Bucky Comes to Town

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 22, 2010
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The Union Tank Car Dome stood 384 feet wide, the largest structure of its kind when it was completed. (Courtesy theWarrenReport.com)

If you couldn’t make it down to D.C. last month for the Environmental Film Fest, it’s still not too late to catch one of the entries, A Necessary Ruin. The movie tells the story of the untimely destruction of Buckminster Fuller’s Union Tank Car Dome, a piece of railroad infrastructure that was the largest clear-span structure when it was completed in 1958 before being summarily destroyed three years ago. Its epic story will be told tomorrow night next Friday at the Center for Architecture, followed by a lively discussion with Jonathan Marvel, all part of the current show, Modernism at Risk. You can watch the trailer after the jump. Read More

Lean and Green

East, East Coast
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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New York continues to "go green." (Courtesy Rickshaw Diaries)

Vice President Joe Biden announced nearly half-a-billion dollars in stimulus funding today to promote green retrofits nationwide, and the biggest winner, according to a Bloomberg administration release, is New York State, which took home $40 million of the $452 million pot. The money will go to two programs, the PACE loan program and Green Jobs-Green New York. The former provides low- or no-interest loans to property owners who buy energy efficient building materials, including insulation, solar panels, and geo-thermal systems, which are then paid back through taxes and utility payments, though the retrofits average out to 20 to 30 percent on energy usage over the life of the product. And Green Jobs-Green New York provides funding to launch training programs so there are capable workers who can build, install, and maintain this new wave of high-tech devices.

Plug-In City Lives!

International
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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Live at last: the Archigram archive.

Dennis Crompton and Michael Webb plugged into the London launch of the Archigram website on Monday from New York City via a Skype connection to Westminster University. The two Archigrammers were meant to be present at the launch, but the Eyjafjallajökull volcano grounded their planes and kept them from joining Peter Cook and David Greene, who was scheduled to be at the event. So Crompton walked the assembled Londoners through the website from his Skype-enabled computer screen in Lower Manhattan. Read More

Philip Johnson Rises from Grave, Heads to Post Office

Midwest
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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(courtesy witchking.us)

Developer Bill Davies has engaged Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects to investigate possibilites for the Old Main Post Office Building on West Van Buren, according to a report in the Sun-Times. Davies aquired the massive structure from the city at auction, and speculation has been rife as to what could be done with the building, which is built over several north/south rail lines. Ritchie declined elaborate on the plans. In addition to the future of the Post Office, we were left wondering how long Johnson’s name will remain attached to the firm. He passed away in 2005.

He Fought the Good Fight

East, East Coast
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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Daniel Goldstein, DDDB spokesman and spiritual leader, at a press conference in front of Freddy's last November. (threecee/Flickr)

It appears this is the end of one of the greatest real estate battles since Jane Jacobs took on Robert Moses. But just as Penn Station was demolished and replaced by Madison Square Garden, Daniel Goldstein’s apartment building will soon go, replaced by the Barclays Center. We just received an unusual release from Forest City Ratner saying simply that the company “today reached an agreement with the remaining resident residing in the project’s footprint” and would not comment further. Goldstein’s name was not even mentioned, and while we’re waiting to hear back ourselves, the Times confirms it, along with the rather astounding fact that he was paid $3 million for his condo. The unit was originally bought in 2003 for $590,000, though the state notoriously offered only $510,000 last year, citing neighborhood blight. This comes on the heels of news yesterday that deals had been struck with the remaining 7 holdouts, including Freddy’s Bar, which now hopes to move to somewhere near 4th and Union avenues, not too far from its current home.

Berkeley Art Museum: Yet More Contenders

West
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
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The future home of the Berkeley Art Museum. Courtesy Google Maps

Update (4/21/10): Three more firms have been confirmed: Snohetta, Rafael Viñoly, and L.A.’s Frederick Fisher. This is shaping up to be a pretty diverse crew.

The SF Chronicle reports that the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive has sent out letters to ten architecture firms, asking them to submit qualifications to design their new home.  Adding to the three that have already been sussed out (Bernard Tschumi, Tod Williams Billie Tsien, and Will Bruder), we have confirmed a fourth: Ann Beha, whose Currier Museum of Art in New Hampshire has been well-received. Read More

California Photovoltaism

West
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
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A concept drawing of SCI-Arc/Caltech's CH:IP solar house, which will enter into the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC..

A band of students from SCI-Arc and Caltech have been selected to compete in the DOE’s Solar Decathlon, to be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 2011. The team will go head to head with 20 other student groups from all over the world—including Canada, Belgium, China, and New Zeland—to determine once and for all, or at least for the next two years, who can build the most livable and sustainable sun-powered residence of 500 square feet or less. Read More

Duke Is Out

Midwest
Monday, April 19, 2010
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(Courtesy SAIC)

Wellington “Duke” Reiter, the president of the School of the Art Institute, has announced he is stepping down and returning to Phoenix, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Reiter, an architect and former Dean of the College of Design at Arizona State University, arrived at SAIC in 2008. In his brief presidency, he oversaw the opening of the new Sullivan Center Galleries in the old Carson Pirie Scott building as well as curricular reorganization in a sluggish economy. In an email to students and faculty Reiter said he wanted to return to his practice: “I have decided to return to my ongoing work linking the fields of art, design and sustainable urbanism. These issues have always been my passion and I look forward to devoting my full attention to the creation of sustainable city models on a global basis.”

Spaceship, Sans Scaffolding

West
Monday, April 19, 2010
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The NY Times this weekend reported on the status of one of our favorite LA structures: LAX’s UFO-like Theme Building. It looks like the ugly scaffolding which has adorned the parabolic edifice for the past couple of years is finally  down, and the structural retrofit of the building (originally designed in 1961 by Paul Williams and Pereira & Luckman) is just about finished. The building underwent the procedure after a  1,000-pound chunk fell off one of the upper arches and landed on the roof of a restaurant. In addition to a sparkling new paint job, the Theme is now reinforced with a 1.2 million-pound tuned mass damper that sits on flexible bearings. The $12.3 million project was completed by Gin Wong Associates architects and Tower General Contractors. For those interested in unique LA experiences we recommend checking out the observation deck and the Encounter restaurant.

Brits Get Chummy in San Francisco

West
Monday, April 19, 2010
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RIBA launches chapter in San Francisco.

After the way Sir Norman Foster was ousted from a project  in San Francisco recently, we wondered whether there would be some mutterings at the kick-off party for the new chapter of the Royal Institute of British Architects (which is the sixth US chapter–there is also one in L.A.).   Read More

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Call to Arms!

East
Monday, April 19, 2010
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The massive Remington Arms complex in Bridgeport, Connecticut is slated for demolition.

The Remington Arms factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut is a spectacular 1.5 million-square-foot structure of 13 interconnected buildings stretching over 76 acres. Now its future is imperiled. Long a monument on the city’s East Side, it was originally built by the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Company beginning in 1915 to fill an order for one million rifles and 100 million rounds of ammunition to supply czarist Russian armies. Later, the building turned out bayonets, Colt automatic pistols, Browning Machine Guns, and automatic rifles. In 1920, General Electric purchased the property, and produced thousands of small kitchen appliances in the plant, but GE slowly pulled manufacturing from the building, and closed it entirely in 2007. The company claims to have looked for development opportunities for the shuttered factory, but concluded that it is “functionally obsolete (and) inappropriate for modern uses.” Now GE plans to demolish the structure, leaving a huge vacant property in Bridgeport—a city that can ill afford more dereliction. Read More

Mainstreaming Modernist Landmarks

East, East Coast
Friday, April 16, 2010
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The Spring Mills Building in 1963, the year of its completion. (Courtesy Abramowitz, Kingsland & Schiff)

On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission named the former Spring Mills headquarters at 104 West 40th Street the newest New York City landmark—arguably the most important designation of the year so far. What makes Spring Mills so special is, well, that it’s not exactly special. Unlike notable predecessors—Lever House, the Guggenheim, the Ford Foundation—Spring Mills was preserved less for its architectural pedigree than its historical significance. Designed by skyscraper savants Harrison & Abramowitz, and completed in 1963, it is less the 21 stories of green glass on a slender facade that sets this building apart—though that is important, too—than its serving as a marker for the 1960s arrival of the Garment District in Midtown from its former Tribeca home. This makes Spring Mills more in line with, say, West-Park Presbyterian Church, a cultural and community icon, than Chase Manhattan Plaza, an architectural standout for being the first of its kind downtown. In other words, modernist landmarks have reached a point where they are akin to their brick-and-mortar predecessors, becoming simply another architectural style or era to be grappled with on its own merits. Read More

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