That old saw about how you can’t take public space with you is bound for the trash heap. Landscape architect John Bela, co-founder of San Francisco–based Rebar, and artist Tim Wolfer of N55 have developed Parkcycle Swarm, a green space initiative that puts people and green space together—on wheels. The basic Parkcycle module is a mobile green space made of an aluminum frame, plywood, standard bicycle parts, and astroturf. Each one measures 2.6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 7.4 feet long. Parkcycles offer instant open space to neighborhoods. All users have to do is park the Parkcycle and sprawl out on the turf to enjoy a bottle of beaujolais or play some hackie sack. Four of the small mobile parks are currently making the rounds at the Participate public arts festival in Baku, Azerbaijan.
[ Editor's Note: For those of you who are getting excited about The Architect's Newspaper and YKK AP's Reimagine the Astrodome design ideas competition, you have until September 17 to register. Once you've done that, take the time to read the following article, which appeared in the September/October 2013 issue of Texas Architect. Written by Houston-based architect and writer Ben Koush, it covers the current status of the Dome, what it means to Harris County, and Space City's record of not bothering to preserve its architectural heritage. ]
Ever since the Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams, in a snit after being refused a new stadium, took his football team to Nashville in 1997 and renamed it the Tennessee Titans, the fate of the Astrodome has been up in the air. Matters were made worse when, instead of rehabilitating the Astrodome a new, neo-traditionalist baseball stadium, Minute Maid Park, was built down-town for the Astros in 1999, and then in 2002, a hulking new football stadium, Reliant Center, was built uncomfortably close to its predecessor to house the replacement team, the Houston Texans, and the Houston Rodeo.
It is going to be an uphill battle for the developers behind two massive residential projects planned for Greenpoint, Brooklyn. DNA Info reported that Community Board 1 rejected the proposals to build over a dozen 40-story residential towers on the northern tip of the borough, but they indicated they could be persuaded to change their minds. The bargaining chip is more affordable and senior housing. The board would like the developers behind the two developments, Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street, to drastically bump up the number of affordable units in their plans, which so far include housing, retail, a public school, and esplanades along the water. This decision is just the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).
Presented by The Architect’s Newspaper and Enclos, day one of the upcoming Facades+PERFORMANCE conference in Chicago on October 24th to 25th consists of a stimulating architectural symposium exploring all aspects of building facades, from design to construction to client perspective. With new, specialized technology for construction, facades become increasingly complex.
In his session at Facades+PERFORMANCE Mark Dannettel, facade specialist and vice president at engineering design firm, Thornton Tomasetti, will speak on two recent facades that embrace complex design, yet maintain an aesthetic appeal. Entitled “Cable-nets and Other Complex Facades,” Dannettel’s lecture will address the methods used to create two spectacular but amazingly different Chicago buildings by locally-based firms: the cable-net supported, double curtain wall of Solomon Cordwell Buenz‘s Loyola University Information Commons and the hyper-facetted glass facade Krueck + Sexton‘s Spertus Institute.
Fulton Street, the bustling commercial strip of the Brooklyn neighborhood, Bedford Stuyvesant, has just received a much-needed makeover. The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., along with community stakeholders and city officials, gathered this morning at the new Marcy Plaza to celebrate the completion of a $20 million neighborhood revitalization project, funded by the city. The organization led efforts to revamp Restoration Plaza with the help Garrison Architects, build a new plaza along Marcy Avenue, implement public art, and overhaul a mile-long stretch along Fulton Street with expanded sidewalks, new benches, trees, plantings, bike racks, and lighting. These streetscape improvements aim to bolster local businesses and support the local residential community by creating a safer and more walkable neighborhood.
The Benjamin Franklin Museum at Independence National Historical Park (INHP) in Philadelphia has bid adieu to the 1970s. Closed by the National Park Service (NPS) for a $23 million, two-year renovation, the historic site has re-opened as an 8,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility to learn about the “relevant revolutionary.” Quinn Evans Architects (QEA) was tasked with renovating the original 1976 underground museum designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (VSBA). The museum now involves interactive displays, personal artifacts, and a glass pavilion, also known as the ghost house, operating as the main entrance from Franklin Court.
On September 11th, the Architects Forum Glass+Performance in Atlanta, Georgia presents some of the biggest names in architecture for a symposium of diverse programs, esteemed speakers, and informative dialogues, all in the name of glass. As part of GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Exposition, The Architect’s Newspaper and Glass Magazine have teamed up to develop a spectacular lineup addressing the multiplicity of uses of architectural and decorative glass. Registration allows attendees access to the exciting events of the day, including a keynote address by architect Neil M. Denari, as well as entrance to the three day GlassBuild America Trade Show Floor and five Continuing Education Units from the American Institute of Architects.
Last week Los Angeles councilman, Jose Huizar, announced the formation of a 21-member task force to help re-imagine Pershing Square, the beleaguered central park in the middle of downtown. The group includes local residents, design and architecture experts, business people, and government officials. Huizar said he hoped they could bring “a wide-range of ideas and perspectives to the discussion.” They’ll also have to develop an agenda and a timeline, and figure out how to fund the project.
AN’s distinctive Facades+PERFORMANCE conference in Chicago provides participants the exclusive opportunity to engage in in-depth dialogue with frontrunners in the architecture, fabrication, and engineering industries. On October 25th at the Illinois Institute of Technology, workshop leaders such as Sophie Pennetier, Project Engineer at SHoP, will lead intimate discussions conducive to innovation and creative problem-solving. Topics including bent glass, designing for wood fabrication in complex geometries, and integrating performance are on the lineup.