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
Chicago is famously the city where cab drivers namedrop architects. This year there will be a new way for the general public to become even more well-versed in the city’s historic and contemporary architecture, openhousechicago. Modeled on successful programs in London, New York, and Toronto, openhousechicago will offer free access to more than 100 sites around the city, some of which are normally not open to the public, including the Center for Green Technology and the Burnham-designed Santa Fe Building. Organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, openhousechicago will run from October 14-16. Sites are still being nominated and volunteers are needed, so visit www.openhousechicago.org for more information or to get involved.
Earlier this year AN looked at Midway Crossings, designed by James Carpenter with lighting designers Schuler Shook and landscape architects BauerLatoza Studio, a project that uses light and urban design to create a visual connection across Frederick Law Olmsted’s Midway Plaisance. The project, formerly known as the Light Bridges, is now nearing completion, and the result seems to accomplish the goal of better joining the main campus of the University of Chicago with its expanding facilities across the park. Tall light poles and wider sidewalks with planted, raised easements create an inviting place for pedestrians, and the University hopes the two crossings, at 59th and 60th Streets, will create focused centers of foot traffic, improving safety. Purists may feel that the University has co-opted public park space, but the design team’s use of light as the main element shows a light hand in the landscape. Read More
Many have lamented the disappearance of so many architecture book stores in recent years, chief among them the much-missed Prarie Avenue Books in Chicago. The Graham Foundation is doing their part to begin to fill that void by selling a selection of books at their stately home, the Madlener house.
Tonight, the Foundation is hosting a holiday party and book store launch, from 5-8pm. The delightful exhibition, Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, is also on view. Stop by and stock up. The Graham Foundation, 4 West Burton Place, Chicago.
The University of Notre Dame School of Architecture announced that Robert A. M. Stern has been named this year’s Richard H. Driehaus laureate. The prize, which comes with a $200,000 purse, “honors the best practitioners of traditional, classical, and sustainable architecture and urbanism in the modern world,” according to a statement. Founded in 2003, the prize has previously honored lesser known architects such as Rafael Manzano Martos of Spain and Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil of Egypt in addition to marquee American traditional and classicist architects like Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Allan Greenberg (several Driehaus recipients have also won or been involved in the National Building Museum’s Vincent Scully Prize).
Click through to see more of Stern’s work
Following a heavy snow storm this weekend, the roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome collapsed. This video shows the structure creaking under the weight, the roof fabric tearing, and snow pouring in on the field. It looks like a scene from The Day After Tomorrow. Blair Kamin was quick to point out that though the stadium was designed by the Chicago office of SOM, the roof was the work of New York-based Geiger Berger Associates. Buffalo, New York-based Birdair Structures maintains and supplies the roof fabric. No one was hurt in the collapse. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, this is the fourth time roof has ripped and deflated. Officials are still determining how low it will take to repair the structure.
Many museums have of period rooms in their holdings, but the Art Institute of Chicago also has an impressive collection of 68 miniature period spaces. Rather than treat these dollhouse-sized objects as sacred or static, the museum has decorated six of them for the holidays with historically and culturally appropriate trimmings. The English Victorian drawing room is the only one that includes a Christmas tree. Take a look at some of the rooms and details from Tudor to Modern spaces.
Seriously cute stuff inside.
An article in yesterday’s Boston Globe, “Design for Acrimony,” detailed recent strife between the principals of Office dA, Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de Leon, including accusations of inappropriate withdrawals of office funds and changing the locks of the studio. The Globe reporter spoke with Tehrani, but Ponce de Leon, the Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, did not agree to be interviewed. In response to the article, de Leon sent AN this statement:
“Nader and I have been working together for a long time. The Boston Globe article is grossly inaccurate and one sided. I did not give an interview to the Globe and I did not make any of the statements attributed to me. I did not use my majority stock to terminate his position with Office dA. This a small business dispute and the matter is scheduled for arbitration before the end of the month. Despite the dispute, Office dA continues to thrive.”
Both sides agree that the matter will be settled by arbitration by end of month.