The affordability winner of this year’s Solar Decathalon in Washington D.C. is the one that is the most socially conscious, the one that already has a real-life site, and the one cheapest to build: Empowerhouse by a team from Parsons The New School for Design, Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Many other awards are to come including the overall Solar Decathlon winner but achieving lowest cost—Empowerhouse cost $229,890—was especially important this year as, in the past, the best of show has gone routinely to the always costly German entry whose previous winning entry carried a price tag of $600,000 which caused a bit of an uproar. Germany was not among the 19 student teams this year.
Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a pedestrian-friendly Times Square is about to be written in stone. On September 27, Snøhetta gave Community Board 5 a preview of things to come at the Crossroads of the World, and they look a lot more permanent than lawn chairs and painted pavements. Principal Craig Dykers presented designs for dark and darker pavers that largely eliminate any bias for an automotive Broadway, stepping the plaza streetscape up to sidewalk grade and adding elongated benches to indicate long-gone traffic patterns. In homage to New York noir, the designers have also embedded nickel-sized reflectors adding a hard bit of glitz to the dark stones that will not compete with the glam above.
According to an email from Seth Solomonow, Press Secretary at the NYC Department of Transportation: “This long-planned redesign will restore the aging utilities below the street, which itself hasn’t been rebuilt in more than 50 years and still has trolley tracks beneath the asphalt. On the surface, this simple, flexible design will clear obstructions and support the growing number of programs occurring in Times Square, which more than 350,000 people visit every day.”
Thinkin’ Lincoln. IBM is taking over the Lincoln Center through October 23rd with one of the biggest interactive technology exhibits in the city: IBM Think Exhibit. Highlights include the 123-feet long “data wall” and a forest of 40 seven-foot media panels. More at Inhabitat.
Bronx Beauty. The New York Times‘ new archi-critic, Michael Kimmelman, has penned his first review, shying away from the iconic, gleaming projects of his predecessor, instead beginning with Via Verde affordable housing in the South Bronx, which may help him demonstrate that quality trumps quantity, especially in moral debates of architecture.
Biking Sacrifice. Atlantic Cities reported that cyclists in urban environments might want to be wary of cars for more than just accident risks: harmful automobile emissions create a hazard for cyclists as well. According to new research, bikers inhale more than twice the amount of black carbon particles as pedestrians do in the same trip.
Charles Woodyard has been appointed chief operating officer the of the Chicago Housing Authority. Woodyard has served in a similar capacity for nine years at the Charlotte Housing Authority. Woodyard will be tasked with completing the “Plan for Transformation,” which cleared most of Chicago’s large-scale public housing developments, displacing nearly 17,000 people and opening up vast tracks of land. Rebuilding is only partially complete, a process that has been slowed by the still-stalled real estate market. Read More
Deborah Wye’s lecture on Orchard Beach yesterday at the City Island Historical Society Nautical Museum was months in the making. The curator emerita of MoMA’s prints department was immersed in research about a year ago for the Nautical Museum’s exhibit celebrating 75 years of Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park and in particular its bathhouse pavilion. The show, called Orchard Beach Pavilion: Past, Present and Future, runs through October 16. The show and lecture got a huge bump when Christopher Gray made the pavilion the focus of his “Streetscapes” column in Sunday’s New York Times.
Despite the controversy over Ed Fickett’s now-endangered West Hollywood Library, the city’s new library, designed by architects Johnson Favaro, is set to open to the public this Saturday. The 32,000 square-foot project, with its undulating white facade, will feature two large murals by artist Shepard Fairey (part of a collaboration by Vanity Fair magazine and Cadillac) as well as an interior installation by artist David Wiseman. The master plan for the area calls for 2.5 acres of parkland and open space, new tennis courts and 400 parking spaces in two municipal garages. We’ll be taking a closer look at all this after the library opens, so stay tuned…
Walk much? Personal urban transportation devices has found a new friend in the Skatecycle. This hubless, self-propelled riding machine may require some serious agility, balance, and style to master but its sleek body and lightweight components has earned it the Core77 2011 Design Award in the transportation category. What’s next, wheels in our shoes?
Reiner & Lautner. Designer, manufacturer, and lover of modernist architecture, Kenneth Reiner, died recently in Long Beach, CA. Reiner will be forever remembered for his decade-long collaboration on Silvertop, one of John Lautner’s modernist masterpiece homes in Los Angeles. Chicago Tribune tells the story.
By bike or by mule. The arrival of the new pedicab transportation system in New Orleans has been met with fanfare and reluctance. Mule-drawn carriage drivers are concerned that this cheaper mode of transit will deter from the experience and authenticity of motor-less travel in the French Quarter. However, Forbes reported that they are not about to throw in the reigns.
3 days in LIC. 72 Hour Urban Action, a culturally aware, civic minded architectural design outfit is set to bring their festival to Long Island City in 2012. They have a year to prepare and coordinate for a 3 day building process. Inhabitat has more.
Design Trust for Public Space has announced the appointment of Susan Chin as the new Executive Director, effective October 10. Chin has served as Assistant Commissioner for Capital Projects for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs for over twenty years.
John Henderson has been appointed Managing Director at Morris Adjmi Architects. Henderson was previously studio director at Clodagh Design in Manhattan. Prior to this position, he was associate principal at STUDIOS Architecture in New York and D.C.
Material ConneXion and its sister company, Culture & Commerce, both part of Sandow Media Corporation, have announced the appointment of Susan Towers to the position of VP Marketing & Communications. Towers was previously a partner at NICE Partners and has held marketing and PR roles with Kiehl’s since 1851 and Chandelier Towers, among others.
The New York City Department of Buildings has appointed Fred Mosher to the newly created title of Deputy Commissioner of Building Development to streamline the city’s construction process. Previously, Mosher was a senior technical architect at Skidmore Owings & Merill for nine years.
The beleaguered American Folk Art Museum, which will continue operations at 2 Lincoln Square, has appointed a new president of the board: Edward V. (Monty) Blanchard, Jr., a member of the museum’s board of directors since 2003.
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Collegiate teams around the globe have been challenged by the U.S. Department of Energy to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that aim at sustainability. The Solar Decathlon‘s winning team will be one that understands the importance of the Solar Decathlon competition by designing a home through the lens of affordability, design appeal and solar accumulation for energy efficiency.
As the contestants set up their designs on West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., you can take a look at the innovative entries at the Solar Decathalon and cast your vote in the People’s Choice Awards. Voting ends September 30th at 7pm EST and you can cast one vote per email address. As of this publishing, Team New York was in the lead, followed by Appalachian State and Team China. If you’re near D.C., be sure to check out the houses in person through October 2.
Beijing Design Week
September 26–October 3
Beijing Design Week, now in its second year, aims to change the catchphrase “Made in China” to “Designed in China.” The festival will bring together 30 local and international design firms for packed roster of events focusing on urban design and including Dutch artist/architect Daan Roosegaarde’s experiments with LEDs (above). Design Week will take over the whole city, staging happenings everywhere from the trendy 798 art district to Tiananmen Square, whose neighboring historic district will host pop-up shops and street art installations, to the site of the China Millenium Monument, where Paul Cocksedge will unveil an installation on October 1. This year London was invited to be Beijing’s “guest city,” and emissaries from the London Design Festival will translate some of their most successful ideas and activities into a new context.