New Routes for High Speed Rail Funds

Midwest
Thursday, December 9, 2010
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It’s hard to imagine turning down $1.2 billion. That is, unless you’re the governors-elect of Wisconsin and Ohio. The New York Times reported today that those two states officially withdrew claim to their shares of federal stimulus money awarded for construction of new rail corridors, citing concerns over subsidies needed to run the trains. Instead the money will be redirected to 13 other states. Ironically, both Wisconsin and Ohio had lobbied aggressively for big hunks of the $8 billion set aside for high-speed rail development in Obama’s stimulus package. Things changed when Republicans won both governorships, partly on the platform of denying the stimulus awards. Read More

Rolling on the High Line

East, Other
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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View of the High Line lawn from HL23. (Image: Diana Darling)

 

We were scouting cool party spaces recently and caught this view from the 9th floor of Neil Denari’s HL23 on the High Line. Lower floors of the 14-story condo, now nearing completion, are going to feel pretty vulnerable to nose-pressers strolling up the rail-bed park who will be just feet away from their living room glass walls. But on the upper floors, views of the length of High Line will unfurl as alluringly as the Yellow Brick Road. Right now, it’s possible to make out the stretch of emerald lawn section at 23rd Street, waiting for its sunbathers.

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Deck the Tiny Walls

Midwest
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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English drawing room from the Victorian period, 1840-1870. (All photos courtesy Art Institute of Chicago).

Many museums have of period rooms in their holdings, but the Art Institute of Chicago also has an impressive collection of 68 miniature period spaces. Rather than treat these dollhouse-sized objects as sacred or static, the museum has decorated six of them for the holidays with historically and culturally appropriate trimmings. The English Victorian drawing room is the only one that includes a Christmas tree. Take a look at some of the rooms and details from Tudor to Modern spaces.
Seriously cute stuff inside.

The Other Side of Ellis Island

East
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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photo by Alyssa Nordhauser

Most visitors to Ellis Island only get to see the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. I was fortunate enough to go on a hard hat tour of the island’s south side, which is not open to the public, and explore newly stabilized structures including the new (‘new’ as of 1934) ferry building and part of the old South Side Hospital Complex.

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Hangar Selected for Intrepid

East
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
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The Intrepid's winning hangar design by students from New York Institute of Technology.

December 7, 2010, a day that will live in memory, as opposed to infamy, for winners from New York Institute of Technology’s (NYIT) Student Design Competition held at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Students were charged with creating a sustainable airplane hangar on the deck of the floating museum for under $1 million. Chosen among the six finalists, Team Alphabet Soup walked away with the $3,000 prize by incorporating renewable energy into the design and developing a educational environment for museum visitors.

Read more after the jump.

New Eagle Rock Arts Hub Opening In Style

West
Monday, December 6, 2010
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Workers put the finishing touches on Live Arts LA

This Saturday night LA’s newest arts center will be opening its doors for a sneak peek: Live Arts LA, a 5,000 square foot space for theater, dance, and the visual arts is built into a former warehouse in Eagle Rock/Glassell Park (our favorite up-and coming hipster neighborhoods). The cavernous open span building was renovated entirely out of repurposed materials by a team led by Hollywood set builder Daryl Lee. Saturday’s event will be a fundraiser for performance troupe Whiskey Carousel, a sassy cast of characters that performs a combination of vaudeville, cabaret, and burlesque. The night will also have performances by other dance groups as well as live music and art installations; including a piece by LA architects Layer, called Squid Capsule, a collection of transparent vinyl membranes hanging from steel cables that you may have seen installed at the Silver Lake gallery Materials & Applications. Live Arts LA will officially open later this month, offering everything from Afro-Caribbean dance classes to rehearsal rooms. Buy tickets to the event here, and get a preview below. Read More

The Reign of TV in Spain

International
Monday, December 6, 2010
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Detail from "Receiver to Remote control... channeling Spain 2010."(Courtesy Lisbeth Salas)

A recent trip to Barcelona for the World Architecture Festival (WAF) made clear to me just how well the nations of the European Union do at updating their historic centers. American tourists, of course, go to places like Spain to see medieval or Renaissance urbanism not contemporary cities. And that’s a shame because we could learn a great deal about how to build today and add intelligently to our own 19th and 20th century cities.

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LA Planning Director Keeping His Eyes On The Street

West
Friday, December 3, 2010
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LA Planning Director Michael LoGrande (standing in front of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa)

Rethinking the streetscape will be the priority at the Los Angeles Planning Department, revealed newly appointed Planning Director Michael LoGrande in a conversation with LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. “We’re getting people out of their cars and thinking differently about transit,” said LoGrande, who chatted with Hawthorne on Wednesday night at Occidental College.

Confirmed August 4 after the resignation of his predecessor, Gail Goldberg, LoGrande has faced significant staff and budget cuts, which he’s responded to by re-focusing long-term planning on transit projects rather than just catering to a constant stream of ad hoc requests.

Read More

Friday Video: Little Plane Flies Through Big City

East
Friday, December 3, 2010
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It’s Friday afternoon, so why not take a joy ride through the skies of New York?  Gothamist uncovered this amazing video of a homemade RC airplane with a video camera attached to its nose making its way among the skyscrapers and bridges of New York.  Makes for some pretty amazing footage!

Models of Freedom: Architectural Model-Maker Featured on Television

East
Friday, December 3, 2010
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Models by Radii Inc. were the focus of a Fox News feature last night. (Photo: Photo Jock Pottle)

Fox News featured Ed Wood and Leszek Stefanski of Radii Inc. last night, giving viewers a behind the scenes glance at a craft little known outside of architectural circles. Wood explained the relevance of architectural models in the face of advances in computer animation. He noted that there is, perhaps, a kind of dishonesty to the flat screen. “The physical model allows freedom,” he said. It was a sound bite that no doubt gelled with Fox producers, who promptly posted the video to their “Rise of Freedom” website under the subtitle “Designing Freedom.”

LA Planners Learning From Zappos

West
Friday, December 3, 2010
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A template for city planning documents?

According to the LA Downtown News, LA Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner is proposing an interesting model to help reform LA’s archaic development process: Internet clothing seller Zappos. At a public presentation of his development reform plan last month at the LA Chamber of Commerce, Beutner cited Zappos’ customer service operation, lauding the fact that “any time someone makes a Zappos purchase, they can go online and find exactly where the package is in the shipping process.” Hence if his idea moves ahead it would make it easier for developers and architects to know where their projects were in the pipeline. The reform project, largely overseen by consulting firms KH Consulting Group and Woolpert, could also streamline the amount of departments needed to approve projects, allow design and permitting to happen concurrently, and assign specific planners to each project, among other things. Stay tuned.. And happy shopping?

Swamps Emerging on the Urban Landscape

Midwest
Thursday, December 2, 2010
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An urban swamp in Detroit (Photo by Clark Mizono)`

An urban swamp in Detroit (Photo by Clark Mizono)

While bringing nature back into the city is generally heralded as a sign of improvement, this is hardly the best path to that end.  Next American City‘s Willy Staley recently took a walk through Detroit‘s East Side with vacant property guru Sam Butler to surmise the problems of abandonment facing the city. Detroit, seeking to demolish some 3,000 structures, has long been at the center of a movement to “shrink” cities suffering from population loss and blight.

More on urban swamps bogging down neighborhood revitalization.

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