Opening Salvo Aimed at NYU Expansion

East
Thursday, January 5, 2012
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Andrew Berman takes the mic before an overflow crowd at the Center for Architecture. (Stoelker/AN)

Andrew Berman takes the mic before an overflow crowd at the Center for Architecture. (Stoelker/AN)

It was the opening shot heard ’round the Village–and the East Village, and SoHo. An overflow crowd gathered at the Center for Architecture last night to rally the troops opposing NYU’s twenty year expansion plan. It certainly wasn’t the usual black-clad crowd found at the Center. No, these were some good old fashioned Village rabble rousers.

The event was organized by the Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who assured the crowd that the NYU Core plan is “not a done deal.” On Tuesday, the university certified proposals with City Planning, thus kicking off the ULURP process for what is likely to become one of the most contentious development debates of 2012. The proposal is, after all,  in the heart of Jane Jacobs country.

Just across the street from the Center are the remains of Robert Moses’ failed attempt to build the Lower Manhattan Expressway through SoHo after Jacobs and Co. put a halt to the plan. Parcels of land assembled by the Department of Transportation to accommodate the failed highway are now parkland commonly known as the DOT strips. A substantial portion of the 1.3 million square feet NYU wants to build in the area would be placed beneath the strips. The university has proposed designating the strips as parkland after the construction is complete, with the new green space designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

No matter the promises, this was not a crowd that trusts the university. The term “Midtown Zoning” got thrown about with on-message regularity. As did square footage metaphors, such as “bigger than the Waldorf-Astoria,” “the size of the Empire State Building,” and “three Jacob Javits Convention Centers.”

Council Member Margaret Chin was on hand to listen, but not to state her pro or con position–despite pressure from the crowd.

This month’s Community Board 2 subcommittee meetings will no doubt be unusually crowded as they’re all dealing with the proposal. If you want to see some New York zoning theater in action, here’s a selected breakdown:

Land Use:  Mon., 1/9 6PM at The Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Pl.

Traffic and Transportation: Tues., 1/10 @ 6:30 NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Pl. room 520

Parks:  Thurs., 1/12 @ 6:30PM at NYU Silver Bldg. 32 Waverly Pl. room 520

Full Board: Thurs., 1/19 @ 6:00PM 116 West 11th Street, Auditorium

 

Board Named for WTC Performing Arts Center

East, Newsletter
Thursday, January 5, 2012
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The site of the proposed performing arts center sits directly east of One World Trade Center.

Possible site of the proposed performing arts center sits directly east of One World Trade Center.

It had to happen before midnight December 31. And it did, although quietly. Downtown Express reports that five founding board members for the World Trade Center Performing Arts Center (PAC) were announced by National September 11 Memorial President Joe Daniels in the nick of time, in order not to forfeit access to $100 million in LMDC funds set aside in fall 2010 for the lone surviving cultural venue–apart from the September 11 museum–at the site, where once many were envisioned as the most sure-fire way to lift ground zero out of the psychological depths of mourning for the lost.

Continue reading after the jump.

Obit> Anne Tyng, 1920-2011

East
Thursday, January 5, 2012
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Anne Tyng, photo credit: Ramak Fazel

Anne Tyng, 1920-2011. Photo: Ramak Fazel.

Anne Tyng, the Philadelphia architect and design professor, passed away on December 27. Born in 1920, Tyng was best known as a close collaborator—and even muse—of Louis Kahn, but she herself was an extraordinary figure. She established her career with theoretical writings that reflected a deep interest in mathematics and design, themes that she explored in Simultaneousness, Randomness and Order, her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania, and pursued throughout her professional life.

Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry, an exhibition that opened last year at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, was an elegant summation of her theoretical research on design and of her professional and academic career. Several of Tyng’s geometric designs from the ICA show were later exhibited at the Graham Foundation in Chicago, a longtime supporter of her work.

The Architect’s Newspaper will publish a more extensive obituary written by Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss in our next issue.

New Projects: Chicago’s Newest Architecture Gallery

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
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Located three blocks south of Crown Hall at IIT, New Projects, a new architecture research and exhibition space, aims to provide a venue for urban and artistic dialogue about the future of cities. Located in the 1920′s Overton Building, the 3400 square foot storefront space is to play host to lectures, workshops, and exhibitions “focusing specifically on urbanism,” according to co-organizer Marshall Brown. Read More

New Year Brings CRA Disaster in California

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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The CRA's dissolution could be the final death knell for the $3 billion Grand Avenue Project (The Related Companies)

The CRA's dissolution could be the final death knell for the $3 billion Grand Avenue Project (The Related Companies)

Now that California’s Redevelopment Association (CRA) has doubled down and lost its bet with the California Supreme Court, leading to the scrapping of all the state’s CRAs, building projects across the state are in severe jeopardy. There are about 400 municipal redevelopment agencies in the state. Here are the projects in trouble for just one (albeit the largest): the Los Angeles CRA. They include nearly $100 million in grant funds to improve public infrastructure and create affordable housing and transit oriented development, the 126-unit Noho Senior Arts Colony in North Hollywood, the renovation of the historic Westlake Theater near downtown, the 35,000 square foot Wattstar Theater in Watts, the Cleantech Manufacturing Center south of downtown, and the biggest, the $3 billion Grand Avenue Project downtown. More than 20 projects in total are in danger. More to come on this huge news, including more lawsuits than you ever wanted to see.

BLOCK Research Group’s Freeform Catalan Thin-Tile Vault

Fabrikator
Friday, December 30, 2011
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Fabrikator Brought to you by:

The freeform vaulted structure is BLOCK Research Group's first built prototype (BLOCK)

A research project explores techniques from the past to learn about building stronger structures in the future

Sometimes research involves destruction in the name of creation. Architects and engineers from Zurich-based BLOCK Research Group at science and technology university ETH Zurich recently teamed up to build, and destroy, a vaulted masonry structure that was designed with advanced digital fabrication methods but constructed with traditional timbrel, or Catalan, thin-tile vaulting techniques. Through its research of freeform shells, tiling patterns, building sequences, and formwork, the group hopes to construct increasingly radical forms without sacrificing efficiency.

Continue reading after the jump.

Pictorial> An Architect Paints a Softer Skyline

International
Friday, December 30, 2011
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A watercolor by Gene Kohn included in a Hong Kong exhibition.

A watercolor by Gene Kohn included in a Hong Kong exhibition.

Are you on KPF’s holiday mailing list? If so, think twice before you toss their annual card into the recycling bin. You’re now the owner of a limited edition print by an artist who is represented by one of London’s poshest galleries, the Belgravia, and whose work was featured this fall in a one-man show in Hong Kong. The signature is in the bottom right corner: Kohn ’11.

Continue reading after the jump.

Zen-otaph: Steve Jobs and the Meaning Behind Apple’s New Campus

Newsletter, West
Thursday, December 29, 2011
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Aerial view of Apple's proposed new headquarters in Cupertino, California. (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Aerial view of Apple's proposed new headquarters in Cupertino, California. (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Apple’s new campus in Cupertino has left the design community a bit perplexed.

Back in September most of the architectural critics who weighed in on the issue expressed a one-two combination of shock and disappointment. Precisely because of Apple’s design bona fides and Sir Norman Foster’s involvement as the lead architect, they were expecting better. Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times called it a “retrograde cocoon,” marking it down as a car-centric, “doggedly old-fashioned proposal.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Will Cornell stand by SOM to build NYC Tech Campus?

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
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Inside the proposed Cornell campus.

Inside the proposed Cornell campus.

Multiple factors helped the Cornell/Technion team win what is shaping up to be Mayor Bloomberg’s favorite super-scale legacy project. Stanford, the only real competition, withdrew; a windfall of a $350 million donation blew in; local Cornell alums pulled out the stops with petitions. High on that list is SOM’s preliminary design proposing a net-zero building and a permeable landscape, developed with Field Operations, woven in, over, and into multiple structures lending an interactive and public character to the entire campus.

This wholly sustainable, radically accessible design plan has become a signature of the project as the city ambitiously strives to become an East Coast high tech start-up incubator bar none. And yet it is unclear if SOM will remain on the job.

Continue reading after the jump.

LEAPfactory’s Gervasutti Refuge

Fabrikator
Friday, December 23, 2011
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Fabrikator Brought to you by:

Installation of the Gervasutti Bivouac on the Mont Blanc range's Freboudze Glacier (LEAPfactory)

Built to withstand extreme weather conditions, the alpine pod explores new frontiers for prefabricated architecture

Climbers on the Freboudze glacier can now take refuge from the punishing terrain of the Italian Alps thanks to a new prefabricated shelter commissioned by Italian alpine club CAI Torino. The New Gervasutti Refuge, which cantilevers from the rocky landscape in front of the east face of the Mont Blanc Range’s Grandes Jorasses, was designed and fabricated by LEAPfactory, an Italian firm specializing in modular structures with low environmental impact.

Continue reading after the jump.

Unveiled> BIG Hits the Slopes Again with New Resort in Finland

International
Thursday, December 22, 2011
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Plaza (Courtesy BIG)

Plaza (Courtesy BIG)

It’s no mystery that Bjarke Ingels is a fan of mountains, but building craggy edifices hasn’t been enough for the Danish leader of BIG. Now Bjarke has unveiled his firm’s latest plans to incorporate “rooftop-skiing.” He previously proposed the Hafjell Mountain Hotel in Norway in 2007 and more recently an imperiled Waste-to-Energy Plant in Denmark that appears to have stalled. The Danish firm’s latest competition-winner is a 500,000-square-foot resort called Koutalaki Ski Village in the Lapland region of Finland, consisting of four landscaped buildings that double as ski slopes.

Continue reading after the jump.

MoMA Taps Pedro Gadanho as Curator of Contemporary Architecture

International, Shft+Alt+Del
Thursday, December 22, 2011
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Pedro Gandanho (David Farran/Courtesy MoMA).

Pedro Gadanho (David Farran/Courtesy MoMA).

The Museum of Modern Art has confirmed that the Portuguese architect, curator, and writer Pedro Gadanho will join  MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design as a curator of contemporary architecture.

According to MoMA’s release: “In his new role, Mr. Gadanho will be responsible for a broad portfolio that reinforces the Museum’s commitment, since 1932, to contemporary architecture. In addition to building the Museum’s holdings of contemporary architecture, he will oversee the annual Young Architects Program (YAP), co-organized with MoMA PS1, and the two-year-old YAP International Program in conjunction with the MAXXI in Rome and Constructo in Santiago, Chile; organize further exhibitions in the Museum’s “Issues in Contemporary Architecture” series; and develop larger scale exhibitions of contemporary architecture, including exhibitions that explore relationships between architecture and other contemporary art practices.”

Continue reading after the jump.

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