Just over four years ago, the Fox River spilled its banks, sending floodwaters into Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and causing significant damage. Built in 1951 and located outside Chicago, the river is again rising, now fully surrounding the stilted abode turned museum, and the house, operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has shared watery photos on its Farnsworth blog, stating: “The house is fully surrounded by river water, but neither the lower deck nor the upper deck has yet to be breached.” Water is not expected to enter the house, but all precautions are being taken, including elevating interior furnishings on milk crates.When the site is not flooded, tours of the house are available to the public.
We were glad to be included on the Studio Gang’s Archi-Salon panel on “outside research” at the Art Institute of Chicago on February 2. UIC’s Clare Lyster moderated a lively discussion that, true to its roots in academic theory, kicked off by questioning the premise in the first place. Are practice and research separated by anything more than semantics? Based on the turnout it seems the discussion series achieved its goal of public engagement—what can we say? We’re thrilled and a bit surprised that you all find architectural theory as stimulating as we do.
During the discussion, Paul Preissner detected a whiff of marketing in architects’ clambering to engage “outside” disciplines. You might have thought he accused them of artistic treason, based on the defensive tone that the discussion took whenever the topic popped back up.
Construction on the two-track Gateway project, a new tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan, will commence this summer beneath Related Company’s Hudson Yards redevelopment site. Related Companies and Amtrak will build this 800-foot-long “box tunnel,” which will first serve as a shell for Amtrak’s rail connection linking the Hudson tunnel to Penn Station’s tracks, and, eventually, to the proposed Moynihan Station. The actual Amtrak Gateway Project is still years away, but construction on this first leg of the tunnel is happening now to coordinate with construction on Manhattan’s West Side. The project will be funded by the federal government including some funding from the Hurricane Sandy relief package meant to help mitigate flooding during future storms. It’s estimated to cost between $120 and $150 million.
Lighting artist Leo Villareal has been busy lately, opening installations in the New York City subway system and in Madison Square Park, but an even bigger achievement is set to debut tonight in San Francisco. Villareal has attached 25,000 LED lights to the San Francisco Bay Bridge and connected them to a computer in order to create dazzling lighting displays viewable from the city and the water along the suspension bridge.
Called The Bay Lights, the project celebrates the bridge’s 75th anniversary and is set to go live tonight at 8:30 PST. But don’t worry, if you’re not in San Francisco to view the installation from the Embarcadero or Telegraph Hill, the event will be streamed live online at the project’s website here. Until then, check out a couple videos below of the installation being tested. The Bay Lights is believed to be the largest of its type in the world and will be in San Francisco for two years, lit each night from dusk till 2:00a.m.
On the other side of the pond, Building Design reports that Will Alsop didn’t hold back in a recent public conversation at the V&A with perennial pot-stirrer Stephen Bayley. “Society has decided in this age of austerity that what we need is more David Chipperfield. We don’t need that. It’s depressing,” bemoaned Alsop, known for his irreverent approach to the mother of the arts. “We need more fun, wit, and humor. It’s part of the human condition, and if you don’t have it, you are left with David Chipperfield and a number of others. He is a very good architect, and there’s plenty of room for him, but not everywhere, and not poor imitations.” Sounds like Alsop could use a long weekend in Vegas.
It’s been nearly a year since the Santiago Calatrava-designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge opened in Dallas. Part of an overarching plan to redevelop the banks of the Trinity River, the cable-stayed bridge’s 400-foot-tall central arch pylon has given the Big-D a much-needed civic icon in the otherwise flat and uninhabited swath that the watercourse cuts through the urban fabric.
These photos, taken by budding young photographer Halle Darling-Menking, convey something of the motion and excitement motorists experience while traversing the span. The lines of the cables seem to warp and flex, the arch itself to deflect and lean.
Fans of the crossing now have something more to cheer about. In January, the Dallas City Council approved funding for a second Calatrava-designed bridge across the Trinity, this one expected to cost $115 million. The second bridge, to be known as the Margaret McDermott Bridge, will replace the current Interstate 30 span. It features two arches running parallel to the span supporting pedestrian and bike paths. Construction will begin this spring and completion is expected by May 2017.
President Obama’s second-term White House is still in transition, with Ray LaHood out and rumors of an NTSB replacement, Sally Jewell likely in as Secretary of Interior. Among the non-Cabinet-level appointments, the President appointed Michael Graves to a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, an agency “devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.” Graves, who uses a wheelchair after an illness-induced partial paralysis, has been a leader in promoting accessibility in architecture, recently designing prototype houses for wounded and disabled veterans.
This month, Graves will also be launching a new line of more than 300 products at retailer J.C. Penney, including kitchen appliances, candlesticks, and a toaster shaped like a piece of toast. The Indianapolis-born architect will return to his hometown on March 28 to give a lecture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and he recently spoke with the Indy Star about delivering papers for the publication as a child, architecture, and the new product line. An exhibition of Graves’ work, From Towers to Teakettles, is also on display at the Virginia Center for Architecture through March 31.
Did you miss 3-D printing guru Skylar Tibbits at this year’s TED conference? Never fear, there’s an opportunity to hear Tibbits in New York City on April 12. And not just hear but participate in a hands-on workshop that Tibbits will lead as part of Facades + PERFORMANCE, a two-day conference on high-performance building enclosures sponsored by The Architect’s Newspaper.
Earlier this week at TED, Tibbits gave 3-D printing another dimension, quite literally, when he presented the possibility of “4-D printing,” or programming materials to self-reassemble into new structures over time. Tibbits unveiled a 4-D printer concept developed with MIT that he argues could have far-reaching implications for not just manufacturing but also for architecture. Will architects one day be able to design structures that build and mend themselves? Here’s the idea, as Tibbits told TED:
“If we combine the processes that natural systems offer intrinsically—genetic instructions, energy production, error correction—with those artificial or synthetic—programmability for design and scaffold, structure, mechanisms—we can potentially have extremely large-scale quasi-biological and quasi-synthetic architectural organisms.”
If you’ve experienced a twinge of guilt for supporting an idling, carbon-emitting vehicle while waiting on line for gourmet macaroni-and-cheese, rejoice—a new day is dawning for NYC food trucks. In late February, Mayor Bloomberg inaugurated Neapolitan Express, the first food truck fueled by compressed natural gas. The truck, (which looks a wee bit like a retirement home bus) is a showcase for kajillionaire T. Boone Pickens’ company Clean Energy Fuels. Track it @NeaExpress.
In a recent interview with the London newspaper The Observer, architect Zaha Hadid made the point that female architects are typecast. “It is thought they [women] understand interior shapes, and I am sure they do understand them better than men actually, but the idea is that they will prefer to deal with a single client, rather than with corporations and developers,” said Hadid, noting that women practitioners often ended up with residential or leisure-related projects rather than large-scale commercial work. Hadid spoke out following publication of a research report by the Architects’ Journal on gender issues in British architecture. The report, deploying a rather Shakespearian tone, claims to have uncovered a “sinister and rotten kernel of inequality.” Women “need to be encouraged and to have their confidence built up,” said Hadid, a notoriously tough boss herself. We’d like to see Hadid team up with Facebook COO turned working-woman activist Sheryl Sandberg for a road show.
Registration for AN‘s Facades+PERFORMANCE conference is now open with a limited-time Early Bird pricing offer that expires on March 1. The conference is taking place in New York City on April 11 and 12 and will feature presentations and workshops from leaders in the industry who will analyze, discuss, and dispute the development, implementation, and maintenance of high-performance building enclosures. Noted architect Christoph Ingenhoven will be delivering the keynote address. Make sure to reserve your spot today before Facades+PERFORMANCE sells out!
Here in New York, we’re excited to see CODA’s massive Party Wall installation made of scrap from skateboard manufacturing rise at MoMA PS1 for this year’s Young Architects Program (YAP). But the annual YAP, which recognizes emerging architects and invites them to design and build a temporary installation, has gone global. MoMA has announced the third installment of YAP at Rome’s MAXXI museum designed by bam! bottega di architettura metropolitan and has launched a new program in Istanbul won by SO? Architecture and Ideas.