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Todd Oldham (left) and the “Ladybugs” wallcovering pattern (right). (Courtesy Designtex)
At the NeoCon contract furnishings trade show in June, AN executive editor Alan G. Brake sat down with Todd Oldham to discuss the collection of wall coverings he developed for Designtex adapting the work of Charley Harper. Harper is arguably best known as an illustrator, but Oldham is working with the Charley Harper Studio to broaden Harper’s reputation and create new products using his menagerie of images of flora and fauna. A versatile designer of fashion, home furnishings, books, and objects, Oldham has a special interest in reviving midcentury designers and he previously worked with the Alexander Girard archive.
AN: Tell us about your interest in Charley Harper.
Todd Oldham: I had the great pleasure of knowing Mr. Harper for the last five years of his life. He was an amazing, magical man. I came to know his work when I was a kid. He did the illustrations for a book called the Golden Book of Biology, which was my biology text book in school. I loved it. So many years later I reconnected things and found him and forced my way in—he was very gracious about it
The Torre di Pisa is straightening up its act, according to scientists who monitor the famous tower’s tilt. There’s no need to worry, though, the Tower of Pisa won’t be standing completely vertical any time soon. The Huffington Post reported this week that the tower has shifted about an inch (2.5 cm) back toward being upright since 2001, when the structure was reopened to the public.
This gravity-defying maneuver was brought about by a restoration to the tower’s foundation that began in 1992 when the building’s foundation were secured, moving the entire structure a whopping 15 feet. Structural interventions included temporarily installing steel cables as an emergency measure followed by excavating stones beneath the tower and replacing them with steel and concrete. The overall effect, according to HuffPo, was to sink the tower slightly into the ground and thereby make it more vertical. Scientists said these restorative measures will make the Leaning Tower safe for two- to three-centuries.
Cardboard Cathedral, Exterior (Courtesy Shigeru Ban Architects)
As a result of a devastating earthquake in February 2011, New Zealand’s Christchurch Cathedral was left critically damaged. After an inconclusive debate about whether to completely tear down, restore, or remodel the original Neo-Gothic cathedral, the people of Christchurch were struck with what might be divine inspiration in the form of a temporary home, the world’s only cathedral constructed extensively of cardboard. Tourism New Zealand announced the inauguration of Cardboard Cathedral, a replica of the original church constructed of cardboard tubes, timber joints, steel, and concrete.
Flinders St. Station (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron)
A team led by Herzog & de Meuron has been unanimously selected for the redevelopment of Melbourne’s historic Flinders Street Station after beating out a star-studded shortlist that that included Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw. The team will be awarded a $1 million prize. The winning design aims to transform the iconic 1909 train station into a 21st century civic center and transportation hub, preserving the most beloved features of the landmark building while integrating it into a contemporary urban context. The proposal also incorporates cultural, retail, and civic programs within an adjacent 500,000 square foot site along the Yarra River, including a public art gallery, plaza, amphitheater, marketplace, and permanent space for arts and cultural festivals.
While it’s been well-documented that China has been “borrowing from” U.S. designs for some time, it appears that relationship is starting to go both ways. Downtown Los Angeles is ready to get a new residential project that bears a striking resemblance to Steven Holl’s Linked Hybrid apartment complex in Beijing. Note the porous, gridded facade and the glassy skybridges, to name just a couple of similarities. The mixed-use Medallion 2.0, designed by Kevin Tsai Architecture, would be located off the corner of Third and Main Streets, reported downtown blogger Brigham Yen. It’s scheduled to break ground in 2015 and include 400 rental units, a theater, retail, and over half an acre of green space. We’ll keep you posted on more Asian imports as they no doubt continue to arrive.
The University of Toronto recently revealed ambitious plans for One Spadina Crescent, a historic property with a 19th century Gothic Revival building positioned in the center of a roundabout. By next year, the site will be the University’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. NADAAA, in collaboration with E.R.A. Architects, will restore the historic building and add a new wing with lecture and studio space, a library and a digital fabrication workshop. The project will supply state-of-the-art accommodations for architecture, art, landscape, and urban design students and professors.
First Avenue Development (Courtesy of SHoP Architects)
After a decade-long wait, construction commenced in late July on a pair of conjoined rental towers designed by SHoP Architects on an empty parcel on First Avenue between 35th and 36th Streets. The New York Times reported that the two copper buildings, consisting of 800 units and reaching up to 49 and 40 stories, will be connected by a sky bridge. The luxury development will boast high-end amenities and facilities such as indoor lap pool, rooftop deck with infinity pool, fitness center, squash court, and film screening room.
The Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, known as the FRAC, will open its fourth location at the former Subsistances military site in the Centre Region on September 14th. The Orleans-based center dubbed “The Turbulences” is the brainchild of architecture duo, Jakob + MacFarlane, who have renovated the original U-shaped military base and created a bold prefabricated structure in the middle of the courtyard to house the public reception area, cafeteria, bookshop, and auditorium.
Grimshaw Architects has been selected by the Vehbi Koç Foundation to design Koç Contemporary, a new art museum that supports cultural and social life in Istanbul and greater Turkey. Selected from a list of 20 globally renowned submissions, Grimshaw’s winning design calls for a stone-colored mosaic tile facade, a rooftop terrace offering sweeping views of the city, an education area, and an open layout.