Easy Being Green

East
Monday, May 17, 2010
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The R-House (left) by ARO/Della Valle Bernheimer and the TED by Onion Flats, under construction in Syracuse, are prime examples of affordable, practical green design. (David Lassman / The Post-Standard)

The Syracuse School of Architecture launched the Ground Up housing competition with the express purpose of challenging the notion that green building had to be expensive. Selecting three homes for under $150,000 designed by Cook+Fox, ARO/Della Valle Bernheimer, and Onion Flats, the school and local non-profit Home HeadQuarters sought to investigate the limits of sustainable design while reviving Syracuse’s rundown Near West Side. The project is nearing completion as detailed in a series of blog posts from the Post Standard (to which we were directed by our friends at ArchNewsNow). It’s a thorough, thoughtful account of three pathbreaking homes and well worth checking out both as a fine example of bricks-and-mortar blogging and deft design.

Last Stand for Chiofaro?

East
Friday, May 14, 2010
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Last Monday, we published a story on Boston finalizing its plans for the future development of the Greenway. In it, we made small mention of developer Don Chiofaro and his Boston Arch project. This was for a few reasons. First, we wanted to focus on the Greenway study as a whole, and its dozens of development sites, and not just one of them. Second, Chiofaro, as the video above shows, is a story unto himself. Or many stories. Most, in fact, as he has turned the study into a referendum on his project and not one about the future of Boston’s newest, if still slightly bedraggled park. That said, allow us to make up for our previous paucity with a lengthy look at where Chiofaro’s project stands, or, uh, doesn’t. Read More

New Practices on the Block

East
Friday, May 14, 2010
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And the New Practices New York winners are...

The New Practices New York juried portfolio competition took place on Wednesday. This biennial competition, sponsored by the AIA New York chapter and now in its third iteration, has quickly become one of New York City’s most important launching pads for architects who have been in practice for less than five years. The winners are featured in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture, which usually travels to the national AIA convention and other architectural societies (this year’s winners will be featured in Sao Paulo, Brazil) plus a one-year free membership in the AIA and visibility as a firm on the rise in this highly competitive city. This year’s jury included Toshiko Mori as lead juror, Joe MacDonald (a New Practices winner in 2008), Guy Nordenson, Galia Solomonoff, and yours truly. After reviewing nearly 70 portfolios Read More

Inching Toward ULURP Reform

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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The Tweed Courthouse, where the Charter Commission held its meeting Monday to set up expert panels, including one for land-use reform.

On Monday, the Charter Revision Commission held its latest meeting, where its members called for a series of five panels to better inform their decision on what, if any, issues to put on the ballot this fall—or next, more on that in a moment. One of the five panels that was called for was on land-use reform, the best indication yet that the commission may well perform the major overhauls the city’s developers and planners have been calling for, as we noted in a recent issue. The commissioned announced today that the land-use panel will be held June 24, at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library, and in addition to experts, public input will also be taken. So if this is an issue you care deeply about—be honest, who doesn’t love ULURP?—then we’ll see you there. As for this fall or next, the biggest debate remains not what but when the commission will conclude its work, as some commissioners and members of the public insist it is moving too quickly to fully engage all the necessary issues.

Not a Bridge too Fair

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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A rendering of a proposed replacement for the Goethals Bridge. It may look different in the end, as the bridge is being developed as a public-private partnership, but the Port Authority seems committed to a strong design regardless. (Courtesy PA)

Ever since the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, politicians and public authorities nationwide have been scrambling to get theirs up to code. New bridges, or at least proposals for them, abound, some nice, some not so much. Fortunately, the Port Authority appears committed to a high-design bridge. The authority released a request for information [PDF] this week, a precursor to an RFQ. The Observer picked up on the PA’s interest in building the thing with a public-private partnership, an approach with a mix of benefits—no upfront costs—and risks—less control or long-term revenue. But what is promising, nonetheless, is the PA’s commitment to constructing what could be called a statement bridge. Read More

Straphangers with Fins

East
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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For years, the MTA has been dumping decommissioned subway cars into the ocean to create artificial reefs for marine life. If you’ve ever wondered if it works, YouTube appears to have the answer. This video shows fish and a giant turtle swimming amid old red bird subway cars. The juxtaposition of the natural and manmade in such an unlikely location is a delight to watch. Next stop, the ocean floor! (via Huffington Post).

Beaming Up the City

East, East Coast
Monday, May 10, 2010
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A Shrike Commander twin-prop plane at twilight, like the ones being used to map New York at night. (Courtesy Texas Aviation)

If you were in New York any time during the last half of the last month, while you slept, you were being zapped with lasers. Or rather, the buildings you slept in. This according to a downright cool story in the Times today reporting that the city has been using a small prop plane to develop far-and-away the most detailed map we’ve ever seen. Like Robert Moses’s famed Panorama dozen times over, “but more accurate and digital,” as Rohit Aggarwala, the departing sustainability czar, told the Grey Lady. More than just creating a solar map of the city’s building stock, the aerial study is beginning to turn up an incredible data set, including all the pitch roofs capable of accommodating solar panels, how much—if any, sadly—of our wetlands remain, and even “zoning changes and stricter building codes.” And here you thought lasers were only good for tag, lasik, and jedi.

Mind Your Manors

East
Monday, May 10, 2010
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Winterthur Museum: Coming to a home near you.

In these days of shrinking endowments, museums have to do what they can to make a buck. In the case of Delaware’s Winterthur Museum, that means endorsing a new line of pre-engineered houses from Vermont company Connor Homes.

Read More

Recycling Finally on NYC Streets?

East, East Coast
Monday, May 10, 2010
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Council members Peter Vallone, Christine Quinn, Jessica Lappin, Jimmy Van Bramer, and Letitia James in Astoria earlier today, pushing for more recycling bins in the city. (William Alatriste)

When was the last time you found yourself on a city street, empty water bottle or given-up-on crossword in hand? Being the conscientious New Yorker you are, no doubt you looked around for a recycling bin to deposit your refuse in. Odds are, you didn’t find any nearby, as the city—so often held up as a green beacon—is woefully lacking in recycling receptacles. That could change soon, with the passage of a package of recycling-related legislation that was unveiled just before Earth Day last month. Since the launch of a public recycling pilot program in 2007, there are now 300 bins scattered across the city. The council hopes to double that number within three years of the legislation’s passage and increase it to 1,000 within a decade. But the city has a long way to go, considering there are more than 25,000 “corner baskets” located in the five boroughs. Read More

Meierland

East
Thursday, May 6, 2010
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Meier's model village, with the Getty Center in foreground. (Photo: Scott Frances/Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners)

An important part of Richard Meier’s design process is his use of scale models—usually beautifully crafted of wood—to consider a physical form in its broader context. In-house model makers are often asked to fabricate multiple iterations of projects, and the firm is famous for its elegant presentation models, such as the one for his extraordinary gridded skyscraper (designed with Steven Holl, Charles Gwathmey, and Peter Eisenman) for the World Trade Center competition. Fortunately, Meier has not only kept many of his models, some going back 40 years like the Smith House in Connecticut, but also a spectacular series of working models for the Getty Center (above). These are kept in Meier’s model museum—a loft space in Long Island City that is opened to the public starting tomorrow, May 7, through August 27 (the museum is closed to the public during the winter months, due to the climate’s impact on the models). Tours can be arranged through Richard Meier & Partners Architects at 212-967-6060.

The Wright Ingredients

East, East Coast
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
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Welcome to the Wright, now approved by two dead baldmen. (Courtesy Andre Kikoski Architects)

Local boy Andre Kikoski won the James Beard Award today for his flashy new restaurant inside the Guggenheim Museum. It replaced the once dowdy cafeteria designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, for whom the award-winning eatery is named, long a vestigial space tucked in under the museum’s sweeping rotunda. Now all flashy curves and color, Kikoski’s space, which opened in January, was even considered a might bit better than the food served therein by New York food critic Adam Platt. The Wright beat out another local spot, Brooklyn’s Choice Kitchens & Bakery by Evan Douglis Studio, and Greensboro, Alabama’s PieLab, designed by Project M. Kikoski joins recent award winners Thomas Schleeser of Design Bureaux (2009) for Chicago’s Publican, Tadao Ando (2008) for Morimoto New York, Lewis Tsuramaki Lewis (2007) for New York’s (now defunct) Xing, Bentel and Bentel (2006) for the Modern… (We’re noticing a trend here, which maybe helps explain why the food in the city is so darn good.)

U.N., Me, and Everyone We Know

East
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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The U.N. complex, shown in its pre-renovation state, is returning to its techno-utopian roots. (UN Photo/Lois Conner)

One might think that the $1.9 billion overhaul of the United Nations Headquarters would be a multiple-stakeholder quagmire of Ground Zero proportions. However, as Michael Adlerstein, executive director of the U.N. Capital Master Plan, put it in a fascinating April 27 presentation, the consensus-based organization actually made it easier to push major decisions through, since the “joint stepping on of many toes” allowed various U.N. members to at least feel that they were being inconvenienced equally. Read More

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