Rethinking the streetscape will be the priority at the Los Angeles Planning Department, revealed newly appointed Planning Director Michael LoGrande in a conversation with LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. “We’re getting people out of their cars and thinking differently about transit,” said LoGrande, who chatted with Hawthorne on Wednesday night at Occidental College.
Confirmed August 4 after the resignation of his predecessor, Gail Goldberg, LoGrande has faced significant staff and budget cuts, which he’s responded to by re-focusing long-term planning on transit projects rather than just catering to a constant stream of ad hoc requests.
It’s Friday afternoon, so why not take a joy ride through the skies of New York? Gothamist uncovered this amazing video of a homemade RC airplane with a video camera attached to its nose making its way among the skyscrapers and bridges of New York. Makes for some pretty amazing footage!
Fox News featured Ed Wood and Leszek Stefanski of Radii Inc. last night, giving viewers a behind the scenes glance at a craft little known outside of architectural circles. Wood explained the relevance of architectural models in the face of advances in computer animation. He noted that there is, perhaps, a kind of dishonesty to the flat screen. “The physical model allows freedom,” he said. It was a sound bite that no doubt gelled with Fox producers, who promptly posted the video to their “Rise of Freedom” website under the subtitle “Designing Freedom.”
According to the LA Downtown News, LA Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner is proposing an interesting model to help reform LA’s archaic development process: Internet clothing seller Zappos. At a public presentation of his development reform plan last month at the LA Chamber of Commerce, Beutner cited Zappos’ customer service operation, lauding the fact that “any time someone makes a Zappos purchase, they can go online and find exactly where the package is in the shipping process.” Hence if his idea moves ahead it would make it easier for developers and architects to know where their projects were in the pipeline. The reform project, largely overseen by consulting firms KH Consulting Group and Woolpert, could also streamline the amount of departments needed to approve projects, allow design and permitting to happen concurrently, and assign specific planners to each project, among other things. Stay tuned.. And happy shopping?
While bringing nature back into the city is generally heralded as a sign of improvement, this is hardly the best path to that end. Next American City‘s Willy Staley recently took a walk through Detroit‘s East Side with vacant property guru Sam Butler to surmise the problems of abandonment facing the city. Detroit, seeking to demolish some 3,000 structures, has long been at the center of a movement to “shrink” cities suffering from population loss and blight.
An article in yesterday’s Boston Globe, “Design for Acrimony,” detailed recent strife between the principals of Office dA, Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de Leon, including accusations of inappropriate withdrawals of office funds and changing the locks of the studio. The Globe reporter spoke with Tehrani, but Ponce de Leon, the Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, did not agree to be interviewed. In response to the article, de Leon sent AN this statement:
“Nader and I have been working together for a long time. The Boston Globe article is grossly inaccurate and one sided. I did not give an interview to the Globe and I did not make any of the statements attributed to me. I did not use my majority stock to terminate his position with Office dA. This a small business dispute and the matter is scheduled for arbitration before the end of the month. Despite the dispute, Office dA continues to thrive.”
Both sides agree that the matter will be settled by arbitration by end of month.
You won’t see German artist Tobias Rehberger‘s proposed Lighthouse installation at this year’s Art Basel exhibition in Miami Beach, but if the city approves the project next week, the towering beacon could be lighting up the night sky by the end of 2011. To be located in South Pointe Park at a cost of $500,000, the 55-foot tall Lighthouse is comprised of stacked cylinders and would represent Rehberger’s first public commission in the United States. [ Via The Art Newspaper. ]
Be afraid. Be very afraid. That was the theme at today’s LA symposium, Imminent Danger: Earthquake Disaster and Risk Reduction in US Cities. The UCLA-hosted event brought together seismologists, engineers, architects, assessors and others to discuss preparation for the inevitable Big One, which, as everyone agreed, is not a question of if, but when. Despite the LA Times’ questions about whether the conference’s sponsors stood to gain from spreading earthquake fear, the insights to us seemed sincere and terrifying. We’ve compiled a few of the more sobering points, which should get you caring a little more about seismic retrofits and earthquake kits. Read More
Aye, those swashbucklin’ pirates are at it again, matey! This time, though, they’re not after gold, DVDs, or designer purses, but the identities of architects. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Glancey relates that Chinese firms posing as British officers of Aedas and Broadway Maylan have been pursuing bids with false information. He points out the dangers that such a development might entail for the profession and wonders if starchitects like Zaha Hadid could be the next victims.
Design Miami is all about furnishings as art, parties, being someplace warm in December, and more parties. It’s not so much about architecture, except that the most riveting eye-grabber is often an installation by an architect. In 2006, Zaha Hadid, named Designer of the Year, created a plasticene web of wonder that ensorcelled the interior atrium of the Moore Building in the Design District. More recently ArandaLasch created tents set up closer to the action and directly in front of the convention center where Art Basel Miami Beach is located.
No soggy Wednesday morning in New York could deter park aficionados, urban planners, and assorted Olmstedians from attending a talk and book signing by Alexander Garvin and Robert Twombly. The former head of planning at the LMDC, Garvin is the author of Public Parks: The Key to Livable Communities (W.W. Norton, $59.95), just hitting the bookstores this week. Twombly’s Frederick Law Olmsted: Essential Texts (W.W. Norton, $24.95), came out this past summer.
Move over NY Times Holiday Guide… Our friends at Planetizen have come out with something wonkier: their annual top 10 list of books in urban planning, design and development. The winners were based on a combination of editorial reviews, popularity, reader nominations, sales figures, recommendations from experts and books’ potential impact. Some of our favorites include Los Angeles In Maps, a visual history of maps in LA that makes sense of the city’s crazy grids and charts development over the years; What We See: Advancing The Observations of Jane Jacobs, a collection of essays putting a fresh perspective on Jacobs’ views on topics like preservation and urban planning; and Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century, which suggests shifting automobiles to “Ultra Small Vehicles,” which could mean far less gas use and even automated driving. Any of these would be a perfect gift for anyone who knows what FOR, CEQA, or TOD stand for..