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Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, principals at IwamotoScott Architecture first established a relationship with Obscura Digital, a digital media company, three years ago in order to collaborate on a new hemispheric theater encased in a geodesic dome in Dubai. While the project was scuttled by the recession, the two firms stayed in touch, and when Obscura acquired new office space in a 1940s-era warehouse in an up-and-coming San Francisco neighborhood, they again called on IwamotoScott to design it, and even invited the architects to move into their new space.
Working with a tight budget, IwamotoScott injected digitally fabricated details that would give focus and add drama to the large industrial space. A black-box conference room that Scott describes as bringing “shrink-wrap to seismic bracing” is perched on the edge of a second-floor mezzanine while a 32-foot laser-cut screen wall comprised of cells that appear to collapse into fluid scales sequesters the architect’s space within the digital media company’s headquarters.
Just around the corner from AN’s office sits the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. The image of a police officer guarding the mostly empty cast iron building has become such a part of the landscape, that we barely notice it anymore. But today, the doors were flung open onto a brightly lit gallery space adorned with color photographs of New York children representing almost every nation on earth.
Cul-de-Sacked. Emily Badger of The Atlantic‘s newly launched Atlantic Cities argued that the cul-de-sacs—the suburban answer to the overcrowded urban grids—may be a dead-end in more ways that one. Badger said cul-de-sacs are responsible for our decreased sense of safety, and moreover, happiness.
Talking Transit. Gothamist is right on calling out New York’s MTA as being “really into technology this month.” In a win for the constantly connected and a potential loss for our already-hectic commutes, starting Tuesday, AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers can pull out their cell phones and talk away on underground cell service through the 14th Street corridor. It will take the MTA five years to fully cover the entire New York subway system. Five more years of relative peace-and-quiet.
Paramount Makeover. The LA Times reported that Paramount Pictures is planning a whopping $700-million upgrade to its Hollywood lot, creating nearly 7,300 jobs during construction over next two decades. Rios Clemente Hale Studios and Levin & Associates Architects are charged with improving a place that hasn’t seen much change since the Gary Cooper days without compromising its old Hollywood charm.
Park(ing) police. A Miami-based PARK(ing) Day organizer created a green oasis for the day-long celebration of public space, putting up planters and bringing seats, tables, and WiFi, but according to police, he lingered a little too long. Police arrested the man for taking too long to clean up his parklet the next day, reported Streetsblog.
Architecture of Invention
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Through January 15, 2012
Bertrand Goldberg has become known, and increasingly loved, for his expressive use of concrete, particularly his curved forms in projects like Marina City and the endangered old Prentice Women’s Hospital (an early design for that project is pictured at top, with a San Diego theater scheme). The first retrospective of his work shows there is so much more to admire about this one-of-a-kind Chicago architect who died in 1997 at 84. Drawn from the Art Institute’s Goldberg collection and several other collections, Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention includes more than 100 drawings, models, and photographs, including designs for housing, hospitals, urban plans, furniture, and graphics. Early in his career, he designed innovative, prefabricated solutions for low-cost housing. His later designs, like “the city within a city” attracted avant-gardes around the world, including the Japanese Metabolists and Britain’s Archigram.
Closing Time. Seventy historic state parks across California are slated for closure this year due to budget cuts. The Los Angeles Conservancy has more information on the parks, five of which are in the Los Angeles area, including Los Encinos State Park and the Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park.
Scary Design. The art, literary, and film magazine Zeotrope: All-Story, founded by Francis Ford Coppola, has invited Rodarte fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy to design the Fall 2011 issue. The theme is “Horror,” where artists, designers, writers, and other contributors explore the scary, the Gothic, and the sublime. More info at Zeotrope.
Broad-casting. Can’t get enough Diller Scofidio + Renfro? Now you can watch the construction of DS+R’s Broad Museum in Los Angeles 24 hours a day on a live camera feed that allows viewers to track construction progress and view high resolution photography taken every 15 minutes. The museum is expected to be completed in 2013. Via the LA Times.
Tourism and The Met. The Met Press Room shared that their summer 2011 exhibition season, including the enormously popular “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” show, brought in $90.8 million for New York City. “Using the industry standard for calculating tax revenue impact, the study found that the direct tax benefit to the City and State from out-of-town visitors to the Museum totaled some $90.8 million,” according to the Met. Sixty-eight percent of museum visitors were not from New York City and stayed for an average of five days.
They’re back! Positive numbers for the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) jumped up in August to 51.4 from a dismal 45.1 in July where it had been stewing in negative land for months. (Anything over 50 indicates positive growth.) Together with a sharp rise as well in Project Inquiries to 56.9 (up from 53.7), the good news seems cautiously solid. “This turnaround in demand for design services is a surprise,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. Regional averages, however, remained below the positive bar across the country indicating that firms generally are still struggling. These numbers predate the next injection of stimulus money—whatever shape it takes—which will be sure to give another jolt. Unless, of course, billings are tracking the roller-coaster antics of the stock market.
“The stock market is doing what the economy is doing which is not moving solidly in one direction, either way,” Baker said by phone. “The stop-start that we have seen over the past two years is going to stay with us. I would love to believe that these latest numbers are the start of a Grand Recovery. And maybe they are. The evidence is just not there yet to be sure.”
Tonight in New York, Gary Hustwit’s new film Urbanized will make its U.S. premiere in front of a sold out crowd at the Sunshine Theater. Hustwit has just released this trailer for the the final segment of his design-inspired trilogy which previously included Helvetica and Objectified. After New York, Urbanized heads out west to San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and more before moving back across the country in October. Check out a full listing here and don’t miss our interview with Gary Hustwit where we ask him about his film.
DesignNYC, an organization connecting New York designers with nonprofits, community groups, and city agencies, presents its current cycle of projects under the banner, “Recharging Communities.” In designNYC’s second annual exhibition, eight teams showcase their in-progress collaborations including among others: Educating Tomorrow, which uses communications design to establish an online forum on sustainability issues for NYC educators; the Greenhouse Project, which creates an urban farm in an unused lot in East New York; Nostrand Park, on the development of an engaging urban corridor in Crown Heights; and PortSide New York (above), a project enhancing a boathouse and community center in Red Hook.
Today the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced their 22 new fellows, including Chicago architect Jeanne Gang. Congratulations to Jeanne and everyone at Studio Gang. Best known for the Aqua Tower, the firm has generated consistently innovative solutions for houses, community and cultural projects, beginning, most notably, with the Starlight Theatre in 2003 all the way through their contribution to MoMA’s Foreclosed exhibition, currently in development. One of the most prestigious awards in the country for artistic, intellectual, scientific, and professional achievement, the MacArthur also comes with a $500,000 prize, doled out over five years.