Hefty Bill for AT&T

National
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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The AT&T Building as rendered by Philip Johnson.

In April, a seven foot tall presentation drawing of the AT&T building was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for $71,000, one of the highest prices ever paid for a “modern architectural drawing,” according to a release. The Philip Johnson drawing was sold through the Wright auction house in Chicago, which has become a specialist in selling architectural materials. The V&A will show the piece in an upcoming exhibition on postmodernism. It is one of only a handful of works by an American in the museum’s 35,000 piece architecture collection.

The building is famous for its “Chippendale” top, which, when it opened in 1984, signaled the ascendency of postmodernism and the return of historical styles and classical references to the architectural vocabulary.

The drawing is part of a larger archive of Johnson’s work, which includes thousands of drawings, plans, and photographs of AT&T, Pennzoil Place, PPG Place, and the Chrystal Cathedral. The owner of the archive wishes to remain anonymous, according to the release.

Moss on the Market

West
Monday, July 26, 2010
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Cool and convivial: Moss' Lawson-Westen House was designed with warmth and friendship in mind. (Tom Bonner)

Deep-pocketed house-hunters on the prowl for an architectural icon this summer are in luck: The critically acclaimed Lawson-Westen House, designed by Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss, is on the market for the first time. The 5,100-square-foot Brentwood home remains the architect’s largest residential project and is an oft-cited example of the spatial subdivisions and geometric shifts that characterize much of LA’s modern architecture. Read More

Talk Radio Architecture

East
Thursday, July 22, 2010
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Roberta's, Home of Heritage Radio Network

 A hot night in an organic garden sometimes smells like steaming mulch. But a hot night in a Brooklyn organic garden will more likely smell like beer. At least that’s the first impression one gets at the Berlin-cool Roberta’s in Bushwick where there’s a restaurant in front and an Alice Waters-funded greenhouse outback atop the shipping-container home of Heritage Radio Network.com, and more particularly of “Burning Down the House,” a weekly podcast by Curtis B. Wayne, a Cooper Union/Harvard-educated architect turned radio host and budding East Coast counterpart to KCRW’s Frances Anderton in LA. His Wednesday night live coverage is architectural improv, ranging from trashing Prince Charles over the Chelsea Barracks fiasco in London to discussing local garbage circulation issues. Wednesday night, I was the guest talking about a full array of random architectural topics from the 28th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design and the Beekman Tower to the power of landscaping and William Makepeace Thackeray, although I am not sure that the mic was still on for that last bit. Listen and find out here at Burning Down the House.

Changes at Architecture School Urban Design Studios

Midwest
Thursday, July 22, 2010
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Terry Schwarz

Kent State University has named Terry Schwarz the director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). A satellite of the College of Architecture, the CUDC provides urban planning and design services to underserved communities and neighborhoods. Schwarz has worked at the studio since 2000, creating, among other projects, the Shrinking Cities Institute, to investigate urban vacancy and declining population, and Pop Up City, an initiative to animate underused land with arts activities. Schwarz has a masters in city and regional planning from Cornell, and has lectured and published widely.

The Urban Design Studio in Louisville has focused its mission on sustainability, according to Broken Sidewalk. The University of Kentucky College of Design, based in Lexington, recently withdrew its involvement in the studio, leaving the planning program at the University of Louisville as the primary partner. The Studio will also expand it’s collaboration with AIA Central Kentucky raise awareness of contemporary design in Louisville.

Parks Advocates Picked for Jacobs Medals

East
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
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Joshua David and Robert Hammond (photo: Joel Sternfeld)

Central Park Conservancy founder Elizabeth Barlow Rogers and Friends of the High Line founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond will receive this year’s Jane Jacobs Medals, presented by the Municipal Art Society and the Rockefeller Foundation. Rogers founded the Central Park Conservancy in 1980 and served in the dual position of president and park administrator till 1995. Read More

The Wonders of Weese

Midwest
Monday, July 19, 2010
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The D.C. Metro designed by Harry Weese. (photog courtesy of the Weese family, via Chicago Magazine.)

I finally got around to reading Robert Sharoff’s fascinating Chicago Magazine piece on the life and work of Harry Weese, the architect of one of my favorite works of modern of architecture, infrastructure, and urban design, the D.C. Metro. The piece is packed with 20th century Chicago architectural history, compelling biography, and insightful analysis of Weese’s work. Sharoff draws on Robert Bruegmann’s forthcoming book on the architect, and both make the case that Weese should be considered one of the preeminent figures in Postwar American architecture. Like his friend Eero Saarinen, he seemed to reinvent himself with each new project, pushing modernism in new, diverse directions and offering an alternative to Miesian orthodoxy. Sadly, his prolific career was brought to a premature end by alcoholism, but even so he made an indelible mark on the American landscape.

Barnard Takes Diana Center Stage

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 15, 2010
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Since last year, esteemed architecture photo agency ESTO has been shooting video as well. Here is the latest effort, a look at the Diana Center at Barnard, narrated by the designers, Weiss/Manfredi. From the first frame, we couldn’t help but think of Curbed’s frequent Rendering vs. Reality feature. From that first frame on, at times it looks like exactly that, like we’re looking at a renderings. Were it not for the cars and buses and students passing by at times, we might actually believe so. We’re still not sure what Weiss/Manfredi was going for here in terms of appearance, but it certainly seems to be working for the firm.

NY Designers Nicing, Icing Stalled Sites

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 15, 2010
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Icebergs, an affordable, sustainable alternative to a vacant lot designed by Woods Bagot.

Construction may not be expected to pick up until next year, but the city is already prepping for it with the UrbanCanvas program, for which registration closes Monday. The Department of Buildings and Department of Cultural Affairs are seeking out designers and artists to create new scaffolding, fencing, and other otherwise unsightly construction protections, of which there are nearly 1 million linear feet. If that’s not enough, ArtBridge, a Chelsea non-profit, is pursuing a similar program, albeit just with the overhead scaffolding—which are also due for a redesign—though ArtBridge submissions are due tomorrow, so get cracking. And should you be not a designer but a building, or more accurately empty lot, owner looking an alternative way to dress up your site, consider Woods Bagot’s Icebergs. As the firm describes them: Read More

Lagrange out to Pasture?

Midwest
Thursday, July 15, 2010
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courtesy Crain's

Crain’s reports that prominent Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange is throwing in the towel at the barely ripe age of 69. Not only his he closing up shop–at an as yet undisclosed date–he’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. “Retiring, (there would be) a lot of liabilities are on my back. I can’t just walk away,” Lagrange told Crain’s. “Chapter 11 gives you a chance to plan ahead, organize and close in a decent way.”

While the AIA may be forcasting a brighter 2011, Lagrange, best known for designing high end condos, doesn’t see the market bouncing back for another five years. While he might be in a gloomy mood now, my hunch is that Chapter 11 won’t be the final chapter in his career.

Superfront Hawks a Different Dialectic in Brooklyn

East, East Coast
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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Urban Omnibus has put together another great video, this time on Superfront, a new-ish storefront collaborative space on the further reaches of Atlantic Avenue. (We’re partial to it not only because it’s a cool idea but also one of us is moving around the corner and also happens to have a friend who lives in the back of the space from time to time.) The video is basically an interview with the space’s founder, Mitch McEwan, an ebullient mouthful of architectural contradictions. Our favorite line: “There really aren’t a lot of opportunities to make mistakes in architecture. And this is an opportunity for me to make mistakes in architecture.” Now what’s yours?

Gunter Behnisch, 1922-2010

International
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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Günter Behnisch in 2000. (Courtesy Behnisch Architekten)

Word spread yesterday that Dresden-born, Deconstructivist-inspiring architect Günter Behnisch had died. His son’s firm, which had taken on much of his work, sent around the following announcement today. There will be a memorial service tomorrow in Stuttgart, Behnisch’s long-time home.

Professor Günter Behnisch passed away in the early morning hours of July 12th at the age of 88. A good three years ago he retreated from professional life. Since then he has lived, weakened by several strokes, in his home in Stuttgart-Sillenbuch, where his family cared for him. Read More

LA Breaking Ground on New Front Lawn

West
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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(courtesy Rios Clementi Hale)

A ceremonial groundbreaking for a $56 million downtown LA Civic Center park will be held on Thursday, July 15 at 9 a.m. Designed by Rios Clementi Hale, the 12-acre park is located between the LA County Music Center and City Hall and is set to be completed in 2012. Tomorrow’s festivities will include cooking demonstrations, yoga, music, art, storytelling and education on drought-tolerant plants–activities which demonstrate ways the park will be used by the community in two years. Read More

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