congress)

The Astrodome looking east from the roof of its neighbor and replacement, Reliant Stadium. (Jet Lowe, Courtesy Library of Congress)

As enthusiasm continues to build for The Architect Newspaper and YKK AP’s Reimagine The Astrodome design ideas competition, which accompanies the launch of the forthcoming AN Southwest edition as well as YKK AP‘s expansion into the region, we thought we’d take the opportunity to share a collection of excellent black and white photographs of the Astrodome from the Library of Congress. These pictures document the dome as it looked in 2004, after its last tenant, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, had moved out in 2003, before it was used to house refugees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and well before it was declared unfit for occupancy in 2008. Take this opportunity to subscribe to AN Southwest and sign up for the Reimaging The Astrodome competition.

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Houston’s 1927 Buffalo Bayou Reservoir Digitally Mapped and Open for Reuse Proposals

City Terrain, Southwest
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
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The "Cistern," constructed in 1927, was Houston's first drinking water reservoir. (Courtesy Buffalo Bayou Partnership)

The “Cistern,” constructed in 1927, was Houston’s first drinking water reservoir. (Courtesy Buffalo Bayou Partnership)

During construction on the Buffalo Bayou Partnership‘s (BBP) Buffalo Bayou Park Shepherd to Sabine project—which began in 2010 and is seeking to transform the downtown park into a catalyst for making Houston a more livable city—workers rediscovered an underground concrete cistern that had been built in 1927 as the city’s first drinking water reservoir. It performed decades of service before springing a leak that couldn’t be located or contained, at which point the 87,500-square-foot subterranean chamber was sealed up and forgotten. Today, the old piece of infrastructure is an inspiring, if somewhat erie space. Accessed through manholes and 14-foot ladders, the man-made cavern features row upon row of cathedral-like 25-foot-tall columns standing in several inches of still water. BBP would like to see the space adaptively reused, but such an endeavor currently lies outside the scope of its Shepherd to Sabine project. So to drum up interest in renovating the space, the organization commissioned Houston company SmartGeoMetrics to create a 3D fly-through of the cistern.

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Reimagine The Astrodome: Houston Design Ideas Competition Launched

Southwest
Thursday, August 29, 2013
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The Houston Astrodome as it appeared in 2009. (Ed Schipul / Flickr)

The Houston Astrodome as it appeared in 2009. (Ed Schipul / Flickr)

To launch the forthcoming Southwest edition of the Architect’s Newspaper, and to kick-off YKK AP‘s expansion into the region, AN and YKK AP have teamed up to host Reimagine The Astrodome, an Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition. The competition is open to anyone who wishes to participate, whether it be professional architects and engineers or students and artists. Registration opened yesterday afternoon and will close on September 17. Entrants who register by September 6 will get $10 off the registration fee, which is $50 for professionals and $20 for students. The top five proposals, which will be selected by a jury of prominent architects and educators in Houston on October 4, will receive cash prizes and be published in the first issue of AN Southwest, cover date November 6, which will be distributed at the Texas Society of Architect’s 2013 design expo and convention in Fort Worth. Register today!

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