Perfect Angle for Treasure Island: 68 Degrees

West
Friday, September 4, 2009
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(Rendering courtesy CMG Landscape Architecture.)

Sixty-eight degrees happens to be the best angle for the streets in San Francisco’s Treasure Island project, a utopian vision of green, pedestrian-centric living. The planners have realized that nobody will walk if they’re buffeted by blasts of wind that sweep the island from the southwest, so they came up with a compromise that blocks wind while giving cars enough clearance to turn.

It was just one of the interesting factoids that came up during yesterday’s tour, organized by the AIA SF for their Architecture + the City Festival, going on right now  (still time to catch one of the other tours and get in on the learning and schmoozing!). Read More

That Empty Lot Problem? Solved.

West
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
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While the recession has put a damper on development along San Francisco’s Octavia Boulevard, the mayor’s office has reached out to Douglas Burnham of Envelope A+D to come up with something cool to temporarily fill the two vacant lots that front Hayes Green at the intersection of Octavia and Fell.

Burnham’s plan sounds like a lot of fun. He plans to transform the space into a mini-shopping, dining, and entertainment destination called PROXY–using a series of modular units that will be recyclable in two or three years when things ratchet up again. The vision includes a group of  pop-up stores,  a food court served by “slow food” carts, an art gallery, and a courtyard for projecting outdoor movies.  Design-wise, the spaces will make their transient nature apparent, revealing their infrastructure (e.g., wiring, water storage) and their modular assembly.

Read More

Pint-Sized City

West
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
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AN contributor Christina Chan sends this wee report from Irvine:

Pretend City is populated entirely by kids–this mini replica of a city is Irvine’s newest children’s museum. The 28,000-square-foot facility, which just opened its doors to visitors, has taken over a decade to come to fruition. Philanthropists Alexandra Airth and Sandra Peffer are behind the new mini-metropolis. The museum includes interactive learning exhibits geared for kids up to eight years of age.The city includes a farm where little ones can learn about the food they consume, a ATM for financial learning, a café with mock ovens and menus, and a beach that will teach about the effects of pollution. And for budding architects, there is even a construction site where kids (and perhaps grown-ups, too) can build structures with wooden planks.

Pulp Fiction

West
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
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City Hall

City Hall

He had my wrists now, instead of me having his. He twisted them behind me fast and a knee like a corner stone went into my back. He bent me. I can be bent. I’m not the City Hall.

Leave it to Raymond Chandler to come up with architectural descriptions that pack a wallop.  Excerpts of the taut prose that would define a whole genre of American fiction are brilliantly paired with Catherine Corman’s photographs of the L.A. of the 1930s and ’40s in her new book, Daylight Noir: Raymond Chandler’s Imagined City (Charta, $40). The evocative black-and-white images taken by Corman–who is the daughter of horror-movie maven Roger Corman–linger with great deliberation on architectural details like an arch or a building corner, turning each page into a world of suspense. With a poetic forward by Jonathan Lethem: “If architecture is fate, then it is Marlowe’s fate to enumerate the pensive dooms of Los Angeles, the fatal, gorgeous pretenses of glamour and ease…” Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable way to “read” a building.

Pixel Count

West
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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SmithGroups new Mission Bay building

SmithGroup's new Mission Bay building

You know that if a trend has hit a major office building, it’s really gone mainstream. The pixelated effect that has been seen in hip textiles and interior design is used for the glass facade on this SmithGroup project going up in Mission Bay. For people driving down Third St., it adds a bit of sparkle to the vista, reflecting the blueness of the open sky around it. Compared to the new Rafael Vinoly-designed UCSF cancer research building next to it (which Mitchell Schwarzer twitted for its blandness), it’s the sequined cocktail dress next to the Gap khakis.

High School Musical

West
Friday, July 10, 2009
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The laser-cut acoustical screen

The laser-cut acoustical screen.

Just weeks from completion, a shiny new auditorium by L.A.’s Hodgetts + Fung looks to put the little town of Menlo Park, CA on the architecture map.  The $28 million project is at a public institution of learning–Menlo-Atherton High–and the 500-seat venue was designed with top-notch acoustics and a stage that can accommodate a full symphony orchestra, in the hopes of  also hosting performances by professional touring groups. Painted in Kynar metallic paint (copper was too expensive), the exterior gleams. But the real treat is inside: the acoustical scrim around the stage is laser-cut with a pattern based on the historic oaks outside.  Read More

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