Letter to the Editor> Murmurs for Mummers

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John Johansen’s Mummer’s Theater. (Courtesy Elliott+Associates Architects)

[Editor's Note: The following are reader-submitted responses to the editorial “Acceptable if not Noble” (AN 03_04.30.2014_SW), which considered the imminent demolition of John Johansen’s Mummer’s Theater in Oklahoma City and the renovation of Ulrich Franzen’s Alley Theatre in Houston. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com. ]

There were local groups working hard to preserve and repurpose the Mummers Theater and conceptual plans put forth that incorporated the existing theater into a larger cultural and commercial mixed-use complex. My father supported and encouraged these efforts as an important and necessary evolution of this building, and architecture in general, to reinvent itself by adapting and embracing new ideas and technology.

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Eavesdrop> Lamster Bashing Reprieve as Dallas Accepts its Architecture Critic

Eavesdroplet, Southwest
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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MARK LAMSTER. (COURTESY DALLAS MORNING NEWS)

Since arriving in North Texas to take up the job of Dallas Morning News architecture critic, Mark Lamster has been under a trial by fire, suffering scrutiny and criticism for everything from his Yankee origin to his unsympathetic take on the city’s built environment. Well, local opinions seem to be warming a bit to the sharp-tongued scribe. In a recent piece in the Dallas Observer, Charles Schultz went so far as to praise how quickly Lamster has come to understand Big D’s development landscape and the insider track around its so-called zoning regulations. Schultz even showed a little contrition for a previous quip: “I apologize for calling him ‘Mark Lamster, New York Pinhead’ when he first showed up.”

Local Group Tries to Block Affordable Housing at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Development sites at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Courtesy Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy)

Development sites at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Courtesy Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy)

As AN covered earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio’s plan to bring affordable housing to Brooklyn Bridge Park has received steep opposition from local groups in neighboring Brooklyn Heights. They contend new housing development will eat up public space and that under-market housing would not provide necessary funding for park maintenance. Under a Bloomberg-era plan, revenue from private, market-rate development would help cover upkeep at the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates-designed park. Under de Blasio, 30 percent of the two proposed towers for the park–one 31 stories and the other 16–would be subsidized. The groups opposing that plan have now formalized their opposition against it.

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And Another: SOM Unveils Third Trussed Station Design for Florida’s Commuter Rail

All Aboard Florida's West Palm Beach station. (Courtesy SOM)

All Aboard Florida’s West Palm Beach station. (Courtesy SOM)

With another set of renderings revealed for Florida‘s upcoming commuter rail service, it’s clear that SOM hopes to give the system a highly recognizable visual brand. After the firm unveiled plans for All Aboard Florida’s Miami Station, which floats the rails 50-feet above grade on trusses, SOM and Zyscovich Architects revealed its design for the smaller Ft. Lauderdale station, which clearly borrowed heavily from the first. The 27,500-square-foot hub is also defined by reinforced concrete trusses. And today, with images released for the West Palm Beach station, we know those trusses aren’t going anywhere.

Continue reading after the jump.

Deborah Berke, SHoP, Tod Williams Billie Tsien to compete for new Cummins’ Indianapolis headquarters

(Jay Denney via Flickr)

(Jay Denney via Flickr)

Engine manufacturer Cummins Corporation announced plans for a new regional headquarters in Indianapolis Monday, but the Columbus, Indiana–based Fortune 500 company won’t look to local design talent to lead the project. Instead, three of the country’s leading names—all based in New York City—will compete for the project.

Continue reading after the jump.

Charge Your Phone On Boston’s New Smart Benches

A waterside Soofar. (Courtesy Soofa.co)

A waterside Soofar. (Courtesy Soofa.co)

Thanks to a new park bench design equipped with solar-powered docking stations, it’s easier than ever for Bostonians to enjoy the great outdoors by staring directly into their phones. The benches, which are known as “Soofas“, include two charging docks and have begun popping up in city parks as part of a pilot program.

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From fireworks to kayaks, step inside the well-produced world of renderings

Some more birds and some more kayaks. (Courtesy SCAPE)

Lots of birds and lots of kayaks. (Courtesy SCAPE)

In the idealized world of architectural renderings, everything is absolutely perfect. There are no dirty windows, no rust, no clutter, no dead leaves, no mud, no rain. There are crowds, but nothing is crowded. There are cars, but there is no traffic. The scalies dropped into these polished scenes are as happy  as can be—why wouldn’t they be? Every day is spent walking hand-in-hand down a boardwalk with a loved-one giggling about a Jeff Koons sculpture over there. Life is good, they think, as fireworks explode behind them. Life is good.

When you spend as much time as we do here at AN sifting through these highly-planned digital worlds, some trends start to appear over and over. Here’s a sample of what we see again and again.

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Herman Miller Goes Shopping: Buys Design Within Reach

The new Design Within Reach store in Manhattan (photo: Michael Biondo)

The new Design Within Reach store in Manhattan (photo: Michael Biondo)

Two of the biggest names in American design are joining forces. Famed furniture manufacturer Herman Miller has bought a controlling stake in Design Within Reach (DWR), the modern furniture retailer. According to a release, Herman Miller has purchased an 84 percent stake in DWR for a price of $154 million. DWR’s CEO John Edelman and president John McPhee will continue to lead the retailer, which currently has 38 locations in North America, as well as e-commerce and the popular catalogue. DWR has recently been upgrading their stores and refocusing on architects and interior designers as well as consumers. A new Manhattan flagship store opened this spring.

Continue reading after the jump.

Obit> Randall Stout, 1958–2014

Stout examines a model of the Hunter Museum of Art (RSA)

Stout examines a model of the Hunter Museum of Art. (RSA)

Noted Los Angeles architect Randall Stout has died of cancer. He was 56. Stout served long tenures at SOM in Houston and at Gehry Partners in Los Angeles, then went on to found Randall Stout Architects in 1997. The office, which gained large commissions in the United States and Europe, became known for contortions of polished steel and raw stone, and for large, luminous interior spaces intimately connected to their surroundings. Despite these unusual forms, Stout’s buildings were regarded as people friendly and practical.

“Randall was a true architect,” Richard Keating, who worked with Stout at SOM from 1978 to 1986, said. “He understood materials and budgets and made excellent buildings.” Keating attributed this combination to his extended time with SOM and Gehry. “His approach to buildings was to be artful as well as responsible.”  Read More

Steven Holl Wins Japan’s Praemium Imperiale

Steven Holl (courtesy Mark)

Steven Holl. (courtesy Mark)

Steven Holl has been awarded the 2014 Praemium Imperiale, the annual award of the Japan Arts Association and one of the world’s most important cultural prizes. The New York–based architect is known for his formally inventive buildings with sophisticated use of natural light and careful consideration of site and context. Among his many notable projects are the Campbell Sports Center at Columbia University, the expansion of the Nelson- Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, the Linked Hybrid in Beijing, and the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki. Read More

Antoni Gaudi Could Become Patron Saint of Architects

Antoni Guadi, the soon-to-be patron saint of architects?

Antoni Guadi, the soon-to-be patron saint of architects?

For years, the Pritzker Prize has been the gold-standard in architectural recognition. It’s like the Super Bowl ring, or the Oscar for Best Picture, or whatever Joey Chestnut wins for downing 60-some hot dogs at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. (It’s gotta be a sash, right? It’s probably a sash.) This is the hallowed ground where the Pritzker lives. But it could soon be trumped in a big way. In a big enough way that even knighthood can’t quite compare. Hear that, Sir Norman Foster?

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