Swallowed by the Green Monster

East
Monday, March 15, 2010
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The Rose Kennedy Greenway has yet to take root, at least not from a land-use perspective. (Danielle Walquist/Flickr)

The Rose Kennedy Greenway was supposed to transform downtown Boston, and while the Big Dig has had some impact on traffic, its above ground success have been far fewer, at least in the three years since the project was completed. At least two major developments have been forestalled because of competing demands on the Greenway’s open space, which itself has not been a smashing success, and now the Boston Globe reports the demise of yet another cultural institution that had been planned for the 1.5-mile park. The latest loss is the New Center for Arts and Culture, an $80 million project designed by Daniel Libeskind that was meant to foster diversity and dialogue between disparate groups. Other of the glassy, glitzy victims—blame falls largely on poor fundraising due to the economy—include a new YMCA, Garden Under Glass, and the Boston Museum, which has since relocated to a different site where it also struggles to get off the ground. After the jump, a graphic from the Globe breaks the blunders down. Read More

Pritzkers on eBay

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 11, 2010
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Bauble or board game?

On Monday, September 15, 2008, Herzog & de Mueron’s 56 Leonard Street was unveiled. That same day, Lehman Brothers collapsed. As you can guess, this Jenga-like tower never got off the ground—if anything, the Tribeca luxury tower was the exclamation point capping off the real estate bubble in the city. And yet now is your lucky opportunity to buy into the project: Curbed tipped us off to an eBay sale of one of 300 limited edition models of the project—#37 to be exact. Taking the Jenga theme to an extreme, the model actually comes apart, so its 145 pieces (one for each floor/residence) provide “a means of exploring the tower’s radically innovative design.” The model even has a replica Anish Kapoor sculpture at its base, just as the tower was supposed to, a symbol of the excess of the times that’s now seen as bad taste. Amazingly, there must still be demand for design even in these rough times, as bidding, which Curbed said started at a penny, is up to $187.50. Is there no end to the madness?

UPDATE: Apparently not. No sooner did we hit publish than the auction jumped 8 bids and the price now stands at $228.50. And this is only after the first day. Are we looking at a bubble here?

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Tipping Over Domino

East
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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Is Domino decaying before our eyes?

Even with its generous amounts of affordable housing—30 percent of some 2,200 units, as opposed to 20 percent—the New Domino project surrounding the former Domino sugar refinery on the Williamsburg waterfront has faced stiff opposition from the community, as we reported in Issue 02 earlier this year. The local community remains opposed to the project’s density and lack of infrastructure to support all those new residents in towers designed by Rafael Viñoly that reach 40 stories, twice as tall as the iconic Domino refinery they will surround. Community Board 1 reaffirmed its opposition last night, when it voted 23-12 against the project. Our pal Aaron Short has an insanely detailed blow-by-blow over on his blog, but it all basically boils down—not unlike most of the board’s decisions on land-use matters—that the project is just too damn big. Meanwhile Read More

Childs Anchors Atlantic Yards?

East
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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Might a 1- or 7-WTC-style building by David Childs one day replace some of those ghost towers behind SHoP's rendering of their Atlantic Yards arena?

The Brooklyn Paper bumped into David Childs last week, during the opening of his SOM colleague Roger Duffy’s new Toren condo tower, and the BKP is reporting the surprising news that both could possibly be working on some of the 16 residential towers proposed for Bruce Ratner’s nearby Atlantic Yards development.

“First, he brought me in to look at the arena design, which I think is very good now,” Childs said, referring to the current design collaboration between Ellerbe Becket and SHoP Architects. “And then we talked about working together on the residential buildings,” added Childs.

Read More

STACKing Up

International
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
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Giving a new meaning to software architecture.

It’s seems everybody’s on Facebook and Twitter these days (us included—and if you’re not already following us, get on it!) while MySpace and Friendster have been all but abandoned. There’s the new Google Buzz, but that’s been more like Google Glitch. What all these social networks have in common is that they’re designed for people. But what if there was a social network designed exclusively for buildings? May we introduce you to STACKD. Started by the fine folks at Supermetric, who just so happened to help design Archpaper.com way back when, STACKD takes social networks out of the virtual world and transports them to the real one, a place where the burgeoning site needs our help. Read More

LEGO Fixer Upper

East, East Coast
Monday, March 8, 2010
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Fix up, look sharp: Vormann works his magic on the General Theological Seminary. (Courtesy Dispatchwork)

As most readers of this blog know, we’ve got quite a thing for LEGO building blocks, which is why Jan Vormann might just be our new favorite artist. The Berlin-based, Bavarian-born Vornmann takes the little plastic blocks as one of his favored media, which would be awesome in its own right. But then, pushing the architectural boundaries of LEGO blocks, uses them to fix real-life cracks in the city, beginning to reverse the urban decay as only a child could. He took a recent visit to New York, as we found out from NewYorkology today, though he’s also made repairs across the globe Read More

Lost in Penn Station

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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Moynihan Station is meant to adress the deplorable architecture of Penn Station, but its greatest fix could be to the confusing signage. (Courtesy NYMag)

With any luck, Moynihan Station will finally get off the ground thanks to last’s months grant of $83 million in stimulus funds. Having gone through what seems like dozens of iterations, it’s unclear exactly what shape the new station will take, but we do have one piece of advice for whatever cabal of designers takes up the massive project: Don’t forget the signs. While no hardened New Yorker would admit to getting lost in Penn’s warren of tunnels and concourses, Slate‘s Julia Turner uses the underground mess as Exhibit-A of bad signage for her series running this week and next about just how important wayfinding is in our increasingly confusing world. As Turner puts it, signage is “is the most useful thing we pay no attention to.” Read More

Fresh Look at Fresh Kills

East, East Coast
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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Fresh Kills Park takes shape, as mounds of capped gardbage are transformed into rolling hills. CLICK TO ZOOM (Courtesy NYC Parks&Rec)

It will be decades before the 2,200-acre Fresh Kills Park will be totally completed in Staten Island, making it the second largest in the city after Pelham Bay Park and almost three times as large Central Park. Some time next year, limited sections of the park are expected to open to the public, but for those who can’t wait, the city’s Parks Department is guiding private tours through the Field Operations-designed landscape starting next month. Uh, make that May—even though the tours were just announced yesterday, they’re filling up so fast that all the April spots are already taken. The tour season runs through November and will afford visitors breathtaking views of the city and what was once the world’s largest landfill. To sign up, visit the park’s website or—what else—call 311. Should you fail to make it out for a tour, you’ll find a small one after the jump. Read More

Times Square Paint Job

East, East Coast
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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Some people have complained (us included) that while Transporation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has done a wonderful job carving pedestrian space out of the streets and parking lots of the city, they could stand to be better designed, more aesthetically pleasing spaces. Nowhere was this more true than in Times Square, where, when the Crossroads of the World were shut down last summer, traffic cones and beach chairs proliferated. Three weeks ago, when Sadik-Khan and the mayor announced they were making the Broadway closures permanent, better designs were promised. Sort of. As Sadik-Khan put it back then:

It can be very simple. I’ve seen amazing things done in the Netherlands with nothing but polka dots. And we did a lot already with nothing more than epoxy gravel.

Read More

Gowanus: Sunk or Saved?

East
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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The shores of the Gowanus are, for better or worse, likely to remain undeveloped for years to come (sahocevar/Flickr)

The Environmental Protection Agency balked at the Bloomberg administration’s controversial proposal to clean up the Gowanus Canal, favoring its own Superfund program in an announcement today, as had been expected. In a statement, regional administrator Judith Enck said  that, after much consultation with concerned parties, the EPA “determined that a Superfund designation is the best path to a cleanup of this heavily contaminated and long neglected urban waterway.” The Bloomberg administration opposed the designation for fear it would stigmatize the waterway and drive off developers who were planning projects on the polluted canal’s shores. Read More

To the Ramparts

International
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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Viñoly's massive Battersea development got the approval of the British architecture office this week. (Courtesy World Architecture News)

With all the notice being paid to the new U.S. embassy this week, an even bigger (physically if not psychically) project just next door was overshadowed as it won a key approval yesterday. Rafael Viñoly’s massive Battersea development, which will turn the iconic Battersea Power Station and 40 surrounding acres (once on the cover of a Pink Floyd album) into a huge mixed-use community, won approval from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. According to our colleagues at BD, the CABE found the 5.5 billion pound project to be “intelligent and well-resolved.” Read More

King of the Hill

National
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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Ayers.

Hard to believe Glenn Beck isn’t already up in arms over the president’s decision to nominate his long-time friend and former Weatherman (some might say terrorist) to become the Architect of the Capitol. Oh. Wait. Wrong Ayers. Stephen Ayers, who has actually been serving as AoC for the past three years on an interim basis, was nominated to take over full-time on Tuesday by the Obama administration. Previously, Ayers held the position of Deputy Architect of the Capitol, taking over when his predecessor, Alan Hantman, retired after a decade of service. Ayers has had a distinguished career of public service, including a stint in the Air Force, then a turn in the public sector followed by work at Voice of America, the government-run radio network in Europe. By all appearances, his experience in facilities management in general and at the Capitol in particular should silence critics who have been giving the industry grief over the AoC position in recent years. Read More

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