The good news continues for mass transit, as the MTA announced today that the first phase of construction on the extension of the 7 Train has been completed, stretching from 26th to 34th steets, where trains will be housed as they shuttle back-and-forth between the West Side and Flushing, Queens. The Bloomberg administration, which is paying for the $2.1 billion project, put together this nice video to help demonstrate the subterranean, and thus often invisible, work. It’s the kind of stuff New York mag is calling in its annual roundup a reason to love the city: our perseverance on such mighty projects, past falterings be damned. And yet, these are exactly the kinds of capital expenditures some transit advocates are hoping to cut into to stave off the MTA’s budget crunch. Will the next stop be to stop?
HITCHIN’ A RIDE
With its price hikes, worker strife, and bureaucratic image, LA METRO doesn’t exactly set the standard for good press. But that appears to be changing as the transit authority has hired two of our favorite writers to supply in-house news and consulting. After being laid off by the Los Angeles Times in March, transit reporter Steve Hymon was hired by Metro to put together its new transit blog, The Source. On November 20, AN contributor Sam Hall Kaplan announced that he had been hired by Metro to be a transportation planning manager, with a focus on “crafting a user-friendly interface in Downtown LA between the Metro and the proposed California High Speed Rail,” in particular for stations and streetscapes. Eavesdrop hopes there’s one more spot for a guy who would like to check out the coolest cities and their metro systems for ideas—say Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo. Read More
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
Fortunately it has not been all doom and gloom this week for mass transit, as Ray LaHood took a media tour of New York, to plug for High Speed rail, mass transit spending in general, Cash for Clunkers, air travel, safe driving—you name it. He started out at an editors’ breakfast at Hearst, where PopMech reports he declared the first $8 billion is coming… soon. Later that night, LaHood stopped by—where else?—The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart tried to pin him down on the same question of where and when, and where LaHood gamely fielded some jokes. The next morning, it was a two-fer at WNYC, where he appeared on The Takeaway to further flog his talking points, raging against digitally distracted drivers and the poor state of air travel, and then, as the video after the jump shows, he took on local interests, discussing the proposed MTA cuts with Andrea Bernstein, as well as a no-go on gas taxes but more transit funding in the next “highway” bill. It’s about the smartest transportation talk we’ve heard in the mainstream in a while. Read More
In the above video, lighting designer Leni Schwendinger takes us on a light walk. Inspired by the Professional Lighting Designers Association’s LightMapping events, Schwendinger guides us through the nighttime streets of Greenwich Village, using her keen eye to observe and interpret the urban lighting conditions. What she reveals is a nuanced way of experiencing the city—New York or any place where electric light and the built environment can be found—after the sun goes down and is not to be missed. Enjoy.
On Friday I posted a video about the Ocean Tower in South Padre Island, Texas, also known as the Leaning Tower of South Padre Island. It is, or was to be, a 31 story condo. Regrettably, after topping out one side of the foundation sank more than a foot into the sand, construction was halted, and on Sunday the structure was imploded. At 400 feet tall, it was the tallest concrete structure to ever be imploded, according to the demolition contractor, Controlled Demolition of Phoenix, Maryland. The above video, and many more like it on youtube, capture the magic moment.
Metaphorically speaking, so much of the development that has happened over the last decade has been built on loose sandy soil. Here, however, is a literal example of this very disheartening state of affairs: The Ocean Tower in South Padre Island, Texas—designed by the Brownsville-based Walker & Perez Associates—was to be a 31-story condo, promising startling views of the Gulf of Mexico and proximity to the most exclusive neighborhoods in the popular vacation destination. But after topping out last year construction was halted because one side of the building sank 14 or more inches into the underlying clay stratum. Major cracks appeared throughout the tower’s base, and now the structure is slated to be imploded this Sunday. The eloquent commentary on the above video gives voice to what we have all been thinking but afraid of saying while the myriad of architectural projects have been crumbling around our heads.
We’ve noted recently the preponderance of architectural documentaries, particularly those concerns the fields “greats”—from Gehry to Mockbee, Kahn to Shulman. Well, now you can add Rem Koolhaas to the list, as Archinect points us to this trailer for a new documentary in the works entitled Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect. The film got a nice little write-up in—where else—the Seattle Times, which explains that the documentary is as much about Koolhaas’ arrival at architecture as the architecture itself. Though that often seems to be the case, especially with Rem. How else could such a famous architect declare: “One of the exciting things about architecture is it gives you so many reasons to be modest. Because there are so many levels on which you can fail.” But at least we get all those cool visuals produced by OMA and AMO of buildings melding and morphing, as though there were a firm better suited to the big screen. After all, he’s a multimedia star, having already conquered music and typography. Read More
After a great summer spent in Maine and Canada we are back at the newspaper ready to soldier through the New York media wars. This week we were inspired by our fair city all over again. In case you missed the VMA awards and all the brewhaha about Kanye West, check out Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind! Jay-Z and Alicia Keys rocked the house. I suggest this as New York’s new City song. It could play on the jumbotron in Times Square and at Yankees stadium. The black and white NYC fly-over images at the back of the stage were incredible. The designer, photographer, videographer should win awards for this. Check it out.
When CAD rose up in the ’80s and began replacing hand-drawing as the preferred means of rendering architecture-to-be, practitioners began decrying the death of the field. Obviously that was not the case, but in our increasingly digitized age/culture/lives, where sexy renderings predominate (to the cost of real architectural discourse, some might say, and probably rightly) on blogs and, uh, architectural websites and beyond, videos are becoming an increasingly important component of the process of placemaking. Or at least competitionwinning, as the above video by SPF:architects shows. Read More
From Germany via Dangerous Minds comes this stunning 3-D architectural illusion: A square building appears possessed, its facade rippling, segmenting and mutating. Giant hands manipulate the building’s surface and then dissolve. A wave ripples through the building’s bricks as if it were shivering. Read More
Engineering firm Buro Happold is known for designing innovative structures. The glazed canopies it suspended above the courtyards of the Smithsonian and the British Museum baffle the mind with their seeming lightness. And the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic, on which the firm collaborated with fellow UK native Grimshaw, introduced upstate New York to some of the most space-age forms it has seen since Whitley Streiber’s Communion. Now the firm—along with designers Hoberman Associates and Innovative Designs—has turned its expertise to the world of rock and roll with its structural design for an expanding 4,000-square-foot video screen that will accompany U2 on their current 360º tour. Made up of 888 LED panels (500,000 pixels) the screen weighs 32 tons, can expand and contract from 23 feet tall to 72 feet tall in 90 seconds, and can be assembled in 8 hours and broken down into portable pieces in 6 hours. More pics and some videos after the jump. Read More