Scale the Scaffolds on DOB YouTube Channel

East, East Coast
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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The Department of Buildings recently launched a YouTube channel. You’d think the department’s time would be better spent actually inspecting buildings instead of making videos about inspecting buildings, but a) given the black eye the department suffered after the two crane accidents two years ago, and b) this is a pretty damn good video, let’s let our criticizm slide. In fact, this simple black-and-white-photos-and-voiceover film verges on tearjerker. “A lot of the companies out there welcome us and are happy to see us out there performing a safety inspection, and then there’s that percentage that want no part to do with us,” intones inspector Joseph Coben, the Bronx still thick in his voice. Interesting factoids about the three-year-old scaffolding team abound, like how every scaffold gets a walkthrough no matter how dangerous, and how thankful workers are for the inspector getting them off a dangerous site they can’t leave without risking their jobs. Grab some popcorn and a hardhat and enjoy.

More Construction Canvases Downtown, Still No UrbanShed

East, East Coast
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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"Restore the View," one of three Richard Pasquarelli installations that are the latest edition to the Downtown Alliance's re:Construction program. (Courtesy Downtown Alliance)

The Downtown Alliance unveiled “Restore the View” today, the latest installation in its re:Construction program, which gussies up downtown construction fencing. The program began in 2007 and has gotten bigger each year, with five installations done earlier this summer and now three from Pasquarelli, the first artist to conceive of more than one. “Restore the View” just went up over the weekend at the site of Fitterman Hall, across from 7 WTC. “Secret Gardens” will mask road construction on Chambers Street and “Hours of the Day” is going up on a plaza across from the new W Hotel on Washington Street. Not only is it nice that the Alliance is concerned with how these sites look, but it means there is a lot of work still going on downtown. Read More

BP Stringer Throws Water on Riverside Center

East
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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BP Scott Stringer is no fan of Riverside Center. (Courtesy Extell)

It has not been a good day for Gary Barnett and his Extell Development. First, the Post‘s ur-real estate columnist Steve Cuozzo gave Barnett a hard time for delays at his skyline-bursting Carnegie 57. (How come Tony Malkin didn’t complain about this one, by the way?) And this evening, Borough President Scott Stringer has announced he is giving the project his ULURP thumbs down. What more does everyone want? Barnett has promised to build a school, to up the affordable housing from 12 percent to 20 percent, and he has hired one hell of an architect. But this is far from enough apparently, given Stringer’s strongly worded announcement. Read More

A New Beginning for West End Avenue

East, East Coast
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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The Landmarks Preservation Commission is preparing to preserve a large swath of West End Avenue and the surrounding buildings. (Ed Yourdon/Flickr)

The West End Preservation Society could only save two of the buildings it had hoped for, but an entire neighborhood has been preserved in the process.

Back in 2007, a clutch of concerned citizens living on West End Avenue were dismayed to learn that two pairs of brownstones were bound for the wrecking ball, to be replaced by the sliver buildings much in vogue in Manhattan’s narrow upper reaches over the past decade. The houses at 732 and 734 West End Avenue are currently being demolished, but 508 and 510 West End Avenue survive, and likely will for some time thanks to the efforts of the society. The LPC is now preparing to finalize plans for a new, expansive historic district—lobbied for by the preservation group—running the length of West End Avenue from 70th Street to 109th Street. The result will be two-miles of almost uniterrupted pre-war grandeur. Read More

Morphosis HQ Surprise

West
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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Morphosis' future home?

Our friends at Morphosis just moved into an interim location (as posted on their website) at 3440 Wesley Street in Culver City. The firm has been hesitant to give many details about their upcoming space, a former commercial building right next door that they say they are remodeling, merely stating that it will “be sustainable” and “bring back the integration of the shop with the studio space.” But when we checked out the location we were surprised to find the approximately 13,000 square foot building razed except for the north and east walls. No one mentioned that they were constructing a new building!  Read More

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A Brief History of Old Buildings Going Futuro On Film

West
Monday, August 30, 2010
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UCSD Geisel Library/ Snow Fortress, one of several older buildings pegged for the future in movies

Talk of William Pereira’s Geisel Library, the well-known symbol of UC San Diego, has been abuzz online because of its Snow Fortress doppelganger in Inception, which has so far totaled close to half a billion dollars in ticket sales.  Built in the late 1960s, this textbook example of Brutalism perfectly encapsulates the hostile, uncommunicative theme of Inception. Critics of the style say Brutalist architecture disregards the history and harmony of its environment. Thus, the Snow Fortress, featured at the film’s climax, is a symbol of disregard for preordained fate. Read More

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

East
Monday, August 30, 2010
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Van-Alen-Speed-Dating

The AN's own Bill Menking, on a "date" with a lucky young designer.

The popularity of speed dating is proof positive: people enjoy the sweaty-palmed feeling of being sized-up by a stranger so much that they figure, Why limit myself to only once in a night? Following that logic, the Van Alen Institute is offering young designers the same opportunity to offer themselves up to a critical appraisal multiple times in a row: Their second round of Design Speed Dating is scheduled for Saturday, September 11. Accepted applicants will rotate around a series of professional designers and critics, spending a half hour with each one and receiving constructive feedback on their portfolios. Interested? The Van Alen Institute is seeking emerging talents through an open call. Submit your digital portfolio in PDF format, no larger than 5MB, and no longer than 10 8.5”x11” single-sided pages, to vai@vanalen.org.

Venice 2010> Storming the Arsenale & Rem in da Haas

International
Friday, August 27, 2010
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Rem Koolhaas, winner of this year's Golden Lion, at the Arsenale. (Bill Menking)

Nothing much to report from yesterday, as it was a day of formal openings when very little was in fact open to the press or public. It was mostly a day of introductory speeches by biennale directors and city and government officials. Frank Gehry presented some models, made a few brief remarks, and then everyone headed for the hallway, where we had our first free prosecco and great little appetizers. Journalists and media types stood around asking about where the best parties were to be had in the coming days (more on this later). Read More

Anshen + Allen Swallowed By Swirly Blue Stantec Ball

West
Thursday, August 26, 2010
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Another day, another corporate architecture takeover. But this time it’s not the usual suspect, AECOM, which has recently swallowed Davis Langdon, Ellerbe Becket, DMJM, and EDAW. It’s Canada’s largest architecture firm, Stantec (whose stock ticker on the NYSE, for the record, is STN), which already has a total of 10,000 employees in North America and designs behemoth projects ranging from airports to wastewater treatment plants. The firm today announced it was eating up storied SF firm Anshen + Allen. Read More

Open House New York Needs You!

East
Thursday, August 26, 2010
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Work AC's Diane von Furstenberg Studio HQ, on tap this year. (Elizabeth Felicella)

Habitues of the New York architecture scene have long looked forward to Open House New York, the annual weekend in October when the doors to New York’s secret spaces are thrown open in a citywide celebration of architecture and design. Well, now it’s time to return the favor. The 8th Annual OHNY Weekend is seeking volunteers to help at this year’s upcoming event on October 9 and 10. Volunteers would assist any one of the weekend’s many programs, which include organized tours of spaces open to the public for the weekend, as well as site-specific dance and music performances and dialogues with architects, designers, and scholars. In years past, venues have included the High Bridge Water Tower, the Grand Lodge of Masons on 23rd Street, and the Eldridge Street Synagogue, along with architects’ offices, residential interiors, and sundry other venues across the five boroughs. The volunteer shifts will be approximately four hours long, but depend upon the assigned site’s open house schedule, and attendance at one of two training sessions (offered on Sept. 21 and 25) is required.

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Sukkahs, Homeless Shelter Coming to Union Square

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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"Her name is Rain. San Francisco." Her sign will become part of Rael San Fratello

In less than a month, a dozen sukkahs will descend on Union Square, part of the first annual Sukkah City celebration, a modern take on an ancient Jewish structure/holiday thought up by writer Joshua Foer and Reboot founder Roger Bennett. We first revealed the project back in the spring, and now the winning sukkahs have been selected. We spoke with Foer about the entrants, the process, and the winners, a few of which we even managed to scare up (though the rest are being saved for a certain newspaper in another square uptown). Read More

Broad Damaging Public Process

West
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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Leave it to Eli Broad, who is putting up his own museum in Downtown LA, to make a mockery of the public process. Despite getting a great deal on one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the city he still hasn’t shared any of the designs for the new museum. His only nod was inviting the LA Times Christopher Hawhthorne to see the contending models a few weeks ago, and not letting any other  members of the press in. Hawthorne, it appears, could not publish his thoughts until after a winner was chosen, and even then his article didn’t show any photos. And the Broad Foundation doesn’t plan to share any images of the winning scheme until after ground is broken. This is a disaster for LA, which will effectively have no say over one of the most important cultural institutions in its history.

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