ICFF wraps up today and, as usual, reviews of the fair seem mixed. Professional but boring! Too safe! Appropriately sober! Practical and market-friendly! Reheated Eames! Now in its sixth year, the ICFF Studio, sponsored by Bernhardt, offers a snap shot of where young designers are looking. Most skewed toward the market-ready, while one designer went in a conceptual direction. The young Dutch designer Andreas Kowalewski’s Clamp Chairs certainly look showroom bound (above).
After the 9/11 attacks, municipalities all over the country took note of the breakdown of communications between rescue workers during a moment of crisis. Many set aside funds to build emergency communication centers, like the ill-fated one located at Seven World Trade. In 2003, county voters in Tucson set aside $92 million to build a command center where police, fire, and emergency personnel could coordinate emergency responses. The county Board of Supervisors selected the former Valley National Bank building on East 22nd Street as the site for the new command center. But now preservationists are concerned that sections of the Brutalist building, designed by local architects Cain, Nelson, Wares & Cook Architects, will be destroyed.
Tower of Babel. Argentinian artist Marta Minujin has created an 82-foot tall “Tower of Babel” in Buenos Aires after the city was named UNESCO’s World Book Capital for 2011. Readers, libraries, and 50 embassies donated over 30,000 books in a variety of languages to fill the twisting structure. The Guardian has a slideshow and we posted a video of the tower after the jump.
High Line Caution. Witold Rybczynski penned an op-ed for the NY Times cautioning the many would-be High Line copy cats that the success of the New York wonder-park (and a Parisian predecessor) aren’t because of the parks themselves, but because of their unique situations in dense, thriving cities.
Tower Trouble. The Wall Street Journal writes that skyscraper construction has dropped off drastically from decades past to the tune of 14 million fewer square feet per decade than the period between 1950 and 1990. Can New York maintain its global competitiveness without ramping up construction?
Twin Lions. Two stone lions, Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, have been standing sentinel at the New York Public Library’s main entrance on Fifth Avenue since 1911. Ephemeral New York posted a little more history on the backstory of the big cats.
While at the AIA convention we ducked out for a few hours to explore New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, the area most devastated by Hurricane Katrina. While much of New Orleans has recovered pretty impressively, the Lower Ninth is still in horrible condition. Countless houses have been abandoned—boarded up and rotting—and many still have rescue workers’ markings on them from the flood six years ago. Then right around the corner is Brad Pitt’s Make It Right houses, 75 of which have been completed. In case you haven’t read any design magazines lately, they’re contemporary, and sustainable, takes on local architecture from the likes of some of architecture’s biggest stars. Read More
Hollywood High. Promising to make the old Capitol Records building the jewel in a $1 billion real estate crown, developers Millennium Partners and Argent Ventures are proposing to revamp a large swath of Hollywood by clustering one million square feet of multi-use development around the famous tower. The developers told the LA Times that community input will influence the design and that the building where Nat King Cole, Sinatra, and the Beach Boys made their magic will hopefully remain an entertainment hub called Millennium Hollywood.
Race to the Finish. Philly’s Race Street Pier is now complete and gets the ball rolling on the Delaware River Waterfront‘s master plan. The new pier runs just slightly south of the Ben Franklin Bridge and park designs reinforce the span’s perspective. A single file line-up of 37 swamp white oak trees march out toward Jersey. PlanPhilly‘s got the all the details.
Midblock Crosswalk. DNA has been following the push by Midtown residents to clear the way for little known pedestrian arcades and corridors that run from from 51st to 57th Streets between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. At the moment, cars block the privately owned public walkways and residents want the DOT to make them more accessible by providing crosswalks and not allowing parking in front of them.
Buses to Nowhere. Citing a Brookings Institute report, The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal noted that though 67 percent of Twin City residents can walk to a bus stop from home, only 30 percent of the buses stop near their jobs. For metro areas nationwide, New York came in last while Honolulu came in first. The report counts Poughkeepsie as part of the New York metro area. Really? Poughkeepsie?
It’s time for ICFF and the fair’s associated festivities, but our heads are still spinning from all the architecture and design goings-on in New York City over the last ten days. Among our stops were the Festival of Ideas, sponsored by the New Museum, including a lecture by Rem Koolhaas, a stop by UN Studio’s new pavilion at downtown’s Peter Minuit Plaza, and drink at Armani Casa’s new location in the D&D Building. It all started with Rem…
The 17th-century Sospiri Bridge (Bridge of Signs) in Venice connects an ancient prison with interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. The bridge crosses the Rio de Palazzo that itself slices through the palace and makes a spectacular vista as one crosses the canal bridge on the Grand Canal. This vista has been rudely emblazed for at least the past five years by a giant advertising sign the wraps the palace walls and over and under the beautiful Sospiri bridge.
While our recent feature on New Orleans highlights some of the more high-profile architectural and development projects in the city, yesterday we were introduced to the other half of the rebuilding equation: the New Orleans Master Plan, which is being developed by Boston firm Goody Clancy and New Orleans-based Manning Architects.
At an afternoon panel, Goody Clancy principal David Dixon and Manning principal W. Raymond Manning shared their experiences creating a document that sets a new course for the city, from land use and transportation planning to environmental protection. “I haven’t had a single boring day here,” said Dixon, who dove head first into the city’s labyrinth of bureaucracy, inefficiency, and even racial divisions to create the gargantuan still-evolving document.
Apparently the art world hates the American Folk Art Museum building! (Who knew?!) In the wake of the news that MoMA is buying the Todd Williams Billie Tsien-designed building, two of the art world’s more prominent voices both bashed the building and argued it hastened the Folk Art Museum’s decline. The esteemed Times critic Roberta Smith called it “unwelcoming” and argued that the museum’s fate was sealed by “lackluster, visionless leadership; the weak economy; and inappropriate architecture.” Smith’s husband happens to be Jerry Saltz, the pugnacious art critic for New York, who went much further in a piece titled, “Architecture Killed the American Folk Art Museum.” He called the building, “ugly and confining, it was also all but useless for showing art.”
Not everyone agrees!
Yesterday we attended a sobering panel at the AIA convention entitled The Construction Outlook: Implications for Architecture Firms. Presented by the AIA’s Chief Economist Kermit Baker and McGraw-Hill Construction’s Vice President of Economic Affairs Robert Murray, the panel crystallized the problems that continue to plague the architecture profession. In short, while the downturn has ended, the upturn, which is indeed inching along, is coming along VERY slowly, or as Murray put it, we’re facing “an extended bottom.” Projected 2011 growth for U.S. construction starts is 1%, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. The high points are multi-family housing, which are projected to see a 22% gain, Manufacturing building, which could see a 24% gain, and commercial building, which is set to see an 11% jump. Other high points include urban infill, adaptive reuse, renovations, and sustainable design. Perhaps the biggest loser in the coming year will be public work, which is seeing cuts across the board due to debt issues. The AIA’s Billing Index has edged just barely into slightly positive territory after three years of steady declines, said Baker. Read More