President Obama will reportedly nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If confirmed by the senate, Castro will succeed Shaun Donovan, a trained architect, who has been at the agency since 2009. Donovan is expected to head the Office of Management and Budget.
Chicago‘s most famous architect has just acquired a New York City pied-à-terre. Studio Gang has opened an office on Water Street in Lower Manhattan, which will be led by Weston Walker, a design principal. “This is a natural next step for the firm,” said founding principal Jeanne Gang in a statement. “We have been working in New York for the past several years and are excited by the variety of work currently in design, along with potential engagements in the city and beyond.”
The firm is currently working on a Fire Rescue facility for the New York City Department of Design and Construction and on the “Solar Carve” tower adjacent to the High Line. That project met resistance from the community for its height. There is no word yet on how tall it will be or how it will be redesigned.
The Congress for the New Urbanism has announced that Lynn Richards will serve as the organization’s new president and CEO. Richards joins the Congress from the EPA, where she worked in the Office of Sustainable Communities. She has organized with environmental groups in former Soviet Republics and holds a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She will assume her new role on July 1.
“We want to see more great places built. We want to build neighborhoods where more people can walk and bike,” said the incoming president in a statement. “We want to create more vibrant and prosperous places that celebrate great design and development approaches.” To make this happen, Richards wants to “road-test innovative design and polices.”
Richards succeeds John Norquist, who was appointed CNU’s president in 2002. In his previous position as the mayor of Milwaukee, he led the charge to demolish a major highway in the city. And under his leadership at CNU, the organization called on other cities to do the same, with their biennial “Freeways Without Futures” list.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped civil engineer Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora as Department of Design and Construction Commissioner. Peña-More comes to the DDC from Columbia University, where he teaches civil engineering, environmental engineering, engineering mechanics, and computer science. According to a press release from the mayor’s office, “Dr. Peña-Mora will be charged with building public works big and small, ranging from making streets safer as part of the Vision Zero initiative, to renovating and constructing municipal facilities.”
At the announcement, the incoming commissioner said, “Our standards will continue to be high. We will strengthen resiliency, efficiency, and safety in every project we oversee. We hope to build a new generation of streets, public works, and buildings that weave our diverse communities closer together and enrich the fabric of this city.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has selected Tom Finkelpearl, the Queens Museum president and executive director, as the city’s next cultural affairs commissioner. De Blasio made the announcement at the museum, which recently underwent a significant renovation led by Grimshaw Architects.
Citi Bike’s week of bad news just got worse. After reports that the program was short tens of millions of dollars, and plagued with technical and maintenance problems, Citi Bike’s general manager, Justin Ginsburgh, has resigned. He is pedaling off to advise a construction firm. It’s not clear what’s next for the struggling, but popular program. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said the city will not bail out the program, but it may allow Citi Bike to raise membership fees.
The Municipal Art Society (MAS) has announced that New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has been awarded the 2014 Brendan Gill Prize. The award will be officially presented by MAS President Vin Cipolla and Board Chair Genie Birch on March 25th. The annual cash prize is named in honor of the late New Yorker theater and architecture critic.
“Michael’s insightful candor and continuous scrutiny of New York’s architectural environment is journalism at its finest, and in solid alignment with the high standards of Brendan himself,” MAS President Vin Cipolla said in a statement. The jury was particularly impressed with Kimmelman’s calls to drastically improve Penn Station.
The every diminishing ranks of architecture critics suffered another loss, as Bloomberg News cut James Russell’s column, as a part of a larger reorganization/elimination of its cultural coverage. According to a post on Russell’s personal blog, Bloomberg is focusing on luxury and lifestyle coverage over arts and culture coverage.
Vaunted champion of urban living standards Enrique Peñalosa (pictured) is running for president of Colombia. As mayor of Bogotá, Peñalosa introduced a number of changes that improved the city’s public transportation system and also made it more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. His three-year reign witnessed the the implementation of the TransMilenio bus rapid transit system which services 2 million Colombians daily. He also instituted of a number of measures strategically restricting auto-traffic within certain parts of the city. Since 2009 the Duke alum has been president of the Institute for Transport and Development Policy, an organization that promotes transportation solutions globally. Peñalosa will be representing Colombia’s Green Party in the 2014 elections, which take place May 25.
Design giant Perkins + Will has swallowed up Freelon Group Architects, one of the country’s most prominent African American–led firms. The firms announced Tuesday that North Carolina–based Phil Freelon will help lead Perkins + Will’s design efforts in the region and globally.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced the appointment of Beatrice Galilee, 31, as associate curator of architecture and design. She will work within the department of Modern and Contemporary Art. According to a job posting in The Art Newspaper, the curator will develop collection and research strategies for the department as well as organize collection and special exhibitions, among other duties.
Over the weekend, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced four key appointments to his housing team. The mayor selected Shola Olatoye—a former vice president at the affordable housing non-profit Enterprise Community Partners—to chair the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). He also announced that Cecil House will stay on as the authority’s General Manager.