Well it looks like the tech craziness on LA’s west side—a.k.a. Silicon Beach—is just getting going. Of course, Google has basically taken over Venice, and a number of tech companies, including YouTube, are taking over Howard Hughes’ old facility in Playa Vista. Now we hear that Amazon is looking for a huge space in Santa Monica. The new LA outpost could measure as much as 80,000 square feet, putting this development in the upper echelons of the city’s tech world. It will certainly compete with the new campus they’re building up in Seattle, designed by NBBJ. Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, the architectural one-upmanship continues. That same firm (NBBJ) just unveiled designs for its new HQ for Google, which it hopes will stand out among the other ambitious schemes for Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, and so many more.
Look out, there’s been a major announcement at the World Trade Center. No, really. Look out and see all of New York City at your feet, from the 100th through 102nd floors of One World Trade. While the lines are sure to be long, plenty of multimedia on the way to banks of high-speed elevators should provide some entertainment and history lessons. Beginning in 2015, visitors will move through trippy video hallways, into a cave-like foundation room. After a quick 60-second elevator ride up 100 floors showcasing the vertical growth of New York, doors will open onto the One World Observatory and its mesmerizing 360-degree views from floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s certainly not an experience for those with vertigo. The facility will be operated by Legends Hospitality and is expected to generate $875 million in revenue over 15 years. Admission prices to get to the observation deck have not been released.
We know you’ve seen those sleek parametric designs that are all the rage in cutting-edge architecture, but have you ever wanted to make your own? Venturing into the software zoo of Grasshopper and Rhino can be daunting on your own, and understanding algorithms and computational geometry can sound like Greek to the uninitiated. Luckily, parametric expert Ronnie Parsons of Mode Collective has joined the upcoming facades+PERFORMANCE Conference taking place in New York City next week, April 11 and 12, and will help guide beginners into the exciting world of Parametric Design.
With a focus on fundamental concepts and workflows for creating performance-based design models with the parametric design tool Grasshopper for Rhino3D. Parsons’ Technical Workshop, Introduction to Parametric Design, will guide participants through a series of exercises designed to emphasize the relevant applications of parametric design for professional practice.
Register today for the Introduction to Parametric Design workshop and the facades+PERFORMANCE before space fills up. There are 8 LU AIA CE credits up for grabs, so head on over to the facades+PERFORMANCE homepage for more information.
Work took place in March to replace a portion of Chicago’s Wells Street bridge—“the engineering equivalent of a heart transplant,” in the words of the Tribune’s Cynthia Dizikes. Work crews replaced a portion of the 91-year old double-decker bascule bridge during just two nine-day periods (a similar replacement in 1996 took almost a year). Inconvenience or not, seeing a 500,000-pound hunk of metal floating into downtown Chicago atop a barge makes one feel like a witness to latter-day Carl Sandburg paeans: “Here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities.”
Buffalo’s Hirsute Pursuit. An old 140-foot-tall concrete grain elevator in Buffalo is being converted into a rock-climbing facility, Silo City Rocks. That much is true, but today, a group of mustachioed city-boosters unveiled a giant mural project to celebrate “famous mustached Buffalonians Grover Cleveland, Lindy Ruff, Rick James and Mark Twain.” Dubbed “Mount Stachemore,” the mural will be part of a planned Mustache Hall of Fame and Museum. Head brewer for Flying Bison beer was on hand to announce a new product sharing the same name: “My mustache is made thick by the foam of Flying Bison beer; in turn, Mount Stachemore Ale has a thick-hearted body and smooth finish, and we look forward to serving it at Silo City for centuries to come.” The group said they hope the mural by artist Max Collins will be complete by August 17.
Calling Fred and Carrie. The city of Portland, OR is famous for its progressive stance on transportation. To stay ahead of the competition, Portland Transport reports the city has announced a new public transit program aimed at increasing the horse-power on city streets – literally. A new hay-ride system gliding along high-tech RUTS (rapid ungulate tracking system) and complete with alfalfa-filled bioswales at intersections could open in 2017.
Florida’s New Pad in Boca. The epic battle between urbanism foes Richard Florida and Joel Kotkin appears to have fizzed, according to Planetizen. Suburban sympathizer Kotkin has switched sides to embrace the creative class. “The old school is dead. This is the new American economy – spontaneously meeting people, sharing ideas, Tweeting stuff.” Urban advocate Florida had his own change of heart, trading his latte for a lawnmower in a surprising appeal for suburbia. “If that ain’t what people want, why would they keep building it?”
Minneapolis St. Sprawl. Seemingly following Florida to the ‘burbs, a new plan for the future of Minneapolis-Saint Paul ditches density in favor of suburban sprawl. “It is time to reflect and realize that we need to shift our walking-oriented ways and rely more on the magnificent creation that is the car.”
Your Kiss Is On My List. Smoking, soft drinks, and now kissing? According to the Project for Public Spaces, New York’s Mayor Michael “Ban-it-all” Bloomberg is reportedly set to usher in a new PDA ban for New York City parks as studies suggest intimacy is on the rise.
I Haz High Line. While you can’t love your fellow human being in public for much longer, Friends of the High Line have been showing their affection for cats. The group hosted its first annual cat festival on the renamed “High FeLine,” which took a turn for the worse when the animals ingested too much catmint: “In what appeared to be a drug-induced mania, the cats jumped wildly up and down the Seating Steps, sending visitors’ macchiatos and kombucha teas flying.”
In the new documentary The Centrifuge Brain Project, the work of famed centrifugal theorist Dr. Nick Laslowicz finally gets its due. Combining never-before-seen archival footage with testimony from Dr. Laslowicz himself, the documentary briefly outlines the groundbreaking career of this oft-forgot designer, engineer, and academic who dared to challenge mankind’s oldest obstacle: gravity. As Laslowicz’s work moved from drawing-board simulations to real-life amusement park experimentations, his ambitious creations drew criticism from the establishment, but he never gave up hope in his aspirations. “We had setbacks, but I wouldn’t say it was a mistake,” said Laslowicz in the film, “If anything, the mistake is in nature. Gravity is a mistake.” Watch below to catch a glimpse of the The Centrifuge Brain Project and the legendary work of one of our generation’s great scientific minds.
The London headquarters of insurance giant Swiss Re at 30 St Mary Axe, known locally as “the Gherkin,” was scheduled to take its true form, today—a giant green pickle—thanks to Jackpot Joy, a British online gambling site, which promised last month to light up Sir Norman Foster’s iconic skyscraper with a digital projection. The foodie facelift called for wrapping the 41-story tower in a special non-reflective film requiring a crew of ten and around 900 man-hours. With no news that the tower is actually glowing, the stunt appears to have been too large a gamble. The jokesters, however, last year successfully sent a 60-foot rubber duck down the Thames. It appears this is strike two for recladding the tower after a campaign to transform it into a penguin went nowhere as well.
The Eero Saarinen-designed Gateway Arch in St. Louis is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its opening, taking place in 2015, and the original Dan Kiley landscape around the monumental catenary arch is getting an overhaul by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). The full story about the newly updated plans for the ambitious project appeared in the Midwest edition of AN News. MVVA shared these views of the current landscape and what’s proposed, showing just how dramatic the transformation will be. Take a look.
American Standard Movement
Smart Museum of Art
University of Chicago
5550 South Greenwood Avenue, Chicago
Through October 6
Valerie Snobeck reuses left over construction materials from a project on the University of Chicago campus in her exhibition American Standard Movement, which is showing at the Smart Museum of Art’s courtyard. In doing so, her work presents questions of art, materiality, temporality, and significance. The exhibition displays a net tacked up against a wall and adorned with markings derived from repair tools that measure the small inner parts of watches. The function of netting is twofold: to catch the construction’s falling dust and debris and to serve as a visible indicator of the construction site and its parameters. Netting acts as a temporary stand-in for a wall during construction, but, due to its malleable nature and woven fabric, is physically unlike a wall. Snobeck’s net is not being used in its typical function, but is not necessarily functionless. She asks viewers to consider what is behind netting and what is being built or rebuilt. American Standard Movement proposes a connection between the body and space measured in parts. The piece questions efforts to dictate the future in physical and speculative ways.
Many conferences leave audiences sitting in a dark theater while speakers and panelists perform on stage. At Facades + PERFORMANCE, April 11-12 in NYC, attendees have the opportunity to have in-depth conversations with architects, fabricators, developers, and engineers. Day 2 Dialog workshops, a new feature at this year’s conference, offer participants an opportunity to interact with some of the industry’s top experts in an intimate, seminar-style setting with a goal of encouraging inquiry and problem-solving.
Participants can select one workshop each from morning and afternoon sessions to create a customized daylong schedule that best suits their professional goals. For those interested in the renovation of large commercial facades in the urban environment and the use of contemporary curtainwall technology to renovate old masonry buildings, a special full-day session, “The Challenge and Opportunity Presented by an Aging Building Stock“ is being led by Mic Patterson, director of strategic development at the facade technology firm Enclos. The workshop meets at Enclos’ Advanced Technology Studio, but to discuss retrofitting there’s no better classroom than the city of Manhattan itself—the group will conclude the day with a visit the Javits Center for a tour of the recently reclad building. As part of the program, case studies will be presented by Robert Golda of Heintges; William Paxson & Mayin Yu from Davis Brody Bond, and Hamid Vossoughi of Halsall Associates.
Up to 8 AIA/CES LU or LU/HSW credits available. Register here.
Check out the full Dialogue Workshops menu after the jump.
The slow and tortured demise of Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital now has an official stamp: according to the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern University was issued a demolition permit for the Bertrand Goldberg cloverleaf last Friday. Wrecking crews will be on site in a few weeks after asbestos abatement wraps up, and there are sure to be protesters around the construction fence.
Of course, as seems all too common, the city is also busy readying soldiers for the next preservation battle. The 1957 Edo Belli-designed Cuneo Memorial Hospital is targeted for demolition, but Uptown residents have reached out to Preservation Chicago for support seeking landmark status. The group listed the building on its 2012 list of seven most-threatened structures in the city. Add this to what happened to Prentice and it isn’t a good year to be a midcentury modernist hospital in Chicago.