Pritzkers Take the Stage

East, East Coast
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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Herzog & de Meuron have designed the sets for the Met's latest production of Atilla, which premiers tonight. (Ken Howard/Courtesy Metropolitan Opera)

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, like many of their starchitect brethren, have not had an easy time of late in New York, from the stalling of 56 Leonard to the continuing reconfiguration of the Parrish Art Museum. (Yes, we know everybody’s having a hard time of late, but that’s a different story.) Well, the Basel-based architects just got their big break, as they say in the theater: a debut at the Met. No, they are not the latest hot shot firm to proffer an addition to the ever-transforming complex. Better yet, they’ve designed the set for a new production of Verdi’s Atilla, which premiers tonight. We’re not exactly sure what to make of the ghostly scenery that somehow floats above the chorus, from a forest picnic of sorts to post-apocalyptic-looking ruins (hopefully not the remnants of some failed project). Yet even in this unusual setting, the designer’s unusual forms shine. Fashion doing about as well as architecture these days, does it come as a surprise that Miuccia Prada has lent her talents to the costumes? With any luck, Herzog & de Meuron will take over the Oscars next year. Read More

Advertising Jiujitsu

East, East Coast
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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If you’re an architecture geek like us, you love playing Spot the Building while watching TV or at the movies. (The International, otherwise mediocre, is one of our favorites for this very reason.) That’s why this Cadillac commercial caught us so off guard when we saw it the other day. At first, we knew we recognized the “museum” at the start, even though it wasn’t actually one. In fact, it wasn’t even one building. Read More

No Green in Green?

East
Monday, February 22, 2010
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The solar panels are just the start of this green-house in Harlem. (Courtesy Warburg Realty)

Is it really possible to make your house too green? California may not think so, but a Harlem brownstone is finding that to be the case. Last week, Curbed spotted 151 West 122nd Street, which the realtors declare to be the “greenest house in Manhattan.” While there are a few others that might argue for that throne, this one holds the title by apparently being the first standalone townhouse in the borough to achieve a LEED rating, Silver to be exact, courtesy a Better Homes and Gardens makeover. But all that green cred is not translating into green credit, as the building’s price has fallen from $4.05 million some 17 months ago to $2.79 million. At least one critic, gadabout blogger Harlem Bespoke, has complained that the problem is the project has forgone its charm for slick environmentalism—there’s no brownstone left in this brownstone!. Could this be the case, as ArchNewsNow turned up more green backlash today? Or is it simply the fact that no one is willing to spend this kind of money, no matter how nice a house, in Harlem?

Salsa in the Square

East, East Coast
Thursday, February 11, 2010
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Things have gotten pretty wild in Times Square, what with the permanent plazas, aquariums, and ice sculptures on the horizon—that last one is going up tonight—so what about a good old fashioned billboard? Well, not exactly old fashioned. In January, Cuban-born street artist Sofia Maldonado took up residency in Times Square’s BLANK SL8 space, where she began work on a clutch of murals that will be installed in the square come march, bringing a bit of graffiti grit back to the area. Our friends at LOOSEWORLD swung by and put together this video of Sofia at work, and there’s another on the way, so stay tuned.

Pecha Kucha Haiti

International
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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(Courtesy Pecha Kucha)

There’s never been a Pecha Kucha in Port-au-Prince before. But on February 20, some 280 cities across the globe that have hosted the 20-seconds-per-20-slides architecture presentation cum party will join together to try and raise $1 million for Architecture for Humanity’s relief efforts in Haiti. As the Pecha Kucha people put it on their site, it only took a matter of seconds for hundreds of thousands of lives to be forever changed. Hopefully, 200,000 design-savy, humanitarian-minded types will get together for a few more seconds in a week-and-a-half and start to put things back in order. Read More

A Castle Near the Sand

East
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
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The Shore Theater was calendared today, the first step in the landmarks process. (vanz/Flickr)

With snowpocalypse about to descend on the city, summer feels a long way away. But there is cause for sun-soaked celebration today, as the Landmarks Preservation commission calendared the Shore Theater, the first step in the public review process to make the building an official city landmark. The calendaring is actually the first fruits to bear from the Bloomberg administration’s 13th hour deal with developer Joe Sitt. It will be months before amusements return to a saved Coney Island, but a major negotiating point for the community—and the amusement community in particular—was more landmarks in Coney to protect the area’s historic buildings from the flood of development the city’s rezoning hopes to create. So far, there are no other buildings in the docket besides the 1920s theater-and-hotel building, though, which could be cause for concern—especially after the area’s oldest building recently suffered water damage. Still, after decades of deterioration, any progress is good. In other landmarks news… Read More

Spruce Up a Parking Lot

West
Monday, February 8, 2010
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The Santa Monica City Council recently approved an installation by Ball Nogues for a renovated parking garage.

Despite the frustration of having to drive everywhere, often sitting through interminable traffic, at least Angelinos can boast some of the prettiest parking structures in the country. One of the latest to the game is Pugh + Scarpa’s dressed up garages for the redeveloped Santa Monica Place mall, garages that were originally designed by the same man behind the now demolished mall, Frank Gehry himself. Not content to simply dress up some old garages with a flashy new facade, the mall has dedicated space on each of the two parking structures for art installations Read More

The Weekly Review

National
Friday, February 5, 2010
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Get reading...

For readers of the paper—the print paper, that is—you know full well the importance of our reviews section, just as vital to the pulse of the architectural discourse as the news and features we regularly publish. Online, however, we have never had a good, dedicated place for these disquisitions on the latest books, exhibitions, and ephemera. But, no longer! Now, we will be posting one review from recent issues each Friday, for your weekend enjoyment. Perhaps you can pull it up on your new iPad with the Sunday Times, or print it out and enjoy with a bloody mary or two. We know that’s what Herbert Muschamp, subject of our inaugural effort, would have done. And don’t forget to check back next Friday for more. Until then, happy reading.

BigUps for BigApps

East, East Coast
Thursday, February 4, 2010
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(Courtesy NYC.gov)

Last fall, the Bloomberg administration launched NYC BigApps, a competition to design web and phone apps using a massive cache of city data. Dozens of developers entered, including the designer of this very blog, and we’re to report that the mayor announced tonight that her team’s Big Apple Ed came in third place overall. Granted a site all about school data may not be that useful to our readers—unless you’ve got kids in the city school system, of course—but the BigApps site is worth checking out because there are plenty of cool apps dealing with buildings, parks, and even one that lets you build a “walkability shed,” determining how walkable various neighborhoods in the city are based on individual criteria. Other personal favorites include a landmarks app, a bike rack app, and one called BldgBeat. Any strike your fancy?

New and Not So New

East, East Coast
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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Bloomberg (left) and Walder check out a new 7-Train station. Hopefully it won't leak like recent MTA projects. (Courtesy Office of the Mayor)

On a day when the MTA announced that its budget shortfall may now surpass $400 million as last year’s payroll tax is bringing in even less revenue than expected, Mayor Michael Bloomberg began his day underground. He and MTA chief Jay Walder were touring a new station underway at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, the terminus of the underway 7-Train extension. At least during boom times, the project was seen as a boon to residential development on the Far West Side. Now, with construction limited and the MTA in desperate need of money, transit advocates like the Straphanger’s Campaign and the City Council continue to call for tapping capital funds—namely stimulus set-asides—to help cover the gap. And if two recent projects are any indication, maybe that’s not a bad idea. Read More

Coronary Blockage

East, East Coast
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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A giant ice heart by Moorhead & Moorhead will be installed in Times Square next Thursday. (Courtesy Moorhead & Moorhead)

With Valentines Day barely a week away, the Times Square Alliance is eschewing flowers and candy yet again. Instead, they’re sending New Yorkers a giant designer valentine for the second year in a row, as Moorhead & Moorhead will stage an installation adjacent the TKTS Booth beginning next Thursday. For the inaugural effort, Gage/Clemenceau created a laser-cut heart as flashy as the surrounding billboards. This year’s entry is rather more demur, as Granger Moorhead explained. “We looked at last year’s entry, ‘Two Tons of Love,’ and, well, at the end of the day you’re just left with two tons of stuff, not to knock that project,” Moorhead said. “We didn’t want to do something that would be there at the end. We wanted something more ephemeral.” Read More

Baan Among the Best

International
Friday, January 29, 2010
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Baan doing what he does best. (Courtesy Iwan.com)

First there was Ezra Stoller, then Julius Shulman. Now comes Iwan Baan, who is furiously “remaking the genre” of architectural photography, as Charles Renfro put it to Fred Bernstein in Sunday’s Times. Baan, while only 34, has an exploding, explosive list of clients. As Bernstein explains, “Mr. Baan’s work, while still showing architecture in flattering lights and from carefully chosen angles, does away with the old feeling of chilly perfection. In its place he offers untidiness, of the kind that comes from real people moving though buildings and real cities massing around them.” It is for this reason, among many others, that Baan was selected as one of a dozen photographers in our annual Best Of issue, now online. Not surprisingly, his work turns up throughout, bringing to life everything from the High Line’s lighting to 41 Cooper Square’s facade. Do think of calling on him—as well as the hundreds of other contractors, fabricators, and suppliers in Best Of—next time you need a smart hand or steady eye on one of your projects.

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