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
MissoniHome @ DDC Design Post
181 Madison Avenue
212 685 0800
Missoni, an Italian fashion house famous for its use of colorful fabrics and patterns, has finally launched its first American “lifestyle” showroom inside New York’s DDC Design Post. MissoniHome’s product line had previously been available separately at various locations, but now design-minded consumers can browse towels, rugs, and bedding at one destination. The entire collection is housed inside a 200-square-foot showroom dressed seasonally by the Missoni Studio team.
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The winner of the second annual Tex-Fab competition explores ideas of modular assembly and material efficiency.
Earlier this year, design practitioners from across the world converged on Houston to attend Tex-Fab 2.0, a two-day conference featuring experts, lectures, and workshops. Tex-Fab is a non-profit initiative founded by Brad Bell (Brad Bell Studio), Kevin Patrick McClellan (Architecturebureau), and Andrew Vrana (METALAB) to create a network of Texas designers focused on exploring issues of parametric design and digital fabrication. The organization hopes to serve as a bridge between academia, professional design offices, and industrial fabricators throughout the country.
Ralph Lerner, architect and former dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University, died in Princeton on Saturday, May 7, following a long battle with brain cancer.
A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Lerner resigned as dean at the University of Hong Kong Department of Architecture for health reasons and returned to the United States earlier this year.
As dean of Princeton’s School of Architecture from 1989 to 2002, Lerner set the school on a strong contemporary track with wide-ranging appointments among practitioners, critical historians, and theoreticians including Liz Diller, Jesse Reiser, Mark Wigley, Beatriz Colomina, Kevin Lippert, M. Christine Boyer, and Guy Nordenson. “Ralph very much put Princeton at the center of the architectural map, through the programs, exhibitions, and publications he sponsored as well as by the sheer force of his personality,” wrote Lippert, a 1983 graduate of the School of Architecture and founder of Princeton Architectural Press, in an email. Read More
You’re not supposed to judge a project before it’s completed, but last week the scaffolding came down around the highly anticipated new Poetry Foundation building in Chicago designed by John Ronan Architects, offering a glimpse of how the building is coming together. While the elegant glass box looks refined enough for a finished building, it will soon be concealed behind a perforated metal screen, creating an interstitial space between the building envelope and the street. The combination of glazing and screen should make for shifting effects of light and texture that change throughout the day and over the seasons.
William Stout Publishers recently reissued California Houses of Gordon Drake by Douglas Baylis and Joan Parry, with a new preface by Australian architect Glenn Murcutt and a new introduction by architect and author Pierluigi Serraino. Serraino is the author of Modernism Rediscovered, which contributed significantly to renewing interest in Midcentury Modernism, and went on to write NorCalMod, a book that helps rewrite the narrative about Northern California architecture. Photos of Drake’s work and some of the material from his archive will be on exhibit through May at the Berkeley location of William Stout Architectural Books. Kenneth Caldwell sat down with Serraino to get his thoughts about the newly reissued book. Read More
Toy Cities. Our friends at Planetizen tell us that Avondale, AZ had urban planner James Rojas over for a playdate of sorts. Citizens who took part in this re-visioning session got to use pipecleaners, Legos, blocks, and other assorted toys to build their ideal version of the city. According to Rojas, this bottom-up community planning method breaks down barriers and allows people to exercise a degree of creativity not often found at the typical charrette.
Food Oases. Streetsblog questions the much hyped notion of the “food desert”: is it media myth or reality? It seems that urban areas aren’t always as lacking in food stores as they seem, at least depending on your definition of supermarket. Even the USDA, who recently debuted their new food desert locator, might be a bit confused about what constitutes a food desert. (In fact, the web application says that a part of Dedham, MA is a food desert. Maybe they don’t count the Star Market that’s right near that Census tract…)
Suburban Swan Song. Slate’s architecture columnist Witold Rybczynski has penned an obit of sorts to that symbol of suburban sprawl, the McMansion. He posits that when the recession is over people will be in the mood to buy homes again, but that they may be hesitant to purchase a behemoth of a building that costs a lot to heat and cool.
Green Alert. Inhabitat takes a look at the latest in the green roof trend in the form of sloping roofs on townhomes in the City of Brotherly Love. It seems that the historic Center City has a new (and almost LEED certified) infill development called Bancroft Green. The high-end homes here sport some nifty plant covered roofs as well as geothermal heating and herb gardens that capture storm runoff and spaces designed specifically for bicycle storage.