Not Me! The architect of record for the much beleaguered Xanadu mall in New Jersey went on the record with northjersey.com. David Jansen said the garish colors weren’t his idea. It appears he was called in to save the day after David Rockwell washed his hands of the multi-billion dollar debacle. Rechristened the American Dream @ Meadowlands the project got a fresh infusion of cash from the Mall of America and NJ State taxpayers are kicking in $200 million in low interest financing (that’s almost as much as state will have to pay the Feds for canceling the Hudson Tunnel Project). The project got so out of hand that The Times sponsored a contest for readers to reimagine Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”, aka – Xanadu.
Don’t shoot! Architectural photographer Grant Smith is mad as hell. After taking a photo of a London church he was surrounded by a bunch of bobbies who thought he was a terrorist. Unbeige reports that on World Press Freedom Day the photog took his grievances to the street. He and dozens of other shutterbugs descended on London City Hall wearing signs proclaiming, “I’m a photographer not a terrorist.”
Freudian Facades. The Wall Street Journal reports that the “real cutting edge of architecture has to do with the psychology of buildings.” The august paper interviewed a few scientists about how space design can effect worker productivity. For accuracy and focus, confined spaces painted red work well. While creative types benefit from high ceilings, lots of windows and bright blue walls. Maybe, but sometimes a room is just a room.
Flummoxed Lenox. Inspired by a Gothamist post about hidden rooms in the Frick, Mark Lamster digs a bit deeper and shares his knowledge of the site when it was occupied by the old Lenox Library. “…sober, imposing, and correct, much like the man who designed it, Richard Morris Hunt,” he says of the old edifice, before delving into the curious history of the Hunt memorial across the street.
Boulevard Blues. Brownstoner is still hammering away at a bleak streetscape along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, where first floors of the new residential buildings leave a lot to be desired. The site reports that City Planning may be looking at measures to fix mistakes from 2003 upzoning and bring more life onto the street. While they’re at it, perhaps they can tap the DOT to add some green to the median.
House vs. Home. A kinder and gentler Peter Eisenman emerged from nearly 20 years of Jungian analysis, the architect tells The Washington Post. Far from the heady world of theory (“I was a cerebral cat”), Eisenman returns to the world of bricks and mortar. The change helps him expound on the differences between a house and home.
Tick Tock. The clock is ticking for the Brooklyn Bridge Park to make a decision on how to pay for maintaining the park, reports Crains. “If we don’t have a financial model, we won’t be able to proceed with construction,” BBP President Regina Myer tells the paper.
London Calling. The State Department is pushing for design excellence standards and is using its new embassy in London as a prototype. The embassy, designed by Philly-based KieranTimberlake, is still in its early phases, but as the project evolves, so will the standards for future buildings commissioned by the Bureau of Overseas Buildings, reports Engineering News-Record. While haute design remains part of the goal, sustainability and efficiency will take the fore. (Via Arch Record.)
New York Answering. The call from London that many answered Friday morning came from Westminster Abbey. Of the more auspicious outcomes, the so-called “Little Britain” section in the Village got it’s nickname sanctified by The Times. Off the beaten path, under a bridge really, Brownstoner reports that an early morning crowd beneath the Manhattan Bridge gathered for a live video feed.
U2 in Malibu. Well not the whole group, just The Edge. He got approval from the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy to build five eco-friendly homes in the Hollywood Hills. The dirty little tid-bit revealed in the LA Times is that the conservancy group accepted about $1 million in payments and services provided by a consultant hired by Mr. Edge. (via Curbed LA)
Jane and Andy. Two names you might never consider putting together are Jane Jacons and Andy Warhol. But an essay by Timothy Mennel pairs to the “two libertarians” together in this week’s Design Observer. Besides both coming from Pennsylvania steel towns, Mennel shows how their respective notions of community shaped the city as we know it today: eyes on your street vs. eyes on your navel.
With the exception of the World Trade Center, there’s probably no better place to call a press conference dealing with construction issues than Atlantic Yards. At the moment the controversial project practically guarantees a large press turnout. On Tuesday, the Department of Buildings used the site as a backdrop to launch a new safety campaign for the 7th Annual Workers Safety Week with a particular focus on getting workers to wear harnesses. Sixteen workers have fallen to their death since 2008, prompting the agency to call the campaign “Experience is Not Enough.” In addition to covering the initiative, the press also got a chance to check out progress at the stadium site from “court level.”
Ocean Cities. It’s been a year since Americans watched oil spew from the gusher in the gulf. Only limited regulatory reforms saw the light of day. Timothy Beatley thinks it was a missed opportunity. In Design Observer, the University of Virginia professor argues that the key to the ocean’s future lies on land, with cities. Changes on land can have an enormous impact at sea, and Beatley thinks that cities have to the tools to make it happen.
Gimme Shelter. The Board of Standards and Appeals shot down arguments from the Chelsea Flatiron Coalition to halt the Bowery Residents Committee from moving a new homeless shelter on to West 25th Street, reports Chelsea Now. With new digs good to go, the charity has already set their sites on Brooklyn where they plan to open a 200-bed shelter in Greenpoint.
Gimme Signage. Since 1923 small signs guided tourists trough the lush curved roads of Beachwood Canyon to the Hollywood sign. The iconic vista was considered a boon to local real estate. But with property values firmly established, the WSJ reports that many owners don’t want the hoi polli blocking their view and took the signs down, leaving the hapless tourists wandering the canyon.
West Loop Tower. The Chicago Sun-Times says that the 48-story tower proposed to sit next to the Crowne Plaza at the corner of Madison and Halsted may soon become a reality. After a sluggish start, plans are moving forward to make it the tallest building in Greektown, writes Curbed Chicago.
Earthshaking Costs. The cost of an earthquake goes well beyond the financial, as the world witnessed with the disaster in Japan, but preventative measures do cost; Architizer cites a report by California Watch that warns of cost-cutting and corruption in the cash strapped state, boiling down the numbers and creating clear cut infographics to illustrate the need and function of base isolation and mass dampers.
Bring Me Your Tired One Arm Bandits. With all due respect to our Nevada brethren, New Yorkers are somewhat chagrined to learn that the Post Office will not fix their goof of putting an image of the Las Vegas rendition of Lady Liberty on a new stamp rather than an image of the original in the New York Harbor. Officials say the teenage version will stay, prompting Ed Koch to sound off to The Times “…the post office is doing a stupid thing.”
Riverfront Fortress. With tax day looming, don’t try to go postal with the IRS in Philly. You won’t stand a chance. The agency has taken over the main branch of the old Post Office overlooking the Schuylkill River. The WPA-era grand limestone edifice took on $252 million makeover, and Philadelphia Inquirer critic Inga Saffron is not impressed. Saffron says the building, heralded as the new gateway to University City, keeps the gates closed by overdoing security measures (via ArchNews).
It’s been few months since Morris Adjmi presented plans for his twisted tower at 837 Washington to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. He returned on Tuesday with a scaled-down version of the original design. The architect brought two 3-D models to better illustrate the before and after versions. The body of the exoskeletal steel structure still pivots clockwise atop a 1938 art moderne market building, but now it does so at a reduced height of 84 feet, instead of 113. Still, lopping off two of the seven stories from the original design may not be enough to satisfy commissioners who seem to be scratching their heads over how to address the major mood changes in Gansevoort Market Historic District, which sits within the ever expanding design glow of the High Line.
Bedside Manor. The folks at Fast Company featured a beautiful hospital by architect Koen van Velsen in their blog today. The cantilevered casa for care trusts itself so elegantly into the woods, it almost makes you wish you were sick. The hotel, er, hospital in Arnhem, Holland is one of six finalists for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award.
Goal to Go. After holding out for several years, the Rudin family finally took home the prize. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the $260 million sale St. Vincent’s Hospital in the Village to the Rudins and the North Shore-LIJ Health System. The brown-brick complex on the east side of Seventh Avenue will go condo, while the white tiled maritime-sque O’Toole building on the west side will become an emergency care unit. In a bizarre fourth quarter twist, Crain‘s reported that several NFL veterans attempted Hail Mary pass to outbid the Rubins, promising to smack the NFL logo on the side of the building.
Mega Mansion. Even by L.A. standards, plans for this mega-mansion went over the top. After causing a huge stir among neighbors in Benedict Canyon with his plans to build an 85,000 square foot compound, Saudi Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz al Saud promised to scale back designs for the 5.2 acre plot. The prince tried to keep his identity under wraps, but the L.A. Times busted his cover last month.
An Urge to Merge. HMC Architects is pulling their resources with San Francisco based Beverly Prior Architects reports Architect. Prior had always poo-pooed the idea of merging with a faceless corporate entity, but she told Architect that the larger firm had certain “joie de vivre to them” that won her over.