DOT Makes It Rain

National
Friday, February 19, 2010
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The DOT awarded the Moynihan Station project $83 million.

On Wednesday, right on deadline, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the winners of its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant winners. Out of 1,400 applications totaling $60 billion in requests, the agency awarded $1.5 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to 51 transportation projects in 41 states. The projects ranged in scale from bike paths to major bridges and freight rail installations and the grants ranged in size from $3 million to $105 million. Priority was given to projects that needed federal funds in order to complete their funding package and to projects that are expected to be completed within three years. In New York, the DOT awarded $83 million to the first phase of Moynihan Station. This bit of good news for the project, which has been mired for years in funding difficulties, was bolstered yesterday when Amtrak reaffirmed its intentions to move its operations into the proposed station.

Rockwell Encore At Oscars

National
Thursday, February 18, 2010
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New York designer David Rockwell has once again been tagged to put together the set for the Oscars, which will take place on March 7 at the Kodak Theater.  Instead of messing with a good thing, he’s once again framing the stage with the Swarovski “Crystal Curtain,” made up of 92,000 crystals hanging in an upside-down crescent shape over the proceedings. This time the crystals (rendering above) will be colored in white, platinum, topaz, and bronze hues (the dominant colors last year were cool blue and white). The set will also include three circular, revolving platforms along with rotating LEDs and metalwork projection screens to keep things moving along at the notoriously slow event (which will have two hosts this year: Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin). “We wanted big, open, crisp environments that would work for comedy. Eventually, that led us to the idea of the set being about immersion in the world of movies. Stylistically, I realized the optimism of modernism in L.A. and the heyday of Hollywood was the perfect way in,” he told the L.A. Times yesterday.

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Concrete Verdict Set in Stone

East
Thursday, February 18, 2010
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Cracked concrete at Yankee Stadium. (New York Times)

The citywide concrete crackdown continued yesterday as jurors delivered a guilty verdict against Testwell Laboratories and its owner, V. Reddy Kancharla, who were accused of falsifying concrete test reports for a range of high-profile projects including Yankee Stadium and the Freedom Tower. The question of whether Kancharla and his company committed the more serious charge of enterprise corruption, which carries a possible prison sentence of 25 years, is still being examined by the jury, according to the Times. Read More

Energy City

National
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
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Last year, the Center for Land Use Interpretation of Culver City, California, exhibited its study of the Texas oil industry: Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry. The centerpiece of the exhibit was a 12-minute “landscan” video of the petrochemical infrastructure along the Houston Ship Channel—refineries, tank farms, pipe lines—the largest such installation in the world. Now, at long last, the CLUI has posted the video online, giving us another breathtaking perspective of this terrifying and beautiful landscape.

Krisel Premier Tomorrow

West
Saturday, February 13, 2010
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Famed California modernist William Krisel is getting his day in the sun tomorrow. A documentary about his life and career, called William Krisel, Architect, is premiering as part of Palm Springs Modernism week at the Camelot Theater.  The 86 minute film, directed by Jake Gorst, tracks, as the above preview suggests, a 60-year career in which Krisel built over 40,000 housing units and countless other buildings. And read our next issue for a Q+A with the designer, in which he talks about his latest ventures, his career, and his very favorite topic: the ailing state of the architecture profession.

Building Traveling Thinking

Midwest
Friday, February 12, 2010
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(images courtesy Kavi Gupta Gallery)

We urbanites have all cursed the slow-moving, camera-toting tourists, snapping photos of the iconic buildings in the cities we hustle through daily. As residents, with the dulling nature of time, our appreciation of these structures is diminished. As tourists, they are like vivid stage-sets captured in our minds, but, like all other memories, they are fleeting. We return home and try to explain them to our friends with words, charades-like gestures, and amateur photographs.  Artist Susan Giles explores these ideas in greater detail with her current exhibition, Buildings and Gestures, currently on display at Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago through March 13. Read More

Salsa in the Square

East, East Coast
Thursday, February 11, 2010
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Things have gotten pretty wild in Times Square, what with the permanent plazas, aquariums, and ice sculptures on the horizon—that last one is going up tonight—so what about a good old fashioned billboard? Well, not exactly old fashioned. In January, Cuban-born street artist Sofia Maldonado took up residency in Times Square’s BLANK SL8 space, where she began work on a clutch of murals that will be installed in the square come march, bringing a bit of graffiti grit back to the area. Our friends at LOOSEWORLD swung by and put together this video of Sofia at work, and there’s another on the way, so stay tuned.

Times Square Fish Tale

East
Thursday, February 11, 2010
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A Toronto-based developer may build a 600,000-gallon aquarium in the base of the FXFowle-designed 11 Times Square. (Courtesy FXFowle)

Did you have a nice time watching Phantom of the Opera? Did you buy all that you could carry from The Disney Store? Have fun strolling down the soon-to-be-redesigned Broadway plazas? Why not pop around the corner and check out a peep show? I’m not talking naked ladies here, I’m talking real live sharks! This isn’t a joke. In the very near future this may be an option. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Jerry Shefsky—a Toronto-based developer—is near to closing a deal with SJP Properties to put a 600,000-gallon aquarium in the base of the company’s brand spanking new 11 Times Square office tower. In addition to the aforementioned sharks, the $100 million project would include tanks featuring rays, penguins, otters, and drier attractions such as a pirate museum. This could even serve as a model for other financially troubled projects in the city. Perhaps turn Stuytown into a zoo? Not that it isn’t one already.

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Another Gehry Ghost

West
Thursday, February 11, 2010
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Burdened by more than $3 million in debt, the Pasadena Playhouse closed its doors on Sunday. The nonprofit company intends to “explore viable options of financial reorganization, including bankruptcy, to determine a responsible solution for its ongoing operations,” according to a statement. While the theater’s fate is resolved, the Mission-style building itself, designed by Elmer Grey (who also designed much of CalTech’s campus) in 1925, will be protected, since it’s a California state landmark and owned by the city of Pasadena. But the situation doesn’t bode well for the two-phase project that Frank Gehry had agreed to undertake for the playhouse pro bono. That work included a renovation of its balcony performance space, the Carrie Hamilton Theater, and the creation of a new 300-400 seat theater across the street. Read More

La Serenissima Strikes Again

International
Thursday, February 11, 2010
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Venice is seeking to rival Milan's annual design fair, the Salone, above.

Is Italy returning to medieval-era warfare between city-states Milan and Venice? AN’s own Julie V. Iovine reports from Milan that Milanese and Lombardy officials are more than a bit miffed that Venice is proposing to start its own design fair in 2011, seeking to steal the spotlight from the nation’s long-established epicenter of design. Read More

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Pecha Kucha Haiti

International
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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(Courtesy Pecha Kucha)

There’s never been a Pecha Kucha in Port-au-Prince before. But on February 20, some 280 cities across the globe that have hosted the 20-seconds-per-20-slides architecture presentation cum party will join together to try and raise $1 million for Architecture for Humanity’s relief efforts in Haiti. As the Pecha Kucha people put it on their site, it only took a matter of seconds for hundreds of thousands of lives to be forever changed. Hopefully, 200,000 design-savy, humanitarian-minded types will get together for a few more seconds in a week-and-a-half and start to put things back in order. Read More

Be My Neighbor

Midwest
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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Charles H. Shaw Technology Learning Center (all images courtesy Chicago Neighborhood Design Awards)

Members of Chicago’s community development world gathered Tuesday evening for the 16th annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA). Established by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation/Chicago, the CNDA recognizes outstanding achievement in neighborhood real estate development and community building. This year, ten honorees were celebrated in a ceremony attended by Mayor Richard M. Daley. The CNDA is the largest awards program of its kind in the country. In addition to the prestige of winning, many of the awards are complemented by a monetary gift. Read the full list and see images of some of the winning projects after the jump. Read More

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