Like its neighbor to the northeast, India is urbanizing at break-neck speed. Much of the resulting development takes the shape of monotonous towers and slabs designed to house the maximum number people as quickly as possible. The innovative Dutch firm MVRDV’s project Amanora Apartment City punches through, twists, and slices off pieces of a monolithic superstructure, to create a new park-side landmark within a largely undifferentiated urban field.
INABA has won a competition to design a permanent art work for the new concert hall in Stravanger, Norway. Called Skylight, the approximately 43 foot tall helix-like form will be visible to city through the transparent glass cladding of the five story great hall. At night colored, artificial light will animate the form and indicate cues like curtain calls. During the day it will reflect natural light throughout the space.
The Gowanus Canal has been in the news a lot lately, with its superfund designation and sunken schooner. The canal and surrounding neighborhood have long fascinated architects and urbanists, and has been the subject of numerous architecture school design studios. A new ideas competition looks to develop that fascination into a series of proposals for the site, which would improve connectivity across and around the polluted waterway and take better advantage of the area’s unique history, character, and economic potential.
The Architecture Billing Index (ABI) dropped nearly four points in January, but just managed to stay in positive territory with a score of an even 50 (any score below 50 indicates shrinking billings). The new projects enquiry index also fell significantly from 61.6 in December to 56.5 in January, but remained comfortably in positive territory. Even with the fall in the indexes, the AIA believes the overall trend is stable with mild growth.
SOM Chicago has been selected to master plan a new technology, university, and residential city outside Danang, Vietnam. FTP City, named after a growing telecommunications company, will cover 445 acres, and included buisness districts, a town center, residential neighborhoods, and a university campus. Unlike nearby single communities being developed nearby, the SOM plan calls for a diverse, mixed-use community, according to a statement from the firm.
Chicago may boast one of the country’s largest urban solar installations, but it’s also home to two polluting coal-fired power plants, the Fisk Generating Station in Pilsen and the Crawford Generating Station in Little Village both operated by Midwest Generation. The two plants emit toxins and advocates say they contribute to elevated asthma rates in those neighborhoods. A new competition ask designers propose solutions to the problem, which could be anything from educational campaigns to remediation strategies. Read More
The Enviornmental Protection Agency is beginning its analysis and cleanup of the filthy yet fascinating Gowanus canal. It’s proving to be full of all kinds of junk, including horrendous carcinogenic chemicals and, as the Brooklyn Paper reports, a 60 foot long sunken ship!
Located where Fifth Street meets the canal, the wooden ship likely dates from the 19th century, the channel’s shipping heyday. What we’re calling the S.S. Superfund was discovered through sonar scanning, its outline is clearly visible in the image above.
This is the second time in a year that New York’s maritime past has resurfaced. Last summer another submerged ship was found buried at the World Trade Center site.
Two new competitions of note explore possible futures for Chicago‘s public realm. The 2011 Burnham Prize ideas competition sponsored by AIA Chicago and the Chicago Architectural Club calls for new visions for the McCormick Place East building, the 1971 modernist covention center on the lakefront designed by Gene Summers of C.F. Murphy Associates.
The massive, Miesian building has a powerful presence on the lakefront, and a vast column-free interior, but parks advocates have long contended it should be removed. Meanwhile, the building’s owner, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, says it needs $150 million in repairs and is functionally obsolete.
The competition aims to inspire new dialogue around the future of the building and site. The Street Furniture 2011 competition sponsored by Architecture for Humanity‘s Chicago chapter aims for something more universal, new street furniture that could be deployed to activate almost any vacant site.
The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices program is one of the country’s most prestigious venues for showcasing significant design talent. This years list is no exception, with a mix of young and more established firms, working in a variety of scales and formal and social approaches. The lecture series will begin on Wednesday, March 9 with Brooklyn’s Interboro Partners and Lateral Office of Toronto. Read More
Yesterday AN learned, via ArchNewsNow, that Prince Charles is planning a new town in India that draws its inspiration from the slums and informal settlements of Calcutta and Bangalore. While the Prince has long been a bete noire for modernists, his interest in vernacular, impromptu settlements is in line with modern architects like the members of Team 10 and Bernard Rudofsky.
The Prince is no stranger to town building, having created a simulacrum of a medieval village at Poundbury. In India, the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment plans to build 3000 homes–for an estimated 15,000 low income residents–interwoven with schools and small shops.
“We have a great deal to learn about how complex systems can self-organize to create a harmonious whole,” the Prince said in a statement, according to the Daily Mail. The Prince, widely admired for his work on sustainable agriculture, plans to include green features like rainwater collectors and natural ventilation.
Following 9/11 many locations around the city were walled-off with Jersey barriers. In the years since, better urban design has sometimes prevailed. Such is the case with the new bollards and security booths that replaced the Jersey barriers at Metrotech in downtown Brooklyn. Designed by WXY architecture + urban design, the prefabricated security booths–six in total–have a subtle, trapezoidal shape that makes them appear thinner than they are. Read More