And Then There Were Five

Midwest
Friday, April 9, 2010
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The Arch is isolated from downtown St. Louis.

The competition to improve the grounds and urban connectivity at the St. Louis Arch site has attracted attention from some major talents in architecture, landscape, and engineering. The list of competitors has been trimmed to five: the Michael Van Valkenburgh-led team, the Weiss/Manfredi team, SOM Chicago/Hargreaves/BIG, the Behnisch-led team, and PWP/Foster + Partners/Civitas. The winner will be announced in late September.

Archi-Tron

East, East Coast
Friday, April 9, 2010
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The work of Eitan Grinspun, one of the panelists at Monday's "Post Parametric" event. (Courtesy Eitan Grinspun)

As architecture grows more technical and technologically dependent, it can become harder for designers to navigate the sea of new programs and computer code. Columbia University GSAPP professor David Benjamin is here to help, offering a panel discussion Monday night about the future of computing and design, “Post Parametric 2: Demo.” The program is the second event in a series that brings expert programmers and researchers together, providing a unique opportunity for architects to learn from people outside their profession. “The first event last fall, “Post Parametric 1: Data,” focused on how our new era of massive data might affect computing and design,” Benjamin said in an email. “Monday’s event involves five innovators demonstrating new technologies and speculating on the future directions for computing and design.” Read More

SHoP Floats

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 8, 2010
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SHoP's plans for the South Street Seaport may be back from the dead. (Courtesy SHoP)

One of the many flashy architecture projects believed to have been killed off by the recession was SHoP’s highly impressionistic proposal for the waterfront portion of the South Street Seaport. The bankruptcy of mall owner and would-be developer General Growth Properties seemed to scuttle plans for the sail-and-net-inspired complex, but having emerged from court protection, GGP is evaluating what to do with its remaining properties and it appears SHoP may once again be in the mix. The company is being spun off into two pieces following its bankruptcy, with the one made up of mixed-use and development-worthy projects getting a $6.55 billion infusion from three outside investors. It remains up to this new person what to do with the Seaport, but a GGP spokesperson tells Downtown Express, “Presumably the new company would continue to pursue the highest, best use of that property, which we felt was the proposal we put out.” Should the project return, there is still the issue of appeasing the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which saw it as more barnacle than beautiful.

CHA Wrecking Ball Returns

Midwest
Thursday, April 8, 2010
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The Harold Ickes Homes as reconceived by Destefano + Partners

The last five families were moved out of the Harold Ickes Homes at the end of March, one of the latest clusters of high rise public housing the city is clearing as a part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s “Plan for Transformation.” Dozens of highrise towers have been demolished across the across the city, opening vast tracts of land for mixed-income and in some cases mixed-used development. While few would dispute that the large-scale warehousing of the poor in these projects helped to create major urban problems, the nearly total erasure of these areas seems as blunt as the urban renewal tactics through which they were originally built. Read More

USC Says Fickett

West
Thursday, April 8, 2010
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A California home designed by Edward Fickett, circa 1966.

If you want to understand just how under-appreciated California architect Edward Fickett is just try finding a picture of any of his work online, and then compare that task with finding something by his contemporaries Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler. Fickett, who died in 1999 at the age of 83, was no slouch. To name a few of his accomplishments, he designed the passenger and cargo terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, Edward Air Force Base, Dodger Stadium, a bevy of hotels and restaurants, mansions for hollywood stars, and some 60,000 light and airy tract homes known as the “Fickett Houses.” Read More

Pixellating New York

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 8, 2010
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A reader sent us this pretty awesome video of old arcade games taking over the city. Still can’t decide whether our favorite part is the Art Deco Tetris or Block Breaker Bridge. Even if that bomb would render us all in 8-bits, it should be a fun existence while it lasts. 1-UP!

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Supporting Supportive Housing

West
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
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Lorcan O'Herlihy's supportive housing project with Skid Row, in downtown LA (Courtesy Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects)

Los Angeles’ Permanent Supportive Housing program got a much-needed emergency shot of funds this week: a $5.2 million pledge from the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Though Los Angeles has more homeless people than any other city in the US, only in the last few years has it begun to catch up with other cities’ level of services. 2005 saw a city-wide push to build supportive housing, a model borrowed from New York that combines affordable housing with services to help residents deal with mental illness, drug abuse, and disabilities.

Top architecture firms helped fill out the new supportive housing landscape, with innovative projects such as Michael Maltzan’s 95-unit, radially-arranged New Carver Apartments, Pugh + Scarpa’s 46-unit Step Up on Fifth facility in Santa Monica, and Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects’ 82-unit Skid Row Housing in downtown Los Angeles.

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Raimund Abraham, Real & Imagined

International
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
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The work of Raimund Abraham. CLICK TO LAUNCH SLIDESHOW

In the latest issue of the paper, Lebbeus Woods pays tribute to his friend and colleague Raimund Abraham, who died last month. Here, we gather together a survey of the visionary architect’s work, both built and—perhaps more importantly—unbuilt, for as Woods recounts of Abraham, “Building, he believed, necessarily violates nature’s wholeness, and must be done with a full awareness of consequences.” Click the image above of Abraham’s best known building, the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, to begin the slideshow. (Special thanks to Stefan Heßling for generously sharing his images of Abraham’s musikstudio in Germany.)

You can also watch Abraham’s last lecture, delivered at SCI-Arc the night of March 3. He died in a car accident on his way home.

LA Stars Are Born

West
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
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Emergent's proposed Garak Fish Market in Korea

Even though we already knew who had won ahead of time, we couldn’t help getting excited about  AIA/LA’s ARCH IS__ awards, crowning “two exceptional young architects” at SCI-Arc on Monday night. The winners: Oyler Wu Collaborative and Tom Wiscombe/ Emergent. Both are pushing the envelope in terms of design, materials, engineering, and program, and are even starting to (slowly) build things. Read More

The Great Architect

International
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
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Where's the T-square?

A new book argues that Jesus was not the son of a humble carpenter after all, but instead, of a well-respected architect. “The Jesus Discovery,” written by Dr. Adam Bradford and published by Christian UK publishing company Templehouse, revisits the New Testament in its original Greek and concludes that Joseph’s profession has suffered from a mistranslation for the past two millennia.

Read More

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The Public-Private Pit

East, East Coast
Monday, April 5, 2010
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If you build it... Well, will ya? (D-Box/Courtesy Silverstein Properties)

The most recent deal to get the final pieces of the World Trade Center site off the ground was supposed to be, or so the players involved made it seem, the final one. No more handouts, no more delays. But as our colleague Eliot Brown over at the Observer points out, this is far from the first deal that has been brokered between the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties. It is in fact the fourth, and it quite possibly has brought the public’s total investment in the private portion of the site—to say nothing of such public expenditures as the $3.2 billion (formerly $2 billion) PATH station—to possibly $2 billion. “While the ultimate public tab may never come to be that high, what is clear is that the amount of public assistance for what is now to be two private World Trade Center towers with 4 million square feet is exceptional, and far more than ever advertised or anticipated when the rebuilding plan was sold to the public,” Brown writes. Read More

Detroit Harkens

Midwest
Monday, April 5, 2010
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Detroit's "grand past." CLICK TO ZOOM (Courtesy Raymond Cekauskas)

Last week, we reported on a new, rather unprecedented plan by new-ish Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to condense the city to fit its current population, which is half what it was six decades ago. Among the people we interviewed was local AIA President Raymond Cekauskas, a huge Detroit booster who sent along the picture above, a reminder of the city’s “grand past,” as Cekauskas put it. But it is also a fitting image of what the city could very well become under Bing’s plan, still in its chrysalis—a little smaller, tightly knit, transit-oriented (yes, transit is coming to the Motor City), in a word, homey, which we mean in a good way. Just look at all the gorgeous homes wanting for salvation. Meanwhile, a Tufts professor looks to Flint and Youngstown for similar shrinking models, though by no means on the same scale. Welcome to the Brave New Midwest.

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