Rollin’ on the River. After seventy years, the Los Angeles River is now open to use by residents and visitors. The LA Times reported that the EPA has designated the river a navigable waterway, and a pilot program, Paddle the Los Angeles, launched this Monday. Visitors can now tour the waterway by kayak or canoe on weekends.
Unplugged Plugin. The new Sanya Skypump electric vehicle charging station is off the grid; it uses a combination of wind and solar energy, says Engadget. It is also a streetlamp, providing safe, green, parking illumination.
Urbanized Ablaze. Among of the casualties of the London Riots are the cousins of the upcoming documentary, Urbanized. According to the project’s blog, looters broke into a Sony distribution warehouse containing 20,000 DVDs of the Helvetica and Objectified films, took what they could and burned the rest. Many other independent films were also lost in the blaze.
Suburban dreams. The 2000 Census indicated that young Americans ages 25 to 34 were fleeing the suburbs and moving to cities, but polemic writer Joel Kotkin argued in Forbes that new census data analyzed by Wendell Cox points to a reversed trend. He said the demographic is returning the suburbs as they grow older and have kids.
Money McQueen. The Alexander McQueen retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which closed this past Sunday at midnight, was the Met’s 8th most popular exhibit of all time. Over its three-month showing, 661,508 people visited. Jezebel estimated the Met netted a minimum revenue of $14,603,862.
LA City Council is busy these days. Just one day after approving a downtown football stadium it voted today to approve the CRA/LA Continuation Ordinance, a move that will allow its city redevelopment agency to keep running. As part of the state’s so-called “Voluntary Alternative Redevelopment Program,” the city had to pay $97 million to the state this year, and will need to pay $26.5 million in future years. The program came as a result of state budget bills that would have simultaneously dissolved the state’s CRAs and given them a monetary out. According to Curbed LA, other cities that have opted in so far include Long Beach and Irvine. We’ll wait to see who else antes up.. Meanwhile the California Redevelopment Association’s lawsuit against the legislation is still pending.
Bachelorette Pad. This fall, Barbie is finally becoming an architect—and getting a new house—built with the latest sustainable materials. Mattel teamed up with AIA to host a competition to design Barbie’s new home and Ting Li and Maja Parklar’s design for the Malibu Beach House took the top prize. Their design features a green roof, solar panels, bamboo flooring, and low VOC paints. More at Inhabitat.
Cheating on the Test. In a major blow for public safety, the New York Post reported that American Standard Testing and Consulting Labs—the company responsible for testing the safety and strength of concrete in projects like LaGuardia Airport, the Lincoln Tunnel, and Yankee Stadium—faked concrete test results. DOB inspectors have begun conducting spot checks and the buildings were found safe.
Transit Geography. Using Google Maps, Mapnificent illustrates how far public transportation users can go in a specified amount. While only available in major global cities, the maps allow users to calculate transportation times at two intersecting areas, highlighting possible travel distances. Now we can figure out exactly how far public transportation takes us in a New York minute.
Hanging in There. Nasa’s Hangar One at Moffet Field in San Francisco—built in 1933 for the USS Macon Navy airship—was once the largest freestanding structure in the world, but funding to renovate the massive facility have fallen through according to Gizmodo. NASA is in the process of pursuing alternative reuse options for the historic modern landmark.
Solar-Powered Fun. New York City’s first solar merry-go-round just opened at the South Street Seaport, offering free rides to kids through September 7th. GE’s Carousolar is powered by 100 solar panels made of ultra thin semiconductors able to withstand extreme humidity and UV ray exposure. The green fun isn’t just for kids—GE also provided solar-powered cell phone charging stations for adults around the carousel, reported Inhabitat.
Sun-Filled Fasting. According to Dubai’s top cleric Mohammed al-Qubaisi, residents of the Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest skyscraper, will have to wait a few extra minutes to break their fast during Ramadan. Muslims living above the tower’s 80th floor should fast two additional minutes after dusk while those above the 150th floor wait an additional three minutes, The Guardian reported. Al-Qubaisi explained that just like early Muslims living in the mountains, the residents of the highest floors must adjust their fast due to the extended visibility of sunlight.
#ThingsNotToDoOnPublicTransportation. Public Transportation is trending on Twitter and the end result is a humorous user guide to transit etiquette. Transportation Nation rounded up some of their family-friendly favorites.
LEGO Gate. While not yet officially announced, European blogs have been abuzz that the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin will be the next in LEGO’s Architecture line of miniature real buildings. Unbeige revealed the series’ designer Adam Reed Tucker developed the Brandenburg model, representing the 2nd building outside of the US (the first was SOM’s Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai).
Objects of Ruin. Israeli artist Ofra Lapid has taken society’s obsession with ruin to a whole new level. Inspired by amateur photographs from North Dakota’s urban and rural decay, Lapid’s Broken Houses series consists of small models of the dilapidated buildings that are re-photographed without their original context. Her work produces an eerie sense of reality set against a stark grey background. Check out more images after the jump.
Tree Time. A place for every tree, and every tree in its place. Two maps from New York and Philadelphia are pinpointing the exact location of trees in each city. The Dirt reported that Edward S. Bernard and Ken Chaya have produced an illustrated map entitled Central Park Entire that seeks to honor the work of landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux by graphically representing all of the flora and fauna of Central Park. In Philadelphia, the PhillyTreeMap provides a similarly detailed online database that crowdsources each green public and private property.
Making Connections. According to the Daily Joural of Commerce Oregon, the AIA will launch an online matchmaking service in September for stalled development projects and their potential real-estate investors in hopes of giving life to long-stalled projects while compiling data that helps identify problem developments.
Parklet, PA. Philly is the latest city to jump off the bandwagon and set up a park, joining pavement-to-parks pioneers New York and San Francisco. The city will convert parking spots into miniature parks as a low-cost way to open up green space in University City. Additional parklets could be introduced the upcoming years pending the success of their pilot project.
Etch-a-Desert. In the Peruvian desert, you will find artist Rodrigo Derteano’s robot scraping away at the dirt to create massive drawings. In an interview with Derteano, We Make Money Not Art explained, “Guided by its sensors, the robot quietly traced the founding lines of a new city that looks like a collage of existing cities from Latin America.” The drawing was completed over the course of five days, most of which the robot spent tracing alone. Have a closer look at the video above. (via BldgBlog.)
The future is dead. National Geographic reported that the most recent algae bloom in Qingdao, China has clogged 7,700 square miles of the Yellow Sea. The insurgence of green goop, however, has not stopped children and families from taking a dip while at the beach, but as the algae dies and decomposes, a dead zone and fish kill is expected as oxygen is depleted from the water.
Off to Jupiter. NASA sent three little LEGO figurines atop space probe Juno to visit Jupiter. Each LEGO person models a particular character: Galileo Galilei, the Roman god Jupiter, and the Roman goddess Juno. The figurines are made of aluminum and are expected to reach Jupiter by July of 2016. More at Design Boom.
Resources at RISD. The Rhode Island School of Design just opened its Materials Library, a long-term student project focusing on design process and material interaction, according to Core77. It’s hoped that designers will find a deeper appreciation of material through the tactile experience of holding them in their hands.
City Farming. Last week, the New York City Council amended the city’s building code to allow for rooftop farming and greenhouses: now, rooftop greenhouses will not be considered an additional story. The bill also requires prisons to purchase locally grown food and calls for the city to maintain a record of spaces suitable for farming, Inhabitat said.
Mobile Equity. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights argued in a recent report titled “Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap for Transportation Equity” that mobility must be a civil right. Recent studies indicate that low-income areas and the elderly lack adequate access to mass transportation, particularly in rural areas. With abut 80% of federal transportation funding marked for highways, mass transit is under-funded reported Wired.
Home Slim Home. While Japan is famous for its narrow residences, the world’s thinnest house will soon lie in Warsaw, Poland, says ArchDaily. Designed by Centrala, The Kennet House is 122 cm to 72 cm at is narrowest part and will serve as the residence and workplace for writer Etgar Keret.
Perfect Pyramids. In a Wired post, a physics professor at Southeastern Louisiana University examined the construction of pyramids—how tall can pyramids be, and what is the best angle? Through mathematical formulas, he mused that 140 meters is the most efficient height.
Store in Print. Aesop director Dennis Paphitis and Brooklyn architect Jeremy Barbour of Tacklebox stacked 1,800 copies of the New York Times for the new Aesop skin care kiosk in Grand Central Station. While perhaps not our preferred choice for newsprint here at the paper, the gray pages create a rich texture on which to displayed beauty products. More at Co.Design.
Shipping Shop. London hopes to claim the world’s first pop-up shopping center made of shipping containers, to be designed by British firm Waugh Thistleton. Renderings of BoxPark revealed on Treehugger show the site-manufactured boxes stacked and outfitted with reusable materials.
Bagging a House. At the Studi Aperti Arts Festival in Ameno, Italy, design studios Ghigos Ideas and LOGh presented their architectural response to the seemingly endless supply of plastic bags. With help from students at Milan Polytechnic, the architects transformed an unfinished building with a wing made entirely of grocery bags. More at We Heart.
Green Talk. DesignIntelligence released their 2011 “Green & Sustainable Design Survey,” claiming that despite innovation in sustainable building, green construction is not yet mainstream practice. DI editor James Camor said sustainability and LEED is on the table, but maintained architects have not recognized the initiative’s urgency. More at The Dirt.