Target Tosses Graves, Ending 13 Year Partnership. After collaborating on dozens of products from tea kettles to toilet plungers, Minneapolis-based Target is ending its 13 year partnership with architect Michael Graves, according to the Star-Tribune. ”Michael Graves was Target’s first and longest-standing design partner to date,” Stacia Andersen, senior vice president of home merchandising, said in a statement. “Together, we created an iconic product collection that expertly blended design with function.” A final Graves collection will debut in March and will be available through 2012. Graves was the first well-known designer to work with the discount retailer, and his products proved so successful that the company has since worked with numerous other product and fashion designers.
Corb’s Unité d’Habitation Damaged By Fire. The Guardian is reporting that one of Le Corbusier’s most famous works, the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, France, has been damaged in a fire. Three apartments were gutted and many other units were damaged by the fire, which took 12 hours to contain. Five people were being treated for injuries. Originally built as low-income housing between 1947 and 1951, the Unité is now a protected landmark in France and home to approximately 1600 residents in 334 apartments.
Gehry Snags Another Theater In Culver City. Fresh off his completion of the Pershing Square Signature Theater in New York, Frank Gehry is now designing a new home for Culver City music venue Jazz Bakery. According to the LA Times the project will be located on a narrow strip of city-owned land next to the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The plan happened quickly because the city worried that the elimination of the Culver City Redevelopment agency (which had administered the land) might ruin the project’s chances. The theater company, which used to be located in the Helms Bakery complex down the street, wants to build a two-story building containing a 250-seat concert room and a small black box theater. The overall budget is $10.2 million, although Gehry is planning to do his part of the job for free.
LPC Approves Plans for Governors Island. In a unanimous decision, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the first phase of plans by the Trust for Governors Island to restore and revamp the island. The vision includes a paisley-like landscape by West 8 on the terrace in front of McKim, Mead and White designed Liggett Hall. Way-finding by Pentagram and lighting by Susan Tillotson also made the cut. For a detailed breakdown of the designs click here.
Is Frederick Law Olmsted Bad for Landscape Architecture? Mark Hough put it bluntly in his latest article from Landscape Architecture magazine reposted on the American Society of Landscape Architects’ blog, “Our preoccupation with Olmsted stems from a chronic, debilitating inferiority complex that plagues our profession. We lament that laypeople confuse us with landscape designers and horticulturists, and we envy the greater visibility that architects enjoy. All of this contributes to a feeling of inadequacy…The fear seems to be that if people stop talking about him, they stop talking about landscape architecture. I hate to say it, but there is some truth in that paranoia.” Read the rest of the article at the ASLA Dirt.
Perkins+Will Talks Transparency. Fred Bernstein of The New York Times quizzed Chris Youssef and Peter Syrett of Perkins+Will about their “Transparency” lists, an online database “linking common forms of flooring, lumber, wiring, pipes and other construction materials to government warnings about the substances contained in them.” The site is divided into the “Precautionary List” (harmful substances commonly found in the built environment), a list of asthma triggers, a list of toxicity levels of commonly used flame retardants, and a list of lists (a resource library). It’s a valuable tool for architects and designers; for lay users, it could become the WebMD for home and office (“Hey honey, did you know that a lot of treated wood contains arsenic?!”)
Steven Holl’s Houston Unification. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston announced today that architect Steven Holl was selected to build a new building on a two-acre parking lot in the city’s Museum District, besting Morphosis and Snøhetta. Situated among other structures by Mies van der Rohe, Raphael Moneo, and a sculpture garden by Isamu Noguchi, Holl’s building dedicated to art after 1900 will help unify the campus. According to MFAH Director Gary Tinterow, “Everyone on the committee was deeply impressed by the intelligence and beauty of their museum projects, and we feel certain that they will conceive a design that will match the clarity and elegance of our existing architectural landmarks.”
Whew! EPA Declares Chicago’s Air is Still Dirty. Most people would think that politicians would want their cities to be declared in compliance with Clean Air Act standards, but not Chicago! Illinois Governor Quinn and others the EPA lobbied to make sure Chicago is counted as having dirty air, in spite of initial findings from that Chicago’s pollution levels had improved significantly from 2008 to 2010. Why? Money of course! According to Crain’s, a cleaner air ruling would have jeopardized up to $80 million in funding for projects to promote cleaner air, including transit upgrades and bike paths. While the logic is mind-bending, at least it means better public transportation and biking options!
Green Monsters. Isn’t it annoying when you’re trying to do your part to go green and then things catch on fire? In what some are calling a case of “green on green crime,” a low-e glass window has been accused of melting the side-view mirror of a nearby Toyota Prius in Southern California. The Prius owner noticed a concentrated beam of sunlight reflecting off her neighbor’s windows, which had been treated with a highly reflective energy efficient coating, after being told by her Toyota dealership that nothing was wrong with her car. It wouldn’t be the first time good windows turned bad: Las Vegas’ Vdara hotel made headlines when its “death ray” reflected super-hot beams of light onto its pool deck, allegedly burning some sunbathers. Following reports of melted vinyl siding, pool covers, and car parts across the country, the National Association of Home Builders has launched a study about the amount of concentrated sunlight reflected from energy efficient windows. [DailyTech, image via CBS]
Too Warm for Winter Jam, says NYC Parks. Hang up those snowshoes. The NYC Parks Department has officially canceled this year’s Winter Jam, an annual event that invites New Yorkers to come try out an array of snow sports in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. What gives? Not only is there no snow in the forecast for the planned February 4 date, but average temperatures are too high for the city to even fake it. “It is simply too warm to make snow, and the long-range weather forecasts and current ground temperatures make it extremely unlikely that snow could be made,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
Three Pelli Towers to Rise on the Chicago River. According to the Sun-Times, the Kennedy family and top tier developer Hines are working on plans for three towers at the Wolf Point site, just west of the Merchandise Mart, to be designed by Cesar Pelli. Currently used as a parking lot, the Kennedy-owned site has dramatic views of the covergence of the Chicago River as well as the Loop. Plans call for the tallest building to reach 60 stories. No word yet on the uses for the buildings. Full details of the proposal are expected to be released in March or April. Pelli’s only other building in Chicago is an office tower at 181 West Madison.
Illinois Bests California and New York in Green Building. If you still think green building is a primarily coastal pursuit, you would be wrong. According to the USGBC, Illinois ranks third in square footage of certified green building per capita in 2011 (2.69 square feet a person) behind the District of Columbia (31.50!) and the state of Colorado (2.74). The leading states are scattered far and wide, with Texas (#8 with 1.99) outranking crunchy California (1.92). New York is even further behind (1.89), just edging out Minnesota’s 1.81 square feet per person.