The Las Vegas Sun reports that, in spite of some hold ups with environmental approvals, work is expected to begin this year on the $4 billion DesertXpress, a high-speed rail link between Vegas and Victorville, California. Construction on the 185-mile project, which involves two parallel, at-grade tracks through the Mojave Desert, mostly along the I-15 corridor, should take four years. Service is scheduled to being in late 2014. Aecom and Stantec have both been involved in the project thus far, along with a slew of engineering companies. The decision to begin/end the line at Victorville has raised some eyebrows. There are advocates who are pushing for an extension to Palmdale—the site of a future high-speed rail link to Union Station—allowing non-stop rail service from downtown LA to Vegas. DesertXpress chose the Victorville terminus because it is the first major population center west of the Cajon Pass, easily accessible to millions of people in the Inland Empire, and could be paid for without recourse to public tax dollars. To date, the project has been entirely privately funded, though it could be eligible for Federal Stimulus money in the future.
The suburbs are in a sorry state—rampant foreclosures, derelict downtowns, and anyone under 35 fleeing for their lives. But as we’ve reported in a look at Long Island, the burbs are now seeing the stirrings of a smart-growth insurrection as town officials try to find a sustainable way to the future. Helping lead the charge, the Long Island Index is today announcing the launch of Build a Better Burb, an open ideas competition to rethink what the suburbs can be. They want us to dream big—and they’re dangling $22,500 in prizes for the boldest solutions for retrofitting Long Island’s acres of “underperforming asphalt.” Read More
Since the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, a lot of attention has been focused on the preparedness of the United States to absorb such massive tremors. Nowhere is this more true than in California, the state that is perhaps the most poised in the country to deal with such disasters, as well as the most prone to suffer them. A recent report last week from California Watch—a consortium of investigative journalists who relish tackling the tough issues—found that the state’s public universities have been particularly remiss in earthquake-proofing their facilities. The report identified 108 buildings owned by state universities that engineers say would suffer serious structural damage in the event of a major quake. UC Berkeley topped this list with 71 occupied buildings that failed to make the grade. California is expected to feel one or more magnitude 7.5 or greater earthquakes in the next 30 years.
Starting today, New York’s Flatiron District will host British artist Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon, a temporary installation of 31 life-size human figures. The nude figures, modeled after the artist, will be situated at ground level, on rooftops, and even as high as 57 stories. The installation, sponsored by the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art., is the group’s first project to extend beyond the boundaries of Madison Square Park. Read More
Ok, we promise this is our last link to AN contributor Alissa Walker’s Fast Company posts for a while. But this one is definitely worth it. The other day she focused on a subject we’ve been pondering for a long time: how despite their design expertise, most architects’ sites aren’t very good. Many, she points out, overuse gimmicks and make finding information and projects way too difficult. Sites for Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas’ OMA, she says, are all completely Flash-reliant (a no-no in the new i-Phone, i-Pad world) and “use label-less maps, wordless grids, sketches and other graphic devices with rollovers as navigation, with no easy way to locate or share projects.” One site that we at AN find particularly confusing is that of Lorcan O’Herlihy (one of our favorite architects, by the way), which puts projects into a grid that resembles the Periodic Table of the elements. Sure, it looks great, but.. Well, you get the idea.
Just in time for the beginning of the 2010 season, Major League Baseball has spiffed up and expanded its headquarters and the office of its commissioner at 245 Park Ave. Conducted by Butler Rogers Baskett Architects (BBB) and exhibit design firm C&G Partners, the redesign included the addition of a 24,000-square-foot conference center on a full new floor. Aside from bringing the HQ into the 21st century with up-to-date teleconferencing equipment, the designers went out of their way to make every surface in the place scream baseball.
Fresh from landing the commission for the Serpentine Gallery’s annual summer pavilion in London, French architect Jean Nouvel was in New York yesterday for the official unveiling of the new National Museum in Doha, Qatar. Designed as a ring of low-lying, interlocking pavilions encircling a large courtyard, the 430,000-square-foot structure is created from sand-colored disks that define floors, walls, and roofs, almost as if growing out of the desert landscape. Read More