The New York-firm WORK Architecture Company is retooling the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston. The intervention, which includes a new entrance and circulation plan, should dramatically boost the visibility of the museum. It shares a large 1970s concrete building with the university’s art school, and it is currently accessed off an interior courtyard. The architects are moving the entrance to the north side of the building, with a new cantilevered interior staircase serving as a portico. Read More
Land’s Literal End. A sprawling 25-room colonial mansion called Land’s End on Long Island’s North Shore has been torn down. Gothamist and Curbed link to a CBS video of the destruction of the house said to have inspired the decadence of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Fortress in Disguise. Shortlist found a house that can transform itself from a windowless cube of a fortress into a modern luxury mansion with the press of a button. The appropriately named Safe House was designed by KWK Promes architecture
Treme Teardown. Preservationists in New Orleans are pushing to save the 1950s-era Phillis Wheatley elementary school designed by Charles Colbert from the wrecking ball. The Times Picayune reports that Tulane architects and a Treme actress are leading the call.
The Urban 30. We’re tickled to be named in OCU’s list of 30 Best Blogs for Urban Planning Students!
Renewal 2.0. The NY Times ran a recent story about the proposed rebuilding of Quincy, Mass. The public-private partnership would tear town most of the city’s urban core and start over again with a massive roughly $1.5 billion project to create a new downtown. While the article doesn’t articulate what would be lost, it does speculate on the size of the real estate gamble if the project falls through.
This week Rizzoli releases Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis co-authored by AN’s own West Coast editor Sam Lubell and Doug Woods. The book features the seven decades’ worth of images (many never published), not only of Shulman’s iconic photographs of mid-century houses by Neutra and Eames but also of his lesser known explorations of the streetscapes and surroundings of the city he most adored, Los Angeles. The publisher is marking the occasion with events in Los Angeles (April 15) and New York City (April 21).
TONIGHT in Los Angeles!
7:00 p.m., Friday, April 15 :
Meet the authors, who will discuss the book as part of a panel (among the featured speakers is Judy McKee, Shulman’s only child and the executor of his estate) and book signing.
Location: Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University, 7500 Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank , CA
NEXT WEEK in New York!
5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21:
Book signing with author Sam Lubell.
Location: Rizzoli Bookstore, 31 West 57th St., New York
Please visit AN’s diary for more info.
Earthshaking Costs. The cost of an earthquake goes well beyond the financial, as the world witnessed with the disaster in Japan, but preventative measures do cost; Architizer cites a report by California Watch that warns of cost-cutting and corruption in the cash strapped state, boiling down the numbers and creating clear cut infographics to illustrate the need and function of base isolation and mass dampers.
Bring Me Your Tired One Arm Bandits. With all due respect to our Nevada brethren, New Yorkers are somewhat chagrined to learn that the Post Office will not fix their goof of putting an image of the Las Vegas rendition of Lady Liberty on a new stamp rather than an image of the original in the New York Harbor. Officials say the teenage version will stay, prompting Ed Koch to sound off to The Times “…the post office is doing a stupid thing.”
Riverfront Fortress. With tax day looming, don’t try to go postal with the IRS in Philly. You won’t stand a chance. The agency has taken over the main branch of the old Post Office overlooking the Schuylkill River. The WPA-era grand limestone edifice took on $252 million makeover, and Philadelphia Inquirer critic Inga Saffron is not impressed. Saffron says the building, heralded as the new gateway to University City, keeps the gates closed by overdoing security measures (via ArchNews).
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Steel takes on a paper-like appearance at Aomori’s new cultural center, creating a dynamic backdrop for life on the Japanese city’s waterfront.
Nearly a decade ago, Vancouver-based design and production studio Molo Design won an international competition for its design of a housing and community project in Aomori, Japan. As firm founders Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen worked with the City of Aomori in the years following the competition, the design evolved into that of a cultural center celebrating the city’s yearly Nebuta festival, during which huge mythical creatures made of wood, wire, paper, and lights are paraded through the streets. Though millions attend the festival every August, the cultural center would provide an opportunity for more visitors to witness their creation throughout the year.
[ Editor's Note: Jake Gorst, documentary filmmaker and grandson of Andrew Geller has submitted this guest post relating preservation efforts to save the architect's archive. ]
Efforts are currently underway to catalog and preserve architect Andrew Geller’s architectural archive, which consists of hundreds of drawings, thousands of photographs and pieces of correspondence, and several scale models. To preserve this archive, a film on Geller’s work and the preservation process is currently under production. The archive will ultimately end up at an academic facility for future generations to study.
Just Architecture. The Van Alen Institute announced that NYC is about to welcome its first bookstore and reading room singularly devoted to architecture, Van Alen Books, located on 30 West 22nd Street. Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects (and one of the two candidates for the next PennDesign Architecture Dean) and architectural historian Anthony Vidler will be presenting their latest books at the opening party scheduled for next Thursday, April 21.
Flash Sale Curator. Curbed shows today that there is no boundary for what architects can do. A popular flash sale venue, Gilt Groupe, is having a home products sale today at noon, curated by an architect, Richard Meier. Items up for sale include “a signed copy of Taschen’s Meier, a mezuzah he designed for The Jewish Museum of New York, and his Architectonic Menorah,” normally sold for $1K!
Breathing Times. According to Streetsblog, New York’s Times Square, visited by 250,000 pedestrians each day, has become much more breathable since the 2009 installation of pedestrian plazas (find out why Bill Clinton is a fan) on Broadway. Concentrations of two traffic-related air pollutants, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide, have gone down by 63% and 41%, respectively!
Suburban Slumification. Business Insider identifies 18 cities (including a less-than-expected Minneapolis) where suburbs are rapidly turning into slums. In the past, cities suffered crimes and poverty during recessions, while the rich stayed away in their safe suburban havens. But not anymore. Suburban slums are growing five times faster than cities.
Louisville’s Speed Art Museum has unveiled plans for a new addition designed by Culver City, CA-based wHY Architecture with Reed Hilderbrand landscape architects. Located on the campus of the University of Louisville, the museum hopes to increase connections with the city and the university along with increasing gallery and educational space. The scope of wHY’s work includes 200,000 square feet of new and renovated space in three phases valued at $79 million. The first phase including the new north structure will begin construction this year.
A fly-through (after the jump) offers a peak at the design, which calls for a simple monumental form next to the 1920s-era Beaux-Arts main building that cantilevers over a stand of trees forming an outdoor room and cafe on the campus facing side. A large garage-like door opens out to the garden. The street facing side features an outdoor amphitheatre-like seating set in the ground and a large reflecting pool. A cantilever staircase will be visible through the street facing facade.
Bridge Backtracks. Brownstoner uncovered the above historic view of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1903 back when transit and pedestrians dominated its traffic flow. StreetsBlog also noticed that the bridge has lost quite a bit of capacity as trains were removed in favor of cars (down significantly from its 1907 peak of 426,000 crossings a day). Also be sure to check out the super-high-res photo over at shorpy.com.
Library Life. Robert Dawson lamented, “These are brutal times for public libraries,” in a piece for Design Observer. With funding in short supply, he argued that the library is more than a room full of books, but a true “American Commons.”
Crowd-Sourced. The Institute for Urban Design is prepping for the first annual Urban Design Week this September with a crowd-sourced assignment to improve New York City. Running through April 30 and called By the City / For the City, you’re invited to share your ideas via this handy online form. (via Polis.)
Architecture Queen. The Philippine Star reports that newly registered architect Shamcey Supsup was crowned Miss Universe-Philippines. The magna cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines won over 39 other (non-architect) contestants. Supsup’s next stop is Sao Paulo, Brazil where she will take on the world, T-square in hand. (via Archinect.)
It’s been few months since Morris Adjmi presented plans for his twisted tower at 837 Washington to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. He returned on Tuesday with a scaled-down version of the original design. The architect brought two 3-D models to better illustrate the before and after versions. The body of the exoskeletal steel structure still pivots clockwise atop a 1938 art moderne market building, but now it does so at a reduced height of 84 feet, instead of 113. Still, lopping off two of the seven stories from the original design may not be enough to satisfy commissioners who seem to be scratching their heads over how to address the major mood changes in Gansevoort Market Historic District, which sits within the ever expanding design glow of the High Line.
With architectural discourse today so focused on the impact of digital design, it is hard to remember that 20 years ago all architects talked about was postmodernism. The discussion began with the publication of Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Aldo Rossi’s The Architecture of the City but became more focused and intense with the opening of an exhibition devoted to the theme.