Sustainability Martyred in Name of Saint Green

International, Newsletter
Thursday, June 30, 2011
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Eco-Pantheon, Rome 126AD (Courtesy Star Strategies+Architecture)

Eco-Pantheon, Rome 126AD (Courtesy Star Strategies+Architecture)

Has the green movement gone too far? STAR Strategies + Architecture examines the prevalence of “green-washing and the abuse of sustainability” in their project O’ Mighty Green, where they posit that the notion of “green” has taken on a life of its own outside of sustainability and has become on many levels a new sort of religion. As the architects said in their introduction:

Sustainability currently shares many qualities with God; supreme concept, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; creator and judge, protector, and (…) saviour of the universe and the humanity. And, like God, it has millions of believers. Since we humans are relatively simpleminded and suspicious and need evidence before belief can become conviction, Green has come to represent sustainability; has become its incarnation in the human world. But sustainability, like God, might not have a form, nor a colour.

To demonstrate this absurdity, STAR has implemented what they call “sustainability as a photoshop filter” and clad a variety of iconic—and notorious—buildings with green walls, even invoking the spirit of St. Green, the patron saint of sustainable architects. The architects have taken a similarly snarky view of contradictions in preservation. (Via Dezeen.)

What are your thoughts? Are architects guilty of praying at the green altar?

Photos after the jump.

Future of Preservation in St. Louis Looks Modern

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL)

Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL)

When St. Louis architects Schwarz and Van Hoefen designed a 120-foot diameter flying saucer in 1967 along the city’s Grand Boulevard, historic preservation was likely the last thing on their minds. Today faced with demolition, the structure’s concrete cantilever has garnered tremendous public outcry and has become a local icon. (It’s facebook page numbers over 11,600 fans, trouncing the 850 fans of Chicago’s threatened Prentice Tower.) It’s hard to imagine a gas station turned drive through restaurant could muster such support with such an anti-urban background, but the Del Taco building isn’t leaving without a fight.

Continue reading after the jump.

Will Kimmelman Replace Ouroussoff at the Times?

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Michael Kimmelman (courtesy Wikipedia)

The Architect’s Newspaper has heard from multiple sources that the New York Times may be close to naming the art critic Michael Kimmelman as the paper’s new architecture critic. Outgoing architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff resurfaced today with another far flung report, a glowing review of Steven Holl’s Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China. Will it be his last? Though Kimmelman is best known as an art critic, he has written on architecture several times in recent years during his posting in Europe, including an excellent piece on David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum in Berlin and a profile of Peter Zumthor for the New York Times Magazine.

Quick Clicks> ‘Butter Lady’ Dies, Essex St. Market Plans, European Drivers Tormented

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Norma Lyons's life-size butter sculpture of Harry Potter at the 2007 Iowa State Fair

‘Butter Cow Lady’ Dies at 81: Norma Lyon, known for sculpting tons of butter into life-size figures of cows, famous people, and even a diorama of the Last Supper at the Iowa State Fair, has passed away, the New York Times reports. Ms. Lyon got her start in butter sculpting in 1960 as the sculptor of the Butter Cow at the fair, after studying animal science and taking studio classes at Iowa State University. In 2007, she created a sculpture of then-Senator Obama from 23 pounds of butter, and Politico credited her endorsement for his victory in the Iowa caucus.

New Plans for the Essex Street Market: The decades-old market is part of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area on the Lower East Side, an area targeted for dramatic housing and economic development in the coming years. So what does that mean for the Essex Street Market? Planning officials presented renderings to show what a new market in a two-story mixed-use development might look like.

Europe Hates Drivers: Cities across Europe are making driving more expensive and inconvenient to steer residents away from cars. Is it a good idea or a road trip to hell on earth? In Zurich, the Times reports:

Closely spaced red lights have been added on roads into town, causing delays and angst for commuters. Pedestrian underpasses that once allowed traffic to flow freely across major intersections have been removed. Operators in the city’s ever expanding tram system can turn traffic lights in their favor as they approach, forcing cars to halt.

Talk About a Space Saver: JDS Architects put a rolling playground atop three penthouse apartments in a turn-of-the-century building in Copenhagen. The roof includes a grassy hill with curved steps and a wooden deck, a playground and a suspension bridge. Fast Company Design reports the budget for the penthouses and the roof was $1.35 million.

6 Alternatives to Plastic: For its newest project, Studio Formafantasma dug into centuries-old technology to design plastic-like objects “designed as if the oil-based era, in which we are living, never took place.” Read on to see what they used.

Quick Clicks> Cathedral Restoration, Haunted, Deserted and Isolated Cities

Daily Clicks
Friday, June 24, 2011
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(COURTESY RENE SLAATS/FLICKR)

(COURTESY RENE SLAATS/FLICKR)

Restored London. Building Design reports that after 15 years, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is scaffolding-free. The £40 million project restored Christopher Wren’s masterpiece to its original glory in time for the cathedral’s 30oth anniversary. St. Paul’s will host a photography competition and display the winning selections in the cathedral crypt to celebrate its complete renovation.

Artificial England. While China continues to be a hot spot for architectural and economic development, its many ghost towns lack permanent residents. The Infrastructurist exposes one of China’s English-inspired uninhabited cities, Thames Town, built in 2006 as part of Shanghai’s “One City, Nine Town” initiative at decentralization. The state-of-the-art $9 billion design draws tourists, but not residents.

Trucks, not Tanks. At the United States Conference of Mayors, local government representatives vote to reallocate federal funds directed toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the improvement of American cities. The municipal leaders assert that the conflicts’ $126 billion per year budget would be better spend building urban infrastructure, employing civil servants, and supporting educational and family institutions.

Mall City. City Watch LA evaluates Rick Caruso’s latest business proposition: running for public office. The billionaire developer envisions a new Los Angeles comprised of isolated communities each with its own shopping mall, a potential reality if Caruso wins the 2013 mayoral seat.

Talking Transportation In Los Angeles

Newsletter, West
Thursday, June 23, 2011
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Hollywood and Highland Metro Station

Yes, it’s conference time again in LA. The AIA Los Angeles Design Conference, part of Dwell on Design, kicks-off on Friday with an all day symposium, The Architecture of Transportation, which will discuss ideas to help transform L.A.‘s transportation system into an economically and socially viable network. Participants like policy makers, activists, urban designers and architects, will investigate a wide range of transportation-related ideas, like connecting people to their communities, influencing regional prosperity and helping cities compete globally.

Continue reading after the jump.

Design Commission Awards at Museum of Moving Image

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris (center) checks out Steven Holl's designs for Hunter's Point Community Library. (Courtesy Tucker/nycmayorsoffice)

It was an event that was on message and on time. With the unfortunate passing of Mayor Bloomberg’s mother this week, officiating duties for Design Commission’s Twenty-ninth Annual Awards for Excellence in Design fell to Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris and Design Commission president Jim Stuckey.  As the invitation noted, remarks were scheduled to begin at 6:15PM, and Harris started remarking on the dot and kept to the script, reading directly from it in fact, with few off-the-cuff remarks. “Short and sweet,” was how one audience member described it afterward, with an Oscar-worthy combo of Harris and Stuckey–like an urban design version of Hathaway and Franko, without the awkward flubs.

Read More

Quick Clicks> Bike, Walk, Play, but Watch for the River

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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(COURTESY STREETSBLOG)

(Courtesy StreetsBlog)

Bikes First. To protect its cycling tradition and its bikers’ safety, Copenhagen continues to enhance its metropolitan bicycle system.  StreetsBlog reports that 37 percent of the city’s urban population bikes to and from work and school on the city’s extensive network of bicycle-only lanes, park paths, and renovated railway tracks. The public transportation system also supports bicycle-travel, while the city has slowly reduced the number of car lanes on streets and auto-routes.

Pedestrians, Too. Chicago moves forward this week on its highly anticipated Pedestrian Plan – an attempt to remedy high levels of hit-and-run fatalities and create a safer walking environment. After the tragic death of Martha Gonzalez at the South Halsted Street intersection, the municipal government realized that further safety measures must be taken.  According to the Tribune, the city will host eight public meetings throughout the summer to gather constituent input, the foundation of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s action plan.

Construction Sand-Box. While excavating the foundation of his new home in Colorado, Ed Mumm was inspired to develop the Dig This project–a construction equipment playground for adolescents and adults. PSFK reveals that Munn’s second Dig This location recently launched in Las Vegas, where guests can operate a Caterpillar bulldozer or excavator after attending a 30-minute safety briefing.

River Craft. BldgBlog brings news that the Dutch art group Observatorium finished Waiting for the River, a 125-foot-long habitable bridge, in 2010. The project is installed on the Emscher River wetlands, a sewer canal contained by dikes that will flood completely within 10 years. Observatorium invites people to wait for the river in the reclaimed-timber cabins; furnished with beds and plumbing.

(COURTESY OBSERVATORIUM)

(COURTESY OBSERVATORIUM)

Revealing The Airplane Of The Future

International, Newsletter
Monday, June 20, 2011
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Aircraft manufacturer Airbus unveiled its conceptual designs for a futuristic, see-through plane last week in advance of the 2011 Paris Airshow, which began today. The “Concept Cabin” showcases what commercial air travel could look like in 2050, and is packed with interfacing technologies and design features to give passengers an ultra-personalized and otherworldly experience.

Continue reading after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Blasbichlers Twentyone, Unfinished Spaces, D&AD, and a non-Museum

Daily Clicks
Monday, June 20, 2011
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Blasbichlers Twentyone (Courtesy Christian Flatscher)

Blasbichlers Twentyone (Courtesy Christian Flatscher)

Architects against the bank. We Make Money Not Art interviewed architect Armin Blasbichler to learn more about an unusual project he conducted with 21 of his students at the University of Innsbruck. Known as “Blasbichlers Twentyone,” the project asks students to research and devise a plan to carry out a bank robbery but identified assets as an architect might, “time, space, image, future clients, electric power, etc.” Check out the associated publication for diagrams and detailed plans of attack.

Opening in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Film Festival premiers Unfinished Spaces, a film portraying the lives of three architects Roberto Gottardi, Ricardo Porro, and Vittorio Garratti as they finally return to Cuba to see what has come of their designs for schools of the arts. Also included in the film, intimate footage of Fidel Castro. 

Design & art direction accolades. The annual D&AD awards have been announced. Creative Review highlights some of the winning graphics and packaging designs, like Yves Behar’s Clever Little Bag for Puma and Troika’s V&A Palindrome sign. Be sure to also note the award to architect Carmody Groarke for temporary roof restaurant Studio East Dining.

James Franco, curator edition. Collaborative art firm Praxis pairs up with James Franco for the launch of the Museum of Non-Visible Art. As Mediabistro notes, the team has managed to raise most of their funds through a Kickstarter project that offers an incentive to collaborate with the artists. Perhaps this “museum of ideas” will formalize beyond conceptual art in space, but without imagination it simply won’t exist.

Stay Up To Date with AN on Facebook and Twitter

Other
Monday, June 20, 2011
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QUICK CLICKS>Hadid in Glasgow, Transport Race, P2P, and the Rome Prize

Daily Clicks
Thursday, June 16, 2011
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Zaha Hadid's Riverside Museum (Courtesy of The Guardian)

Zaha Hadid's Riverside Museum (Courtesy of The Guardian).

Major in Glasgow. The Guardian reveals images of Zaha Hadid‘s new Riverside Museum in Glasgow, which highlights the machinery, technology, and history of transportation. Pictured above, the museum reflects the shipyard structures on its grounds. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Glancey writes, “Riverside blends into the climate and culture of Glasgow and its riverscape, feeling like part of its great flow of architecture and history.”

How to be quick. With the new East River ferry, which will be the fastest way to make it to work? To be sure, the Gothamist conducted a commuter race. The ferry was a lovely time to rest but a bit of a steep investment, biking a slightly more dangerous route, while the subway remained the quickest method, getting one commuter to work not only on time but with two minutes to spare.

Making Space. SF streets blog shares a new project generously offered to the city by Audi, announcing more to come for San Francisco pedestrians. The Powell Street promenade will bring public space to the commercial downtown, part of a set of P2P (Pavement to Parks) projects to create green space in major cities including San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.

The Rome Prize. The Rome Prize fellowship for architecture goes to Lonn Combs. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor and principal at New York based firm EASTON+COMBS will take the upcoming year to continue to explore the work of Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi. Congratulazioni!

 

 

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