London Calling. The State Department is pushing for design excellence standards and is using its new embassy in London as a prototype. The embassy, designed by Philly-based KieranTimberlake, is still in its early phases, but as the project evolves, so will the standards for future buildings commissioned by the Bureau of Overseas Buildings, reports Engineering News-Record. While haute design remains part of the goal, sustainability and efficiency will take the fore. (Via Arch Record.)
New York Answering. The call from London that many answered Friday morning came from Westminster Abbey. Of the more auspicious outcomes, the so-called “Little Britain” section in the Village got it’s nickname sanctified by The Times. Off the beaten path, under a bridge really, Brownstoner reports that an early morning crowd beneath the Manhattan Bridge gathered for a live video feed.
U2 in Malibu. Well not the whole group, just The Edge. He got approval from the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy to build five eco-friendly homes in the Hollywood Hills. The dirty little tid-bit revealed in the LA Times is that the conservancy group accepted about $1 million in payments and services provided by a consultant hired by Mr. Edge. (via Curbed LA)
Jane and Andy. Two names you might never consider putting together are Jane Jacons and Andy Warhol. But an essay by Timothy Mennel pairs to the “two libertarians” together in this week’s Design Observer. Besides both coming from Pennsylvania steel towns, Mennel shows how their respective notions of community shaped the city as we know it today: eyes on your street vs. eyes on your navel.
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High-performance concrete creates new possibilities for a community college facade.
A new generation of concrete, called Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), is changing the way architects and designers think about the material. Usually composed of cement, fine grain sand, silica fume, optimized admixture, and alkali-resistant glass fiber reinforcement, UHPC offers high ductility, strength, and durability with a fine surface appearance. A new UHPC product called TAKTL, launched last year, shows the many additional applications that are possible with the right material mix, including facade panels available through its sister company VECTR. Recently chosen by Milan-based Wilson Savastano Venezia Architecture Studio for its Dukhan Community College (DCC) project in Qatar, the company is in the research and development phase for perforated and solid panels to clad the school’s sculptural facade.
Continue reading after the jump.
No Joint Custody. Archinect reports that partners Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo of London-based Foreign Office Architects (FOA) have made their professional divorce official. According to a press statement, each partner will now head up his/her own office and all staff will be retained and assigned to one of the two.
Urban Fuel. University of Quebec researchers have published a study showing that higher gas prices translate into–logically–less urban sprawl: “On average, a 1% increase in gas prices has caused: i) a .32% increase in the population living in the inner city and ii) a 1.28% decrease in low-density housing units.” Read more at Infrastructurist.
Lab Experiment. The New York Times profiles the new director of MIT’s Media Lab, Joichi “Joi” Ito, a 44-year-old venture capitalist from Japan, who comes to the job with a wealth of experience but no academic credentials. But “He has credibility in an academic context,” Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law prof and Creative Commons founder, told the Times. “We’ve been collaborators, and I’ve stolen many ideas from him and turned them into my own.”
Big Bird Brains? Are pigeons just playing dumb for crumbs and sympathy? As far as birds go, city-dwelling pigeons have proportionally bigger brains than their avian country cousins, writes Per Square Mile.
Coming this summer to a Governor’s Island near you (as long as you’re in New York), the Burple Bup pavilion will fuse natural and synthetic materials to create a sustainable refuge from the sun. Composed of layered earthen strands winding sinuously beneath a translucent floating dome. Designed by Bittertang, the temporary shelter will provide a quiet meditative and social space on the island beginning May 27.
Our friends at Echo Park Patch today report on one of the coolest places in Los Angeles: Southern California Architectural Salvage (formerly Santa Fe Wrecking). Located in a large warehouse in downtown LA, it’s a great place to find architectural oddities like towering teak gates from Argentina, claw-foot bathtubs, iron gates, chandeliers, or vintage doors, sinks, and toilets.
The list is pretty extensive, and the only criterion: “It has to be different from what you get at Home Depot,” says owner Jerry Hernandez. Among our other favorite salvaging spots are Silver Lake Architectural Salvage, which recently moved to Pasadena, CA, the ReBuilding Center on Portland, Oregon’s Mississippi Avenue, and the Demolition Depot in New York.
Share your favorite salvaging hot spots in the comments below and check out a few salvage photos after the jump.
Mexico City’s new Museo Soumaya (named after the deceased wife of Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who owns the museum) was finally unveiled to the public late last month. The museum houses 60,000-square-feet of continuous exhibition space spread over six levels and containing over 6,200 pieces from Slim’s art collection.
Designed by Fernando Romero of the firm FREE, the building is shaped like a woman’s bustier with a cinched waist. The amorphous structure is built with 28 curved steel columns of varying diameters, each with its own contoured geometry. While the exterior mass resembles a singular object, the skin is comprised of thousands of hexagonal aluminum modules.
While the building itself is almost opaque–it has no windows–the roof of the top floor is suspended from a cantilever, letting in natural light. The result is a monumental parametric design offering a dramatic sculptural addition to the city once celebrated for its tradition and hand-painted, colorful architecture.
Curbed LA yesterday shared schemes for the zone around Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Broad Museum, revealing renderings of two residential towers to the south and east of the project and space for a new plaza. The images sent the ever-excitable architecture community chattering. But while it’s great to get a better sense of what’s going up, as the blog pointed out and the architects have reiterated, the images don’t reveal what the design will actually look like.
On Saturday, April 23 the conceptual Dutch design company Droog and Diller Scofidio + Renfro presented “Open House,” a project that offered dialogue for possible new social and economic models to revitalize pre-existing suburban neighborhoods. The one-day event began with a symposium at Columbia’s off-site Studio-X in Downtown Manhattan, followed by a field trip to Levittown, Long Island, where nine homes from the fabled, archetypal post-war American suburb were transformed into residential marketplaces with experimental installations by designers, architects, and homeowners.
La Vie Gigapixel. It’s Paris like you’ve never seen it — even if you have been there. A super-high-def 26-gigapixel photo of the city of lights (yep, that’s 26 billion pixels) was stitched together by a team of photographers and a software company in France. Go ahead, pull up the full screen view and wander away the afternoon. We won’t tell. (Via Notcot.)
Metro Music. When Jason Mendelson moved from Tampa to Washington, D.C., the city’s subway literally moved him to song. NRDC Switchboard says that he’s creating a tune for every Metro stop across the system, each stylistically indicative of the station itself. Listen to his completed songs over here.
Biosphere 2 at 20. Not often do we design entire mini-worlds, but then, Biosphere 2 was always unique. Now two decades old, the three-acre terrarium-in-a-desert is still helping scientists figure out life’s little lessons. The AP/Yahoo News has the story.
Scraps, Glass, and Stone. Curbed found a new book by Steven Guarnaccia transforming the classic Three Little Pigs story into three little starchitect pigs where Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright each build houses and the big bad wolf huffs and puffs (and critiques?) the walls down. (Guarnaccia also reimagined Goldilocks into a tale filled with chairs by Aalto, Eames, and Noguchi!)
With the exception of the World Trade Center, there’s probably no better place to call a press conference dealing with construction issues than Atlantic Yards. At the moment the controversial project practically guarantees a large press turnout. On Tuesday, the Department of Buildings used the site as a backdrop to launch a new safety campaign for the 7th Annual Workers Safety Week with a particular focus on getting workers to wear harnesses. Sixteen workers have fallen to their death since 2008, prompting the agency to call the campaign “Experience is Not Enough.” In addition to covering the initiative, the press also got a chance to check out progress at the stadium site from “court level.”