Flummoxed Lenox. Inspired by a Gothamist post about hidden rooms in the Frick, Mark Lamster digs a bit deeper and shares his knowledge of the site when it was occupied by the old Lenox Library. “…sober, imposing, and correct, much like the man who designed it, Richard Morris Hunt,” he says of the old edifice, before delving into the curious history of the Hunt memorial across the street.
Boulevard Blues. Brownstoner is still hammering away at a bleak streetscape along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, where first floors of the new residential buildings leave a lot to be desired. The site reports that City Planning may be looking at measures to fix mistakes from 2003 upzoning and bring more life onto the street. While they’re at it, perhaps they can tap the DOT to add some green to the median.
House vs. Home. A kinder and gentler Peter Eisenman emerged from nearly 20 years of Jungian analysis, the architect tells The Washington Post. Far from the heady world of theory (“I was a cerebral cat”), Eisenman returns to the world of bricks and mortar. The change helps him expound on the differences between a house and home.
Tick Tock. The clock is ticking for the Brooklyn Bridge Park to make a decision on how to pay for maintaining the park, reports Crains. “If we don’t have a financial model, we won’t be able to proceed with construction,” BBP President Regina Myer tells the paper.
London Calling. The State Department is pushing for design excellence standards and is using its new embassy in London as a prototype. The embassy, designed by Philly-based KieranTimberlake, is still in its early phases, but as the project evolves, so will the standards for future buildings commissioned by the Bureau of Overseas Buildings, reports Engineering News-Record. While haute design remains part of the goal, sustainability and efficiency will take the fore. (Via Arch Record.)
New York Answering. The call from London that many answered Friday morning came from Westminster Abbey. Of the more auspicious outcomes, the so-called “Little Britain” section in the Village got it’s nickname sanctified by The Times. Off the beaten path, under a bridge really, Brownstoner reports that an early morning crowd beneath the Manhattan Bridge gathered for a live video feed.
U2 in Malibu. Well not the whole group, just The Edge. He got approval from the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy to build five eco-friendly homes in the Hollywood Hills. The dirty little tid-bit revealed in the LA Times is that the conservancy group accepted about $1 million in payments and services provided by a consultant hired by Mr. Edge. (via Curbed LA)
Jane and Andy. Two names you might never consider putting together are Jane Jacons and Andy Warhol. But an essay by Timothy Mennel pairs to the “two libertarians” together in this week’s Design Observer. Besides both coming from Pennsylvania steel towns, Mennel shows how their respective notions of community shaped the city as we know it today: eyes on your street vs. eyes on your navel.
No Joint Custody. Archinect reports that partners Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo of London-based Foreign Office Architects (FOA) have made their professional divorce official. According to a press statement, each partner will now head up his/her own office and all staff will be retained and assigned to one of the two.
Urban Fuel. University of Quebec researchers have published a study showing that higher gas prices translate into–logically–less urban sprawl: “On average, a 1% increase in gas prices has caused: i) a .32% increase in the population living in the inner city and ii) a 1.28% decrease in low-density housing units.” Read more at Infrastructurist.
Lab Experiment. The New York Times profiles the new director of MIT’s Media Lab, Joichi “Joi” Ito, a 44-year-old venture capitalist from Japan, who comes to the job with a wealth of experience but no academic credentials. But “He has credibility in an academic context,” Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law prof and Creative Commons founder, told the Times. “We’ve been collaborators, and I’ve stolen many ideas from him and turned them into my own.”
Big Bird Brains? Are pigeons just playing dumb for crumbs and sympathy? As far as birds go, city-dwelling pigeons have proportionally bigger brains than their avian country cousins, writes Per Square Mile.
La Vie Gigapixel. It’s Paris like you’ve never seen it — even if you have been there. A super-high-def 26-gigapixel photo of the city of lights (yep, that’s 26 billion pixels) was stitched together by a team of photographers and a software company in France. Go ahead, pull up the full screen view and wander away the afternoon. We won’t tell. (Via Notcot.)
Metro Music. When Jason Mendelson moved from Tampa to Washington, D.C., the city’s subway literally moved him to song. NRDC Switchboard says that he’s creating a tune for every Metro stop across the system, each stylistically indicative of the station itself. Listen to his completed songs over here.
Biosphere 2 at 20. Not often do we design entire mini-worlds, but then, Biosphere 2 was always unique. Now two decades old, the three-acre terrarium-in-a-desert is still helping scientists figure out life’s little lessons. The AP/Yahoo News has the story.
Scraps, Glass, and Stone. Curbed found a new book by Steven Guarnaccia transforming the classic Three Little Pigs story into three little starchitect pigs where Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright each build houses and the big bad wolf huffs and puffs (and critiques?) the walls down. (Guarnaccia also reimagined Goldilocks into a tale filled with chairs by Aalto, Eames, and Noguchi!)
Tweeting Seat. Imagine if the public realm was able to reach out digitally and interact through the internet. Yanko Design spotted just such a bench by designer Christopher McNicholl which tweets about people sitting on the aptly-named @TweetingSeat. Two cameras — one watching the bench and one looking outward — continuously let curious people all over the world who is taking a break.
Second in Line. The Wall Street Journal spoke with an anonymous philanthropist and architecture fan from Iowa who is looking for the world’s second most famous architect. According to the story, the donor is willing to pony up $300 million to any city that does not hire Frank Gehry to design its art museum. “Don’t get me wrong, I like iconoclastic, swoopy structures that look like bashed-in sardine cans as much as the next guy… I’m just saying we should give an architect not named Frank Gehry a chance.” Ouch.
Presidential Pritzker. Blair Kamin reports that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be in attendance at the Pritzker Prize award dinner for Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. It’s the first time a president sat in on the ceremonies since the Clintons dined with Renzo Piano in 1998. Also check out AN‘s exclusive Commentary and Q+A with Souto de Moura.
Safdie’s False Solution. Oren Safdie, playwright and son of architect Moshie Safdie, is making progress on the third part of his trilogy of architecture-themed plays and will be conducting a reading this evening in LA. A False Solution tells the story of of a Jewish-German architect whose resolve is shaken by a young intern after winning a Holocaust museum in Poland. (Via ArchNewsNow.)
Ocean Cities. It’s been a year since Americans watched oil spew from the gusher in the gulf. Only limited regulatory reforms saw the light of day. Timothy Beatley thinks it was a missed opportunity. In Design Observer, the University of Virginia professor argues that the key to the ocean’s future lies on land, with cities. Changes on land can have an enormous impact at sea, and Beatley thinks that cities have to the tools to make it happen.
Gimme Shelter. The Board of Standards and Appeals shot down arguments from the Chelsea Flatiron Coalition to halt the Bowery Residents Committee from moving a new homeless shelter on to West 25th Street, reports Chelsea Now. With new digs good to go, the charity has already set their sites on Brooklyn where they plan to open a 200-bed shelter in Greenpoint.
Gimme Signage. Since 1923 small signs guided tourists trough the lush curved roads of Beachwood Canyon to the Hollywood sign. The iconic vista was considered a boon to local real estate. But with property values firmly established, the WSJ reports that many owners don’t want the hoi polli blocking their view and took the signs down, leaving the hapless tourists wandering the canyon.
West Loop Tower. The Chicago Sun-Times says that the 48-story tower proposed to sit next to the Crowne Plaza at the corner of Madison and Halsted may soon become a reality. After a sluggish start, plans are moving forward to make it the tallest building in Greektown, writes Curbed Chicago.
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.