City Farming. Last week, the New York City Council amended the city’s building code to allow for rooftop farming and greenhouses: now, rooftop greenhouses will not be considered an additional story. The bill also requires prisons to purchase locally grown food and calls for the city to maintain a record of spaces suitable for farming, Inhabitat said.
Mobile Equity. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights argued in a recent report titled “Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap for Transportation Equity” that mobility must be a civil right. Recent studies indicate that low-income areas and the elderly lack adequate access to mass transportation, particularly in rural areas. With abut 80% of federal transportation funding marked for highways, mass transit is under-funded reported Wired.
Home Slim Home. While Japan is famous for its narrow residences, the world’s thinnest house will soon lie in Warsaw, Poland, says ArchDaily. Designed by Centrala, The Kennet House is 122 cm to 72 cm at is narrowest part and will serve as the residence and workplace for writer Etgar Keret.
Perfect Pyramids. In a Wired post, a physics professor at Southeastern Louisiana University examined the construction of pyramids—how tall can pyramids be, and what is the best angle? Through mathematical formulas, he mused that 140 meters is the most efficient height.
Since Avatar’s release in 2009 architects have coveted the lush vegetation of the habitable moon Pandora for their own digital models, and today their calls have been answered. Interactive Data Visualization, the South Carolina-based developer of SpeedTree Cinema and SpeedTree for Games—used to create Avatar’s abundant flora as well as landscaping in your kids’ favorite video games—has released a new architect-friendly format.
After a protracted land use review with vitriolic community meetings that disquieted even battle-hardened presenters, the Landmarks Preservation Commission finally approved plans by the Rudin development family and North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical to renovate the St. Vincent’s O’Toole building in Manhattan’s West Village. As of Tuesday, the former Maritime Union headquarters is set to become a comprehensive health care facility with emergency services.
At 7am on August 1, Genevieve White headed to work. Dressed like any personal trainer—zip-up track jacket, shorts, cross-trainers—she made her way down Wall Street. But White didn’t have an appointment to stand over a high-powered exec doing crunches. Bypassing the monumental entry of the neighborhood Equinox gym, she stationed herself on the sidewalk near William Street, stripped off her clothes, leaving on only her shoes and mirrored aviator sunglasses, and began doing jumping jacks.
Store in Print. Aesop director Dennis Paphitis and Brooklyn architect Jeremy Barbour of Tacklebox stacked 1,800 copies of the New York Times for the new Aesop skin care kiosk in Grand Central Station. While perhaps not our preferred choice for newsprint here at the paper, the gray pages create a rich texture on which to displayed beauty products. More at Co.Design.
Shipping Shop. London hopes to claim the world’s first pop-up shopping center made of shipping containers, to be designed by British firm Waugh Thistleton. Renderings of BoxPark revealed on Treehugger show the site-manufactured boxes stacked and outfitted with reusable materials.
Bagging a House. At the Studi Aperti Arts Festival in Ameno, Italy, design studios Ghigos Ideas and LOGh presented their architectural response to the seemingly endless supply of plastic bags. With help from students at Milan Polytechnic, the architects transformed an unfinished building with a wing made entirely of grocery bags. More at We Heart.
Green Talk. DesignIntelligence released their 2011 “Green & Sustainable Design Survey,” claiming that despite innovation in sustainable building, green construction is not yet mainstream practice. DI editor James Camor said sustainability and LEED is on the table, but maintained architects have not recognized the initiative’s urgency. More at The Dirt.
In an extended period of belt-tightening, it is often the arts sector that grapples with some of the harder aspects of fund-raising. With heavy competition from other non-profits clamoring for support from the city’s enlightened wealthy, institutions must be creative and resourceful to attract new and more generous donors. For the Municipal Art Society (MAS), this dedicated support has come in the form of Robert W. Wilson.
A veteran MAS donor, a philanthropist, and a former Wall Street hedge fund manager, Wilson has committed $600,000 over the next three years to match new or increased gifts of $1,000 or more on a one-for-two dollar basis. Effective August 1st, the aim is to help MAS strengthen and sustain its base of unrestricted support, which puts control of distribution into the hands of MAS rather than a targeted program.
In his poem “One Winter Afternoon,” e.e. cummings describes Eighth Street in Greenwich Village at the “magical hour when is becomes if.” Well, it seems as though Eighth Street has reached that hour once again. The street, which once played a distinct role in Village bohemia, began as a hub for book dealers and fostered the original Whitney Museum. Eventually, the street became a district for shoe stores and edgy fashion anchored by Patricia Field. Field decamped for the Bowery about nine years ago and much of the street has since devolved into a hodgepodge of chain stores and characterless low-end retail.
Practice makes perfect, and for some Parsons students, the Splash House at Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center is a jumping off point for becoming better architects.
Parsons’ Design Workshop, a design-build studio set up 15 years ago to offer practical training to students, has partnered with New York Parks and Recreation Department to instigate a five-year initiative to identify and implement improvements in public spaces across the city. “The architecture students get a more holistic understanding of process,” said Kate McCormick, Press Officer at Parsons. “They actually learn how to make and engage the community, by finding out what it needs.” Although it usually collaborates with public organizations both inside and outside Manhattan, this is the Workshop’s first long-term municipal partnership within New York City. The first assignment: Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center in Upper Manhattan. Read More
Last week, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced that two U.S. projects have been shortlisted for the RIBA Lubetikin Prize. The distinction honors building projects outside the European Union that set a standard for international excellence. The American projects chosen as finalists are The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston by Foster + Partners and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia by Rick Mather Architects.
“This year’s shortlist is unusual in that they are all big budget projects—each with a contract value over $100 million,” RIBA president Ruth Reed said in a statement. “The list mixes some of world architecture’s most famous names, with a younger practice so it will be interesting to see who the judges choose as a winner.” The prize will be announced on October 1 followed by a feature on the winners on BBC 2′s The Culture Show.
Other finalist projects from around the world: Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House (Guangzhou, China), Foster’s Masdar Institute (Masdar City, Abu Dhabi) and the Met by WOHA (Bangkok, Thailand).