Brooklyn’s grandest public space at the top of Prospect Park has always been a work in progress. Grand Army Plaza, an oval-shaped public space composed of monuments ringed by an inner and an outer roadway, was built as the main entrance to the park in 1866, serving as a buffer between nature and city and happened to be the confluence of some of Brooklyn’s busiest avenues. Over the years, a monumental archway was added, fountains came and went, and eventually the roads were widened until the lush plaza was effectively cut off from the surrounding Prospect Heights and Park Slope neighborhoods. Last week, however, after months of construction to tame the out-of-control roadways, a group of civic leaders and officials gathered in what was once a busy street to celebrate the newly reclaimed plaza.
Noting the rivalry between his new home, Los Angeles, and New York while visiting the Big Apple last week, Conan O’Brien launched a new segment , the Fight to the Death Building Battle to settle the cities’ differences once and for all. Curbed spotted these epic architectural fights posted online at Team Coco’s blog, and we couldn’t help but share on this Friday afternoon, 11/11/11. While in New York, Conan pitted the Empire State Building (“weighing in at 365,000 tons of limestone”) against LA’s Scientology Book Store (“the best building they could come up with.”) Of course, the Empire State soundly won. Back in LA, he revoked his New York show as “playing to the New York crowd,” and held another match between the Empire and a trio of LA buildings: the Capitol Records Building, a Lady Foot Locker from a Venice Boulevard strip mall, and later Randy’s Donuts. Remember, whatever side you choose, as Conan pointed out, “You’re booing a building.”
By our watch here at The Architect’s Newspaper HQ, it’s 11:11:11 a.m. on 11/11/11. We’re pretty excited that the date and time looks a little like a miniature Manhattan skyline! Continuing on our theme of absurdity (previously, architectural models), check out this delightful video put together by the New York-based Koren Ensemble to commemorate this special day. Some say so many 11′s is certainly a lucky event, so be sure to make a wish when the clock strikes 11:11 the second time around.
German photographer Frank Kunert is out to challenge your sense of perception and expectation with his meticulously crafted and hilariously absurd miniature scenes. His series “Photographs of Small Worlds” presents glimpses into mundane vignettes gone awry, where doors don’t meet balconies, diving boards lead to giant toilets, or an office is eerily underwater. Each model takes weeks—and sometimes months—to build, and Kunert is a perfectionist who won’t stop until every detail is just right. The end result is well worth the wait.
Each year, we’re continually amazed at the pop-up architecture that rises in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for Burning Man only to be destroyed in one grand flash of fire. What’s equally awe-inspiring is the pop-up city that forms around the festival. We just came across this time-lapse video of the rise and fall of the city of Burning Man, which shows how the urban form, like the installations, slowly builds before igniting in the night and fading away. Set against the black of the desert night, the video shows how active and dynamic the site really is when the sun goes down. The festival comes alive with the darting about of lights around fixed centers of music and art. At the end, the calm of an abandoned desert returns for another year. [h/t Lost at E Minor.]
When Jeanne Gang was brought on board in April to help reimagine a stalled tower in downtown Lexington, Kentucky, the entire community’s spirits were uplifted by the bold collaboration proposed by the Chicago-based architect and MacArthur genius. Studio Gang’s design replaced an uninspired high-rise block that destroyed an entire city block before running out of steam, but developer Dudley Webb announced Thursday that Gang will no longer be involved with the mixed-use project.
The New Museum has been transformed into a real-life game of chutes and ladders, or perhaps a Fun Palace a la Cedric Price, for its new exhibition Carsten Höller: Experience that opened this week and is running through January 15, 2012. The centerpiece of the show is a spiraling stainless steel slide traversing the fourth through second floors and providing what certainly must be the most rapid vertical circulation in the entire city short of a plummeting elevator . We stopped by to check out the slide and, after signing our lives away on a waiver, took a couple rides ourselves.
Terminal 6 has been on Death’s Row at least since June 2010. So why are so many aflutter now? It’s an old adage but a persistent one: It hasn’t happened until the New York Times reports it, or until there’s a television tie-in as newsworthy as the cheesy jet set-orama, “Pan Am” on ABC.