Poe Visitor Center Void to be Filled. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. On 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. 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.
Menil Drawing Institute Shortlist Announced. The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas has announced a shortlist for the new Menil Drawing Institute, which includes David Chipperfield Architects, Johnston Marklee, Tatiana Bilbao/mx.a, and SANAA. The building will be the largest freestanding space devoted to drawings. The competitors certainly have a high bar to meet. Renzo Piano’s building for the Menil collection is considered one of the best places to view art in the country. “In this year, when we observe the 25th anniversary of our great museum building by Renzo Piano, we are pleased to begin realizing our vision for the future by selecting the next architect to design a major building for the Menil campus,” said Josef Helfenstein, director of the collection, in a statement. “By taking on the challenge of designing MDI—the only facility of its kind—the architect will create a home for our largest, fastest-growing but most delicate collection of artworks, while also providing an important new focal point for the entire campus.”
MIT Launches New Multidisciplinary Initiative. With a $1.5 million Mellon Foundation grant in hand, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is establishing a Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST), which will advance integrated arts education in higher learning. The proposal was co-sponsored by the associate provost and the deans of the schools of Architecture and Planning and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. The grant will provide funds for faculty, researchers, and curators to develop multidisciplinary programs that traverse art, science, and technology. It will also support the University’s Visiting Artists program. “MIT has a great legacy in this domain,” Architecture Dean Adele Naude Santos said in a statement. “MIT created the first architecture program in the country and is today a leader in new forms of design and digital fabrication; the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, founded by György Kepes in 1967, established a model for collaborations among artists, scientists and engineers; and the Media Lab is internationally renowned for pioneering efforts in the fields of design, media arts and electronic music.”
Thursday: Panel discusses designs for Long Island City. Thursday night at the Center for Architecture, AN‘s executive editor and editor of the forthcoming Civic Action publication Julie V. Iovine will moderate a panel on Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City, a site-study and exhibition featuring innovative design proposals for the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. The panel will include Lyn Rice, Elliott Maltby, and Claire Weisz speaking about involving the arts in civic planning. See you there!