Green Day

National
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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Dont try this at home: ASU at Greenbuild

Don't try this at home: ASU's Power Plants at Greenbuild.

If you’re wandering the aisles of the Phoenix Convention Center for Greenbuild 2009 this week and need a break from the worthy trade booths, swing by Arizona State University’s Power Plants installation. It’s a mini-environmental system based on a polyvinyl panel with oxygen-rich aloe plants fed by an IV drip. Each structure incorporates a monitor displaying the scope of sustainable initiatives carried out at ASU. The idea behind the pipe is that it creates a structural narrative linking each element of the environmental system, and should be a lighthearted break in the day! The project is a collaborative design led by Jason Griffiths, Darren Petrucci, Phil Horton, and various members of the ASU student body. Also, don’t forget to come to The Architect’s Newspaper’s party tonight (co-hosted with Arup, SWA Group, and KMD Architecture) at Monorchid Studios, 214 East Roosevelt, just a five-minute walk from the convention center.

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Taking Green Footsteps

National
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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Are architects doing enough for sustainability? The Rocky Mountain Institute has a new website that can help.

Are architects doing enough for sustainability? The Rocky Mountain Institute has a new website that can help.

Planetizen published an interesting piece over the weekend looking at the relative disconnect between sustainability and starchitecture, or how form may have gotten futuristic of late, but not with the future in mind. The article’s a little plodding at times, though the argument is valid and clear:

Many contemporary buildings embody the age-old conflict between individual expression and the common good, while some appear almost antagonistic towards the environment. Frank Gehry’s aluminum billows and Daniel Libeskind’s tilted spires are largely aesthetic accents that use computer-aided design to create forms unbuildable, if not unimaginable, even a decade ago. The sheer expense of iconic libraries, concert halls, and corporate headquarters contradicts environmentalism’s drive for efficiency.

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In Moe We Could Trust

National
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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Richard Moe announces his retirement. (National Trust)

Richard Moe announces his retirement. (National Trust)

National Trust for Historic Preservation president Richard Moe announced today that he will retire in the spring of 2010. Moe, 72, is the longest-serving president in the organization’s 60-year history. The legacy of his 17-year tenure will likely be his push to bring historic preservation into the mainstream by revitalizing urban historic districts and promoting the environmental importance of saving aging buildings and structures.

“It has been an enormous privilege to be associated with the National Trust over these years,” Moe said in a statement on the National Trust’s website. “It has been the most fulfilling professional experience I have ever had.” Moe went on to say that his departure will present an opportunity for the Trust to seek a generational change at a time when its financial base and its programming are on solid ground. Read More

Designer Halloween Costumes

National
Thursday, October 29, 2009
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Were looking to Rem Koolhaas for inspiration.

We're looking to Rem Koolhaas for inspiration for this year

WIth Halloween just a day-and-a-half away, there’s not much time to come up with a costume if you haven’t already. Our pal Nate Berg over at Planetizen has a rather amusing listing of planning-themed costumes, including LEED certified—”don’t get your platinum certification mistaken for a silver”—and our personal favorite, FAR—”This costume illustrates the concept of floor area ratio over the course of the night. At first the ratio is low, as you’ll likely be standing and dispersing yourself over a relatively small land area. But by the end of the night when you’re passed out on the floor after the party, you’ll be taking up much more land area and will therefore represent a much higher FAR.” Still, everybody knows architects are more clever than planners, so we’ve come up with five of our own costumes, and we’d also love to hear yours, so leave suggestions in the comments. Read More

Beyond the Quotidian Landscape

National
Thursday, October 29, 2009
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The natural landscaping at Sea Ranch is the work of Laurence Halprin.

The naturalistic landscape at Sea Ranch is the work of the late Lawrence Halprin. (Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation)

The Cultural Landscape Foundation has just launched What’s Out There,a database of landscapes with some sort of historical significance: parks big and small, and various important modern landscapes. Because these public spaces are often part of our quotidian routines, it’s easy to be completely oblivious to the designer or how the space participates in the history of landscape design. Have a look at  “What’s Out There”–a wonderful title that positively invites browsing–and learn more about what is just around the corner from where you are. Read More

Senate Seeks Sustainability

National
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
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Barbara Boxer and John Kerry introduced climate legislation in the Senate today that does much to promote green building standards. (SenatorMarkUdall/Flickr)

Barbara Boxer and John Kerry introduced climate legislation in the Senate today that does much to promote green building standards. (SenatorMarkUdall/Flickr)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released its energy bill today. The main talking point is that the bill sponsored by Barbara Boxer and John Kerry takes a tougher stance on emission reductions than the House bill, shooting for 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, as opposed to 17 percent. But the bills share some comforting similarities, at least for architects. Just like the house bill, which we wrote about in July, the Boxer-Kerry bill includes important measures targeted at buildings, among them stricter building codes and retroactive efficiency standards for retrofitted buildings. Along with the bill passed by the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June, which called for other efficiency standards, Andrew Goldberg, the senior director for federal relations at the AIA, said the Senate stands to create strong, architecturally intensive standards Read More

Emile Norman, 1918-2009

National
Monday, September 28, 2009
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Emile Norman

Emile Norman in his element.

California designer, spirited artist, and inventive mosaicist and sculptor, Emile Norman died in Monterey on September 24. Norman, who lived in a house of his own design in Big Sur, was an inspiration to artists of all kinds. His large-scale public work was known for being integrated with its architecture, an approach seen most vividly in the recently restored mural at the California Masonic Temple on Nob Hill in San Francisco. Read More

High Speed Ahead

National
Thursday, September 17, 2009
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Someday, high-speed rail will criss-cross the map. (Courtesy America 2050)

Someday, high-speed rail could criss-cross the map. (Courtesy America 2050)

We’ve been paying an awful lot of attention to high-speed rail of late. That’s partly because it’s a pet project of the president, as well as the various regions we cover. Well, bids were due last month for the $8 billion to be doled out in stimulus funds for high-speed rail development (after all, that kinda money isn’t going to go very far toward building any one system, let alone the dozen or so needed to begin supplanting planes or cars), and while the money will likely get split up amongst different states and localities so as not to anger any constituency, the infrastructure-oriented, RPA-affiliated group America 2050 released a report today recommending where best to spend that money, and we’ve got bad news for our colleagues on the West Coast and Great Lakes—it should go right here in the Northeast Corridor. (It should be noted the RPA, like AN is headquartered here in New York, so maybe it’s just bias at play.)

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Imagined Infrastructure

National
Friday, September 4, 2009
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Urban Algae: Speculation and Optimization, Mining Existing Infrastructure for Lost Efficiencies

Urban Algae proposes a park on a floating pontoon between Lower Manhattan and Red Hook that would harvest CO2 emissions from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.

cityLAB, an urban think-tank at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, has announced the six finalists of its WPA 2.0 competition. The competition, which stands for working public architecture, invited designers of all stripes to submit proposals for rebuilding our cities’ infrastructure as a sort of throwback to the Great Depression-era WPA. Juried by Stan Allen, Cecil Balmond, Elizabeth Diller, Walter Hood, Thom Mayne, and Marilyn Jordan Taylor, the top-six picks run the gamut from heading off an impending water crisis to creating a softer, gentler version of our infrastructure. One finalist, Urban Algae: Speculation and Optimization, Mining Existing Infrastructure for Lost Efficiencies, proposes to harvest CO2 emissions through photosynthesis. Submitted by PORT Architecture + Urbanism, the solution could be rolled out nationwide on coal-fired power plants and toll booths, but the designers also outlined a scheme for creating a public park on floating pontoons between Lower Manhattan and Red Hook, which would harvest emissions from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Read about the other finalists after the jump. Read More

Bayou Ball

National
Thursday, September 3, 2009
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Trahan clad the exterior of the museum in planks of sinker cypress, which comes from logs that have been submerged for years in the soft muddy bottoms of swamps and bayous. (Courtesy Trahan Architects)

Trahan clad the exterior of the museum in planks of sinker cypress, which comes from logs that have been submerged for years in the soft muddy bottoms of swamps and bayous. (Courtesy Trahan Architects)

Construction began last month in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on the Louisana State Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum. “What do sports and regional history have in common?” you might ask. Trahan Architects certainly had to ponder this question when figuring out an elegant way to combine the disparate program elements under one roof. In the end they took inspiration from Louisiana’s geomorphology, basing their layout of interior spaces on “the fluid shapes of the braided corridors of river channels separated by interstitial masses of land.” See exactly what is meant by this in the images after the jump. Read More

Finally On Facebook

National
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
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Were part of the club!

We're part of the club!

You’re hopefully following us on Twitter, and you’re obviously reading our blog and maybe watching our videos on YouTube. Today, we’re happy to announce that AN has taken that final, belated step into the Internet age and launched a Facebook fan page. Do show your support and follow us there. We look forward to your comments, contributions, and, yes, criticism. Until then, safe surfing.

Reburbia Resolved

National
Thursday, August 20, 2009
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"FROG’S DREAM: McMansions Turned into Biofilter Water Treatment Plants," by Calvin Chiu

Judges of Dwell and inhabitat’s Reburbia competition split the difference between fantasy and pragmatism in picking winners out of last week’s 20 finalists.
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