Not so Clean. White brick buildings, once favored in the 50s and 60s for their shiny glaze and supposed waterproofing and self-cleaning benefits, are now a costly headache for New York City, reported the NY Times. The glaze, it turns out, actually traps moisture and causes cracks and deterioration, with repairs climbing into the millions of dollars.
Back to Basics. While architects nowadays can get away with their shaky doodles (of the physically impossible buildings and cartoonish people with disproportionate heads) as long as they prove their CAD proficiency, the just-launched Beaux-Arts Atelier feels differently– only when you master the basics can you be freer to do crazier, modern things with more creative control. More on The Wall Street Journal.
The Digitals. Architecture historian and journalist critic Alexandra Lange critically compares the content and design of four new digital interior design magazines and discusses the merits of blogs. Read her thoughts on Arch Record.
Juried Judge. The NY Times ran a story about Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s selection to join the Pritzker Prize jury, citing AN‘s report from September. The move looks to be a good one for architecture, as Breyer, a fan of Gothic and Beaux-Arts architecture, has pushed for better design of federal buildings.
SACRED SPACES IN PROFANE BUILDINGS
Storefront for Art and Architecture
Through November 5
How do we practice our religions, beliefs, or spiritual ideas in New York City outside of established churches, synagogues, and mosques? In the newest exhibit at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, architect and researcher Matilde Cassani explores how we celebrate and observe our beliefs in unconventional spaces: converted shops into prayer spaces, apartments turned into churches, and sidewalks into chapels. Cassani invited New York residents to submit photographs and descriptions of local places of worship to create an online archive, with highlights selected for the Center’s exhibition, such as the photograph of the Soho Synagogue converted from a Gucci store above, by John Hall.
EXD’11 Lisbon Design Biennale Opening Week
September 28–October 2
“Useless,” the theme of Lisbon’s the sixth design biennale organized by Experimentadesign, grew out of a desire to explore what the term “useful” means today. A number a guest-curated exhibitions form the backbone of the event: for Sidelines, design historian Emily King considers the motivations behind collecting art and objects, deploying Lisbon’s museums to display an eclectic series of private collections; in Utilitas Interrupta, Joseph Grima, editor of Domus, asks what abandoned infrastructure and its implements (above) say about our society. These shows run through November, but opening week highlights also include a series of lectures by design scene fixtures like Hans Ulrich Obrist and Zoe Ryan, as well as a specially organized film series.
Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a pedestrian-friendly Times Square is about to be written in stone. On September 27, Snøhetta gave Community Board 5 a preview of things to come at the Crossroads of the World, and they look a lot more permanent than lawn chairs and painted pavements. Principal Craig Dykers presented designs for dark and darker pavers that largely eliminate any bias for an automotive Broadway, stepping the plaza streetscape up to sidewalk grade and adding elongated benches to indicate long-gone traffic patterns. In homage to New York noir, the designers have also embedded nickel-sized reflectors adding a hard bit of glitz to the dark stones that will not compete with the glam above.
According to an email from Seth Solomonow, Press Secretary at the NYC Department of Transportation: “This long-planned redesign will restore the aging utilities below the street, which itself hasn’t been rebuilt in more than 50 years and still has trolley tracks beneath the asphalt. On the surface, this simple, flexible design will clear obstructions and support the growing number of programs occurring in Times Square, which more than 350,000 people visit every day.”
Design Trust for Public Space has announced the appointment of Susan Chin as the new Executive Director, effective October 10. Chin has served as Assistant Commissioner for Capital Projects for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs for over twenty years.
John Henderson has been appointed Managing Director at Morris Adjmi Architects. Henderson was previously studio director at Clodagh Design in Manhattan. Prior to this position, he was associate principal at STUDIOS Architecture in New York and D.C.
Material ConneXion and its sister company, Culture & Commerce, both part of Sandow Media Corporation, have announced the appointment of Susan Towers to the position of VP Marketing & Communications. Towers was previously a partner at NICE Partners and has held marketing and PR roles with Kiehl’s since 1851 and Chandelier Towers, among others.
The New York City Department of Buildings has appointed Fred Mosher to the newly created title of Deputy Commissioner of Building Development to streamline the city’s construction process. Previously, Mosher was a senior technical architect at Skidmore Owings & Merill for nine years.
The beleaguered American Folk Art Museum, which will continue operations at 2 Lincoln Square, has appointed a new president of the board: Edward V. (Monty) Blanchard, Jr., a member of the museum’s board of directors since 2003.
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Beijing Design Week
September 26–October 3
Beijing Design Week, now in its second year, aims to change the catchphrase “Made in China” to “Designed in China.” The festival will bring together 30 local and international design firms for packed roster of events focusing on urban design and including Dutch artist/architect Daan Roosegaarde’s experiments with LEDs (above). Design Week will take over the whole city, staging happenings everywhere from the trendy 798 art district to Tiananmen Square, whose neighboring historic district will host pop-up shops and street art installations, to the site of the China Millenium Monument, where Paul Cocksedge will unveil an installation on October 1. This year London was invited to be Beijing’s “guest city,” and emissaries from the London Design Festival will translate some of their most successful ideas and activities into a new context.
Cul-de-Sacked. Emily Badger of The Atlantic‘s newly launched Atlantic Cities argued that the cul-de-sacs—the suburban answer to the overcrowded urban grids—may be a dead-end in more ways that one. Badger said cul-de-sacs are responsible for our decreased sense of safety, and moreover, happiness.
Talking Transit. Gothamist is right on calling out New York’s MTA as being “really into technology this month.” In a win for the constantly connected and a potential loss for our already-hectic commutes, starting Tuesday, AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers can pull out their cell phones and talk away on underground cell service through the 14th Street corridor. It will take the MTA five years to fully cover the entire New York subway system. Five more years of relative peace-and-quiet.
Paramount Makeover. The LA Times reported that Paramount Pictures is planning a whopping $700-million upgrade to its Hollywood lot, creating nearly 7,300 jobs during construction over next two decades. Rios Clemente Hale Studios and Levin & Associates Architects are charged with improving a place that hasn’t seen much change since the Gary Cooper days without compromising its old Hollywood charm.
Park(ing) police. A Miami-based PARK(ing) Day organizer created a green oasis for the day-long celebration of public space, putting up planters and bringing seats, tables, and WiFi, but according to police, he lingered a little too long. Police arrested the man for taking too long to clean up his parklet the next day, reported Streetsblog.
Architecture of Invention
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Through January 15, 2012
Bertrand Goldberg has become known, and increasingly loved, for his expressive use of concrete, particularly his curved forms in projects like Marina City and the endangered old Prentice Women’s Hospital (an early design for that project is pictured at top, with a San Diego theater scheme). The first retrospective of his work shows there is so much more to admire about this one-of-a-kind Chicago architect who died in 1997 at 84. Drawn from the Art Institute’s Goldberg collection and several other collections, Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention includes more than 100 drawings, models, and photographs, including designs for housing, hospitals, urban plans, furniture, and graphics. Early in his career, he designed innovative, prefabricated solutions for low-cost housing. His later designs, like “the city within a city” attracted avant-gardes around the world, including the Japanese Metabolists and Britain’s Archigram.
DesignNYC, an organization connecting New York designers with nonprofits, community groups, and city agencies, presents its current cycle of projects under the banner, “Recharging Communities.” In designNYC’s second annual exhibition, eight teams showcase their in-progress collaborations including among others: Educating Tomorrow, which uses communications design to establish an online forum on sustainability issues for NYC educators; the Greenhouse Project, which creates an urban farm in an unused lot in East New York; Nostrand Park, on the development of an engaging urban corridor in Crown Heights; and PortSide New York (above), a project enhancing a boathouse and community center in Red Hook.