Surveying the Landscape Landscape.  (Courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates) Good news for landscape designers, and really for everyone.  According to the Business Quarterly survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the landscape profession showed improvements in key metrics which indicate the industry’s economic state of affairs. Hiring, billable hours, and new business inquiries all increased in the first quarter of 2012, showing marked improvement over the last quarter of 2011.  FQ 2012 saw 71.3 percent of firms reporting stable or improved billable hours, and 76.2 percent reported stable or improved inquiries for new work.  It’s not just good news for our parks and for our campuses, but it’s also good news for the economy overall.


Another Rudolph in Danger.  The Sarasota High School by Paul Rudolph. (Courtesy Design Observor) While Paul Rudolph aficionados are in a holding pattern until Thursday, awaiting news from Goshen about whether the Orange County Government Center will be torn down, Design Observer‘s Mark Lamster has put another endangered Rudolph onto their radar. The Sarasota school board in Florida is considering a renovation of Sarasota High School that would enclose its stepped entryway and canopy. Lamster warns that the alteration “would utterly compromise the Rudolph’s vision and the work itself.”


Aga Khan Award for Architecture Prize Doubles.  Aga Khan Award for Architecture Prize Doubles The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, awarded every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning, landscape architecture, and historic preservation, has announced its prize will double to $1 million. The Award, which seeks projects that address the needs of societies in which Muslims have a significant presence, typically goes to projects that innovate the use of local resources and technology. Recent winners have focused on improving public spaces in rural societies and communities on the outskirts of urban centers. His Highness the Aga Khan explained in a statement, “One of the important aspects of the Award is that winners should be able to reposition their future with the support they get from the Award, both professionally and institutionally.”


Poe Visitor Center Void to be Filled.  Toshiko Mori's Poe Park Visitor Center may finally get staffed. (Courtesy Iwan Baan) The Parks Department is looking to fill the brand new, but vacant Edgar Allan Poe Visitor Center that was left empty after a funding feud between Parks and the Bronx County Historical Society.  Parks anticipated that the society would run the Toshiko Mori-designed center, but the society balked. Now, it appears as though Parks is looking for a coordinator to run seasonal programing through January 2013.


Seagram and Lever to Get a Swanky New Neighbor.  Seagram and Lever to Get a Swanky New Neighbor L&L Holding Company, owners of a midcentury office tower at 425 Park Avenue, are looking to build a new, high design office tower on that site. It would be the first new office tower built on Park Avenue since the 1980s. Some of the biggest names in architecture are competing for the job: Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Ateliers Christian de Portzamparc, Herzog & de Meuron, Foster & Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, OMA, Maki and Associates, KPF, Richard Meier and Partners, Rogers Sirk Harbour + Partners, and Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of the center for urban real estate at Columbia, is running the competition for L&L. “This competition of ideas is the first step in the process of realizing a globally advanced, bespoke skyscraper that will both complement Park Avenue’s existing architectural treasures and make its own indelible mark in the world’s most timeless office corridor,” he said in a statement.


Todd and Billie to Get Arty for the Big Green.  Todd and Billie to Get Arty for the Big Green Expect to be hear a lot about Todd Williams and Billie Tsien in the weeks and months to come. First up, their much anticipated (and highly controversial) new building for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, which opens imminently. Second, the fate of their building for the American Folk Art Museum (now owned by MoMA) hangs in the balance, with Jean Nouvel’s tower looming on the horizon. Third comes the announcement that the pair will renovate and expand the Hood Art Museum at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The project will include new and renovated galleries for Darmouth’s art collection, which dates to 1772.


Big Bucks for Big Dredge.  A $250 million influx will make way for ever-larger cargo vessels. As we reported yesterday, New York’s Vision2020 plan is well on its way toward becoming a legal reality. Mayor Bloomberg has now backed up the plan with substantial infrastructure. Together with Port Authority Director Patrick Foye, the mayor today announced a $250 million economic development package to facilitate dredging the Harbor and dropping the water main that runs from Brooklyn to Staten Island to 100 feet underground. The deeper channels will accommodate the mega cargo ships that fit through the expanded Panama canal that will be completed in 2014. The next generation of boats are about double the size of todays ships.


Everybody Walks In LA.  Everybody Walks In LA Or at least that’s the goal of Los Angeles Walks!, a pedestrian advocacy group that aims to make walking accessible and safe in a city that has long been stereotyped as car-centric. Among other things the group recommends improvements to dangerous intersections through better crosswalk design, better way finding, road diets (aka street slimming), and various policy changes. This Saturday evening the group is hosting the Los Angeles Walks Karaoke Fundraiser at Atwater Crossing in LA’s Atwater Village. Get out there and sing! And if you drive there, at least park a few blocks away…


Charlie Rose: Mayors Roundtable.  Baltimore's Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake on Charlie Rose yesterday. Charlie Rose held a roundtable with four American mayors on last night’s program. Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel joined Louisville’s Greg Fischer, Baltimore’s Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and Jacksonville’s Alvin Brown. From infrastructure, to education, to public private partnerships, the crew parsed the pressing issues. They even delved into the tricky tango that cities must dance with the federal and state governments.


Wednesday! The Institute as the Women Saw It.  Courtesy Author House Publishing Wednesday night at Van Alen Institute, AN’s own Julie Iovine will moderate a panel discussion on the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies. The IAUS, at first affiliated with the MoMA and Cornell University, was dedicated to research, education, and discourse on architecture and urbanism. Artists, architects, and historians collaborated on projects that would shape architectural discourse for decades—Koolhaas’ Delirious New York was born out of his time at the Institute. The discussion will center on Suzanne Frank’s new book IAUS: An Insider’s Memoir, with fellow Institute alumni Diana Agrest, Suzanne Stephens, and Frederieke Taylor.


BIG Wins Culture Center in Bordeaux.  Bjarke IngelsOn April 14 the Regional Council of Bordeaux, France announced that BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) was selected to design the new Maison de l’économie créative et de la culture en Aquitaine, a.k.a. “la Méca.” The new building on the riverfront site will house three regional visual and performing arts agencies. The website of France’s SudOuest newspaper reports that BIG beat out SANAA and the Toulouse-based firm W-Architectures with a design for a 120-foot-tall arch-shaped building featuring a 14,000-square-foot roof terrace. The 52-million-euro scheme awaits final approval at a May 21 council meeting…stay tuned for the renderings!


St. Louis’ Flying Saucer Saved.  Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL) Preserving mid-century modern architecture has become a hot-button issue around the country as aging icons are becoming old enough to be called historic. Last year a citizen-led preservation effort to save the unlikely icon in St. Louis, a threatened gas-station-turned-fast-food-restaurant with a distinctive concrete saucer, was launched. Now, it looks like the building will once again become a burrito stand as the developer has confirmed the building will house a Starbucks and a Chipotle. NextSTL has the details.


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