In lower Manhattan, especially today when President Obama was in town to lay a wreath, the world’s media was fast talking about Ground Zero. Very few call it the World Trade Center. The GZ term is so widely used that few think twice about it.
And yet, just yesterday, a contingent of men and women responsible for rebuilding the World Trade Center braved the cold rain for a conference hosted by the Building Trade Employers Association (BTEA) and found themselves struck on the semantics of just those words. The event brought together the builders and suppliers of the 16 acre site for an update on building progress. Very little was said about the momentous events of the past week or the impending presidential visit, which, like the rain, was going to slow down work. This was a group with a singular focus: rebuilding.
BTEA President and CEO Louis Coletti introduced speakers who in turn discussed a particular aspect of the project. But when one speaker referred to One World Trade as “the Freedom Tower,” Chris Ward, the executive director of the Port Authority grimaced, held up his index finger to signify the number one and said, “It’s One World Trade.”
Just when you thought architecture juggernaut Bjarke Ingels and his firm BIG couldn’t win YET another commission in YET another country… the firm announced yesterday that it had beat out competitors including Zaha Hadid to lead the construction of a new cultural center in Albania’s capital, Tirana. The complex will consist of a mosque, an Islamic Centre, and a Museum of Religious Harmony.
The design team is made up of BIG, Martha Schwartz Landscape, Buro Happold, Speirs & Major lighting, Lutzenberger & Lutzenberger, and Global Cultural Asset Management. A triangular site plan is divided into the three main components, all carved away to form a central plaza oriented toward Mecca. images after the jump
Not Me! The architect of record for the much beleaguered Xanadu mall in New Jersey went on the record with northjersey.com. David Jansen said the garish colors weren’t his idea. It appears he was called in to save the day after David Rockwell washed his hands of the multi-billion dollar debacle. Rechristened the American Dream @ Meadowlands the project got a fresh infusion of cash from the Mall of America and NJ State taxpayers are kicking in $200 million in low interest financing (that’s almost as much as state will have to pay the Feds for canceling the Hudson Tunnel Project). The project got so out of hand that The Times sponsored a contest for readers to reimagine Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”, aka – Xanadu.
Don’t shoot! Architectural photographer Grant Smith is mad as hell. After taking a photo of a London church he was surrounded by a bunch of bobbies who thought he was a terrorist. Unbeige reports that on World Press Freedom Day the photog took his grievances to the street. He and dozens of other shutterbugs descended on London City Hall wearing signs proclaiming, “I’m a photographer not a terrorist.”
Freudian Facades. The Wall Street Journal reports that the “real cutting edge of architecture has to do with the psychology of buildings.” The august paper interviewed a few scientists about how space design can effect worker productivity. For accuracy and focus, confined spaces painted red work well. While creative types benefit from high ceilings, lots of windows and bright blue walls. Maybe, but sometimes a room is just a room.
If you’re in Cambridge this weekend and you’re looking for a good time, head to MIT. That’s probably not what people usually say about a place where sleep is a treasured commodity, but the school is celebrating its 150th anniversary in a big way with a weekend of playful installations that light up the Charles River.
It was hardly the spartan cave in the mountains that many had envisioned as Bin Laden’s hiding place. Rather, it was a mansion on the outskirts of the town’s center, set on an imposing hilltop and ringed by 12-foot-high concrete walls topped with barbed wire.
The property was valued at $1 million, but it had neither a telephone nor an Internet connection. Its residents were so concerned about security that they burned their trash rather putting it on the street for collection the way their neighbors did.
As we’ve noted, architecture giant Gensler is moving from Santa Monica to Downtown LA (a move that has seen its share of controversy lately thanks to the firm’s city-provided subsidy). With the help of three talented students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Professional Studio program, the firm has put together a video about their new ‘hood. It documents Downtown’s dramatic growth and change over the years, and offers predictions and suggestions for its future. Read More
Splash House. Graduate architecture students at the Parson’s Design Workshop are ready to get to work this summer on a pool-deck pavilion for the Highbridge Park Swimming Pool in Washington Heights–that is, if they can raise enough funds for their project via a Kickstarter campaign. Mammoth has more details on the pavilion.
Preservation Month. Richard Layman isn’t wasting any time in celebrating National Preservation Month, going on all May long. He has collected 33 ideas for an action-packed DC-based month of preservation.
Taxi of the Future. WNYC’s Transportation Nation reports on the city’s choice of Nissan to build the Taxi of Tomorrow, finding there’s likely to be a controversial road ahead for the bright-yellow mini-van.
Plastics was the key word at the recent Columbia conference “Permanent Change: Plastics in Architecture and Engineering,” which featured some of the best architects working with polymers today. On opening night, Greg Lynn did away with traditional tectonics in favor of total composite design from recycled toys to beautiful racing boats. Several pieces were on display in the lobby, including a beautiful backlit ribbed column cover designed by Columbia associate professor Yoshiko Sato (assisted by Shuning Zhao and John Hooper). Sato, who’s known for her NASA design research and space course at Columbia, also designed the two over-sized plastic inflatable flowers suspended from the lobby ceiling, as shown above. The composite designs will be up and on view at the Morningside Heights campus at least another week.
The first annual Chicago Architecture & Design Film Festival is almost here. With 39 films ranging from shorts to feature length as well as panel discussions, Q&A’s, and related events, there will be so much for architects and the general public to see and enjoy.
The Architect’s Newspaper is proud to be a media sponsor, and I’ll be introducing the program called “Renegade Redux,” featuring a film on architecture collective Ant Farm, and shorts on a giant brink warehouse in Liverpool and overlooked corners of London.
The festival runs from May 5 through May 9, and we have a couple of pairs of tickets to give away. Just leave a comment below by noon CST and we’ll randomly select two lucky winners who will each get a pair of free tickets!
Most screenings will be held at the Gene Siskel Film Center, located at 146 North State Street. Some additional screenings will be held at SCREEN@theWit, located at the Wit Hotel, 201 North State Street. We’ll contact the winners via e.mail (Don’t worry, we won’t share your e.mail address). So leave a comment for complimentary tickets now.
Flummoxed Lenox. Inspired by a Gothamist post about hidden rooms in the Frick, Mark Lamster digs a bit deeper and shares his knowledge of the site when it was occupied by the old Lenox Library. “…sober, imposing, and correct, much like the man who designed it, Richard Morris Hunt,” he says of the old edifice, before delving into the curious history of the Hunt memorial across the street.
Boulevard Blues. Brownstoner is still hammering away at a bleak streetscape along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, where first floors of the new residential buildings leave a lot to be desired. The site reports that City Planning may be looking at measures to fix mistakes from 2003 upzoning and bring more life onto the street. While they’re at it, perhaps they can tap the DOT to add some green to the median.
House vs. Home. A kinder and gentler Peter Eisenman emerged from nearly 20 years of Jungian analysis, the architect tells The Washington Post. Far from the heady world of theory (“I was a cerebral cat”), Eisenman returns to the world of bricks and mortar. The change helps him expound on the differences between a house and home.
Tick Tock. The clock is ticking for the Brooklyn Bridge Park to make a decision on how to pay for maintaining the park, reports Crains. “If we don’t have a financial model, we won’t be able to proceed with construction,” BBP President Regina Myer tells the paper.