Chicago’s Merchandise Mart to Get Tech Boost.  Chicago's Merchandise Mart to Get Tech Boost Known to architects for the dozens of design showrooms it houses and the annual NeoCon tradeshow it hosts, Chicago’s Merchandise Mart may also become a major center for the city’s tech industry. Crain’s is reporting that Google is planning to lease half a million square feet in the mammoth building, and will add a large roof deck offering city, river, and lake views. The deck will, no doubt, help compensate for the massive floorplates that will leave most employees far from natural light. Google will also bring 3000 jobs–from a Motorola division they acquired–from the suburbs to downtown.

 

Jay-Z Named a Director (and Designer) at Barclay’s Center.  (courtesy Barclay's Center) The exterior of the SHoP-designed Barclay’s Center is rapidly taking shape, and developer Forest City Ratner has been announcing the upcoming acts that will perform in the arena with equal speed (plans for affordable housing at the site, however, have been delayed almost indefinitely). The Post reports that rapper Jay-Z has been named a director for the highly controversial Center, and also noted that Mr. Beyoncé has also been involved in the design of the arena’s 11 luxury suites. Jay-Z is also part owner of the Nets, the arena’s resident sports tenant. Ratner, meanwhile, is working to secure a liquor license for the Center, which many neighbors oppose.

 

Rudolph Lives! At Least For Now.  Rudolph Lives! At Least For Now The perplexing yet bewitching jumble of concrete boxes known as Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center in Goshen, New York has been granted a reprieve. The county legislature voted 11 to 10 against a bond issue which would have funded the demolition of the Paul Rudolph designed building. Preservationists and architects have been following the project closely, and have made compelling arguments against the demolition and in favor of renovation. No word yet on whether the county will move to renovate the building, which suffers from leaks as well as damage from tropical storm Irene.

 

Seagram and Lever to Get a Swanky New Neighbor.  Seagram and Lever to Get a Swanky New Neighbor L&L Holding Company, owners of a midcentury office tower at 425 Park Avenue, are looking to build a new, high design office tower on that site. It would be the first new office tower built on Park Avenue since the 1980s. Some of the biggest names in architecture are competing for the job: Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Ateliers Christian de Portzamparc, Herzog & de Meuron, Foster & Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, OMA, Maki and Associates, KPF, Richard Meier and Partners, Rogers Sirk Harbour + Partners, and Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of the center for urban real estate at Columbia, is running the competition for L&L. “This competition of ideas is the first step in the process of realizing a globally advanced, bespoke skyscraper that will both complement Park Avenue’s existing architectural treasures and make its own indelible mark in the world’s most timeless office corridor,” he said in a statement.

 

Todd and Billie to Get Arty for the Big Green.  Todd and Billie to Get Arty for the Big Green Expect to be hear a lot about Todd Williams and Billie Tsien in the weeks and months to come. First up, their much anticipated (and highly controversial) new building for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, which opens imminently. Second, the fate of their building for the American Folk Art Museum (now owned by MoMA) hangs in the balance, with Jean Nouvel’s tower looming on the horizon. Third comes the announcement that the pair will renovate and expand the Hood Art Museum at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The project will include new and renovated galleries for Darmouth’s art collection, which dates to 1772.

 

Menil Drawing Institute Shortlist Announced.  Menil Drawing Institute Shortlist Announced The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas has announced a shortlist for the new Menil Drawing Institute, which includes David Chipperfield Architects, Johnston Marklee, Tatiana Bilbao/mx.a, and SANAA. The building will be the largest freestanding space devoted to drawings. The competitors certainly have a high bar to meet. Renzo Piano’s building for the Menil collection is considered one of the best places to view art in the country. “In this year, when we observe the 25th anniversary of our great museum building by Renzo Piano, we are pleased to begin realizing our vision for the future by selecting the next architect to design a major building for the Menil campus,” said Josef Helfenstein, director of the collection, in a statement. “By taking on the challenge of designing MDI—the only facility of its kind—the architect will create a home for our largest, fastest-growing but most delicate collection of artworks, while also providing an important new focal point for the entire campus.”

 

MIT Launches New Multidisciplinary Initiative.  MIT Launches New Multidisciplinary Initiative With a $1.5 million Mellon Foundation grant in hand, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is establishing a Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST), which will advance integrated arts education in higher learning. The proposal was co-sponsored by the associate provost and the deans of the schools of Architecture and Planning and Humanities,  Arts, and Social Sciences. The grant will provide funds for faculty, researchers, and curators to develop multidisciplinary programs that traverse art, science, and technology. It will also support the University’s Visiting Artists program. “MIT has a great legacy in this domain,” Architecture Dean Adele Naude Santos said in a statement. “MIT created the first architecture program in the country and is today a leader in new forms of design and digital fabrication; the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, founded by György Kepes in 1967, established a model for collaborations among artists, scientists and engineers; and the Media Lab is internationally renowned for pioneering efforts in the fields of design, media arts and electronic music.”

 

BMW Guggenheim Lab to Park in Berlin After All.  BMW Guggenheim Lab to Park in Berlin After All Facing the possibility of anti-gentrification protests, the Guggenheim decided to cancel plans to bring the BMW Guggenheim Lab to the city’s Kreuzberg district. They have decided to bring the lab to the already gentrified Prenzlauer Berg instead, specifically the Pfefferberg cultural center, according to Spiegel online. “The decision to relocate the Lab was not an easy one, but we are very pleased to have so quickly confirmed such a suitable alternative and to continue the urgent and important discussions we have begun about cities, and specifically about Berlin, at the Pfefferberg site,” Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, said in a statement. Time will tell if the move will mollify critics and protesters.

 

Breaking> Goldberger Departing New Yorker, Bound for Vanity Fair

National
Saturday, March 31, 2012
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Rumors have been circulating that Paul Goldberger was leaving his prized perch as architecture critic at the New Yorker.  It appears he’s been given a golden parachute from Condé Nast in the form of a contributing editor title at Vanity Fair, where he will cover architecture and design. AN has obtained an undated press release from that magazine confirming the move. “This is an appointment that thrills me profoundly,” Graydon Carter, editor in chief of Vanity Fair, said in a statement. “Paul is about as gifted a commentator on architecture, urban planning, and design as anyone you’re going to find these days—in other words, he’s just a brilliant writer.”

Parking Increasingly Passé in Downtown Chicago Towers.  Parking Increasingly Passé in Downtown Chicago Towers Crain’s has an encouraging report on the drop in demand for parking spaces in Chicago’s downtown residential buildings. At Lakeshore East, which includes Studio Gang’s Aqua tower, only 40% of renters are leasing parking spaces. The developers had forecast a 55% demand. As a result many buildings are dropping the price for spaces. Other factors including buildings with on-site car sharing and secure bicycle storage areas are also likely cutting demand for parking spaces. As a result, some developers are rethinking how much parking to include in new projects, which would mean smaller podiums and more active street life, something any city would want.

 

Defending Gehry’s Take on Ike.  Defending Gehry's Take on Ike In the perennial battle of rads versus trads, Penn professor and former Slate architecture critic Witold Rybczynski often sides with the trads. So it was a bit of a surprise to see Rybczynski take to the op-ed page of the New York Times in defense of Frank Genry’s design for the Eisenhower memorial. Genry’s design has numerous critics including two of Eisenhower’s granddaughters, as well as the usual suspects who think classicism is the only appropriate approach to everything really, especially if it involves patriotism, presidents, or Washington D.C. Rybczynski calls Gehry “our finest living architect” and worries that a design-by-committee approach will undermine the quality of the memorial. Or as Eisenhower might have said, beware of the classicist/reactionary complex.

 

Minnesotans Driving Less, Taking Transit a lot More.  Minnesotans Driving Less, Taking Transit a lot More Nationally the number of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) has been declining in recent years. Transit ridership has also held steady or been climbing slightly. Minnesota seems to be a dramatic example of this new transportation reality, according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Transportation as reported on Minnpost.com. They cite a 40% increase in transit ridership from 2004 to 2011, and a small but significant decline in VMTs 2011 from their 2007 peak. Road congestion has also been easing slightly. High gas prices, an increasing preference for walkable neighborhoods, and teenagers postponing getting their licenses are all cited as contributing factors. It all adds up to further evidence that political rhetoric around gas prices, transportation, and energy policy needs to catch up to the reality on the ground.

 

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