The Gowanus Canal has been in the news a lot lately, with its superfund designation and sunken schooner. The canal and surrounding neighborhood have long fascinated architects and urbanists, and has been the subject of numerous architecture school design studios. A new ideas competition looks to develop that fascination into a series of proposals for the site, which would improve connectivity across and around the polluted waterway and take better advantage of the area’s unique history, character, and economic potential.
Building Saved, Hospital Lost. A few out there blame the preservation of the Maritime Union Building on 7th Avenue (formerly St. Vincent’s O’Toole building) as the reason for closing the Village’s only hospital. The multi-tiered structure got in the way of St. Vincent’s expansion plans, which involved partnering with the Rudin Organization to demolish the building and build luxury condos. Now, with St. Vincent’s essentially out of the way, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Rudins will forge ahead. They plan to preserve the facade while keeping part of the building as an emergency room run by North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital. However, all Level One trauma patients (like severe car accidents) must travel further. The new “emergency” room provides daily service to all of Downtown Manhattan, including tens of thousands of tourists and workers from the new World Trade Center.
Match, Game. The Washington Post says that in addition to the Southwest Waterfront Project, another boon will soon come to the Southwest D.C neighborhood when the temporary stadium for The Washington Kastles tennis league moves in. The 35-year-old league–which compares to minor league baseball with its smaller stadium and occasional star turnout, including Venus Williams and Andy Roddick–has signed a two-year lease for a site.
Spring Thaw. The New York Times reports that since the Pittsburgh Penguins have moved, their igloo will melt. With the Penguins migrating to the Consol Energy Center, their old abode, affectionately referred to as “the igloo,” now faces the wrecking ball. The domed structure, designed by Mitchell & Richey, is set to become the all to familiar multi-use retail slash apartment slash office slash parking space.
Rogue Contests. The folks from Unbeige note that several competitions have taken on a life of their own, with the contests’ offspring criticizing their parentage–as children often do. Archinect now has their PS1 People’s Choice Awards, which expands on the MoMA PS1 annual challenge, and a new Eisenhower Memorial Competition responds to perceived failings of Frank Gehry’s proposed design for the monument.
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A combination banquette and shelving system gives a young family a new way to live in a 620-square-foot apartment.
Corian has become a darling of the digital fabrication set, its reputation as a dowdy countertop material giving way to explorations of the acrylic as a shape-shifting wonder with practical applications, from healthcare environments to art installations. For a couple that had nearly outgrown a 620-square-foot Murray Hill apartment, Corian served handily in the form of a new banquette and shelving unit that allowed the family to grow into the space, rather than move out of it. The project’s designer, su11 architecture + design, hired Brooklyn-based Associated Fabrication to create its vision of a functional sculpture that morphs from bench to windowsill to storage space.
AIA/LA has just announced the winners of its second annual “Arch Is” competition, open to California designers who have graduated from architecture school in the past five to twelve years. The victors are two of our favorites: FreelandBuck, headed by David Freeland and Brennan Buck, and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, led by Georgina Huljich and Marcelo Spina. Both are on the cutting edge of digital fabrication and complex, layered (not to mention curvy) design. See some of their work, below. And stop drooling. And check out a public forum featuring the winners at LA’s A+D Museum on March 24 a 7pm. Read More
I assumed he would be articulate as all OMA graduates are, and I’d heard he was as intellectually entertaining as only those TED Talk types can be, but I was surprised that Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect recently taking the city in a storm of media, could also simply converse. And he did so with ease last night in a Q&A with The Architect’s Newspaper as part of a Design Trust for Public Space council member drive at the oh-so-private Core Club. The theme was “New York After Bloomberg,” which frankly scares some people, especially architects, as the mayor has been a practically unprecedented supporter of the building arts and enlightened zoning throughout his three-term tenure.
Dilapidated modernism. Chandigarh, the northern Indian city planned and designed by Le Corbusier over 60 years ago, has become the focus of preservation efforts following years of neglect and piecemeal plundering, reports the UK’s Guardian.
Cycle support. Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation, spoke to attendees of the National Bike Summit in DC this week, encouraging them to lobby their congressional reps to take steps to make communities cycle-friendly. Streetsblog notes LaHood’s appearance coincides with the release of the Urban Bikeway Design Guide by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
Pier on the half shell. The Battery Park City Authority has leased the languishing Pier A at the western edge of Battery Park to father-and-son restaurateurs Harry and Peter Poulakakos, who are promising to turn the pier and its landmark 1886 building into an oyster bar-beer garden with one heck of a view. More details in Crain’s NY.
Tonight: Drafted! In New York? Don’t miss AN executive editor Julie Iovine in conversation with Michael Graves, Granger Moorehead, Gisue Hariri and Jeffrey Bernett at 7pm tonight, Thursday, March 10 at the Museum of Arts and Design for Drafted: The Evolving Role of Architects in Furniture Design, part of MAD’s “The Home Front: American Furniture Now” series. Click here for tix.
New zipper benches designed by WXY are in place at Peter Minuit Plaza. The skateboard-proof benches in front of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal got a proper workout yesterday, despite the cold. The sinuous design begins as two benches facing opposite directions before zipping up and melding into one surface offering the sitter a choice of two views.
Morphing benches seem to be making statements in more places than just New York as well. Last week’s AN Fabrikator story spotlighted subway benches in Philly that scrunch up to discourage people from lying down. It would seem that firms are taking on bad behavior by pushing the design envelope.
Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design has always been ambitious about building. But after some pushback, it’s toning things down. Most architecture buffs know about the school’s iconic black steel hillside campus designed by Craig Ellwood, and its equally ambitious downtown campus designed by Daly Genik, located inside a former Douglas Aircraft wind tunnel.
But after its last director, Richard Koshalek, got pushed out largely for his super ambitious $150 million expansion plan, including a $45 million Frank Gehry-designed research center (many thought the school was putting more emphasis on facilities than teaching and students), the school’s new expansion plans, confirmed this week, involve renovations and smaller expansions, not big gestures, reports the Pasadena Star News.