The World’s Best Tall Building Doesn’t Have to be the Tallest

International, Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
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KfW Westarkade in Frankfurt, Germany. (Spiegelneuronen / Flickr)

KfW Westarkade in Frankfurt, Germany. (Spiegelneuronen / Flickr)

The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) sought out a deep understanding of sustainability and contextualization in selecting the Best Tall Building of 2011. This year’s worldwide winner, while hardly as tall as last year’s winning Burj Khalifa, went to the KfW Westarkade tower in Frankfurt Germany. The 184-foot-tall tower is projected to use half as much energy as a typical European office building and only a third the energy of a standard U.S. building. The 10th-annual awards ceremony took place November 3 at a distinctly horizontal building in Chicago, Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall.

Check out the winners after the jump.

LA Union Station Shortlist Announced & The Notables That Missed The Cut

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
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LA's Union Station. (Martin Schall)

LA's Union Station. (Martin Schall)

It’s official: the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) has revealed the shortlist for its Union Station Master Plan RFIQ (Request For Information & Qualifications), which seeks a team to oversee the redevelopment of 42 acres of land and up to six million square feet of entitlements around the station. “In addition to creating a model for Transit Oriented Development in the region, it is now important that the property be planned with an eye to its role as the center of regional transportation,” said METRO in an official document released by its executive management committee.

Shortlisted teams include: EE&K, a Perkins Eastman Company; Gruen Associates/ Grimshaw Architects; IBI Group/ Foster + Partners; Moore Ruble Yudell and TEN Arquitectos; NBBJ/Ingenhoven Architects; and Renzo Piano Building Workshop/ Parsons Transportation Group.

An impressive list, but perhaps even more notable are those that didn’t make the cut.

Google Moves Into Gehry’s Binoculars Building

Newsletter, West
Thursday, November 3, 2011
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(©Darrell G)

In an effort to consolidate its efforts in LA Google has leased 100,000 square feet of office space in three buildings in Venice, including space inside Frank Gehry’s Chiat/Day Building, a.k.a. the Binoculars Building. Why is it called that? Because one entryway is shaped like a gigantic pair of binoculars, of course. Finished in 1991 on Main Street, the space is probably the most famous of Gehry’s forays into…shiver… Post Modernism. The binoculars themselves were designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The new Venice Googleplex will hold many more employees than its present collection of buildings in Santa Monica, which contain about 300. Earlier this week Google announced that it would be adding 6,000 total employees this year. Recession? What recession? Not in Google’s world.

Video> Toshiko Mori on Poe Park

East, Newsletter
Thursday, November 3, 2011
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Poe House before restoration. (AN/Stoelker)

Poe Cottage before restoration. (AN/Stoelker)

On October 25 the New York Times reported on vandalism and closed bathrooms at the Toshiko Mori-designed Poe Park’s Visitor Center, but today a Parks Department spokesperson told AN that bathrooms were reopened and that the vandalism has been addressed. The late October report marred what had otherwise been a stellar week for the neighborhoods along the Grand Concourse nearby. Earlier in the week, a good chunk of the boulevard was landmarked and over the weekend, the Bronx Museum hosted Beyond the Super Square, a conference on mid-century Latin American and Caribbean architecture. However, the Poe Park Visitor Center itself still sits on shuttered while Parks and the Bronx County Historical society wrestle with how to staff the place. For now, a Parks’ video tour starring Toshiko Mori will have to suffice…

Watch the video after the jump…

Meet Williamsburgh Savings Bank’s Lofty New Neighbor

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
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Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Chad Oppenheim's design for Williamsburghotel. (Courtesy Oppenheim)

Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture+Design has won an international design competition for a hotel in Brooklyn at the Williamsburg Bridge. The proposed 86,000 square foot, 440-foot-tall tower is comprised of three 16-foot deep vertical slabs and joins a recently announced 40-story rental tower designed by FX Fowle nearby on the waterfront as the latest high-rise planned for the neighborhood. Oppenheim declined to name the competition sponsor, citing a confidential development team, but the site adjacent to the landmarked, 1870s-era Williamsburgh Savings Bank is currently under renovation by a group intending to build a hotel and event space on the corner of Broadway and Driggs Avenue.

More renderings after the jump.

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Stage 1 Finalists Announced for National Mall Design Competition

East, National, Newsletter
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
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The National Mall. (Vlasta Juricek / Flickr)

The National Mall. (Vlasta Juricek / Flickr)

The Trust for the National Mall has announced the finalists for the first round of its National Mall Design Competition. The 700-acres of parkland have been worn down over the years thanks hoards of visitors (25 million a year), marches, and certain bi-annual decathalons. The scope of the competition includes three distinct areas of the mall: Union Square, the Washington Monument Grounds at Sylvan Theater, and Constitution Gardens. Finalists were selected for each area, and will move on to stage two of the competition (team interviews), and then—finally—a selected few will be asked to envision a design for one of the three designated area.

Check out the finalists after the jump.

CityLights Finally Begin to See Daylight

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
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New York City's new street lights are making their debut downtown. (AN/Stoelker

New York City's new streetlights are making their debut downtown. (AN/Stoelker)

Approximately six years after Thomas Phifer and Partners, the Office for Visual Interaction, and Werner Sobek won the CityLights competition for a new standard streetlight, some of the first examples are popping up in Lower Manhattan. The design for LED streetlights was cutting edge at the time, and the technology was very expensive. Prices for energy efficient LED’s have fallen considerably since then, allowing the ultra slim fixtures to find their way onto city streets. Read More

Pictorial> Virgin goes Galactic

International, Newsletter
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
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The Virgin Galactic Spaceport by Foster + Partners. (Nigel Young / Foster+Partners)

The Virgin Galactic Spaceport by Foster + Partners. (Nigel Young / Foster+Partners)

A quick flashback: Back in 2005, Virgin Group’s latest venture, Virgin Galactic, and the State of New Mexico had announced that they had reached an “historic agreement”—that they would build a state-funded $200 million spaceport in New Mexico. Virgin planned to provide sub-orbital space flights to the paying public, along with sub-orbital space science missions and orbital launches of small satellites (and much later, even orbital human space-flights). The facility was to be designed by Foster + Partners, who won Virgin Galactic’s international architectural competition.

Now, the Virgin Galactic Spaceport America—the world’s first commercial spaceport—has officially launched. Aimed to “articulate the thrill of space travel for the first space tourists while making a minimal impact on the environment,” the spaceport is designed to resemble, when viewed from space, Virgin Galactic’s brand logo of the eye, with an elongated pupil–the elevated apron completes the iris. Check out the photos after the jump.

Gehry To The Rescue, With a Star-Studded Board

Newsletter, West
Thursday, October 20, 2011
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Gehry Technologies' BIM Model for the New World Symphony in Miami.

Frank Gehry is trying to save architecture, and it’s about time. His company Gehry Technologies, which provides technology and related services to design and construction firms, on Tuesday announced a plan to bring together “the world’s most distinguished architects” in a “strategic alliance” intended to transform the building and design industries through technology.

In other words they’ve put together a really impressive advisory board. The list of architects, designers, and business leaders includes: David Childs, Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn, Laurie Olin, Wolf Prix, David Rockwell, Moshe Safdie, Patrik Schumacher, and Ben van Berkel. That’s no joke. Among other things, the group will strive to promote higher quality projects, greater efficiency, and more cost effective techniques.

Continue reading after the jump.

Dean’s List> ASLA Student Awards Reveal the Future of Landscape Architecture

Vegetation House by students from National Chiao Tung University. (Jheng-Ru Li and Chieh-Hsuan Hu)

Vegetation House by students from National Chiao Tung University. (Jheng-Ru Li and Chieh-Hsuan Hu)

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced the winners of its 2011 Student Awards. This year’s student honorees have developed concepts ranging from hillside habitats in Haiti, to vegetated houses in Taiwan, to a reclaimed airfield in Berlin. Entries demonstrate an idealistic and urgent approach to problem solving for today’s and tomorrow’s pressing social issues.

[ Also be sure to check out the winners of the ASLA 2011 Professional Awards. ]

Check out the winners after the jump.

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Neutra’s Kronish Saved at Last

Newsletter, West
Monday, October 17, 2011
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Kronish House (courtesy LA Conservancy/©J Paul Getty Trust)

After a lengthy battle Richard Neutra’s Kronish House in Beverly Hills has been saved. Completed in 1955, the house, considered one of Neutra’s finest (and largest), came very close to its demise this summer after its new owners refused preservationists’ pleas and began the demolition process. But after the outcry got louder, the owners placed the demolition on hold, and now a buyer with an interest in restoring the home has just closed on the house.

Continue reading after the jump.

City in China Disappears Overnight

International, Newsletter
Thursday, October 13, 2011
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Chaohu city is officially canceled. (Courtesy anhuinews.com)

Chaohu city in China has been canceled. It wasn’t a small city. In fact the population of more than 4 million is comparable to Los Angeles, the Phoenix metro area, and the whole of South Carolina, but that is now irrelevant data, since Chaohu’s official city status was annihilated on August 22. Although buildings and inhabitants remain as proof of a once-coherent city plan and living organism, the land has since been divided into three parts and absorbed by its neighbors, Hefei, Wuhu and Ma’anshan.

Continue reading after the jump.

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