If a whole flock of ghostly animals starts appearing in downtown New York this fall, don’t panic. It’ll just mean that the public picked Chris Shelley’s design “…of special concern” as a winner in the Buildings and Cultural Affairs Departments’ urbancanvas competition, which solicited ideas for decorating the construction fences, sidewalk sheds, scaffolding and cocoons that act as eyesores on seemingly every New York City street.
Think Renzo Piano’s still preliminary design for a new Whitney Museum of American Art is too timid? How about this alternative scheme floated by the self proclaimed “architectural provocateurs” at Axis Mundi? According to a statement, the proposal is meant to be “as bold in spirit as the original Breuer building.” It’s bold all right.
The design calls for a structural exoskeleton, shaped by the sight lines and street grid of the city, imbedded with the circulation and mechanical systems. Column-free galleries would be suspended from the skeleton with distinctive projecting windows, reminiscent of Breuer’s at the Madison Avenue Whitney. The Axis Mundi proposal mentions nothing of costs, which is one of the biggest hurdles facing the Whitney, given the museum’s relatively modest endowment.
Axis Mundi has chased the news before. They previously promoted an alternative to Jean Nouvel’s proposed Tower Verre for MoMA, called the Vertical Neighborhood. Check out more images of their Whitney proposal after the jump. Read More
Bay Area architect Warren Callister was an heir to Bernard Maybeck in that he was wonderfully eclectic. But where Maybeck could be a little rough, Callister was refined. Every detail, every turn, every joint, all exquisitely detailed. Like A. Quincy Jones in Southern California he loved a powerful roof form. But Callister’s tended to be curved, not angled. On Friday morning my architecture buddy author Pierluigi Serraino took me on a tour with the real estate agents who are selling Callister’s exquisite Duncan house in San Francisco’s Clarendon Heights. They are hosting an open house at 176 Palo Alto Avenue the next two Sundays and Tuesdays. Read More
The new L+M Arts gallery in Venice, designed by wHY Architecture, is set to open with a hip gala on September 25 (We will be featuring it more in the coming weeks). The project is a beautiful renovation of a WPA-era power station, with a lofty new, diamond-shaped brick addition adjacent, attached via a minimal bar that contains the gallery’s offices. We really recommend you take a look. Oh, and while you’re there, you may want to see something that will either make you gleeful or nauseous. Giant, moving animatronic sculptures of George Bush having sex with pigs, by artist Paul McCarthy. There’s really not much more we want to say about this, except to say that these sculptures perform very efficiently. They will haunt our nightmares. Did we say the gallery looks really nice? Here are some more pix to cleanse your mind: Read More
Last night, the 1500 Gallery in Chelsea held an opening for Brasilia, a show of iconic photographs dating from the creation of the freshly minted Brazilian capital. Indeed, the show is meant to be a celebration of the Semicentennial of Oscar Niemeyer’s city in the jungle. The show was organized by Brazilian photographer Murillo Meirelles and will be up through November 27. Pictures of pictures, and more from the opening, after the jump.
As we reported a few weeks ago, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is gearing up to create a huge new historic district on the Upper West Side. Last night, the commission held a meet-and-greet with the neighbors, at which the tentative boundaries for the new district—technically five contiguous extensions to five existing districts—were unveiled. As the map shows, it’s quite a lot of real estate, and though smaller than the extant Upper West Side historic district (2,000+ versus 745) it will become, should it be approved, one of the largest in the city. What’s most interesting, though, is how much of the Upper West Side will now be under the commission’s purview. It will be interesting to see how the development community reacts.
Overshadowed by the sadness surrounding West Hollywood Urban Designer John Chase’s death was the loss of another great supporter of Southern California architecture: Elaine Jones, the widow of architect A. Quincy Jones. San Francisco writer and publicist Kenny Caldwell, a close friend, writes a stirring tribute on his blog. In it we get—among other smart observations—a glimpse into her dedication to architecture, to her friends, and to the ideals of her late Husband A. Quincy Jones. At a time when “wow” architecture is still dominant, it’s refreshing to hear another approach. Says Caldwell: “She would say that Quincy’s design was rooted in the experience of the building as people moved through it. I came to appreciate the humility it took to focus on spatial experience over object.”
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission continued its efforts to preserve what have been, at least historically, unlikely landmarks. There is focus on the not-so-outer boroughs and modernist masterpieces and on the scruffy, increasingly tony “Lower East Side,” one of the oldest, yet long-neglected parts of the city. This is of course not the small neighborhood that had been sequestered by real estate agents, but the real LES, as defined by historians and historic maps, from 14th Street to the Brooklyn Bridge, with the Bowery as its eastern bounds. In 2007 and 2008, the commission surveyed more than 2,300 properties and has been bolstering the landmarks rolls ever since, from Webster Hall to Wheatsworth Bakery. Yesterday, three more were added. Read More
Of the 11 projects on the AIA SF Home Tours this year, the breakout sensation was the house of husband-and-wife design team Andrew Dunbar and Zoee Astrakan, of Interstice Architects (Dunbar is an architect, Astrakan is a landscape designer). There were certainly some lovely, finely detailed projects on the tour, but this particular house was interesting because in lieu of slick modernism, it had a freewheeling, “let’s throw something up and see what sticks” feel to it. (Other design publications agree: the project just appeared in the New York Times). It’s DIY, but on a scale that architects can pull off. Read More
For you last-minute types, the deadline to register for AN and SCI-Arc’s Clean Tech Corridor Competition is the end of the day tomorrow. The competition asks architects, landscape architects, designers, engineers, urban planners, students and environmental professionals to create an innovative urban vision for Los Angeles’ CleanTech Corridor, a several-mile-long development zone on the eastern edge of downtown LA (which includes a green ideas lab and a Clean Tech Manufacturing Center). Entries should look beyond industrial uses; creating an integrated economic, residential, clean energy, and cultural engine for the city through architectural and urban strategies. That could include not only sustainable architecture and planning, but new energy sources, parks that merge with buildings, new transit schemes, and so on. While registration is due tomorrow, entries are due on September 30. So get a move on!! You can download the brief here.
Architectural lighting is a great way to bring a bit of life to unused buildings. A new program in Detroit aims to cast some of the city’s many empty structures in a better light, in an effort to “mothball” them for future use. The architects at McIntosh Poris Associates have an innovative plan to re-light the four buildings without generating carbon emissions, a plan they hope to expand across downtown. Commissioned by the Detroit Downtown Development Authority, the project will light the interior and exteriors with power generated from rooftop photovoltaics. Read More