St. Louis’ Flying Saucer Saved.  Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL) Preserving mid-century modern architecture has become a hot-button issue around the country as aging icons are becoming old enough to be called historic. Last year a citizen-led preservation effort to save the unlikely icon in St. Louis, a threatened gas-station-turned-fast-food-restaurant with a distinctive concrete saucer, was launched. Now, it looks like the building will once again become a burrito stand as the developer has confirmed the building will house a Starbucks and a Chipotle. NextSTL has the details.

 

Van Valkenburgh to Design Gardner’s Garden

East
Friday, April 13, 2012
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Museum in 1946 following a Japanese-inspired update. (Courtesy Gardner Museum)

The Monks Garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1946, following a Japanese-inspired redesign. (Courtesy Gardner Museum)

“I don’t have time to read, because I trot about with the gardeners. And the little monk’s garden at Fenway Court is very dear too,” Isabella Stewart Gardner wrote to her art advisor Bernard Berenson in 1908.

The walled “monk’s garden” flanks the Gardner Museum‘s Venetian-style palazzo (the house originally known as Fenway Court that became today’s museum) and was first planted in 1903 in an Italianate-style with elegant evergreens running along the walls and pathways. In the 1940s museum director Morris Carter resdesigned the Monks Garden using a Japanese style plan but seeding it with New England wildflowers. For the garden’s last update in the 1970s, Sasaki Associates added bluestone pavers and wooden benches. And the recent addition to the Gardner campus by Renzo Piano included a repositioning of the museum’s main entrance, a move that gives the Monks Garden a much higher profile, warranting another facelift. Read More

Menil Drawing Institute Shortlist Announced.  Menil Drawing Institute Shortlist Announced The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas has announced a shortlist for the new Menil Drawing Institute, which includes David Chipperfield Architects, Johnston Marklee, Tatiana Bilbao/mx.a, and SANAA. The building will be the largest freestanding space devoted to drawings. The competitors certainly have a high bar to meet. Renzo Piano’s building for the Menil collection is considered one of the best places to view art in the country. “In this year, when we observe the 25th anniversary of our great museum building by Renzo Piano, we are pleased to begin realizing our vision for the future by selecting the next architect to design a major building for the Menil campus,” said Josef Helfenstein, director of the collection, in a statement. “By taking on the challenge of designing MDI—the only facility of its kind—the architect will create a home for our largest, fastest-growing but most delicate collection of artworks, while also providing an important new focal point for the entire campus.”

 

Taylor Family Digital Library Sunscreen

Fabrikator
Friday, April 13, 2012
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
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The self-tensioning system has 52 percent open area (Cambridge)

LEED Gold-certified building protects old documents with a modern mesh design

The new Taylor Family Digital Library houses some of the University of Calgary’s prized documents—more than 800,000 architectural drawings, one million maps and aerial photographs, and thousands of print monographs are among the nine million items in the collection. The university built the library as part of its mission to become one of Canada’s top five research libraries by 2016, the year of its 50th anniversary. But the library also serves the practical goal of protecting the special documents and art collections that were relocated there from other facilities. To that end, architect Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning envisioned the 265,000-square-foot building enshrouded in a veil of mesh that would provide solar protection while creating a semi-transparent facade and day-lit interiors to be enjoyed by students and community members.

Continue reading after the jump.

Is Brooklyn Becoming Farm Country?

East
Thursday, April 12, 2012
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Inside the rooftop greenhouses. (Courtesy Bright Farms)

Inside the rooftop greenhouses. (Courtesy Bright Farms)

A massive new urban farming project in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was announced last week by New York City-based Bright Farms, a company dedicated to building hydroponic farms close to supermarkets. The Sunset Park project will be the largest rooftop farm in the city, and possibly the world. At 100,000 square feet, it could potentially yield 1 million pounds of produce a year and joins several other agricultural projects in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Grange, another rooftop farming operation located in Queens, is planning to open a 45,000 square foot urban farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and farm-developers Gotham Greens will be opening a new location in the borough as well.

Read More

Redesigning the National Mall: Constitution Gardens

East
Thursday, April 12, 2012
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OLIN & Weiss/Manfredi

OLIN & Weiss/Manfredi

[Editor's Note: Following the unveiling of proposals to redesign the National Mall, AN will be running a three-part series to display the proposals for each of the three segments of the Mall: Constitution Gardens, Union Square, and the Washington Monument Grounds.]

A 50-acre parcel of the National Mall, Constitution Gardens, lies just north of the Reflecting Pool and east of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Grade changes keep it somewhat hidden from the main stretch of the Mall, and many tourists (and locals) visit the monuments and Smithsonian museums without coming across it. The gardens’ focal point is a small lake with an island that visitors can access by footbridge. The National Park Service has struggled with the site’s poor soil conditions—the ground was dredged from the Potomac River back in the late 19th century—and with upkeep of the paths and other features.

The National Mall Plan of 2010 calls for an “architecturally unique, multipurpose visitor facility, including food service, retail, and restrooms” to be developed at the east end of the lake, as well as a flexible performance space.

Check out all the proposals after the jump.

MIT Launches New Multidisciplinary Initiative.  MIT Launches New Multidisciplinary Initiative With a $1.5 million Mellon Foundation grant in hand, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is establishing a Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST), which will advance integrated arts education in higher learning. The proposal was co-sponsored by the associate provost and the deans of the schools of Architecture and Planning and Humanities,  Arts, and Social Sciences. The grant will provide funds for faculty, researchers, and curators to develop multidisciplinary programs that traverse art, science, and technology. It will also support the University’s Visiting Artists program. “MIT has a great legacy in this domain,” Architecture Dean Adele Naude Santos said in a statement. “MIT created the first architecture program in the country and is today a leader in new forms of design and digital fabrication; the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, founded by György Kepes in 1967, established a model for collaborations among artists, scientists and engineers; and the Media Lab is internationally renowned for pioneering efforts in the fields of design, media arts and electronic music.”

 

Blanc’s Bronx Vertical Garden

East
Thursday, April 12, 2012
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Patrick Blanc's cube installation at the New York Botanical Garden.

Patrick Blanc's cube installation at the New York Botanical Garden. (AN/Stoelker)

As architects like Herzog & de Meuron and Jean Nouvel tap into the potential of vertical gardens, they’ll often seek the expertise of Patrick Blanc. For the past thirty years Blanc developed vertical gardens while researching adaptive strategies of plants at the National Center for Sceintific Research in France. His research of plant growth in nature’s more hostile environs, such as hanging off of stone cliffs or springing from rocks next to waterfalls, has yielded a uniquely urbanistic solution for gardening. For the next ten days there’s a small window of opportunity left to see the work of Blanc at its most luxurious. The botanist designed the New York Botanical Garden‘s annual Orchid Show which ends on April 22. As a bonus, this also happens to be the moment that the Gardens’ 250 acres are at the height of their springtime burst.

Read More

Shortlisted Teams Reveal a Reimagined National Mall

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
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Constitutional Gardens proposal by Nelson Byrd Woltz and Paul Murdoch.

Constitutional Gardens proposal by Nelson Byrd Woltz and Paul Murdoch.

The Trust for the National Mall, a nonprofit devoted to restoring the heavily used park in the core of Washington, D.C., has released the shortlisted design concepts in its National Mall Design Competition. The 10 teams in the contest’s final stage were asked to reimagine three sites on the Mall most in need of repair or improvement: Constitution Gardens, near the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool; the Washington Monument grounds; and the area around the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial facing the U.S. Capitol’s west face.

Continue reading after the jump.

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Thursday: Panel discusses designs for Long Island City.  Noguchi Skyviewing model, 1969. (Courtesy Noguchi Museum) Thursday night at the Center for Architecture, AN‘s executive editor and editor of the forthcoming Civic Action publication Julie V. Iovine will moderate a panel on Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City, a site-study and exhibition featuring innovative design proposals for the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. The panel will include Lyn Rice, Elliott Maltby, and Claire Weisz speaking about involving the arts in civic planning. See you there!

 

NYU Takes a Shave; Locals Still Not Pleased

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
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The NYU expansion plan as seen from above will not change drastically. (Courtesy NYU)

The NYU expansion master plan as seen from above will not change drastically. (Courtesy NYU)

As was largely expected following comments from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer‘s office leaked to the press last month, officials from NYU announced that the university has agreed to shave off 370,000 square feet from their 2,275,000 square foot expansion plan, The New York Times reported.

In a telephone interview with AN, Andrew Berman, of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said that even with those changes the project is still out of scale for the neighborhood. Berman added that he was disappointed that the Borough President (BP) didn’t hold public meetings for the ULURP, as was done for the Columbia University expansion in Morningside Heights. “If there was ever a ULURP to hold a public hearing for, it was this,” he said.

Continue reading after the jump.

Architectural League Honors Amanda Burden’s Commitment to Quality Design

East
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
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Amanda Burden. (David Malosh)

Amanda Burden. (David Malosh)

Amanda Burden, Chair of the New York City Planning Commission and Director of the Department of City Planning, is the recipient of the Architectural League of New York’s highest honor, the President’s Medal. The League’s President and Board of Directors grant the award to individuals in recognition of an exceptional body of work in architecture, urbanism, or design. The medal was presented to Burden last night at an awards ceremony.

Continue reading after the jump.

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