Big Deals. It’s a week of very big deals in NYC as The New York Times reported that Condé Nast signed on the dotted line to move in to One World Trade, and The Wall Street Journal broke the story that The Palace is under contract to be sold to Northwood Investors for $400 million. While across town at The Plaza, the drama continues to unfold with news that landlord Miki Nafti is stepping down and the Oak Room is closing.
Grad Towns. With commencements commencing, many would rather forget that college grads are having a pretty hard time finding work. But a recent search for the ten best college towns from Kiplinger made job opportunities in the college towns part of the criteria. NYC came in first, despite the “sky high rents,” Charlotte and Baltimore followed with their relatively low cost and robust growth.
Open Call. The AIA has announced that My Architect Barbie needs a house. Through the contest to “design a house that meets her guidelines” architects may find the client surprisingly demanding, “With more than 125 careers, I need a spacious office,” says the eight- inch wonder. A big back yard needs to accommodate all her pets, including the giraffe.
Transit Surprise. The Atlantic has the 10 best and worst cities for public transportation based on a report on transit and access to jobs from the Brookings Institution. The think tank ranked cities by the area served and the share of city jobs accessible by public transit. The results might surprise you: none of the cities with the best public transit are on the East Coast.
HUD in Hot Water. The Washington Post alleged that “HUD has lost hundreds of millions on delayed or defunct construction deals nationwide” in its new investigative series “Million-Dollar Wasteland.” The paper explores, among deals in other cities, a failed project in D.C. where speculators profited at the cost of millions for the city government.
Graceland Saved. The flooding along the Mississippi River has spared Memphis’ key historic landmarks. According to NPR, Graceland, Sun Studio (where Elvis Presley recorded), and Stax Records (which launched Otis Redding’s career) were unharmed. But some of Louisiana’s most valuable farmland is expected to be inundated by rising waters.
Interior Award. Bar Agricole in San Francisco won the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Interior, reported Fast Company. The restaurant, which serves French-inspired food sourced from local farms, features billowing glass sculptures, walls lined with strips of oak from whiskey barrels, recycled oak seating, and concrete banquettes. Restauranteur Thad Vogler collaborated with Aidlin Darling Design, which received co-ownership for its work.
Tower of Babel. Argentinian artist Marta Minujin has created an 82-foot tall “Tower of Babel” in Buenos Aires after the city was named UNESCO’s World Book Capital for 2011. Readers, libraries, and 50 embassies donated over 30,000 books in a variety of languages to fill the twisting structure. The Guardian has a slideshow and we posted a video of the tower after the jump.
High Line Caution. Witold Rybczynski penned an op-ed for the NY Times cautioning the many would-be High Line copy cats that the success of the New York wonder-park (and a Parisian predecessor) aren’t because of the parks themselves, but because of their unique situations in dense, thriving cities.
Tower Trouble. The Wall Street Journal writes that skyscraper construction has dropped off drastically from decades past to the tune of 14 million fewer square feet per decade than the period between 1950 and 1990. Can New York maintain its global competitiveness without ramping up construction?
Twin Lions. Two stone lions, Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, have been standing sentinel at the New York Public Library’s main entrance on Fifth Avenue since 1911. Ephemeral New York posted a little more history on the backstory of the big cats.
Hollywood High. Promising to make the old Capitol Records building the jewel in a $1 billion real estate crown, developers Millennium Partners and Argent Ventures are proposing to revamp a large swath of Hollywood by clustering one million square feet of multi-use development around the famous tower. The developers told the LA Times that community input will influence the design and that the building where Nat King Cole, Sinatra, and the Beach Boys made their magic will hopefully remain an entertainment hub called Millennium Hollywood.
Race to the Finish. Philly’s Race Street Pier is now complete and gets the ball rolling on the Delaware River Waterfront‘s master plan. The new pier runs just slightly south of the Ben Franklin Bridge and park designs reinforce the span’s perspective. A single file line-up of 37 swamp white oak trees march out toward Jersey. PlanPhilly‘s got the all the details.
Midblock Crosswalk. DNA has been following the push by Midtown residents to clear the way for little known pedestrian arcades and corridors that run from from 51st to 57th Streets between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. At the moment, cars block the privately owned public walkways and residents want the DOT to make them more accessible by providing crosswalks and not allowing parking in front of them.
Buses to Nowhere. Citing a Brookings Institute report, The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal noted that though 67 percent of Twin City residents can walk to a bus stop from home, only 30 percent of the buses stop near their jobs. For metro areas nationwide, New York came in last while Honolulu came in first. The report counts Poughkeepsie as part of the New York metro area. Really? Poughkeepsie?
Toy Cities. Our friends at Planetizen tell us that Avondale, AZ had urban planner James Rojas over for a playdate of sorts. Citizens who took part in this re-visioning session got to use pipecleaners, Legos, blocks, and other assorted toys to build their ideal version of the city. According to Rojas, this bottom-up community planning method breaks down barriers and allows people to exercise a degree of creativity not often found at the typical charrette.
Food Oases. Streetsblog questions the much hyped notion of the “food desert”: is it media myth or reality? It seems that urban areas aren’t always as lacking in food stores as they seem, at least depending on your definition of supermarket. Even the USDA, who recently debuted their new food desert locator, might be a bit confused about what constitutes a food desert. (In fact, the web application says that a part of Dedham, MA is a food desert. Maybe they don’t count the Star Market that’s right near that Census tract…)
Suburban Swan Song. Slate’s architecture columnist Witold Rybczynski has penned an obit of sorts to that symbol of suburban sprawl, the McMansion. He posits that when the recession is over people will be in the mood to buy homes again, but that they may be hesitant to purchase a behemoth of a building that costs a lot to heat and cool.
Green Alert. Inhabitat takes a look at the latest in the green roof trend in the form of sloping roofs on townhomes in the City of Brotherly Love. It seems that the historic Center City has a new (and almost LEED certified) infill development called Bancroft Green. The high-end homes here sport some nifty plant covered roofs as well as geothermal heating and herb gardens that capture storm runoff and spaces designed specifically for bicycle storage.