After the fatal MetroNorth crash in New York City last week, former Obama administration Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood claimed that Washington is “afraid” to invest in transportation infrastructure improvement. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, LaHood said the recent train tragedy was only another example of the problems lurking in America’s infrastructure and that the $48 billion set for transportation use by the economic recovery plan was “not enough money,” something Congressional members later acknowledged. Only in states where the people have voted for infrastructure referendums is progress occurring. He called for nationwide leadership to follow suit.
For Miami Art Basel this year, food artist Caitlin Levin and photographer Henry Hargreaves teamed up to recreate some of the most architecturally masterful art museums of the world using a very sugary medium. In candy, chocolate, gingerbread, and icing, the New York City–based collaborative pair have molded and modeled highly detailed scale versions of six iconic art spaces. Photographed by Hargreaves in black and white, the dynamic chocolate angles of Yasui Hideo’s Karuizawa Museum and the sweeping icing curves of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim almost seem real.
From December 5 to 8—the duration of the annual international art show—the pictures will be exhibited at Dylan’s Candy Bar in Miami.
From Los Angeles to Chicago, city governments across the nation have been following San Francisco’s early lead and popping up parklets on their streets, mini sidewalk-side public parks for rest, small group gatherings, and people watching.
This summer, Boston joined in on the trend, installing its first parklet in Mission Hill in September and another in Jamaica Plain at Hyde Square. While these spaces have seen success in other cities, the Boston Globe reported that the Boston parklets have shown disappointing usage during what should have been their prime season.
At the tip of Lower Manhattan, a three-acre green space in the 22-acre Battery Park may soon be home to a field of flower-shaped seats, a sea of brightly colored rocking chairs, or a plethora of pivotable chaise lounges.
Last summer, the Battery Conservancy Americas launched the “Draw Up a Chair” design competition, the first of its kind from the New York City Parks Department, calling for a moveable, outdoor chair to fill the oval lawn of Battery Green. The new park is currently under construction as part of rebuild efforts after last year’s Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. From a previously condensed pool of 50, the Conservancy has chosen the top five proposals, from firms spanning four countries. Each unique design is stackable, weatherproof, and made of recycled materials.
In the same futuristic spirit of its design, One Thousand Museum, the proposed Zaha Hadid-designed condominium building in Miami, Florida, has recently been rendered in hologram form. As anticipation builds about what will be the Pritzker Prize–winning architect’s first residential building in the United States, Zaha Hadid Architects continued the hype with a Miami party and holographic unveiling of the 705-foot condo tower. According to the South Florida Business Journal, the new digital rendering underscores Hadid’s commitment to curvilinear forms, especially prevalent in this sculptural tower that will soon join the Magic City skyline.
In Griffis Sculpture Park near Buffalo, New York, a twisting triangular tower serves more than a purely aesthetic purpose. Designed by architect and assistant professor at the University of Buffalo, Joyce Hwang, the 12-foot-tall sculpture of stained plywood panels is conceptualized as a protective home for bats. Constructed conspicuously but practically, the University reports that Hwang’s Bat Tower is an effort to raise awareness for the recent disease-caused decline of these flying mammals, usually considered pests.
In a hybrid of LEGO and origami, Paper Punk has created their first boxed set of punch-and-fold, customizable paper building blocks. Urban Fold is the California-based company’s newest creation by founder Grace Hawthorne, a designer, author, and artist from San Francisco who currently teaches at Stanford University’s d.school (Institute of Design). The set gives builders the opportunity to create a paper city in punchy colors and patterns, inspired by Berlin graffiti and the photography of Matthias Heiderich.
The Philadelphia Water Department wanted a 3 million gallon sewer overflow tank. Neighbors wanted maintenance of current community recreational space. Now, landscape architecture firm Andropogon has split the difference for Philadelphia residents concerned with the fate of Lower Venice Island. Using high performance landscape design, the firm has envisioned the 5-acre island between the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal as a space for both water maintenance and for community promenade and play.
With their winning design for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s “Timber in the City” competition, three students from the University of Oregon have imagined wood’s viable potential in prefabricated low-cost housing. Wood construction has been a popular topic at AN recently and the topic of our recent feature, Timber Towers. Benjamin Bye, Alex Kenton, and Jason Rood entered the design competition last year with the mission to create a community of affordable housing and wood technology manufacturing in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Awarded first place, Grow Your Own City proposes the use of CLT (cross-laminated timber) for construction of nearly 183,000 square feet of mid-rise housing, a bike share and repair shop, and a wood distribution, manufacturing, and development plant.
The Nobel Foundation has officially launched an international design competition for the creation of a Nobel Center Headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. An architectural idea in existence since the 1990s, the Center will serve as a venue for the annual Nobel Prize Award Ceremony, as a space for exhibition, public education, and meetings, and as a symbol of the honorable achievements of Nobel Laureates.
Previously, the Foundation released its list of twelve architectural concept winners. These anonymous entries were judged on general building design, structural relationship with the waterfront site on the Blasieholmen peninsula, and shaping the urban context for the proposed functions of the Nobel Center.