Competing Visions for Chicago, Big and Small

Midwest
Thursday, February 3, 2011
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Two new competitions of note explore possible futures for Chicago‘s public realm. The 2011 Burnham Prize ideas competition sponsored by AIA Chicago and the Chicago Architectural Club calls for new visions for the McCormick Place East building, the 1971 modernist covention center on the lakefront designed by Gene Summers of C.F. Murphy Associates.

The massive, Miesian building has a powerful presence on the lakefront, and a vast column-free interior, but parks advocates have long contended it should be removed. Meanwhile, the building’s owner, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, says it needs $150 million in repairs and is functionally obsolete.

The competition aims to inspire new dialogue around the future of the building and site. The Street Furniture 2011 competition sponsored by Architecture for Humanity‘s Chicago chapter aims for something more universal, new street furniture that could be deployed to activate almost any vacant site.

More info after the jump.

Partying for the World Architectural Festival

East, East Coast
Thursday, February 3, 2011
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Paul Finch welcomes the New York crowd to the launch of World Architecture Festival 2011

The 2011 World Architecture Festival was in town beating the drum for their international competition at the Van Alen Institute last night. Paul Finch, the festival’s program director, was joined by AN Editor-in-Chief William Menking and Van Alen Chair Abbey Hamlin in hosting the star-studded event.

The frigid weather did not deter a distinguished crowd—white maned Richard Meier, red scarved Bernard Tschumi, man of the hour Thomas Leeser, Parks Commish Adrian Benepe—from celebrating what promises to be a hot ticket this November in Barcelona. With his English lilt Finch thanked the crowd for coming and promised his remarks would steer clear of Ricky Gervais territory.

He briefly outlined some of the goals for this year’s program, which included a bigger tent to incorporate interior architecture as well. While no hat was passed, Finch did say that the organization would be happy to take donations in any denomination. Jan Berman of MechoShade promptly offered to make a donation in lira.

Check out a gallery of the festivities after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Distorted, Glaeser, Cincy, Gowanus

Daily Clicks
Thursday, February 3, 2011
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Kyung Woo Han's distorted-room installation, Calibration II (Via Today and Tomorrow)

Kyung Woo Han's distorted-room installation, Calibration II (Via Today and Tomorrow)

Distorted. In a nod to fun-house architecture, artist Kyung Woo Han created a physically-distorted room that’s made to look normal through a fish-eye camera lens. Today and Tomorrow has more photos.

Cities Rule. Economist Ed Glaesar talks with Grist‘s Sarah Goodyear about why cities rule the fate of humanity. He has a new book out called Triumph of the City in which he calls for, among other things, rethinking policies like highway subsidies and the mortgage tax credit.

Districted. Cincinnati is currently rebranding itself, and UrbanCincy suggests the city focus on an emerging core of design called the 8th Street Design District, home to 336 creative professionals including architects and designers.

Superfunded. Everyone knows it’s not a good idea to take a dip in the Gowanus Canal, but just how dirty is the Brooklyn waterway and Superfund site? A new EPA report lets us know and the Brooklyn Paper has the details. In short, its still going to be contaminated, even after the cleanup.

Woods Bagot′s Hong Kong Tower on the Rocks

International
Thursday, February 3, 2011
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Cubus building by Woods Bagot in Hong Kong (Courtesy Woods Bagot)

Cubus building by Woods Bagot in Hong Kong (Courtesy Woods Bagot)

Australian architecture firm Woods Bagot has completed a new tower in Hong Kong inspired by an ice cube.  The aptly named Cubus Tower utilizes angular glass shards and a bright lighting scheme at night to help differentiate itself from the city’s dense collection of high-rises.

Read more after the jump.

Pictorial> Modern Airport in an Ancient Town

International
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
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A new airport by J. Mayer H. in Mestia (Courtesy J. Mayer H. Architects)

A new airport by J. Mayer H. in Mestia (Courtesy J. Mayer H. Architects)

A small, twisting airport in Mestia, a medieval town in the Democratic Republic of Georgia manages to capture the essence of the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s ancient stone defensive towers while still standing on its own as a skyward-reaching modern structure.

More after the jump.

Books, Beautiful Books

Other
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
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Here’s a bandwagon worth jumping on: designers and books. The new website launched yesterday and is dedicated to sharing the reading lists and the commentaries of book-loving architects and designers from all over. Starting with 50 well-known designers naming their favorite books. (Example: High Rise by J.G. Ballard. Why? “I do have a tooth for dystopia and this is a coolly familiar one,” writes Michael Sorkin), it makes for compulsive skimming, and not a little inspiration.  Guess how many architects are Lolita fans?

The site will be updated constantly. Right now, the list is already 677 strong. Additional features include five invited commentators—one each for architecture, product design, fashion, graphics, interior design—describing their must-reads for those in the field. Commentary is encouraged at every turn.  And future pages will establish connections with not only readers but bookstores, too.

A paean to books in print, designerandbooks.com is also an education in what makes the mind of the architect tick.

Filed Under: 

World Trade Weekly: Lunch Break Edition

East, East Coast
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
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[ As the World Trade Center continues its ascent, AN stops by the massive construction site for a weekly update. ]

Lunchtime at the World Trade Center site is a colorful sight even on an overcast and foggy day. Hundreds of construction workers in bright yellow and orange safety vests pour into neighborhood delis and pizza joints, but most crowd into the tiny local gourmet food store, the Amish Market. There, burly gents in hard hats hum to the Nat King Cole soundtrack while choosing prosciutto over pastrami. Make no mistake, these guys know food.

Back at the site, just two bays of the Deutsche Bank remain to tear down, a row of windows appeared on the northwest corner of One World Trade, and the steel mullions for a glass curtain wall began to wrap their way around Snøhetta‘s Museum Pavilion.

A photo tour of the construction site just after the jump.

Turrets, Trumpets, and Baseball Greats

East, East Coast, Newsletter
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
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Addisleigh Park residents clockwise from top: Ella Fitzgerald, Count Bassie, Fats Waller, Milt Hinton, Jackie Robinson and Lena Horne. (Courtesy: NYC LPC, Jazzagemusic.com)

Yesterday morning, after a bevy of Modernist aficionados crowded into the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing room to tout the merits of Bunshaft’s interiors at the  Manufacturers Hanover Trust, the commission turned their focus to two historic African American neighborhoods: Sandy Ground in Staten Island and Addisleigh Park in Queens. The unanimous vote for the landmarks designations passed on the first day of Black History Month.

Read More

Quick Clicks> Piano, Plazas, Babbling, Budget Cuts

Daily Clicks, East Coast
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
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Updated plans for Columbia's Jerome L. Greene Science Center in Manhattanville (Via NY Observer)

Updated plans for Columbia's Jerome L. Greene Science Center in Manhattanville (Via NY Observer)

Manhattanville’s Piano. While tallying who is the biggest landlord in New York (it’s still the church by a hair), The Observer uncovered a few new views of Renzo Piano’s Jerome L. Green Science Center at Columbia’s Manhattanville campus, seen here next to a train viaduct.

Pedestrianizing New York. The remaking of New York’s public spaces continues its forward march. Brownstoner has details on the planned pedestrian plaza on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and StreetsBlog highlights DOT’s plans to create a permanent block-long Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights.

Archi-babble. Witold Rybczynski talkes issue with architecture’s professional jargon in Slate, including a beginner’s guide to commonly used words from assemblage to gesamtkunstwerk. What’s your favorite word from the language of architecture?

Subway Squeeze. We’re not talking about your crowded commute, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to trim $100 million from transit. Transportation Nation and StreetsBlog have the details and implications for getting around New York.

Lighting Inspired By Cronkite

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
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Architects and lighting designers united last week for Spark, an evening sponsored by the Professional Lighting Designers Association (PLDA) and the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, featuring presentations on the theme of “Inspiration” at the V Lounge in Santa Monica. The Pecha Kucha format, in which 10 speakers are allowed to spend only 20 seconds on each of their 20 slides, shed (ahem..) light on lighting, architecture, and the ways they combine to create space. Read More

Unveiled> BIG Designs a Power Plant That Loves You

International
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
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Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhapen (Courtesy BIG)

Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhapen (Courtesy BIG)

Where one architect might see an incinerator, Bjarke Ingels, principal at Dutch firm BIG, envisions a ski slope. Ingels has been fond of the mountain typology and he hasn’t been all that subtle about it, giving projects names like Mountain Dwellings and emblazoning Mount Everest on the side.

In his latest competition-winning proposal for Copenhagen, BIG takes the concept one step further, with a mountain you can actually ski down.

And it blows smoke rings, too!

Quick Clicks> Greenways Coast to Coast

Daily Clicks, East Coast
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
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Planned pedestrian and bike path under the Hells Gate Bridge (Courtesy NYCEDC)

Planned pedestrian and bike path under the Hells Gate Bridge (Courtesy NYCEDC)

Hell’s Gate. Gothamist reports that the NYC Economic Development Corporation is planning to spruce up a trail beneath the Hell’s Gate Bridge railroad trestle on Randall’s Island. The pedestrian and bike path will eventually connect to the South Bronx Greenway.

Portlandia Greenway. A multi-use path planned since 2004 is finally getting underway in Portland, according to Bike Portland. The South Waterfront Greenway Trail might not feature those great archways from the Hell’s Gate Bridge, but it does offer another innovation: separated pedestrian and bike paths.

Biking JFK. Golden Gate Park could be much more bikable this spring. StreetsBlog says a bright green dedicated, bi-directional bike lane is planned along San Francisco’s John F. Kennedy Drive and will eventually connect western neighborhoods with downtown and park attractions.

Have you’re say. The Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and the Regional Plan Association are hosting a visioning workshop for a planned greenway in Red Hook, Brooklyn. You can voice your suggestions for the Columbia Street Waterfront Park tomorrow, February 2 at 6:30PM.

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