Spire Revival

Midwest
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
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(image courtesy Shelbourne Development)

First reported in the Chicago Tribune, and today in the Wall Street Journal, officials at a group of union pension funds are vetting a plan to lend $170 million to restart construction on the stalled Chicago Spire. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the 150 story residential tower would be the tallest building in the US. The Journal piece points out that with a drastic drop off in condo construction downtown predicted for 2010 and 2011, the completion of the Spire could actually come at a time when there is pent up demand for housing. Blair Kamin previously pointed out that unions have made similar loans in previous downturns, notably providing loans for the construction of Marina City.

According to the Journal, Chicago’s failure to win the 2016 Olympics may have been the key to giving the Spire new life. The pensions had previously been looking to lend funds for the construction of the planned Olympic Village.

How Green Is It?

East, East Coast
Monday, December 7, 2009
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Maybe theyre afraid City Hall will fail an energy audit.

Maybe they're afraid City Hall will fail an energy audit.

Coming out of City Hall today, we stumbled upon a press conference reaffirming the groundbreaking green-ness of the new green buildings measures first unveiled on Earth Day and due to pass the council this week. Measures that include a new energy code and more efficient lighting, energy benchmarking and training for building operators. But one measure no longer included, according to a rather damning story in the Times this weekend, is mandatory decennial energy audits for commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet, which would be required to replace inefficient building systems if they are not up to current standards. The main culprit, as with many things these days, is the recession: Read More

New York Presses Its Green Collars

East, East Coast
Friday, October 23, 2009
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Among the 30 green initiatives launched by Mayor Michael Bloomberg is more solar panels in the city, including the largest array planned for the Brooklyn Army Terminal. (Courtesy NYC EDC)

Among the 30 green initiatives launched by Mayor Michael Bloomberg is more solar panels in the city, including the largest array planned for the Brooklyn Army Terminal. (Courtesy NYC EDC)

If there is one thing the recession has taught New York, it’s not to put all the eggs in one basket. While Wall Street may not have collapsed as much as everyone feared—just look at those Goldman Sachs bonuses—the Bloomberg administration has been determined to diversify and strengthen the city’s economy in industries beyond FIRE. Programs in media and fashion have been unveiled recently, and yesterday, green collar jobs took center stage as the mayor announced 30 initiatives to create a foundation for sustainability jobs in the city. Read More

Stalling Out

East, East Coast
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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A stalled building in--where else--Williamsburg. (Courtesy Curbed.com)

A stalled building in--where else--Williamsburg. (Courtesy Curbed.com)

Last week, the Times reported on efforts by the city to address the wave of stalled projects plaguing the city. It was a surprising story, but not because of the news of the program–mind you, we were well ahead of the Gray Lady on that. No, what took us aback was the huge jump in the number of stalled buildings the Department of Buildings had recorded between the time our story ran on June 11 and theirs on June 19, with the total number of stalled buildings more than doubling from 138 to 362. We immediately called the DOB to find out more but, well, this being summer, we just heard back today. Read More

GSA Now Hiring

East, East Coast
Friday, July 24, 2009
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Now Hiring: 26 Federal Plaza

Now Hiring: 26 Federal Plaza

With the prospects for architectural work tilting downward once again, we can imagine you might be uncertain about the future. Not to worry, though, as a friend sends along the message that the GSA is hiring in its New York office, among many others. And best of all, things are looking up at the agency, as you could go to work, at least in some capacity, for the new director of the Design Excellence program, which is getting a much-needed shot in the arm. Best of luck.

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Suburban Dreams

National
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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Little boxes on the hillside..

Little boxes on the hillside..

In the wake of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, global warming, rising energy costs, and constant gridlock, you’d think the model of Suburbia isn’t faring to well. Well, you’re not alone.   Dwell and Inhabitat are sponsoring a competition called Reburbia, dedicated to re-envisioning the suburbs. They’re asking entrants to design “future-proof” spaces, from small scale retrofits to large-scale restorations, to replace current types and systems like McMansions, cul-de sacs, big box stores, strip malls and car-centric communities. Ideas, they suggest, could come in the form of bicycle transportation hubs, energy generating freeway paving systems, and new housing prototypes (including a “McMansion farm rehab”, whatever that is). Enter here. And hurry, because entries are due on August 1! Winners will be announced on August 19 (Grand prize: $1,000).

Everybody Wants a Bailout

East, East Coast
Monday, July 6, 2009
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Money pits.

Money pits: World Trade Center and Atlantic Yards.

With the news today, reported by The Observer, that Larry Silverstein has begun legal proceedings against the Port Authority to end the gridlock at Ground Zero, as well as the developments two weeks prior at Atlantic Yards, it seems obvious to us what’s going on here. Having witnessed the financial titans across town receive hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money, these developers now want theirs. Granted, so did Larry Flint and the porn industry, but the comparison bears consideration. Read More

Shovels in the Ground

Other
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
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Aint She a Beaut: The $68 million reconstruction of an Interstate Overpass outside Portage, Michigan, was named the 2,000th stimulus project yesterday by President Obama.

Ain't She a Beaut: The $68 million reconstruction of an Interstate Overpass outside Portage, Michigan, was named the 2,000th stimulus project yesterday by President Obama.

Yesterday, President Obama made a visit to the Department of Transportation to applaud them and the rest of the nation for their work spending those stimulus dollars, marking the occasion of the 2,000th infrastructure project to be approved for Federal stimulus money. In his speech, the president joked that something unusual had happened at DOT and throughout the land: “We can utter a sentence rarely heard in recent years: This government effort is coming in ahead of schedule and under budget.” Read More

Stimulus, Coming to a Street Near You

East Coast, Other
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
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New York City's stimulus projects. (WNYC)

New York City's two-dozen stimulus projects. (WNYC)

First Recovery.gov, now the NYC Stimulus Tracker. Yesterday, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled the $1.1 billion in new infrastructure spending resulting from the city’s cut of the federal stimulus bill, he also announced the creation of a special website to lend transparency to the process, not unlike the model set out by our dear mayor. (Judging by WNYC and ProPublica’s Shovelwatch map, though, everyone’s getting in on the act, with all but five states and numerous municipalities launching such sites.) Read More

Detroit Pick Me Up

Other
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
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The new Mercury Coffee Bar designed by Zago Architecture with the abandoned Michigan Central Station in the distance (all photos by Corine Vermeulen-Smith)

The collapse of Detroit has been a subject of fascination for artists, architects, and urbanists. In the current economic environment, the symbolism of the city’s decline threatens to overshadow the human and physical realities of the place. And while few would argue that the city will ever return to its height, it is nice to be able to show a project that disrupts the city-in-free-fall narrative, such as the new Mercury Coffee Bar, designed by Andrew Zago. No architect has been more closely associated with working on and thinking about contemporary Detroit’s plight than Zago. In his latest project, he’s created a bright, cheerful refuge in the city’s desolate landscape. Read More

Real Estate Without Us (+Rendering)

Other
Monday, February 23, 2009
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(All cellphotos by Matt Chaban)

There have been countless symbols for the end of the real estate boom, both literal–the collapse of Countrywide, the Fannie & Freddie takeover, the unfinished tract homes and decaying “For Sale” signs–and figurative–the Eastside crane accidents, the TVCC Fire. But we think this back-to-nature scene spotted over the weekend in Williamsburg takes the, uh, mortgage. Read More

The Stimulus, Uploaded for Your Pleasure

Other
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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There has been a great deal of criticism that the Obama administration has failed to uphold a number of its campaign promises, such as shirking lobbyists and business-as-usual, and reaching across the aisle to craft bipartisan public policy. One thing that has not changed, however, is the commitment to open and transparent governance, particularly through the use of the World Wide Web. And so, today, Recovery.gov was launched, the better to help America keep tabs on the stimulus bill. Read More

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