Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail Taking Shape

Midwest, Newsletter
Thursday, March 1, 2012
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(images: CDOT)

Next week a framework plan for the abandoned elevated rail embankment known as the Bloomingdale Trail will be released. Curbed Chicago has posted some preliminary images from the Chicago Department of Transportation that were shown in public meetings last fall. While advocates have stressed that the project is not a copy of New York’s High Line, these very preliminary study images look a lot like the High Line, minus the bells and whistles like the bleachers for traffic viewing. Read More

Calatrava’s First U.S. Vehicular Bridge To Open

National, Newsletter
Thursday, March 1, 2012
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Dallas' Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. (Marco Becerra)

Dallas' Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. (Marco Becerra)

The latest bridge from Spanish tension-element guru Santiago Calatrava, renowned architect behind the Milwaukee Art Museum, Puente del Alamillo, and the upcoming World Trade Center Transportation Hub, will be his first vehicular bridge in the United States. Construction has been completed on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the first in a series of Calatrava-designed crossings over Dallas’ Trinity River. It will act as a literal and metaphorical gateway to the city.

Read More

Michael Graves Designs Dignity for Wounded Veterans

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
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Front facade of the Patriot Home in Fort Belvoir. (Courtesy Michael Graves & Associates)

Front facade of the Patriot Home in Fort Belvoir. (Courtesy Michael Graves & Associates)

In speaking to wounded veterans and their families, the Wounded Warrior Home Project found that soldiers returning home face a cumbersome and costly adaptation to their environment. A private-public partnership, including Michael Graves and Associates, global design firm IDEO, and Clark Realty Capital, has unveiled two universally-accessible prototype houses at Fort Belvoir in Virginia where every element is designed for ease of use. Sinks and stovetops are on motorized lifts, halls and doorways accommodate a wide turning radius for navigating wheelchairs, sliding doors open with a light touch.

Continue reading after the jump.

Rice + Lipka and Field Operations to Remake MOCA Detroit

Midwest, Newsletter
Thursday, February 23, 2012
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(courtesy Zago Architecture)

When it opened in 2006, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit became known as a cutting edge venue for showing contemporary art. Designed by Zago Architecture, the museum’s raw interior and graffitied exterior seemed to fit its mission and speak to the Motor City’s gritty present. How quickly museums grow up! Today, the museum announced it had selected Rice + Lipka Architects and James Corner Field Operations to renovate the building and redesign its adjacent public space.  Read More

Foreclosed Forum: Suburbs, Cities, and Crisis

East, Newsletter
Thursday, February 23, 2012
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The What is Forclosed Forum was held last Saturday at Columbia's Low Library.

The "What is Foreclosed?" Forum was held last Saturday at Columbia's Low Library.

It might have been the first time that the works of Jay-Z, Malice, and Nas were evoked under the great dome of Columbia’s Low Library, but given the trend among young academics to cite rap alongside Socrates, it’s probably won’t be the last. That the quotes were used in the panel discussion called “Suburbs, Cities and Crisis,” spoke to a slightly skewed perspective of discussing the suburbs within the confines of Manhattan.

Read More

Designer Charged After LA House Fire

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
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The Hollywood Hills home has been repaired following the 2011 fire. (Courtesy MLS)

Designer Gerhard Becker was charged with involuntary manslaughter last week after the Hollywood Hills mansion that he designed  burned down.  According to the LA Times prosecutors claim that Becker installed outdoor fireplaces inside the $11 million, 13,500 square foot home at 154 Viewsite Terrace after inspections were completed. The home was set to host Germany’s “Next Top Model” TV series (we’re not making this up). The fire, which occurred in February 2011, killed veteran fireman Glenn Allen. According to the Times, Becker told investigators last year that “he did not consider them to be fireplaces but rather architectural features or decorations.” But LA assistant District Attorney disagrees: “This man built an 18-foot fire trough designed for outdoors inside the home. It was a recipe for disaster. He essentially put this fireplace on 2-by-4s.”

Bogey at Pebble Beach: Another Neutra House in the Rough

Newsletter, West
Thursday, February 16, 2012
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Neutra's Connell House, Pebble Beach (Anthony Kirk)

While Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were busy fighting for supremacy at Pebble Beach last weekend, another important battle was taking place just down the street (unbeknownst to almost everyone). Richard Neutra’s 4,124 square foot Connell House (1958) in Pebble Beach is being slated for demolition in favor of a 12,000 square foot behemoth mega-mansion. The new home was proposed in December, and still needs several permissions for approval.

Author Barbara Lamprecht, author of Richard Neutra: Complete Works (Taschen), has written a letter to the Monterey County Planning Department urging it to save the “aesthetically compelling, spatially complex house,” with its “careful asymmetric composition of volumes and opposing opaque (stucco) and transparent (glass) planes.” She encourages others to contact the department as well. Think of it as a pro/am for architecture buffs.

Rescuing Johansen’s Mummers Theater

Newsletter, Southwest
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
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The Stage Center, formerly the Mummer Theater, in Oklahoma City (Courtesy smallarchitects.com)

The Stage Center, formerly the Mummer Theater, in Oklahoma City (Courtesy smallarchitects.com)

Amidst office towers in the heart of Oklahoma City sits an incongruous ensemble of multicolored boxes, tubes, concrete skywalks, and corrugated metal painted in shades of red, blue, orange, and chartreuse green. One cantilevered rectangle precariously perches at the edge of a swooping concrete form whose interior holds a theater in the round, once home to the Mummers Theater troupe. Architect John M. Johansen, of the so-called “Harvard Five,” completed the project for the Mummers in 1970, but the troupe folded just one year later. The building would go through several incarnations as a theater/arts center called Stage Center until a 2010 flood put it out of commission. Vandalism and decay ensued, and now the AIA Central Oklahoma chapter has put out an RFP for the renovation, hoping to spur design-world interest in their Save Stage Center Campaign.

Read More

LA Parking Lot becomes Urban Oasis

Newsletter, West
Monday, February 13, 2012
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PDR rendering of the South Los Angeles Wetland Park (courtesy of LADPW)

PDR rendering of the South Los Angeles Wetland Park. (Courtesy LADPW)

What’s the best place to build a wetland? How about at the site of an old MTA bus lot in South Los Angeles? It took more than $26 million and nearly three years to complete the transformation from parking lot to urban wetland. Open to the public as of February 9, the new South Los Angeles Wetland Park that doesn’t only efficiently process storm water runoff–it also provides crucial community green space. Read More

Video> Koyaanisqatsi Sped Up 1552 Percent

International, Newsletter
Thursday, February 9, 2012
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Viewing Godfrey Reggio’s film Koyaanisqatsi, the first in a trilogy, is a right of passage, especially for architects who hold a profound interest in the relationship between the natural and built world. (If you haven’t seen it yet, stop right here and go see the original first.) Koyaanisqatsi is taken from the Hopi language and, from the film, translates to “the crazy life, life in turmoil, life out of balance, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living.” Here, the film has been sped up 1552% by Wyatt Hodgson in honor of the publication of A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indes in 1552. The unforgettable scenes of the beauty and variety of the natural world, destruction of the inner city, the machine-like quality of traffic on Fifth Avenue, the fall of Pruitt-Igoe, and the often-brutal realities of the modern world have been sped up to clock in at around four and a half minutes. Take a look above. [Via Lost at E Minor.]

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BREAKING: HWKN Wins 2012 PS 1 Young Architects Program

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
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All images courtesy HWKN

New York-based HWKN has been selected for this year’s MoMA/PS 1 Young Architects Program. Their proposal, called “Wendy,” uses standard scaffolding to create a visually arresting object that straddles the three outdoor rooms of the PS 1 courtyard. Tensioned fabric coated in smog-eating paint provides shelter and programming areas including a stage, shower, and misters. “Their proposal is quite attractive in a number of ways. It’s very economical in terms of design,” said Pedro Gadanho, the curator of contemporary architecture at MoMA. “One object creates a variety of programmatic and ecological conditions and its scale rivals the height of the PS 1 building.” Read More

Five Approaches to Reviving Chicago’s Navy Pier

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
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AECOM/BIG (all images courtesy respective firms)

Five proposals to rethink the public spaces at Navy Pier have gone on view at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The finalist teams–AECOM/BIG, Aedas/Davis Brody Bond/Martha Schwartz Partners, James Corner Field Operations, !melk/HOK/UrbanLab, and Xavier Vendrell Studio/Grimshaw Architects–use variety of approaches to revitalize the historic pier, which has long been a favored destination for tourists. Organizers hope revitalizing the pier’s public spaces will make it a world-class destination for residents as well as visitors, much like Millennium Park and the rest of the lakefront. AECOM/BIG’s proposal calls for a series of undulating ramp/bleachers that form a new landscape over much of the pier’s midsection, culminating in a new park at the tip.

View all the proposals after the jump.

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