How can technology and science revolutionize and restore our public spaces—particularly those disconnected and decaying districts that remain after colossal events such as the Olympics, biennials, and world’s fairs? These immense programs have shaped many an urban core, for better or for worse, from the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 to the 2004 Athens Olympics.
As part of the Seattle Next Fifty, the 50th anniversary of the Seattle 1962 World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition, the Howard S. Wright Design Ideas Competition for Public Space challenged global designers, architects, and urban planners to re-imagine the 9 acre Seattle Center site that was part of the larger 74-acre campus, which hosted the original 1962 fair.
Even in these recessionary times, there are still big buyers who can afford to expand when the market is low. In Seattle, Amazon is in the preliminary stages of purchasing three city blocks in the Denny Triangle neighborhood north of the business district from developer Clise Properties, The Seattle Times reports. The properties are bounded by Westlake Avenue to the east, 6th Avenue to the south, and Blanchard Street to the west.
Amazon is going big: intending to convert what are now parking lots into three office towers measuring one million square feet each. The total space will double the size of the largest skyscraper in Seattle, the Columbia Center.
Amazon’s current office space—over a million square feet distributed over several locations—is rented. This will mark Amazon’s first office ownership. An agreement with Clise will give Amazon the option to buy more of their holdings, which are part of a larger 13-acre site in Denny Triangle.
Discussion: Eva Hagberg & Roy McMakin
University Press Books
Thursday, September 8, 2011
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Writer Eva Hagberg’s new book, Nature Framed: At Home in the Landscape (The Monacelli Press, 2011, $50), has a granola-crunchy-sounding title, but the architecture inside is as sharp as it gets. From a delicate floating house on Lake Huron by MOS to Anderson Anderson Architecture’s acrylic-clad Chameleon House in Michigan, these houses are not, for the most part, about blending in.
Among the 24 projects included in the book is True House in Seattle by artist/furniture designer/architect Roy McMakin, who also recently published a monograph titled Roy McMakin: When is a chair not a chair? where he details his often-whimsical furniture designs from the past 30 years.
Catch both minds at Berkeley’s University Press Books for a discussion on design this Thursday!
Playhouse. While the 300 year old Italian home of architect Armin Blasblicher features rustic, vernacular elements like stacked logs, Blasblichler updated the house with whimsical, playful elements. He incorporated doors on ceilings, doors within doors, and a contemporary interpretation of stained glass inspired by Pantone color swatches, as pictured above. More at Gizmodo.
Super-giant photo. The Culver Center of the Arts in Riverside, California is exhibiting the world’s largest photograph, created by the world’s largest camera. Lost at E Minor said the camera was fashioned from a converted airplane hangar with a 6mm opening in one its walls. At eleven stories long and three stories high, the resulting landscape photograph needed a 35 minute exposure.
Blooming brownfields. Seattle is cleaning up its brownfields in South Lake Union. The district, once home to factories, paper mills, and other industries, fell into decline as businesses moved out. For decades, the sites lay abandoned, tainted with toxic chemicals. The city has issued large-scale cleanups that include removing contaminated soil and building materials. The area is in various phases of redevelopment, with new offices, residences, and shops opening, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Un-knotting bikes. Knowhow Shop created a playful tongue-in-cheek bike rack for Roanoke, Virginia in the shape of a large comb, keeping bikes upright and tangle-free. Resting on its side, it is made from mangaris wood and supported by black steel bars that are supposed to resemble hair, posted Gizmodo.
Empty Spaces. Searching for a place to exhibit her work as an art student in 2003, an artist from the rural mining town Malmberget, Sweden, organized a program titled Tomma Rum (Empty Spaces) that converts empty lots into artist studios and gallery spaces. As described in an interview with Polis, the program has morphed into a traveling summer artist-in-residence, where global artists have displayed their pieces on fences to streets in various towns.
Town and Country. Is city life or country life better for your health? The Wall Street Journal reports on the ongoing debate between the quality of life in urban versus rural areas. Each have their benefits and drawbacks. Studies indicate that in urban areas, there are less obese children but also higher crime rates. In the country, there are larger numbers of fatal driving accidents but lower incidences of allergies.
Big Box Redux. In Seattle, empty malls are attracting new tenants. A fitness center owner is converting empty mall space into a new climbing gym, while grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and sporting goods stores such as Sports Authority are taking over retail vacancies, The Seattle Times reports.
Taxing Gas. A study conducted by the multi-partisan Leadership Initiative on Transportation Solvency, part of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, may have found a better way to increase funds for transportation infrastructure through a more effective gas tax system. In their report, DC Streets Blog highlights, that taxing gas when the price lowers and a more efficient program with a focus on design with economic performance are key.
Seattle architecture firm Miller Hull, a past winner of the AIA national Firm Award, may be best-known for their work in the Pacific Northwest, but they’ve also been active in San Diego for the last seven years. Now the firm is finally opening an office in the city, giving them a physical presence and simplifying things for their architects and for clients.
Four housing projects were spotlighted today by the American Institute of Architects‘ Housing & Custom Residential Knowledge Community and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development as laudable examples of affordable housing architecture, neighborhood design, participatory design, and accessibility.
According to a story in Governing Magazine, while LA is only dreaming of building its freeway cap parks, several US cities are either planning or have completed their own. Dallas’ 5.2-acre park over its Woodall Rodgers Freeway downtown will be done by 2012. Other cities that have completed decked freeway parks include Boston (the Big Dig of course!), Phoenix, Seattle, Trenton, N.J., and Duluth, Minnesota. And besides LA Cincinnati and St. Louis are also proposing deck parks. While quite expensive, the article points out, the parks help knit cities back together, provide valuable civic space, are built on free land, and send adjacent property values skyrocketing. In short: Let’s Do This People!! Pix of more parks can be seen here: Read More
Long-named Seattle firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (OSKA) announced this week that it will be changing its name to Olson Kundig Architects, effective January 1. The OSKA name has been active since 2000, but with Scott Allen leaving the firm to create an independent design studio, and Kirsten Murray and Alan Maskin becoming partners in 2008, it was apparent that they should reflect the changing tides of leadership. The firm is now led by the five owners; Jim Olson, Tom Kundig, Rick Sundberg, Kirsten Murray and Alan Maskin. Read More