The Oil Spill Next Door

National
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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At the rate of 5,000 barrels per day, it would take two days to create a Victorian-sized oil spill.

When trying to wrap his brain around the quantities of oil oozing into the Gulf, Hulett Jones of the San Francisco firm Jones Haydu reacted like an architect: He went to SketchUp and did some modeling. Haydu then extracted his ideas to a nifty YouTube video that comes to the clever conclusion that  One Victorian = 2 days of leakage. Wouldn’t it be great if news stories provided this sort of concrete analog for their data points? Edward Tufte would be proud. You can watch the video after the jump. Read More

Walmart? Fugedaboutit!

East Coast, National
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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The stores of Gateway Center 1. Might the second phase include a Walmart? (Courtesy Related)

In the last Midwest issue, we recounted Walmarts struggles to infiltrate urban centers, notably in Chicago. But the world’s largest retailer and the nation’s largest employer has also been eying New York for years, and the Daily News reports that it is making a new push in Brooklyn, which has already met resistance from locals and labor without even being officially announced. The weird thing, though, is how eerily similar there approach is in East New York as with the Pullman project on Chicago’s Far South Side. Both are meant to be the anchor tenant in a larger mixed-use development that involves affordable housing (the former is part of Gateway II, the latter Pullman Park) located in the fringes of their respective cities, places that have been historically economically depressed. This puts Walmart in a better position of arguing that the area is in need of jobs, any jobs, not to mention affordable housing, so how dare politicians and unions try to stop it. Whether it works in Brooklyn or the Far South Side, only time will tell, but if Kingsbridge is any indication, it probably won’t happen in the Five Boroughs any time soon. Pullman, however, might be an entirely different story, as Mayor Daley continues to agitate for the project’s approval.

NEA Gets Big Cheese

National
Thursday, April 15, 2010
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Yesterday, we wrote a story about Jason Schupbach taking over as the NEA’s Design Director. Today, we decided to post that story to Twitter and to look up Schupbach so we could include him in the tweet. What we found were two Twitter accounts, @CreateMA and @thecheesefreak. As it turns out, in addition to being a fan of design and grant writing, Schupbach loves cheese, or so we gleaned from the site, the CheeseFreak, the latter handle directed us to. There, an often giddy Schupbach has posted 24 episodes of his cheesy vlog since September along with very detailed posts about the cheeses and experiences surrounding them. That’s an average of more than three a month, kind of putting us to shame. If he brings even half this much enthusiasm to the NEA, we’re all in luck. And to learn more about all the great work he’s done in the recent past, here‘s a profile from the Globe that we turned up on Google. Ah, the Internet. (Oh, and it goes without saying that if you’re not already following us on Twitter, please do so.)

Landscape On The Range

National
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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A sketch of Heritage Park in Fort Worth, Texas, by Lawrence Halprin.

I don’t know what y’all are doing on May 6 to 8, but if landscape design tickles your pickle then you might want to hightail it down to the Lone Star State. The Cultural Landscape Foundation has partnered with Preservation Dallas and Historic Fort Worth to bring us Landscapes For Living: Post War Years In Texas, a symposium on modern landscape architecture in Texas at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art. Read More

Our Man in Washington

National
Friday, April 9, 2010
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It’s been a busy week for Ray LaHood, our favorite Transportation Secretary. On Monday, he sat down with the Times‘ Green Inc. blog to discuss a range of topics, most notably his recent declaration (video above, shot from atop a table at the National Bike Summit) that cyclists and pedestrians would get equal time, money, and consideration on America’s streets. The next day, a blog post, ostensibly by the secretary, featured an interesting study showing that a staggering amount of us—Americans, not just readers of this blog—want more and bet transit options. And this goes for the nation’s waterways as well, all delivered through a more transparent DOT. And in an unusually unbureaucratic move, the department is even sharing some of its responsibilities, partnering with the EPA to set fuel efficiency standards. The week was capped off today in a sweep through New York to press drivers stop texting and stump for high-speed rail, one of his pet projects. And to think people were afraid he’d be reactionary just because he was a Republican Congressman. Revolutionary is more like it.

East Coast Champs

National
Thursday, April 1, 2010
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Michael Van Valkenburgh (right) with colleague Matt Urbansky at the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Van Valkenburgh has just won top honors from the American Academy. (Matt Chaban)

The American Academy of Arts and Letters named the winners of its 2010 architecture awards Tuesday, which were dominated by northeastern designers. Long-time GSD professor Michael Van Valkenburgh is the recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture. The annual award of $5000 has been given to preeminent architects since 1955, ranging from Louis Kahn to Elizabeth Diller. Van Valkenburgh has designed more than 350 landscapes, including the recently opened Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Academy also announced the winners of its Academy Awards in Architecture, for strong personal work, which go to New York’s planning-obsessed Architecture Research Office and the Afterpartying MOS, of New Haven and Cambridge. And City College architecture dean, critic, and designer Michael Sorkin also won an Academy Award, largely for his writing. The four winners beat out 50 nominees and were selected by academy members Henry Cobb, Hugh Hardy, Steven Holl, Laurie Olin, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams.

The Burbs Unbound

National
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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Uniondale, Long Island. You can do better. (Photo: June Williamson)

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

Preserving The Changes

National
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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The Medina County Courthouse in Hondo, Texas, will remain as-is after a battle between restorationists and preservationists.

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).

Read More

Trapping Carbon In Concrete

National
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
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A sample of Calera concrete (©Jim WIlson/NYT)

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..

Filed Under: , ,

Holomodels

National
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
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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

King of the Hill

National
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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Ayers.

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

DOT Makes It Rain

National
Friday, February 19, 2010
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The DOT awarded the Moynihan Station project $83 million.

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.

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