While at the AIA convention we ducked out for a few hours to explore New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, the area most devastated by Hurricane Katrina. While much of New Orleans has recovered pretty impressively, the Lower Ninth is still in horrible condition. Countless houses have been abandoned—boarded up and rotting—and many still have rescue workers’ markings on them from the flood six years ago. Then right around the corner is Brad Pitt’s Make It Right houses, 75 of which have been completed. In case you haven’t read any design magazines lately, they’re contemporary, and sustainable, takes on local architecture from the likes of some of architecture’s biggest stars. Read More
While our recent feature on New Orleans highlights some of the more high-profile architectural and development projects in the city, yesterday we were introduced to the other half of the rebuilding equation: the New Orleans Master Plan, which is being developed by Boston firm Goody Clancy and New Orleans-based Manning Architects.
At an afternoon panel, Goody Clancy principal David Dixon and Manning principal W. Raymond Manning shared their experiences creating a document that sets a new course for the city, from land use and transportation planning to environmental protection. “I haven’t had a single boring day here,” said Dixon, who dove head first into the city’s labyrinth of bureaucracy, inefficiency, and even racial divisions to create the gargantuan still-evolving document.
Yesterday we attended a sobering panel at the AIA convention entitled The Construction Outlook: Implications for Architecture Firms. Presented by the AIA’s Chief Economist Kermit Baker and McGraw-Hill Construction’s Vice President of Economic Affairs Robert Murray, the panel crystallized the problems that continue to plague the architecture profession. In short, while the downturn has ended, the upturn, which is indeed inching along, is coming along VERY slowly, or as Murray put it, we’re facing “an extended bottom.” Projected 2011 growth for U.S. construction starts is 1%, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. The high points are multi-family housing, which are projected to see a 22% gain, Manufacturing building, which could see a 24% gain, and commercial building, which is set to see an 11% jump. Other high points include urban infill, adaptive reuse, renovations, and sustainable design. Perhaps the biggest loser in the coming year will be public work, which is seeing cuts across the board due to debt issues. The AIA’s Billing Index has edged just barely into slightly positive territory after three years of steady declines, said Baker. Read More
It was hardly the spartan cave in the mountains that many had envisioned as Bin Laden’s hiding place. Rather, it was a mansion on the outskirts of the town’s center, set on an imposing hilltop and ringed by 12-foot-high concrete walls topped with barbed wire.
The property was valued at $1 million, but it had neither a telephone nor an Internet connection. Its residents were so concerned about security that they burned their trash rather putting it on the street for collection the way their neighbors did.
The foreclosure crisis has up-ended old assumptions about the relative prosperity of cities versus suburbs. In many regions waves of foreclosures have hit the suburbs hardest. In the second iteration of their “Issues in Contemporary Architecture” residency and exhibition series, MoMA and P.S. 1 will ask five teams to design interventions for five “megaregions” facing high levels of foreclosures. Like the earlier iteration, Rising Currents, the new project, Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream will include a residency and public workshops at P.S. 1, followed by an exhibition and public programs at MoMA. Organized by Barry Bergdoll, chief curator for architecture and design, and Reinhold Martin, director of the Buell Center at Columbia, Foreclosed “will enlist five interdisciplinary teams of architects to envision a rethinking of housing and related infrastructures that could catalyze urban transformation, particularly in the country’s suburbs,” according to a statement from the museum.
According to Crain’s New York, the city’s five biggest firms began rehiring last year. Kohn, Pederson Fox, Perkins Eastman, Gensler, HOK, and SOM all began staffing-up, though all five firms pointed to international work as driving much of the growth. “New York started coming out of the recession earlier than the rest of the country, and business is improving, but it’s still uneven,” Bradford Perkins, chairman and chief executive of Perkins Eastman, told the business journal. Perkins Eastman added around 30 architects last year. Nationally, billings have been back in positive territory for the last few months, though results vary substantially by region. And today the AP reported that new home construction is beginning to bounce back. Are you feeling a rebound?
The New York-firm WORK Architecture Company is retooling the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston. The intervention, which includes a new entrance and circulation plan, should dramatically boost the visibility of the museum. It shares a large 1970s concrete building with the university’s art school, and it is currently accessed off an interior courtyard. The architects are moving the entrance to the north side of the building, with a new cantilevered interior staircase serving as a portico. Read More