OXY Goes Solar. President Obama’s Alma Mater Occidental College is finishing up work on a $6.8 million, 1-megawatt ground-mounted solar array. When finished this spring it will be one of the largest ground-mounted arrays in Los Angeles, generating about 11 percent of the College’s annual electrical usage. Led by physics professor Daniel Snowden-Ifft, the array’s 4,886 panels will be mounted on top of shade structures in a campus parking lot and on a nearby hillside.
Getting Boxy in Chicago’s South Loop. Chicago’s South Loop skyline may be getting a new bobble in the form of a boxy rental residential tower across from the Roosevelt University vertical campus. Designed by Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture, the black boxes cantilever over the edge of the one below, creating a cubic counterpoint to Roosevelt’s zig zag. Many of these stacked box schemes—including a project in Jersey City by OMA and the dead Museum Plaza by REX in Louisville—have never made it off the drawing board, so it will be interesting to see if the locals can pull it off.
Allons, enfants! We’re going to Napoleonland. How do you top Euro Disney? With a theme park dedicated to everyone’s favorite Corsican upstart, Napoleon! Bonapartists, rejoice, your day has come. The Telegraph reports that a proposed park just south of Paris will immortalize the military exploits of Napoleon, including defeats at the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo, as well as “a ski run through a battlefield ‘surrounded by the frozen bodies of soldiers and horses’ and a recreation of Louis XVI being guillotined during the revolution.” Sure to be the top du fun, as they say in France. The proposed park will include “a museum, a hotel, shops, restaurants and a congress centre.” (Might we also suggest a Rosetta Stone cartoon character named Pierre?) Further details will be announced in February. Get ready for le RFP!
Zaha Hadid shortlisted to build icon in her home country. BD Online is reporting that architect Zaha Hadid has been shortlisted for the $1 billion new home of the Iraqi parliament. The project will be built on a site of the former Al Muthana airport once slated for Saddam Hussein’s partially constructed super-mosque in central Baghdad. The finalists haven’t officially been made public, but Iraqi-born Hadid is on the list along with Buro Happold and AECOM. Designs are due in July and a winner will be announced at the end of the year.
Sox Populi. Times are tough for architecture, but is it time for starchitects to begin taking on other jobs on the side? John Hill over at A Daily Dose of Architecture spotted architect Charles Renfro’s newest gig—J. Crew model—which is helping Renfro to become a household name. Appearing in a two-page ad running in the latest issue of Fast Company, Renfro is sporting a trim, tailored outfit of fine Italian fabrics, otherwise known as the Ludlow Suit, and some dazzling multi-colored socks. “This is what they mean by style with substance,” says the copy. (Oh, that’s what they mean…) Who should J. Crew pick for its next architecture model?
Scrappers in the Global Materials Food Chain. Architects are aware of the fluctuations in the cost of materials due to global demand. The Times takes a look at one link of that global chain that is having a big impact on Midwestern cities: scrappers. The short documentary video “Dismantling Detroit” captures that city’s former manufacturing glory, which now being pulled down and sold for scrap to feed China’s productivity. It’s a brief, sobering look at a complex problem with vast implications for the Midwest’s built environment.
Zoning and you. Green markets, bike lanes, the design of street life—New York City zoning aims to impact your quality of life. “In the Bloomberg administration, as wielded by the New York City Planning Commission and its director, Amanda Burden, zoning has assumed a more activist role than ever before,” writes AN Executive Editor Julie Iovine about the ambitions of zoning 50 years after the New York Zoning Resolution was passed. Read the full article, “Zoning Grows Up,” in The Wall Street Journal.
It’s Stops A Go for Rahm. Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially reopened the Grand/State L station, and pledged to build a new Green Line stop at Cermak and a new Washington/Wabash stop in the Loop. Construction on the two new stops is expected to begin in about a year, and will create approximately 4000 jobs. Curbed Chicago has a good round-up of the news and event.
AIA Billings Index Stays Positive. Today the AIA released the December results of its Architecture Billings Index (ABI), and we’re happy to report that the overall score is holding steady in positive territory for the second month in a row. Like November, December’s score came in at 52 (anything over 50 is positive). But AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker remains circumspect, noting “We saw nearly identical conditions in November and December of 2010 only to see momentum sputter and billings fall into negative territory as we moved through 2011, so it’s too early to be sure that we are in a full recovery mode.”
And…we have a winner!. As Ice Cube said, the Eames “were doing mash-ups before mash-ups existed,” and the winner of our giveaway contest–featuring a limited edition poster of Ice Cube celebrating the Eames–was admiring the Eames before she knew who they were. Congratulations to AN reader/commenter Lori who proclaimed, “My grandparents collected mid-century furniture, and I loved the Eames before I had any idea what design was. Now that I know, I so appreciate that early introduction to clean, functional beauty.” As a consolation prize, we suggest rewatching archi-drafter-rapper Cube give a tour of an Eames Case Study House, catching up with the exhibition at Pacific Standard Time, or tuning in to the PBS documentary on the Eames’ life and work.
Eavesdrop> A Very Gehry Opera. Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry. Frank Gehry will return to Walt Disney Concert Hall this spring—as a set designer. He’s at work on a “moving still-life on the stage” for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s May production of Don Giovanni. The plans call for moving the orchestra upstage on raised lifts, about four feet above the action taking place downstage. Meanwhile, in a recent Q&A with Wallpaper* magazine, Gehry revealed that things are “getting slow” for his firm, to the point that he is considering—gasp!—proactive PR efforts. “We’ve got enough things for the next year, but it’s not the same as it was a few years ago,” he said. “I’m old enough to quit, though, you know what I mean? I’m 82.”
Finally, a preservation ordinance in Beverly Hills. John Lautner's demolished Shusett House. (Tyco Saariste) Patch reports that Beverly Hills, in part responding to the destruction of modernist landmarks like John Lautners’s Shusett House and Sydney Eisenshtat’s Friar’s Club, has finally passed a preservation ordinance. It’s about time.