The titan of Titan Street is mighty no longer. On the corner of Titan and 19th streets in South Philadelphia, a robust Frank Furness-designed church has been crumbling for some time, but now the Department of Licensing and Inspections has threatened to tear the building down and send a bill to the owner, the 19th Street Baptist Church. Calls to the church went unanswered—the phone is disconnected. After Naked Philly broke the demolition news on Friday, readers identified the architect as Furness, and preservationists began to rally the troops on Facebook.
On Saturday, Icelanders celebrated the opening of the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. Designed by Henning Larsen, the building features a colorful, prismatic facade, developed in consultation with the artist Olafur Eliasson. The architects and the artist drew inspiration from basalt stone formations found along the Icelandic coast. The building has both a rugged power, and yet the colorful facade, which changes throughout the day according to light conditions, is inviting. Read More
Digital Clay. Last week at the SIGGRAPH technology conference, a prototype input device called “Recompose” made its debut. TechNewsDaily says that this “marriage of a keyboard and a 3-D tiled surface could be the future of computer interfaces.” Developed by the MIT Media Lab, Recompose will give users the ability to “sculpt” data.
LED Lettuce. The Dutch have amped up hydroponic agriculture with the use of LEDs, notes Good magazine. Scientists in the Netherlands have found that using the red and blue versions of the lights maximizes the effects of sunlight and minimizes dehydration. A bonus result? Greenhouses with rave-like ambiance.
Flat out Platonic. Core 77 alerted us to the thought-provoking carpet designs of Luís Porém, which are based on deconstructed Plato’s beloved polyhedrons.
Biker Rights. A group of NYC lawyers ride to the aid of cyclists disputing NYPD tickets for bell, helmet, and lane violations, reports The New York Times. The law firm of Rankin & Taylor is preparing a class action suit against the city on behalf of bikers.
Mapping Visage. Canadian artist Ingrid Dabringer has attracted attention for her unique map paintings, finding countenances in irregular land masses. The artist explained that she draws inspiration from large-scale topography and lines on detailed maps. Dabringer believes that maps hold meaning and by adding her own touches, she seeks a more personal interpretation within a traditional tool. More at Core77.
In Situ Study. Recently on Building Design, third-year architecture student Jonathan Brown posed the following question, “Do architecture students today focus too heavily on design theory and practice and consequently, neglect construction skills that cannot be taught in a classroom?” Not alone in his query, the latest RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) “Part of the Picture” campaign permits graduates to credit three months of on-site experience toward their education.
Now and then. Technology and the internet have transformed the way we preserve and promote history, particularly our photographs. Trendcentral highlighted three exciting websites: Historypin, where users can upload historic photos and search geo-tagged photos by time, period, and address; Dear Photograph posts reader-submitted photographs of historic photos in context; and the Flickr group, Looking into the Past, includes a diverse range of historic-current photo collages.
Troubled Bridge over Water. Conservationists and architects have rejected the Venetian superintendent’s call to replace the historic Ponte del Accademia with a glass and steel substitute, reported Building Design. Although architects Schiavina of Bologna have incorporated an Istrian stone version of the iconic bridge’s gentle arch in their design, prominent art critic Francesco Bonami has dubbed the plans a “bad crash.” Plans remain on hold while the city seeks funding for the €6 million design.
The official Foster + Partners design has (finally) been released for the new Apple campus in Cupertino. At a recent Cupertino City Council meeting Steve Jobs said he was excited to centralize his campus with a building for 12,000 employees on a site currently dominated by parking lots. In the time since the Cupertino meeting, the not-so-secret news that Foster & Partners designed the giant ring has also been confirmed. The low-lying complex, described as being built at a “human scale” and largely off the grid, is expected to open in 2015. In reference to the overall design and the building’s glass curvature Jobs noted, “It’s a little like a spaceship landed.”
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An aluminum prototype structure at FRAC explores non-linear design and fabrication
The new nonLin/Lin Pavilion at the FRAC Centre in Orleans, France, is a coral-like structure of 40 pre-assembled white aluminum modules made of 570 CNC-cut single components punched with 155,780 asterisk-shaped CNC-drilled holes and held together by 75,000 white aluminum rivets. But these pieces, as designer Marc Fornes of THEVERYMANY has demonstrated throughout his work, are much more than the sum of their parts. Neither an art installation nor a model, the pavilion is full-scale architecture that pushes the limits of its materials and of physical fabrication processes with custom computational protocols.
The Times Square Alliance has partnered with Spanish collaborative mmmm… as part of an experiment in urban furniture design. The result, Meeting Bowls, is a series of three over-sized semi-spherical capsules that provide seating for up to eight people. Over the course of the next month, these exaggerated forms will invite engaging social interactions along Broadway Boulevard in Times Square. Inside the bowls, there is a feature which allows one to record and share their dialogue via smartphones or laptops. Meeting Bowls will be open from 8:00 a.m. to midnight daily through September 16th.
Table of Tables. It’s a meta periodic table of tables…or a chemistry lessons for design connoisseurs. Curbed posted the tongue-in-cheek infographic above: gone are helium, hydrogen, and silver; now we have coffee tables, pool tables, and nightstands.
Athletic Alphabet. An ambitious Spanish graphic designer, Joan Pons Moll, has created a new typeface—with his feet. Living on the island of Menorca, with its curving, windy streets, Moll uses Run Keeper, to map his letter-shaped routes. More at the NY Times.
Grand Apple. Apple’s next stop is Grand Central. Slated to open in the balcony space once home to restaurant Metrazur, Apple will forgoe its traditional glass cube designs in favor of an open plan overlooking the main concourse. New renderings posted by Gothamist show a minimal layout filled with high-tech toys.
Trumping Georgia.Donald Trump will develop the two tallest towers in Georgia (the country, not the state), according to the NY Times. The Don’s firm won’t be directly involved with construction; instead, Silk Road Group will manage the projects. John Fotiadas Architect is designing the master plan for the residential tower slated for the Georgian city of Batumi.
For the fifth straight month the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has posted negative figures, with the only positive number on the chart coming from billing inquiries.
The overall number dropped from 46.3 in June to 45.1 in July (any ABI number below 50 is considered negative). AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker once again pointed to the larger economy as the source of industry woes. “The stuff that’s going on with the national level is consistent with what we’re experiencing,” said Baker, adding that given the current political situation he didn’t think another stimulus package would make it through Congress. “The politics of that is going to be tough; there’s a problem with increased spending,” he said. Even if it did, the last package didn’t really trickle down to the industry. “I have a hunch if there’s a chance it would go through, it would look a lot like the last stimulus and architects didn’t get a lot from that,” he said.