Competition Winners Imagine Life at the Speed of Rail

National
Friday, June 24, 2011
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ANIMAL FARMATURES (Courtesy Van Alen)

ANIMAL FARMATURES (Courtesy Van Alen)

Sooner or later, aerodynamic trains will be zipping across the farm fields of the heartland and the Van Alen Institute wondered what cultural, environmental, and economic implications such a novel technology would bring. After revealing ten winners of its Life at the Speed of Rail ideas competition, it appears that high speed rail could one day mean larger-than-life mechanical farm animals roaming around the countryside. At least that’s the vision of Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer of Urbana, IL whose project, Animal Farmatures, reimagines farm implements as entertainment for passing riders.

Winners were announced today at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. and soon, the Van Alen will be taking Life at the Speed of Rail on the road (although unfortunately not yet by train). Stops include St. Louis’ Museum of Contemporary Art at 7:00p.m. on June 28, Houston’s James Baker III Institute at Rice University at 6:00p.m. on July 7, and Los Angeles’ Caltrans District 7 Headquarters at 4:00p.m. on July 12.

Check out the winners after the jump.

On View> Material Landscapes in St. Louis

Midwest
Thursday, June 23, 2011
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Asphalt tattoo in Brooklyn by Paula Meijerink (Courtesy Paula Meijerink)

Asphalt tattoo in Brooklyn by Paula Meijerink (Courtesy Paula Meijerink)

Seemingly sliced into the asphalt of a Brooklyn street beneath the Manhattan Bridge is an unexpected glass-filled “tattoo” designed by landscape architect Paula Meijerink, founder of Boston-based WANTED Landscape. Meijerink is among eight landscape architects featured in Material Landscapes, a recently opened exhibition at the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis running through January 21st, 2012. Work from the eight firms including D.I.R.T  studio, dlandstudio, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Legge Lewis Legge, PEG office, Kaseman Beckman Advanced Strategies, and ESKYIU is presented in photographs and drawings.

Curator Liane Hancock, senior lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis, chose projects ranging from a vertical container garden in Hong Kong to a waterfront in Milwaukee to reflect innovative use of materials in landscape architecture and to advance landscape design in St. Louis in light of major projects such as Citygarden and the redevelopment of the St. Louis Arch grounds.

Photos from the exhibition after the jump.

Video> Theo Jansen’s Walking Strandbeests

International
Thursday, June 23, 2011
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Strandbeests by Theo Jansen made from yellow piping.

Strandbeests by Theo Jansen made from yellow piping.

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.

Watch the videos after the jump.

Pictorial> Tour FIRST by Kohn Pedersen Fox

International
Monday, June 20, 2011
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(Courtesy KPF)

(Courtesy KPF)

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.

More photos after the jump.

Paris’ Lost Cafe from Hell

International, Newsletter
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
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Le Café de L’Enfer (Via How to be a Retronaut)

Le Café de L’Enfer (Via How to be a Retronaut)

Tucked away in in the bohemian enclave of Montmartre in Paris, Le Café de L’Enfer—the Cafe of Hell—welcomed all who dared pass through the mouth of a giant ghoul and a doorman dressed as the devil proclaiming, “Enter and be damned!” The exterior facade appears to be molten rock surrounding misshapen windows and dripping off the building while inside, caldrons of fire and ghostly bodies of humans and beasts covered the walls and ceiling. From an account published in Morrow and Cucuel‘s Bohemian Paris of Today (1899):

Red-hot bars and gratings through which flaming coals gleamed appeared in the walls within the red mouth. A placard announced that should the temperature of this inferno make one thirsty, innumerable bocks might be had at sixty-five centimes each. A little red imp guarded the throat of the monster into whose mouth we had walked; he was cutting extraordinary capers, and made a great show of stirring the fires. The red imp opened the imitation heavy metal door for our passage to the interior, crying, – “Ah, ah, ah! still they come! Oh, how they will roast!”

Quite a site! (In an epic battle of good and evil, another entrepreneur opened Le Ciel—”Heaven”—next door that was filled with clouds, angels, and harps.) The Café de L’Enfer operated from the late 19th through the middle of the 20th century. (Via How to be a Retronaut.)

A few more photos after the jump.

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Sneak Peek> Dream Downtown Opens Softly

East
Monday, June 13, 2011
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The Dream Downtown (Branden Klayko/AN)

The Dream Downtown (Branden Klayko/AN).

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.”

More photos after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Solar Butterflies, Parks Over Parking, Killer Commutes, and Nearly NeoCon

Daily Clicks
Friday, June 3, 2011
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Chandelier of butterflies made from solar material (Courtesy Engadget)

Chandelier of butterflies made from solar material (Courtesy Engadget)

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.

Video> The Guggenheim′s Mute Button Dials Down the Urban Din

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
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The Guggenheim teams up with Improv Everywhere in Prospect Park. (Video still)

The Guggenheim teams up with Improv Everywhere in Prospect Park. (Video still)

The Guggenheim has been blurring the boundaries of what makes a traditional museum lately, and among their latest forays into the streets of New York is stillspotting nyc, a series investigating urban life (a previous program, Sanitorium, explored what keeps city dwellers sane as they rush about their hectic lives). Now, The Mute Button, a collaboration between the Guggenheim and Improv Everywhere, continues this trend by staging 23 under-cover actors and two dogs at the entrance to Prospect Park at Grand Army Plaza. The troup is a noisy bunch, until–presto!–the din of the city turns silent. A camera was on hand to catch the reactions of befuddled passers by. (Via Gothamist.)

Watch the video after the jump.

Sculptures by Sol LeWitt Stand Tall In Lower Manhattan

Detail of Splotch 15 (Branden Klayko/AN)

Detail of Splotch 15 (Branden Klayko/AN)

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg and a cadre of arts enthusiasts from the Public Art Fund gathered at City Hall Park to officially open a retrospective on conceptual artist Sol LeWitt titled Structures, 1965-2006. Comprised primarily of sleek white cubes and forms and one colorful Splotch, the installation of 27 sculptures represents the first outdoor retrospective of LeWitt’s work as well as the largest public art display at City Hall Park, billed by Nicholas Baume, chief curator for the Public Art Fund, as New York’s “museum without walls.”

Check out the sculptures after the jump.

Cooper Union Showcases Student Innovation

Dean's List, East
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
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Maxwell von Stein's Flywheel Bicycle (Courtesy Cooper Union)

Maxwell von Stein's Flywheel Bicycle (Courtesy Cooper Union)

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.

Check out the projects after the jump.

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Video> Moving Beyond a Gas-Powered World

International
Friday, May 27, 2011
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A gas-powered shaving device. (Still from video)

A gas-powered shaving device. (Still from video)

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.)

Watch the video after the jump.

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Back and Forth gets Bitter at Trump Soho

East, Shft+Alt+Del
Friday, May 27, 2011
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Trump Soho Tower in Manhattan. (Several Seconds/Flickr)

Trump Soho Tower in Manhattan. (Several Seconds/Flickr)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

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