No More Nicolai: Critic Leaving NY Times

Nicolai Ourossoff appeared on Charlie Rose (Screen Capture)

Nicolai Ouroussoff appeared on Charlie Rose (Screen Capture)

According to an in-house memo, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff is “moving on” at the end of this month.

The sweet but short memo about the critic—who this year submitted his own Pulitzer nomination package—was sent around this morning from culture editor Jonathan Landman. Ouroussoff’s plan, the memo said, is:

to write a book about the architectural and cultural history of the last 100 years, “from Adolf Loos’s Vienna and the utopian social experiments of post-revolutionary Russia to postwar Los Angeles and the closing years of the 20th century,” as Nicolai describes it.

Continue reading after the jump.

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A Visit To Watts Towers

West
Friday, June 3, 2011
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(All photos by Sam Lubell/AN)

(All photos by Sam Lubell/AN)

Yesterday we visited one of our favorite sites in Los Angeles: Watts Towers. The amazing complex, which includes four towers, a gazebo, fountains, and a slew of other jumbled elements, was designed by Simon, or Sam Rodia, a tile factory worker who labored on the project basically without stopping for over thirty years (from 1921-1954).

The structures rise as high as 100 feet and are clad with broken bottles, tiles (over 15,000 of them), sea shells, and pretty much anything else Rodia could get his hands on. Their frame is made from chicken wire, barbed wire, coat hangers, and other makeshift materials.

The feat is all the more amazing considering that Rodia didn’t study any sort of building trade and was illiterate. He usually worked until 1 or 2 in the morning then went back to work in a factory the next day.

Check out a photo gallery after the jump.

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Prefab Alpolic Units: Rapid type and SUM

Fabrikator
Friday, June 3, 2011
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Intersecting ribs form the prefabricated coffee cart's shell (Rapid type)

A coffee stand prototype explores new possibilities for small-scale modular construction.

As part of a push to get its products into the hands of young architects, the Alpolic division of Mitsubishi Plastics sponsored a spring design/build studio entitled “Rapid type” at the California College of the Arts (CCA). The goal was for 15 students, led by CCA adjunct architecture professors Andre Caradec and Kory Bieg, to explore new design uses and assembly techniques for Alpolic aluminum composite materials (ACM), which are most commonly used for exterior cladding and signage. The students had at their disposal not only the school’s resources, but also those of Bieg’s San Francisco-based design and fabrication firm OTA+ and Caradec’s Oakland-based design and fabrication firm, Studio Under Manufacture (SUM). Given the college’s location at the nexus of a burgeoning San Francisco food truck scene and students’ proclivity for caffeine, the team landed on design of a mobile coffee service unit as a means of testing Alpolic’s limits.

Continue reading after the jump.

Sculptures by Sol LeWitt Stand Tall In Lower Manhattan

Detail of Splotch 15 (Branden Klayko/AN)

Detail of Splotch 15 (Branden Klayko/AN)

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg and a cadre of arts enthusiasts from the Public Art Fund gathered at City Hall Park to officially open a retrospective on conceptual artist Sol LeWitt titled Structures, 1965-2006. Comprised primarily of sleek white cubes and forms and one colorful Splotch, the installation of 27 sculptures represents the first outdoor retrospective of LeWitt’s work as well as the largest public art display at City Hall Park, billed by Nicholas Baume, chief curator for the Public Art Fund, as New York’s “museum without walls.”

Check out the sculptures after the jump.

Video> A Cry for Modernism in NOLA

A shot of Phillis Wheatley from A Plea For Modernism

Filmmaker Evan Mather, one of the country’s few architectural filmmakers, makes a viral appeal for Charles R. Colbert’s Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in New Orleans, which is set for demolition this summer. Appropriately titled A Plea for Modernism, the 12 minute short makes the case that buildings like Phillis Wheatley are disappearing throughout the Crescent City (watch the video after the jump).

The school–owned by the Recovery School District and located in the historic neighborhood of Tremé–is one 30 schools in the city from the postwar Modernist Movement of the 1950s and 60s (only four of those schools still stand). New Orleans is also home to Moisant Airport, the Greater New Orleans Bridge, and other works by the likes of Goldstein, Parham & Labouisse, Modjeski & Masters, and Curtis & Davis.

Watch the video after the jump.

Galloping Gallatin: NYU Exhibition is Out There

Dean's List, East
Friday, May 27, 2011
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The exhibit "Global Design: Elsewhere Envisioned" at NYU's Gallatin through June 25. (Julie Iovine/AN)

The exhibit "Global Design: Elsewhere Envisioned" at NYU's Gallatin through June 25. (Julie Iovine/AN)

It happened suddenly, as if out of nowhere: NYU’s Gallatin opened Global Design/Elsewhere Envisioned, an exhibition that comes with two symposia, is described as an initiative, and some hope might just morph into a new school of architecture.

Continue reading after the jump.

SmithGroup′s ASU Facade: Kovach

Fabrikator
Friday, May 27, 2011
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The facade includes six copper panel types (Liam Frederick)

Articulated copper clads gateway building to new College of Nursing in Phoenix

Copper has certain attributes that make it an appealing facade option in arid climates. The first is that it doesn’t turn green. “Here in the desert, it weathers like a penny in your pocket,” said Mark Kranz, the SmithGroup Phoenix design principal in charge of the recently completed Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation Phase II project. Clad in an articulated and partially perforated copper skin, the 84,000-square-foot, five-story facility complements a collection of existing and new buildings that form the college’s new Phoenix campus. This month, the project won a 2011 North American Copper in Architecture Award, earning points not only for the identity it imparts to the campus, but also for a unique panel design that delivers environmental performance at a low cost.

Continue reading after the jump.

Documentary Celebrates Burnished Bungalows

East
Thursday, May 26, 2011
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Beach-side bungalows are the stars of the documentary. (Courtesy Bungalows of the Rockaways)

With summer weather quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to kick back and dream about a sweet bungalow by the beach… in Queens. Endangered bungalows throughout New York City have been on the radar for some time now, but documentary filmmaker Jennifer Callahan has focused on the fight to preserve the few bungalows left on the Rockaway Peninsula in her film Bungalows of the Rockaways, which will be screened tonight at Tenement Talks at the Tenement Museum.

Continue reading after the jump.

Johnson′s Glass House: the Anti-McMansion?

East, National, Newsletter
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
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Courtesy Philip Johnson Glass House

Courtesy Philip Johnson Glass House

Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, CT clocks in at under 2,000 square feet–tiny compared to the McMansions being built just a stone’s throw away. The transparent house is widely known as one of the earliest and most influential modernist homes in the United States, but its size is also a lesson in sustainable living.

Continue reading after the jump.

Savior of the Meat Market

East, Shft+Alt+Del
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
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Florent Morellet, in a scene from the movie. Courtesy The Villager.

When talking to Florent Morellet, don’t call it the Meatpacking District. For the eponymous owner of now-closed diner/bistro Florent on Little West 12th Street, it’s the Meat Market. Well before SoHo House and long before Pastis, there was Florent, the subject of a new documentary by David Segal, Florent: Queen of the Meat Market. I found out about the New York opening of the film while showroom hopping on Green Street last week. At Kartell, the perfectly bouffant-ed Darinka Chase encouraged me to try out Philippe Starck‘s Magic Hole. Before slinging chic plastic, Chase spent twenty years as hostess at the downtown den of dining debauchery. She vividly recalls how preservationists met at the restaurant in an effort to preserve the district. “At the time people did think it was kind of nuts, like landmarking the city dump,” she said.

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Infrastructure Blues: ULI Report Assesses National & Global Policy

Once again, the results of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) /Ernst & Young annual global infrastructure report don’t look good for America. According to the document, “The United States notably continues to lag its global competition—laboring without a national infrastructure plan, lacking political consensus, and contending with severe federal, state, and local budget deficits that limit options.” The end of the federal stimulus package in 2013 makes the picture even bleaker. “The stimulus helped, but it was only a down payment on what’s needed,” said Ernst & Young Global Real Estate Leader Howard Roth at a recent ULI meeting in Phoenix.

Continue reading after the jump.

Nilus Designs′ W.E.T. Seat

Fabrikator, West
Friday, May 20, 2011
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W.E.T. seat 1/8 scale prototype made with 2mm coroplast (Nilus Designs)

Polycarbonate sheets become an interactive bench, part of Fort Mason Center’s upcoming SEAT exhibition.

San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center will be the stage for an outdoor chair show set to open June 23. Called SEAT, the yearlong exhibition is being curated by artist and landscape designer Topher Delaney, of Seam Studio, and will include work by more than 40 designers, artists, and architects. Each team was given a site on the former Fort’s 13-acre waterfront campus, which now serves as an arts and culture venue. As one of the invited participants, San Francisco-based Nilus Designs is preparing an interactive piece called W.E.T: West End Terminal, an anthropomorphic bench created with carefully stacked strata of clear twin-wall polycarbonate.

Continue reading after the jump.

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