Walking the line. Watch artist Simon Faithfull travel both built and unbuilt environments along “the exact longitude of the Greenwich Meridian,” using a GPS device in his documentary project “0˚00 Navigation.” Above is an excerpt through London, but you can also watch the whole thing here. (h/t Polis.)
At the city gates. In this short article at the Sustainable Cities Collective, Chuck Wolfe muses over what a “city gate” would be in a modern city, contending that Google streetview is one form of a modern gate incarnation. Is a physical gate just an ornament of memories, or do we need the architectural drama only a physical threshold can provide?
Art heals blight. As Elizabeth Currid-Halkett notes in the NY Times, art as a revitalization tool works, but not always. It takes more than just cheap rent and abandoned factory lofts to cultivate the next Soho. Take the case of Red Hook’s art scene from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: art, given its mercurial nature, may be best left alone, like the somewhat-isolated Brooklyn neighborhood.
A map for Captain Planet. SkyTruth, a nonprofit environmental monitoring group, recently launched a real-time, interactive alert system that digitally maps domestic pollution events, such as toxic spills and air & water pollution. More at the LA Times blog.
Next time you are in Times Square, don’t be shy when you see a spotlight– no matter how lame your dance moves are, you are guaranteed an explosive roar of applause from an invisible, enthusiastic crowd of people as long as you are moving. (What a refreshing departure from the notorious American Idol jury.) This location-appropriate spotlight installation is an interactive public art work by Adam Frank, an installation artist and a product inventor, whose body of work “represents an ongoing investigation of light and interactivity.” His shadow-casting oil lamp, LUMEN, is one of the MoMA Store’s best-selling items.
Just after 4:00p.m. Sunday afternoon, cryptic messages visible for miles around Manhattan were written in the sky, spelling out, among other things, “Last Chance.” Out of context to millions in the streets below, the messages were slightly unnerving and deliberately vague. Curious speculation as each giant letter was traced into the sky led many to wonder what the message actually meant: An ad? A terrorist’s warning? A persistent marriage proposal? It turns out the display was part of an art project by Kim Beck called The Sky Is the Limit/NYC and sponsored by the Friends of the High Line.
As we all know, Jane Jacobs was a visionary urban activist and author, whose 1961 publication of The Death and Life of Great American Cities had a tremendous impact on how we think about cities and urban planning today. She challenged prevailing assumptions in urban planning at a time when slum-clearing was the norm and emphasized the intricacies and sensitivities of an urban fabric. In 2007, the year after Jacobs died, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Jane Jacobs Medal, an annual award given to those who stand by Jacobs’ principles and whose “creative uses of the urban environment” renders New York City “more diverse, dynamic and equitable.”
Ireland is known for lots of things, but contemporary architecture isn’t necessarily one of them. Irish Architecture Now, the first-ever showcase of Irish architecture to tour the U.S., aims to change that. Curated by Raymund Ryan, co-curator of the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Irish Architecture Now program features six of Ireland’s leading architecture practices and will travel to architectural schools and institutions to highlight top contemporary Irish architecture, which the organizers state, has “over the past two decades firmly established itself with flair on the European scene.”
The City Atlas. The City Atlas is a new online project that seeks to create a platform to share collective imagination that is grounded on past and current accomplishments yet aimed at the future. Check out their website here.
Don’t Remove, Retouch. This beautifully renovated Norweigian boathouse is still technically un-new. Norwegian architects TYIN tegnestue was committed to reuse as much physical material as possible during the renovation. Images at WorldArchitectureNews.
Urban After Dark. According to Chuck Wolfe at myurbanist, a city’s true success is best measured at night (hence the quote “cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night”).
Seasonal Sedum. Check out these twelve staggered living roofs in Seoul designed by Joel Sanders Architect in cooperation with Haeahn Architecture. The roofs are planted with flowers (sedum) that bloom at different times of the year– resulting in changing, seasonal landscapes. See the images on Inhabitat.
Thinkin’ Lincoln. IBM is taking over the Lincoln Center through October 23rd with one of the biggest interactive technology exhibits in the city: IBM Think Exhibit. Highlights include the 123-feet long “data wall” and a forest of 40 seven-foot media panels. More at Inhabitat.
Bronx Beauty. The New York Times‘ new archi-critic, Michael Kimmelman, has penned his first review, shying away from the iconic, gleaming projects of his predecessor, instead beginning with Via Verde affordable housing in the South Bronx, which may help him demonstrate that quality trumps quantity, especially in moral debates of architecture.
Biking Sacrifice. Atlantic Cities reported that cyclists in urban environments might want to be wary of cars for more than just accident risks: harmful automobile emissions create a hazard for cyclists as well. According to new research, bikers inhale more than twice the amount of black carbon particles as pedestrians do in the same trip.
There’s nothing that’ll kill the buzz on your birthday faster than rumors of the Rapture coming on the same day. But we think John Chase, the beloved urban designer of the City of West Hollywood, would have handled it in stride. Chase, the oft-celebrated “King of Public Space,” was a tremendously outspoken presence in planning and politics and was responsible for transforming the scruffy city into one with attractive public spaces that are both progressive and respectful of the city’s past.
To remember the late urban designer, de LaB, a group of Chase’s friends, family, co-workers, and collaborators, is leading a walking tour on the anniversary of his birthday, Saturday, May 21, across the city. Architects and city leaders will guide the participants through various projects and share their memories of Chase and discuss his urban spaces. Stops include Formosa 1140, Plummer Park, The MAK Center, Habitat 825, Holloway Park Veteran’s Memorial, Sierra Bonita Affordable Housing, 8140 Sunset Boulevard, and West Hollywood City Hall, among others. The tour will conclude (hopefully with the world still intact) with drinks at one of Chase’s favorite places in the city, Barney’s Beanery.
MissoniHome @ DDC Design Post
181 Madison Avenue
212 685 0800
Missoni, an Italian fashion house famous for its use of colorful fabrics and patterns, has finally launched its first American “lifestyle” showroom inside New York’s DDC Design Post. MissoniHome’s product line had previously been available separately at various locations, but now design-minded consumers can browse towels, rugs, and bedding at one destination. The entire collection is housed inside a 200-square-foot showroom dressed seasonally by the Missoni Studio team.
60 Seconds Helicopter. The Sikorsky Prize is legendary, for it has not yet been awarded–it’s still awaiting its first winner, whose human-powered helicopter will reach an altitude of 3 meters (10 feet) during a flight lasting at least 60 seconds, while remaining in a 10 meter square (32.8 foot square). But Inhabitat reports that if things go as planned, a team of students from the University of Maryland may be taking home the prize with their human-powered flying machine, the Gamera.
BIG’s beautified universe. Metropolis deconstructs the renderings of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)’s latest project: a mosque complex in Tirana, Albania. While the thoughtful octagonal design (an overlap of the Mecca orientation and Tirana’s urban grid) may have put BIG in front of the competition, one can’t help wonder if the seductive juxtaposition of photo-realism and and benign atmospheric glow in BIG’s renderings may be the secret to the firm’s running marathon of competition wins.
More Getty Trust. Christopher Knight at The Los Angeles Times raises a good point regarding the J. Paul Getty Trust’s appointment of James Cuno, currently director of the Art Institute of Chicago, as Trust president and chief executive: It might be a brilliant idea to appoint him to the directorship for the Getty Museum, finally merging the two positions.
Suburbia Objectified? Allison Arieff of The New York Times comments on the recently launched Open House, a collaborative project in which the Dutch design collective Droog and Diller Scofidio + Renfro architects imagined “future suburbia.” She laments that the project missed the point– by treating a real place (Levittown) as a “perfect blank canvas” and dodging “the real issues.”
Mexico City’s new Museo Soumaya (named after the deceased wife of Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who owns the museum) was finally unveiled to the public late last month. The museum houses 60,000-square-feet of continuous exhibition space spread over six levels and containing over 6,200 pieces from Slim’s art collection.
Designed by Fernando Romero of the firm FREE, the building is shaped like a woman’s bustier with a cinched waist. The amorphous structure is built with 28 curved steel columns of varying diameters, each with its own contoured geometry. While the exterior mass resembles a singular object, the skin is comprised of thousands of hexagonal aluminum modules.
While the building itself is almost opaque–it has no windows–the roof of the top floor is suspended from a cantilever, letting in natural light. The result is a monumental parametric design offering a dramatic sculptural addition to the city once celebrated for its tradition and hand-painted, colorful architecture.