Christie’s ARC Accounting Questioned. The accounting methods that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie used to put the kibosh on new cross Hudson train tunnel were called in to question in a report released today, the New York Times reports. Christie said that the project, called the Access to the Regions Core (ARC), could run up to $14 billion, but independent Congressional investigators found that it would cost no more than $10 billion. He also claimed that New Jersey would foot more than 70 percent of the bill, but investigators said it would have been more like 14 percent. It should be noted that a constant Christie critic, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, commissioned the report. No matter, it seems to be no skin off the governor’s nose. NJ.com grabbed a quotable quote from the governor speaking in New York this morning at the George W. Bush Institute Conference on Taxes and Economic Growth: “So when they want to build a tunnel to the basement of a Macy’s and stick the New Jersey taxpayers with a bill of $3 to $5 billion over, no matter how much the administration yells and screams, you have to say no.”
Kamin: Humana Resurrecta. Blair Kamin seems to have joined the reconsider PoMo chorus, stating in his Sunday column that the movement “deserves a more sophisticated reappraisal.” The focus of the Tribune tribute was Michael Graves’s Humana building in Louisville, Kentucky. By drawing comparisons to Johnson’s AT&T building in its unabashed commercialism and to Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 333 Waker Drive for its national significance, Kamin writes that “Graves crafted a tower that could only have been built in Louisville.” The reassessment comes on the heel of Graves receiving the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for classical and traditional architecture in Chicago last month, which in turn came after last fall’s PoMo Conference at New York’s Institute for Classical Architecture and Art. Seems that the classicists are going gaga for PoMo.
BMW Guggenheim Lab to Park in Berlin After All. Facing the possibility of anti-gentrification protests, the Guggenheim decided to cancel plans to bring the BMW Guggenheim Lab to the city’s Kreuzberg district. They have decided to bring the lab to the already gentrified Prenzlauer Berg instead, specifically the Pfefferberg cultural center, according to Spiegel online. “The decision to relocate the Lab was not an easy one, but we are very pleased to have so quickly confirmed such a suitable alternative and to continue the urgent and important discussions we have begun about cities, and specifically about Berlin, at the Pfefferberg site,” Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, said in a statement. Time will tell if the move will mollify critics and protesters.
Tragedy and Trials for Number 7. Scene of where the crane collapsed at the Number 7 train extension (AN/Stoelker). It was a tragic day for the Number 7 train extension project yesterday. A crane collapse killed one worker and injured four others on Manhattan’s far west side. According to The New York Times the accident occurred around 7:30PM killing Michael Simermeyer of New Jersey. The accident occurs less than one month after crane collapse at One World Trade sent steel beams tumbling forty stories. Regional transportation also suffered a significant blow. Earlier in the day MTA chairman Joseph Lhota said that the proposed extension to Secaucus was not going to happen. The Wall Street Journal reports that Lhota gave the bad news to a group of construction industry officials. “I know there’s an effort afoot to try to get the subway system to go to New Jersey. I told the mayor this, I told the deputy mayor this: I can’t see this happening in our lifetime,” he said.
Parking Increasingly Passé in Downtown Chicago Towers. Crain’s has an encouraging report on the drop in demand for parking spaces in Chicago’s downtown residential buildings. At Lakeshore East, which includes Studio Gang’s Aqua tower, only 40% of renters are leasing parking spaces. The developers had forecast a 55% demand. As a result many buildings are dropping the price for spaces. Other factors including buildings with on-site car sharing and secure bicycle storage areas are also likely cutting demand for parking spaces. As a result, some developers are rethinking how much parking to include in new projects, which would mean smaller podiums and more active street life, something any city would want.
Channeling Mumford. DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has been invited to deliver the prestigious 2012 Lewis Mumford Lecture on Urbanism at the Spitzer School of Architecture at City College on April 5. The lecture will be held in the freshly restored Shepard Hall.
Gustafson Awarded Brunner Memorial Prize. Kathryn Gustafson, founding partner of Seattle-based landscape architecture firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol has been awarded the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an annual award honoring an architect who has made significant contributions to architecture as an art. Jury member James Polshek noted in a statement, “The power of her imagination and the precision of her execution have enriched the many natural and man-made places she has touched with her magic.” The Academy also awarded five Arts & Letters Awards to Hilary Ballon, Marlon Blackwell, Elizabeth Gray, Alan Organschi, and Michael Maltzan. The awards will be presented this May in New York City.
Defending Gehry’s Take on Ike. In the perennial battle of rads versus trads, Penn professor and former Slate architecture critic Witold Rybczynski often sides with the trads. So it was a bit of a surprise to see Rybczynski take to the op-ed page of the New York Times in defense of Frank Genry’s design for the Eisenhower memorial. Genry’s design has numerous critics including two of Eisenhower’s granddaughters, as well as the usual suspects who think classicism is the only appropriate approach to everything really, especially if it involves patriotism, presidents, or Washington D.C. Rybczynski calls Gehry “our finest living architect” and worries that a design-by-committee approach will undermine the quality of the memorial. Or as Eisenhower might have said, beware of the classicist/reactionary complex.
Minnesotans Driving Less, Taking Transit a lot More. Nationally the number of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) has been declining in recent years. Transit ridership has also held steady or been climbing slightly. Minnesota seems to be a dramatic example of this new transportation reality, according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Transportation as reported on Minnpost.com. They cite a 40% increase in transit ridership from 2004 to 2011, and a small but significant decline in VMTs 2011 from their 2007 peak. Road congestion has also been easing slightly. High gas prices, an increasing preference for walkable neighborhoods, and teenagers postponing getting their licenses are all cited as contributing factors. It all adds up to further evidence that political rhetoric around gas prices, transportation, and energy policy needs to catch up to the reality on the ground.
Facing Threats BMW Guggenheim Lab Swerves Away from Berlin. While the commercialization of museums raises eyebrows in some circles in America, in Germany such criticism is much more forceful and threatening. Activist groups have derailed the planned May 24th opening in Berlin of the BMW Guggenheim lab, according to Bloomberg News. They argued that the mobile lab–which debuted in New York and is traveling the globe, all bankrolled by the German luxury carmaker–would accelerate the gentrification of the Kreuzberg district. The Guggenheim has faced criticism for its sponsors and activities many times before, so this episode is not likely to spur much institutional reflection. According to the report, the Museum is currently shopping for a new host city.
Ped Plaza Hit-and-Run. Well that didn’t take long. Less than a month after opening it’s first pedestrian plaza carved out of underused road space in Silver Lake, a hit-and-run driver in Los Angeles careened into massive planters meant to protect the plaza just before 5 a.m., spewing dirt across Rios Clementi Hale’s polka dotted plaza. Resident Sarah Dryden (whose car was also smashed up) snapped a photo of the mess. No one was hurt, but the city is now looking for more robust bollard options to keep the plaza safe from motorists. (Via Curbed LA.)
More Eyes on Rudolph’s Threatened Orange County Government Center. Recently AN put a spotlight on Rudolph’s threatened Orange County Government Center, through photos and reporting, and many others are coming to defense of this challenging and bewitching building. The World Monuments Fund declared the building a culturally significant site, and a local group is protesting the planned demolition. Bloomberg’s James S. Russell just visited, declaring it, “insistently attention-grabbing in photos, the building reveals a surprising delicacy in person. Rudolph’s complicated shape-making domesticates the building’s institutional scale.” Will prominent architects from around the country rally to around Rudolph’s singular creation? Time is running out.