Quick Clicks> Cathedral Restoration, Haunted, Deserted and Isolated Cities

Daily Clicks
Friday, June 24, 2011
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(COURTESY RENE SLAATS/FLICKR)

(COURTESY RENE SLAATS/FLICKR)

Restored London. Building Design reports that after 15 years, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is scaffolding-free. The £40 million project restored Christopher Wren’s masterpiece to its original glory in time for the cathedral’s 30oth anniversary. St. Paul’s will host a photography competition and display the winning selections in the cathedral crypt to celebrate its complete renovation.

Artificial England. While China continues to be a hot spot for architectural and economic development, its many ghost towns lack permanent residents. The Infrastructurist exposes one of China’s English-inspired uninhabited cities, Thames Town, built in 2006 as part of Shanghai’s “One City, Nine Town” initiative at decentralization. The state-of-the-art $9 billion design draws tourists, but not residents.

Trucks, not Tanks. At the United States Conference of Mayors, local government representatives vote to reallocate federal funds directed toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the improvement of American cities. The municipal leaders assert that the conflicts’ $126 billion per year budget would be better spend building urban infrastructure, employing civil servants, and supporting educational and family institutions.

Mall City. City Watch LA evaluates Rick Caruso’s latest business proposition: running for public office. The billionaire developer envisions a new Los Angeles comprised of isolated communities each with its own shopping mall, a potential reality if Caruso wins the 2013 mayoral seat.

(Updated!) A Call to Free Ai Weiwei, Artist, Architect, Activist

Ai Weiwei with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia (Courtesy Melissa Lam)

Ai Weiwei with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia (Courtesy Melissa Lam)

(Updated 4-6-2011) As details emerge, be sure to track the comments on this post for the latest on Ai Weiwei. We have learned that the US State Department called for his release on Monday. According to VOA News, Mark Toner, State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman saud, “The detention of artist and activist Ai Weiwei is inconsistent with the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Chinese citizens, including China’s commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we urge the Chinese government to release him immediately.” Today, the Guardian reported that Ai Weiwei is under investigation for “suspected economic crimes” according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua which has since deleted the statement.

AN also received the following note of support for Ai Weiwei from Richard Meier. Please feel free to voice your messages of support in the comments.

Ai Weiwei deserves all of our support in his efforts to communicate with the world community of architects about the conditions that currently exist in China. We all hope that his immediate release will happen quickly in response to comments from all of us that support him in his cause.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Meier

(Original Report 4-4-2011) News that Chinese artist, architect, and activist Ai Wei Wei has been detained and disappeared as of April 3, 2011 broke yesterday in the International media.  As reported by Andrew Jacobs in the New York Times, and more recently today by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, his detention and police closure of his Beijing studio coincides with what is known as the “Jasmine Revolution,” a protest movement in the People’s Republic of China that was inspired by the 2011 Tunisian Revolution and has prompted the Communist Party’s six-week crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists, with many of those detained still not released, and others, such as pro-democracy writer Liu Xianbin, sentenced to 10 years in jail for subversion.

Continue reading after the jump.

Architecture, the Final Frontier for Pirates?

International
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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(Slightly adjusted) Zaha Hadid Pavilion (Courtesy John Picken / flickr)

(Slightly adjusted) Zaha Hadid Pavilion (Courtesy John Picken / flickr)

 

Aye, those swashbucklin’ pirates are at it again, matey! This time, though, they’re not after gold, DVDs, or designer purses, but the identities of architects. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Glancey relates that Chinese firms posing as British officers of Aedas and Broadway Maylan have been pursuing bids with false information. He points out the dangers that such a development might entail for the profession and wonders if starchitects like Zaha Hadid could be the next victims.

Read More

Video: Chinese Hotel Climbs Fifteen Stories in Six Days

International
Monday, November 15, 2010
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Chinese hotel built in just six days (DifferentEnergy Video)

Chinese hotel built in just six days (DifferentEnergy Video)

Would you stay in a 15-story structure built in six days?  Through the magic of prefabrication, one new hotel in Changsha, China was built erector-set-style at just such a fantastic pace and recorded through time-lapse photography. The better term might be constructed in six days, however, as the building’s foundation and the factory-made pieces were already finished at the beginning of this architectural ballet, but the feat proves rather amazing nonetheless.

While you might have never heard of Changsha, China, home to the new Ark Hotel, the country’s 19th largest city mirrors the building’s rapid growth.  Changsha tripled in size between the 1940s and 1980s and today contains an estimated population of 6.6 million.

While such a quickly constructed building might seem prone to shoddy construction, the Ark Hotel is reportedly built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake, meaning a quake over 1,000 times more powerful than January’s quake in Haiti.  Call us skeptical, but we’d opt to be out of the building when disaster strikes.

Prefabrication, architecture’s “oldest new idea,” can have its green benefits. The Ark Hotel is thermally insulated and boasts only one percent construction waste. [ Via Gizmodo. ]

Watch the construction footage after the jump.

High Speed Railing in Anaheim

West
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
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One of China's many High Speed Rail trains

More than 300 architects, planners, and developers had their minds blown and their ambitions frustrated at last week’s California High-Speed Rail TOD Marketplace in Anaheim, produced by the Urban Land Insitute’s California District Councils. Read More

BIG on Bikes

International
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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How to make the Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo truly a national symbol? Add some bike lanes, of course. Bjorke Ingles, head of BIG Bjorke Ingles Group and designer of the pavilion, takes us on a tour, via Archinect. (Be warned, though. Instead of soundtracking this with the Raveonettes or Kashmir, whoever put this together went with arguably the worst song ever, “I Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. You may want to mute your sound before hitting play.)

Terrible music aside, why is Scandinavian architecture so much fun?

Lights Out for Chinese LED Plant in Cleveland

Midwest
Friday, May 28, 2010
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Cleveland at dusk, where the lighting is not yet as green as the mayor would like it to be. (Courtesy files.nyu.edu)

Marketplace had a downright enlightening segment the other day about the potential and peril of using sustainability as a tool for economic development. New York and Chicago have been doing this with some success, and now Cleveland’s mayor wants in on the act. But instead of simply promoting sustainability through tax credits, development bonuses, and mandates, Frank Jackson took a clever approach, saying whomever built a LED plant in the depressed Rust Belt city would get the contract to outfit it with all its civic lighting needs. It was a brilliantly shrewd move, until it all fell apart. Listen in to find out what happened.

Not Just Invisible, Earthquake Invisible

West
Monday, June 29, 2009
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Architects have, for obvious reasons, been fascinated with earthquakes for as long as they have been knocking over buildings. Lots of structural systems and building materials have been explored, but what about invisibility? Capitalizing on recent advances in invisible cloak technology, scientists in France and Britain think they can hide buildings from those damning shockwaves coursing through the earth. New Scientist explains the tech thusly: Read More

UPDATE: Guangzhou Opera House Fire

Other
Monday, May 11, 2009
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A rendering of the Opera House interior. (Images courtesy zahahadidblog.com)

A spokesman for Zaha Hadid Architects sent AN the following statement on the condition of the building following the fire: Read More

Hadid Opera House Burns

Other
Monday, May 11, 2009
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Picture of the blaze from the Chinese media (courtesy abbs.com.cn)

AN has learned of a fire at Guangzhou Opera House. The project, designed by Zaha Hadid with a web-like exoskeleton, includes an 1,800-seat theater as well as a multipurpose hall and support facilities. The building was set to open this fall. Read More

CCTV Day 2: We’re Sorry

Other
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
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The remains of yesterdays tragic fire. (drea_beijing/Flickr)

The remains of yesterday's tragic fire. (drea_beijing/Flickr)

As images of a surprisingly intact TVCC building emerge after yesterday’s inferno, the China Central Television network (CCTV) was forced to admit that a fireworks display put on by its employees caused the fire to its iconic new headquarters complex in Beijing, designed by OMA’s Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren.

Read More

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CCTV Hotel Ablaze (UPDATE)

Other
Monday, February 9, 2009
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One of countless images streaming across the Internet of the iconic project on fire. (news.ifeng.com)

Images and reports are spiraling out across the Web of a fire taking hold at the hotel adjacent OMA’s CCTV Tower. (Building calls it the TVCC tower.) Details, at least in English, remain slim, but a translation of Chinese reports suggest the fire broke out at 9:21 p.m. local time, or just after eight o’clock this morning in New York. A call to OMA’s New York office did confirm that the fire was in their building, which is still under construction, though all further inquiries were directed to the Rotterdam HQ. Read More

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