California Senator Barbara Boxer has won many accolades over the years, to be sure. But none has been quite like the honor she was bestowed this month: National Asphalt Legislator of the Year, according to the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). The group said it was particularly impressed with her role in the passage of MAP-21, the $105 billion 2012 Surface Transportation Funding Bill. NAPA Board of Directors Chairman John Keating pointed to Boxer’s ignoring of “naysayers who said a bill would never pass.”
To be fair the bill provided for billions in mass transit funding, but nonetheless Boxer has helped the state refurbish hundreds of miles of roads, and even build quite a few new ones. Not exactly a claim to fame in our transit-friendly design world. Ahem, don’t tell Elon Musk.
What’s in a name? It seems that every time we get used to an architect’s name they go ahead and change it. We’re still confused by the name Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), and we can’t get our heads around monikers like Rogers Stirk Harbour (formerly Richard Rogers Partnership) and Populous (formerly HOK Sport). Not to mention the headaches when firms like AECOM swallow the likes of Ellerbe Becket and EDAW.
The latest on the new name train are some of LA’s brightest firms. Daly Genik Architects is now Kevin Daly Architects. And wHY Architecture is now why design. The former came as a result of shuffled leadership—partners Kevin Daly and Chris Genik parted ways amicably. The latter is a branding change to broaden the firm’s scope beyond architecture. Both have completely new web sites. And both, no doubt, will puzzle us all until we finally come to terms with the inevitability of change.
Foster + Partners likes to think of itself as a high-design firm with glamorous projects all over the world. But the banal rendering accompanying this week’s announcement of a new 19-story, “luxury” residential tower, 551 West 21 Street, belies their design skills. Could it be that they have a two-tier design strategy in their office where glamorous cultural institutions get “Sir Norman” and commercial towers get, well, something less?
When London-based Two Islands took first place in Flint, Michigan’s first Flat Lot Competition for public art, images of their floating, mirror-clad meditation on the foreclosure crisis turned heads. Six months later the project has been built, but it faced challenges and has drawn criticism making the leap from rendering to reality.
Two Polls Indicate the Disposition of Harris County Voters Regarding $217 Million Astrodome Bond Fund
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that two recent polls have given clues as to how the denizens of Harris County will vote in the matter of approving $217 million in bonds to fund the reuse of the Astrodome. Previously, the Harris County Commissioners Court set the matter of the bond fund to a November 5 referendum. If voters approve the fund, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation will be able to proceed with its plans to create a New Dome Experience in time for Superbowl LI in 2017. Harris County property tax will also experience a slight hike to pay for it all. If voters oppose the issue, the Astrodome will in all likelihood meet the wrecking ball. Either way, entrants to AN and YKK AP‘s Reimagine The Astrodome competition will be watching with bated breath.
The 32nd Street corridor at Drexel University in Philadelphia has become a hub for student gatherings, interaction, and events. Situated between Chestnut and Market Streets in the campus center, the corridor’s current design, however, does not serve the social and functional needs of its college population. In March, landscape architecture firm Andropogon released primary renderings and plans for a complete redesign of the space now known as Perelman Plaza. In August, more comprehensive images were revealed, and now the project is underway. Two weeks ago, Andropogon broke ground in Phase One on the site, razing the existing awkwardly angled hardscape to begin construction of a practical design for the coexistence of human traffic and nature.
AB 630, a bill that ensures that no one can use an architect’s “instruments of service” (i.e. plans, drawings, schematics) without his or her written permission, recently passed the California legislature without a single no vote. The bill passed the Assembly 78-0 and the State Senate 37-0. But now architects are getting nervous, since governor Jerry Brown has not decided whether he will sign it.
Join the Institute for Public Architecture for its First Annual Fall Fête, honoring Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, Columbia University, and Mathew M. Wambua, Commissioner, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (Mar. 2011-Sept. 2013). On October 16 the organization will bring together a lively group of architects, developers, artists, public officials, designers, and writers for a cocktail party and auction, benefitting the IPA. The Fall Fête will be held at the spectacular Tribeca home of Francesca and Stephen Corelli (6 to 8 pm), with an after-party at the Shigeru Ban-designed Metal Shutter Houses (8:30 pm). The IPA is a new organization supporting socially engaged architecture. For Fall Fête tickets and information, please visit http://the-ipa.org/event/fall-fete-2013/.
For 2 weeks, two exhibitions in NY about Corbusier overlapped. In addition to the MoMA retrospective that closed on September 23, Amie Siegel’s Provenance at the Simon Preston Gallery on the LES (through October 6) examines a rather different slice: from the point of view of the furniture created for Chandigarh, the Indian planned city of the 1950s.
The film that forms the core of this installation travels in reverse, de- and re-contexualizing the objects. It starts with Chandigarh chairs, settees, and tables in their new homes in the West from apartments to lofts to townhouses and even yachts seen in slow tracking shots and lockoffs by cinematographer Christine A. Maier. These are perfectly crafted interiors that are pristine, light, airy, signaling the curated good life as seen in Architectural Digest. Peeking out are the inventory numbers, like a Holocaust tattoo or cattle branding. Does it give the furniture a limited-edition cache? The pieces are like adopted children who have been lucky enough to be given a new life, but they are out of their native culture and are isolated from their tribe. Even in their new surroundings with other treasures, one can always pick out the Corbusier piece, with the sharply angled forms—triangles are a distinct feature—and geometric planes, even in their new clothes of reupholstered checks, squares and luxury leather. Questions about preservation, neglect, restoration, reinterpretation, and fetishism arise.