The suburbs are in a sorry state—rampant foreclosures, derelict downtowns, and anyone under 35 fleeing for their lives. But as we’ve reported in a look at Long Island, the burbs are now seeing the stirrings of a smart-growth insurrection as town officials try to find a sustainable way to the future. Helping lead the charge, the Long Island Index is today announcing the launch of Build a Better Burb, an open ideas competition to rethink what the suburbs can be. They want us to dream big—and they’re dangling $22,500 in prizes for the boldest solutions for retrofitting Long Island’s acres of “underperforming asphalt.” Read More
In the world of historical preservation, when it comes to restoring a building, there is often the difficult question to answer of when does history begin and end? So many of our significant elderly structures have undergone numerous renovations and additions, such that stakeholders can easily come to loggerheads when deciding exactly what to protect and what to discard. Just such a drama has recently played out in Hondo, Texas—a little town west of San Antonio—where county commissioners have decided to not restore their courthouse to its original 1893 condition. While the project, which was to receive funding from the Texas Historical Commission (THC), would have restored an 1893 clock tower, it also required demolishing two wings of the building that were added in 1938-40 by the Works Projects Administration (WPA).
The New York Times reports on a company called Calera, which says it can capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas power plants and inject it into concrete. The company is pretty secretive about the process, but says that it combines carbon dioxide with seawater or groundwater brine, leaving calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, which are used in making cement. Many are skeptical that they can do this on a large scale, though, and others wonder about new environmental problems, like the creation of harmful acids. But if their claim is legit it could be a major boon to environmentalists and to the construction industry. This could be construction’s version of the Bloom box, which is essentially a little power plant in a box. What other inventions will transform our industry? Any ideas? Please chime in..
The future has let us down in so many ways—still waiting on that jet pack you promised, Hollywood!—but this sweet new gadget should tide us over for a little while, at least. Straight out of Star Trek, it was demonstrated at last month’s SPAR 2010 conference in Houston by Austin-based company Zebra Imaging. The technology produces strikingly realistic holographic models, printed on two-dimensional sheets of plastic. Each hologram is the product of thousands of still images, stored in any format from satellite photographs to (calling all architects!) CAD models. These images are then compiled and printed onto a sheet of photographic film up to two feet wide and three feet long. Read More
Hard to believe Glenn Beck isn’t already up in arms over the president’s decision to nominate his long-time friend and former Weatherman (some might say terrorist) to become the Architect of the Capitol. Oh. Wait. Wrong Ayers. Stephen Ayers, who has actually been serving as AoC for the past three years on an interim basis, was nominated to take over full-time on Tuesday by the Obama administration. Previously, Ayers held the position of Deputy Architect of the Capitol, taking over when his predecessor, Alan Hantman, retired after a decade of service. Ayers has had a distinguished career of public service, including a stint in the Air Force, then a turn in the public sector followed by work at Voice of America, the government-run radio network in Europe. By all appearances, his experience in facilities management in general and at the Capitol in particular should silence critics who have been giving the industry grief over the AoC position in recent years. Read More
On Wednesday, right on deadline, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the winners of its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant winners. Out of 1,400 applications totaling $60 billion in requests, the agency awarded $1.5 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to 51 transportation projects in 41 states. The projects ranged in scale from bike paths to major bridges and freight rail installations and the grants ranged in size from $3 million to $105 million. Priority was given to projects that needed federal funds in order to complete their funding package and to projects that are expected to be completed within three years. In New York, the DOT awarded $83 million to the first phase of Moynihan Station. This bit of good news for the project, which has been mired for years in funding difficulties, was bolstered yesterday when Amtrak reaffirmed its intentions to move its operations into the proposed station.
New York designer David Rockwell has once again been tagged to put together the set for the Oscars, which will take place on March 7 at the Kodak Theater. Instead of messing with a good thing, he’s once again framing the stage with the Swarovski “Crystal Curtain,” made up of 92,000 crystals hanging in an upside-down crescent shape over the proceedings. This time the crystals (rendering above) will be colored in white, platinum, topaz, and bronze hues (the dominant colors last year were cool blue and white). The set will also include three circular, revolving platforms along with rotating LEDs and metalwork projection screens to keep things moving along at the notoriously slow event (which will have two hosts this year: Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin). “We wanted big, open, crisp environments that would work for comedy. Eventually, that led us to the idea of the set being about immersion in the world of movies. Stylistically, I realized the optimism of modernism in L.A. and the heyday of Hollywood was the perfect way in,” he told the L.A. Times yesterday.
Last year, the Center for Land Use Interpretation of Culver City, California, exhibited its study of the Texas oil industry: Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry. The centerpiece of the exhibit was a 12-minute “landscan” video of the petrochemical infrastructure along the Houston Ship Channel—refineries, tank farms, pipe lines—the largest such installation in the world. Now, at long last, the CLUI has posted the video online, giving us another breathtaking perspective of this terrifying and beautiful landscape.
For readers of the paper—the print paper, that is—you know full well the importance of our reviews section, just as vital to the pulse of the architectural discourse as the news and features we regularly publish. Online, however, we have never had a good, dedicated place for these disquisitions on the latest books, exhibitions, and ephemera. But, no longer! Now, we will be posting one review from recent issues each Friday, for your weekend enjoyment. Perhaps you can pull it up on your new iPad with the Sunday Times, or print it out and enjoy with a bloody mary or two. We know that’s what Herbert Muschamp, subject of our inaugural effort, would have done. And don’t forget to check back next Friday for more. Until then, happy reading.
This weekend the AIA announced that The Architect’s Newspaper has been awarded a 2010 Collaborative Achievement Award. We’re thrilled to get the national recognition because even as a regional publication (Ok-now three regionals) we have always aimed our sights as high and wide as possible. The Architect’s Newspaper has always prided itself as well on its independent voice and critical attitude toward the practice and profession of architecture, while still working collaboratively with the AIA on many events, including the New Practices program in New York and San Francisco. We’re honored our voice has been heard, and we look forward to picking up our award at the AIA national convention on June 10-12 in Miami. Thank you, AIA!
On the heels of the Saints’ victory, the Big Easy had another big win this week, this time in the form of a $474.8 million FEMA payment. But preservationists have been dealt a major blow in their fight to save 70-year-old Charity Hospital in New Orleans, along with a tract of historic homes and structures in the city’s Mid-City district. For the past four years, Louisiana state officials have been at loggerheads with FEMA over the extent of Hurricane Katrina’s damages to Charity, which has been shuttered since the storm. On Wednesday, a federal arbitration panel ordered FEMA to pay nearly all of the requested replacement costs for the state-owned hospital. The ruling was a triumph for city and state officials who argued that Charity was more than 50 percent damaged by the hurricane and therefore eligible for replacement, instead of repair. Read More