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

On the Right Track?

Other
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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(newtonxl/Flickr)

Yesterday afternoon in Denver, Colorado, President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law. The process of doling out the spoils begins, as we wait, and hope, for the desired economic recovery. One piece of good news for urbanites and green transportation advocates, the bill includes $8 billion for high-speed rail, according to Politico. Read More

Stimulus and Sandwiches

East
Monday, February 16, 2009
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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

Big Turbine Keep On Turnin’

Other
Thursday, January 15, 2009
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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

The Downturn of the McMansion?

Other
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
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 <bobs>/flickr

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

Not So Fast, Seaport Edition

East Coast, Other
Friday, December 19, 2008
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GGPs Seaport plans far from sunk. (Courtesy SHOP Architects)

SHoP's Seaport plans far from sunk. (Courtesy GGP)

The news that General Growth Properties–which is on the verge of bankruptcy due to a massive debt-load related to its acquisition of the Rouse Company in 2004–put three historic properties up for sale has led some observers to speculate that development plans for one of them–New York’s South Street Seaport–have hit the dustbin. Not so, AN has learned.

Read More

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