Hefty Bill for AT&T

National
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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The AT&T Building as rendered by Philip Johnson.

In April, a seven foot tall presentation drawing of the AT&T building was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for $71,000, one of the highest prices ever paid for a “modern architectural drawing,” according to a release. The Philip Johnson drawing was sold through the Wright auction house in Chicago, which has become a specialist in selling architectural materials. The V&A will show the piece in an upcoming exhibition on postmodernism. It is one of only a handful of works by an American in the museum’s 35,000 piece architecture collection.

The building is famous for its “Chippendale” top, which, when it opened in 1984, signaled the ascendency of postmodernism and the return of historical styles and classical references to the architectural vocabulary.

The drawing is part of a larger archive of Johnson’s work, which includes thousands of drawings, plans, and photographs of AT&T, Pennzoil Place, PPG Place, and the Chrystal Cathedral. The owner of the archive wishes to remain anonymous, according to the release.

White House Turns Green at GSA and HUD

National
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
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GSA Admin Martha Johnson

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan

If last week’s story on the apparent shortcomings of the Office of Urban Affairs may have shaken your hopes about the Obama administration’s commitment to cities, planning, and urban policy, fear not. As we tried to point out, these things are happening, just not necessarily at the White House office whose name is synonymous with it. Case in point, two major announcements were made this week concerning sustainability, one at the GSA, the other at HUD.

Read More

Recovering Architects

National
Thursday, May 20, 2010
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We're looking for more architectural green shoots.

Yesterday, we reported on the continued improvement of the AIA Billings Index, which has shown its best performance in two years. While things have not totally recovered yet, there is more to this story than just number. We’ve been hearing stories, too, of those so-called green shoots popping up here and there. Take for example a recent tweet by Gensler heralding the 63 spots that the firm is trying to fill across the globe. The simple missive—”Sign of the times: we’re hiring for 63 positions!”—ricocheted around Twitter, a sign of hope and promise among those wired architects. Clearly, this is the kind of good news people are looking for, so we want to hear more. Please leave your stories in the comment section below or send them to editor[at]archpaper.com. We’ll try and highlight them in a few days.

Catalyze This

East Coast, National
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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Take that still largely speculative skyline!

Last fall, the Downtown Alliance unveiled a plan by ARO and a dozen or so other designers aimed at reviving an area the civic group dubbed Greenwich South. Among the proposals was an iconic, place-defining tower designed by one of our favorite firms, San Francisco’s IwamotoScott. While the Downtown Alliance’s plan was largely speculative, the tower has, uh, popped up once again, with bountiful new renderings on Inhabitat. It’s not entirely clear why the tower has been so thoroughly expanded upon, but we’re guessing all this new snazz has something to do with the firm’s upcoming appearance at the Design Triennial opening Friday, of which it’s a part. We’ve posted a few of our favorite renderings here, with more than a dozen available at Inhabitat. Read More

Palin Hits The Lumber Convention

National
Monday, May 10, 2010
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Palin.

We don’t usually track our emails from the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) very carefully. But today we learned via one of their offerings that Sarah Palin will be the keynote speaker at the NHLA’s annual convention, which will be held from October 13-16 in Vancouver. So what does Palin have to do with an organization formed to “establish a uniform system of grading rules for the measurement and inspection of hardwood lumber?” Here’s what they say: “The hardwood industry has been successfully self-regulated for more than 110 years.  Governor Palin supports a free enterprise system with limited government involvement and understands that industries, such as ours are a great example of America’s pioneering spirit. We are pleased and honored to welcome her as Keynote Speaker.” There you have it. God Bless America.

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Movies Movies Movies

National
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
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Once again the Society for Motion Pictures About the Built Environment (SMIBE) has dared filmmakers to document the constructed world around them, with its second annual short film competition (see our take on last year’s competition here).  This year’s theme, “Personal Infrastructures” (everybody loves the word infrastructure these days, right?)  spurred some great work, including First Place winner “Ice Carosello” by Matthias Löw, which captures the creation and enjoyment of an ice carousel (yes, a spinning block of ice in the middle of a frozen lake) in Sweden through time-lapse photography, accompanied by light techno background music. Now we REALLY want to visit one of these things. Our favorite of all was Augmented (Hyper) Reality: Domestic Robocop by Keiichi Matsuda, who explores the blurring line between humans and cyborgs as an animated human (or is it a robot?) digitally scans everything in his kitchen to make a cup of tea. Reality is coming, and we are all turning into iPads.

The Oil Spill Next Door

National
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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At the rate of 5,000 barrels per day, it would take two days to create a Victorian-sized oil spill.

When trying to wrap his brain around the quantities of oil oozing into the Gulf, Hulett Jones of the San Francisco firm Jones Haydu reacted like an architect: He went to SketchUp and did some modeling. Haydu then extracted his ideas to a nifty YouTube video that comes to the clever conclusion that  One Victorian = 2 days of leakage. Wouldn’t it be great if news stories provided this sort of concrete analog for their data points? Edward Tufte would be proud. You can watch the video after the jump. Read More

Walmart? Fugedaboutit!

East Coast, National
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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The stores of Gateway Center 1. Might the second phase include a Walmart? (Courtesy Related)

In the last Midwest issue, we recounted Walmarts struggles to infiltrate urban centers, notably in Chicago. But the world’s largest retailer and the nation’s largest employer has also been eying New York for years, and the Daily News reports that it is making a new push in Brooklyn, which has already met resistance from locals and labor without even being officially announced. The weird thing, though, is how eerily similar there approach is in East New York as with the Pullman project on Chicago’s Far South Side. Both are meant to be the anchor tenant in a larger mixed-use development that involves affordable housing (the former is part of Gateway II, the latter Pullman Park) located in the fringes of their respective cities, places that have been historically economically depressed. This puts Walmart in a better position of arguing that the area is in need of jobs, any jobs, not to mention affordable housing, so how dare politicians and unions try to stop it. Whether it works in Brooklyn or the Far South Side, only time will tell, but if Kingsbridge is any indication, it probably won’t happen in the Five Boroughs any time soon. Pullman, however, might be an entirely different story, as Mayor Daley continues to agitate for the project’s approval.

NEA Gets Big Cheese

National
Thursday, April 15, 2010
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Yesterday, we wrote a story about Jason Schupbach taking over as the NEA’s Design Director. Today, we decided to post that story to Twitter and to look up Schupbach so we could include him in the tweet. What we found were two Twitter accounts, @CreateMA and @thecheesefreak. As it turns out, in addition to being a fan of design and grant writing, Schupbach loves cheese, or so we gleaned from the site, the CheeseFreak, the latter handle directed us to. There, an often giddy Schupbach has posted 24 episodes of his cheesy vlog since September along with very detailed posts about the cheeses and experiences surrounding them. That’s an average of more than three a month, kind of putting us to shame. If he brings even half this much enthusiasm to the NEA, we’re all in luck. And to learn more about all the great work he’s done in the recent past, here‘s a profile from the Globe that we turned up on Google. Ah, the Internet. (Oh, and it goes without saying that if you’re not already following us on Twitter, please do so.)

Landscape On The Range

National
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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A sketch of Heritage Park in Fort Worth, Texas, by Lawrence Halprin.

I don’t know what y’all are doing on May 6 to 8, but if landscape design tickles your pickle then you might want to hightail it down to the Lone Star State. The Cultural Landscape Foundation has partnered with Preservation Dallas and Historic Fort Worth to bring us Landscapes For Living: Post War Years In Texas, a symposium on modern landscape architecture in Texas at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art. Read More

Our Man in Washington

National
Friday, April 9, 2010
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It’s been a busy week for Ray LaHood, our favorite Transportation Secretary. On Monday, he sat down with the Times‘ Green Inc. blog to discuss a range of topics, most notably his recent declaration (video above, shot from atop a table at the National Bike Summit) that cyclists and pedestrians would get equal time, money, and consideration on America’s streets. The next day, a blog post, ostensibly by the secretary, featured an interesting study showing that a staggering amount of us—Americans, not just readers of this blog—want more and bet transit options. And this goes for the nation’s waterways as well, all delivered through a more transparent DOT. And in an unusually unbureaucratic move, the department is even sharing some of its responsibilities, partnering with the EPA to set fuel efficiency standards. The week was capped off today in a sweep through New York to press drivers stop texting and stump for high-speed rail, one of his pet projects. And to think people were afraid he’d be reactionary just because he was a Republican Congressman. Revolutionary is more like it.

East Coast Champs

National
Thursday, April 1, 2010
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Michael Van Valkenburgh (right) with colleague Matt Urbansky at the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Van Valkenburgh has just won top honors from the American Academy. (Matt Chaban)

The American Academy of Arts and Letters named the winners of its 2010 architecture awards Tuesday, which were dominated by northeastern designers. Long-time GSD professor Michael Van Valkenburgh is the recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture. The annual award of $5000 has been given to preeminent architects since 1955, ranging from Louis Kahn to Elizabeth Diller. Van Valkenburgh has designed more than 350 landscapes, including the recently opened Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Academy also announced the winners of its Academy Awards in Architecture, for strong personal work, which go to New York’s planning-obsessed Architecture Research Office and the Afterpartying MOS, of New Haven and Cambridge. And City College architecture dean, critic, and designer Michael Sorkin also won an Academy Award, largely for his writing. The four winners beat out 50 nominees and were selected by academy members Henry Cobb, Hugh Hardy, Steven Holl, Laurie Olin, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams.

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