Ando’s Silence. According to Dezeen, UK developer Grosvenor has partnered with the Westminster City Council on a project to open public space in Mayfair, London. The project aims to reduce unnecessary visual elements like signage and expand pedestrian areas. Architect Tadao Ando collaborated with firm Blair Associates to design Silence, an installation that intermittently produces fiber-optically illuminated vapor rising from the bases of trees.
Power Plant Printer. MIT News has revealed an exciting new technology: printable solar cells. According to MIT: “The basic process is essentially the same as the one used to make the silvery lining in your bag of potato chips: a vapor-deposition process that can be carried out inexpensively on a vast commercial scale.” So, not quite as easy as, say, printing out a power station on your inkjet, but still able to revolutionize the future of solar installations.
Building for Birds. The City of San Francisco is making an example of a new California Academy of Science building. It’s design for the birds. The San Francisco Chronicle notes the building’s innovative fabric screen deterring bird-on-building collisions could be applied to other structures in the city. “Bird-safe design” is a growing part of the conversation, but the question remains: will altering the transparency of urban glass structures detract from the design intent?
Déjà vu Design. Does that new building look strangely familiar? A new website called Post Post bills itself as the “comparative architecture index.” By juxtaposing projects of similar design languages or forms, the site hopes to “to illuminate the interwoven and complex relationships of congruous trajectories within contemporary architectural practice.” Have a look!
Though a bit more sedate then the previous night’s party, where copious amounts of caipirinhas were consumed, the New Practices Sao Paolo panel discussion on July 15 was not without its own fireworks. Toshiko Mori and José Armenio de Brito Cruz moderated the panel which was preceded by presentations from the ten winners. A strictly enforced ten-minute time limit made presentations feel like the Oscars when the orchestra music begins to swell. Though each presenter struck an distinct note, one could pick up on a few common threads. I certainly wouldn’t call it anti-green, but a few presenters markedly pointed out that there are other immediate matters in Brazil that compete with sustainability. “We didn’t want to create a green building,” said Triptyques’ Carolina Bueno, when describing her building, which, oddly enough, included “pores” in the facade for plants to grow. More to the point, Arkiz’s Rafael Brych questioned whether “green demagogical discourse” shaping the architectural discourse fully represented what was needed in Brazil.
Stop Work. After a late-breaking Supreme Court mandate, all renovations at the Manufacturers Trust landmark office building have been put on hold. The judge ruled in favor of preservationists who want to protect the structure as a “model of modernism,” according to the New York Times. It appears that demolition inside the structure has already taken place, marring the structure’s International Style. Renovation opponents want to see the building restored to its original condition.
Stop Work Again. Robert Scarano Jr. is officially banned from submitting construction plans in New York City. The Brooklyn-based architect had appealed an initial ban handed down in March of 2010, but the New York Supreme Court upheld the order. According to the court, the Department of Buildings “can no longer rely on him to submit honest paperwork.” As Crain’s reports, Scarano has made a practice of violating regulations and zoning laws, criticized primarily for his rampant overbuilding.
Shifting Gears. Research by Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy of the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute shows that car use in major U.S. cities has been slowing down. The researchers offer 6 reasons for the shift, all predicting change with respect to the way cities will be designed without the automobile in mind.
Parking Patterns. Architects Michielli + Wyetzner recently won the 2011 NYC Design Commission Awards for a renovation of the Municipal Parking Garage on Delancey and Essex. The rehabilitation, as ArchDaily reports, includes several improvements to accompany a fully patterned weaving cable facade. Composed of three layers, the facade allows for the structure to remain open while the patterning mimicks the “aerodynamic flow of moving cars.”
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in Los Angeles, which went on the market back in June 2009 for $15 million has finally sold for less than a third of that: $4.5 million. Local business mogul Ron Burkle, who also owns the historic Greenacres/Harold Lloyd Estate in Beverly Hills, is, according to Ennis House Foundation Chair Marla Felber, “committed to complete rehabilitation” of the beleaguered house, which despite a recent rehabilitation still needs a lot of work. “While we did receive some other offers, they didn’t come from sources that could meet our main objective of finding a good steward for the house,” Felber told AN, adding that the Foundation was “thrilled,” to find the right buyer for the house, despite the lower sale price.
Ever wonder what LA will look like in 30, 50, or 100 years? Little Tokyo Design Week, which launched last night in downtown Los Angeles, captures a glimpse of the future city through the eyes of innovative designers and companies inspired by technology from Japan. The four-day celebration takes place in one of the country’s few remaining Japan-towns and includes panels, exhibitions, parties, pop-up stores and even pub crawls. It opened last night with a forum from LA architecture school leaders Hitoshi Abe, Qingyan Ma, Ming Fung, and Andrew Zago, an outdoor screening of Hayo Miyazaki’s beloved anime classic My Neighbor Totoro, and a discussion of urban life as a customizable, sustainable existence with Tim Durfee, Ben Hooker, Keiichi Matsuda, Jon Rafman and Sputniko! Basically, this design week is about how to face the future of a more populated globe.
“Clockwork City” is the fantastical vision of animator Roy Prol calling for a city of rotating rings that change the notion of getting around in large city. As the video (after the jump) notes, the 3,000 meter diameter “Clockwork City” won’t need cars or even transit since work and home are a mere minutes away, anywhere in the city. The city itself is in effect one large form of public transportation. To get to work, the video notes, “Just wait at home until you see your workplace closer.”
Four concentric rings each 280 meters wide housing offices, residential, industrial, and agricultural/energy zones are traversed by smaller cogs joining them together. Boldly proclaiming “endless movement” complete with the prospect of an ever-changing skyline, it’s unclear how such a “Clockwork City” could be built or sustained. What are your thoughts? (Via Digital Urban.)
Ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables is seen as a key factor in improving public health. In many low income communities grocery stores are scarce. The Bloomberg administration is addressing these “food deserts” with an innovative, small scale program called NYC Green Carts, issuing extra permits to fruit and vegetable vendors in targeted neighborhoods throughout the city. The program is the subject of a photography exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, organized with the Aperture Foundation.
On Thursday, the East River Waterfront Esplanade officially opened to the public. Last week, while the paint on the new bike lanes was still drying, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden took AN on a walk through of the first section. The commissioner barely contained her excitement while showing off design details by landscape architect Ken Smith and SHoP Architects. Follow the commissioner as she takes us through the dog run and points out clever details like the “Get-Downs,” the riverside bar stools, and “seat walls.”
Lorena Turner: Made in China
114 Smith Street
Through July 31
Product packaging started primarily for hygienic reasons. General stores used to stock sugar, crackers, and pickles in huge barrels, and for every order the grocer would dip in his scoop. Not only was it unsanitary, but customers also might leave wondering if they got what they paid for (“Was his finger on the scale…?”). Food packaging guaranteed sterile products and standardized portions—in a word, purity.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation announced Wednesday that the former Taystee Bakery site in Harlem will be redeveloped into a green, mixed-use structure featuring light manufacturing, artists and not-for-profit spaces, a local bank, an ice skating rink, and a local brewery. Project developers Janus Partners and Monadnock Construction asked LevenBetts Architecture to create a design that merges the eclectic program to create an economic and social center for the neighborhood.