From March 28-April 1, the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) held a two-in-one conference for Transportation and Water/Wastewater in Kansas City, Missouri. Unfortunately, like many conferences, this one was attended more for it’s offering of mandatory Continuing Education Credits (CEU) than for anything else. Sure, it provided updates on Design-Build contracts, best practices, awards, and time for networking, but there was little innovation or excitement in the actual practice of design-build, especially with a focus on building highways, bridges, and wastewater treatment plants.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright is the single subject of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s new exhibit. Organic Architecture for the 21st Century, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Taliesen, Wright’s Spring Green home and studio, also marks the debut of 33 never before seen drawings by the Wisconsin native. The show implores visitors to take a fresh look at Wright and his works, both built and unrealized, and how he envisioned architecture as something that had an essential relationship to context, time, and the people who lived or worked there. Sustainability, which we often think of as a 21st century innovation, is in keeping with many of Wright’s designs, especially those for a newly suburban America, including the outdoor arcade for the proposed Arizona State Capitol, Phoenix (above).
Organic Architecture for the 21st Century explores the idea that the famously outspoken architect was a visionary who foresaw trends including the use of mass produced materials, utilization of natural light, and attention to the surrounding environment. In addition to covering his major works, like Fallingwater, the Johnson Wax factory, and the Unity Temple, the exhibit also showcases plans for Living City, a culmination of Wright’s work and his utopian vision for suburbia.
Chicago may boast one of the country’s largest urban solar installations, but it’s also home to two polluting coal-fired power plants, the Fisk Generating Station in Pilsen and the Crawford Generating Station in Little Village both operated by Midwest Generation. The two plants emit toxins and advocates say they contribute to elevated asthma rates in those neighborhoods. A new competition ask designers propose solutions to the problem, which could be anything from educational campaigns to remediation strategies. Read More
Two new competitions of note explore possible futures for Chicago‘s public realm. The 2011 Burnham Prize ideas competition sponsored by AIA Chicago and the Chicago Architectural Club calls for new visions for the McCormick Place East building, the 1971 modernist covention center on the lakefront designed by Gene Summers of C.F. Murphy Associates.
The massive, Miesian building has a powerful presence on the lakefront, and a vast column-free interior, but parks advocates have long contended it should be removed. Meanwhile, the building’s owner, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, says it needs $150 million in repairs and is functionally obsolete.
The competition aims to inspire new dialogue around the future of the building and site. The Street Furniture 2011 competition sponsored by Architecture for Humanity‘s Chicago chapter aims for something more universal, new street furniture that could be deployed to activate almost any vacant site.
Like many cities around the country, St. Louis is in search of a more sustainable, more dense city that promotes walkability and public transit. With the help of $150,000 in stimulus funds, St. Louis will soon be evaluating its zoning codes to affect such land-use changes in unincorporated areas around the county. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch described plans to densify the county focusing on redeveloping currently built-up areas.
A new documentary called The Pruitt-Igoe Myth by Chad Friedrichs seeks to capture the life of St. Louis’ infamous housing project through the lens of the people who lived there. The film looks beyond the iconic images of its implosion and offers an analysis of urban renewal’s impact locally and across the nation. From the movie’s web site:
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home.
At the film’s historical center is an analysis of the massive impact of the national urban renewal program of the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted the process of mass suburbanization and emptied American cities of their residents, businesses, and industries.
The 83-minute film will be premiering February 11-13 at the Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi. No word yet when it will make it to St. Louis and beyond, but we’re anxiously awaiting! [Via Preservation Research Office ]
Chicago is famously the city where cab drivers namedrop architects. This year there will be a new way for the general public to become even more well-versed in the city’s historic and contemporary architecture, openhousechicago. Modeled on successful programs in London, New York, and Toronto, openhousechicago will offer free access to more than 100 sites around the city, some of which are normally not open to the public, including the Center for Green Technology and the Burnham-designed Santa Fe Building. Organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, openhousechicago will run from October 14-16. Sites are still being nominated and volunteers are needed, so visit www.openhousechicago.org for more information or to get involved.
Earlier this year AN looked at Midway Crossings, designed by James Carpenter with lighting designers Schuler Shook and landscape architects BauerLatoza Studio, a project that uses light and urban design to create a visual connection across Frederick Law Olmsted’s Midway Plaisance. The project, formerly known as the Light Bridges, is now nearing completion, and the result seems to accomplish the goal of better joining the main campus of the University of Chicago with its expanding facilities across the park. Tall light poles and wider sidewalks with planted, raised easements create an inviting place for pedestrians, and the University hopes the two crossings, at 59th and 60th Streets, will create focused centers of foot traffic, improving safety. Purists may feel that the University has co-opted public park space, but the design team’s use of light as the main element shows a light hand in the landscape. Read More
Since opening in 2008, The Green Building in Louisville, Kentucky has been quietly awaiting the verdict on just how sustainable the three-story adaptive reuse project really is. As expected, the 115-year-old former dry goods store designed by California-based (fer) studio announced that the project received LEED Platinum certification, becoming the city’s first Platinum building.
Many have lamented the disappearance of so many architecture book stores in recent years, chief among them the much-missed Prarie Avenue Books in Chicago. The Graham Foundation is doing their part to begin to fill that void by selling a selection of books at their stately home, the Madlener house.
Tonight, the Foundation is hosting a holiday party and book store launch, from 5-8pm. The delightful exhibition, Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, is also on view. Stop by and stock up. The Graham Foundation, 4 West Burton Place, Chicago.