Dubious FEMA Argument for Rudolph Demolition Debunked, Again.  RUDOLPH'S ORANGE COUNTY GOVERNMENT CENTER In yet another turn of the screw, Orange County, New York county executive Eddie Diana’s claim that a FEMA report proved Paul Rudolph’s Government Center sustained substantial damage from Hurricane Irene turns out to bogus at best.  Dogged reporting from the Times Herald-Record reveals once again that the county executive’s numbers just don’t add up: “Diana told reporters that county officials have coaxed FEMA into raising its original estimate to $535,000 from $505,000. By contrast, the county’s consultants had estimated $10.5 million in damages.” FEMA officials blame the bulk of the damage on poor maintenance.

 

Fulton Street Transit Center Oculus

East, Fabrikator
Friday, May 25, 2012
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Fabrikator Brought to you by:

Inside the transit center's atrium (MTA)

An in-progress look at the new transit hub’s massive skylight

After funding cuts and subsequent delays since construction started in 2005, the much-anticipated Fulton Street Transit Center is finally taking shape in Lower Manhattan. The $1.4 billion project will connect eleven subway lines with the PATH train, the World Trade Center, and ferries at the World Financial Center. In collaboration with artist James Carpenter, Grimshaw Architects designed the project’s hallmark—a 60-foot-tall glass oculus that will deliver daylight to the center’s concourse level. The hyperbolic parabaloid cable net skylight supports an inner skin of filigree metal panels that reflect light to the spaces below. AN took a look at the design’s progress with Radius Track, the curved and cold-formed steel framing experts who recently completed installation of the project’s custom steel panels:

Continue reading after the jump.

San Francisco To Help Citizens Create “Better Streets”

West
Thursday, May 24, 2012
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The City of San Francisco recently launched sfbetterstreets.org to encourage public participation in city planning.

The City of San Francisco recently launched sfbetterstreets.org to encourage public participation in city planning.

 

One of Jane Jacobs’ most valuable contributions to the understanding of cities was her faith in the wisdom of the urban dweller. She argued that the physical city—and any approach to city planning—could not be separated from the wisdom of each individual inhabitant, “People who know well such animated city streets will know how it is. I am afraid people who do not will always have it a little wrong in their heads, like the old prints of rhinoceroses made from travelers’ descriptions of rhinoceroses.” The complication arising from Jacobs’ argument is simple though difficult to solve; how can we plan a city when planning is one part abstraction and abstraction removes us from Jacobs’ precious “real life” mentality?

A step towards solving this contradiction is sfbetterstreets.org, a website launched last week by the City of San Francisco. Developed by the San Francisco Planning Department in conjunction with other city agencies, the website is part of the city’s larger, “Better Streets” initiative. The legislative concept, described in San Francisco’s Better Streets Plan, is to create streets “designed and built to strike a balance between all users regardless of physical abilities or mode of travel… maximizing features for the comfort, usability, and aesthetics of people walking.”

Continue reading after the jump.

GSA Seeks Patrons for Candles on the Water

National
Thursday, May 24, 2012
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Maine's Halfway Rock Light (Flickr/Random Factor)

Maine's Halfway Rock Light (Flickr/Random Factor)

As part of ongoing subtle austerity measures, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced Monday that as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, they will transfer ownership of 12 lighthouses to willing non-federal-government organizations.  Eligible state or local governments, non-profit corporations, historic preservation groups, or community development organizations have 60 days to file a letter expressing interest in the properties. If no suitable taker is found, then a public auction will take place. The measure is part of President Obama’s initiative to save $1.5 billion in federal money by reducing overhead costs of maintaining federal real estate, and the GSA claims that they are on track to save $3.5 billion by the end of the year. Read More

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Moss out in WeHo? Or maybe not?

Newsletter, West
Thursday, May 24, 2012
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Rendering of Moss' Sunset Strip Hotel (courtesy Eric Owen Moss Architects)

Rendering of Moss' Sunset Strip Hotel (courtesy Eric Owen Moss Architects)

While it was approved by the city of West Hollywood back in 2009 (and again in 2010), it looks like Eric Owen Moss’ large hotel on the Sunset Strip might be in trouble. Curbed LA reports that the property containing the 11-story project, which was also to include condos and retail, has been bought by Marriott hotels’ “Edition” brand of luxury hotels, which WeHo Patch has said “doesn’t seem inclined to use the Moss designs.” Our calls to Marriott were not returned.

The Moss scheme was originally proposed by developer Richard Weintraub (with no hotel operator), and Marriott’s involvement became clear when the West Hollywood planning department approved the company’s modifications (slightly increasing size, adding a nightclub) to the project last Thursday. But wait. According to West Hollywood Planning Manager John Keho, Marriott has not yet told the city who the architect of their proposal will be, nor have they given a timeline for when they might submit architectural plans. According to Moss principal Eric McNevin, “Nothing has been confirmed yet. It’s not known yet. What was reported was speculation.” Stay tuned.

Six Firms Compete for Audi’s High-Stakes Urban Future Award

International
Thursday, May 24, 2012
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Architects participating in Audi's Urban Future Initiative are considering what "mobility" might look like in cities in the future. Above, an underpass in Mumbai.

Architects participating in Audi's Urban Future Initiative are considering what "mobility" might look like in cities ca. 2030. Above, life below an overpass in Mumbai. (Courtesy CRIT)

Last week at Audi’s HQ in Ingolstadt, Germany, architect Junya Ishigami of Tokyo succinctly summed up the problem the car company aims to tackle: there is “a gap between people’s speed and the city’s speed,” Ishigami said. In other words, people’s habits evolve quickly to suit a 21st-century lifestyle, but the infrastructure of the cities they live in is constantly playing catch up. And Audi, whose primary product is by nature infrastructure-bound, wants get ahead of the curve.

Ishigami was one of six architects presenting research as part of the first phase of Audi’s 2012 Urban Future Award, a bi-annual program first started in 2010. The 2012 firms were selected for their track records of researching the urban environment and their relationships to one of six metropolitan areas: CRIT (Mumbai); Höweler + Yoon Architecture (the Boston-Washington corridor); NODE Architecture & Urbanism (Pearl River Delta); Superpool (Istanbul) and Urban Think Tank (São Paulo); and Junya Ishigami + Associates (Tokyo). The brief: to “create visions for individual mobility in the future.” Audi defined the future as ca. 2030, when it’s predicted that 70 percent of the world population will live in cities with eight million or more inhabitants.

Continue reading after the jump.

Times Columnist Slatalla Takes a Walk in the Garden.  Times Columnist Slatalla Takes a Walk in the Garden Remodelista has just launched a new site dedicated to the outdoor life Gardenista.com. The editor is Michelle Slatalla, a former New York Times columnist and current writer for Real Simple. With Gardenista, “we aim to make gardening accessible, the way Remodelista demystified—while celebrating—interior design,” Slatalla said.

 

Join Us For A Teaching Moment Next Tuesday

West
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
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This editor’s recent piece on the divide between architectural education and architectural practice has spurred a lot of discussion, prompting both high praise for addressing a worsening problem and charges of, ahem, “neoconservatism.” If it’s a debate that interests you, please join us next Tuesday, May 29 at Gensler’s new headquarters for the panel discussion, “A Teaching Moment.” Panelists include UCLA’s Neil Denari, Michael Maltzan, USC’s Alice Kimm, Woodbury’s Barbara Bestor, SCI-Arc’s John Enright, and Gensler’s Li Wen. At the panel we will discuss not only the schism between practice and education, but also new approaches toward technology, urbanism, and more. See you there!

Figment 2012 Livens Up Governors Island

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
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Face of Liberty by Zaq Landsberg

Figment NYC is an annual celebration of arts and culture that takes place on Governors Island from June 9-10. Now in its sixth year, Figment provides New Yorkers with an interactive space to participate in the arts, with volunteer artists collaborating on works that transform the environment and the public’s perception. With visual art, music, performance, and installation works, the event will provide the community with a forum for emerging artists to engage with the public.

Continue reading after the jump.

NYPL Debate Rages On.  Half of the research books will be available on demand at the Rose Reading Room (Courtesy Flickr Austin_YeahBaby) There seems to be an air of the inevitable in the city’s plans to renovate of the New York Public Library’s main branch on Fifth Avenue. The New York Times is all over debate on whether the New York Public Library should send half of its 3 million research books to New Jersey to make way for circulation libraries after the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry and Business Library are closed. The Times got the debate rolling with an online forum last week and continued with coverage of yesterdays real world panel held at the New School.

 

Two Exhibitions Recall the Inspirational Work of Lauretta Vinciarelli

East
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
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(Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art)

Orange Sound Project. (Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art)

Lauretta Vinciarelli was a quiet but powerful presence on the New York architecture scene since the 1980s when she began producing “imaginary architectural settings” of buildings and landscapes. I considered it a great honor to be invited to her Soho loft to look and talk about her latest work 10 years before her death in 2011. It’s too easy as an architectural journalist covering the daily rough and tumble of urban architecture to get jaundiced about the profession, but Vinciarelli’s extraordinarily beautiful and quiet drawings and paintings remind me why we still believe in the power and hope of great architecture.

Continue reading after the jump.

Plotting Urban Art Around the World.  Plotting Urban Art Around the World Public art enthusiasts, rejoice: An online project called Mural Locator is committed to map and catalog public murals around the world. MuralLocator.org has information on murals in 40 countries, although the U.S. accounts for the bulk of the data so far. Not surprisingly most are clustered in major urban areas. Philadelphia leads the pack, boasting 76 so far. Tags in Alva, Oklahoma and Ely, Nevada attest to the diversity of locales mapped by mural locator contributors. A typical user-submitted entry includes location data, artist information and an image of the work. But it’s the description and historical context that make this tool an asset. As the catalog grows, Mural Locator could serve as a digital museum for public art worldwide.  

 

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