Designed in Chicago, Made in China: Blair Kamin, Chicago designers mull Chinese urbanization

Chinese new year flags and lanterns in Shenzhen, the poster-city for rapid urbanization in China. (Flickr / dcmaster)

Chinese new year flags and lanterns in Shenzhen, the poster-city for rapid urbanization in China. (Flickr / dcmaster)

Blair Kamin convened a panel of designers at the Chicago Architecture Foundation last Wednesday for a discussion around themes explored in his recent series “Designed in Chicago, Made in China,” in which the Chicago Tribune architecture critic assessed the effects of that country’s rapid development on urbanism and design. Read More

Pittsburgh’s Transformation: The 11 Projects Moving The Steel City Forward

The re-opening of Point State Park. (Courtesy Bridgett Kay / Riverlife)

The re-opening of Point State Park. (Courtesy Bridgett Kay / Riverlife)

From its streets to its rivers to its skyline, Pittsburgh is a city in transformation. The Steel City is diversifying its economy, improving its streetscape and becoming a new hub for the creative class. Business Insider has even declared Pittsburgh to be “The Next Hipster Haven.” But the transformation has meant more than coffee shops, bike-share, and startups—even though that’s certainly playing a part. As the city changes, though, it’s too easy to ask if Pittsburgh is the “Next [Enter City Here].” Because the “Next Pittsburgh” will not be the “Next Austin,” or even the “Next Portland.” It’s shaping up to be something entirely it’s own. Simply put, “The Next Pittsburgh” will be just that.

Read More

Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Research Tower Opening to Public Tours For First Time

Frank Lloyd Wright's SC Johnson Research Tower will open for tours in May. (PRNewsFoto/SC Johnson)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Research Tower will open for tours in May. (PRNewsFoto/SC Johnson)

An unusually vertical Frank Lloyd Wright building in Wisconsin will open its doors to the public for the first time since its construction in 1950. The Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin has housed SC Johnson for 32 years, anchoring its 153-foot tall mass with a distinctive “taproot” foundation.

More information after the jump.

Unveiled> Renzo Piano’s Stacked Masses Create an Efficient Paris Judicial Complex

International, Newsletter
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
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Paris Courthouse (Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

Paris Courthouse (Renzo Piano Building Workshop)

Renzo Piano has unveiled renderings for the new Palais de Justice, positioned on the northern edge of central Paris in the urban expansion area of Clichy-Batignolles, which will provide space for and unite numerous judicial services presently scattered throughout the city. The law courts complex appears as a slender, translucent, 525-foot-tall tower comprised of four stacked rectangular masses diminishing in size as they ascend. The structure includes extensive fenestration to blend the division of the interior and exterior, in addition to two exterior glass elevators offering expansive views of the city.

Continue reading after the jump.

Unveiled> OMA Master Plan Wins Bogotá’s International Design Competition

City Terrain, International
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
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(Courtesy OMA)

(Courtesy OMA)

OMA has been selected to design the Bogotá Centro Administrativo Nacional (CAN) new civic center, situated at the heart of the city’s main axis, Calle 26. Steered by partner-in-charge Shohei Shigematsu, the 680-acre mixed-use design occupies a footprint as large as Washington, D.C.’s National Mall and will operate as the city’s government headquarters with intermixed residential, educational, retail, and cultural developments, all which encourage continuous activity within separate districts. The design intends to integrate civic and public life while connecting to local destinations.

Continue reading after the jump.

Archaeological Survey in Angkor Reveals Intricacies of Pre-Industrial Urbanism

International
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
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Pre Rup temple at Angkor, Cambodia (Matt Werner / Flickr)

Pre Rup temple at Angkor, Cambodia. (Matt Werner / Flickr)

The US National Academy of Sciences has published the results of a survey performed in April 2012 of the forests of Cambodia, which uncovered a monumental, intricate landscape of low-density urban sprawl connected to ancient ruins of Angkor Wat that dates back to more than 700 years, invalidating archaeologists’ current understandings of pre-industrial urbanism.

Continue reading after the jump.

The Bruner Foundation Announces Winners of the 2013 Gold and Silver Medals for Urban Excellence

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
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Gold Medal Winner, Inspiration Kitchens (Courtesy of Inspiration Corporation/Steve Hall, Hendrich Blessing)

Gold Medal Winner, Inspiration Kitchens (Courtesy of Inspiration Corporation/Steve Hall, Hendrich Blessing)

The Bruner Foundation Inc. has named the 2013 Gold and Silver Medalists of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA). For twenty-five years, the foundation has celebrated urban projects that stand out for their “contributions to the social, economic, and communal vitality of our nation’s cities” with this biennial award. A panel of six urbanists—including such experts as Cathy Simon, design principal at Perkins + Will, and Mayor Mick Cornett, Oklahoma City—selected the four Silver Medalists, and the recipient of the $50,000 Gold Medal, Inspiration Kitchens in Chicago. Read More

Cincinnati Opens Downtown Casino, But Is it Urban?

Midwest
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
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The Horseshoe Cincinnati casino opened this week. (Courtesy Horseshoe Cincinnati)

The Horseshoe Cincinnati casino opened this week. (Courtesy Horseshoe Cincinnati)

Casinos have landed in Ohio’s three largest cities, now that Cincinnati’s $400 million Horseshoe casino is open for business. Eric Douglas, a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, has an interesting post as a guest blogger for UrbanCincy on the casino’s supposedly urban character. While Horseshoe casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati have been billed as “truly urban” establishments, he writes, “casinos are not known to be particularly friendly urban creatures.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Notes from The Innovative Metropolis: Fostering Economic Competitiveness Through Sustainable Urban Design

International
Friday, February 22, 2013
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brookings_washu_01

Left to right: Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow & Director, Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, The Brookings Institution; Oliver Schulze, Principal of Schulze + Grassov (Copenhagen); Chandra Brown, president of United Streetcar (Portland); and Jonathan Solomon, Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Syracuse University (Hong Kong). (Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

Covering ground from Sao Paulo to Copenhagen, a set of multi-disciplinary discussions were convened in Washington, DC yesterday by the Brookings Institution and the Sam Fox School at Washington University in St. Louis, to explore the synergies between urban design, policy, and finance required to realize innovation in the way we construct our environment. The discussions focused on global case studies relative to urban mobility, technology, and environmental adaptation, against the backdrop of global urbanization and climate change.

While lessons were gleamed, it was clear that what was needed was “not one urbanism,” as Dean Moshen Mostafavi of the Harvard GSD put it, but “Urbanisms,” tuned to the “logic” of a given geography, climate, and culture. While existing within larger ecologies that, as Valente Souza of Mexico City asserted, may contain “their own solutions,” cites are, as Amy Liu of the Brookings Institution emphasized “complex economic systems” and any sustainable initiatives must address consumer demands. As Alex Washburn, Chief Urban designer for New York City summarized, “all change is driven by desire.”

Watch videos of the proceedings of “The Innovative Metropolis” on the Brookings Institution website.

Ray LaHood Touts High-Speed Rail at UIC Urban Forum

Midwest
Friday, December 7, 2012
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Ray LaHood. (Courtesy Ray LaHood/Facebook)

Ray LaHood. (Courtesy Ray LaHood/Facebook)

Cities matter. In the Midwest recent headlines have read like an urban planning syllabus: post-industrial rebirth attracts a new generation of urbanites downtown, the roll-out of high-speed rail begins to pick up pace, and while innovative solutions to the region’s well-documented problems abound, a lingering fiscal crisis and unfunded pension liabilities threaten to squash even the most attainable aspirations.

Those topics and more made the agenda at University of Illinois Chicago’s annual Urban Forum held Thursday, whose lineup included the mayors of Columbus and Pittsburgh, as well as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil” was the topic at hand.

Read More

Imaginary Doors in Paris

International, Newsletter
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
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Imaginary Doors. (Jonas LeClasse)

Imaginary Doors. (Jonas LeClasse)

Paris-based artist Jonas LeClasse’s Imaginary Doors (And the People Who Pass By Them) is as simple as it is beautiful. Amidst the continuous grit and grime of dirty, graffiti-filled urban walls in St. Dennis—a working-class Parisian suburb—LeClasse draws doors using chalk, provoking viewers to slow down and reflect. He then invites viewers to pause for a portrait with the “door.” Perhaps it is a gateway of sorts, a simple delineation of inside and outside, or the fact that the portrait always captures the subject within a double-frame (outside of the the door yet inside of the picture). In any case, LeClasse achieves poetry using subtle architectural gestures.

View a slideshow after the jump.

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The Doors Project: Projecting Gateways onto Obstacles

International
Friday, September 28, 2012
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The Doors Project. (Courtesy The Doors Project)

The Doors Project. (Courtesy The Doors Project)

In an ongoing endeavor to blend public art, architecture, and urbanism by artists Siyuan and Hwee Chong, The Doors Project subversively projects a series of doors onto public spaces in Singapore, reflecting the struggles of the urban poor and underprivileged. But while commenting on despair, the real message is one of faith, hope and empowerment. “We wanted to make a statement about life, and jolt people to think,” the artists said in an interview at Yolo. “Instead of following the light at the end of the tunnel, why not carry our own lights, and create our own doors! It’s really about rolling up our sleeves, and creating the opportunities we want for ourselves.”

Continue reading after the jump.

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