In his own words, Dutch artist Theo Jansen is “creating new forms of life.” His mechanical creatures, the Strandbeests, are comprised of hundreds of yellow plastic tubes forming a skeletal structure that is able to walk along the beach with only the help of the wind. According to Jansen’s web site, he is looking “to put these animals out in herds on the beaches so they will live their own lives.” He has given his latest creations “stomachs” able to store the wind using a series of bicycle pumps powered by sails or wings on the Strandbeests. The air is compressed into plastic bottles that can power the machine when the wind dies down.
Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) shared a few images of their newly complete Tour FIRST tower in Paris, France, now the city’s tallest building. Standing 760 feet tall in the city’s La Défense district, the glass tower isn’t completely new. It’s actually a major addition on top of a 1970s structure designed by Pierre Dufau—a move the firm said makes the building more sustainable than new construction. New windows were punctured in the old structure’s concrete skin and the building was opened up to surrounding public space. With Tour FIRST, New York-based KPF continues its skyscraper spree, having designed what are currently the tallest buildings in Hong Kong and London.
On our way to the grand opening of the extended High Line last week, we couldn’t help but notice the lights were on at the Dream Downtown, hotelier Vikram Chatwal’s newest luxury outpost. While the soft-opening was reserved for Chatwal friends and family, the official opening later this month is sure to draw out the denizens of New York nightlife.
Inside the lobby, a glass-bottomed pool diffuses light from the building’s interior courtyard, accessed through a lushly-planted sliver at the back of the lobby. In the courtyard, a teak-heavy lounge opens up onto the pool deck complete with its own white sand beach, where Vikram himself was lounging on a plush chaise. On the roof, a still-under-wraps venue–with what the Dream is touting as one of Manhattan’s finest views–is sure to be popular. Among the amenities that will open later this year is Romera New York, which is expected to offer a 12-course prix fixe for $245. The hotel will feature 316 rooms, but some are still being finished up.
Originally designed by Albert Ledner in 1966–the same architect as the neighboring Maritime Hotel and the nearby O’Toole Building–and last used as a homeless shelter, Handel Architects has reclad the round-windowed building in stainless steel, earning the structure the nickname of “The Cheesegrater.”
Solar Butterflies. Engadget spotted Dutch designer Jeroen Verhoeven’s chandelier made of 500 butterflies cut from photovoltaic cells. Called the “Virtue of Blue,” the light glows softly at night. (Via Psfk.)
Capitol Green. New York isn’t the only city replacing asphalt with greener, more pedestrian friendly streetscapes. According to DC Mud, a block of C Street in Washington, D.C. between two federal office buildings is set for a makeover. Plans call for creating a park on what’s currently a large parking lot.
Killer Commutes. Slate writer Annie Lowrey tells us what we already know: commuting isn’t fun. She goes on to explain the consequences of many-an-American’s daily burden: “Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia.”
Nearly NeoCon. Haworth Partners announced that they have partnered with Crate & Barrel. The table and two chairs will be available beginning in July and August. More at otto.
It’s that time of year again: School is giving way to summer vacation, final reviews are winding down, and the life of the architecture student regains some semblance of normalcy. The Cooper Union celebrates this time of year with its traditional End of Year Show, highlighting the work of students in art, architecture, and engineering. Hundreds of projects are now on display at the school’s Foundation Building at 7 East 7th Street on Cooper Square.
The engineering show just wrapped up, but the architecture showcase runs through June 18 and the art school’s work will be on display through June 11. The exhibition is free and open Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 7:00 p.m.. Take a look at a few of the student projects after the jump.
French automaker Renault has launched a new line of electric cars, their Z.E. line, and as part of its marketing promotions asks why we’re still using gas to power autos if we don’t for other everyday objects. Imagine a world where all your electric gadgets released a steady stream of exhaust. The result is surreal and at times hilarious. Take a look for yourself after the jump. (Via PSFK.)
There’s a tempest brewing at the Trump Soho, which isn’t towering quite so high over Manhattan these days. The Real Deal reported this week that developers behind the luxury hotel-residence, Bayrock/Sapir, have filed a lawsuit against the building’s architects, the Rockwell Group. Among the allegations are too-small bathtubs and closets that can’t fit hangers. But the fight started much earlier with a complaint from the architect.
Missing Parklet. Who would steal a parklet? The Oakland Local spotted a worried Facebook page for Actual Cafe whose parklet, pictured above, disappeared last week. San Francisco is the city that invented the parklet concept–transforming parking spaces into extensions of the sidewalk–and we hear they’re quite popular, so what gives? The cafe has security footage of the early-morning incident.
Celebrating CityGarden. St. Louis’ much acclaimed urban sculpture park, CityGarden, has been awarded ULI’s 2011 Amanda Burden Open Space Award, named for NYC’s Planning Commissioner who sat on the selection jury. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the garden topped projects in Portland, OR and Houston to claim the $10,000 prize.
Chatham Scratched. DNA reports that plans to transform Chinatown’s Chatham Square at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge have been put on hold. The $30 million project would have reconfigured the busy confluence of seven streets to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, but with other construction projects already clogging the area, the city didn’t want to make matters worse. Funds will be used for other Lower Manhattan projects instead.
Directing Traffic. Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has penned a feature-length article on the future of transportation for the Wall Street Journal. In recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly of transportation policy, Puentes calls for innovation and sustainability along with increased access to boost the economy.
Italian lighting design firm Foscarini filled their Greene Street showroom with a dynamic, winding installation called Foscarini Evolution during ICFF week in New York. Artist Marc Sadler composed the installation of individual Tress lamps–made of resin-coated fabric strips–connected end to end. The pulsing red strands created a distinctly interactive experience.
“The installation shows how light can convey emotion and form space,” said Veronica Carniello of Foscarini. The showroom will now undergo a renovation and open again at the end of the year. Carniello said the company plans to feature rotating installations featuring Foscarini lighting products so the showroom will take on the qualities of an art gallery.