Eric Moss Cactus Tower Turns Things Upside Down

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
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©Tom Bonner

Don’t look now, Eric Owen Moss has put another landmark along the eastern edge of Culver City with the completion of the Cactus Tower on Hayden tract. Upending the usual relationship of earth and sky, he’s placed cactus plants high above the air, suspending them within a severe steel frame.

Read more after the jump.

Presenting the Winners of the AIA SF Awards

Newsletter, Shft+Alt+Del, West
Sunday, April 17, 2011
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Ogrydziak Prillinger's Gallery House, heard but not seen. Photograph by Tim Griffith, courtesy of the architects.

On Thursday, the architecturati were at the War Memorial Performing Arts Center’s Green Room to see who won in this year’s AIA SF Awards. This year only saw 27 awards presented, half the number of last year’s 54–perhaps an indication of how hard the economic downturn has hit this area. But despite the shorter program, there was no shortage of distinctive projects.

Check out more of the winners after the jump.

7 Cities Consider Removing Major Urban Highways

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
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Proposed highway removal along Louisville's riverfront (Courtesy 8664.org)

Proposed highway removal along Louisville's riverfront (Courtesy 8664.org)

In a shift from America’s traditional 20th century landscape, more and more cities are now considering removing major highways in favor of housing, parks and economic development.

The chief motivation seems to be money, according to a recent NPR report highlighting the growing movement and the removal of Cleveland’s West Shoreway. As highways age, keeping them around doesn’t justify the high cost of maintenance.

Check out 7 highway removal proposals across the country

AN Video> Viñoly on Postmodernism, etc.

East, Newsletter, Shft+Alt+Del
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
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AN exec editor Julie Iovine in conversation Rafael Viñoly at the Museum of the City of New York.

AN‘s Julie Iovine held a freewheeling conversation last week with architect Rafael Viñoly under the subject heading “What Comes After Postmodern Architecture.” The architect had some choice words about the period before moving on to a variety of other topics, including corporate architecture, collaboration, and New York.

Watch the video after the jump.

From Urban Farm to Urban Forks

East, Newsletter
Monday, April 11, 2011
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A detail outlining Zelda the turkey's body and neck (her neck represented by a single line of bamboo leading to the head, somewhat obscured by the trees to the upper left). AN/Stoelker

After giving a brief lesson in New York’s Dutch history, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe opened a one-acre urban farm to a couple hundred local school children in Battery Park on Monday. It’s the Battery’s first farm in the area since the Dutch tilled soil there in 1625. The idea for the farm brought together celebrity chefs, architects, and community activists to work alongside the kids. The design, by the newly formed STUDIOperFORM, incorporated bamboo salvaged from last year’s Metropolitan Museum rooftop exhibit, Big Bambú. Design partners Shane Neufeld, an architect, and Scott Dougan, a set designer, used an silhouette of Zelda, the park’s resident turkey, as the basis for their design. Neufeld said that Zelda was never meant to be fully recognizable, instead, the design serves as narrative to teach the children about nature. As a native of Brooklyn, Neufeld said that he doesn’t recall ever having a garden. “We had a parking lot,” he said.
Read More

(Updated!) A Call to Free Ai Weiwei, Artist, Architect, Activist

Ai Weiwei with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia (Courtesy Melissa Lam)

Ai Weiwei with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia (Courtesy Melissa Lam)

(Updated 4-6-2011) As details emerge, be sure to track the comments on this post for the latest on Ai Weiwei. We have learned that the US State Department called for his release on Monday. According to VOA News, Mark Toner, State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman saud, “The detention of artist and activist Ai Weiwei is inconsistent with the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Chinese citizens, including China’s commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we urge the Chinese government to release him immediately.” Today, the Guardian reported that Ai Weiwei is under investigation for “suspected economic crimes” according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua which has since deleted the statement.

AN also received the following note of support for Ai Weiwei from Richard Meier. Please feel free to voice your messages of support in the comments.

Ai Weiwei deserves all of our support in his efforts to communicate with the world community of architects about the conditions that currently exist in China. We all hope that his immediate release will happen quickly in response to comments from all of us that support him in his cause.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Meier

(Original Report 4-4-2011) News that Chinese artist, architect, and activist Ai Wei Wei has been detained and disappeared as of April 3, 2011 broke yesterday in the International media.  As reported by Andrew Jacobs in the New York Times, and more recently today by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, his detention and police closure of his Beijing studio coincides with what is known as the “Jasmine Revolution,” a protest movement in the People’s Republic of China that was inspired by the 2011 Tunisian Revolution and has prompted the Communist Party’s six-week crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists, with many of those detained still not released, and others, such as pro-democracy writer Liu Xianbin, sentenced to 10 years in jail for subversion.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bestor Unleashes Disco Silencio at SCI-Arc

Dean's List, Newsletter, West
Monday, April 4, 2011
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Architectural exhibition openings are hardly known for their cool vibe, but that’s apparently because they’re not usually put on by LA-based Barbara Bestor Architecture. On April 1 SCI-Arc opened Bestor’s Disco Silencio to a crowd very eager to party. The installation at the SCI-Arc gallery is a demi-dodecahedron formed in plywood meant to be a silent retreat for frazzled SCI-Arc architecture students (at least when the DJ isn’t spinning and disco lights are whirling).

Continue reading after the jump.

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Zumthor′s Secret Garden: First Look at 2011 Serpentine Pavilion

International, Newsletter
Monday, April 4, 2011
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Peter & Piet: Landscape architect Piet Oudolf will collaborate with Peter Zumthor on the 2011 Serpentine Pavilion (Courtesy Serpentine Gallery).

Today the Serpentine Gallery released the first renderings of Swiss architect Peter Zumthor‘s plans for its annual 2011 pavilion. Zumthor has recruited Piet Oudolf, the Dutch landscape designer who helped transform the High Line in New York, to work with him on the concept of a “hortus conclusus” (in case you skipped Latin class, that’s a secret garden within a garden).

Continue reading after the jump.

Developer vs. Architect/Developer

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
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Tim McDonald of Onionflats showed neighborhood designs based on Philly's classic trinity row home.

The night was called “Different by Design,” though it could have been subtitled “Designing Differences.” Developer Abby Hamlin moderated an amusing exchange between developers and architect/developers at Columbia University’s GSAPP Real Estate Development program on Tuesday. The original intent was to present the merits of good design to real estate development and architecture students, but a developer vs. architect rivalry emerged pretty early on. New York developer Jane Gladstein joined the Chicago based developers Karen and Robert Ranquist, while New York-based Jared Della Valle, San Diego-based Jonathan Segal, and Tim McDonald of Philadelphia represented the contingent of architects who act as their own developers.

Read more after the jump.

Eduardo Souto de Moura Wins 2011 Pritzker Prize (Updated)

Apartment Building in Maia, Portugal (Courtesy El Croquis)

Apartment Building in Maia, Portugal (Courtesy El Croquis)

Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura has won the 2011 Pritzker Prize, according to several reports. The Porto-based architect worked for the country’s other Pritzker winner, Alvaro Siza, but has had a prolific career on his own since opening his office in 1980. Not widely known outside Portugal, Souto de Moura designed the new stadium in Braga in 2004, which, like much of his work, has strong, highly legible forms. There he blasted granite from the site that was later crushed to make concrete for the building.

Check out some of De Moura’s work after the jump.

Visionary Update in Inglewood

Newsletter, West
Friday, March 25, 2011
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Last fall we reported on (fer) Studio’s proposed designs for Inglewood’s once-bustling but now down-on-its-luck Market Street; a strategy to anchor the street, enliven its storefronts, and integrate it with the coming Expo Light Rail line. Those preliminary designs have come a long way. Their latest iteration again focuses on Market Street’s re-zoning, but fleshes out a wider system of  urban agriculture; wind, photovoltaic, bio fuel, and geothermal energy; a green belt, and a self-contained water reservoir. Not to mention some gigantic planted towers, canopies, and  walls—”vertical public spaces giving Inglewood an identity,” says (fer)’s Chris Mercier, over transit and mixed-use. Despite losing their staunchest ally, Mayor Daniel Tabor (who recently resigned) they’ve submitted the plans to Cascadia’s Living City Competition, and are still trying to push them to what is a fairly conservative city council.  To get a closer look at these and other visionary plans from (fer), join our friends at deLAB as they visit their studios in Inglewood tomorrow. More pix of (fer)’s schemes below. Read More

Hudson Yards Update

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
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Hudson Yards retail hub by German engineer Werner Sobek (Courtesy Related)

Related and its confrere Oxford Properties today launched a new website for Hudson Yards, with some surprises. Followers of the down & dirty rail yard turned 12 million square foot urban Elysium may be forgiven if they have forgotten some of the details of the winning scheme—we sure did. And besides that was yesterday and a master plan. Still, of all the names dropped and found, bandied about and sprinkled on for good measure, we sure do not remember Werner Sobek as a major player.

Read more after the jump.

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