Staten Island’s Old Orchard Shoals Lighthouse stood as a protective beacon in Sandy Hook Bat for 119 years, but has now been reduced to rubble atop its rocky outcropping after being slammed by Hurricane Sandy. Built in 1893, the cast-iron lighthouse once stood 51 feet tall and had been listed on the National Park Service’s Maritime Heritage Program, but had been declared obsolete by the General Service Administration and sold at auction in 2008 for $235,000. The US Coast Guard confirmed this week that the stout structure succumbed to the storm. Light House Friends has more history on the Old Orchard Shoals Lighthouse:
In the late 1800s when winter ice closed down Staten Island Sound, the waterway separating New Jersey from Staten Island, an estimated 15,000 tons of shipping were forced to use the narrow channel that ran along the eastern shore of Staten Island. In doing so, the vessels passed dangerously close to Old Orchard Shoal. A bell buoy and a lighted buoy initially marked this shallow area, but mariners considered these navigational aids grossly inadequate…After $60,000 was approved, construction of the lighthouse was completed in 1893. The new fifty-one-foot, cast-iron tower was cone-shaped, built in the “spark plug” style common among offshore lights in that region.
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Making a strong, modular and architecturally significant pavilion on pocket change
For the Designers in Residence exhibition, Design Museum London asked four teams to respond to a brief entitled “Thrift.” The four resulting projects address the notion that “the limitations of economy require more resourceful, inspired and intelligent use of materials and process” and that the constraints of thrift ultimately lead to “a more creative and fully resolved outcome” than a project with limitless resources.
One of the four chosen proposals came from Lawrence Lek, an architect and sculptor who worked with Ken Yeang in Malaysia and Foster + Partners in London before founding his eponymous studio in 2011. For his project, “Unlimited Edition,” he reflected on how he has approached fabricating prototypes since completing his studies at the Architectural Association (AA) in 2008. “I remember a lot of students’ work, and mine especially, could be very extravagant with materials because being in school you have the luxury of many resources… One thing I found difficult just after leaving the academic world was actually fabricating prototypes.”
New York-based artist Leo Villareal is creatively illuminating the constructed form. In Madison Square Park, Villareal’s LED light-up geodesic dome, Buckyball, stands tall, undamaged but unlit after Hurricane Sandy. The Madison Square Park Conservancy told AN that the lights are expected to be back on tonight. And soon, Villareal also plans to light-up a far larger construction on the West coast: the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
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.”
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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.