Morris Lapidus’ Fontainebleau in Miami is one of the most recognizable hotels in the United States, thanks in no small part to its frequent appearances in television shows and films, perhaps most notably and intimately in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger. A recent two-year revitalization has brought the old bastion of luxury and class—which had begun to show its wear—back to prime condition. More than just polish up the surfaces, the effort included the addition of a free-standing spa. The designers, Dallas-based architectural firm HKS, selected a blue tinted glass for the spa’s curtain wall. In addition to referencing the adjacent pool’s azure complexion, the glass (1 5/16-inch thick Viracon laminated units with a Vanceva Storm interlayer) meets Miami’s strict large missile impact and hurricane codes. Goldfinger would be proud.
The governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin today pledged to work together to implement a high-speed rail network centered in Chicago. In recent months, Vice President Biden and Transportation Secretary LaHood have urged such coordinated action, as the region competes against other parts of the country, especially the East and West coasts, for federal funds. The first legs of the system would connect Chicago to St. Louis, Detroit/Pontiac, and Milwaukee/Madison. If all goes according to plan, those first segments could be open in three to five years.
The demolition of the Michael Reese hospital campus in Chicago, partially designed by Walter Gropius, has been put on hold until after October 2, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the host city for the 2016 Games. Preservation groups are pushing for adaptive reuse of some of the buildings, but the city is determined to clear the site for either an Olympic Village or for private development. The delay, then, probably does not signal a victory for preservationists. It is more likely a calculated move on the part of the city and Chicago 2016 to quiet opposition until after the IOC makes its decision.
It was only a matter of time, perhaps, before Bangkok boasted it was going to erect the tallest tower in the land. And where there’s bravado, there’s often the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). This fall construction is to begin on MahaNakhon, a 77-story, 1.6 million-square-foot tower, designed by OMA partner Ole Scheeren. Read More
The excitement over the annual Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens often has more to do with the modish names that are commissioned than the quality of their designs. But after last year’s ponderously wooden effort from Frank Gehry, the Serpentine has struck lucky this summer with an elegant pavilion by SANAA. Read More
After the recent mixed reviews of his KPF-designed Boston Arch project, local developer Don Chiofaro has been told within the last few days by both state and city officials that his proposal is considerably too large and may take years of regulatory review and planning to get off the ground. No worry, as the infamously forthright developer has taken his project to the people, counting on concerts and blaring signs like the one above to show that it is the mayor and the BRA that are bullying his grand vision and not the other way around.
Architectural documentaries are all the rage these days, from Louis Kahn to Frank Gehry and, most recently and sadly, Julius Shulman. Now comes another, Snakebit about Rural Studio and its inimitable founder Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee, that, like its predecessors, seems unexpectedly moving, even for architecture buffs. Read More
Today Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, and Justin Timberlake came out for the opening of Michael Rotondi’s new Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Hollywood, right next to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Ok, it was their wax likenesses, but the way they mingled with the waxy Hollywood crowd, it was often hard to tell the difference. The building, originally designed on spec, has an impressive folded zinc facade that wraps around an irregular courtyard; another needed public space in a place with so few of them (one of the best ones is right next door in front of the Chinese Theater). Our next issue will feature a full critique of the building, so make sure to check it out. Here are some teaser pix to get you interested. None of the celebrities are real. Or are they? Read More
Rafael Vinoly recently completed a new addition and renovation at the Cleveland Museum of Art, a major encyclopedic collection set in the city’s leafy University Circle area, which includes Case Western Reserve University and cultural institutions like the famed Cleveland Orchestra. The campus includes a 1916 Beaux Arts building and a Marcel Breuer-designed addition from 1971. Vinoly reportedly worked closely with the museum’s then director Timothy Rub, and critics have praised the addition’s galleries and the improved circulation throughout the complex.
Former LA City Councilman and current LA City Planning Commissioner Michael Woo has been named dean of Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Environmental Design. Since joining the commission in 2005, Woo has been involved in a number of its most high-profile initiatives. He helped launch a moratorium on new billboards and opened a review of the health effects of polluted air in residential developments near freeways. He also helped draft the city’s “Do Real Planning” principles, adopted in 2006, which call for more affordable housing and jobs near mass transit, improving the city’s aesthetics, reducing visual blight, and improving walkability. He served on the LA City Council from 1985 to 1993 before leaving to run for mayor (he lost). Cal Poly’s College of Environmental Design combines the school’s departments of architecture, art, landscape architecture, and urban and regional urban planning. Woo’s appointment begins on July 30.