Urban Archaeology. Our friends at Rustwire show us that there can be a kind of mournful beauty in industrial decay, as seen in a photo essay of defunct Ohio steel mills by Paul Grilli. The amazing images are part of a series by the Youngstown-based photographer, who is working to document every steel mill in the area.
Hot Chile. Inhabitat tells us that, aside from the Fenix capsule used to rescue trapped miners in October 2010, Chile can now boast of another design innovation that will benefit mine workers. In an effort to shield them from the relentless heat and sun of the Atacama Desert region, AATA Architects has come up with a motel-like residence made of shipping containers. And that’s not even the coolest part – they plan to cover the entire complex with a huge canvas roof to protect the men from the harsh environment.
Who’s the Boss? Design Observer ponders who architects are really working for. The potential for tension between designers, financiers and sometimes communities is nothing new. But adding a tyrannical dictator to the equation makes the question all the more compelling, especially when that dictatorial regime might misuse the involvement of a name-brand starchitect to purchase a “commodity of cultural acumen.”
Suburban Poor. Poverty isn’t just an inner-city problem. Planetizen brings news that the suburban city of Mississauga, Ontario is trying to come up with ways to best reach those populations that it deems underserved. Borrowing an idea from nearby Toronto, they want to identify ‘priority neighborhoods’ that are in need of access to services.
Watch for Falling Libeskinds. The breaking news of the day from Building Design: Daniel Libeskind’s $555 million Westside retail center in Bern, Switzerland has collapsed for a second time in three years. An elevated swimming pool fell into the building injuring two people. An investigation is pending. In 2008, shortly after the building was completed, the roof of a fast food restaurant inside the center collapsed, injuring two children.
Transporting Chicago. Transportation Nation reports today that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has tapped Gabe Klein to head up the city’s DOT. Widely viewed as a pro-bike kind of guy in his former role as head of Washington D.C.’s DOT, Klein helped launch a bike-share program, expand bike lanes, and install electric car charging stations across the city. Could more alternative transportation be in store for the Windy City?
Gaudi Burns. An arsonist set fire to Antoni Gaudí’s Segrada Familia in Barcelona said the Guardian. The cathedral’s sacristy was destroyed and the crypt heavily damaged during the attack. Some 1,500 tourists were evacuated and four treated for smoke inhalation.
Wisconsin Bamboo. Sarah F. Cox talks with NYC-based architecture firm Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis for Curbed about a recently completed student center at the University of Wyoming which includes a stunningly intricate bamboo-lattice screen.
Land’s Literal End. A sprawling 25-room colonial mansion called Land’s End on Long Island’s North Shore has been torn down. Gothamist and Curbed link to a CBS video of the destruction of the house said to have inspired the decadence of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Fortress in Disguise. Shortlist found a house that can transform itself from a windowless cube of a fortress into a modern luxury mansion with the press of a button. The appropriately named Safe House was designed by KWK Promes architecture
Treme Teardown. Preservationists in New Orleans are pushing to save the 1950s-era Phillis Wheatley elementary school designed by Charles Colbert from the wrecking ball. The Times Picayune reports that Tulane architects and a Treme actress are leading the call.
The Urban 30. We’re tickled to be named in OCU’s list of 30 Best Blogs for Urban Planning Students!
Renewal 2.0. The NY Times ran a recent story about the proposed rebuilding of Quincy, Mass. The public-private partnership would tear town most of the city’s urban core and start over again with a massive roughly $1.5 billion project to create a new downtown. While the article doesn’t articulate what would be lost, it does speculate on the size of the real estate gamble if the project falls through.
Earthshaking Costs. The cost of an earthquake goes well beyond the financial, as the world witnessed with the disaster in Japan, but preventative measures do cost; Architizer cites a report by California Watch that warns of cost-cutting and corruption in the cash strapped state, boiling down the numbers and creating clear cut infographics to illustrate the need and function of base isolation and mass dampers.
Bring Me Your Tired One Arm Bandits. With all due respect to our Nevada brethren, New Yorkers are somewhat chagrined to learn that the Post Office will not fix their goof of putting an image of the Las Vegas rendition of Lady Liberty on a new stamp rather than an image of the original in the New York Harbor. Officials say the teenage version will stay, prompting Ed Koch to sound off to The Times “…the post office is doing a stupid thing.”
Riverfront Fortress. With tax day looming, don’t try to go postal with the IRS in Philly. You won’t stand a chance. The agency has taken over the main branch of the old Post Office overlooking the Schuylkill River. The WPA-era grand limestone edifice took on $252 million makeover, and Philadelphia Inquirer critic Inga Saffron is not impressed. Saffron says the building, heralded as the new gateway to University City, keeps the gates closed by overdoing security measures (via ArchNews).
Just Architecture. The Van Alen Institute announced that NYC is about to welcome its first bookstore and reading room singularly devoted to architecture, Van Alen Books, located on 30 West 22nd Street. Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects (and one of the two candidates for the next PennDesign Architecture Dean) and architectural historian Anthony Vidler will be presenting their latest books at the opening party scheduled for next Thursday, April 21.
Flash Sale Curator. Curbed shows today that there is no boundary for what architects can do. A popular flash sale venue, Gilt Groupe, is having a home products sale today at noon, curated by an architect, Richard Meier. Items up for sale include “a signed copy of Taschen’s Meier, a mezuzah he designed for The Jewish Museum of New York, and his Architectonic Menorah,” normally sold for $1K!
Breathing Times. According to Streetsblog, New York’s Times Square, visited by 250,000 pedestrians each day, has become much more breathable since the 2009 installation of pedestrian plazas (find out why Bill Clinton is a fan) on Broadway. Concentrations of two traffic-related air pollutants, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide, have gone down by 63% and 41%, respectively!
Suburban Slumification. Business Insider identifies 18 cities (including a less-than-expected Minneapolis) where suburbs are rapidly turning into slums. In the past, cities suffered crimes and poverty during recessions, while the rich stayed away in their safe suburban havens. But not anymore. Suburban slums are growing five times faster than cities.
Bridge Backtracks. Brownstoner uncovered the above historic view of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1903 back when transit and pedestrians dominated its traffic flow. StreetsBlog also noticed that the bridge has lost quite a bit of capacity as trains were removed in favor of cars (down significantly from its 1907 peak of 426,000 crossings a day). Also be sure to check out the super-high-res photo over at shorpy.com.
Library Life. Robert Dawson lamented, “These are brutal times for public libraries,” in a piece for Design Observer. With funding in short supply, he argued that the library is more than a room full of books, but a true “American Commons.”
Crowd-Sourced. The Institute for Urban Design is prepping for the first annual Urban Design Week this September with a crowd-sourced assignment to improve New York City. Running through April 30 and called By the City / For the City, you’re invited to share your ideas via this handy online form. (via Polis.)
Architecture Queen. The Philippine Star reports that newly registered architect Shamcey Supsup was crowned Miss Universe-Philippines. The magna cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines won over 39 other (non-architect) contestants. Supsup’s next stop is Sao Paulo, Brazil where she will take on the world, T-square in hand. (via Archinect.)
Vancouver Chooses Their Way Over Highway. Vancouver officials are considering permanently closing two viaduct bridges after temporary closures for the 2010 Olympics went smoothly. The city is the latest to join a growing number of places proposing highway removal, including Seattle where the debate is heating up.
High Speed Rail to Slow Down. The government didn’t shut down, but President Obama signed off on a $1.5 billion cut to high speed rail to reach a budget deal. High speed rail has been a top transportation priority for the administration, which had been funded at $2.5 billion per year.
Are US Cities Like Detroit Really Dying? The short answer is no. An infographic at Fast Company Design looks at migration in Detroit and finds that there’s been an influx of residents in the city’s core, surrounded by decline. John Pavlus writes, “The undeniable truth is that downtown is flashing the signs of a comeback.”
Keeping Things Hot. The city of Holland, Michigan heats its sidewalks with waste heat diverted from a local power plant. The system eliminates the need for shoveling and keeping downtown lively all-year round.
Fits? Alan Penn, professor of architecture at University College London, suggests that IKEA deliberately designs its stores to be confusing to encourage impulse buying.