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
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
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
The second of the “Not Business as Usual” lunchtime conversation series last Wednesday at the Center for Architecture in New York had quite a turnout, including laid off designers, freelancers, and managers of struggling firms. Everyone was looking for ideas in these turbulent economic times. Read More
Touchstone Architecture/Columbia River Crossing
Everyone seems to be talking about infrastructure and green jobs, which are expected to be a big part of any Federal stimulus package. One tension, however, is that a lot of infrastructure projects, especially highways, are anything but green. Here’s one plan that attempts to reconcile this discrepancy, a wind turbine-equipped bridge planned for Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Read More
Amid the anxiety, speculation, and real hardship caused by the ongoing economic downturn, the provocative thesis of this Washington Post article stands out, which, if correct, could hold a silver lining for architects. Reporter Elizabeth Razzi interviews housing historian Virginia McAlester about how previous periods of economic declines shaped consumer demand for housing. The answer is simple and somewhat obvious: the demand for small houses rises. Her predictions for this cycle are less so. Read More
First Laurie Olin, now Frank Gehry. That was the news earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal reported that the Santa Monica-based architect had laid off “more than two dozen” staffers involved with Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project. What followed was a string of cheers predicting the troubled Brooklyn mega-development’s demise. After all, how could it go on without its signature architect?
While considering this question, I kept thinking of a comment made by Kermit Baker yesterday, during an interview about the abysmal November billings index. Given what’s going on elsewhere in the industry, the termination of a handful of architects may not signal the doomsday scenario the project’s critics would like, and instead may be one more credit-related payroll pause like many others around the nation: Read More
Designer and AN friend Ken Saylor, of saylor+sirola, reports from Art|Basel|Miami Beach:
For the seventh year in a row, the international art world descended upon Miami Beach to instantly transform the city into a galaxy of cultural production, salesmanship, and hopefully, with this year’s delicate economy, elite consumption. If you add cars, champagne, mojitos, and cigars, provided by the current corporate sponsors, one’s experience of Art|Basel|Miami Beach was a decadently over-the-top trip to the beach.
With 24 auxiliary fairs attaching themselves to the main event, it is impossible to see everything, although everyone runs around the city in frantic abandon—entourages in tow—to openings, parties, parties, and, yes, more parties. Read More