Sustainability Martyred in Name of Saint Green

International, Newsletter
Thursday, June 30, 2011
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Eco-Pantheon, Rome 126AD (Courtesy Star Strategies+Architecture)

Eco-Pantheon, Rome 126AD (Courtesy Star Strategies+Architecture)

Has the green movement gone too far? STAR Strategies + Architecture examines the prevalence of “green-washing and the abuse of sustainability” in their project O’ Mighty Green, where they posit that the notion of “green” has taken on a life of its own outside of sustainability and has become on many levels a new sort of religion. As the architects said in their introduction:

Sustainability currently shares many qualities with God; supreme concept, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; creator and judge, protector, and (…) saviour of the universe and the humanity. And, like God, it has millions of believers. Since we humans are relatively simpleminded and suspicious and need evidence before belief can become conviction, Green has come to represent sustainability; has become its incarnation in the human world. But sustainability, like God, might not have a form, nor a colour.

To demonstrate this absurdity, STAR has implemented what they call “sustainability as a photoshop filter” and clad a variety of iconic—and notorious—buildings with green walls, even invoking the spirit of St. Green, the patron saint of sustainable architects. The architects have taken a similarly snarky view of contradictions in preservation. (Via Dezeen.)

What are your thoughts? Are architects guilty of praying at the green altar?

Photos after the jump.

Mark Handforth Sculptures at Chicago MCA “Big” Deal

Midwest
Thursday, June 30, 2011
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Mark Handforth Plaza Project
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue
July 8 through October 10

The formality of the plaza and entrance that Josef Paul Kleihues designed for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has always stood in contrast to the institution’s experimental spirit. This summer the Miami-based artist Mark Handforth will debut four playful sculptures on the plaza and west facade of the building, including a giant brass coat hanger (above) hand bent by the artist. Other pieces, which mine Surrealism even more explicitly, include a giant streetlamp coiled like a snake, a monumental bone with a telephone handset hanging off the top, and a massive crumpled traffic cone topped with an English bobby’s hat.

On View> Pipilotti Rist: The Tender Room

Midwest
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
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(Courtesy Wexner Center)

(Courtesy Wexner Center)

Pipilotti Rist: The Tender Room
Wexner Center for the Arts
The Ohio State University
1871 North High St.
Columbus, Ohio
Through July 31

Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist makes her debut in Columbus with a new site-specific project drawn from the artist’s latest inspirations. The lush multimedia environment promises visitors a full-body experience, featuring kaleidoscopic colors, lulling soundtracks, and whimsical lighting, along with lounge chairs for taking in the sights and sounds. As usual, Rist takes a familiar starting point, such as the body, and plays with it (altering colors, speed, and sound) until it becomes unfamiliar and even fascinating. Drawing inspiration from her first feature-length film, Pepperminta (2009), Rist complicates the visitors’ environment, blurring the boundary between fantasy and reality. The exhibition also features Rist’s single-channel video Open My Glade (Flatten) (2000) outside the Wexner Center’s east entrance.

Hodgetts + Fung’s Mini Hollywood Bowl

West
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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The Hollywood Bowl got a miniature version of itself last Friday. Hodgetts + Fung, the architects of the Bowl’s latest 2003 renovation, helped students from LA’s Gardner Elementary School build a Polystyrene and PVC pipe replica of the curving amphitheater in honor of the school’s 100th birthday. Partners Craig Hodgetts and Ming Fung, with the help of school teachers, assisted the students build not only a mini-Bowl on the school’s asphalt playground, but a mini-museum displaying historic photos of the school.

Continue reading after the jump.

Missed Muschamp

East
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Would Sheridan Square still be there if Moses got his way? Courtesy Flickr/adaptorplug

History happens in pubic space.  The election of Barack Obama brought crowds to 125th Street. Crowds formed at the World Trade Center on news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. Last Friday night it happened on Sheridan Square. In front of the Stonewall Inn, the crowd stood transfixed, staring into their iPhones, Blackberrries and other assorted digital devices. Several shouted out the numbers of state senators supporting gay marriage as it got closer and closer to the magic number: 32.  When I got there, there were shouts of 30 or 31. It was hard to tell really, it wasn’t a coordinated countdown, like the Time Square ball dropping. Some were still at 29 while others were at 31. It depended on whether you were on HuffPo or NYTimes. The whoops of the crowd came in waves, making it feel like the number 32 was reached several times.

Read More

Palm Springs Art Museum Snags Bank Building

West
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan, 1960, Julius Shulman (1910 - 2009) Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust.

The Palm Springs Art Museum can’t get enough of E. Stewart Williams. Having closed on a deal to buy the Williams’ Sante Fe Federal Savings and Loan building on Palm Canyon Drive, the museum now owns two. The museum’s building was also designed by Williams and completed in 1976. The iron rock facade, blends so well into the landscape it appears to be a gateway to the mountains beyond. With its concrete coffered entryway, the museum building contains obvious Brutalist references, whereas the bank building completed in 1960 takes its cues from the International style.  Fine buildings both, but it must be said that with a giant white elephant of a vacated mall sitting in front of the museum building, having a presence on Palm Canyon won’t hurt. Museum spokesperson Bob Bogard said the new locale would be the ideal hub for Modernism Week activities and help direct traffic to the museum.

Read More

Future of Preservation in St. Louis Looks Modern

Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL)

Del Taco in St. Louis (Courtesy Modern STL)

When St. Louis architects Schwarz and Van Hoefen designed a 120-foot diameter flying saucer in 1967 along the city’s Grand Boulevard, historic preservation was likely the last thing on their minds. Today faced with demolition, the structure’s concrete cantilever has garnered tremendous public outcry and has become a local icon. (It’s facebook page numbers over 11,600 fans, trouncing the 850 fans of Chicago’s threatened Prentice Tower.) It’s hard to imagine a gas station turned drive through restaurant could muster such support with such an anti-urban background, but the Del Taco building isn’t leaving without a fight.

Continue reading after the jump.

Will Kimmelman Replace Ouroussoff at the Times?

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Michael Kimmelman (courtesy Wikipedia)

The Architect’s Newspaper has heard from multiple sources that the New York Times may be close to naming the art critic Michael Kimmelman as the paper’s new architecture critic. Outgoing architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff resurfaced today with another far flung report, a glowing review of Steven Holl’s Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China. Will it be his last? Though Kimmelman is best known as an art critic, he has written on architecture several times in recent years during his posting in Europe, including an excellent piece on David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum in Berlin and a profile of Peter Zumthor for the New York Times Magazine.

Quick Clicks> ‘Butter Lady’ Dies, Essex St. Market Plans, European Drivers Tormented

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Norma Lyons's life-size butter sculpture of Harry Potter at the 2007 Iowa State Fair

‘Butter Cow Lady’ Dies at 81: Norma Lyon, known for sculpting tons of butter into life-size figures of cows, famous people, and even a diorama of the Last Supper at the Iowa State Fair, has passed away, the New York Times reports. Ms. Lyon got her start in butter sculpting in 1960 as the sculptor of the Butter Cow at the fair, after studying animal science and taking studio classes at Iowa State University. In 2007, she created a sculpture of then-Senator Obama from 23 pounds of butter, and Politico credited her endorsement for his victory in the Iowa caucus.

New Plans for the Essex Street Market: The decades-old market is part of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area on the Lower East Side, an area targeted for dramatic housing and economic development in the coming years. So what does that mean for the Essex Street Market? Planning officials presented renderings to show what a new market in a two-story mixed-use development might look like.

Europe Hates Drivers: Cities across Europe are making driving more expensive and inconvenient to steer residents away from cars. Is it a good idea or a road trip to hell on earth? In Zurich, the Times reports:

Closely spaced red lights have been added on roads into town, causing delays and angst for commuters. Pedestrian underpasses that once allowed traffic to flow freely across major intersections have been removed. Operators in the city’s ever expanding tram system can turn traffic lights in their favor as they approach, forcing cars to halt.

Talk About a Space Saver: JDS Architects put a rolling playground atop three penthouse apartments in a turn-of-the-century building in Copenhagen. The roof includes a grassy hill with curved steps and a wooden deck, a playground and a suspension bridge. Fast Company Design reports the budget for the penthouses and the roof was $1.35 million.

6 Alternatives to Plastic: For its newest project, Studio Formafantasma dug into centuries-old technology to design plastic-like objects “designed as if the oil-based era, in which we are living, never took place.” Read on to see what they used.

Architects Offer a Glimpse into the Future

East, International
Monday, June 27, 2011
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WORKac's Infoodstructure Brooklyn uses food to create new infrastructures

Glimpses of New York and Amsterdam in 2040 at the Center for Architecture (through September 10) is a clarion call for designers to redefine sustainability in architecture. Though it didn’t start with this intention, the visions of 10 young architecture firms imagining future landscapes of New York and Amsterdam raise questions about what changes are imminent for urban development and what part architects can play. The projects suggest both practical and fantastical interventions to improve the prospect of urban growth in the face of ecological, geographic, and demographic shifts.

Continue reading after the jump.

Unforgettable Images of PDC’s Red Building In Process

West
Monday, June 27, 2011
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©Kenneth Johansson

The Pacific Design Center’s Red Building, the final piece of a three-structure complex, is nearing completion. Designed by Cesar Pelli, the building’s jutting red glass facade is in now in place, and the project should be complete by this fall. Photographer Kenneth Johansson has been documenting its construction for the last two years. His pictures don’t just reveal the developing bones of the building, they showcase the often-overlooked construction workers who make projects like this happen. “I have all the respect in the world for these guys,” said Johansson, of the builders, who he calls “heroic” (you can see why). He plans to release a book on the project next year.  Enjoy this slideshow of the construction from start to the present. (Click on an image below to start)

Check out the gallery after the jump.

Piet’s Key to the Serpentine Secret Garden

International
Monday, June 27, 2011
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Zumthor's Serpentine Pavilion 2011 (Walter Herfst)

Zumthor's Serpentine Pavilion 2011 (Walter Herfst)

This year’s  Serpentine pavilion by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor opens on Friday, July 1. The first images reveal not just a simple structure of humble materials but also a new type of collaboration for the Serpentine series. Zumthor invited the Dutch planting designer Piet Oudolf to join the project, and although Zumthor retains top billing, his design gives Oudolf center stage. Oudolf recently shared a plan with us of his vibrant garden scheme that forms the heart of the timber-frame structure.

Continue reading & see the plan after the jump.

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