On September 9th, New Orleans unveiled an innovative proposal for flood management: the New Orleans Greater Water Plan. Designed by Dutch engineers and led by chief architect and planner David Waggonner of locally-based firm Waggonner & Ball Architects, the plan seeks to mitigate the damages caused during heavy rainfalls. The concept is simple: keeping water in pumps and canals instead of draining and pumping it out. The idea is to retain the water in order to increase the city’s groundwater, thereby slowing down the subsidence of soft land as it dries and shrinks.
[ Editor's Note: The following story, "Il Duomo," first appeared in Texas Architect's May/June 1990 issue. It was written by the late Douglas Pegues Harvey, an architect who graduated from Rice University and worked for Marmon Mok Architecture in San Antonio. It was written on the occasion of the Houston Astrodome's 25th anniversary as a sort of homage as well as a protest for the fact that the building was not chosen for the AIA Twenty-Five Year Award. Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch was. (Incidentally, another Houston project was chosen for the 2013 25-Year Award.) We are rerunning this story, with permission, because today, September 17, is the registration deadline for Reimagine the Astrodome, AN and YKK AP's Astrodome Reuse Design Ideas Competition. Due to the overwhelming enthusiasm surrounding the competition, we've decided to extend the registration dealing to Monday, September 23. So if you were sleeping, wake up! Sign up today! (Also, if you have the chops to write articles like "Il Duomo" and want to contribute to AN Southwest, please contact Aaron Seward, email@example.com.) ]
It’s not every building that gets to be known as The Eighth Wonder Of The World. Texas’ nominee, the Astrodome, opened 25 years ago as the world’s finest interior landscape. On Apr. 9,1965, a time when the hegemony of television and the standing of the Sunbelt in American life were not yet secure, the Astrodome opening struck a telling blow on their behalf. The occasion was a Houston Astro’s exhibition baseball game against the New York Yankees. With President Lyndon Johnson watching, Mickey Mantle (naturally) hit the first home run, but the Astro’s (necessarily) won.
The Lisbon Triennale, Close, Closer, is the first architecture exhibition that does not need, nor even want outside visitors. In recent years, the relevance of the international exposition in a defined physical boundary has been questioned, given the energy and expense (particularly in Venice) involved in putting the event together and the ubiquity of digital display and information dissemination. Why not, many people argue, just do the whole thing on line and open it up to the whole world rather than forcing visitors to trek to expensive cities and countries? Lisbon’s Close, Closer will have a tremendous online presence, but, more to the point, the curators of the exhibition, under the overall guidance of British curator Beatrice Galilee, have downplayed expensive formal installations in favor of workshop, networking, and research projects.
Norman Foster is expected to design a new skyscraper in downtown Philadelphia, according to sources cited by the Philly Inquirer. Media company Comcast has outgrown its current home in the city’s tallest building—Robert A.M. Stern‘s 975-foot-tall Comcast Center. Details of the planned tower are being guarded, but architecture critic Inga Saffron reported that Comcast is exploring plans to build a “vertical campus” including several new towers, potentially beginning with a new structure on a 1.5-acre vacant lot at the corner of 18th and Arch streets (indicated above). The site was previously approved for a 1,500-foot-tall tower in 2008 but Saffron said the new tower would likely be shorter. Developer John Gattuso of Liberty Property Trust told the Inquirer, “The tower will be as big as it needs to be.”
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Amuneal Manufacturing fabricates a “breathing” sculpture for a North Carolina plaza.
For a public plaza in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina, landscape architecture firm Mikyoung Kim Design designed a unique sculptural installation that doubles as a stormwater management system. The 70-foot linear form is centrally located to engage the town’s residents with a looped, 10-minute light show. A misting sequence, drawn from a subgrade cistern, emanates through the perforated metal skin of the sculpture, giving the impression that “Exhale” is actually a living, breathing object.
The original concept for the piece incorporated hydrological elements of the site in an engaging and transparent way, but the form was less defined. Over the course of nine months, designer Mikyoung Kim said her team designed countless rock-like shapes from clay, carving each from the inside out to achieve a thin, amorphous shape that consistently collapsed in on itself. Then, one night at home, Kim had a breakthrough when her idling hands picked up a few sheets of trace paper in the early morning hours. “I started folding a piece of trace paper and kept folding, and folding,” she recalled. “It was yellow and easy and beautiful; I fell in love with that.” The sheets also helped Kim balance her aim for delicacy with function and helped define Exhale’s fan-like corrugation. Read More
As dusk shrouded Lower Manhattan in darkness last night, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum extended an 88-cannon salute to those whose lives were indelibly-changed by the events of September 11, 2001. Now in its 12th year, the Tribute in Light sent two high-intensity beams of light four miles up into the night sky in a poignant memorial marking the absence of the original Twin Towers. Several dozen onlookers including victims’ family members and city officials watched the beams emanate from the top of a parking structure just blocks from Ground Zero in a solemn expression of remembrance.
From an Islamic cemetery in Austria to a 330-meter bridge in North Africa, the five recipients of the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture each address a concern within their culture to improve quality of life. Awarded every three years since its 1977 initiation, the competition grants a collective $1 million to a number of projects that exist in areas with a significant Muslim population. Each project must be culturally receptive and increased merit is given to those that use local resources in ways that may motivate analogous ventures in the future.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has launched a new online guide to educate folks on the benefits of exposing themselves to nature. The polemic makes the case that there are long- and short-term health advantages of spending time alfresco, whether in the wilderness or in community parks. Health Benefits of Nature involves hundreds of case studies, research studies, and news articles that are categorized into 23 health concerns such as depression, asthma, stress, and general health to emphasize nature as a critical health tool.
That old saw about how you can’t take public space with you is bound for the trash heap. Landscape architect John Bela, co-founder of San Francisco–based Rebar, and artist Tim Wolfer of N55 have developed Parkcycle Swarm, a green space initiative that puts people and green space together—on wheels. The basic Parkcycle module is a mobile green space made of an aluminum frame, plywood, standard bicycle parts, and astroturf. Each one measures 2.6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 7.4 feet long. Parkcycles offer instant open space to neighborhoods. All users have to do is park the Parkcycle and sprawl out on the turf to enjoy a bottle of beaujolais or play some hackie sack. Four of the small mobile parks are currently making the rounds at the Participate public arts festival in Baku, Azerbaijan.