This week, the second World Architecture Festival is taking place in one of the most design-conscious cities in the world: Barcelona. Sadly, the festival is located in the Diagonal Mar district on the city’s waterfront, along with the hotel that WAF sponsor emap provided to jurors (I am here serving on the jury for the festival’s Civic and Community award). At first glance, this entirely new district of the city seems to have more in common with Grand Rapids than the Catalonian capital. I mentioned this to a British colleague, who replied, “Are American cities this nice?” He’s right: We can’t even do modern urbanism better than the Europeans. Read More
Pratt Institute was founded in 1886 by Charles Pratt, who had sold his family’s Astral Oil works to Standard Oil in 1874. It was Pratt’s original intention that the school train industrial workers for the changing economy of the 19th century, and this it did for many years before growing into one of the leading art and design schools in the country. Read More
How many New Yorkers are ready—or have even heard of—Local Law 13? Known as The Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act , the law makes it illegal for New York residents to dispose of any electronic item in the trash after July 1, 2010, and requires all electronics manufacturers doing business in New York to “accept their products in NYC for recycling at no cost to the consumer.” Read More
In the first months of The Architect’s Newspaper, more than five years ago, we were preparing a story on the possible demolition of a Richard Neutra house in Los Angeles. We figured that Julius Shulman, the famed photograper and chronicler of modern California, would have an image of the project. At the time, I called and spoke with Shulman, whose name was listed in the Los Angeles phone directory. He naturally had several images of the house, and when I asked if we could use one of them for the story, he said, “Sure—it will be $700!” I mentioned that we were a poor startup, and asked if he might cut us a deal. “No,” he said, and promptly hung up. Well, now there is a film, Visual Acoustics, that details just why Shulman was such a commanding figure in American architecture. The film receives its New York premiere on October 5 in the Cooper Union’s new Thom Mayne–designed theater. Director Eric Bricker will introduce the screening, which is a fundraiser for Open House New York, and will be followed by a private reception.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said the movie was screening October 7. It is screening this coming Monday, October 5.
New York and Paris will soon be joined by Morristown, Tennessee as cities that have turned abandoned, elevated bits of their aging infrastructure into pleasant walkways. New York’s High Line and Paris’ Promenade Plantee have justifiably received many pages of press, but Morristown’s 1968 Skywalk is known to few people outside of eastern Tennessee. Read More
The Queens Museum of Art opened its latest exhibition Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center on Wednesday with a discussion of the mortgage foreclosure crisis in the city’s five boroughs. The event featured the exhibition’s designer Damon Rich, founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy and now urban design director for the city of Newark; policy expert Sarah Ludwig; community organizer Michelle O’Brien; and urban historian Kenneth Jackson—all tip-toeing around the museum’s famed New York panorama. For the exhibition the panorama—which includes every mapped block in the city—has been fitted out with orange triangles, their one-inch legs set above every block with three or more recent foreclosures. Read More
On June 27, Open House New York celebrates one of our last links to the early history of modern architecture with a birthday tribute to John Johansen. Long admired for his intricate concrete forms like the U.S. Embassy in Dublin (1963) and far-out assemblages like Oklahoma City’s Mummers Theater (1970), Johansen has blazed a highly original trail over a career spanning more than a half-century. Read More
Last fall, the editors of The Architect’s Newspaper spent a week in Venice reporting on the architecture biennale. One of our fondest Venetian memories—the few times we could afford them—was moving around La Serenissima in water taxis. As we’ve noted before, the Venetian water taxi is the world’s most elegant form of public transportation: hand-made wooden motor boats with tuck-and-rolled leather seating, customized canvas hoods, and spit-shined wooden hulls and decks. Well, the editors are headed back to Italy, this time for Milan’s Saloni di Mobile.
Since the Obamas moved to Washington, we’ve been waiting for the administration to make good on its promises for new government policy on architecture and planning. There may be hope yet: While the president spends his days in Europe with politicians, Michelle has been making the rounds of innovative social centers. Building Design caught the first lady with Ivan Harbour and Richard Rogers at their Maggie’s Centre in Hammersmith, London. Let’s hope she was as impressed with the architecture of the centre—promoted by its co-founder Charles Jencks—as with its innovative programming for women with cancer.
The Venice biennale was founded in 1895 in one of La Serenissima’s few green spaces, the Giardini di Castello. It has occupied a random series of buildings in the park, which include national pavilions (the Belgians built the first in 1907 and the U.S. joined the party in 1930) and an undistinguished hall called the Italian pavilion since the late 1930s. Today the organization that operates the biennales (art, architecture, film etc.) announced plans to change the name of the Italian pavilion in the giardini to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni della Biennale and upgrade its aging infrastructure. While these changes will be welcome by the public, the spaces are all being designed by artists, not architects. Read More