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Somewhere in the world right now, drivers and passengers are cursing their city’s traffic. The automotive snarls common in today’s metropolis are accepted as a symptom of modernity, but the traffic jam—as well as the battle between wheeled and foot traffic on city streets—is probably as old as the city itself. In fact, our forbearers dealt with it in many of the same ways that we’re attempting to now. To alleviate congestion in Rome, Julius Caesar implemented a version of road space rationing, forbidding carts and chariots to enter the city center before late afternoon. For bustling 15th century Milan, Leonardo da Vinci sketched an idea for road sharing system that separated pedestrian from wheeled traffic.
But the stakes of moving through the city were dramatically changed in the early 20th century with the debut of the car, a shift that provoked well-founded anxiety. “With all their speed forward, they may be a step backward in civilization,” Booth Tarkington wrote of automobiles in The Magnificent Ambersons, his 1918 novel that follows the beginnings of car culture. The multi-layered cost of cars and the infrastructure they require have come under intense scrutiny almost 100 years later, but one automotive company is hoping to be a leader in the conversation about what’s next. 2012 marks the second cycle in Audi’s Urban Future Award, a biannual competition that invites young architecture firms to contemplate what “mobility” could mean for cities in the year 2030.
In honor of the Day of the Dead (and to raise some money), LA’s MAK Center is hosting an auction of some amazing lamps this Friday from 7 to 10pm at its Fitzpatrick-Leland House. Those designing pieces for Light My Way, Stranger include Ball-Nogues, Hitoshi Abe, Coop Himmel(l)au, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, Hodgetts + Fung, Ehrlich Architects, B+U and many more. We can’t do these objects justice with words, so check out the slideshow. Enjoy!
A new sports stadium designed by Lebanon’s MZ Architects, though experimental, differs from the glitz and glam we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Instead of showing off with dramatic curves and shiny glass, the proposed “Rock Stadium” would be buried in the Al Ain desert and will work with the natural elements, being concealed by the its rocky landscape.
The famous clipper ship Cutty Sark was recently rehabilitated by Grimshaw Architects, who also built an exhibition hall around the vessel. The project, which opened in April, has just received the dubious distinction of winning Building Design’s 2012 Carbuncle (a.k.a. “ugliest building”) Cup award. Parked in Greenwich, England and categorized as a World Heritage site, the ship now floats on a blue glass base intended to suggest water. But the resulting effect is more bateau-en-gelée, prompting BD executive editor Ellis Woodman to write that the project had “the best of intentions and yet has tragically succeeded in defiling the very thing it set out to save.”
But in anticipation of Warren and Wetmore‘s Grand Central celebrating its centennial next year, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) asked three firms—SOM, WXY, and Foster+Partners—to re-envision the Beaux-Arts masterpiece and its surrounding midtown neighborhood with an eye toward the train station’s next 100 years. The results of the Grand Central…The Next 100 project were unveiled at this year’s MAS Summit for New York City, which wrapped up on Friday and included both down-to-earth and fanciful visions for the future of Manhattan.
Dubai’s Meydan Bridge, left, and LA’s Sixth Street Viaduct, right. (Elia Locardi and HNTB)
We could’t help noticing that LA’s new Sixth Street Viaduct, which is being designed by a team led by HNTB, bears a striking resemblance to Dubai’s Meydan Bridge, the royal VIP entrance to the Meydan racetrack where the prestigious Dubai World Cup is held annually. The bridge was featured in the recent film, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, but sits empty for most of the year. Of course there are differences between the two: Meydan’s arches are made of steel, not concrete, it’s not cable-stayed, and its upper arches don’t touch the ground, but they’re still very close in all their wavy glory.
Foster’s final winning design will be presented at the Municipal Arts Society’s Summit for New York City, which begins on Thursday, October 18 (Foster will present on Friday at 9 a.m.). Also during the two day summit, an exhibition displaying the work of all four finalists’ designs will be on view.
Parsons The New School of Design has recently completed a new pool pavilion called Splash House for Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center. Led by students in the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons, Splash House was designed and developed pro bono by students in partnership with NYC Parks & Recreation as an addition to the WPA-era Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center.
Fernando Romero, founder of architecture firm FREE, kicked off the morning with a tour of his facade work, from the hexagonal network of mirrored steel tiles enclosing the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, to IIT’s McCormick Tribune Campus Center just two blocks from the conference hall. Romero worked on the McCormick Center while at OMA, but had never before visited the completed structure. Walking through the building after his talk, delivered on his 41st birthday, the architect said it was a gift to finally visit.
ENfold Pavilion, a new temporary landscape installation designed by Perkins + Will in Boston’s Evans Way Park, utilizes natural reusable materials as its base and steers clear of harmful environmental impacts in both its construction and placement. The installation, which was chosen for Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Design Award prior to being realized, celebrates the recent designation of Boston’s Fenway as Boston’s first state-wide cultural district
The permeable light catching ribbon is made of garden bed-liner fabric and is held in place by an invisible network of stainless steel cables. Its organic free-flowing form mimes the grace and movement of the expanse of tree branches above and is loosely woven between their trunks. ENfold’s spatial layout delineates a natural framework for park-goers and creates a natural “stage” for musical performances and other art happenings. The 500 foot long semi-translucent fabric loops its way throughout the entire park echoing wind and light along its way. The fabric will be recycled and used for the Boston Parks Department’s 2013 growing season.
Seattle Design Festival block; looking east. (Ariel Rosenstock)
Sure this month is Archtober in New York. But last month non-profit group Design in Public got things rolling when it hosted the second annual Seattle Design Festival. The weekend-long event showcased projects, promoted design, and featured discussions and panels. One notable highlight: a block in the South Lake Union neighborhood was taken over by transformed shipping containers housing various interior designs, a feedback space for comments on an upcoming design plan for Seattle, and a design product pop-up shop.
While the idea of living in a house made of mushrooms might conjure up visions from the Smurfs or one of a handful of whimsical houses across the country, artist/inventor turned mycologistPhil Ross is using mushrooms as the buildings blocks for a new construction material with some distinct advantages.
Ross has dedicated his career to the organism, recently discovering that its root-like network lying just underground is quite similar to concrete when dried, but actually stronger. The dried mycelium can be shaped into a brick, or almost any other form, and is fire, water and even mold resistant.