Cabrini-Green Now Gone, But Not Forgotten. AN has covered the Chicago Housing Authority’s “Plan for Transformation” from a variety of angles, including, most recently, one of the few public housing developments that is likely to be spared. Over at Places, MIT urban planner and historian Lawrence Vale takes a long look at the now demolished Cabrini-Green and the ongoing impact of the Plan, including how it has faired in the current real estate crisis. “Looking across a century of the housing that occupied this same benighted acreage, we can see striking parallels between Cabrini-Green’s slum-clearance origins in the 1930s and ’40s and the more recent fate of this site under the Chicago Housing Authority’s ongoing Plan for Transformation,” he writes.
Damien Hirst Dabbles in Homebuilding. Hirst's "Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" (Sotheby's/PA) Artist Damien Hirst, known for, among many other things, suspending dead animals in formaldehyde, is also considered to be the world’s richest artist (he’s reportedly worth over $300 million). He’s investing some of that money in the development of 500 new “eco-houses” near North Devon, on the southwest tip of Great Britain. The residences, which will feature rooftop turbines, solar panels and sophisticated insulation, are slated to break ground early next year. One of the firms working on the drawings is London firm MRJ Rundell + Associates, whose founder Mike Rundell told a North Devon newspaper of Hirst “He has a horror of building anonymous, lifeless buildings. He wants these houses to be the kind of homes he would want to live in.”
Cincinnati Streetcar Breaks Ground. After much wrangling between supporters and opponents, and numerous financial fits and starts, work on the Cincinnati Streetcar is breaking ground today, with a special appearance by federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, according to Urban City. The 18-stop line will stretch from the river front through downtown and past Findley Market in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Supporters believe the line will add a crucial piece to the ongoing redevelopment of Cincinnati’s core, which has included new stadiums, cultural facilities, and mixed-use developments. Major redevelopment is also taking place in Over-the-Rhine. Lookout Columbus, things are looking a lot more urbane in the Queen City.
Weiss/Manfredi to Reimagine National Geographic’s D.C. Headquarters. National Geographic’s Washington D.C. headquarters will be getting a facelift. New York-based Weiss/Manfredi has been selected to renovate and expand the society’s collection of buildings built over the past century. The firm has been tasked with creating a “dynamic new expression” for National Geographic to facilitate its museum, research activities, media, and international programs. Weiss/Manfredi was selected over Diller Scofidio+Renfro, Diamond Schmitt Architects, and Steven Holl Architects.
BIG Scores Again With Utah Art Center. Bjarke Ingel’s meteoric rise is perhaps the fastest of any architect since Eero Saarinen. His firm was just selected to design the renovation and expansion of the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. Bjarke bested Will Bruder, Williams + Tsien, Brooks + Scarpa, and Sparano + Mooney. BIG’s design calls for a torqued addition made of stacked railroad timbers. “BIG won the competition by proposing an iconic building that honors the spirit of Park City’s past and looks ahead into the 21st century,” said juror Maurice Cox, in a statement. The phased project will begin in 2013 and be completed in 2015.
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.”