All Planning Is Local

East, East Coast
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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Stringer (far left) and Anthony Borelli, his planning director (far right), with last years fellows. (Courtesy MBPO)

Stringer (far left) and Anthony Borelli, his planning director (far right), with last year's fellows. (Courtesy MBPO)

One of the roles played by the city’s 59 community boards—besides issuing liquor licenses—is to oversee local planning issues, and while the input of the board is only advisory, it tends to weigh in the decision making of the City Planning Commission (as was the case at Hudson Yards earlier this week) and the City Council. The only problem is, the boards have no professional planners on staff. Manhattan has been blessed with a great deal of help the past three years, however, thanks to a fellowship program begun by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and today he announced it will hopefully be expanding to the entire city by next year. Read More

Visit the Haunted iMuseum

East, East Coast
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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The Museum of the Phantom City in Action. (Courtesy Cheng + Snyder)

The Museum of the Phantom City in Action. (Courtesy Cheng + Snyder)

Perhaps it’s just a reflection of the post-bubble zeitgeist, but there’s been much ado lately about the Museum of the Phantom City app for the iPhone, from BLDG BLOG to Urban Omnibus all the way up to the Times. Admittedly, who doesn’t love a nice iPhone app (not that we would know personally…) especially one that allows you to navigate the city that could have been—at least if architect’s ruled the world—in real time and space. Developed by the two-man firm of Cheng+Snyder as part of the Van Alen Institute’s New York Prize fellowship, the app uses the phone as a tracker to pinpoint unrealized projects, usually of a highly theoretical persuasion—John Johansen’s Leapfrog Housing, Michael Sorkin’s Brooklyn Waterfront, THINK’s World Trade Center proposal. If this all sounds terribly confusing, either download the app yourself, or better yet, meet up with Chen and Snyder in Bryant Park from 2:00-4:00 on the phantasmagorically appropriate day of October 31, where they’ll give a full tour of the museum, so to speak.

Crowning 23 Beekman

East, East Coast
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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Paul Rudolph's 23 Beekman Place took the first step toward becoming a landmark today. (Peter Aaron/ESTO)

While the big news out of the LPC today was the approval of 980 Madison, there were quite a few noteworthy developments as well, namely the designation of three new landmarks and the calendering of 23 Beekman Place, better known as the Paul Rudolph house, which is the first step in the designation process. Poking fun at her fellow colleagues who had been skeptical of the Norman Foster designed addition at 980 Madison, which had been approved earlier in the day, commissioner Margery Perlmutter quipped, “Sometimes a rooftop addition does become a landmark.” Rudolph’s quixotic construction was completed in 1977, though he would revise it, like much of his work, until his death two decades later. Read More

Vito Acconci, Male Model

East, East Coast
Thursday, October 8, 2009
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Vito Acconci, as seen on page 26 of the October Mens J. Crew catalog.

Vito Acconci, as seen on page 26 of the October Men's J. Crew catalog.

Back in June, we spoke with Vito Acconci about his decision to close up shop. The artist and designer essentially said he was yet another victim of the recession—”The contradictory thing is that at a time when there are these architectural projects that we have the possibility of doing, how do we keep the studio active on a day-to-day basis?”—but now we’re wondering if he maybe had a career change in mind. It would appear so, as Archinect alerts us to Vito’s appearance in none other than October’s J. Crew catalog. Maybe it’s some kind of performance art? He’s ready for his close-up after the jump. Read More

Cooper Struts Its Stuff

East Coast, Eavesdroplet
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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Cooper Union president George Campbell, Jr., begins the night in the new auditorium at his newly completed school. (All photos Matt Chaban)

Cooper Union president George Campbell, Jr., begins the night in the new auditorium at his newly completed school. (All photos Matt Chaban)

Last week, the Rockefeller Foundation handed out its Jane Jacobs Medal, now in its third year, at a fête at Thom Mayne’s sumptuous new Cooper Union building. Guests were initially relegated to a basement parlor for drinks before being ushered across the hall into the jaw-dropping Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, which is said to be the little sister of the famed 1858 Great Hall in the main building. Maybe—but only if she were wearing a gauzy, wrinkled sheath dress of aluminum lace. Could there be nicer acoustical baffling?

Cooper president George Campbell, Jr., introduced Judith Rodin, president of the foundation. Before beginning her remarks, Rodin gave a shout out to a trio of city commissioners who were equal parts guests of honor and comrades at arms: Planning’s Amanda Burden, Transportation’s Janette Sadik-Khan, and, newest of the pack, HPD’s Rafael Cestero. Read More

Eavesdrop NY 15

East Coast, Eavesdroplet
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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A full-scale mock-up of Calvin Kleins new home in Southampton—just to be sure nothing is out of place. (Sara Hart)

A full-scale mock-up of Calvin Klein's new home in Southampton—just to be sure nothing is out of place. (Sara Hart)

CHINS UP FOR CHARLIE
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Grace Rainey Rogers auditorium (cap. 708) was overflowing with New Yorkers wishing to bid farewell to Charles Gwathmey, who died on August 3. And as impressive as the spoken tributes were by son Eric Steel, director Steven Spielberg, fashion designer Ralph Lauren, and anchor Brian Williams, not to mention by Peter Eisenman and Robert A.M. Stern, the real jaw-dropping detail was that Charlie could do 1,300 sit-ups in 10 minutes. We all knew he was dedicated to ideal proportions, but only suspected he was made of steel. He didn’t need to be made of such solid stuff to earn a permanent place in our admiration. Read More

Frank Frank on Frank

East, East Coast
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
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Video projection of Gehry/Armstrong Conversation taking place 10 feet away while audience chewed steak and mulled on all the unspoken topics

Video projection of Gehry/Armstrong Conversation taking place 10 feet away while audience chewed steak and mulled on all the unspoken topics

The invitation billed it as an exclusive conversation about “the potential of architecture for urban, economic, and political change.” But when Frank Gehry and Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim Museum, sat down before the mics after one and half hours of benefit chow at a new Wall Street steakhouse and just 15 minutes before the event was to end, the talk, like the $200/plate mashed potatoes and pureed spinach, was noticeably soft. Read More

Fijne Verjaardag Sol Lewitt!

East, East Coast
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
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Ben Van Berkel stands before the New Amsterdam Pavilion he designed with his firm UN Studio and Handel Architects located at the Battery. (Courtesy Handel Architects)

Ben Van Berkel stands before the New Amsterdam Pavilion he designed with his firm UN Studio and Handel Architects located at the Battery. (Courtesy Handel Architects)

That would be Dutch for “Happy Birthday Sol Lewitt!” For you see, the Dutch have arrived in the city this week to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Henry Hudson and the subsequent founding of New Amsterdam. As part of the week-long festivities, they have unveiled a Ben Van Berkel-designed pavilion (above) down on the Battery that was announced back in January. But once those festivities are over, perhaps ours trans-Atlantic friends might head uptown to Columbus Circle, where the MTA unveiled its latest Arts for Transit project today, a 53-foot long tile rendition of one of Lewitt’s wall drawings entitled “Whirls and twirls (MTA).” The installation was revealed today as it would have been the Conceptualist artist’s 82nd birthday. (He died in 2007.) Read More

So Much for LEED

East, East Coast
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
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Everybodys doing it: The garage at the Santa Monica Civic Center, the worlds first LEED certified parking structure.

Everybody's doing it: The garage at the Santa Monica Civic Center, the world's first LEED certified parking structure.

Yesterday, the Times ran a decent though not totally honest and rather obvious piece on how a number of LEED buildings don’t actually save much in the way of energy. The Federal Building in Youngstown, Ohio is taken to task for “rack[ing] up points for things like native landscaping rather than structural energy-saving features.” Well, our dear friend and fellow blogger Chad Smith takes the Gray Lady to task for its disingenuity. Yes, LEED is flexible, maybe sometimes too much so, but that’s precisely what makes it so good, Chad argues, or at least so successful. To wit: Read More

Good Old New York

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
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Making the streets—and buildings—safer for New Yorks seniors. (Courtesy Streetfilms)

Making the streets—and buildings—safer for New York's seniors. (Courtesy Streetfilms)

Yesterday, the city released a report, “Age Friendly New York,” [PDF] about creating a place that is more appealing to seniors. After all, New York can be hard enough as it is without a bum hip and fifth-floor walk-up. (Why else do so many of us flee for Florida in our autumn years?) The report contains the expected investments in senior centers and “social inclusion,” but roughly 40 percent of the 59 initiatives deal directly or indirectly with issues of equal concern to architects and planners, like more seats at those fancy Cemusa bus shelters, more affordable housing dedicated to seniors, and improved elevator and escalator access. “The initiatives we’re launching will go a long way towards helping older New Yorkers live more connected, vibrant, and meaningful lives,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press release. The best part is, it might even mean a nicer city for the rest of us, not to mention some much need work for the city’s designers. See all 23 initiatives after the jump. Read More

Sexy As Niemeyer?

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
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For better or worse, the name says it all. (Courtesy sexybachelorpads.com)

For better or worse, the name says it all. (Courtesy sexybachelorpads.com)

The bachelor pad is one of those subspecies of residential design that continues to fascinate. Thanks to an abundance of classic examples, especially onscreen (post-war American cinema has spawned a rich tradition of apartments-as-aphrodisiac that stretches back at least as far as the Rock Hudson vehicle Pillow Talk), by now even the most slack-jawed junior hedge fund trader recognizes that the fairer sex is vulnerable to the charms of good interior design. But even with well-formed intentions (good or otherwise), the results can be disastrous when the aspiring lothario is left alone to try to match the pillows to the drapes. Anyone who’s ever been to a young finance guy’s place probably knows the model: a sprawling FiDi loft with a futon in one corner, a poster of the Bud Girls opposite the door, and a fridge empty save for a case each of Smirnoff Ice and citrus Vitamin Water. Fortunately (or unfortunately) there’s now a firm with these helpless guys in mind: Sexy Bachelor Pad. Read More

ANY Gwathmey

East, East Coast
Monday, August 10, 2009
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Gwathmey enjoys his parents Hamptons home—of his own design—during brighter days. (Courtesy Dans Hamptons)

Gwathmey enjoys his parent's Hamptons home—of his own design—during brighter days. (Courtesy Dan's Hamptons)

Back before the bubble—be that real estate or dotcom—there was a rather significant architectural rag known as ANY Magazine, meaning exactly that, or, if you’re the nitpicking sort, Architecture New York. If you’re reading this blog post, or writing it for that matter, it probably predates your architectural conscience. That said, it was a very Important and Influential publication, one with such luminaries contributing as Stan Alan, Peggy Deamer, Tony Vidler, Greg Lynn, and the rest of the gang. Well, the mag has a modest but earnest web presence, along with its younger sibling publication, the equally venerable log. Among the people involved with the former was the recently deceased Charles Gwathmey. On the occasion of the architect’s passing, ANY has posted an interview the architect did for Issue 11, way back in 1995, with Cynthia Davidson. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. It’s so nice it makes us wish we’d been around to read the thing first-hand.

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