Gensler’s Downtown Dealings Revealed

Newsletter, West
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
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Rendering of Gensler's new HQ inside the Downtown LA "Jewel Box".

We heard back in April that architecture giant Gensler’s move to Downtown LA was spurred largely by a million dollar enticement arranged with the city. But it’s only now that we get to see the details behind the move. The LA Times‘ Steve Lopez was able to dig up the emails that set the process in motion, and they include corporate requests to pave the way for federal community development block grants (usually reserved for low income communities) to go to Gensler. The emails were sent from big-time developer Thomas Property Group to an aide in councilperson Jan Perry’s office. This seamless connection between business and government, we all know, is how things work in LA. But it’s rare to “look inside the sausage factory,” as Lopez puts it.

Richard Neutra’s VDL House: There’s an iPad App for That

Other
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
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Two screen views of the Neutra VDL iPad app.

Two screen views of the Neutra VDL iPad app.

Steve Jobs would have been proud. So would Richard Neutra. The Neutra VDL House in Silver Lake now has its own iPad App. Developed by Sarah Lorenzen and David Hartwell, the app includes stunning new pictures of the iconic modernist house, tons of information about Neutra, an annotated historic timeline of the home, guided virtual tours, and information about the house’s design, construction, and materiality. We especially love the 3d models, plans, and sections, which can be rotated on axis, giving you a new understanding of the house and providing some classic iPad fun.

Quick Clicks> Pedal-Theatre, Reading Rem, Wall Street Logos, Ranking Creativity

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
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Cycle-In Cinema, organized by Magnificent Revolution (Courtesy Inhabitat)

Cinema Pedal-iso. In London, you now have an alternative to the typical energy-consuming movie theater. The Cycle-In Cinema (led by a non-profit education project called Magnificent Revolution) allows you to to plug your bike into a generator, hop on, and start pedaling away for an entirely human-powered movie experience. More at Inhabitat.

Reading Rem. Rem has a new book written with curator Hans Ulrich Obrist all about Japanese modernism. To be released this November, Project Japan: Metabolism Talks… documents “the first non-Western avantgarde movement in architecture” from post-war Tokyo in the 1960s and includes rare images from Manchuria to Tokyo, snapshots of the Metabolists at work and play, and architectural models. An advance preview and signing is coming up soon at the TASCHEN book store.

Branding a Protest. The NY Times‘ Seymour Chwast draws attention to Occupy Wall Street’s lack of a logo. As the demonstrations gain momentum, Chwast said now is a perfect time to consider branding, suggesting a 19th-century, cigar-smoking baron.

Creativity Worldcup. Has the Gross National Product outlived its usefulness in determining the success of nations? Over at The Atlantic Cities, Richard Florida has compiled a list of top cities using his Global Creativity Index ranking global economic competitiveness and prosperity. According to the GCI, which evaluates and ranks 82 nations on the three “T’s” (Technology, Talent, and Tolerance), the U.S. ranks second only to Sweden, the world-champion of creativity.

Rahmbo to City Workers: Take the Train!

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
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Emanuel at a CTA station (Courtesy National Journal)

Emanuel at a CTA station (Courtesy National Journal)

Mayor Emanuel has made transit, biking, and sustainability some of the top priorities of his young administration. The same goes for fiscal restraint and transparency (something notably lacking in the administration of his predecessor). Drawing on his experience as White House Chief of Staff, his most recent edict combines these two sets of goals. Emanuel is mandating that city employees use public transit when on the job. Read More

Quick Clicks> Brick Bane, Old School, The Digitals, & the Juried Judge

Daily Clicks
Thursday, October 6, 2011
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White bricks in Manhattan. (Barbara L. Hanson / Flickr)

White bricks in Manhattan. (Barbara L. Hanson / Flickr)

Not so Clean. White brick buildings, once favored in the 50s and 60s for their shiny glaze and supposed waterproofing and self-cleaning benefits, are now a costly headache for New York City, reported the NY Times. The glaze, it turns out, actually traps moisture and causes cracks and deterioration, with repairs climbing into the millions of dollars.

Back to Basics. While architects nowadays can get away with their shaky doodles (of the physically impossible buildings and cartoonish people with disproportionate heads) as long as they prove their CAD proficiency, the just-launched Beaux-Arts Atelier feels differently– only when you master the basics can you be freer to do crazier, modern things with more creative control. More on The Wall Street Journal.

The Digitals.  Architecture historian and journalist critic Alexandra Lange critically compares the content and design of four new digital interior design magazines and discusses the merits of blogs. Read her thoughts on Arch Record.

Juried Judge. The NY Times ran a story about Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s selection to join the Pritzker Prize jury, citing AN‘s report from September. The move looks to be a good one for architecture, as Breyer, a fan of Gothic and Beaux-Arts architecture, has pushed for better design of federal buildings.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011: A Tribute from Norman Foster

International, Newsletter
Thursday, October 6, 2011
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Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011.

Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011.

The world learned last night of the untimely death of Apple mastermind Steve Jobs, who succumbed to a rare cancer he had been fighting for some time. Jobs’ architect, Norman Foster, was slow to acknowledge the commission of Apple’s new Cupertino, CA headquarters, but he was appropriately quick to offer his condolences. Below, read Foster’s tribute to the innovator who helped push the boundaries of both technology and industrial design.

Read Foster’s tribute after the jump.

Herzog & de Meuron Peel Layers Off Park Ave. Armory

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
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erzog & de Meuron's rendering of the slightly altered, vastly improved Drill Hall. (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron).

Herzog & de Meuron's rendering of the slightly altered, vastly improved Drill Hall. (Courtesy Herzog & de Meuron).

At first, the choice of avant-garde architects Herzog & de Meuron to renovate and restore the fabled Park Avenue Armory seems far-fetched. Even at second glance: “I hate preservation,” said Jacques Herzog at a press event to unveil what the firm is doing at the 1880s fortress and popular event space that contains unparalleled gems from the history of American decorative arts, including rooms and furnishings by Stanford White, Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Herter Brothers and others.

Read More

Pushing for a New Park in Chicago’s Lakeview Neighborhood

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
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(images courtesy Moss Design)

The designers behind the Lakeview Area Masterplan, Moss Design, are pushing ahead with a plan for a new park on a vacant lot  on North Paulina Street adjacent to the Brown Line tracks. According to their research there are five vacant lots within a one block area, so there is ample land available for development. This argument has yet to sway Alderman Scott Waguespack, who has opposed a plan for the Special Services Area to acquire the land with the help of the non-profit Openlands. Read More

Quick Clicks> Tiny Homes, Artificial Leaf, Sky Nets, Shrouded Silos

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
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A house in Belgium. (Thames & Hudson via WSJournal)

Tiny Homes. The average size of an American home has been decreasing since 2009 (to at 2,392 SF), the Wall Street Journal reported. With financial and environmental concerns, many homeowners are down-sizing. The book Nano House: Innovations for Small Dwellings examines dwellings under 800 feet, such as the above 215-square-foot house in Belgium.

Artificial Leaf. Researchers at MIT have created an artificial leaf that uses sunlight to convert water into oxygen and hydrogen. The device is made of silicon, that is coated with a cobalt catalyst on one side, and a nickel catalyst on the other. When dropped in water, the cobalt separates oxygen and the nickel side hydrogen. The next step: scientists are working on a way to capture the gasses. More at Inhabitat.

Sky Sculptures. Brookline, Massachusetts artist Janet Echelman uses Indian fisherman weaving techniques to create ethereal neon nets that float in urban sky-scapes. Check out images of her work, that resembles the translucent fish of the coral reef at Artist a Day.

Shrouded Silos. In Omaha, Nebraska, the educational nonprofit Emerging Terrain has wrapped grain silo elevators in giant 80 by 20 feet banners that focus on food and agricultural issues. More at Planetizen.

Quick Clicks> City Atlas, Boathouse Retouch, Urban After Dark, Seasonal Seoul

Daily Clicks
Friday, September 30, 2011
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City Atlas web site. (Courtesy City Atlas)

City Atlas web site. (Courtesy City Atlas)

The City Atlas. The City Atlas is a new online project that seeks to create a platform to share collective imagination that is grounded on past and current accomplishments yet aimed at the future. Check out their website here.

Don’t Remove, Retouch. This beautifully renovated Norweigian boathouse is still technically un-new. Norwegian architects TYIN tegnestue was committed to reuse as much physical material as possible during the renovation. Images at WorldArchitectureNews.

Urban After Dark. According to Chuck Wolfe at myurbanist, a city’s true success is best measured at night (hence the quote “cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night”).

Seasonal Sedum. Check out these twelve staggered living roofs in Seoul designed by Joel Sanders Architect in cooperation with Haeahn Architecture. The roofs are planted with flowers (sedum) that bloom at different times of the year– resulting in changing, seasonal landscapes. See the images on Inhabitat.


An Honest Look at Architecture

National, Newsletter
Thursday, September 29, 2011
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Architecture Studio at Harvard University. (Cesar Harada / Flickr)

Architecture studio at Harvard University GSD. (Cesar Harada / Flickr)

After years of grueling through studios, crits, and all-nighters, there comes a time soon after entering the real world where it hits you: You’re lost. You didn’t learn any of this architect-business in school!

While we can’t help with the shock of the realization, we did stumble across a new humorous book by SCI-Arc-trained architecture writers Guy Horton (an AN contributor) and Sherin Wing called The Real Architect’s Handbook: Things I Didn’t Learn in Architecture School. The project is a hilarious and often sobering look at the realities of the architecture profession, including its low pay, inflated egos, and many misperceptions. “Most of the books we were seeing skewed toward an idealized vision of the architect. There was a definite disconnect between this romanticized Architecture and what we were seeing and hearing,” explained Horton, who added, “We annoyed a few people, but that tells us we were hitting the right chords.”

Here are some of our favorite words of wisdom:

#1 It’s architecture, not medicine. You can take a break and no one will die.

#10 Once you leave architecture school not everybody cares about architecture or wants to talk about it.

#35 The “privilege” of working for a firm is not compensation in itself. You cannot live on, buy food with, or pay the rent with, a firm’s “reputation.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Decaying Cities, Gallery Restaurant, Green Upgrades

Daily Clicks
Thursday, September 29, 2011
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Proctor's Palace Theater by Lindsay Blair Brown (via Gizmodo)

Urban decay. Gizmodo’s urban photography competition last week yielded beautiful, haunting images of decaying architecture, infrastructure, and other city spaces taken over by nature. More info on the grand winner and a photo gallery here.

Lunch as art. As part of the exhibition Time/Bank: Time/Food at the Abrons Arts Center in New York City is hosting a temporary restaurant, where artists will prepare home-style meals for gallery visitors, reported e-flux. Part of the Time/Bank program, participants are awarded credit in exchange for skills and time.

Greener buildings. Barclays and Lockheed Martin intend to invest up to $650 million in green upgrades for Sacramento and Miami buildings, utilizing a tax loophole that enables property owners to upgrade structures at no preliminary cost. The New York Times has more.

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