Eavesdrop> Are We Done with Architecture Petitions Yet? Zaha Hadid Faces Tokyo Backlash

Speaking of controversy, Zaha Hadid can’t catch a break! Since her stadium design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was unveiled, complaints have arisen about the scale and height of the project. Then two of Japan’s biggest architects—Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki—signed on to a petition calling for a revised design. As of press time more than 26,500 people have signed on to protest the design. Is someone’s star beginning to dim?

NYC Transportation Head Outlines Priorities For Building Infrastructure & Public Space

DOT Commissioner Trottenberg announcing a Vision Zero "Slow Zone" in Brooklyn. (DOT / Flickr)

DOT Commissioner Trottenberg announcing a Vision Zero “Slow Zone” in Brooklyn. (Courtesy NYCDOT)

At a recent transportation forum hosted by the New York Building Congress, New York City Transportation Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, laid-out her agenda for the city’s streets. She said implementing Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic fatalities remains the department’s first priority, but made clear that, under her leadership, the NYCDOT will be doing more than safety upgrades.

Trottenberg praised her predecessor, Janette Sadik-Khan, for “cracking some eggs” and fighting for bike lanes, bikeshare, Select Bus Service, and pedestrian plazas when it was not politically popular to do so. She explained that Sadik-Khan’s commitment to these types of programs—and the Bloomberg administration’s ability to realize them—makes her job that much easier. The challenge now is keeping up with the demand for new public space.

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Obit> Stanley Marsh, 1938–2014

Art, Obit, Southwest
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
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Texas' quirky Cadillac Ranch installation. (Doug Wighton / Flickr)

Texas’ quirky Cadillac Ranch installation. (Doug Wighton / Flickr)

Amarillo, Texas philanthropist Stanley Marsh—a major figure on creating two of the most iconic art works in America—considered himself an “artist and a prankster.” The patron of both Cadillac Ranch and Robert Smithson’s Amarillo Ramp (1973), the third in a trilogy a trilogy of spirals that also included Spiral Jetty (1970) and Broken Circle/Spiral Hill (1971), Marsh was an heir to his family’s oil-and-gas fortune.

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Senior Housing in Oakland Pushes the Building Envelope

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Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects pursued both LEED and GreenPoints ratings for their Merritt Crossing senior housing complex. (Tim Griffith)

Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects pursued both LEED and GreenPoint ratings for their Merritt Crossing senior housing complex. (Tim Griffith)

Sustainability and high design meet in Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects’ affordable housing complex.

Designing a sustainable building on a budget is tricky enough. But for the Merritt Crossing senior housing complex in Oakland, California, non-profit developer Satellite Affordable Housing Associates upped the ante, asking Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects to follow not one but two green-building ratings systems. “They wanted to push the envelope of what they typically do and decided to pursue not only the LEED rating, but also the GreenPoint system,” said principal Richard Stacy. “So we actually did both, which is kind of crazy.” Wrapped in a colorful cement-composite rain screen system punctuated by high performance windows, Merritt Crossing achieved LEED for Homes Mid-Rise Pilot Program Platinum and earned 206 points on the Build-It-Green GreenPoint scale. The building was also the first Energy Star Rated multi-family residence in California, and was awarded 104 points by Bay-Friendly Landscaping. Read More

Jaume Plensa lands four new heads in Chicago’s Millennium Park

Art, City Terrain, Midwest, On View
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
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Jaume Plensa's new work "Look Into My Dreams, Awilda," greets visitors to Chicago's Millennium Park. (City of Chicago / Patrick Pyszka)

Jaume Plensa’s new work Look Into My Dreams, Awilda, greets visitors to Chicago’s Millennium Park. (City of Chicago / Patrick Pyszka)

Barcelona-based artist Jaume Plensa said the first thing he does after checking into his hotel during stays in Chicago is drop by Crown Fountain, the digital waterwork that features human faces spitting water, just to make sure his popular downtown installation really exists.

“Sometimes I think it was just a beautiful dream I had 10 years ago,” Plensa said at a press conference Tuesday. Millennium Park, which turns ten years old in 2014, counts Plensa’s whimsical fountains among its more popular installations. A new piece of his, on loan from the artist through the end of 2015, attempts to build on that momentum.

Continue reading after the jump.

Winning Crowdsourced Designs Unveiled for New York City Hotel

The work space. (Pierre Levesque via PSFK and Prodigy Network)

The work space. (Pierre Levesque via PSFK and Prodigy Network)

It is only fitting that a crowdfunded hotel slated for New York City has a crowdsourced design as well. For its new, extended-stay hotel at 17 John Street, developer Prodigy Network, along with design blog PSFK, launched the Prodigy Design Lab, which allowed designers from around the world to submit plans for the project’s interior spaces and digital services. After 70 submissions were received and 10,000 votes cast, three winners have been announced.

COntinue reading after the jump.

Austin Considers Building A Light Rail-Streetcar Hybrid

(Courtesy Project Connect)

(Courtesy Project Connect)

As part of continuing efforts in the Southwest to develop and improve transit systems, the City of Austin has announced its intention to build an urban rail system known as UltraRail that will run through the city’s eastern downtown.

Continue reading after the jump.

Enormous Tower Built of LEGOs in Budapest Is Tallest in the World

International, Skyscrapers
Friday, June 13, 2014
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LEGO Tower (Courtesy So Bad So Good)

LEGO Tower (Courtesy So Bad So Good)

The LEGO tower in Budapest, Hungary has broken the world record for “tallest structure built with interlocking plastic blocks.” The tower was completed and registered with the Guinness Book of World Records on May 25th at a height of 114 feet. The previous record was 112.9 feet and was set through the combined efforts of students from the red clay consolidated school district in Delaware. According to the blog So Bad So Good, the new tower was erected by LEGO architects, who received some help from local primary school children. The tower was topped with a Rubik’s cube: a Hungarian invention.

See more of the tower after the jump.

Constructivist Playground by Warren Techentin Architecture

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Warren Techentin Architecture's La Cage Aux Folles is on display at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles through August. (Nick Cope)

Warren Techentin Architecture’s La Cage Aux Folles is on display at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles through August. (Nick Cope)

An interactive installation reconsiders the definitions of enclosure and openness.

Warren Techentin Architecture’s digitally-designed La Cage Aux Folles, on display at Materials & Applications in Los Angeles through August, was inspired by a decidedly analog precedent: the yurt. “Yurts are circular,” explained Techentin, who studied the building type as part of his thesis work at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. “That began the idea of using small-diameter rods and taking software and configuring sweeps with some special scripts that we found online.” But while the yurt’s primary function is shelter, Techentin’s open-air installation, built of 6,409 linear feet of steel pipe, is a literal and intellectual playground, its form an investigation of the dualities of inside and out, enclosure and openness. Read More

Garrison Architects Debuts Post-Disaster Housing for New York City

Architecture, East, News
Thursday, June 12, 2014
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The structure's exterior. (Gothamist / Jake Dobkin)

The structure’s exterior. (Gothamist / Jake Dobkin)

New York City’s Office of Emergency Management has opened a full-scale prototype of its temporary housing units that would shelter those displaced from the next Sandy-like storm. The OEM describes “The Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Program,” as a “multi-story, multi-family interim housing solution that will work in urban areas across the country.” The prefabricated structures are designed by Garrison Architects and intended to be dispatched quickly after an emergency and assembled on-site.

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French Artist Turns Iconic Architecture into Quirky Animated GIF’s

Memory Museum by Estudio America. (Courtesy Axel de Stampa)

Mirador Building by MVRDV. (Courtesy Axel de Stampa)

The French “GIF artist”—welcome to the 21st century, everybody—Axel de Stampa has officially made time-lapse videos look like child’s play. In his new project, Animated Architecture, de Stampa spins, shifts, tops, and deconstructs some of the most visually distinctive contemporary buildings—all in endlessly entertaining GIF format.

Check out more after the jump.

Cleveland approves neighborhood plans to bring new life to first ring suburbs

City Terrain, Midwest, News, Urbanism
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
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draft_duckisland_nabe-plan-cleveland

Aerial rendering from the Duck Island neighborhood plan.

The Cleveland neighborhoods of Kinsman, Duck Island, and West 65th Street could eventually get major updates now that three new plans have won unanimous approval from the city’s planning commission. All three neighborhoods were built when Cleveland’s industrial heyday propelled a boom of real estate development that has long since given way to depopulation. In Kinsman, on the city’s far East Side, the plan proposed creating an arts and entertainment district. The Duck Island plan focused on multi-modal transportation hubs, and the plan focusing on the West 65th Street neighborhood called for a two-mile multi-purpose trail. Funding for most of the work is still undetermined, but the city has committed some money for bike lanes, curb extensions, and other local improvements already called for in the three plans.

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