While the future of the current Penn Station will be up in the air for some time, a theater group plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original Penn Station’s destruction, which takes place on October 28. Taking place this fall, playwright Justin Rivers and director Barika Edwards will present The Eternal Space, a play that chronicles the demolition of the architectural monument and acts out debates over historic preservation that are still relevant today.
According to the play’s website, the set will transport the audience back in time: “Using the latest in projection technology, the photographs will speak for themselves making the audience feel as though they are sitting in the station itself.” Present photographs are also used to create the station in its current form and to show the passing of time.
Architecture and urban planning have taken center stage before in performances such as In the Footprint: The Battle over Atlantic Yards, Murder, Love, and Insanity: Stanford White and the Gilded Age, an opera about Robert Moses, and a series of plays by Moshe Safdie’s son Oren.
In New York these days, pedestrian plazas keep sprouting up in different pockets around Midtown Manhattan, an area known more for its heavily trafficked avenues and streets than its pedestrian-friendly corridors. And now, The New York Times reported that business owners along West 41st Street are pushing for their block, stretching from Broadway to Bryant Park, to be transformed into a tree-lined plaza, dotted with tables and seats. The street will stay open to traffic, but parking would be eliminated to make room for the promenade connecting Bryant Park with Snøhetta’s now-under-construction revamp of the Times Square pedestrian plaza.
Wally Rubin, District Manager of Community Board 5, told AN that the transportation and environment committee voted last Thursday to recommend approval of the plan, dubbed “Boulevard 41,” which will then go in front of the full board for a final vote on April 11th. If the Department of Transportation then green lights the proposal, the plaza could open as soon as this summer.
Work took place in March to replace a portion of Chicago’s Wells Street bridge—“the engineering equivalent of a heart transplant,” in the words of the Tribune’s Cynthia Dizikes. Work crews replaced a portion of the 91-year old double-decker bascule bridge during just two nine-day periods (a similar replacement in 1996 took almost a year). Inconvenience or not, seeing a 500,000-pound hunk of metal floating into downtown Chicago atop a barge makes one feel like a witness to latter-day Carl Sandburg paeans: “Here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities.”
It might bode well for the burgeoning BRT movement in Chicago, then, that the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago Architectural Club have launched a bus rapid transit station design competition. Dubbed “NEXT STOP,” the station design contest will be the subject of the 2013 Burnham Prize Competition.
Submit designs for three stations (downtown, near State and Madison; Bucktown-Logan Square at Western Avenue Blue Line ‘L’ Stop; Pilsen near 18th and Ashland) by noon May 13.
Buffalo’s Hirsute Pursuit. An old 140-foot-tall concrete grain elevator in Buffalo is being converted into a rock-climbing facility, Silo City Rocks. That much is true, but today, a group of mustachioed city-boosters unveiled a giant mural project to celebrate “famous mustached Buffalonians Grover Cleveland, Lindy Ruff, Rick James and Mark Twain.” Dubbed “Mount Stachemore,” the mural will be part of a planned Mustache Hall of Fame and Museum. Head brewer for Flying Bison beer was on hand to announce a new product sharing the same name: “My mustache is made thick by the foam of Flying Bison beer; in turn, Mount Stachemore Ale has a thick-hearted body and smooth finish, and we look forward to serving it at Silo City for centuries to come.” The group said they hope the mural by artist Max Collins will be complete by August 17.
Calling Fred and Carrie. The city of Portland, OR is famous for its progressive stance on transportation. To stay ahead of the competition, Portland Transport reports the city has announced a new public transit program aimed at increasing the horse-power on city streets – literally. A new hay-ride system gliding along high-tech RUTS (rapid ungulate tracking system) and complete with alfalfa-filled bioswales at intersections could open in 2017.
Florida’s New Pad in Boca. The epic battle between urbanism foes Richard Florida and Joel Kotkin appears to have fizzed, according to Planetizen. Suburban sympathizer Kotkin has switched sides to embrace the creative class. “The old school is dead. This is the new American economy – spontaneously meeting people, sharing ideas, Tweeting stuff.” Urban advocate Florida had his own change of heart, trading his latte for a lawnmower in a surprising appeal for suburbia. “If that ain’t what people want, why would they keep building it?”
Minneapolis St. Sprawl. Seemingly following Florida to the ‘burbs, a new plan for the future of Minneapolis-Saint Paul ditches density in favor of suburban sprawl. “It is time to reflect and realize that we need to shift our walking-oriented ways and rely more on the magnificent creation that is the car.”
Your Kiss Is On My List. Smoking, soft drinks, and now kissing? According to the Project for Public Spaces, New York’s Mayor Michael “Ban-it-all” Bloomberg is reportedly set to usher in a new PDA ban for New York City parks as studies suggest intimacy is on the rise.
I Haz High Line. While you can’t love your fellow human being in public for much longer, Friends of the High Line have been showing their affection for cats. The group hosted its first annual cat festival on the renamed “High FeLine,” which took a turn for the worse when the animals ingested too much catmint: “In what appeared to be a drug-induced mania, the cats jumped wildly up and down the Seating Steps, sending visitors’ macchiatos and kombucha teas flying.”
In the new documentary The Centrifuge Brain Project, the work of famed centrifugal theorist Dr. Nick Laslowicz finally gets its due. Combining never-before-seen archival footage with testimony from Dr. Laslowicz himself, the documentary briefly outlines the groundbreaking career of this oft-forgot designer, engineer, and academic who dared to challenge mankind’s oldest obstacle: gravity. As Laslowicz’s work moved from drawing-board simulations to real-life amusement park experimentations, his ambitious creations drew criticism from the establishment, but he never gave up hope in his aspirations. “We had setbacks, but I wouldn’t say it was a mistake,” said Laslowicz in the film, “If anything, the mistake is in nature. Gravity is a mistake.” Watch below to catch a glimpse of the The Centrifuge Brain Project and the legendary work of one of our generation’s great scientific minds.
The London headquarters of insurance giant Swiss Re at 30 St Mary Axe, known locally as “the Gherkin,” was scheduled to take its true form, today—a giant green pickle—thanks to Jackpot Joy, a British online gambling site, which promised last month to light up Sir Norman Foster’s iconic skyscraper with a digital projection. The foodie facelift called for wrapping the 41-story tower in a special non-reflective film requiring a crew of ten and around 900 man-hours. With no news that the tower is actually glowing, the stunt appears to have been too large a gamble. The jokesters, however, last year successfully sent a 60-foot rubber duck down the Thames. It appears this is strike two for recladding the tower after a campaign to transform it into a penguin went nowhere as well.
“What if we decided we needed a little more Guggenheim?” asked New York- and Athens-based group Oiio Architecture Office. In a shocking announcement on its Facebook page, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum today disclosed that it will be expanding—vertically: “We are pleased to announce that beginning today, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will begin construction to expand the original Frank Lloyd Wright design by an additional 13 floors.” The museum has always faced spatial limitations,and as the Whitney has taken to expanding over the High Line, renderings for Oiio Architecture Office show the Guggenheim rising vertically from its Fifth Avenue site, continuing the building’s signature spiral form. While this expansion is sure to garner criticism from preservationists, as the buildings is currently listed with both the National Register of Historic Places and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, representatives from the museum have stated that the proposed addition will respond respectfully Wright’s original design.
The Eero Saarinen-designed Gateway Arch in St. Louis is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its opening, taking place in 2015, and the original Dan Kiley landscape around the monumental catenary arch is getting an overhaul by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). The full story about the newly updated plans for the ambitious project appeared in the Midwest edition of AN News. MVVA shared these views of the current landscape and what’s proposed, showing just how dramatic the transformation will be. Take a look.
New York City’s financially-strapped Department of Education is seeking to cash in on a 99,000 square foot lot on 70th Street just west of Broadway, but a local elementary school and the legacy of one of America’s first Modernists stand in the way. If the Department gets its way, the three-story P.S. 199, designed in 1963 by Edward Durell Stone, will be sold to developers and replaced by a 340-foot-tall luxury residential tower in the already crowded Upper West Side neighborhood.
Craving an adventure? The New Museum dares you to travel back in time to 1993 by picking up many of thousands of Manhattan payphones and dialing the toll-free number 1-855-FOR-1993. You’ll find yourself checking your surroundings as you’re immersed into an oral history of what it was like to live on that block in 1993. The project, “Recalling 1993” is part of a larger exhibition at museum entitled NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, named after the rock band, Sonic Youth’s eighth album recorded in 1993.