Obama Banking on an Infrastructure Rebound

National
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
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President Barack Obama hopes that a $50 billion infusion of government money
will help counteract two things that plague the nation—job loss and potholes. The
White House has a list they see as “tangible” goals for the next six years, with a focus on roads, railways, and runways. So, what might you, the taxpayer, get for $50 billion? Read More

Five Years After Katrina, How Are the Levees Holding?

National
Friday, August 20, 2010
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Hope springs eternal from New Orleans, though much work remains to be done. (kla4067/Flickr)

We are coming up on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina next week, and while such milestones are as manufactured as they are macabre, at least in this case it provides a helpful moment for reflection. Half-a-decade out, we seemed to have reached a great enough critical distance for a serious appraisal of what has and hasn’t worked in terms of reconstructing the Crescent City. Documentarians and journalists are already weighing in, so why not the planners? Read More

NYC Snatches Sustainability Czar from PDX

East Coast, National
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
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There are few places better for the Bloomberg administration to look for a new head for the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainabilty than Portland, that utopia of urban green living. (To some, it borders on zealotry.) Today the administration announced that David Bragdon, the president of Metro, the City of Roses’ land-use and management body, will be replacing the recently departed Rohit Aggarwala. He has his work cut out for him, as his predecessor was the chief architect of the city’s lauded PlaNYC 2030 plan, though it appears the office is in capable hands. Read More

Margaret Russell Takes the Reins at Digest

National
Friday, August 6, 2010
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Margaret Russell

Margaret Russell, the editor-in-chief and vice president for brand content at Elle Decor, has been named editor-in-chief of Condé Nast’s Architectural Digest. She will succeed Paige Rense who has edited Digest for nearly 40 years.

Russell has made Elle Decor a credible rival for Digest, and is respected for her taste and discerning eye. Digest remained virtually unchanged for much of Rense’s long tenure there, so many expect Russell will update the magazine’s image as well as bring new architects and designers into its pages.

The magazine’s offices will relocate from Los Angeles to New York. Russell will take over in September.

Could Low-E Windows Melt Your Neighbors?

National
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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(Courtesy WCVB)

Every rose has its thorn, including those supposed holy grails of sustainable products. CFLs contain mercury. Biofuel competes with farmers for topsoil. Now high performance windows, particularly those of the double-pane, Low-E variety, have become the bane of suburbia, as they can apparently melt your neighbors home—or at least their vinyl siding. That was the news from a surprising report on Boston’s Channel 5 news, sent to us by Infared New England, who tests for these sorts of things. It turns out that under the right circumstances, the windows work as magnifiers, focusing light on nearby buildings like a rascally child picking off ants. At least two area women have suffered the consequences, and there are plenty of similar videos on YouTube. So let this be a warning to you about the risks of vinyl siding next time you consider using it on a project. (Okay, let’s be honest, if you’re reading this, god forbid such a thought ever crossed your mind. Still, it’s pretty crazy, the unintended consequences of this business of ours. Eh, Frank?)

Now Showing: Johansen and Niemeyer

National
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
.

We get a lot of Twitter followers every day (not to brag—but are you one of them?) and one particularly caught our eye today for its clever name, @formfollowshome. Turns out to be a simple blog, Form Follows You Home, the kind of no frills operation that would make Mies proud. All the blog is is a nice little catalog of one of our favorite things in the world: architecture videos. We’d seen quite a few of these, but this one of John Johansen taking Connecticut Public TV on a tour of his one-of-a-kind home was a particular standout. We got a tour ourselves, but here is proof for everyone to see that the man is a genius. After the jump, a two-parter with another grandmaster, Oscar Niemeyer, done by so-cruel-its-cool Vice magazine of all places. Read More

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.

Filed Under: , ,

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.

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