Heading into the holidays, the AIA has more good economic news to report: the Architectural Billings Index (ABI) has recorded a third straight month of growth. The October score was 52.8, up from September’s 51.6 (any score above 50 indicates a growth in billings). The uptick reflects improving conditions in the housing market and real estate more broadly. All four regions were in positive territory, with the South leading at 52.8, followed by the Northeast at 52.6, the West at 51.8, and the Midwest at 50.8.
And then there were 20. The Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge has narrowed its list of competing cities to 20 finalists! The competition—which encourages architects, city planners, and governments to come up with innovative solutions to improve city life—was originally announced in June by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to assist in addressing urban challenges. Of the 305 cities that submitted proposals, 20 were chosen to continue to the next step: an Ideas Camp, where the final five will be selected and a total of $9 million will be awarded to implement their ideas.
Visit Greenbuild, the world’s biggest green design conference taking place this year in San Francisco, for a chance to win an iPad Mini and a $250 AMEX gift card thanks to The Architect’s Newspaper, Buro Happold, YKK AP America, Greenscreen, Monodraught, and Firestone Building Products. Hit up the GRAPSHISOFT, YKK AP, Firestone, and Greenscreen booths to collect a postcard to be stamped by each of the four companies. Be sure to fill out your contact information on the postcard. Your postcard will be entered in a lottery and AN will select a winner the week of November 19th. See you at Greenbuild!
Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the northeastern United States overnight, hitting Lower Manhattan especially hard. The 14-foot storm surge, the highest tide ever recorded in 200 years, swept across the city filling tunnels, basements, and streets and causing massive power outages across Lower Manhattan.
AN‘s Murray Street headquarters is fortunately located on high ground in Tribeca, but the city-wide subway shutdown, power outage, and cell service outages have made the offices temporarily inaccessible. Editors in New York and across the country continue to work through the aftermath of the natural disaster to produce the best in architectural journalism daily, both in print and online as New York returns to normal, but please bear with us as we work to return to our normal routine, and check back often for the most current architectural news.
John Johansen, a creative force in New York City architecture for nearly 50 years years, died at his home in Wellflett, Mass on October 26. A member of Walter Gropius’ first class at Harvard starting in 1935 Johansen was a confirmed modernist but committed to a highly personal, idioysynctatic, and artistic version of the style.
He was also a member of the New Canaan Five (Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Landis Gores, and Elliot Noyes) and a celebrated designer during this period, but in recent years many of his best known designs like the Mechanics Theater in Baltimore and the Mummers Theater in Oaklahoma City have come under attack and are threatened with demolition.
We can’t resist when architects bring out the knives and engage in the fall ritual of pumpkin carving. Jenny Wu of the LA-based Oyler Wu Collaborative shared the results of their annual pumpkin carving contest set in front of the firm’s Screenplay installation. Happy Halloween!
Planning and transportation wonks from around the country gathered at NYU’s Kimmel Center this morning to mark the beginning of three-days of the NACTO Designing Cities conference, emphasizing new and innovative ideas for designing streets and public spaces. To jumpstart the event, the National Association of City Transportation Officials released the Urban Street Design Guide, collecting design principles, strategies, and case studies from across the country on how to best design and implement everything from cycletracks to bus rapid transit.
The AIA has released its Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for September, and the news looks good. According to the organization, the ABI score went to 51.6, up from 50.2 in August (any score above 50 reflects an increase in billings). The spike marks the fastest increase in the demand for design services since 2010.
The AIA tied the upswing in billings to an increased demand for rental housing. “Going back to the third quarter of 2011, the multi-family residential sector has been the best performing segment of the construction field,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “With high foreclosure levels in recent years, more stringent mortgage approvals and fewer people in the market to buy homes there has been a surge in demand for rental housing. The upturn in residential activity will hopefully spur more nonresidential construction.”
Cecil Balmond, who famously left ARUP to start his own firm, Cecil Balmond Studio, a couple years ago, has a mesmerizing new project. The ethereal light sculpture, dubbed Snow Words, stretches out towards the Alaskan sky and illuminates the lobby of the new Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage. Suspended between a glazed skylight and a mirrored floor, the 30-foot-high beacon, which opened last month, seems to float within its laser-cut cylindrical shell. Made of LED-lit rods calibrated to a unique sequence, the installation commemorates the officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
This year is the first ever Designers & Books Fair in Manhattan and The Architect’s Newspaper is giving away two Exhibition Floor Tickets to one lucky reader to attend the event. The fair, presented by the Designers & Books website that reveals architects’ favorite reads, runs from Friday, October 26 to 28 at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. The event will exhibit leading design book publishers and sellers from the United States and Europe along with discussions, interviews, and presentations from an international panel of designers including Todd Oldham, Hal Rubenstein, Michael Bierut, Steven Heller, Paul Goldberger, Tod Williams and Billy Tsien among others. There will also be rare and out-of-print book dealers, with up to 40 percent discounts, book signings, and demonstrations on calligraphy, letterpress printing, and bookbinding.
To win a ticket, post a comment below with the title of your favorite architecture or design book. We’ll choose a random winner Thursday at 1:00p.m. EST. For more information about the fair, the schedule, and to purchase exhibition floor or panel tickets, visit the Designers & Books’ website.
Two new apps are helping to change the relationship between architecture and technology, allowing architects and designers to sketch and trace and view augmented reality 3-D renderings right on their iPads.
As its name suggests, the Trace app from the Morpholio Project allows users to draw—with a stylus or a finger—over digitized manilla-yellow tracing paper and sketch graphic concepts directly onto an iPad screen. Designers can add new layers of Trace, creating a timeline for the design process and allowing for easy sharing between colleagues.