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Rendering of The Plaza at Santa Monica (OMA/ Metropolitan Pacific Capital)
Back in July it looked like Rem Koolhaas was about to land his first large-scale commission in Los Angeles with The Plaza at Santa Monica, a mega-mixed-use complex that would have graced a city-owned parcel at Fourth and Arizona streets. City officials seemed genuinely wowed by OMA’s theatrically-terraced design and a city selection committee recommended to Santa Monica City Council that they enter formal contract negotiations with the project’s developer, Metropolitan Pacific Capital.
But last week, the city council issued a resounding, “Not so fast,” voting almost unanimously against the recommendation, citing concerns over a lack of affordable housing.
Pushkin Museum Expansion Project Rendering (Courtesy Foster + Partners)
Moscow’s Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts expansion project, one of Russia’s most prominent and contentious building schemes, has spiraled into disarray. Since Foster + Partners’ winning plans to expand and modernize the 101-year-old institution were originally approved in 2009, the development has been confronted with a series of delays including disputes between officials and preservationists. Now, to cap it off, the firm has officially resigned from the project.
1960 Aerial View of Louis Armstrong Airport (Courtesy of Louis Armstrong International Airport)
With terminals at Washington D.C.’s Ronald Reagan International Airport and the Tokyo Haneda Airport under his belt (among several other transportation hubs), Cesar Pelli is no stranger to the challenges of designing airports. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Argentinian-born architect, who assisted Earo Saarinen on the iconic TWA terminal early in his career, will now collaborate with two New Orleans–based firms, Manning Architects and Hewitt Washington Architects, to redesign the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to coincide with the city’s 300th anniversary in 2018.
Ken Price’s colorful, sensual ceramic sculptures have always posed the question as to whether they are art or craft. But the blur may also include the architectonic. His signature forms—cups and eggs—set up a tension between exterior and interior. New York Times art critic Roberta Smith has written: “Their forms oscillated between the biomorphic and the geometric, the geological and the architectural.”
Price’s friend, Frank Gehry, designed the installation of the exhibition, Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through September 22. He lives with Price’s ceramics, his first purchase being a cup festooned with snails. Gehry wrote of Price’s work, “They were like buildings.” He cited a cup with a twisted piece at the top, and sees the similarity to his California Aerospace Museum, 1982-84, featuring an airplane jutting out of the structure. “I think the similarity of form was totally unconscious. Now I think a lot of architects must have been looking at those cups…the relationships are amazing.”
Todd Oldham (left) and the “Ladybugs” wallcovering pattern (right). (Courtesy Designtex)
At the NeoCon contract furnishings trade show in June, AN executive editor Alan G. Brake sat down with Todd Oldham to discuss the collection of wall coverings he developed for Designtex adapting the work of Charley Harper. Harper is arguably best known as an illustrator, but Oldham is working with the Charley Harper Studio to broaden Harper’s reputation and create new products using his menagerie of images of flora and fauna. A versatile designer of fashion, home furnishings, books, and objects, Oldham has a special interest in reviving midcentury designers and he previously worked with the Alexander Girard archive.
AN: Tell us about your interest in Charley Harper.
Todd Oldham: I had the great pleasure of knowing Mr. Harper for the last five years of his life. He was an amazing, magical man. I came to know his work when I was a kid. He did the illustrations for a book called the Golden Book of Biology, which was my biology text book in school. I loved it. So many years later I reconnected things and found him and forced my way in—he was very gracious about it
The Torre di Pisa is straightening up its act, according to scientists who monitor the famous tower’s tilt. There’s no need to worry, though, the Tower of Pisa won’t be standing completely vertical any time soon. The Huffington Post reported this week that the tower has shifted about an inch (2.5 cm) back toward being upright since 2001, when the structure was reopened to the public.
This gravity-defying maneuver was brought about by a restoration to the tower’s foundation that began in 1992 when the building’s foundation were secured, moving the entire structure a whopping 15 feet. Structural interventions included temporarily installing steel cables as an emergency measure followed by excavating stones beneath the tower and replacing them with steel and concrete. The overall effect, according to HuffPo, was to sink the tower slightly into the ground and thereby make it more vertical. Scientists said these restorative measures will make the Leaning Tower safe for two- to three-centuries.
Cardboard Cathedral, Exterior (Courtesy Shigeru Ban Architects)
As a result of a devastating earthquake in February 2011, New Zealand’s Christchurch Cathedral was left critically damaged. After an inconclusive debate about whether to completely tear down, restore, or remodel the original Neo-Gothic cathedral, the people of Christchurch were struck with what might be divine inspiration in the form of a temporary home, the world’s only cathedral constructed extensively of cardboard. Tourism New Zealand announced the inauguration of Cardboard Cathedral, a replica of the original church constructed of cardboard tubes, timber joints, steel, and concrete.
Flinders St. Station (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron)
A team led by Herzog & de Meuron has been unanimously selected for the redevelopment of Melbourne’s historic Flinders Street Station after beating out a star-studded shortlist that that included Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw. The team will be awarded a $1 million prize. The winning design aims to transform the iconic 1909 train station into a 21st century civic center and transportation hub, preserving the most beloved features of the landmark building while integrating it into a contemporary urban context. The proposal also incorporates cultural, retail, and civic programs within an adjacent 500,000 square foot site along the Yarra River, including a public art gallery, plaza, amphitheater, marketplace, and permanent space for arts and cultural festivals.
While it’s been well-documented that China has been “borrowing from” U.S. designs for some time, it appears that relationship is starting to go both ways. Downtown Los Angeles is ready to get a new residential project that bears a striking resemblance to Steven Holl’s Linked Hybrid apartment complex in Beijing. Note the porous, gridded facade and the glassy skybridges, to name just a couple of similarities. The mixed-use Medallion 2.0, designed by Kevin Tsai Architecture, would be located off the corner of Third and Main Streets, reported downtown blogger Brigham Yen. It’s scheduled to break ground in 2015 and include 400 rental units, a theater, retail, and over half an acre of green space. We’ll keep you posted on more Asian imports as they no doubt continue to arrive.
The University of Toronto recently revealed ambitious plans for One Spadina Crescent, a historic property with a 19th century Gothic Revival building positioned in the center of a roundabout. By next year, the site will be the University’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. NADAAA, in collaboration with E.R.A. Architects, will restore the historic building and add a new wing with lecture and studio space, a library and a digital fabrication workshop. The project will supply state-of-the-art accommodations for architecture, art, landscape, and urban design students and professors.