Mycotecture: Exploring the Potential Materiality of Mushrooms

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
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Mycotecture. (Courtesy of Phil Ross)

Mycotecture. (Courtesy of Phil Ross)

While the idea of living in a house made of mushrooms might conjure up visions from the Smurfs or one of a handful of whimsical houses across the country, artist/inventor turned mycologist Phil Ross is using mushrooms as the buildings blocks for a new construction material with some distinct advantages.

Ross has dedicated his career to the organism, recently discovering that its root-like network lying just underground is quite similar to concrete when dried, but actually stronger. The dried mycelium can be shaped into a brick, or almost any other form, and is fire, water and even mold resistant.

Continue reading after the jump.

Docomomo Tours In Palm Springs (and across the country)

West
Friday, October 5, 2012
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Palm Springs City Hall by Albert Frey (Docomomo)

Palm Springs City Hall by Albert Frey (Docomomo/Darren Bradley)

If you’ve never seen Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House or Albert Frey’s Palm Springs City Hall, now is your chance. This weekend Docomomo is hosing Palm Springs architecture tours, which will show off some of the city’s most famous architecture. The tours, which also include visits to the homes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Cary Grant, are part of  Docomomo’s US Tour Day, which offers similar events across the country, in 22 states. These includes tours of the Farnsworth House in Illinois, Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal in New York, and buildings by Felix Candela in Houston.

More images after the jump.

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A+D Showcases the Secret Life of Saarinen in New Exhibition

West
Thursday, October 4, 2012
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Saarinen's TWA Terminal (Ezra Stoller)

Saarinen’s TWA Terminal (Ezra Stoller)

LA’s A+D Architecture and Design Museum is presenting Eero Saarinen: A Reputation For Innovation, which opens tomorrow night. The show will highlight one of the world’s most heralded mid-century architects, who designed, among other things, the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the TWA Terminal at JFK in New York, Dulles Airport in Washington D.C., and the Entenza House in Los Angeles. Saarinen was also a renowned product designer, and, unbeknownst to most, an employee for the OSS (the precursor to the CIA), where he learned many of his design techniques. The show will explore this under-documented phase of his career and bring to light a designer whose influence still resonates today. For instance, did you know that Cesar Pelli, Kevin Roche, and Robert Venturi were among the many who worked for Saarinen? Get tickets to the opening here.

Slideshow> A Promising Runner-Up for the Keelung Waterfront

International, West
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
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Last week AN revealed Neil Denari’s winning scheme for the $140 million Keelung Harbor Service Project, a plan to redevelop the Taiwan city’s underexploited waterfront for arts, office, recreation, and industrial uses. Above and below is one of the impressive runners up, the scheme by  P-A-R (Platform for Architecture + Research) and Sériès et Sériès along with local architect Ricky Liu Associates. The project consisted of a cargo building, a 20-story office complex, and a three-story cruise ship terminal, all connected via a sloping, faceted landscape.

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Videos> Three Proposals for LA’s Sixth Street Viaduct Animated

West
Monday, October 1, 2012
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HNTB'S PROPOSAL FOR THE SIXTH STREET VIADUCT REPLACEMENT IN LOS ANGELES. (Courtesy HNTB)

HNTB’S PROPOSAL FOR THE SIXTH STREET VIADUCT REPLACEMENT IN LOS ANGELES. (Courtesy HNTB)

In September, AN reported on the three proposals to replace Los Angeles’ iconic but crumbling Sixth Street Viaduct by HNTB, AECOM, and Parsons Brinckerhoff. The three teams have notably added pedestrian amenities and adjacent lush landscaping to the 3,500-foot-long cable-stayed span. While the renderings were compelling for each design, these video renderings fly the viewer in and around each proposal for a more detail view of what might soon be built in LA. Take a look.

Watch the videos after the jump.

On View> “Layer: A Loose Horizon” at the Pasadena Museum of California Art

West
Monday, October 1, 2012
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(Art Gray)

(Art Gray)

Layer: A Loose Horizon
Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 East Union Street
Pasadena, CA
Through October 14, 2012

While digital design and fabrication continue to transform architecture, architect/artists Lisa Little and Emily White have decided to challenge these trends. Although digital forms expand the horizons of design and create intricate patterns, these designs often boils down to mere eye candy. This idea sparked White and Little, the founders of the Los Angeles-based architecture practice Layer, to take the computational approach of digitized aesthetics combined with a perceptual method to create both a physically and intellectually engaging space. The result of this can be seen at their exhibit Layer: A Loose Horizon. Beginning on the exterior of the museums facade, visitors see a web-like structure that toys with depth and proportion while also bridging the exterior and interior space of the museums lobby. Upon entering, guests experience a continuous interaction with the exhibit and become enveloped by the surrounding shapes. To understand the artists’ process, sketches and early digital iterations of the project are also be on view.

LA Council Approves Farmers Field Stadium

West
Friday, September 28, 2012
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Farmers Field’s North Facade (Gensler)

Almost two years after the idea was first floated, AEG and Gensler’s 72,000 seat, $1.2 billion stadium proposal was approved by LA City Council on Friday. The vote in favor of the project’s environmental impact report (EIR) clears the way for the developer to seek an NFL team and for Gensler’s steel-winged Farmers Field to move ahead. The stadium had experienced some controversy lately as news spread that AEG was putting itself up for sale. But that didn’t deter the council, which voted 12-0 to move ahead with the plan.

The stadium, and an adjacent convention center that was recently panned by an architectural commission, is being paid for privately, although funds are coming from $275 million in tax-exempt bonds. Another proposal by developer Ed Roski and architect Dan Meis, located in the City of Industry, is also trying to lure a team. Let the games begin.

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Pocket Parks Perking Up Los Angeles

West
Friday, September 28, 2012
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The new 49th Street Pocket Park in South Los Angeles. (Courtesy KPCC)

The new 49th Street Pocket Park in South Los Angeles. (Courtesy KPCC)

Little, leafy-green patches are sprouting up over Los Angeles as part of the city’s “50 Parks Initiative,” a public-private program designed to revive some of the city’s neediest, most densely populated communities. To date, there are actually 53 of these pocket parks planned, with one of the first parks, 49th Street Park in South Los Angeles, opening earlier this month. When completed, the small parks combined will cover a total of 170 acres, and many of the individual parks will be under an acre.

Not only are the parks small, but they will be somewhat self-sufficient. Requiring only four to six months to build, these micro-recreation areas will be decked out with “no mow” grass, drought tolerant plants, smart irrigation, and solar-powered, self-contained waste bins that can hold five times the average amount of trash. And to keep intruders out after hours, automatic time-lock gates and solar motion-activated cameras will be installed.

Continue reading after the jump.

Commission Slams AEG’s LA Convention Center Plans

West
Thursday, September 27, 2012
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The Convention Center is designed to bridge over LA’s Pico Boulevard (AEG, Populous)

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s “Vision Team,” a group of eight architects consulting on the city’s planned football stadium and convention center expansion have issued a damning report on the latter project, reports the LA Daily News. The center is being designed by Populous and developed by AEG. “This is not good city design,” Norman Millar, dean of Woodbury University School of Architecture, and a Vision Team member, told the Daily News this week. Among the team’s complaints, they worry about having visitors enter the new hall through a dark passage created by bridging the building over Pico Boulevard. The team also frets about possible fumes under the tunnel, the configuration of the center’s huge ballroom, and the amount of natural light that would enter the building. The Vision Team also includes Hitoshi Abe, chairman of Architecture & Urban Design at UCLA; Scott Johnson of Johnson Fain; Joseph Coriaty, a partner at Frederick Fisher and Partner; and Paul Danna, principal at SOM. The group has met at least three times. Villaraigosa’s spokesman Peter Sanders told the Daily News that the mayor knew about the Vision Team’s concerns. “We believe we have the best plan given the constraints that exist,” Sanders wrote.  The project’s EIR goes before LA City Council tomorrow.  Read More

Maltzan’s Revamped Regen Projects Brings Class To Hollywood

West
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
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(Christopher Norman)

(Christopher Norman)

On Friday AN visited Michael Maltzan‘s new art space, Regen Projects, on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. The gallery, founded by Stuart Regen and Shaun Caley Regen, moved to its current gritty location from West Hollywood, and showcases artists like Doug Aitken, Catherine Opie, Andrea Zittel, Dan Graham, and Anish Kapoor. From the outside, the 20,000 square foot project resembles its own urbanscape, with stacked and staggered white boxes taking on the appearance of abstracted buildings in a skyline. Inside, light glows warmly into the main gallery through a system that Maltzan created in which the light from a long rooftop skylight is split via a metallic divider into two separate scrim-covered wells.

Continue reading after the jump.

Slideshow> New Renderings of Rufus, Amazon’s Seattle Campus

West
Monday, September 24, 2012
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Aerial View Looking South and West (NBBJ)

Aerial View Looking South and West (NBBJ)

Since AN first looked at the proposed design for Amazon’s three-tower complex in the Denny Triangle neighborhood in Seattle last May—and after feedback from the Seattle community and meetings with the Design Review Board over the summer—NBBJ has released new renderings. And the project now has a nickname—Rufus—a nod to the late “Amazon dog,” a Corgi who kept employees company in the office since the early days.

In response to recommendations, the evolved design includes updates to elevations, details along the lower stories, weather protection, and open spaces. Facades are asymmetrical, stepped, and diverse. In a skin study, the office tower on the southeast Block 14 sports a façade of operable windows, glass, pre-finished metal panels and gold accent trim, which connects to the neighboring meeting center via a sky-bridge. Other perspectives reveal glass curtain walls on the six-story meeting center, leaving the auditorium and stairwell exposed. On Block 19, to the southwest, a covered walkway would provide protection during Seattle’s rainy winter months. There are retail storefronts on the lower levels, which will augment the outdoor public parks and plazas.

Continue reading after the jump.

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Oyler Wu, Take 2

West
Thursday, September 20, 2012
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Oyler Wu’s torqued steel shells shelter guests at the SCI-Arc Graduation. (Scott Mayoral)

Last year we showcased Oyler Wu’s SCI-Arc graduation pavilion, a swooping steel, fabric, and rope construction that floated above the event like a billowing sail. For last week’s graduation the firm added a small addition while making significant improvements. The addition, which sat school directors and special guests, became a stage for diploma presentation. Made of a torqued steel shell fitted with twisting fabric (Wu calls it a three dimensional twist), the addition is no replication: it creates a simpler, more unified complement to the original, which involves a more complex web of fabric and roping. As for the original pavilion, they replaced its (disturbingly) dirty fabric with darker material and re-oriented the whole thing toward the school itself. Next year’s pavilion will be designed by Marcelo Spina. We can’t wait.

Read More

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