University of Pennsylvania architecture student Jonathan Dessi-Olive, this year’s winner of the Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) Travel Fellowship, and three of his colleagues are taking an ancient building technology to Kenya this summer to demonstrate a sustainable alternative to wood construction, which contributes to the devastating deforestation problem in the region. The project, a hybrid wind- and solar-powered radio station on Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria, will introduce local craftspeople to the 600-year-old technique of timbrel vaulting, a system that uses thin clay tiles to create a geometrically-complex and structurally strong building.
500-cyclists and pedestrians an hour simultaneously traveling along the same route bordering the Regent’s Canal in north London certainly makes for one congested—and with cyclists and pedestrians jockeying for limited space, a treacherous—commute. According to BD Online, landscape architect Anthony Nelson, director at Design International, has proposed a dramatic solution that could resolve the long-standing battle between fast-moving cyclists and slower pedestrians.
The Art Newspaper is out with its latest listing of top exhibitions and museum attendance for 2012 and in the category “Architecture and Design” there are some surprises. MoMA, the first museum in the world to have an architecture department, has led this category for many years and in 2011 as usual had the top three architecture and design exhibitions in the survey. But for 2012 St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum’s first show dedicated to a living architect, Santiago Calatrava: The Quest For Movement, broke MoMA’s monopoly of the category and became the most popular exhibit in the world.
Since Wednesday, four black ewes have a new home, and new jobs as groundskeepers on a small patch of municipal land in Paris. Fenced in on a half-acre lawn in front of the city’s archives building in the 19th Arrondissement, the New York Times reported that the sheep are part of a new “eco-grazing” program which aims to cut out loud, gas-guzzling lawnmowers and toxic herbicides in favor of a more agrarian solution. If all goes well at the archives, city officials have plans to bring more mouton to pastures across Paris.
Rem Koolhaas and OMA may have grander commissions and more famous clients (Miuccia Prada?), but probably not a more devoted and long lasting partnership than with David Maupin of the Lehmann Maupin Gallery. The gallerist first commissioned Koolhaas to design a new exhibition space on Manhattan’s Greene Street in 1995 and again when they moved to 26th Street in Chelsea ten years later (there is non-OMA-designed Lehmann Maupin on the Lower East Side). Now the Lehmann Maupin Gallery has asked OMA to design a third gallery, this time in Hong Kong.
Buffalo’s Hirsute Pursuit. An old 140-foot-tall concrete grain elevator in Buffalo is being converted into a rock-climbing facility, Silo City Rocks. That much is true, but today, a group of mustachioed city-boosters unveiled a giant mural project to celebrate “famous mustached Buffalonians Grover Cleveland, Lindy Ruff, Rick James and Mark Twain.” Dubbed “Mount Stachemore,” the mural will be part of a planned Mustache Hall of Fame and Museum. Head brewer for Flying Bison beer was on hand to announce a new product sharing the same name: “My mustache is made thick by the foam of Flying Bison beer; in turn, Mount Stachemore Ale has a thick-hearted body and smooth finish, and we look forward to serving it at Silo City for centuries to come.” The group said they hope the mural by artist Max Collins will be complete by August 17.
Calling Fred and Carrie. The city of Portland, OR is famous for its progressive stance on transportation. To stay ahead of the competition, Portland Transport reports the city has announced a new public transit program aimed at increasing the horse-power on city streets – literally. A new hay-ride system gliding along high-tech RUTS (rapid ungulate tracking system) and complete with alfalfa-filled bioswales at intersections could open in 2017.
Florida’s New Pad in Boca. The epic battle between urbanism foes Richard Florida and Joel Kotkin appears to have fizzed, according to Planetizen. Suburban sympathizer Kotkin has switched sides to embrace the creative class. “The old school is dead. This is the new American economy – spontaneously meeting people, sharing ideas, Tweeting stuff.” Urban advocate Florida had his own change of heart, trading his latte for a lawnmower in a surprising appeal for suburbia. “If that ain’t what people want, why would they keep building it?”
Minneapolis St. Sprawl. Seemingly following Florida to the ‘burbs, a new plan for the future of Minneapolis-Saint Paul ditches density in favor of suburban sprawl. “It is time to reflect and realize that we need to shift our walking-oriented ways and rely more on the magnificent creation that is the car.”
Your Kiss Is On My List. Smoking, soft drinks, and now kissing? According to the Project for Public Spaces, New York’s Mayor Michael “Ban-it-all” Bloomberg is reportedly set to usher in a new PDA ban for New York City parks as studies suggest intimacy is on the rise.
I Haz High Line. While you can’t love your fellow human being in public for much longer, Friends of the High Line have been showing their affection for cats. The group hosted its first annual cat festival on the renamed “High FeLine,” which took a turn for the worse when the animals ingested too much catmint: “In what appeared to be a drug-induced mania, the cats jumped wildly up and down the Seating Steps, sending visitors’ macchiatos and kombucha teas flying.”
In the new documentary The Centrifuge Brain Project, the work of famed centrifugal theorist Dr. Nick Laslowicz finally gets its due. Combining never-before-seen archival footage with testimony from Dr. Laslowicz himself, the documentary briefly outlines the groundbreaking career of this oft-forgot designer, engineer, and academic who dared to challenge mankind’s oldest obstacle: gravity. As Laslowicz’s work moved from drawing-board simulations to real-life amusement park experimentations, his ambitious creations drew criticism from the establishment, but he never gave up hope in his aspirations. “We had setbacks, but I wouldn’t say it was a mistake,” said Laslowicz in the film, “If anything, the mistake is in nature. Gravity is a mistake.” Watch below to catch a glimpse of the The Centrifuge Brain Project and the legendary work of one of our generation’s great scientific minds.
The London headquarters of insurance giant Swiss Re at 30 St Mary Axe, known locally as “the Gherkin,” was scheduled to take its true form, today—a giant green pickle—thanks to Jackpot Joy, a British online gambling site, which promised last month to light up Sir Norman Foster’s iconic skyscraper with a digital projection. The foodie facelift called for wrapping the 41-story tower in a special non-reflective film requiring a crew of ten and around 900 man-hours. With no news that the tower is actually glowing, the stunt appears to have been too large a gamble. The jokesters, however, last year successfully sent a 60-foot rubber duck down the Thames. It appears this is strike two for recladding the tower after a campaign to transform it into a penguin went nowhere as well.
Architecture and urban design apps are appearing so fast its hard to keep up with the latest new site to investigate city history and growth. But a new one—Archipelago Town-lines—is the result of a 3 year-long research on three key places: Berlin, Beirut, and Venice. It uses original photo galleries, video, and audio content and interactive data visualization features, as a guide for new urban geography, history, and lifestyle of these three very different cities. These places are then place holders for the analysis of contemporary urban trends, in order to propose a new possibility for growth.
Stefano Boeri—the talented architect, politician, and former editor of Domus—was summarily dismissed this week from his position as Councillor for Culture, Fashion, and Design for the city of Milan. Boeri, who for several years has tried to bring architecture and design into official decision making process, has apparently butted heads with Milan’s Mayor Giuliano Pisapia and has been pushed out the door.
He has, according to one observer of Italian politics, clashed with the mayor “over how much he spent on an exhibition,” who may be using the country’s budget woes as an excuse to sack a potential political opponent.
Boeri was coordinating the upcoming Milan Year of Culture and is not gong without a fight. A petition signed by host of major architects, artists, and cultural workers is being distributed to the press to put pressure on the mayor to bring Boeri back into government.