BIG’s First Step into the Final Frontier

International, Newsletter
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
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Courtesy BIG

A reflective sphere floats above a highway outside Stockholm in BIG's winning "Energy Valley" master plan (Courtesy BIG).

BIG won’t let its ambitions be impeded by the laws of physics–namely, gravity. For a competition to plan and design the area around the Hjulsta Intersection, a massive highway infrastructure project just north of Stockholm, BIG teamed up with firms Grontji and Spacescape to create “Energy Valley,” and their winning master plan addresses not only the area around the highway interchange but also above it. The plan’s surreal defining feature is “a reflective, self‐sustaining hovering sphere mirroring Stockholm as it is, new and old, creating a 180 degree view of the area for the drivers on their way in or out of the city.”

Covered with photovoltaic film and tethered to the ground, this mysterious giant orb would supposedly generate enough solar and wind power to keep itself aloft while also providing power for over 200 surrounding houses. Read More

Columbia Boathouse Marsh Hullabaloo

East, Newsletter
Monday, March 21, 2011
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New renderings shown at the community meeting include a few details that won't make it into the final picture. Instead of galvanized steel and cables the rails will be executed in bent wood.

Columbia University looks as though it’s in the final stretch of the public review process for the proposed Boathouse Marsh designed by James Corner Field Operations and the Steven Holl-designed Campbell Sports Center. On Friday night and Sunday afternoon, Columbia University Executive VP Joseph Ienuso made presentations to neighborhood residents. A few media outlets dubbed the gatherings “dueling meetings,” due to some political infighting between council members Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez, which erupted during a subcommittee meeting before the city council last week. The background political drama only heightened already-tense negotiations between the neighbors and the university.

Continue reading after the jump.

AN Mixed Media> The Furniture Debates

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
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Michael Graves discusses furniture design (BK / The Architect's Newspaper)

Michael Graves discusses furniture design (BK / The Architect's Newspaper)

“Drafted: the evolving role of architects in furniture design.” It was a MAD idea: To talk about why American manufacturers don’t do the job they once did in supporting American architects and designers at making furniture. Held March 10 at the Museum of Arts & Design’s own restored and midcentury soigné auditorium, the assembled panel really knew what they were talking about:

Michael Graves recalled his early days working for George Nelson in riveting detail and why Target has dropped independent designers; Jeffrey Bernett, one of the few American designers routinely designing for B&B, summed up Italy versus Herman Miller; Gisue Hariri of Hariri & Hariri eloquently addressed why architects feel compelled to make furniture, and what happened when her architecture firm tried to go there on a larger scale; and Granger Moorhead of Moorhead & Moorhead gave great reason for everyone to hope there is another golden age, especially for New York furniture designers, just ahead.

Watch the highlight reel after the jump.

Video> Subterranean City of Ants Unearthed

International, Newsletter
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
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Unearthing a giant ant colony (Still from video)

Unearthing a giant ant colony (Still from video)

Architecture built by other species can be just as fascinating as our own. Take this excavation of a giant ant colony covering 50 square meters and descending 8 meters into the ground. Researchers filled the (hopefully abandoned) insect city with ten tons of cement and proceeded to excavate the surrounding dirt, revealing hidden tunnels and fungi farms. According to the film, the ant colony was also designed with good ventilation in mind. In all, it’s estimated that the ants moved some 40 tons of earth to create their metropolis. (Via Swiss Miss.)

Watch the video after the jump.

Filed Under: ,

Green in Queens: Private Solar Array Goes Live

East, Newsletter
Friday, March 11, 2011
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Panels were installed by National Grid Energy Management working with Solar Energy Systems. (Courtesy Davis & Warshow)

One of the city’s largest private solar power installations promises to produce 270,000 kWh of clean energy annually, eliminating about 235,000 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution each year. The new solar array is part of an initiative by employee-owned kitchen and bath distributor Davis & Warshow to green its Queens headquarters. The installation includes 1,038 panels affixed to the rooftops of three buildings in the company’s 250,000-square-foot complex on Maspeth Creek. Read More

Facebook Charrette Offers Big Ideas for Menlo Park

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
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Residential towers with green roofs overlook a nature trail and bicycle path along wetlands. (Courtesy Paul Jamtgaard of Group 4 Architecture.)

Last Saturday, architecture took a cue from Project Runway. The assignment: In one fast-paced day, redesign a less-than-inspiring edge of a California town as a glamorous new transit-oriented development—starting with site analysis and ending in a formal presentation of conceptual designs. Among the days visions to sashay onto the stage were mixed-use high-rises, a light-rail station, green roofs and solar collectors, and an alluring gateway arch.

Read more after the jump.

Gimme Shelter: Bike Stations for Fresh Kills

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
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The new bike maintenance shelters make room for pedestrians. The roof holds the solar panels. Courtesy NYC Parks and Recreation/James Corner Field Operations

Despite all the controversy surrounding bike lanes and cyclists elsewhere in the city, Fresh Kills South has adopted a rather pro bike stance (though who’d expect there to be much disagreement when the only other traffic to contend with is that of joggers, pedestrians, and bird watchers). New bike maintenance stations designed by James Corner Field Operations will eventually dot the landscape of the of the entire park, and their design nods equally to both the biker and the walker.

Read more after the jump.

Swooping Bridges of Google Earth

Millau Bridge (Google Earth via Clement Valla)

Millau Bridge (Google Earth via Clement Valla)

Brooklyn-based architect and designer Clement Villa has collected a series of Google Earth views of bridges that appear to have melted, succumbing to gravity, and hanging languidly across their respective terrains, offering a surreal nod to Dali’s Persistence of Memory. (Via Notcot.)

Check out a few more examples after the jump.

Filed Under: ,

Neon Baby!

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
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A sign from the Golden Nugget, which was taken down when Steve Wynne renovated the casino.

We’ve recently returned from Las Vegas, where we visited one of the coolest institutions in the world: The Neon Museum, located on the far northern end of The Strip. The museum, about to celebrate its 15th anniversary, and ready to open its new visitors center next year (a rehab of the swooping, Paul Williams-designed La Concha Hotel), features a beautiful jumble of over 150 old signs that tell the story of Vegas, from mobster Bugsy Siegal’s El Cortes Hotel and Casino to the Moulin Rouge, Vegas’ first integrated casino, to the Atomic Age Stardust.

 

 

Read more after the jump.

Biennale for the People: Landscape Urbanism in Israel

International, Newsletter
Thursday, February 24, 2011
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“On the way to the sea” 121 Ben Gurion Rd., Bat Yam.

“On the way to the sea” 121 Ben Gurion Rd., Bat Yam. Project by Derman Verbakel Architecture.

Biennales have proliferated in recent years marking the redistribution of culture and also its global consumption. Once wed to the rarefied setting of Venice, they can now be found in Barcelona, Rio, Lisboa and… Bat Yam.

“Bat Yam?” you ask. In this unknown and unlikely Israeli town, the curators of the Bat-Yam Biennale of Landscape Urbanism have fashioned a wonderful new genre of biennale that is more “urban action” than exhibition. A rather poor, largely Russian immigrant “outer borough” of the elegant white city of Tel Aviv, Bat Yam calls to mind Brighton Beach with palm trees. The city constitutes a frayed but dignified modernist fabric built from an amazing array of gemütlich variations on the Maison Citrohan with a sensitive implementation of the tenets of open space, light, air, and the hierarchy of ways.

Read More

Mr. Peanut, Bring on the Nut Mobile

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
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We love food trucks. But none of them have really pushed the design envelope as far as the classics like the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. In that spirit we welcome the re-fashioned Nut Mobile, from Planters Peanuts. The truck—an Isuzu with a peanut-shaped fiberglass exterior—features a slew of green features: it runs partially on biodiesel fuel, it has a wind turbine, solar panels, LED lighting, and recycled parts.  The truck, which replaces the company’s yellow hot-rodded Nut Mobile, will be on tour throughout the country in the coming months, including an appearance at the Global Green Oscar pre-party tonight. And just for good measure, below are a few of our other favorite food-shaped trucks. Are you watching, food truck designers? Read More

Pittsburgh Riverfront Revival

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
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Corridors that once separated industry from neighborhoods could become the commercial corridor.

Last week, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl unveiled a plan to resuscitate 2,000 acres of brownfield property alongside the Allegheny River. The report, the Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan, follows a two-year study headed up by Perkins Eastman. Much of the planning sprung from meetings with the resident and business communities, and aims to connect neighborhoods to the river for the first time. Cities throughout the country continue to reclaim their rivers, but Pittsburgh’s situation is unique.

Read more after the jump.

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