Rollin’ on the River. After seventy years, the Los Angeles River is now open to use by residents and visitors. The LA Times reported that the EPA has designated the river a navigable waterway, and a pilot program, Paddle the Los Angeles, launched this Monday. Visitors can now tour the waterway by kayak or canoe on weekends.
Unplugged Plugin. The new Sanya Skypump electric vehicle charging station is off the grid; it uses a combination of wind and solar energy, says Engadget. It is also a streetlamp, providing safe, green, parking illumination.
Urbanized Ablaze. Among of the casualties of the London Riots are the cousins of the upcoming documentary, Urbanized. According to the project’s blog, looters broke into a Sony distribution warehouse containing 20,000 DVDs of the Helvetica and Objectified films, took what they could and burned the rest. Many other independent films were also lost in the blaze.
Suburban dreams. The 2000 Census indicated that young Americans ages 25 to 34 were fleeing the suburbs and moving to cities, but polemic writer Joel Kotkin argued in Forbes that new census data analyzed by Wendell Cox points to a reversed trend. He said the demographic is returning the suburbs as they grow older and have kids.
Money McQueen. The Alexander McQueen retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which closed this past Sunday at midnight, was the Met’s 8th most popular exhibit of all time. Over its three-month showing, 661,508 people visited. Jezebel estimated the Met netted a minimum revenue of $14,603,862.
LA City Council is busy these days. Just one day after approving a downtown football stadium it voted today to approve the CRA/LA Continuation Ordinance, a move that will allow its city redevelopment agency to keep running. As part of the state’s so-called “Voluntary Alternative Redevelopment Program,” the city had to pay $97 million to the state this year, and will need to pay $26.5 million in future years. The program came as a result of state budget bills that would have simultaneously dissolved the state’s CRAs and given them a monetary out. According to Curbed LA, other cities that have opted in so far include Long Beach and Irvine. We’ll wait to see who else antes up.. Meanwhile the California Redevelopment Association’s lawsuit against the legislation is still pending.
We all know AT&T’s wireless service is, well, less than perfect. But at least they’re working on it, making about $450 million worth of improvements in the LA area over the last two years. Here’s an example: last week the technology giant installed a cell site inside the historic National Bank of Whittier buildingin uptown Whittier, California to boost its coverage in that area. The six-story Beaux Arts-style landmark building, home to Richard Nixon’s first law office and recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by Los Angeles father and son architect team John and Donald B. Parkinson in 1923. To preserve the building’s charm, the antenna site is fully concealed inside specially-built radio cabinets located on the top floor. The site is the only completely indoor one among 15 other Whittier cell structures. Other upgrades in the LA area (and there are a slew—many look, ahem, like trees) include a site close to the Chateau Marmont and one near the Greek Theatre.
Today Mayor Emanuel’s office announced plans to streamline the process for submitting and reviewing plans for building permits. The so-called “E-Plan” will eliminate paper drawings, and allow architects and engineers to submit projects to the Department of Buildings electronically. Architects and building owners will also be able to check the status of their permits instantly. “We are taking much-needed steps to increase efficiency and decrease the time it takes developers to obtain a building permit in the City of Chicago,” said the mayor, in a statement. According to an interview with NBC Chicago, Emanuel believes the new permitting measures will shave an average of 10 days off the process.
Bachelorette Pad. This fall, Barbie is finally becoming an architect—and getting a new house—built with the latest sustainable materials. Mattel teamed up with AIA to host a competition to design Barbie’s new home and Ting Li and Maja Parklar’s design for the Malibu Beach House took the top prize. Their design features a green roof, solar panels, bamboo flooring, and low VOC paints. More at Inhabitat.
Cheating on the Test. In a major blow for public safety, the New York Post reported that American Standard Testing and Consulting Labs—the company responsible for testing the safety and strength of concrete in projects like LaGuardia Airport, the Lincoln Tunnel, and Yankee Stadium—faked concrete test results. DOB inspectors have begun conducting spot checks and the buildings were found safe.
Transit Geography. Using Google Maps, Mapnificent illustrates how far public transportation users can go in a specified amount. While only available in major global cities, the maps allow users to calculate transportation times at two intersecting areas, highlighting possible travel distances. Now we can figure out exactly how far public transportation takes us in a New York minute.
Hanging in There. Nasa’s Hangar One at Moffet Field in San Francisco—built in 1933 for the USS Macon Navy airship—was once the largest freestanding structure in the world, but funding to renovate the massive facility have fallen through according to Gizmodo. NASA is in the process of pursuing alternative reuse options for the historic modern landmark.
Seat: An Outdoor Chair Show
Fort Mason Center
38 Fort Mason
Through May 31, 2012
In collaboration with the Fort Mason Center, curators Topher Delaney and Kika Probst of Seam Studio challenged forty designers to create and build outdoor public seating that would reflect the waterfront site and be able to withstand year-round weather conditions in Northern California.
The seats are displayed throughout selected areas of the thirteen-acre campus that is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Center. Each designer loaned their seat for free, and many firms created new partnerships for the project, such as Arup with Jefferson Mack Metal. The West End Terminal Seat, after the jump, designed by Nilus Designs: Architecture was inspired by the natural ecology at Fort Mason, particularly the salty water and wind patterns. Comprised of 208 vertical polycarbonate sections, the porous surfaces of the seat collect site debris and salt, while hollow flutes capture the sounds of the wind currents. The seat is also wired with user-activated LED lights and QR codes that visitors can scan for further information about the exhibit.
Solar-Powered Fun. New York City’s first solar merry-go-round just opened at the South Street Seaport, offering free rides to kids through September 7th. GE’s Carousolar is powered by 100 solar panels made of ultra thin semiconductors able to withstand extreme humidity and UV ray exposure. The green fun isn’t just for kids—GE also provided solar-powered cell phone charging stations for adults around the carousel, reported Inhabitat.
Sun-Filled Fasting. According to Dubai’s top cleric Mohammed al-Qubaisi, residents of the Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest skyscraper, will have to wait a few extra minutes to break their fast during Ramadan. Muslims living above the tower’s 80th floor should fast two additional minutes after dusk while those above the 150th floor wait an additional three minutes, The Guardian reported. Al-Qubaisi explained that just like early Muslims living in the mountains, the residents of the highest floors must adjust their fast due to the extended visibility of sunlight.
#ThingsNotToDoOnPublicTransportation. Public Transportation is trending on Twitter and the end result is a humorous user guide to transit etiquette. Transportation Nation rounded up some of their family-friendly favorites.
LEGO Gate. While not yet officially announced, European blogs have been abuzz that the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin will be the next in LEGO’s Architecture line of miniature real buildings. Unbeige revealed the series’ designer Adam Reed Tucker developed the Brandenburg model, representing the 2nd building outside of the US (the first was SOM’s Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai).
Talk to Me
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St.
Through November 7
Talk to Me explores the subject of communication between people and their environment, highlighting the role of the designer in imagining and establishing these connections. Through a diverse selection of objects and conceptual work, the exhibition examines designs that engage users, including information systems, visualization design, communication devices, and interfaces, like the QR code mowed into a field in Bernhard Hopfengärtner’s project Hello World!, above.
Objects of Ruin. Israeli artist Ofra Lapid has taken society’s obsession with ruin to a whole new level. Inspired by amateur photographs from North Dakota’s urban and rural decay, Lapid’s Broken Houses series consists of small models of the dilapidated buildings that are re-photographed without their original context. Her work produces an eerie sense of reality set against a stark grey background. Check out more images after the jump.
Tree Time. A place for every tree, and every tree in its place. Two maps from New York and Philadelphia are pinpointing the exact location of trees in each city. The Dirt reported that Edward S. Bernard and Ken Chaya have produced an illustrated map entitled Central Park Entire that seeks to honor the work of landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux by graphically representing all of the flora and fauna of Central Park. In Philadelphia, the PhillyTreeMap provides a similarly detailed online database that crowdsources each green public and private property.
Making Connections. According to the Daily Joural of Commerce Oregon, the AIA will launch an online matchmaking service in September for stalled development projects and their potential real-estate investors in hopes of giving life to long-stalled projects while compiling data that helps identify problem developments.
Parklet, PA. Philly is the latest city to jump off the bandwagon and set up a park, joining pavement-to-parks pioneers New York and San Francisco. The city will convert parking spots into miniature parks as a low-cost way to open up green space in University City. Additional parklets could be introduced the upcoming years pending the success of their pilot project.