Green Boom. Blair Kamin takes a look at the sustainability of two billowing icons in Chicago and New York. Studio Gang’s Aqua Tower is going for LEED certification while Frank Gehry’s New York tower will not seek the USGBC’s approval but claims to be green nonetheless. Kamin notes the importance of such moves, saying of Gehry: “What he, in particular, does–or doesn’t do–can have enormous influence, not simply on architects but on developers.”
Trolley Boom. NPR has a piece on the explosion of streetcars across the country with planned or completed systems in over a dozen cities.
Bike Boom. Cycling advocate Elly Blue discusses a new study on Grist stating that bikes deserve their own infrastructure independent from autos. And not just a striped bike lane, Blue notes, but separated lanes called “cycle tracks” like one installed along Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West.
Soane Boom. The Independent reports on a planned renovation to the Sir John Soane Museum in London, that architect’s treasure trove of antiquities and architectural memorabilia from across the world. Plans include opening up a new floor that hasn’t been open to the public since Soane died in 1837.
Mega Watts. The Los Angeles Times reports that the James Irvine Foundation has granted $500,000 toward the preservation of LA’s Watt’s Towers, declaring the folk-art stalagmites “an important cultural icon.” (Photo courtesy Robert Garcia/Flickr)
Luck in School. The NY Times relays the story of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck who has chosen to pursue a degree in architectural design at Stanford’s School of Engineering rather than head off to the NFL draft. We wish Mr. Luck, well, all the best in his endeavors, but life as an architect can make the NFL seem like a walk in the park.
Al Matisse? Variety brings us news that Al Pacino has been selected to play Henri Matisse in an upcoming film called Masterpiece detailing the French painter’s relationship with his nurse, model, and muse Monique Bourgeois. Producers will soon be looking for female leads.
Like Jane. The Rockefeller Foundation is accepting nominations for this year’s Jane Jacobs Medal honoring two living individuals who have improved the vitality of NYC and, among other things, “open our eyes to new ways of seeing and understanding our city.”
Double Dutch. First Manhattan, now Governor’s Island–the Dutch just can’t get enough of New York Harbor. Adriaan Geuze of West 8 talks with author Brian Davis about West 8′s proposal for a new public park on “the island next to the island at the center of the world,” via Design Observer.
No more Jersey Shore? Speaking of the Dutch, oceanography professor Malcolm Brown told WYNC that residents of the New York-New Jersey area should brush up on their dyke-building skills, warning that higher sea levels may come sooner than we think, via Transportation Nation
City Center. Planetizen pointed us to a fascinating post on Per Square Mile about Cahokia, a pre-Columbian settlement on the Mississippi, which, until Philadelphia surpassed it ca. 1800, was the largest city in North America.
Start Spreading the News. New York: If you can make there…well, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll make it in Moscow. For whatever it’s worth, New York now ranks as the most affordable of the four cities that the world’s wealthiest citizens are likely to call home. New York beats out Moscow–yes, Moscow–as well as Hong Kong and London. The Real Deal quotes a study conducted by Savills PLC, an affiliate of Stribling.
Barrios with Altitude. A poetic study of the organically evolving perimeter of Bogotá, via Lebbeus Woods.
Atlantic Aspirations. Forest City Ratner is still on the hunt for Atlantic Yards funding, but has sweetened the deal by tapping SHoP–who is already spiffing up the stadium and public plaza–to design B2, the first apartment building in the complex, says The Observer.
Sterile Street. Blair Kamin calls out developer Joe Sitt for obliterating “bracing history” in exchange for “bland consistency” on State Street, in The Chicago Times.
Microbe Road. Designers Thomas Kosbau & Andrew Wetzler have proposed scrapping asphalt in favor of a more eco-friendly sandstone paving surface created with locally harvested sand and cemented together by a common microbe. Yanko Design points out that the Incheon International Design Awards entry would save oil and help relieve the urban heat island effect.
Super-circle XLVI. While the buzz surrounding this year’s Superbowl has yet to subside, Indianapolis has focused its eyes to next year’s big game. Urban Indy reports that the city’s iconic Monument Circle will be pedestrianized during the week-long festivities, which could bode well for future car-free endeavors.
ARC Resurrected. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may have derailed the proposed ARC train tunnel connecting Manhattan and NJ last year, but a new plan floated by Amtrak could provide a new tunnel opportunity. The Transport Politic has details on the so-called Gateway Project.
Ben van Bistro. Just in time for spring, the New Amsterdam Pavilion designed by UN Studio principal Ben van Berkel in Manhattan’s Battery Park will offer eco-friendly food, craft beer, and organic wine. DNAinfo says the pinwheel-shaped restaurant will be called Battery Bistro.
Winded. Popular Science has the story of a bridge concept in Italy called Solar Wind featuring an array of wind turbines capable of generating 40 million kilowatt hours annually. If that weren’t enough, the proposal also incorporates a solar roadway for an added green boost.
Juiced. The Times of Trenton reports that Princeton University is converting 27 acres in West Windsor, New Jersey into a field 16,500 photovoltaic panels able to generate 8 million kilo-watt hours of clean, green energy every year. The project will begin in 2012 and is expected to generate 5.5% of electricity for the university.
Stripped. Citiwire considers the downfall of the suburban commercial strip and it doesn’t look good for sprawl. As shopping trends evolve and consumer taste retreats from the generic strip landscape, hybrid shopping centers resembling main streets could be the future.
TOD or not TOD. Residents of an award-winning transit-oriented development in Maryland featuring a wide median where a light rail line was planned have turned their backs to their neighborhoods original lofty goals. StreetsBlog sums up the latest high-profile case of NIMBY-ism.