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Rendering of Gensler's new HQ inside the Downtown LA "Jewel Box".
We heard back in April that architecture giant Gensler’s move to Downtown LA was spurred largely by a million dollar enticement arranged with the city. But it’s only now that we get to see the details behind the move. The LA Times‘ Steve Lopez was able to dig up the emails that set the process in motion, and they include corporate requests to pave the way for federal community development block grants (usually reserved for low income communities) to go to Gensler. The emails were sent from big-time developer Thomas Property Group to an aide in councilperson Jan Perry’s office. This seamless connection between business and government, we all know, is how things work in LA. But it’s rare to “look inside the sausage factory,” as Lopez puts it.
Emanuel at a CTA station (Courtesy National Journal)
Mayor Emanuel has made transit, biking, and sustainability some of the top priorities of his young administration. The same goes for fiscal restraint and transparency (something notably lacking in the administration of his predecessor). Drawing on his experience as White House Chief of Staff, his most recent edict combines these two sets of goals. Emanuel is mandating that city employees use public transit when on the job. Read More
The world learned last night of the untimely death of Apple mastermind Steve Jobs, who succumbed to a rare cancer he had been fighting for some time. Jobs’ architect, Norman Foster, was slow to acknowledge the commission of Apple’s new Cupertino, CA headquarters, but he was appropriately quick to offer his condolences. Below, read Foster’s tribute to the innovator who helped push the boundaries of both technology and industrial design.
Herzog & de Meuron's rendering of the slightly altered, vastly improved Drill Hall. (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron).
At first, the choice of avant-garde architects Herzog & de Meuron to renovate and restore the fabled Park Avenue Armory seems far-fetched. Even at second glance: “I hate preservation,” said Jacques Herzog at a press event to unveil what the firm is doing at the 1880s fortress and popular event space that contains unparalleled gems from the history of American decorative arts, including rooms and furnishings by Stanford White, Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Herter Brothers and others.
The designers behind the Lakeview Area Masterplan, Moss Design, are pushing ahead with a plan for a new park on a vacant lot on North Paulina Street adjacent to the Brown Line tracks. According to their research there are five vacant lots within a one block area, so there is ample land available for development. This argument has yet to sway Alderman Scott Waguespack, who has opposed a plan for the Special Services Area to acquire the land with the help of the non-profit Openlands. Read More
Architecture studio at Harvard University GSD. (Cesar Harada / Flickr)
After years of grueling through studios, crits, and all-nighters, there comes a time soon after entering the real world where it hits you: You’re lost. You didn’t learn any of this architect-business in school!
While we can’t help with the shock of the realization, we did stumble across a new humorous book by SCI-Arc-trained architecture writers Guy Horton (an AN contributor) and Sherin Wing called The Real Architect’s Handbook: Things I Didn’t Learn in Architecture School. The project is a hilarious and often sobering look at the realities of the architecture profession, including its low pay, inflated egos, and many misperceptions. “Most of the books we were seeing skewed toward an idealized vision of the architect. There was a definite disconnect between this romanticized Architecture and what we were seeing and hearing,” explained Horton, who added, “We annoyed a few people, but that tells us we were hitting the right chords.”
Here are some of our favorite words of wisdom:
#1 It’s architecture, not medicine. You can take a break and no one will die.
#10 Once you leave architecture school not everybody cares about architecture or wants to talk about it.
#35 The “privilege” of working for a firm is not compensation in itself. You cannot live on, buy food with, or pay the rent with, a firm’s “reputation.”
Gisela Insuaste's collaboration with Breuer. (Courtesy Lehman College Art Gallery)
When one thinks of Marcel Breuer’s work in New York, the Whitney immediately comes to mind. But there’s a substantial collection of Breuer buildings in the Bronx, including the Lehman College Art Gallery, where Breuer morphed from Bauhaus to Brutailism in one structure. On Monday night, two separate group shows opened at the gallery, one curated by gallery director Susan Hoetzel, the other was part of El Museo del Barrio’s biennial, “The (S) Files.” From an architectural standpoint, one artist from each show stood out because of their direct response to Breuer’s hyperbolic paraboloid columns which punctuate the space.
An outline of Urban Tactics from the City Sessions debate. (Molly Heintz)
Following Thursday evening’s Urban Design Week (UDW) launch party hosted by the Institute for Urban Design (IfUD) at the breezy BMW Guggenheim Lab, the AN team dispersed to check out various events on the jam-packed UDW roster. We compiled our notes, and here’s a quick sampling of what we saw and heard:
Saturday, September 17: A small contingent of planners, landscape architects, and artists met up at Montefiore Park, a tiny triangle of a plaza at 137th Street where Broadway slices through Manhattan’s orderly grid. The group was invited to offer feedback on an installation at the site entitled Broadway: 1000 Steps. The interactive piece by Mary Miss (and CaLL) is an experiment in educating the public on environmental issues through artwork. A collection of periscope-like tubes and mirrors confront passersby with stats on sustainability initiatives in the city. Keep your eyes peeled—the piece will work its way down Broadway over the course of the next few months.
Unhelmed for five months, the sixteen-year-old Design Trust for Public Space tomorrow will announce the appointment of Bloomberg administration’s Susan Chin as the new executive director, effective October.
Chin is a public servant through and through, having served as Assistant Commissioner for Capital Projects for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs for over twenty years. Some of the projects that she has helped shepherd into existence with city funding include Leeser Architecture’s Museum of the Moving Image (2011), Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Alice Tully Hall (2009), SANAA’s New Museum (2008), and Curtis + Ginsberg’s Staten Island Zoo Reptile Wing renovation (2006). She also oversaw the Percent for Art program and the Community Arts Development Program.
Standard's park on Sunset Blvd in LA's Silver Lake neighborhood. (Carren Jao)
What if we could transform part of the massive space we dedicate to urban parking into public parks, and what would it look like? On Friday, over 100 cities worldwide participated in the sixth annual PARK(ing) Day, where citizens and designers temporarily converted metered parking spots into open public space. While we couldn’t jet set around the world, a couple of our reporters checked out the happenings in California, where the concept was born.
Before you check out the parks, we should mention that these grassroots efforts are slowly influencing permanent change. In San Francisco, a City Planning Department collaboration with design firm Rebar, which helped begin PARK(ing) Day, has led to the creation of the “Parklets” program, where parking spots around the city are being converted into permanent plazas and outdoor seating. And on Friday, LA City Council members Jan Perry and Jose Huizar announced a partnership with local neighborhood groups in downtown LA and Eagle Rock to begin a Parklets pilot program in Los Angeles. Read More
Time to hit refresh on another Gehry project that is opening within these city walls. There was a time when Gehry couldn’t get a Big Apple commission off the ground: no mega-Gugg on the Eastside, no New York Times across from the Port Authority. Now they are popping up all over, with IAC a Chelsea fixture, the public school at New York by Gehry on Spruce Street pumping out sassy little brats from day one. Today, we are reminded that the Signature—once part of the performing arts package at ground zero—is opening in February in Times Square. And it’s only spent $6 million over the original $60 mill cost (with $25 from the city). Read More