A Terreformed Summer

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
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Terreform1's Papanek award winner "Urbaneering Brooklyn" (Courtesy Terreform1)

Terreform1's Papanek award winner "Urbaneering Brooklyn" (Courtesy Terreform1)

Last week at the Phaidon Bookstore in Soho, White Box held a benefit for their new sustainable art garden by organizing a panel discussion called “Sustainable Work Lab: new projects in art, architecture and urban design.” Ali Hossaini moderated the discussion between landscape designer Frances Levine, architect David Turnbull, and urban designer Maria Aiolova.

Hossaini yielded to Turnbull’s freewheeling conversation about Socratic love, i.e. the coupling of poverty and invention. Inspired by his fresh-off-the-plane-from-Kenya presentation, the crowd indulged in the philosophical debate. Turnbull balked at biennials and instead encouraged artists “to make artifacts that are useful and have that magical quality that keep them from being thrown away.”  “Sustainability should be the bare minimum,” concurred Aiolova. She should know. Her firm, Terreform1, held a sustainability love fest all summer long, which culminated in winning the Victor J. Papanek Social Design Award on August 17.

Continue reading after the jump.

Videos> Harmon’s Headaches Signal Thunder in the Vegas Sky

The Harmon Building in Las Vegas. (Courtesy vrysxy/flickr)

The Harmon Building (right) adjacent to the Crystals (left) in Las Vegas. (Courtesy vrysxy/flickr)

It’s official. Norman Foster’s unfinished and beleaguered Harmon Building at Las Vegas’ CityCenter is among the walking dead. Its owner MGM has announced its intention to implode the building, whose construction was plagued by incorrectly-installed rebar. These severe structural flaws led to a decision in 2009 to scrap the top half of the building, and it’s been sitting unoccupied ever since.

But what better way to send off what must be among the biggest buildings never occupied than a collection of the most spectacular implosions Las Vegas can muster? There are fireworks, spotlights, music, and lots of gawking onlookers. This stuff is fun, trust us.

Watch the videos after the jump.

Support Ball-Nogues Desert Drama

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
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Everyone’s favorite installation architects, Ball-Nogues Studio, are producing one of their most ambitious works to date: The Yucca Crater, a 24-foot-tall installation in the middle of the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree. The project’s wavy wood shell will contain rock climbing holds on its interior, rising out of eight feet of water (the basin, the firm describes, is a nod to abandoned suburban swimming pools scattered across the Mojave).

The wood will come from the formwork of another Ball-Nogues project, Talus Dome, in Edmonton, Canada. It is being built for High Desert Test Sites (HDTS), an initiative that invites artists to create experimental projects scattered among towns near Joshua Tree National Park like Joshua Tree, Pioneertown, Wonder Valley, Yucca Valley, and 29 Palms.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> Supertall! at The Skyscraper Museum

East, Newsletter
Monday, August 22, 2011
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Guangzhou West Tower Hotel Atrium, designed by Wilkinson Eyre. Courtesy Skyscraper Museum.

SUPERTALL!
WORLD TOWERS ABOVE 380 METERS
The Skyscraper Museum
39 Battery Place
New York
Through January 2012

The world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa is over twice the height of the Empire State Building—a grand total of 2,717 feet. The exhibition SUPERTALL! at the Skyscraper Museum explores the development of such architectural giants, presenting a survey of the world’s 48 tallest buildings completed since 2001 or expected for completion by 2016. The skyscrapers featured are at least 1,250 feet tall, with the majority from China, South Korea, and the Middle East, including Al-Hamara in Kuwait, above left. Organized chronologically as well as by region, the installation highlights the evolution of very tall buildings, opening with a 30-foot timeline of vertical constrution. Architectural models, computer renderings, as well as photographs and film, support a story focused on building technology, contemporary construction, and sustainable approaches. Nodding to the local as well as the global, the exhibition also includes a section on the original World Trade Center towers and the new construction rising on the site. images after the jump

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Open-Source Architecture: Download Your Own WikiHouse

Wikihouse prototypes. (Courtesy Wikihouse)

Wikihouse prototypes. (Courtesy Wikihouse)

Want to make your own home in 24 hours? Meet WikiHouse, a way to design and assemble a model structure within a single day. Wikihouse is designed to be easy to use with an online design community posting and editing open-source plans with Google Sketchup. Template plans can be downloaded and cut out with a CNC mill and then easily assembled with minimal skill.

From WikiHouse:

The first WikiHouse will be constructed in South Korea at the Gwangju Design Biennale 2011. We are now looking for architects, furniture designers, product designers, craftsmen, and makers from around the world who are interested in contributing to the WikiHouse process. If that’s you then please drop us an line on hello@wikihouse.cc!

Could downloaded design and “fabrication on the fly” be the future of architecture? How will open-source design impact the profession? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Check out the construction process after the jump.

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Video> Explore California’s “Accidental” Sea

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
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We just came across The Accidental Sea, a fascinating documentary about California’s bewildering Salton Sea, an artificial lake created by flooding the Colorado River southeast of Palm Springs. It quickly turned into a resort and then (after subsequent environmental degradation) into a ghost town. The film by Ransom Riggs explores the history of the site and looks at the eeriness there now, from rusted out cars to abandoned spas and homes. Makes you wonder about the tenuousness of our civilization and makes you want to explore California’s other modern ghost towns like California City, an 80,000 acre development once intended to be the third largest city in the state (it’s population is now just over 8,000 people).

Read More

9/11 Memorial Plaza: How It Works

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
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(all images courtesy Peter Walker Partners)

A decade after the 9/11 attacks, the public will soon be able to visit the site, much of which has been fully transformed into the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. While many were dispirited by the years of revisions to and deviations from the Libeskind master plan (which itself had many detractors), AN‘s recent visit to the plaza, crowded with workers laboring toward the anniversary opening, revealed a vast, contemplative space that we predict will function well as both a memorial and a public space. Next week AN will take a look at the design and offer a preview of the what the public can expect from the space, but, first, a look at how the highly engineered plaza works.

Continue reading after the jump.

Touring LA Architecture By… Bike?

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
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Bikers visiting Pierre Koenig's Case Study House 22

Los Angeles is a great city for architecture. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to breeze past landmarks inside our cars with barely a moment’s notice. A group of young designers and cyclists in LA are looking to slow you down and up your appreciation level by setting up regular free bicycle tours to some of the city’s most iconic architectural sights.

Continue reading after the jump.

Pictorial> Loew’s King Theater in Brooklyn, Before

East, Newsletter
Thursday, August 11, 2011
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An old curtain falls within the proscenium. (AN/Stoelker)

There’s an old expression that perfectly describes the current condition of the Loew’s King movie palace on Flatbush Avenue: “regal rot.” There’s beauty in the decay, yet no one wants to see the the rot take the upper hand. At the moment the dank smell foretells the considerable work that lies ahead for the Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group, the developer selected by NYCEDC and Borough President Marty Markowitz to restore and operate the 1929 building.

Check out the gallery (and a video) after the jump.

Inverted Adjmi

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
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Looking down Lafayette at Adjmi's designs for the southwest corner of Great Jones Street. (Courtesy Morris Adjmi Architects)

Morris Adjmi seems to be on something of an inversion kick as of late. His design proposal for a building on Walker Street, which was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in June, used an inverted bas relief effect that made the concrete facade seem as though a cast iron building was pressed into a large piece of clay. The new proposal for the southwest corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Street uses a similar technique, but in aluminum sections. But at a public hearing on Tuesday LPC put the breaks on the Lafayette proposal, saying the architect needed more depth and detail. “In general, they asked for the addition of more variety, depth and articulation of the facade, particularly the long facade,” Landmarks spokesperson Elisabeth de Bourbon wrote in an email.

Read More

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Will Google’s new campus outdo Apple’s?

Newsletter, West
Monday, August 8, 2011
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After Apple unveiled its plans for a spaceship-like new headquarters by (we think) Norman Foster at a recent Cupertino city council meeting, it appears that their chief rival Google is now looking, as usual, to outdo the Apple-ites. We hear from our sources that edgy—and super green—German architect Christoph Ingenhoven is set to design the Google HQ addition, supplementing the massive GooglePlex in Mountainview (which already contains more than 65 buildings).

According to the San Jose Mercury News the company has already leased an additional 9.4 acres from Mountain View at a price of $30 million and is planning to build the new office space there, accommodating new recruits, among others. Perhaps the offices will do a better job of engaging their Silicon Valley environs? Stay tuned. Or just keep Googling it. And check out some Ingenhoven designs below:

Continue reading after the jump.

Video> Lithuanian Mayor Goes on Bike Lane Offensive

International, Newsletter
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
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Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania crushing a car in the bike lane. (Video still)

Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania crushing a car in the bike lane. (Video still)

A few days ago on July 30, Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, became fed up with cars illegally parked in the city’s bike lanes. To prove his point, he ordered in a tank and proceeded to crush a Mercedes-Benz stopped not only in a bike lane but partially in a crosswalk. The mayor then takes all scofflaw motorists to task, declaring, “That’s what will happen if you park your car illegally!” Perhaps, best of all, the Zuokas swept the broken glass from the bike lane and hopped on an electric bike and rode off into the horizon. Can you imagine such a thing happening in America? (Via Urban Velo.)

Watch the amazing video after the jump.

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