Obit> Paolo Soleri, 1919-2013

National, Newsletter
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
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Arcosanti, left, and Paolo Soleri, right. (Doctress Neutopia / Flickr; Courtesy Cosanti Foundation)

Arcosanti, left, and Paolo Soleri, right. (Doctress Neutopia / Flickr; Courtesy Cosanti Foundation)

The visionary architect and artist Paolo Soleri has died. He was best known as the mastermind behind Arcosanti, the ongoing experimental community outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Arcosanti, which has been under construction for more than 40 years, embodies Soleri’s idea of an architecture merged with the environment. More than 7,000 architecture students have worked on Arcosanti, and more than 50,000 people visit the site every year.

Though Soleri has been viewed as an almost mystical outlier in architecture, many of the design principles of Arcosanti mirror contemporary thinking in architecture and planning, including walkability, high density, diversity of uses, urban agriculture, and use of embodied energy. In addition to Arcosanti, Soleri designed buildings in Italy, New Mexico, and several sites across Arizona. According to the Cosanti Foundation, Soleri will be buried at Arcosanti following a private service. A public service will be held later this year.

More of Soleri’s work after the jump.

Architects Celebrate the Life of the Stubbornly Audacious John M. Johansen

National
Monday, April 8, 2013
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Frank Gehry's tribute to John Johansen. (William Menking / AN)

Frank Gehry’s remembrance of John Johansen. (William Menking / AN)

The Century Club in New York recently hosted a memorial celebration of the life of the late architect John M. Johansen organized by his daughter, Deborah Johansen Harris, and son, architect Christen Johansen. Christen, who collaborated with his father on later renovations and additions to various projects, read a touching tribute to Johansen that recalled his series of fast British sports cars and his ability to do “a handstand from a seated position in a lawn chair, or holding himself horizontally from a lamppost when the opportunity arose.” He remembered that John delighted guests to the New Canaan house “by setting his martini down on the window sill and, mid-conversation, vaulting out the window to the lawn below, reappearing moments later through the front door.”

Continue reading after the jump.

New PBS Series To Showcase Ten Buildings That Changed America

National
Thursday, March 28, 2013
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Seagram Building, New York City, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1958.

Seagram Building, New York City, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1958. (Courtesy Wikimedia)

These days it seems increasingly rare that we take a moment out of our busy schedules to pause and appreciate our surroundings: downtown skyscrapers, grand civic buildings, or the mundane background buildings along our streets. To many, those soaring steel towers are old news, but have you ever stopped to picture a Manhattan without skyscrapers, or a courthouse in Washington, DC that didn’t resemble a Greek or Roman temple, or how about an America without shopping malls? (Unimaginable. Right?)

Dan Protress, writer and producer of the new PBS television series 10 Buildings that Changed America, certainly has. The series, hosted by Emmy-award winning producer Geoffrey Baer, proves that architecture is the cultural back-bone of any society.  The show was created to celebrate and explore ten of the most influential American buildings—and the architect’s that designed them—that dramatically altered the architectural landscape of this country.

Continue reading after the jump.

That’s So 2007: Architecture Billings Index Continues to Show Healthy Increase

National
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
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BILLINGS (BLUE) AND INQUIRIES (RED) FOR THE PAST 12 MONTHS. (THE ARCHITECT’S NEWSPAPER)

BILLINGS (BLUE) AND INQUIRIES (RED) FOR THE PAST 12 MONTHS. (THE ARCHITECT’S NEWSPAPER)

Over the past few months the Architecture Billings Index has shown the strongest growth in the demand for design services since 2007 and once again reports an incrementally strengthened score of 54.9 for February, a slight increase from a 54.2 in January (and a 51.2 in December). All four regions scored above 50, an indicator of positive growth. The Northeast performed the best at 56.7, the West and the Midwest tied at 54.7, and the South finished with a 52.7.

Continue reading after the jump.

Michael Speaks Headed North to Syracuse University as New Architecture Dean

Dean's List, National
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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Micheal Speaks (courtesy UK College of Design)

Micheal Speaks (courtesy UK College of Design)

Michael Speaks, Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Design, has just been appointed Dean of Architecture at Syracuse University. Mark Robbins left that post to direct the International Center of Photography in New York. Speaks, who has been at UK since 2008, cited a number of initiatives as his legacy in Kentucky, including many that engaged directly with urban and rural issues in the Commonwealth. “I arrived here at an inauspicious time, a very economically challenging one, ” he told AN. “One of our goals was to make sure that as many studios engaged with real world problems as possible.”
Read More

Filament Mind LED Light Installation Shares Library Searches

National, Newsletter
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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(David Agnello Photography, www.davidagnello.com / COURTESY E/B OFFICE)

(David Agnello Photography / Courtesy E/B OFFICE)

Before there was the Kindle and the Sony Reader, there were paperback novels, newspapers, magazines, made of tangible materials, like paper and ink. One could ride the subway and sneak a glimpse into the mind of his fellow passengers without ever exchanging a word; the title printed on the cover of the book you were reading might reveal volumes about your interests and curiosities. With the invasion of e-books and e-readers, there is just no way to tell what people are reading these days. Designers Brian W. Bush and Yong Ju Lee of E/B Office New York changed that with their Filament Mind installation that debuted in late January at the grand opening of the Teton County Library in Jackson, Wyoming.

Continue reading after the jump.

State Department Announces Five Firms Will Lead Overseas Renovation Project

International, Midwest, National
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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An aerial view of the U.S. Embassy in London by Kieren Timberlake. (Courtesy Kieren Timberlake)

An aerial view of the U.S. Embassy in London by Kieren Timberlake. (Courtesy Kieren Timberlake)

The State Department’s overseas embassies are getting a facelift. Under the “Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Worldwide Major Rehabilitation/Renovation Architecture/Engineering Design Services solicitation,” a team of designers will overhaul overseas facilities.

Five design teams to undertake the project.

House Bill Seeks To Boot Gehry From Eisenhower Memorial Project, AIA Says Not Cool

National
Friday, March 15, 2013
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The legislation would eliminate Gehry's design for the memorial and cut future federal financing.

The legislation would eliminate Gehry’s design for the memorial and cut future federal financing.

A new bill before the U.S. House of Representatives is seeking to build consensus to junk Frank Gehry’s design for the Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall. The bill, known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Completion Act, was proposed by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). It cites concerns over the controversial nature of the design and its escalating costs (currently estimated at well over $100 million) and seeks to “facilitate the completion of an appropriate national memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

Opposition to Gehry’s proposal has been brewing for some time. The antagonists include members of Eisenhower’s family and the National Civic Art Society, which published a 153-page report that called Gehry’s scheme a “travesty” and a “Happy McMonument.”

The AIA feels differently. The association released a statement opposing Rep. Bishop’s bill. The statement does not express an opinion about the value of Gehry’s design, but rather disapproves of the “arbitrary nature” of this exercise of “governmental authority.” Lodge your feelings about the bill and/or Gehry’s design in the comments section of this post.

Providence Takes Top Award in Bloomberg Mayors Challenge

National
Thursday, March 14, 2013
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Bloomberg gives Providence $5 million to implement system to monitor low-income families. (Martha Heinemann Bixby / Flickr)

Bloomberg Philanthropies gives Providence $5 million to implement system to monitor low-income families. (Martha Heinemann Bixby / Flickr)

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the winners of its Mayors Challenge, a competition meant to generate innovative ideas for the improvement of city life. Out of the 300 cities that submitted proposals, the giving institution created by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg gave the Grand Prize for Innovation to Providence, RI, and its mayor, Angel Taveras. The city was awarded $5 million to implement its project, what Bloomberg Philanthropies called a “cutting-edge early education initiative.” Under the initiative, participating children will wear a recording device home that will monitor the conversations they have with their parents or other adults. The transcripts of these conversations will then be used to develop weekly coaching sessions in which government monitors or someone will coach the grownups on how better to speak with their children.

Continue reading after the jump.

3D Printing’s Newest Champion: Newt Gingrich?!

National
Thursday, March 7, 2013
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Newt Gingrich with a Makerbot 3D printer. (Montage by AN)

Newt Gingrich with a Makerbot 3D printer. (Montage by AN)

While President Obama may have called out the economic potential of 3D printing in his State of the Union, one prominent Republican is trumpeting the new technology. In an article posted on the conservative website Human Events, former Speak of the House and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich claims, “the greatest difference in our generation may not be between liberals and conservatives, but between the pioneers of the future and prisoners of the past.” Among the technologies he praises, 3D printing is nothing less than “revolutionary.”

Gingrich has long been a fan of futurist thinking and advanced technology. He campaigned for a colony on the Moon, another place where 3D printing would come in handy:

3D printing may revolutionize logistics and save an amazing amount of money in the Defense Department. It may also revolutionize our capacity to go into space by allowing manufacturing on asteroids and the Moon with minimum weight requirements. 3D printing may also return manufacturing to the United States by eliminating the advantages of low cost mass produced production runs.

 

Obama Appoints EPA and Energy Heads.  Obama Appoints EPA and Energy Heads President Obama is expected to announce Gina McCarthy (above, right) as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Ernest Moniz (above, left) as the Secretary of Energy. McCarthy now serves as an assistant administrator at the EPA where she oversees regulating air pollution, including helping to double fuel-efficiency standards for cars, according to NPR. Moniz is currently a nuclear physicist at MIT, where he directs the university’s Energy Initiative, according to the Washington Post. He has been a proponent of alternative energy sources, but some environmentalists are wary of his support for natural gas and “fracking.” (Photo: Courtesy MIT / EPA)

 

One Year After Dallas’ First Calatrava Bridge, Another On The Way

National
Friday, March 1, 2013
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Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. (Halle Darling-Menking)

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. (Halle Darling-Menking)

It’s been nearly a year since the Santiago Calatrava-designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge opened in Dallas. Part of an overarching plan to redevelop the banks of the Trinity River, the cable-stayed bridge’s 400-foot-tall central arch pylon has given the Big-D a much-needed civic icon in the otherwise flat and uninhabited swath that the watercourse cuts through the urban fabric.

These photos, taken by budding young photographer Halle Darling-Menking, convey something of the motion and excitement motorists experience while traversing the span. The lines of the cables seem to warp and flex, the arch itself to deflect and lean.

Fans of the crossing now have something more to cheer about. In January, the Dallas City Council approved funding for a second Calatrava-designed bridge across the Trinity, this one expected to cost $115 million. The second bridge, to be known as the Margaret McDermott Bridge, will replace the current Interstate 30 span. It features two arches running parallel to the span supporting pedestrian and bike paths. Construction will begin this spring and completion is expected by May 2017.

More photos and a rendering of the new bridge after the jump.

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