While New York and the East Coast try to return to normal after the brutal Hurricane Sandy, AN takes a look at most dramatic storm-related sights as we batten down the hatches for the oncoming nor-easter. Our Lower Manhattan offices reopened on Monday with lights working but our steam-powered heat is still out (space heaters have been working overtime). Architecture for Humanity and AIA New York have already begun mobilizing the design community to help with the recovery effort, as have countless other organizations accepting donations and volunteers.
Dear readers, Eavesdrop had the opportunity to explore Louisville, KY—our hometown—and Cincinnati, OH (a.k.a. Porkopolis) over the weekend. It’s been six or seven years since our last trip to Cincy and we have a couple things to say about it. It’s kind of a real city, like dense and old, with just enough corporate headquarters looming over the skyline.
We finally got to see the HOK designed Great American Tower in real life and it’s just as bad in person as its renderings. You may remember that we thoroughly made fun of its fugly, Princess Di inspired, steel tiara—something about lipstick on a pig. Let’s update that to a more current comparison. That tiara is more Honey Boo Boo than Princess Di. Eavesdrop is not a fan of hats or tiaras on buildings—i.e. the Pappageorge Haymes-designed One Museum Park in Chicago with its sailor cap. The American Institute of Steel Construction disagrees, recently giving said tiara a design award.
Though you might not know it to look at them, Oscar Niemeyer’s new line of sneakers for Converse are apparently inspired by his country’s greatest natural resources, namely its mountains, rivers, and its bodacious women. The Chuck Taylor All Star Hi sneaker is still the classic shape, but on his version Niemeyer has emblazoned one of his most famous quotes, in Portuguese, of course. Here’s the English translation:
“It is not the right angle that attracts me, nor the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. What attracts me is the free and sensual curve – the curve that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuous course of its rivers, in the body of the beloved woman.”
Reimagining traditional Chinese gardens with parametric geometry
For MoCA Shanghai’s exhibition MoCA Mock-ups: The Architecture of Spatial Art, USC American Academy of China (AAC) Summer Studio 2012 spent six weeks designing, fabricating and constructing “Minimal Relaxation,” a parametric canopy and undulating, LED-lit landscape that creates prime skyline viewing locations on the museum’s rooftop terrace. Inspired by Frei Otto, an architect and structural engineer famous for his complex canopy structures, “Minimal Relaxation” extends his body of design research into physical and digital form-finding processes for minimal surface structure through “dynamic relaxation techniques.”
Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on New York and New Jersey, and the current 55 to 60 mile an hour wind gusts tearing through Central Park have already taken their toll on Manhattan’s starchitecture, partially collapsing the construction crane at Christian de Portzamparc’s supertall One57 tower on West 57th Street.
We can’t resist when architects bring out the knives and engage in the fall ritual of pumpkin carving. Jenny Wu of the LA-based Oyler Wu Collaborative shared the results of their annual pumpkin carving contest set in front of the firm’s Screenplay installation. Happy Halloween!
Now this looks like a good idea: a group of architects and engineers called Urban Air are trying to turn a billboard next to LA’s 10 Freeway into a suspended bamboo garden. The technique: they remove the signage, install planters and then the bamboo, and then install water misters and sensors to make sure it’s properly irrigated. Voila! If it’s successful with the first sign the group wants to create similar gardens across the country. The ambitious plan is being crowd-funded through Kickstarter and with 46 days left has raised nearly $6,000 of its $100,000 goal as of this publishing. You can check out their Kickstarter campaign and contribute here.
If you ride your bike along Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn on your way to or from Williamsburg, you may have noticed a splash of color along the bike lane’s barrier. Similarly, the Flushing Bay Promenade in Queens got some color recently in efforts to bring art to the public. The New York City Department of Transportation, New York Cares and the Community Affairs Unit organized the event in collaboration with two Brooklyn-based artists Deanna Lee and Kara Lynch.
The Durst Organization is launching a composting pilot program for the 600-unit Helena apartment building on Manhattan’s West 57th Street. The program will start in the next few months and, if successful, will be implemented in Durst’s planned 32-story W57 tower designed by Bjarke Ingels and expected to finish in 2015. This composting scheme, potentially serving 1,350 apartments, will be the largest residential composting project in the New York City.
Experimental systems and new materials break ground in an untapped field of architecture
Earlier this month, Brooklyn-based design practice The Principals installed Wave Dilfert, an interactive “light-sensitive barrel vault” created for The Feast, a social innovation conference that took place this year in Essex Street Market. With their unique trifecta of talents, the founders of The Principals—Christopher Williams, a metal fabricator, Charles Constantine, an industrial designer, and Drew Seskuras, an architect—seem poised to lead the pack of interactive environmental architects. Interactive design is a quickly growing field thanks to events like do-it-yourself festival Maker Faire and the proliferation of open-source electronics prototyping platforms like Arduino. But before The Principals dominate the design-build world, we wanted to revisit the installation that caught everyone’s eye at NY Design Week: Cosmic Quilt. Read More