Postmodernism Post-Denial

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
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Montage based on Stanley Tigerman's "Titanic" with Philip Johnson's AT&T Building and text drawn by Seth Weine/ICAA

Montage based on Stanley Tigerman's "Titanic" with Philip Johnson's AT&T Building and text drawn by Seth Weine/ICAA

Postmodernism, the exuberant, eclectic, and ironic style born out of the death of the modernist dream in the 1960s and 70s, was the subject of the two-day-long “Reconsidering Postmodernism” conference last weekend, presented by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. The two marathon days of lectures, panels, and videos was filled with the original rock stars of the postmodernist world, including architects Robert A. M. Stern and Michael Graves, theorists Charles Jencks and Tom Wolfe, urbanists Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and a small but passionate younger crowd who couldn’t help but revel in the rambunctiousness of their vaunted forebearers.

Continue reading after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Rethinking Housing, NYC’s Superfunds, Printed PCs, and a Big Box Makeover

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
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A small lot designed to hold 20 units. (Terri Chiao, Deborah Grossberg Katz, Leigha Dennis, Joseph Vidich/Peter Gluck and Partners)

A small lot designed to hold 20 units. (Terri Chiao, Deborah Grossberg Katz, Leigha Dennis, Joseph Vidich/Peter Gluck and Partners)

Form follows People. According to the NY Times, there might be a significant mismatch between “the housing New Yorkers need” and “the housing that gets built.” That’s why last monday, various NY architects gathered together to pitch their proposals to city commissioners for artist, musician, and other creative-type housing.

Surrounded by Superfunds.  Four of the most polluted water-ways in the country—all declared Superfund sites—are located in the Tri-State area around New York City.  WNET’s Metro Focus breaks down of each waterway’s problematic histories and the difficult task of cleaning them up.

3-D Printed. Wired reports that we could be only 2 years away from building circuit boards with 3-D printers.  Implications? Printed out PCs, printed printers (if a part breaks, that part can be printed out), inventory-less virtual stores, and easier work collaboration across the country or the globe.

Costco Bonito. While it might be difficult to call a big-box store beautiful, designers at Costco are certainly trying to punch up the retailer’s design in Los Angeles The LA Times has more on the proposed beautification efforts which include adding dark, woodlike metal-slats to the facade.

Bay Bridge Bungle

West
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
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Construction on the new Bay Bridge (courtesy Bay Bridge 360)

You may have heard that the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is being replaced. (Technically the west span is being retrofitted and the east span is being replaced.) But the $6.3 billion project, which has been underway since 2002, has hit a snag: We learn via the Sacramento Bee that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has fired two employees after a Bee investigation showed that the technician responsible for testing the new bridge foundation’s structural integrity falsified and fabricated test results on other projects. The two fired were: Duane Wiles,who tested foundations for bridges and other freeway structures and Brian Liebich, who supervised Wiles as chief of the agency’s Foundation Testing Branch. The Bee‘s investigation examined about 50,000 internal Caltrans reports and test data documents and reported that Caltrans officials knew about the problems for years, but never conducted a serious investigation. Oops. The new bridge is expected to open to the public by 2013. Hopefully.

A rendering of the New Bay Bridge's self-anchored suspension span. (Bay Bridge 360)

 


Live Blogging> Zoning the City Conference

East
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
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Lower Manhattan in 1961, the year of the city's landmark zoning resolution (Courtesy City Planning)

Lower Manhattan in 1961, the year of the city's landmark zoning resolution. (Courtesy City Planning)

[ The AN editorial team is on hand for  Zoning the City conference, now in progress at the McGraw-Hill Conference Center in Manhattan. We'll be live blogging and tweeting @archpaper with hashtag #zoningthecity throughout the day, so check back and follow us on twitter for updates! ]

6:00 p.m.

In a wrap-up conversation moderated by Kayden, a panel brought together Thom Mayne, A.M. Stern, and Mary Ann Tighe to investigate a few non-planning factors, though of course it rounded back to planning within moments. The exchange was peppered with A.M. Stern wit, Mayne theory, and Tighe pragmatism.

Remarking on the more than 4 billion square feet of undeveloped FAR in New York City, Stern remarked, “That’s a lot of development–even for Related!”

Tighe said that zoning remained necessary, at the very least, for developers’ peace of mind. “I think we need some boundaries,” she said. “Things that will allow capital an amount of comfort that it’ll need to move foreword.” Tighe, who heads up New York’s real estate board, provide an audience full of zoning wonks and architects an investors voice, “What we keep forgetting after the vision is that the money has to come, the as-of-right things are needed.”

Stern replied no spoon full of sugar was needed to let this medicine go down. “Architects complain, they always complain,” he said “But they do their best work with difficult clients, financial constraints.”

Mayne broke through the realm of brick and mortar. “New York is inseparable from its intellectual capital, that’s it’s certainty and predictability.”

4:45 p.m.

Matthew Carmona of University College London played to a re-caffeinated crowd, using humor to diffuse  a very complex approval process for zoning London’s 32 different boroughs. With each borough weighing in with their own distinct processes and opinions, plus the mayor putting his two pence in, and even the secretary of state having a say, its amazing London plans as well as it does. The process looks more nightmarish than a West Village community board debating a university expansion. One intriguing aspect was the specificity of the Views Management Framework, which include river views, linear views, townscape views, and panoramas. But it was left to Loeb Fellow Peter Park, paraphrasing Goldberger, to best describe London’s beautiful mess. “Some of the greatest places in the world were built before zoning,” he said. “There’s an element of serendipity.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Bye Bye, Behnisch Architekten in Los Angeles

Shft+Alt+Del, West
Monday, November 14, 2011
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Behnisch's LA office designed the Park Street Clinical Lab Building in New Haven (Roland Halbe)

Just when we were getting used to Behnisch Architekten having an office in Venice we learn that leader Christof Jantzen is leaving and the office is closing. Stuttgart-based Behnisch opened the outpost back in 1999 and the location has worked on projects ranging from a lab at Yale, student housing at UC Berkeley, and an upcoming parking garage in Santa Monica. Now Behnisch’s only U.S. office is in Boston.

“It’s an evolution,” described Jantzen. “We had a successful story together.”

Here comes the good news: Jantzen is starting his own firm, Christof Jantzen Architecture, just down the street, and he hopes to take some of Behnisch’s eight Los Angeles employees with him. Jantzen described the venture as on the “smaller scale” to begin but noted, “we’ll see how it develops.” The web site isn’t yet live, but it will be www.cjantzen.com.

Pedestrians First at Grand Army Plaza

East
Monday, November 14, 2011
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A crowd gathers to celebrate Grand Army Plaza. (Branden Klayko)

A crowd gathers to celebrate Grand Army Plaza. (Branden Klayko)

Brooklyn’s grandest public space at the top of Prospect Park has always been a work in progress. Grand Army Plaza, an oval-shaped public space composed of monuments ringed by an inner and an outer roadway, was built as the main entrance to the park in 1866, serving as a buffer between nature and city and happened to be the confluence of some of Brooklyn’s busiest avenues. Over the years, a monumental archway was added, fountains came and went, and eventually the roads were widened until the lush plaza was effectively cut off from the surrounding Prospect Heights and Park Slope neighborhoods. Last week, however, after months of construction to tame the out-of-control roadways, a group of civic leaders and officials gathered in what was once a busy street to celebrate the newly reclaimed plaza.

Continue reading after the jump.

Taking Stock of POPS

East
Monday, November 14, 2011
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Zuccatti is one of 391 privately owned public spaces. (AN/Stoelker)

Zuccotti is one of 391 privately owned public spaces in NYC. (AN/Stoelker)

Last week, The New York World, a website produced by Columbia’s Journalism School, along with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show completed a crowd-sourced survey of New York City’s privately owned public spaces (POPS). The World consulted Jerold Kayden’s 2000 tome, Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, as a guide to gauge whether the private entities were keeping the public parks truly public and user-friendly. Kayden, who is co-chairing tomorrow’s Zoning the City conference with Commissioner Amanda Burden, has been the go-to expert on subject since Occupy Wall Streeters took over the world’s most famous POPS, Zuccotti Park.  All told, nearly 150 sites out of 391 around New York City were visited and commented on for the survey.

Read More

Yet Another Star Turn For Jeanne Gang

Midwest
Monday, November 14, 2011
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Watch Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s the Limit on PBS. See more from WTTW DOCUMENTARIES.

Still riding the wave of publicity following her recent MacArthur genius grant win, Jeanne Gang gets the full star treatment from Chicago’s public TV station WTTW. This documentary, “Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s the Limit,” is all praise. Blair Kamin and Stanley Tigerman figure as her head cheerleaders. It would have been nice to have someone puncture the bubble a bit, possibly interrogating Gang about architect’s limits, rather than merely presenting the discipline (and Gang as one of its leading lights) as a environmental and societal savior. The documentary does show some engaging glimpses of Studio Gang’s working methods and office style, so there’s plenty to enjoy, even for the (mild) skeptics.

 

Video> Brawling Buildings in NYC and LA

East, West
Friday, November 11, 2011
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Noting the rivalry between his new home, Los Angeles, and New York while visiting the Big Apple last week, Conan O’Brien launched a new segment , the Fight to the Death Building Battle to settle the cities’ differences once and for all. Curbed spotted these epic architectural fights posted online at Team Coco’s blog, and we couldn’t help but share on this Friday afternoon, 11/11/11. While in New York, Conan pitted the Empire State Building (“weighing in at 365,000 tons of limestone”) against LA’s Scientology Book Store (“the best building they could come up with.”) Of course, the Empire State soundly won. Back in LA, he revoked his New York show as “playing to the New York crowd,” and held another match between the Empire and a trio of LA buildings: the Capitol Records Building, a Lady Foot Locker from a Venice Boulevard strip mall, and later Randy’s Donuts. Remember, whatever side you choose, as Conan pointed out, “You’re booing a building.”

Pictorial> CANstruction NYC Builds Awareness for Hunger

East
Friday, November 11, 2011
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Root Against Hunger AN/Tyler Silvestro)

Root Against Hunger AN/Tyler Silvestro)

The 19th annual CANstruction NYC, a massive canned food drive in the form of an exhibit and design competition, is now on display at World Financial Center at 220 Vesey Street. Over 100,000 cans of food have been configured into 26 sculptures erected overnight (literally) by teams of architects, engineers, and students mentored by designers and architects. This year’s designs ranged from video games, to city skylines, to bowling, and even three different pairs of shoes. The fanciful display will stand proud until November 21st when it will be toppled and donated to City Harvest, the world’s first food rescue organization, in order to feed thousands of hungry New Yorkers. The exhibition is open daily in the Winter Garden from 10:00am through 6:00pm.

Check out more CANstructions after the jump.

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Big Architecture Weekend in Los Angeles

West
Friday, November 11, 2011
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Check out "California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way"

Every once in a while forces converge and we get an epic architecture weekend. One of those weekends is happening now. Here are some of the events going on in LA this weekend:

1.) Hollywood Wilshire Boulevard Focus Weekend, featuring free admission at the A+D Museum, Hammer Museum, Craft and Folk Art Museum, MAK Center, Fowler Museum along Wilshire Boulevard as well as events at all the institutions. All revolve around the Getty’s epic Pacific Standard Time series of exhibitions. These include: A discussion called The Legacy of the California Design Exhibitions at LACMA; a talk with Deborah Sussman about Eames Designs at A+D; a panel about Mapping Another L.A.: The Chicano Art Movement at the Fowler, a discussion about Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960 – 1980 at the Hammer; and a  about Sympathetic Seeing: Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modernist Architecture and Design at the MAK Center.

2.) Launch of the exhibition, Architecture—A Woman’s Profession at WUHO Hollywood and a Saturday panel discussion at the MAK Center, moderated by AN‘s Sam Lubell and featuring author Tanja Kullack as well as Barbara Bestor, Monica Ponce de Leon, Dagmar Richter, and Ingalill Whlroos-Ritter.

3.) Inglewood Open Studios, featuring visits to the studios of more than 30 artists (and a few architects) in this emerging arts district, but showing off great arts spaces like the 32,400 square foot Beacon Arts Building.

AN About Town: Last night’s best openings and installations

East
Friday, November 11, 2011
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The pop-up exhibition designed by Rockwell Group (Rockwell)

Thursday was a great night for New York showroom events. AN took advantage of the beautiful fall weather and made the rounds. Here are some highlights:

Moroso Traveling Show

Moroso celebrated the NYC launch of its traveling show commemorating 60 years of great furniture-making history. Designed by Rockwell Group, the pop-up exhibition will tour New York through November 26, then continue on to Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, and Vancouver. The show features 25 pieces from the Moroso oeuvre, many positioned on raw wood displays next to a timeline illustrated with images and drawings from the company’s archives.

Continue reading after the jump.

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