It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s actually a plane. On the corner of 60th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan, a six-seat, twin-engine Piper Seneca aircraft balances on two vertical steel posts positioned at the end of its wings, playfully rotating on its own axis and likely confusing visitors to Central Park. After doing a double take on the surreal scene, find a plaque located nearby and you’ll learn that this mysterious aircraft is actually an installation by artist Paola Pivi, whose portfolio includes scenes of zebras on snowy mountaintops and arenas of screaming people. Working with the Public Art Fund, an organization dedicated to present artists’ work throughout New York City, Paola Pivi opened her newest installation featuring the Piper Seneca, How I Roll last Wednesday, June 20th.
The film My Architect, the story of Louis Kahn’s son on a mission to discover and understand his father, won over the hearts and praise of even the lay-est of architectural laypersons. The effects of which—a fresh spotlight on the work and life of a brilliant designer—did not fall on blind eyes. Tomas Koolhaas is making a film about his father, Rem Koolhaas—see the Facebook page!—called REM set to debut in 2013. It also appears from rough clips that the CCTV building in China will play a central role in the story. Awesome! We can’t wait to see this quaint little film about a humble and modest architect and his role in designing the media headquarters for political oppression and censorship in China. We’ll get the popcorn!
Bjarke Ingels has again thrown us for a loop, this time in Bordeaux, France. Ingels’ firm BIG has revealed its latest competition-winner called the Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine, or, for the rest of us, MÉCA. As AN noted in April, BIG won the commission working with Paris-based FREAKS freearchitects, beating out the likes of SANAA and Toulouse-based W-Architectures, but the renderings have been kept under wraps until now. Ingels’ explained the design using his signature diagram-based narrative as an array of three visual and performing arts agencies arranged around a 120-foot-tall arch-shaped building.
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Wendy will eat the smog of the equivalent of 260 cars this summer
“I cannot wait for the data to come in so we can show people,” said Matthias Hollwich, a principal of the Manhattan-based architecture firm HWKN. Hollwich is talking about the air quality monitoring system that will be hooked up to Wendy, the 3,000 square-foot star-shaped pavilion HWKN is currently installing in the courtyard of MoMA PS1 for the annual Young Architect’s Program. Because PS1’s Kraftwerk exhibition occupied the museum’s courtyard until May 14th, HWKN only had six weeks to build Wendy, which will not only house a pool, a misting station, a water canon, an elevated dj booth and an exhibition space, it will “eat” smog all summer long thanks to a special little ingredient called TiO2.
Video rendering of the Bay Lights (courtesy TBL)
“What if the West Span [of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge] wasn’t a bridge and instead were a canvas?” asked Ben Davis, founder of creative agency Words Pictures Ideas and man behind the The Bay Lights (TBL) some time ago. That question soon became the foundation for San Francisco’s latest high-tech public art project that’s got even Silicon Valley abuzz. With the support of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and major Silicon Valley bigwigs, TBL is planning to put up an ethereal light show 1.5 miles wide and 230 feet high covering the west span of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge.
“It’s like déjà vu all over again,” AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said of the steep springtime drop reflected in May’s Architectural Billings Index (ABI). Baker was referring to the trend from 2011, when design activity took a substantial hit after an initially healthy first quarter. “But we don’t want to have a repeat of last year,” he added referring to the sluggish numbers that continued to shadow the profession through the fall. The new numbers were the worst since October and, Baker said, reflect trends in the larger economy.
Just as rolling hills of green lawn have replaced the industrial waterfront at Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP), two new buildings by Rogers Marvel Architects will soon mask the terraced autopia of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway cutting off Brooklyn Heights from the park below. City officials announced today that the mixed-use proposal by Toll Brothers and Starwood Capital Group was selected from a list of seven proposals to be built alongside immediately south of the Brooklyn Bridge along Furman Street at the entrance to the park’s Pier 1, providing much-needed maintenance and operational funding for the new waterfront green space.
To get a sense of Jason Kelly Johnson’s vision for buildings of the future, drop by the Buckminster Fuller show on view at SFMOMA through July 29. Johnson’s San Francisco-based studio Future Cities Lab was one of the firms chosen to represent Fuller’s legacy in the Bay Area. You’ll see the motorized model for the HYDRAMAX Port Machine, a waterfront “urban-scale robotic structure” that harvests rainwater and fog, designed by Johnson and his partner Nataly Gattegno—a dynamic concept that makes today’s built environment look positively lazy by comparison.
Better yet, go learn from Johnson firsthand. On July 27 Johnson will explore how technical tools like Grasshopper, Firefly, and Arduino can help tap the potential of buildings in “Responsive Building Facades,” a special workshop that is part of AN‘s upcoming conference Collaboration: the Art and Science of Building Facades, taking place July 26-27 in San Francisco.
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The firm continues its exploration of creating complex shapes with rope
The West Coast’s design show Dwell on Design brings tens of thousands of visitors to the Los Angeles Convention center for three days of modern design each summer. This year, the show commissioned a project from Oyler Wu Collaborative, the LA-based architecture firm of Jenny Wu and Dwayne Oyler. The most recent of seven installations (including “Netscape,” the SCI-Arc 2011 graduation pavilion) that the duo has designed since 2007, “Screenplay” is a 22-foot-long, 9-foot-high steel frame over which is woven an impossibly complex web of silver polypropylene rope.
California’s tallest residential-only tower and, according to some, the ugliest building in San Francisco has been given a new purpose following the installation last month of 72 accelerographs, or strong motion seismographs, within the building. Through a collaboration between the California Geological Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Madnusson Klemencic Associates, the building’s structural engineers, the 641-foot southern tower of the One Rincon Hill luxury condominium development at the base of the Bay Bridge is now home to the “densest network of seismic monitoring instruments ever installed in an American high-rise,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. These instruments, located at strategic points throughout 24 floors of the building, will provide “unprecedented” seismic data, which will in turn lead to better building codes and guidelines for structural engineers and future high-rise builders.