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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Everyone may be a critic, but none moreso than Roger Ebert. While film has long been the Chicagoan’s preferred medium, he has increasingly cast his eyes and pen elsewhere on his Sun-Times blog (begun after a bout of thyroid cancer). Yesterday, he fixed his attention—and mostly scorn—on modern architecture. It’s a highly opinionated piece, one in which Ebert openly admits his increasingly “reactionary” preferences:
It was not always so. My first girlfriend when I moved to Chicago was Tal Gilat, an architect from Israel. She was an admirer of Mies. Together we explored his campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. She showed me his four adjacent apartment buildings on Lake Shore Drive and said they looked as new today as when they were built. It is now 40 years later, and they still look that new. Then I was impressed. Now I think of it as the problem. They will never grow old. They will never speak of history. No naive eye will look at them and think they represent the past. They seem helplessly captive of the present.
We got an email earlier today from Leni Schwendinger, principal of Light Projects, informing us that she was also part of the team redesigning Times Square, a terrible omission from the original announcement given that this probably the most well-lit place on the planet. “As a location singularly (and controversially) known for lighting and light, the Times Square win is very important,” Schwendinger wrote. “It is Light Projects’ opportunity to redefine the role of light in the public space of Times Square for pedestrians.” (Graphic designers Pure and Applied and engineers Buro Happold are also on the Snohetta-led team.) This revelation led to a nice little discussion on the nature of Times Squares’ gigawhattage and some brainstorming on what might make a good design. Read More