What happens when you gather four tactical urbanists in one room for a “Death Match”-style debate asking, “Is Small Big Enough?” You get a choir. The panel at the Flux Factory’s discussion last night was equipped with “smackdown cards” to challenge the views of their opponents, but they all agreed more often than they disagreed, that the small scale actions at the root of tactical urbanism—and this years US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Spontaneous Interventions—are just fine. What emerged from the packed house was a highly polished discussion, where minor differences were exposed, ground down, and made smooth.
Century of the Child
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
Through November 5
Is design for grown ups? Hardly. While a child’s own designs might be limited to block towers or crayon masterpieces, design touches nearly every part of early life. Children use toys, wear clothing, play in playgrounds, use furniture, and sit in classrooms, all of which are created specifically for them. Opening at the Museum of Modern Art, Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000 surveys the material world constructed for the child over the 20th Century. Visions of children and how design has followed or shaped their perceptions over the past century are considered in the exhibition. Take Frederich Froebel, whose famous toys (a gift box edition, pictured below) were favorites of Frank Lloyd Wright as a child. Froebel designed his blocks to be given in a sequence, educating children as they learned and matured over time. The exhibition identifies and merges the many facets of design that consider children, presenting these products together and revealing the ideas and ambitions of the designers who created them.
Last January, Florida welcomed Michael Maltzan Architecture’s stunning proposal for the St.Petersburg Pier, featuring a new tidal reef, a civic green, raised walking paths, a waterpark and many other attractions. Recently however, local marine scientists have concluded that the tidal reef element of the design is simply too good to be true, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times. Named “The Lens,” Maltzan’s scheme calls for a figure-8 spatial organization, in which a loop provides a view into the clear water below. But Tampa Bay’s estuary waters are murky—not because of pollution but simply because of sediment—making the water too foggy for any kind of tidal viewing. Maltzan’s ideal emerald waters are expected to remain a fantasy, but scientist and architects are still trying to find others ways to provide an underwater view in the Lens.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this morning on his morning radio show that New York City’s forthcoming CitiBike bike-share program—already mired with delays caused by software problems—would be further delayed until at least next spring, confirming rumors that the system’s bugs weren’t being worked out quickly enough. On his radio show, the mayor delivered the bad news, “The software doesn’t work, duh.” He maintained that, “we are not going to put out the system until it works.” The highly anticipated program is set to become the largest is North America when it opens and was a signature piece of the mayor’s bike infrastructure plan for the city.
Brooklyn Navy Yard and Steiner Studios have come up with a gigantic plan for a media hub to be spread across 50 acres of the former ship yard. According to the New York Times, the $400 million project depends on an influx of $35 million from the state and $2.5 million from the federal government to build out water, sewers, and electric infrastructure.
Navy Yard CEO AndrewKimball gave a pointed shout out to the governor and mayor in the Times piece, indicating yet another project making a mad dash to get on the boards before Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure comes to an end in 2013. Though the Navy Yard lost out on its bid to be the locale for the city’s new tech campus that ended up on Roosevelt Island, it does occupy an all-important corner to the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, where nearly 10,000 people work in that sector.
For those heading north on the New York State Thruway, the Yonkers Raceway emerging on the right is just another part of the landscape. But Studio V Architects is about to change all that with their massive porte-cochère that serves as the iconic tour de force for the $45 million expansion of the Empire City Casino. The curved lattice canopy will be clad in ETFE foil—a polymer membrane often used for roofing—that will reflect LED lights resting atop the steel frame.
Behind the canopy, a four-story, 300-foot-long glass wall will serve as a clear backdrop to the canopy, mimicking its curve, while allowing visitors to see the action inside. “The sculptural steel and foil shell grow out of the landscape,” explained Studio V founder and principal Jay Valgora. That landscape will eventually get the Ken Smith treatment. AN took a trip up to Yonkers to check out the construction and all seems on track for opening this fall. We’ll keep you updated on its progress and more from Studio V.
An interesting trend to hit landscape architecture in recent years is borderless fountains, where water flows flush with the pavement. If so inclined, visitors can kick off their shoes and stroll though damp pavers. Such fountains can be found by Field Operations with Diller, Scofidio + Renfro on the High Line, Digsau’s Sister Cities Park in Philly, and Field Operations’ recently completed plaza fronting New York by Gehry. The trend seems to speak to city dwellers need to touch water.
Don’t miss Maps to Apps, the Digital Cityscape tonight at the Center for Architecture! Here’s a short synopsis of the event:
The advent of digital technology and the near universal adoption of the smart phones and the iPad have inspired many cities to experiment with using digital technology both for cultural tourism and for planning. In a couple of years the technology has developed from cell phone tours to QR codes placed on civic buildings. The just launched iPad app for the London Olympics ‘London A City Through Time’ transforms an entire encyclopedia’s worth of content into a tool for understanding the archaeology of a city. Probably the first attempt to use state of the art technology to take the pulse of a city and then share it was in Boston with the Where’s Boston exhibition at the Prudential Center in 1976. This summer cultureNOW is surveying Boston again through the lens of its Museum Without Walls/ iPhone app. This symposium will examine the project and look at it in the broader context.
There are many reasons to love Summer Streets in New York—or open streets programs in most cities across the country—but one of the best is the opportunity to stand in the middle of Park Avenue, Fourth Avenue, or Lafayette Street gawking up at the city’s architecture without becoming roadkill. Walking Off the Big Apple presents a list of notable buildings along the route in easy to use Google map form. Summer Streets is back again tomorrow and the following Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., so look for Mies’ Seagram Building, Stanford White’s 23 Park, or, of course, Grand Central Terminal.
Also be on the lookout for this crazy bike-powered musical instrument called the Cyclo-Phone (above) by Marcelo Ertorteguy and Sara Valente. Curbed New York spotted the crazy contraption made of kiddie pools and PVC pipes at Astor Place.