San Antonio Mayor Reportedly Tapped To Replace Donovan as HUD Secretary

Julian Castro who is expected to be the next HUD Secretary. (FLICKR / NOWCastSA)

Julian Castro who is expected to be the next HUD Secretary. (FLICKR / NOWCastSA)

President Obama will reportedly nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If confirmed by the senate, Castro will succeed Shaun Donovan, a trained architect, who has been at the agency since 2009. Donovan is expected to head the Office of Management and Budget.

Continue reading after the jump.

Obama Appoints EPA and Energy Heads.  Obama Appoints EPA and Energy Heads President Obama is expected to announce Gina McCarthy (above, right) as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Ernest Moniz (above, left) as the Secretary of Energy. McCarthy now serves as an assistant administrator at the EPA where she oversees regulating air pollution, including helping to double fuel-efficiency standards for cars, according to NPR. Moniz is currently a nuclear physicist at MIT, where he directs the university’s Energy Initiative, according to the Washington Post. He has been a proponent of alternative energy sources, but some environmentalists are wary of his support for natural gas and “fracking.” (Photo: Courtesy MIT / EPA)

 

Michael Graves Appointed to Federal Post on Accessibility in the Built Environment

National
Friday, March 1, 2013
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Michael Graves. (Barry Johnson / Courtesy Michael Graves & Associates)

Michael Graves. (Barry Johnson / Courtesy Michael Graves & Associates)

President Obama’s second-term White House is still in transition, with Ray LaHood out and rumors of an NTSB replacement, Sally Jewell likely in as Secretary of Interior. Among the non-Cabinet-level appointments, the President appointed Michael Graves to a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, an agency “devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.” Graves, who uses a wheelchair after an illness-induced partial paralysis, has been a leader in promoting accessibility in architecture, recently designing prototype houses for wounded and disabled veterans.

This month, Graves will also be launching a new line of more than 300 products at retailer J.C. Penney, including kitchen appliances, candlesticks, and a toaster shaped like a piece of toast. The Indianapolis-born architect will return to his hometown on March 28 to give a lecture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and he recently spoke with the Indy Star about delivering papers for the publication as a child, architecture, and the new product line. An exhibition of Graves’ work, From Towers to Teakettles, is also on display at the Virginia Center for Architecture through March 31.

Farewell Ray: LaHood Leaving Post as Transportation Secretary

National
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
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Ray LaHood. (Courtesy USDOT Fast Lane Blog)

Ray LaHood. (Courtesy USDOT Fast Lane Blog)

Last month, Ray LaHood made an off-the-cuff remark at a post-inaugural party that he would be “sticking around for a while” as President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, but last week LaHood made his final decision to step down from the position after four years on the job.  The Republican made a name for himself in urbanist circles for his support of High Speed Rail, efficient urban transportation policies, and safety pushes, most notably his efforts to curb distracted driving. Reflecting on his tenure at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), LaHood remarked in a letter to DOT employees across the country,

“Our achievements are significant. We have put safety front and center with the Distracted Driving Initiative and a rule to combat pilot fatigue that was decades in the making. We have made great progress in improving the safety of our transit systems, pipelines, and highways, and in reducing roadway fatalities to historic lows. We have strengthened consumer protections with new regulations on buses, trucks, and airlines.”

In an exit interview with the Huffington Post, LaHood said, “We are behind on high-speed rail,” but remained optimistic that the topic will still maintain a top spot his successor’s agenda: “As long as President Obama is in the White House, whoever sits in this chair will have high-speed rail as one of their top priorities.” LaHood will continue in his role as Secretary until his successor is found.

President Obama to Nominate REI CEO to Lead Interior Department

National
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
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REI CEO Sally Jewell. (Courtesy REI)

REI CEO Sally Jewell. (Courtesy REI)

President Obama is expected to nominate Sally Jewell, the President and Chief Executive Officer of national outdoor retailer REI, to succeed Secretary Ken Salazar as the head of the Interior Department.

Jewell, a former engineer for Mobil Oil and commercial banker, has run the $1.8 billion company for over a decade and has established herself as a strong advocate for land conservation. The Washington Post reported reported that she is one of the founding board members of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, and serves on the board of the National Parks Conservation Association.

The Department of the Interior manages and protects the country’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources, along with relations with tribal nations. As extreme weather patterns put climate change front and center of the policy debates in Washington DC, the Secretary of the Interior will take on an increasingly critical role this term.

Kimmelman Delivers at Barnard Tonight

East
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
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Gwendowlyn Wright and Michael Kimmelman at GSAPP's Wood Auditorium last night. (AN/Stoelker) Wright and Michael Kimmelman at GSAPP's Wood Auditorium last night. (AN/Stoelker)

Gwendolyn Wright and Michael Kimmelman at GSAPP's Wood Auditorium last night. (AN/Stoelker)

Forget for a moment that President Obama bumped the New York TimesJill Abramson from the dais to deliver this year’s commencement address at Barnard and not his alma mater, Columbia College. Tonight, the Times’ architecture critic Michael Kimmelman will be delivering a lecture at Barnard’s Diana Center, titled Public Space and Public Consciousness. However, a busy Kimmelman also appeared last night at GSAPP, for a conversation with Columbia Professor Gwendolyn Wright.

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Obama on Souto de Moura

National, Shft+Alt+Del
Friday, June 3, 2011
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Last night President Obama spoke at the ceremony for this year’s Pritzker Prize winner, Eduardo Souto de Moura. He invoked Thomas Jefferson, the architectural glories of Chicago, and praised Souto de Moura’s work for balancing “form and function with artistry and accessibility.” Obama is close to the Pritzker family, and Penny Pritzker was one of the most significant fundraisers for his campaign. Still it is nice to see the White House bringing some attention to the “Nobel Prize of architecture.” Check out our recent interview and comment on Souto de Moura.

World Trade Center: Got it?

East
Thursday, May 5, 2011
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The memorial grove provides shade for cameras early this morning.

In lower Manhattan, especially  today when President Obama was in town to lay a wreath, the world’s media was fast talking about Ground Zero. Very few call it the World Trade Center. The GZ term is so widely used that few think twice about it.

And yet, just yesterday, a contingent of men and women responsible for rebuilding the World Trade Center braved the cold rain for a conference hosted by the Building Trade Employers Association (BTEA) and found themselves struck on the semantics of just those words. The event brought together the builders and suppliers of the 16 acre site for an update on building progress. Very little was said about the momentous events of the past week or the impending presidential visit, which, like the rain, was going to slow down work. This was a group with a singular focus: rebuilding.

BTEA President and CEO Louis Coletti introduced speakers who in turn discussed a particular aspect of the project. But when one speaker referred to One World Trade as “the Freedom Tower,” Chris Ward, the executive director of the Port Authority grimaced, held up his index finger to signify the number one and said, “It’s One World Trade.”
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Stimulating High-Speed Rail

Other
Thursday, April 16, 2009
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A map of possible high speed rail corridors unveiled by the White House and the Department of Transportation. (courtesy whitehouse.gov)

This afternoon, President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unveiled a map of possible high-speed rail corridors, with clusters on both coasts, in the North and the South. Read More

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