Fire hydrants are as necessary as they are historically significant. The first fire hydrant was proposed sometime during the early 19th century. No one knows the exact date as the records of its creation and use were, ironically, destroyed in a fire. The design of modern fire hydrants hasn’t changed for decades, but today, a veteran firefighter has proposed a new design that could make fighting fires much easier.
Gallup pollsters recently asked Americans if they had the opportunity to move, “would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?” Well, Illinois and Connecticut earned the dubious distinction of having the nation’s most restless residents. About half of the surveyed residents in Illinois wanted to bounce, but don’t expect an influx of moving boxes. We’ll probably just ride it out and complain. Case in point: another Gallup poll found 25 percent of Illinoisans surveyed said their state is “the worst possible place to live in”—second only in self-loathing to Rhode Island.
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) remains in negative territory for the second straight month. While the April index ticked up to 49.6, from 48.8 last month, it was not enough to break 50, which signals an increase in design services. The new projects inquiry, however, increased from 57.9 to 59.1.
President Obama will reportedly nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If confirmed by the senate, Castro will succeed Shaun Donovan, a trained architect, who has been at the agency since 2009. Donovan is expected to head the Office of Management and Budget.
At this year’s SXSW Festival, engineering took center stage in the documentary DamNation (directors Travis Rummel & Ben Knight), which won the Documentary Spotlight Audience Award. It begins with America’s rash of dam-building under FDR when these mammoth structures were considered man-made wonders. Hoover and Grand Coulee are the large-scale examples, but there were about 80,000 smaller dams built across the country.
The AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the winners of its annual sustainability awards program. Now in its 18th year, the COTE awards celebrate green architecture, design, and technology. According to a press release, the winning projects must “make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts.”
Each of the ten winners will be officially honored at the AIA’s National Convention and Design Exhibition in Chicago later this year, but, in the meantime, here’s a closer look at the 10 winners.
After starting the year on a positive trend, the Architectural Billings Index ticked down last month. The March ABI score dropped sharply from February’s score of 50.7 to 48.8. This moves the index into negative territory as any score below 50 signifies a decrease in design services. The new projects inquiry, though, did tick up from 56.8 to 57.9.
The Congress for the New Urbanism has announced that Lynn Richards will serve as the organization’s new president and CEO. Richards joins the Congress from the EPA, where she worked in the Office of Sustainable Communities. She has organized with environmental groups in former Soviet Republics and holds a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She will assume her new role on July 1.
“We want to see more great places built. We want to build neighborhoods where more people can walk and bike,” said the incoming president in a statement. “We want to create more vibrant and prosperous places that celebrate great design and development approaches.” To make this happen, Richards wants to “road-test innovative design and polices.”
Richards succeeds John Norquist, who was appointed CNU’s president in 2002. In his previous position as the mayor of Milwaukee, he led the charge to demolish a major highway in the city. And under his leadership at CNU, the organization called on other cities to do the same, with their biennial “Freeways Without Futures” list.
What was the most popular architecture or design exhibition in 2013? If you guessed MoMA’s Le Corbusier spectacular or SFMOMA’s landmark Lebbeus Woods: Architect (coming to New York’s Drawing Center April 15) you’re close but off the mark. In fact the most popular architecture exhibition in the world, according to The Art Newspaper‘s 2013 Visitors Figures was MoMA’s Henri Labrouste exhibition that drew 438,680 viewers (4,100 a day) compared to the Le Corbusier show that had 405,000 visitors (4,010 a day).
Amtrak is out with a new promotional video, and it’s targeted right at millennials. As UrbanCincy reported, “On the heels of kicking off their new Writers Residency program, where writers can ride intercity passenger rail for free, Amtrak welcomed 30 prominent new media ‘influencers’ on a long-distance train ride from Los Angeles to SXSW in Austin.”
After the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) posted positive gains in January, the question everyone was asking was, “What comes next?” Today, the AIA’s monthly report answered that question with a bit more good news. The ABI was measured at 50.7 in February, which is up slightly from a January score of 50.4. So, how did this happen? The change was due to strong numbers posted in the South (52.8) and the West (50.5). But dragging the group down, the Northeast and Midwest both scored below 50 with scores of 48.3 and 47.6, respectively (any score below 50 indicates a decline).
The U.S. has finally caught up to 1956. With the help of 146 million more people, the country has finally managed to match the number of trips American’s took on mass transit 57 years ago. Largely skirting the population elephant in the corner the American Public Transport Administration released a reported revealing some 10.7 billion trips were taken on US public transportation in 2013.