Empty Spaces. Searching for a place to exhibit her work as an art student in 2003, an artist from the rural mining town Malmberget, Sweden, organized a program titled Tomma Rum (Empty Spaces) that converts empty lots into artist studios and gallery spaces. As described in an interview with Polis, the program has morphed into a traveling summer artist-in-residence, where global artists have displayed their pieces on fences to streets in various towns.
Town and Country. Is city life or country life better for your health? The Wall Street Journal reports on the ongoing debate between the quality of life in urban versus rural areas. Each have their benefits and drawbacks. Studies indicate that in urban areas, there are less obese children but also higher crime rates. In the country, there are larger numbers of fatal driving accidents but lower incidences of allergies.
Big Box Redux. In Seattle, empty malls are attracting new tenants. A fitness center owner is converting empty mall space into a new climbing gym, while grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and sporting goods stores such as Sports Authority are taking over retail vacancies, The Seattle Times reports.
Taxing Gas. A study conducted by the multi-partisan Leadership Initiative on Transportation Solvency, part of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, may have found a better way to increase funds for transportation infrastructure through a more effective gas tax system. In their report, DC Streets Blog highlights, that taxing gas when the price lowers and a more efficient program with a focus on design with economic performance are key.
Safer at night. Two design students at Carnegie Mellon University created a functional and graceful lighting system for bikers that enhances side visibility at night. The LED lights that line the wheel rims, are powered by pedaling and change colors depending on speed. Bloggers at Greater Greater Washington have posted a video of the lights in action.
Convenient Cities. What makes a city “convenient”? According to a study published by The Street, factors include walkability, public transportation, and amenity proximity. Their city ranking, using data from Walk Score, Zillow and APTA, put Boston, New York, Denver, Portland, and Chicago at the top.
Olympic Pollution. A documentary by filmmaker Faisal Abdu’Allah, Double Pendulum, examines the harmful effects of pollution on East London residents and athletes, The Guardian says. Abdu’Allah cautions that poor air quality in East London may threaten athletes’ performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Designer Chocolates. PSFK reports that researchers in a joint program between the University of Exeter, the University of Brunel, and Delam, a software developer, have created a printer that turns 3D CAD designs into ready-made chocolates. An upcoming retail site will allow the public to upload original designs.
Youth Space. Pharell Williams speaks to Wallpaper* about his plans for a new youth center in partnership with architect Chad Oppenheim. Both Keihl’s and Williams’ charity From One Hand to Another will support the creative vision in raising funds for the Virginia Beach project. The design draws conceptually from the construction of a treehouse with plans to be a uniquely green project and a safe place for children to learn and grow.
Telly Transformations. Caroline Quentin presents a new BBC Two series entitled Restoration Home, a program that follows renovation of old buildings as they transform into sleek homes. Look forward to documentation of behind the scenes “nostalgia, architecture, and murder” as Olly Grant of the Telegraph details.
Bad Air. If riding with speeding traffic weren’t enough to worry about when cycling through the city, Scientific American reports on just how dirty street air really is from car and truck exhaust. In short, city air is a toxic cocktail of pollution that can pose a heart risk to urban cyclists. Time to clean up our streets?
Chelsea Touch-ups. The new owner of Hotel Chelsea, Joseph Chetrit, hired architect Gene Kaufman to work on plans for expansion and renovation of the historic New York property according to the Wall Street Journal. Residents have little to worry about, though, as the hotel is a registered landmark which brings extra oversight. That being said, as the project begins, expect significant upgrades to the lobby and infrastructural repairs along with a potential additional restaurant.
It’s Parametric. ArchDaily posts an intriguing project from Bucharest, Romania: the Hexigloo pavilion designed by architecture students. Under the supervision of instructors Tudor Cosmatu, Irina Bogdan, and Andrei Radacanu, 55 students learned basic parametric design principles and over the course of one week built a striking honeycomb structure of cardboard funnels.
Spantastic. The Guardian reports the opening of the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge that spans the Jiaozhou Bay in China. After four years and roughly £1.4 billion, the bridge makes possible commuting between cities Qingdao and Huangdao in a region southeast of Beijing. Look forward to another, even longer, bridge opening in 2015 that will connect the Guangdong province to Hong Kong and Macau.
Supertallest. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat awarded Adrian Smith an honor of lifetime achievement for his work in the realm of the supertall. Bustler highlights Smith’s work on some of the world’s tallest completed buildings: Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, Nanjing’s Zifeng Tower at Nanjing Greenland Financial Center, Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower, and Shanghai’s Jin Mao Tower while at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Swiss Watch. Treehugger shares news from Zurich: the city is developing a project called OpenSense that will allow buses and other infrastructure systems, including mobile phone networks, to monitor air quality.
YAP to the Max. MoMA PS 1 and the MAXXI open exhibits of the now-transatlantic Young Architects Program, featuring the winners (whose concepts are now installed in New York and in Rome, above) and the finalists.
Made of Glass. Designer Piero Lissoni utilized Glas Italia’s prime material to expand the high-end manufacturing company’s headquarters in Macherio, Italy. Azure reports that the new minimalist building is completely constructed out of glass, and looks best at night when the translucent structure becomes an illuminated box.
Blight on the London Skyline. The phallic silhouette of the skyscraper, which won the 2004 Sterling prize, continues to generate controversy. The Telegraph records Ken Shuttleworth, a former associate at Norman Foster & Partners and the designer widely credited for 30 St Mary Axe, a.k.a. “the Gherkin,” expressing regret for his design of the tower.
French Flat Iron. Architectures completes the Ministère de la Culture’s coveted Biscornet commission: a modern residential building amid Paris’ Haussmannian stock. Architecture Lab notes that the trapezoidal-structure perfectly fits the slightly set back site on the Place de la Bastille, facing both the Gare de Lyon and the Bassin de l’Arsenal. The facade’s pleated metal panels shift to reflect the light and the time-of-day, emanating a golden shadow on the historic location.
‘Butter Cow Lady’ Dies at 81: Norma Lyon, known for sculpting tons of butter into life-size figures of cows, famous people, and even a diorama of the Last Supper at the Iowa State Fair, has passed away, the New York Times reports. Ms. Lyon got her start in butter sculpting in 1960 as the sculptor of the Butter Cow at the fair, after studying animal science and taking studio classes at Iowa State University. In 2007, she created a sculpture of then-Senator Obama from 23 pounds of butter, and Politico credited her endorsement for his victory in the Iowa caucus.
New Plans for the Essex Street Market: The decades-old market is part of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area on the Lower East Side, an area targeted for dramatic housing and economic development in the coming years. So what does that mean for the Essex Street Market? Planning officials presented renderings to show what a new market in a two-story mixed-use development might look like.
Europe Hates Drivers: Cities across Europe are making driving more expensive and inconvenient to steer residents away from cars. Is it a good idea or a road trip to hell on earth? In Zurich, the Times reports:
Closely spaced red lights have been added on roads into town, causing delays and angst for commuters. Pedestrian underpasses that once allowed traffic to flow freely across major intersections have been removed. Operators in the city’s ever expanding tram system can turn traffic lights in their favor as they approach, forcing cars to halt.
Talk About a Space Saver: JDS Architects put a rolling playground atop three penthouse apartments in a turn-of-the-century building in Copenhagen. The roof includes a grassy hill with curved steps and a wooden deck, a playground and a suspension bridge. Fast Company Design reports the budget for the penthouses and the roof was $1.35 million.
6 Alternatives to Plastic: For its newest project, Studio Formafantasma dug into centuries-old technology to design plastic-like objects “designed as if the oil-based era, in which we are living, never took place.” Read on to see what they used.
Restored London. Building Design reports that after 15 years, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is scaffolding-free. The £40 million project restored Christopher Wren’s masterpiece to its original glory in time for the cathedral’s 30oth anniversary. St. Paul’s will host a photography competition and display the winning selections in the cathedral crypt to celebrate its complete renovation.
Artificial England. While China continues to be a hot spot for architectural and economic development, its many ghost towns lack permanent residents. The Infrastructurist exposes one of China’s English-inspired uninhabited cities, Thames Town, built in 2006 as part of Shanghai’s “One City, Nine Town” initiative at decentralization. The state-of-the-art $9 billion design draws tourists, but not residents.
Trucks, not Tanks. At the United States Conference of Mayors, local government representatives vote to reallocate federal funds directed toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the improvement of American cities. The municipal leaders assert that the conflicts’ $126 billion per year budget would be better spend building urban infrastructure, employing civil servants, and supporting educational and family institutions.
Mall City. City Watch LA evaluates Rick Caruso’s latest business proposition: running for public office. The billionaire developer envisions a new Los Angeles comprised of isolated communities each with its own shopping mall, a potential reality if Caruso wins the 2013 mayoral seat.
Bikes First. To protect its cycling tradition and its bikers’ safety, Copenhagen continues to enhance its metropolitan bicycle system. StreetsBlog reports that 37 percent of the city’s urban population bikes to and from work and school on the city’s extensive network of bicycle-only lanes, park paths, and renovated railway tracks. The public transportation system also supports bicycle-travel, while the city has slowly reduced the number of car lanes on streets and auto-routes.
Pedestrians, Too. Chicago moves forward this week on its highly anticipated Pedestrian Plan – an attempt to remedy high levels of hit-and-run fatalities and create a safer walking environment. After the tragic death of Martha Gonzalez at the South Halsted Street intersection, the municipal government realized that further safety measures must be taken. According to the Tribune, the city will host eight public meetings throughout the summer to gather constituent input, the foundation of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s action plan.
Construction Sand-Box. While excavating the foundation of his new home in Colorado, Ed Mumm was inspired to develop the Dig This project–a construction equipment playground for adolescents and adults. PSFK reveals that Munn’s second Dig This location recently launched in Las Vegas, where guests can operate a Caterpillar bulldozer or excavator after attending a 30-minute safety briefing.
River Craft. BldgBlog brings news that the Dutch art group Observatorium finished Waiting for the River, a 125-foot-long habitable bridge, in 2010. The project is installed on the Emscher River wetlands, a sewer canal contained by dikes that will flood completely within 10 years. Observatorium invites people to wait for the river in the reclaimed-timber cabins; furnished with beds and plumbing.
Architects against the bank. We Make Money Not Art interviewed architect Armin Blasbichler to learn more about an unusual project he conducted with 21 of his students at the University of Innsbruck. Known as “Blasbichlers Twentyone,” the project asks students to research and devise a plan to carry out a bank robbery but identified assets as an architect might, “time, space, image, future clients, electric power, etc.” Check out the associated publication for diagrams and detailed plans of attack.
Opening in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Film Festival premiers Unfinished Spaces, a film portraying the lives of three architects Roberto Gottardi, Ricardo Porro, and Vittorio Garratti as they finally return to Cuba to see what has come of their designs for schools of the arts. Also included in the film, intimate footage of Fidel Castro.
Design & art direction accolades. The annual D&AD awards have been announced. Creative Review highlights some of the winning graphics and packaging designs, like Yves Behar’s Clever Little Bag for Puma and Troika’s V&A Palindrome sign. Be sure to also note the award to architect Carmody Groarke for temporary roof restaurant Studio East Dining.
James Franco, curator edition. Collaborative art firm Praxis pairs up with James Franco for the launch of the Museum of Non-Visible Art. As Mediabistro notes, the team has managed to raise most of their funds through a Kickstarter project that offers an incentive to collaborate with the artists. Perhaps this “museum of ideas” will formalize beyond conceptual art in space, but without imagination it simply won’t exist.
Major in Glasgow. The Guardian reveals images of Zaha Hadid‘s new Riverside Museum in Glasgow, which highlights the machinery, technology, and history of transportation. Pictured above, the museum reflects the shipyard structures on its grounds. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Glancey writes, “Riverside blends into the climate and culture of Glasgow and its riverscape, feeling like part of its great flow of architecture and history.”
How to be quick. With the new East River ferry, which will be the fastest way to make it to work? To be sure, the Gothamist conducted a commuter race. The ferry was a lovely time to rest but a bit of a steep investment, biking a slightly more dangerous route, while the subway remained the quickest method, getting one commuter to work not only on time but with two minutes to spare.
Making Space. SF streets blog shares a new project generously offered to the city by Audi, announcing more to come for San Francisco pedestrians. The Powell Street promenade will bring public space to the commercial downtown, part of a set of P2P (Pavement to Parks) projects to create green space in major cities including San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.
The Rome Prize. The Rome Prize fellowship for architecture goes to Lonn Combs. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor and principal at New York based firm EASTON+COMBS will take the upcoming year to continue to explore the work of Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi. Congratulazioni!
Sotheby’s Wants to Open… a Farmer’s Market: In an unlikely move, the auction house is proposing a youth-run farmer’s market in front of its Upper East Side headquarters, after a sale of heirloom produce raised $100,000 for non-profits last year. The plan went before the community board this week, and DNAinfo reports: “Some were supportive of the small-scale event that would bring fresh food to the area… Others were more skeptical and wanted to know where the kids manning the stand on between East 71st and 72nd streets — on Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27 — and the produce would be coming from.”
Camping in New York… City: The National Parks Service announced plans to turn Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennet Field, a decommissioned airport once used by Amelia Earhart, into the country’s largest urban campground. Ninety camp sites have been planned for the next two years, with as many as 600 in the future. Floyd Bennet Field already has occasional summer camping nights, which the NYTimes Frugal Traveler tried out for $20 last year.
How IBM Re-Defined Corporate Architecture: Big Blue celebrates its 100th anniversary this week, and Network World takes a look at the company’s greatest architectural gems. The company hired some of the biggest names, including Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Paul Rand, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, to design its modernist offices and later suburban corporate campuses. Martin Moeller at the National Building Museum calls IBM the “vanguard” in using buildings to express corporate identity.
America’s Dirtiest Cities: Travel and Leisure just released its list of worst offenders. New Orleans, Philadelphia and Los Angeles top the list. Readers chose the “winners” based on litter, air pollution, and the taste of local tap water, in the magazine’s annual America’s Favorite Cities survey.
Spiraling Out of Control. Salt Lake Tribune reported that the New York-based Dia Foundation‘s failure to pay the annual land fees for Robert Smithson‘s Spiral Jetty has resulted in the state of Utah’s appropriation of the artist’s famous “earthwork masterpiece.” Dia subsequently released a statement explaining that they were not aware of the pressing payment and are in negotiations with the state to ensure the water sculpture’s preservation. Artinfo digs deeper to find that the problem could have been caused by a computer or clerical error and says the Dia Foundation hopes to have the matter resolved by the end of the week.
Bad Chemistry. According to DNA, Lower Chelsea residents are fighting to stop Alchemy Construction‘s development of a 30-story tower at 31 W. 15th Street. The development firm bypassed standard zoning regulations after securing air rights from the Xavier High School, which will utilize the lower floors as new classrooms and event space. The Lower Chelsea Alliance maintains that construction of the 300-foot tall building is already causing noise and odor pollution and insist the tower will ruin the neighborhood’s aesthetic character.
Good Mixing. Further uptown, the Wall Street Journal exposes the first gourmet food truck with a one-year liquor license. The city has permitted the Turkish Taco Truck in Central Park to serve beer, wine, and cocktails as long as it provides seating and remains parked. Now introducing: better lunch breaks.
Toxicology. The New York Times reveals the National Toxicology Program‘s recent report identifying formaldehyde and styrene as carcinogens. While consumers are at minimal risk due to the low quantities in wood construction materials and plastics, respectively, the chemicals pose a serious threat to factory workers. The industry is attempting to dispute these results, but some manufacturers have already sought alternative production.