Detroit Still Awaiting Its Very Own RoboCop

Midwest, Newsletter
Monday, December 5, 2011
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Earlier this year, over 2,700 people ponied up cash through the online crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to erect a statue of the 1980s icon RoboCop in Detroit, Michigan. Plenty has been said—both good and bad—about this quest to “uphold the awesome,” whether the statue will be a good or bad thing for the city struggling to regain a solid footing. Curbed Detroit recently checked in with Brandon Walley of Detroit Needs RoboCop and learned the statue could be ready to install as early as the summer of 2012. While a site for the statue must still be secured, organizers are currently awaiting the original RoboCop model to be shipped from Hollywood before the statue can be dipped in bronze. Considering that the 1987 American sci-fi action film was literally set in a near-future (you could say present-day) Detroit, and given the themes of resurrection, memories, and conflicted policies with logical fallacies, the statue likely holds more than just a nugget of nostalgia to the supporters.

HMC Merges Again, Expands into Phoenix

West
Monday, December 5, 2011
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Substance Design principals Jose Donna Barry and Jose Pombo worked on the Stevie Eller Dance Theater at the University of Arizona (Tim Hursley)

Southern California-based HMC has announced its merger with Phoenix firm Substance Design Consortium. The move not only strengthens HMC’s presence in the southwest (the firm already has an office in Tempe), but it’s a homecoming for its CEO Randy Peterson, who started his career in Phoenix. The new Phoenix firm will be known as HMC+Substance Design. HMC has been busy lately gobbling up smaller firms. Earlier this year they merged with San Francisco firm Beverly Prior Architects, forming HMC+Beverly Prior Architects. At least HMC preserves some semblance of the merged firm’s previous identity with the resulting shared firm names, unlike AECOM which has erased the names of legendary firms like Ellerbe Becket, DMJM, and EDAW.

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Maltzan, BIG, and West 8 Shortlisted in St. Pete

East, West
Friday, December 2, 2011
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Michael Maltzan's Proposal.

Maltzan's "Lens" would become the active center of St. Petersburg as well as transforming its image. (courtesy City of St. Petersburg)

The city of St. Petersburg, Florida has chosen a blockbuster group made up of Michael Maltzan Architecture, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Design) and West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture as the three finalists to redesign its famous pier. Taking a leap of faith, in 2010 the city voted to demolish the current iteration, a 1970’s inverted pyramid structure and 1980’s “festival market” that St. Petersburg’s web site refers to as “the most visible landmark in the history of the city.” But the pier’s market has fallen on hard times and the city was ready to redefine both the pier itself and the city at large. As their proposals show, any one of these three architects will give St. Pete a sculptural design that will become a new landmark, to say the least. The winner will be chosen in late January.

Check out all the proposals after the jump.

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Help Decide Lego’s Next Architecture Model

International
Friday, December 2, 2011
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Will Habitat 67 be the next Lego Architecture Model? (Bill Dutfield)

Will Habitat 67 be the next Lego Architecture Model? (Bill Dutfield)

Lego is giving architecture fans the chance to vote for the next model in its Architecture Series. Among the expected architectural wonders, like the Coliseum and the Eiffel Tower, more modern choices include Foster and Partners’ 30 St. Mary’s Axe (aka The Gherkin), Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67, and Santiago Calatrava’s Turning Torso. Current structures in the series—which began in the 60′s but was discontinued until recently— include Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, SOM’s Burj Khalifa, and Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House.

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a+i’s White Veil Wall: Ceilings Plus

Fabrikator
Friday, December 2, 2011
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Fabrikator Brought to you by:

The screen spans the ceiling and the three-story atrium of a Midtown Manhattan office (Magda Biernat)

A custom-perforated screen balances lighting and privacy in a three-story New York office space.

Ceilings are not just for the ceiling anymore. “With architecture becoming more organic in shape, we are becoming the architecture, not just a ceiling or wall,” said Nancy Mercolino, the president of architectural ceiling, wall, and enclosure manufacturer Ceilings Plus. This fall, the company completed a 33-foot-tall painted aluminum feature wall at the Manhattan offices of a global investment management firm. Designed by New York-based a+i design corp, the project was a consolidation of the firm’s offices in the city, adding three floors to the company’s existing three-story office space in a Midtown building.

Continue reading after the jump.

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Researchers Develop Robot-Powered Flight Assembled Architecture

International
Thursday, December 1, 2011
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A robot placing a brick. (Courtesy Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello D’Andrea with ETH Zurich)

A robot placing a brick. (Courtesy Gramazio & Kohler and Raffaello D’Andrea with ETH Zurich)

Finally, one of our classic futurist expectations (something you might see in Futurama) is about to be fulfilled: architecture assembled by a swarm of flying robots. With robots apparently planning a takeover of the construction industry, how long until the iconic yet dangerous “Lunch atop a Skyscraper” (from the 1930s) is a thing of the past?

Continue reading after the jump.

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Activists Press On for AIDS Memorial at Triangle Park

East, Newsletter
Thursday, December 1, 2011
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A view looking east through the Triangle Park plan by M. Paul Friedberg (courtesy Westside Healthcare Coalition)

A view looking east through the Triangle Park plan by M. Paul Friedberg and Partners. (courtesy Westside Healthcare Coalition)

On the eve of World AIDS Day, dozens crammed into the City Planning building in downtown Manhattan where the Rudin Organization presented plans for the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site at a Universal Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) hearing.  The commission is set to vote on the plan on January 24, but over the last few months yet another issue has emerged at the long contested site. Activists from the Queer History Alliance continue to press for an AIDS Memorial to be placed at a proposed park across the street from the former hospital, which was considered ground zero during the height of the AIDS crisis.

Read More

Video> DDG’s Bluestone Clad 41 Bond

East
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
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Masons carved 41 Bond's bluestone in the backyard; nothing was prefabbed.

Masons carved 41 Bond's bluestone in the backyard; nothing was prefabbed.

DDG Partner’s latest project uses a material often found under foot and gives it a hard-earned respect long deserved. New York State bluestone clads the entirety of 41 Bond’s facade, a condo with four full floor units, a ground floor townhouse, a duplex, and a penthouse duplex. Over the past few months usual Bond Street soundscape of tires rumbling over cobblestone has been interrupted by the clangs of the quarry, as masons fit the stone into place. All of the stone carving was done on site. DDG’s CEO Joseph McMillan, Jr. and chief creative officer Peter Guthrie give AN a tour…

Watch the video after the jump

Mallorca Marvel: LA Architects Wrap Resort In Futuristic Seaweed

International, West
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
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The patterned facade will create dappled interior light (LH&E)

Yes, that is a waterfall running down the building (LH&E)
Los Angeles firm tec Architecture and Dutch interior designer Marcel Wanders are partnering to create Kameha Bay Portals, a luxury resort and spa in Mallorca, Spain set to open early in 2013. Located on the island’s posh south coast, the building will take shape out of a nondescript 1960′s concrete building, but according to tec Architecture the 55,000 square foot project is more a reinvention than a renovation.

Read More

Unveiled> A BIG Glassy Box for Paris, Sort Of

International, Newsletter
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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BIG's design for the University of Jussieu in Paris. (Courtesy BIG)

BIG's design for the University of Jussieu in Paris. (Courtesy BIG)

In Bjarke Ingels‘ traditional style, what started as a standard box of a building for Paris’ Université Pierre et Marie Curie has been lifted, bent, and deformed to maximize light, sight lines, and air flow for a cramped urban site. Ingels’ firm BIG and Paris-based OFF recently won won a competition to design the new multidisciplinary research center called Paris PARC to reunite the university’s campus with the surrounding city including Jean Nouvel’s adjacent Institut du Monde Arabe and the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral.

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In Chicago, Small and Steady May Win the Race

Midwest
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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(photo: Steve Vance/flickr)

While a number of new rental towers have been announced in recent months, Crain’s has an informative article about a number of Chicago condominium developers who are beginning to build again, albeit at a very small scale and in tightly phased sequences. Even for projects as small as 14 units, banks are demanding projects be split into two phases, six units first, followed by eight in a second building. Some developers are also willing to accept lower offers from buyers for higher down payments up front. The thinking reflects new stricter lending standards and continuing economic uncertainty. But with Chicago’s condo market still over-saturated and the foreclosure crisis just beginning to wane, it also reflects a much needed correction from previous patterns of over building and over lending. And, pardon me Mr. Burnham, but isn’t incremental city-making and infill development often the best approach?

 

 

On View> Jürgen Mayer H. at the Art Institute of Chicago

Midwest
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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Court of Justice in Hasselt, Belgium. (Courtesy AIC)

Court of Justice in Hasselt, Belgium. (Courtesy AIC)

Jürgen Mayer H.: Wirrwarr
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Through January 22, 2012

While the Berlin-based architect Jürgen Mayer H. is known for his highly sculptural, honeycomb-like buildings, such as the Metropol Parasol in Seville or the the Court of Justice in Hasselt, Belgium (above), one of his quirky obsessions is not as widely known: a fascination with secret codes and numbers encrypted into patterns. Used by institutions such as banks to ensure that sensitive information such as PINs and passwords are only visible to the recipient, these intricately patterned data sheets are largely unexamined. To Jürgen Mayer H., however, this visual expression of our fear of exposure and desire for protection is fascinating and relevant to architecture.

Continue reading after the jump.

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