Bridge Backtracks. Brownstoner uncovered the above historic view of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1903 back when transit and pedestrians dominated its traffic flow. StreetsBlog also noticed that the bridge has lost quite a bit of capacity as trains were removed in favor of cars (down significantly from its 1907 peak of 426,000 crossings a day). Also be sure to check out the super-high-res photo over at shorpy.com.
Library Life. Robert Dawson lamented, “These are brutal times for public libraries,” in a piece for Design Observer. With funding in short supply, he argued that the library is more than a room full of books, but a true “American Commons.”
Crowd-Sourced. The Institute for Urban Design is prepping for the first annual Urban Design Week this September with a crowd-sourced assignment to improve New York City. Running through April 30 and called By the City / For the City, you’re invited to share your ideas via this handy online form. (via Polis.)
Architecture Queen. The Philippine Star reports that newly registered architect Shamcey Supsup was crowned Miss Universe-Philippines. The magna cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines won over 39 other (non-architect) contestants. Supsup’s next stop is Sao Paulo, Brazil where she will take on the world, T-square in hand. (via Archinect.)
Pruitt Overgrown. Thirty three acres in the middle of St. Louis are now densely overgrown with forest, but the site was once home to the infamous Pruitt Igoe homes. Preservation Research Office led a tour of the site last week and took some great photos on the way to a screening of the Pruitt-Igoe Myth documentary.
Ciclovia Transformations. While LA shut down city streets over the weekend for its first CicLAvia of 2011, Project for Public Spaces imagines how such car-free events can invite new thinking about the use of public space in cities across the world.
Tobacco Troubles. On Friday, the latest round of drama surrounding Brooklyn’s Tobacco Warehouse played out, and it wasn’t the latest performance by the indie theater troupe of St. Ann’s Warehouse, who plans to renovate the abandoned building. A judge has issued an injunction against developing the property on grounds that a public hearing wasn’t conducted. Brownstoner and the Brooklyn Paper have the latest.
Lego Love. The Overhead Wire spotted a lego train with an actual operating sliding door. OW says it best: “I like legos, I like trains, and I like them together.” In other Lego news, Curbed found the world’s tallest Lego tower in Sao Paulo, Brazil standing 102 feet high, and Unbeige reports that Mies’ Farnsworth House is the newest architectural icon to become a Lego set.
Studio Gang has been hired to reimagine a stalled mixed-use high-rise in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. Having languishing through the recession and without financing, the development called CentrePointe may now gain momentum thanks to the fresh eye of the Chicago-based firm responsible for the much-praised Aqua Tower. Jeanne Gang, principal, told AN her office will be preparing several concept plans over the next six weeks demonstrating new design strategies that could guide the future project and attract new tenants and financing.
Toronto’s Ryerson University announced plans this week for a bold Student Learning Center designed by Oslo-based Snøhetta and Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto. The 8-story structure will mix passive and active academic uses with street-level retail and will serve as the university’s front door on busy Yonge Street.
Heckling Hadid. The New York Times reports that the city council in Elk Grove, California is reconsidering its Bilbao moment. Once upon a time before the recession, the community hoped a community center designed by Zaha Hadid would bring acclaim to the suburban city. Now as plans are being reconsidered, the council only sees a “squid” or an “animal from another planet.”
LA on HL. Usually found prowling around the west coast, Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the LA Times, has found his way to New York and takes a look at HL23, that condo tower perched above Manhattaned beloved High Line by LA architect Neil Denari.
Gimme (Smartly Planned) Shelter. It turns out that when Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell isn’t rocking out, he’s pondering smart growth. Smart Planet relays a recent event at the National Press Club where Leavell and co-author J. Marshall Craig talk transportation, sustainability, and community growth.
Ennis House Blues. Curbed reports that Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1924 Ennis House in LA just can’t seem to find a buyer since it was put on the market in 2009. Originally listed at $15 million, the price has steadily dropped to its current $5.9 mil.
125 years ago this past Sunday, a newborn Ludwig Mies van der Rohe may have been dreaming up his first glass box, but 125 years later, a party in one of his most famous boxes hopes to rekindle the spirit of the famous architect. The Mies van der Rohe Society will gather in a couple hours in Crown Hall on the campus of the Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology for an evening of architecture, history, and, of course, cocktails.
If you can’t make the party, you can celebrate with a rather, well, unique tribute to the architect after the jump.