Architect proposes a pedestrian bridge in Israel built from discarded shipping containers

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(Yoav Messer Architects)

There is an ongoing architectural quest to find new and innovative sustainable materials. Some products could appear in the next science fiction film, such as the fungus-grown packaging material by Ecovative. Other materials have been with us for a long time, under guise of other uses. Some products—like the lowly shipping container—have served one function for so long they beg to be reinvented.

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With Caveats, High Speed Rail, And Its Stations, Chug Ahead In California

Conceptual rendering of the Fresno to Bakersfield route (CA High Speed Rail)

Conceptual rendering of the Fresno to Bakersfield route (CA High Speed Rail)

Despite ongoing delays, lawsuits, and government holdups, it appears that California’s High Speed Rail (HSR) plans (and their associated stations) are ready to move ahead. Last week the United States Department of Transportation issued a “Record of Decision” for HSR’s initial 114-mile section from Fresno to Bakersfield.

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Deep Underground, Researchers Testing Giant Elevators for the World’s Tallest Building

KONE Ultrarope (Courtesy KONE Online Bank)

KONE Ultrarope (Courtesy KONE Online Bank)

Where there are tall buildings there are also tall elevators. Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower, designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, will be the tallest building in the world if constructed as planned. The building is expected to stand 3,281 feet tall and will require elevators the likes of which the world has never seen. Luckily for the Kingdom Tower, one elevator company is researching the extremes of vertical circulation.

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Researchers Train Robots to 3D Print Architecture

Minibuilders (Courtesy Iaac)

Minibuilders (Courtesy Iaac)

The future of architecture is upon us, and thanks to a team of researchers led by Sasa Jokic and Petr Novikov, construction workers may soon be made obsolete. A team from the Institute for Advanced Architecture Catalonia (IAAC) is currently tackling the challenge of making “mini-builders”: drones that are capable of applying 3-D printing at a large, architectural scale.

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Facade Expert Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido on the Perils of Homogenous Design

Leatop Plaza in Guangzhou, China. (Courtesy JAHN)

Leatop Plaza in Guangzhou, China. (Courtesy JAHN)

According to Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, president of Chicago-based JAHN, contemporary facade design neglects one of the building envelope’s foremost responsibilities: storytelling. “There is a focus now on using the building massing to convey the key message,” he said. “However, I think it’s through the facade that we can bring a more compelling narrative about how the building functions.” As an example, Gonzalez-Pulido pointed to Mies van der Rohe’s One IBM Plaza, which he can see from his office. “When you look at the mechanical floors, they’re treated differently,” he said. “In the lobby, the glass is different. This is actually the responsibility of the facade—it’s more than a piece of glass and metal to cover the building.” Read More

The Music City’s New Urbanism: The Nine Projects Leading Nashville’s Transformation

Nashville at night. (joshunter / Flickr)

Nashville at night. (joshunter / Flickr)

For many, architecture isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering Nashville—it’s called the Music City for a reason. But there is more to Nashville than country songs, barbecue ribs, and the eponymous show on ABC. In recent years, the city of 600,000 has become a regional leader in smart urban design and distinctive architecture. New riverfront parks are transforming Nashville’s connection to the Cumberland River, bikeshare docks have appeared around downtown, bus rapid transit is in the works, and the city’s tallest tower is set to rise. And that’s just the start of it. Take a look at the city’s dramatic transformation and a peek at where it’s headed.

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Alexander Gorlin Wraps Supportive Housing in a Binary Skin

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Located in the Bronx, The Brook provides housing and support services for the formerly homeless and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. (Courtesy Alexander Gorlin Architects)

Located in the Bronx, The Brook provides housing and support services for the formerly homeless and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. (Courtesy Alexander Gorlin Architects)

An aluminum rain screen and locally-sourced brick articulate a two-part program.

The Brook, developed by Common Ground and designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, is part of a new wave of affordable housing communities popping up all over the United States. Unlike the public housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, which focused exclusively on housing and tended to suffer from a lack of routine maintenance, The Brook, located in the Bronx, combines apartments and support services under one roof. This duality is manifested in the envelope’s contrasting material palette—dark grey brick for the residential spaces, raw aluminum over the community facilities. “The idea of the exterior was to symbolize, as well as reflect, the internal program of Common Ground as supportive housing,” said Alexander Gorlin. “It’s inspired in part by Le Corbusier and his idea of expressing the program on the facade, and expressing the public functions as a means of interrupting a repetitive facade.” Read More

SHoP Architects Designing Brooklyn’s Newest, Tallest Tower

The site of SHoP's future tower, next to the City Point development.

The site of SHoP’s future tower, next to the City Point development.

SHoP Architects has racked up another major project in Brooklyn. The firm behind the Barclays Center and the Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment, is designing Brooklyn’s newest, tallest tower. NY YIMBY spotted building permits for 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension in Downtown Brooklyn, where the firm’s 775-foot-tall, 495-unit building will rise.

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On View> No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station

(Courtesy Getty Research Institute)

(Courtesy Getty Research Institute)

No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station
Los Angeles Public Library, Central Library
630 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA
Through August 10

Known as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations,” Los Angeles Union Station receives due recognition with the exhibition entitled No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station. Organized by the Getty Research Institute, the exhibition will span from the station’s construction in 1939, when its construction became an incidental platform for racial issues of the era, to today, when it serves 60,000 commuter passengers daily. Photographs, architectural drawings, and other archival items will all relay the story of the station’s journey from a basic transportation hub to an important centerpiece of Southern California architecture. The Los Angeles Public Library—an iconic cultural centerpiece itself—hosts the exhibition until August 10.

Another of Los Angeles’ Famed Googie Diners, Pepy’s Galley, Closes For Good

Pepy's Exterior (Russell Fortmeyer)

Pepy’s quirky exterior (Russell Fortmeyer)

Long-time Mar Vista Lanes diner, Pepy’s Galley, an iconic, authentically Googie-style restaurant, closed its doors forever on Monday. By most accounts, the interior will be a total loss, as the building’s new owner, BowlmorAMF, intends to convert Pepy’s into a catering space for the adjacent bowling alley. The Mar Vista Lanes complex was designed by famed architects Armet & Davis, a seminal Los Angeles firm also known for Pann’s and the original Norm’s restaurant.

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Video Sneak Peek: facades+ Chicago, July 24-25

Like our skin, a building’s facade is a critical intermediary between its interior functions and the outside environment. High-performance envelope design thus incorporates a variety of concerns, from aesthetics to sustainability. Next month, leading AEC industry professionals will gather in the Windy City for facades+ Chicago to discuss the future of facade design through the lens of the conference theme: resilience. For more information or to register, visit the facades+ Chicago website.

Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation to build sustainable homes for Native Americans

GRAFT-home-design (Courtesy GRAFT)

GRAFT-home-design (Courtesy GRAFT)

Brad Pitt’s home-building operation, Make It Right, was initially established in 2007 to rebuild homes in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. The non-profit has built dozens of starchitect-designed houses in New Orleans and a subsequent expansion to Kansas City, near where the actor grew up. Now the organization has taken up its latest charitable challenge: the construction of several sustainable housing developments in Fort Peck, Montana for a Native American tribe there.

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