Microsol Resources’ Tuesday night presentation of Z Printers at Cooper Union was notable for scale of output, both small and large (very large). The 3-D printers produce a powder-based model where all unused excess material gets recycled within the machine. The copier makes tiny models with extraordinary precision. The prices run from $15,000 to $65,000. But a panel of four presenters said the printer’s primary advantage is speed, allowing for new models to be created within 24 hours.
Two firms made notable presentations. Xavier De Kestelier, an associate partner at Foster + Partners, veered from the script a bit when he showed a video of a cement printer being developed at Loughborough University in the UK. That hanger sized 3-D printer makes modular units that can be adapted as building components. Then, Wesley Wright, a designer with Pelli Clarke Pelli, brought the conversation back to the Z Printer, which he said has become an integral part of the firm’s design process.
The firm has four machines operating round the clock. Sketching right onto the models during the review process is not uncommon. In a video, no less than the maestro himself, César Pelli, intones on the importance of model making in general and on 3-D printers in particular. Wright has graciously, and exclusively, shared his video with AN. We nabbed the Foster/Loughborough video from YouTube.
The venerable American Academy of Arts and Letters announced the winners of their various prizes in architecture to an impressive array of writers and practitioners. The judges were Henry N. Cobb, Peter Eisenman, Hugh Hardy, Richard Meier, James Polshek, Billie Tsien (chair), and Tod Williams.
Last month we reported on the LAUSD’s push to design new schools and temporary facilities using innovative prefab prototypes designed by Hodgetts + Fung, SLO, and Gonzalez Goodale. But today we learned from the LA Times that the jump starter of that project, LAUSD facilities chief James Sohn, has just resigned (among other things, the Times story noted questions about various conflicts of interests with contractors). So the fate of this, and other LAUSD projects may be up in the air.
The good news: According to Richard Luke, LAUSD’s Deputy Director of Planning and Development, “there should be no impact” on the prototypes program. “We’re proceeding with those, and we’re trying to move to the next step,” he tells AN. We’ll be watching to make sure all goes ahead with those and other new plans at the district.
Triangle Fire Open Archive. This March marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a 1911 catastrophe that killed 146 people, many of them poor immigrant women. That fire became a rallying cry for the labor movement in America and an impetus for the creation of the fire codes of today. The Triangle Fire Open Archive commemorates the event in a very modern way, with user-generated contributions that allow the larger community to tell the story of the fire and critically reflect on its relevance today. (And today, March 16, the Brooklyn Historical Society give visitors a rare chance to view the archive in person from 3pm to 7pm.)
Slumming it in SoHo. Today’s SoHo may be home to glitzy galleries, high-end retail, and the east coast branch of the infamous Karadshian clan, but it wasn’t always so swanky. In fact, as Ephemeral New York tells us, it was sort of smelly, especially along a blighted stretch of West Broadway that was better known as “Rotten Row.”
History of Urban Design 101. Urban Omnibus dives into the history of urban design as an academic discipline and talks with Parsons prof Victoria Marshall about how schools are shaping urban designers of the future.
Chez Simpsons. Las Vegas is a study in architectural illusions, with its own versions of the NYC skyline, the Eiffel Tower and Venice’s Grand Canal. But nearby Henderson, NV has its own architecture fantasy bona fides: Curbed tells us that Henderson was once home to the house that the animated Simpsons family called home.
If one of the main complaints lodged against the compact fluorescent lightbulb is that it’s ugly, all that’s about to change with the Plumen 001. The energy efficient bulb has been hailed as one of the first major re-designs of the CFL, and today, it won Brit Insurance Product Design of the Year 2011.
Created by product designer Samuel Wilkinson and British electronics company Hulger, the Plumen is made out of two interwoven glass tubes. The curved design has a new silhouette from every angle. In addition to radiating warm white light, it uses 80% less energy and lasting eight times longer than incandescents. Read More
The Gowanus Canal has been in the news a lot lately, with its superfund designation and sunken schooner. The canal and surrounding neighborhood have long fascinated architects and urbanists, and has been the subject of numerous architecture school design studios. A new ideas competition looks to develop that fascination into a series of proposals for the site, which would improve connectivity across and around the polluted waterway and take better advantage of the area’s unique history, character, and economic potential.
Building Saved, Hospital Lost. A few out there blame the preservation of the Maritime Union Building on 7th Avenue (formerly St. Vincent’s O’Toole building) as the reason for closing the Village’s only hospital. The multi-tiered structure got in the way of St. Vincent’s expansion plans, which involved partnering with the Rudin Organization to demolish the building and build luxury condos. Now, with St. Vincent’s essentially out of the way, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Rudins will forge ahead. They plan to preserve the facade while keeping part of the building as an emergency room run by North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital. However, all Level One trauma patients (like severe car accidents) must travel further. The new “emergency” room provides daily service to all of Downtown Manhattan, including tens of thousands of tourists and workers from the new World Trade Center.
Match, Game. The Washington Post says that in addition to the Southwest Waterfront Project, another boon will soon come to the Southwest D.C neighborhood when the temporary stadium for The Washington Kastles tennis league moves in. The 35-year-old league–which compares to minor league baseball with its smaller stadium and occasional star turnout, including Venus Williams and Andy Roddick–has signed a two-year lease for a site.
Spring Thaw. The New York Times reports that since the Pittsburgh Penguins have moved, their igloo will melt. With the Penguins migrating to the Consol Energy Center, their old abode, affectionately referred to as “the igloo,” now faces the wrecking ball. The domed structure, designed by Mitchell & Richey, is set to become the all to familiar multi-use retail slash apartment slash office slash parking space.
Rogue Contests. The folks from Unbeige note that several competitions have taken on a life of their own, with the contests’ offspring criticizing their parentage–as children often do. Archinect now has their PS1 People’s Choice Awards, which expands on the MoMA PS1 annual challenge, and a new Eisenhower Memorial Competition responds to perceived failings of Frank Gehry’s proposed design for the monument.