Lost in Penn Station

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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Moynihan Station is meant to adress the deplorable architecture of Penn Station, but its greatest fix could be to the confusing signage. (Courtesy NYMag)

With any luck, Moynihan Station will finally get off the ground thanks to last’s months grant of $83 million in stimulus funds. Having gone through what seems like dozens of iterations, it’s unclear exactly what shape the new station will take, but we do have one piece of advice for whatever cabal of designers takes up the massive project: Don’t forget the signs. While no hardened New Yorker would admit to getting lost in Penn’s warren of tunnels and concourses, Slate‘s Julia Turner uses the underground mess as Exhibit-A of bad signage for her series running this week and next about just how important wayfinding is in our increasingly confusing world. As Turner puts it, signage is “is the most useful thing we pay no attention to.” Read More

Carnegie Turns the Page

East
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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The St. Agnes branch has gotten a model makeover. (Photographs by Elizabeth Felicella)

At the turn of the last century, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie offered grants for 67 library branches in New York City, a boon for book-lovers across the five boroughs. More than a century later, however, many of these aging buildings are more than a little dog-eared, and the New York Public Library has been working to reclaim them as bright community hubs. The latest of these spaces to be revived, the St. Agnes Library on the Upper West Side, is back in shape after a two-year, $9.5 million restoration that library officials see as a model for the system’s Carnegie legacy. Originally designed by the New York firm Babb, Cook and Willard, the 1906 building had suffered typical alterations: Dropped ceilings occluded architectural details, and skylights were covered over, dimming interior reading rooms. Read More

Highway to Isolation

Midwest
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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David Sunberg/Esto

Multidisciplinary teams are working to rethink the grounds surrounding the Eero Saarinen-designed Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the St. Louis Arch, to improve its connectivity with the city and the riverfront. An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is calling on the teams to substantially rework I-70, which creates a barrier along the park’s western edge. Read More

Alessandro Magris, 1941-2010

International
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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Superstudio's Alessandro Magris is pictured fourth from the left.

Peter Lang called this morning with the sad news that Superstudio member Alessandro Magris has died in Florence, Italy. Born in 1941, Magris joined the group in 1970 after graduating from the University of Florence, and was responsible for the general organization of the Superstudio office. He continued a practice long after the demise of Superstudio, specializing in the restoration of historical monuments and residential and commercial renovations. He is the brother of Roberto Magris, also a member of Superstudio, who died in 2003.

Fresh Look at Fresh Kills

East, East Coast
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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Fresh Kills Park takes shape, as mounds of capped gardbage are transformed into rolling hills. CLICK TO ZOOM (Courtesy NYC Parks&Rec)

It will be decades before the 2,200-acre Fresh Kills Park will be totally completed in Staten Island, making it the second largest in the city after Pelham Bay Park and almost three times as large Central Park. Some time next year, limited sections of the park are expected to open to the public, but for those who can’t wait, the city’s Parks Department is guiding private tours through the Field Operations-designed landscape starting next month. Uh, make that May—even though the tours were just announced yesterday, they’re filling up so fast that all the April spots are already taken. The tour season runs through November and will afford visitors breathtaking views of the city and what was once the world’s largest landfill. To sign up, visit the park’s website or—what else—call 311. Should you fail to make it out for a tour, you’ll find a small one after the jump. Read More

Canapes Chez Judd

East
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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Judd's loft at 101 Spring Street. (Courtesy The Judd Foundation)

It may be the original glass house in New York. Many years before Richard Meier’s Perry Street glass towers opened up domestic rituals to the public’s gaze, Donald Judd was living and working in one of the finest cast-iron buildings in Soho. The huge windows opened up his minimalist aesthetic to the public beginning in 1968, when he purchased the building and practically defined the “loft” look of New York for the public. Now openhousenewyork is offering a rare visit for a small group on March 11, with a tour of the building and meal catered by Christina Wang of the French Culinary Institute featuring “Swedish and Mexican” hors d’oeurves—Judd’s favorite. To reserve your place, contact OHNY.

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Times Square Paint Job

East, East Coast
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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Some people have complained (us included) that while Transporation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has done a wonderful job carving pedestrian space out of the streets and parking lots of the city, they could stand to be better designed, more aesthetically pleasing spaces. Nowhere was this more true than in Times Square, where, when the Crossroads of the World were shut down last summer, traffic cones and beach chairs proliferated. Three weeks ago, when Sadik-Khan and the mayor announced they were making the Broadway closures permanent, better designs were promised. Sort of. As Sadik-Khan put it back then:

It can be very simple. I’ve seen amazing things done in the Netherlands with nothing but polka dots. And we did a lot already with nothing more than epoxy gravel.

Read More

Gateway Of India

International, Other
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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Built in 1911 to commemorate a visit from King George V and Queen Mary, Mumbai's Gateway of India is now welcoming a wealth of American architectural talent.

The past ten years have seen an impressive amount of economic growth and infrastructural development in India, and the nation is becoming more and more a well established market for American architectural talent. This trend doesn’t seem to be changing as we embark on a new decade. One sign of that is the September 2009 opening of an office in Mumbai by structural engineering firm Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA). Founded in 1923 in New York City, LERA has contributed its services to many of the city’s iconic structures (such as the World Trade Center) and has designed buildings all around the world, but this will be its first foreign office. A release by the firm cited a “growing workload” and the need to “facilitate client relations” as key reasons for the opening. LERA will join a number of other American architecture firms that have recently opened branches in the subcontinent, including HOK and Perkins Eastman. See some of the projects LERA has worked on after the jump.

Read More

Gowanus: Sunk or Saved?

East
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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The shores of the Gowanus are, for better or worse, likely to remain undeveloped for years to come (sahocevar/Flickr)

The Environmental Protection Agency balked at the Bloomberg administration’s controversial proposal to clean up the Gowanus Canal, favoring its own Superfund program in an announcement today, as had been expected. In a statement, regional administrator Judith Enck said  that, after much consultation with concerned parties, the EPA “determined that a Superfund designation is the best path to a cleanup of this heavily contaminated and long neglected urban waterway.” The Bloomberg administration opposed the designation for fear it would stigmatize the waterway and drive off developers who were planning projects on the polluted canal’s shores. Read More

OMD in Joshua Tree

West
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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Jennifer Siegal’s Prefab Showhouse has been sitting on Venice’s Abbott Kinney Blvd since 2006, giving clients a preview of what they can get if they invest in a work by her firm, OMD (Office of Mobile Design). Well it’s no longer there. It was recently transported via semi and (once in the desert) robotic tank (yes, robotic tank) to Joshua Tree, where it has found its place as an off-the-grid guest residence for  film producer Chris Hanley. The 720 square-foot steel frame structure, with a high sloping ceiling and a steel support chassis, uses solar panels for electricity and also has tankless water heaters, radiant heat ceiling panels, and translucent polycarbonate glazing. It’s not too far from one of our favorite desert houses, Taalmankoch’s iT House, in what is becoming a precious little off-the-grid architecture community. Oh, and if you go, make sure to check out one of our favorite bars in the world, Pioneertown’s Pappy and Harriet’s. Read More

CUP Tools Up

East
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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A Makita for affordable housing. (Courtesy CUP)

Two years ago, the Brooklyn-based Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) asked housing advocates and community groups what educational tools they needed the most. The topic of affordable housing was at the top of the list, so designers set to work devising a handy way to help New Yorkers comprehend the much-debated subject. “Affordable housing is a term that has been thrown around for a long time,” said CUP staff member John Mangin. “A lot of people are suspicious of it, it is complicated, and the technical meaning behind it is not always apparent when you hear the word.” Read More

The Calligraphic City

East
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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Anthony Candido's Study for a Cable City (2009).

When I first encountered the work of the architect and painter Anthony Candido, it was moving—or rather, the dancers whose costumes he had splashed with black paint were moving across the floor in a work choreographed by Nancy Meehan. The irregular black strokes and drips seemed to both follow and impel the dancer’s movement, melding abstract thought and nature through gesture. Candido’s current exhibition, The Great White Whale Is Black at Cooper Union in New York, more than fulfills the promise of the costume designs, for it offers a rich body of work spanning five decades of an extraordinary career. Read More

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