New Galleries of the Art of the Arab
Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and
Later South Asia
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Permanent galleries opened November 1
After a hiatus of nearly eight years, the Metropolitan Museum’s Department of Islamic Art and its extensive collection—one of the most comprehensive gatherings of this material in the world—will permanently return to view this November in a completely renovated space of fifteen galleries. The suite of galleries was constructed by a fleet of Moroccan craftsmen (in action above) recruited specifically for their experience and the precision of their work. Nearly as impressive as the handiwork of different trades is the team of planners, architects, and scholars who collaborated with them. Nadia Erzini, Achva Benzinberg Stein, and other experts worked with Metropolitan’s own curators to create spaces of contextual authenticity. The galleries are arranged geographically, further highlighting the rich and complex diversity of the Islamic world and its distinct cultures within.
Mayor Emanuel’s proposed $2 congestion tax on downtown parking is facing stiff opposition from, you guessed it, the parking lobby. According to the Tribune, the Parking Industry Labor Management Committee is posting placards in member facilities and handing out flyers opposing the tax. The committee argues the tax will not improve traffic flow and could encourage businesses to relocate to the suburbs. Emanuel believes the tax will foster greater transit ridership and raise an estimated $28 million annually for CTA improvements. The $2 tax on parking at garages and lots in the Loop and River North will be added to the existing $3 tax that goes to the city’s general fund.
Why can’t every school be like the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB)? First it’s located on a lush, sun-soaked site overlooking the Pacific Ocean. And then this: the school just named a team led by SOM and including Daly Genik, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Kieran Timberlake and WRNS Studios to design the San Joaquin Apartments, a new student housing complex. The project will include two apartment buildings housing a total of 1,000 students; a 600 car mixed-use parking structure; a new dining commons and a renovated 78,000 square foot neighborhood center. Other big names on the shortlist had included Brooks+Scarpa, Machado and Silvetti, AC Martin, Stanley Saitowitz, Lake Flato, Moore Ruble Yudell, Frederick Fisher and Partners, and several more. Stay tuned for info and images in the coming months.
Attention Zoning Wonks! In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Zoning Resolution, City Planning is hosting the Zoning the City Conference on November 15. Mayor Bloomberg will open the conference, while planning commissioner Amanda Burden will moderate with Harvard planning guru Jerold Kayden (a recent AN commentator). AN plans to blog live from the event and City Planning will be tweeting away @ZoningTheCity. The event, co-sponsored with Harvard and Baruch’s Newman Institute, has already been dubbed “the Woodstock of Planning” by one at least one registrant.
Detroit’s most famous ruin, Michigan Central Depot, may soon see new life. Workers for the billionaire Maroun family have been clearing debris out of the 18-story building and a feasibility study for reusing the building is underway. Ann Arbor-based Quinn Evans Architects are among those working on the study. “Structurally, the building is very sound. What’s different now from (previous attempts) is the momentum—the group of people behind this effort as well as the outreach to a wide group,” principal Elisabeth Kibble, told the Detroit News. Local politicians, foundation leaders, and officials from the Detroit Institute of the Arts were recently given a tour of the space. New York-based developer Scott Griffin is working with the Marouns to find possible new uses for the building.
The World Architecture Festival is wrapping up its fourth iteration and AN has been there since the beginning as official United States media sponsor. We have seen it grow from a small mostly British bash in Barcelona to a truly international competition and trade show with over 1,400 participants from 68 countries. One of the functions of our participation is that I serve as official judge in one of the event’s 15 short-listed categories for best built project (plus there are ten categories for unrealized projects). This year I served with Michigan University’s architecture dean Monica Ponce de Leon and Barcelona architect Fermin Vazquez as jurors in the Civic and Community group. We were asked to select the best of show in the category with the winner going on to the final round where it is considered by a super jury including Michael Sorkin, Jo Noera, Odile Decq (who sadly was stuck in China) and engineer wizard Tim Macfarlane.
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Faceted steel screens solve acoustical problems while keeping the theater’s ornate 1920s architecture on view
The Allen Theater is one of eight venues in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square performing arts district. Opened in 1921 as a silent movie house, the Italian Renaissance-style building was renovated in 1998, when it began to host large Broadway productions and concerts. More than ten years later, the Broadway productions had moved to the nearby State Theater, leaving the door open to new resident companies Cleveland State University and Cleveland Play House. Last year, the 81,500-square-foot theater closed to undergo a dramatic transformation from its 2,500-seat format to a more intimate 500-seat proscenium theater. In the new space, designed by Westlake Reed Leskosky (WRL) and opened in September, faceted steel screens created by Toronto-based architectural fabricator Eventscape not only enhance acoustics but also hide or reveal the theater’s traditional interior finishes depending on the desired aesthetic.
On October 28, over 800 architects, designers, contractors, and their clients gathered together at Navy Pier in Chicago to celebrate the architecture firms recognized with 2011 Design Excellence Awards. Firms were honored for achievements in the following four categories: Distinguished Building, Interior Architecture, Regional & Urban Design, and Unbuilt Design. Out of 357 entries, there were 42 awards total– 10 Honor Awards (the highest distinction), 24 Citation of Merits, and 8 Special Recognitions. Half of these awards were for designs in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, while the remaining awards were for designs in other cities, states, and countries. Read More