Eureka! California Redevelopment Agencies Sue To Save Selves

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
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Eureka is right!

As we recently predicted, the California Redevelopment Association and the League of California Cities yesterday filed a lawsuit in the California Supreme Court over the recent passage of bills to eliminate, or at least “ransom” its more than 400 redevelopment agencies. AB 1X 26 eliminates redevelopment agencies while AB 1X 27 allows agencies to exist if they agree to pay their share of $1.7 billion this year and $400 million annually.  Read More

Video> Bright Lights, Big Bus Terminal…Unveiled!

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
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The Port Authority's MediaMesh billboard is up and running. (Courtesy GKD-USA)

As AN reported back in early May, the Port Authority Bus Terminal was set to get a Bright Light makeover. Well, the Authority flicked on the switch of its GKD MediaMesh display this month, and as an enticement to advertisers A2a MEDIA, an advertising agency specializing in digital displays, created a promotional video using some of their established clients’ advertising.  It’s a snazzy little number that doesn’t necessarily interest us for its ad content, but rather for the intriguing alternating opacity and transparency of the screen. (There are some pretty cool moments in the video below where the giant Xs of the Port Authority facade shows through the lights.) While the advertising applications are obvious, there’s definitely some untapped potential for public art/architecture, as we saw at play in California State University’s Madden Library.

Video after the jump.

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Stop, Collaborate & Lexington: Studio Gang Reveals New Plans for Stalled Kentucky Site

Midwest, Newsletter
Thursday, July 14, 2011
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Studio Gang's design for a 30-story tower in Lexington, Kentucky (Courtesy Studio Gang)

Studio Gang's design for a 30-story tower in Lexington, Kentucky (Courtesy Studio Gang)

Developer Dudley Webb of the Webb Companies didn’t make any friends when his company razed an entire block of Downtown Lexington, Kentucky for a massive mixed-use tower that ended up stalling in the recession. Now, though, after bringing on Chicago-based Studio Gang to help reimagine the project at the behest of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and dean of the University of Kentucky College of Design Michael Speaks, the community is regaining excitement over new plans to revamp the CentrePointe site.

Continue reading after the jump.

NEA Our Town Grants Could Spur a New Economy

National, Newsletter
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
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MOS Architects-designed arts Drive-In in Marfa, Texas. (Courtesy NEA)

MOS Architects-designed arts Drive-In in Marfa, Texas. (Courtesy NEA)

Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), believes that art can play a major role in improving the economy and our quality of life. A new program of grants called Our Town seeks to spur such economic and civic development by investing more than $6.5 million in 51 projects covering 34 states.

Landesman said the goal is to foster creative placemaking through public space design, cultural planning, festivals, public art, and more. “Creative placemaking is a strategy for making places vibrant,” said Jason Schupbach, the NEA’s Director of Design. “Arts and design are essential parts of the complex work of building a livable, sustainable community.”

Check out the winners after the jump.

Dude! Behold The Skate House

International, Newsletter, West
Monday, July 11, 2011
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Skateboarders, commence drooling. Behold this prototype for the PAS House, a Malibu home in which every surface will be skate-able. The secret? There will be no corners. From the living room to the kitchen to the bedroom the ground becomes the wall and then the ceiling in a continuous surface forming a tube with a 10 foot radius. The furniture is also curved for skating, including some groovy looking tables and beds.

The project, located at the top of Las Flores Canyon in Malibu, will by sometime next year be the home of skateboarder Pierre Andre Senizergues (hence the name PAS), a former world champion skater, and owner of skateboard company Sole Technology. It’s being created by designer Gil Lebon Delapointe and LA architect Francois Perrin, who for the prototype of the living area bent plywood, previously soaked in water, using a traditional skateboard ramp fabrication technique.

Skate on after the ollie…

Yummy! AIA-Los Angeles Serves Up Restaurant Awards

Newsletter, West
Thursday, July 7, 2011
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Grace Restaurant in Portland, ME, designed by R. Dean Bingham and Tivi Design

Last week the AIA/LA announced its choices for this year’s most notable food-friendly architecture mavericks with its annual Restaurant Design Awards. Designs ranged from an up-cycled (in this case, stripped down and revamped Lina Bo Bardi style) pizza parlor in Culver City to a Guggenheim Museum centerpiece to a repurposed church in Maine.

Check out the winners after the jump.

Letter from Rome: YAP Opening Night at the MAXXI

International, Newsletter
Thursday, July 7, 2011
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stARTT's illuminated fiberglass flowers (Courtesy James Stevens)

stARTT's illuminated fiberglass flowers (Courtesy James Stevens)

Imagine a warm summer evening in Rome. Then imagine stretching out on a cool, grass lawn underneath giant Jurassic tulips the size of a cherry tree. Their glow softly illuminates conversations over cocktails. Add a backdrop of the serpentine jewel of Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum, and you have theater.

Rome is all about theater.

Continue reading after the jump.

Rogers Marvel Secures Competition to Revamp White House Lawn Extension

East, Newsletter
Thursday, July 7, 2011
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Proposed changes to President's Park (Courtesy RMA)

Proposed changes to President's Park (Courtesy RMA)

Today, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) announced that Rogers Marvel Architects (RMA) has won a design competition to revamp President’s Park in Washington, DC. The New York-based architects bested a distinguished list of landscape designers, including Hood Design Studio of Oakland California, Michael Van Valkenburgh of Brooklyn, and Reed Hildebrand Associates and SASAKI, both of Watertown, Massachusetts.

After September 11th, 2001, security design in major public spaces took on a new significance, and President’s Park South—a large ellipse forming a public extension of the White House’s front lawn—this meant concrete jersey barriers and fences along E Street. Soon, though, the park could become one of the most pedestrian-friendly—and secure—in the capital, thanks to RMA’s subtle combination of landscape architecture and security design.

Continue reading after the jump.

Sustainability Martyred in Name of Saint Green

International, Newsletter
Thursday, June 30, 2011
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Eco-Pantheon, Rome 126AD (Courtesy Star Strategies+Architecture)

Eco-Pantheon, Rome 126AD (Courtesy Star Strategies+Architecture)

Has the green movement gone too far? STAR Strategies + Architecture examines the prevalence of “green-washing and the abuse of sustainability” in their project O’ Mighty Green, where they posit that the notion of “green” has taken on a life of its own outside of sustainability and has become on many levels a new sort of religion. As the architects said in their introduction:

Sustainability currently shares many qualities with God; supreme concept, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; creator and judge, protector, and (…) saviour of the universe and the humanity. And, like God, it has millions of believers. Since we humans are relatively simpleminded and suspicious and need evidence before belief can become conviction, Green has come to represent sustainability; has become its incarnation in the human world. But sustainability, like God, might not have a form, nor a colour.

To demonstrate this absurdity, STAR has implemented what they call “sustainability as a photoshop filter” and clad a variety of iconic—and notorious—buildings with green walls, even invoking the spirit of St. Green, the patron saint of sustainable architects. The architects have taken a similarly snarky view of contradictions in preservation. (Via Dezeen.)

What are your thoughts? Are architects guilty of praying at the green altar?

Photos after the jump.

Future of Preservation in St. Louis Looks Modern

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL)

Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL)

When St. Louis architects Schwarz and Van Hoefen designed a 120-foot diameter flying saucer in 1967 along the city’s Grand Boulevard, historic preservation was likely the last thing on their minds. Today faced with demolition, the structure’s concrete cantilever has garnered tremendous public outcry and has become a local icon. (It’s facebook page numbers over 11,600 fans, trouncing the 850 fans of Chicago’s threatened Prentice Tower.) It’s hard to imagine a gas station turned drive through restaurant could muster such support with such an anti-urban background, but the Del Taco building isn’t leaving without a fight.

Continue reading after the jump.

Will Kimmelman Replace Ouroussoff at the Times?

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Michael Kimmelman (courtesy Wikipedia)

The Architect’s Newspaper has heard from multiple sources that the New York Times may be close to naming the art critic Michael Kimmelman as the paper’s new architecture critic. Outgoing architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff resurfaced today with another far flung report, a glowing review of Steven Holl’s Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China. Will it be his last? Though Kimmelman is best known as an art critic, he has written on architecture several times in recent years during his posting in Europe, including an excellent piece on David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum in Berlin and a profile of Peter Zumthor for the New York Times Magazine.

Talking Transportation In Los Angeles

Newsletter, West
Thursday, June 23, 2011
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Hollywood and Highland Metro Station

Yes, it’s conference time again in LA. The AIA Los Angeles Design Conference, part of Dwell on Design, kicks-off on Friday with an all day symposium, The Architecture of Transportation, which will discuss ideas to help transform L.A.‘s transportation system into an economically and socially viable network. Participants like policy makers, activists, urban designers and architects, will investigate a wide range of transportation-related ideas, like connecting people to their communities, influencing regional prosperity and helping cities compete globally.

Continue reading after the jump.

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