Renzo Piano’s Menil Collection Wins AIA Twenty-Five Year Award

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
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Renzo Piano's Menil Collection. (Paul Hester)

Renzo Piano’s Menil Collection. (Paul Hester)

The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, has been honored with the 2013 AIA Twenty-Five Year Award. Renzo Piano designed the museum to house Dominique de Menil’s impressive collection of primitive African art and modern surrealist art in the heart of a residential neighborhood. The design respected Ms. de Menil’s wish to make the museum appear “large from the inside and small from the outside” and to ensure the works could be viewed under natural lighting.

More photos and drawings after the jump.

Defrosting A Construction Site: Beautiful Ice Crystals Inside a Chicago Adaptive Reuse Project

Midwest, Newsletter
Friday, January 11, 2013
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(Gary R. Jensen/Courtesy Sterling Bay Companies)

(Gary R. Jensen/Courtesy Sterling Bay Companies)

Perkins+Will is designing one cool corporate headquarters for bike components manufacturer, SRAM, in Chicago’s Fulton Market District. Located inside the 1K Fulton development by the Sterling Bay Companies, an adaptive reuse of a ten-story cold storage warehouse, two floors of offices will include bleacher seating for group meetings, a product development shop, and even an interior cycling test track. But before construction could begin, there was one small problem most architects rarely encounter: the construction site needed to be defrosted after essentially serving as a building-size refrigerator since 1923.

Continue reading after the jump.

Situ Studio Salvages Hurricane Sandy Debris for Valentine’s Day Installation in Times Square

East, Newsletter
Thursday, January 10, 2013
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Rendering of Heartwalk in Times Square. (Courtesy Situ Studio)

Rendering of Heartwalk in Times Square. (Courtesy Situ Studio)

The fifth annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design has been awarded to Situ Studio. The Brooklyn-based architecture firm presented a design that features “boardwalk boards salvaged during Sandy’s aftermath—from Long Beach, New York; Sea Girt, New Jersey; and Atlantic City, New Jersey. ”

The project titled Heartwalk is described “as two ribbons of wooden planks that fluidly lift from the ground to form a heart shaped enclosure in the middle of Duffy Square.” The competition was cosponsored by Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborated with Design Trust for Public Space. The installation opens on Tuesday, February 12, and remain on view until March 8, 2013.

Another view after the jump.

National Blues Museum Targets 2014 Opening in St. Louis

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
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The National Blues Museum (Courtesdy NationalBluesMuseum.org)

The National Blues Museum. (Courtesy NationalBluesMuseum.org)

Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Kansas City has the American Jazz Museum, Nashville has Music City, and now St. Louis looks likely to become home to the National Blues Museum in 2014. Cue up “St. Louis Blues.”

Continue reading after the jump.

NBBJ Designing Samsung’s New Silicon Valley Campus

Newsletter, West
Monday, January 7, 2013
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New courtyard at Samsung's new San Jose Campus. (Courtesy NBBJ)

New courtyard at Samsung’s new San Jose Campus. (Courtesy NBBJ)

As Apple and Facebook have proven, corporate complexes are all the rage these days in Silicon Valley. Samsung (Apple’s phone nemesis) is the latest tech titan to add to the roster of architectural Bay Area campuses, rivaling Apple’s planned circular headquarters and Facebook’s Gehry-designed West Campus. The company plans to build a 1.1 million square foot sales and R&D headquarters on its current North San Jose site. Designed NBBJ, it will include a 10-story tower, an amenity pavilion, and a parking garage.

Continue reading after the jump.

Obit> Lenore Norman, 1929-2012

East, Newsletter
Friday, December 28, 2012
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The Villard Houses on Madison Avenue were one of Lenore Norman's first projects at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. (Andrea Puggioni/Flickr)

The Villard Houses on Madison Avenue were one of Lenore Norman’s first projects at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. (Andrea Puggioni/Flickr)

Lenore Norman, a pioneer of historic preservation, died at 83 years old in her home on the Upper West Side on December 21st. She spent over 4 decades working tirelessly to preserve some of New York’s most iconic buildings and historic districts. Ms. Norman first stepped into her role as the executive director of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in the mid-1970s—a time when the idea of landmark preservation was fairly new and unpopular among some New Yorkers.

“The whole idea of preservation was not something that people really understood, and of course, all of the larger institutions and buildings, for the most part, fought it,” said Ms. Norman in an interview for The New York Preservation Archive Project.

Read More

Lowline Advocates Tout Economic Benefits of Proposed Subterranean Park

East, Newsletter
Thursday, December 27, 2012
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(Courtesy Lowline)

(Courtesy Lowline)

Lowline boosters James Ramsey and Dan Barasch spoke with the Wall Street Journal this week, shedding light on a few economic details surrounding what could become New York City’s first subterranean park, built in an abandoned trolley terminal owned by the MTA underneath Delancey Street in the Lower East Side. Project co-founders Ramsey, an architect and principal at RAAD Studio, and Barasch have most recently been working on creating a full-scale mock-up of their fiber-optic skylight that will bring natural daylight to the cavernous underground space after raising $155,000 on Kickstarter.

The team is now promoting the park armed with a new economic impact summary, claiming that it will add value to the adjacent Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). Specifically, Ramsey and Barasch argue that building the park would boost SPURA land values by $10 to $20 million and generate up to $10 million in taxes over the next 30 years. The Lowline also revealed its estimated budget, clocking in somewhere between $44 and $72 million to be paid for by a combination of fundraising, donations, and tax credits. If all goes according to plan, the Lowline could be financially self-sufficient, with a $2 to $4 million operating budget paid for by special events and commercial space. Uncertainty still looms over project, however, as the MTA hasn’t agreed that the space will be allowed to be converted into a park.

Creative Corridor Plan Unveiled to Revitalize Little Rock

National, Newsletter
Friday, December 21, 2012
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Aerial view of Main Street's Creative Corridor (Courtesy Marlon Blackwell Architect & Steve Luoni)

Aerial view of Main Street’s Creative Corridor. (Courtesy Marlon Blackwell Architect & Steve Luoni)

Marlon Blackwell, architect and professor at the Fay Jones School of Architecture, and Steve Luoni, architect and director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, have unveiled a masterplan for converting Little Rock’s Main Street into a cultural center. The plan titled, The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization will include a pedestrian promenade, outdoor furniture, LED lighting installations, rain gardens, affordable living-units for artists and a renovation of downtown buildings for mixed-use. Luoni notes that execution is expected to occur in phases.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bjarke Ingels Has Phoenix Pinned, Plants Giant Observation Tower Downtown

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
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BIG's proposed observation tower in Phoenix. (Courtesy BIG)

BIG’s proposed observation tower in Phoenix. (Courtesy BIG)

Phoenix-based developer Novawest wanted a new signature project for the city’s downtown, an observation tower from which to admire the far-off mountain ranges and dramatic Southwestern sunsets, so Bjarke Ingels proposed to scoop out the spiraled negative-space of New York’s Guggenheim Museum rotunda and plant it 420 feet above downtown Phoenix. Ingels’ “Pin,” a 70,000 square foot observation tower is elegant in its simple form, a ball on a stick, indeed evoking some far away Gulliver on a real-life version of Google maps finding his way to the Sun Belt. In another light, Phoenicians could ostensibly see a larger-than-life Chupa Chup or an upended mascara brush, but that’s the beauty of pure form, right?

Continue reading after the jump.

A New Chapter for the New York Public Library: Foster + Partners Reveal Renovation Plans

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
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Rendering of Foster + Partners' proposed renovation of the New York Public Library. (Courtesy Foster+Partners / dbox)

Rendering of Foster + Partners’ proposed renovation of the New York Public Library. (Courtesy Foster+Partners / dbox)

New Yorkers, not to mention architecture critics, have been waiting with bated breath to see the plans for the controversial $300 million overhaul of the New York Public Library’s historic flagship branch on Fifth Avenue. And today, the designs by Foster + Partners, were finally unveiled. The renovation of the Beaux Arts-style library, completed in 1911 by Carrère and Hastings, will remove seven floors of stacks under the grand Rose Main Reading Room to make way for a 300-person workspace with an expansive atrium, balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, bookshelves, and new areas devoted to classrooms and computer labs. As of now, interior finishes will include a combination of bronze, wood, and stone.

More after the jump.

AIA Billings Report Scores Fourth Month of Gains

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
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BILLINGS (BLUE) AND INQUIRIES (RED) FOR THE PAST 12 MONTHS. (THE ARCHITECT’S NEWSPAPER)

BILLINGS (BLUE) AND INQUIRIES (RED) FOR THE PAST 12 MONTHS. (THE ARCHITECT’S NEWSPAPER)

A fourth straight month of increased billings by AIA members signals the architectural economy may finally have turned the corner. The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) ticked up to 53.2 from last month’s 52.8 (any score above 50 indicates an increase in demand for design services). Project inquiries also rose slightly to 59.6 from 59.4. “These are the strongest business conditions we have seen since the end of 2007 before the construction market collapse,” said AIA chief economist, Kermit Baker.

Continue reading after the jump.

U of C addition updates old seminary for modern economics department

Other
Thursday, December 13, 2012
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University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute (courtesy ann beha architects)

University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute (courtesy ann beha architects)

The University of Chicago’s ongoing development is a balancing act of preserving its collegiate gothic badge of architectural honor and making bold contemporary bounds ahead. One project that maintains that equilibrium with grace is Ann Beha Architect’s conversion of the University’s old Theological Seminary into a new economics building.

The area surrounding the site at 58th and University is on the preservation watch list, so the new steel-and-glass research pavilion along Woodlawn Avenue is likely to ruffle a few feathers. But most of the work treads lightly on the site. Glass infill will create a new entryway between the seminary building’s two main wings.

While historic facades remain throughout much of the building, designers hope a new staircase will improve vertical circulation. And a 90-seat classroom anchors an expansion below grade that improves access to existing space, drawing in light from openings to a new loggia above. Placed atop a terra cotta base, the modern addition jives tastefully with the former seminary.

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