Eight Celebs Who Take High Speed Rail

Courtesy John H. Gray/flickr and Michele Asselin/Arrive

Courtesy John H. Gray/flickr and Michele Asselin/Arrive

The current state of rail is nowhere near its heyday in the 20th century, when train travel was luxurious and serviced most parts of the country. But high speed rail is making a comeback, championed by planners, environmentalists, and the Obama administration.

The mode of transport still has to contend with car and air travel (along with a reputation for inconsistency and irrelevance), but it got some help in March, when a commercial featured Mad Men‘s Pete Campbell and Harry Crane building a campaign for high speed rail. And Amtrak still has an surprising roster of famous passengers, which includes Angelina Jolie, Jesse Jackson and John Travolta, according to forums on Flyertalk.com and Trainorders.com. Check out these celebrities who take high speed rail:

8 famous Amtrak passengers

QUICK CLICKS> Model Cities, Food Deserts, McMansion Decline, Green Infill

Daily Clicks
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
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(Image via www.azcentral.com)

 

Toy Cities. Our friends at Planetizen tell us that Avondale, AZ had urban planner James Rojas over for a playdate of sorts. Citizens who took part in this re-visioning session got to use pipecleaners, Legos, blocks, and other assorted toys to build their ideal version of the city. According to Rojas, this bottom-up community planning method breaks down barriers and allows people to exercise a degree of creativity not often found at the typical charrette.

Food Oases. Streetsblog questions the much hyped notion of the “food desert”:  is it media myth or reality?  It seems that urban areas aren’t always as lacking in food stores as they seem, at least depending on your definition of supermarket. Even the USDA, who recently debuted their new food desert locator, might be a bit confused about what constitutes a food desert. (In fact, the web application says that a part of Dedham, MA is a food desert. Maybe they don’t count the Star Market that’s right near that Census tract…)

Suburban Swan Song. Slate’s architecture columnist Witold Rybczynski has penned an obit of sorts to that symbol of suburban sprawl, the McMansion. He posits that when the recession is over people will be in the mood to buy homes again, but that they may be hesitant to purchase a behemoth of a building that costs a lot to heat and cool.

Green Alert. Inhabitat takes a look at the latest in the green roof trend in the form of sloping roofs on townhomes in the City of Brotherly Love. It seems that the historic Center City has a new (and almost LEED certified) infill development called Bancroft Green. The high-end homes here sport some nifty plant covered roofs as well as geothermal heating and herb gardens that capture storm runoff and spaces designed specifically for bicycle storage.

 

A Dieter Rams Design, Stays Designed

Dieter Rams and his 606 Universal Shelving System at the Vitsoe Showroom.

When Dieter Rams enters a new country, he doesn’t like to call himself a designer. Instead, the world famous German industrial designer writes “architect” on his passport entry card. In fact, it was as an architect in the early 1950s that Rams got his start building additions and installations for a little known German manufacturer just starting up, named Braun.

Continue reading after the jump.

Pictorial> Steven Holl′s New Oceanic Museum in Biarritz

International, Newsletter
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
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(Photo: Iwan Baan)

Steven Holl’s new Cité de l’Océan et du Surf in Biarritz, France is at once rugged and ethereal. Designed in collaboration with the Brazilian artist Solange Fabiao, the building includes an accessible concave plaza roof covered in cobblestones, pierced by two milky “glass boulders,” or pavilions housing a restaurant and a “surfer’s kiosk.” The boulders offer views out to the ocean, while the plaza directs the eye to the sky above. The museum “explores both surf and sea and their role upon leisure, science, and ecology,” according to a statement from the firm.

The landscape beyond is scooped out to reflect the building’s concave form and create a new gathering place for the city. The museum opens to the public on June 25.

Check out a photo gallery after the jump.

Quick Clicks> High Speed Rail Rescued, Buffalo′s Rebirth, Metrocard’s Demise

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
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High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: “It looks like Scott’s tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!”

Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak‘s coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it’s time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign.

Buffalo’s Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That’s what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley’s hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with “young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work.”

Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country’s oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.

QUICK CLICKS> Human Helicopter, Enchanted Mosque, Getty Leads, Suburbia

Daily Clicks
Monday, May 9, 2011
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The Gamera, a human-powered helicopter (Courtesy Inhabitat).

60 Seconds Helicopter. The Sikorsky Prize is legendary, for it has not yet been awarded–it’s still awaiting its first winner, whose human-powered helicopter will reach an altitude of 3 meters (10 feet) during a flight lasting at least 60 seconds, while remaining in a 10 meter square (32.8 foot square). But Inhabitat reports that if things go as planned, a team of students from the University of Maryland may be taking home the prize with their human-powered flying machine, the Gamera.

BIG’s beautified universe. Metropolis deconstructs the renderings of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)’s latest project: a mosque complex in Tirana, Albania. While the thoughtful octagonal design (an overlap of the Mecca orientation and Tirana’s urban grid) may have put BIG in front of the competition, one can’t help wonder if the seductive juxtaposition of photo-realism and and benign atmospheric glow in BIG’s renderings may be the secret to the firm’s running marathon of competition wins.

More Getty Trust. Christopher Knight at  The Los Angeles Times raises a good point regarding the J. Paul Getty Trust’s appointment of James Cuno, currently director of the Art Institute of Chicago, as Trust president and chief executive: It might be a brilliant idea to appoint him to the directorship for the Getty Museum, finally merging the two positions.

Suburbia Objectified? Allison Arieff of The New York Times comments on the recently launched Open House, a collaborative project in which the Dutch design collective Droog and Diller Scofidio + Renfro architects imagined “future suburbia.” She laments that the project missed the point– by treating a real place (Levittown) as a “perfect blank canvas” and dodging “the real issues.”

 

 

QUICK CLICKS> Denver, Dyker, Dijon, and Mad Ave

Daily Clicks
Friday, May 6, 2011
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Denver's new Clyfford Still Museum by Allied Works will house 2,400 artworks.

Still Life. Fast Company previews Brad Cloepfil/Allied Works Architecture’s design for a new 28,000 square foot Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, which will hold 2,400 works from the artist’s estate. Suzanne LaBarre writes that Still’s will stipulated “that his estate be given, in its entirety, to an American city willing to establish a permanent museum dedicated solely to his artwork.”

Melting Pot. Bloomberg reports that, based on latest Census numbers, New York is back to being the most diverse city in the U.S., beating out L.A. The Italian-American Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights takes the prize for the biggest shift, with a 31% increase in Asian residents since the last Census.

Scan this! In case you missed it, this week MVRDV released renderings for a mustard factory turned call center in Dijon, France, with an intriguing facade composed of QR tags, via Bustler.

New Mad Men. Tommy Hilfiger and his real estate partners buy the old Met Life clock tower on Madison Avenue with plans to convert it into a hotel, writes The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, in the Meatpacking neighborhood, Hilfiger’s weird preppy pop-up cottage stays up through Sunday.

Aidlin Darling′s Bar Agricole Banquettes: Concreteworks

Fabrikator
Friday, May 6, 2011
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Fabrikator Brought to you by: 

The bar's custom concrete banquettes (Concreteworks)

Ribbon-thin Ductal concrete creates sculptural seating at a San Francisco eatery.

The Aidlin Darling-designed Bar Agricole has brought new life to a warehouse in San Francisco’s industrial South of Market neighborhood. Built in 1912, the renovated building is now home to the 4,000-square-foot “urban tavern” owned by restaurateur Thad Vogler. Taking an unconventional approach to realizing his design vision, Vogler commissioned work from the designer and a variety of trades in exchange for a stake in the business. One of those craftsmen was Oakland-based concrete design and fabrication company Concreteworks.
Continue reading after the jump.

Bright Lights, Big Bus Terminal

East
Thursday, May 5, 2011
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The new lighting design as seen from 42nd and 8th Ave. Courtesy GKD-USA/A2aMEDIA

By the end of June, the Port Authority Bus Terminal will be awash in graphics and light when a 6, 000 square foot stainless steel fabric embedded with LED lights wraps its way around the corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue.  The technology, known as Mediamesh, was developed by GKD-USA, a collaboration between a German light engineer firm and an American metal fabric manufacturer. The product is only four years old and allows LED imagery to wrap around buildings without disrupting interior views to the outside. But in the case of the Port Authority, the mesh allows exhaust fumes to escape while masking several giant X-trusses, a facade hasn’t exactly endeared itself to New Yorkers.

Read More

World Trade Center: Got it?

East
Thursday, May 5, 2011
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The memorial grove provides shade for cameras early this morning.

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.”
Read More

A really BIG mosque

International
Thursday, May 5, 2011
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A public plaza is formed by carving away the corners of the new buildings.

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

QUICK CLICKS> Xanadu, Photog Fury, Think Space

Daily Clicks
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
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The Xanadu that wasn't, a soon to be an American Dream. Courtesy northersey.com

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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