Stimulus Project Bottleneck

West
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Pasadena Civic Center, one of the projects currently held up by the state's Office of Historic Preservation

Pasadena Civic Center, one of the projects currently held up by the state's Office of Historic Preservation. Photo by Prayitno/Flickr.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that dozens of stimulus projects in California are being held up by an overwhelmed Office of Historic Preservation, one of  several agencies that must sign off on a government project before it can break ground. The story was triggered by a letter sent by the state’s stimulus watchdog to Governor Schwartzenegger, advising him that the problem will just continue to grow, now that funds from stimulus pump are just starting to reach the states.

Manhattanville Ho!

East, East Coast
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Demolition of 3229 Broadway is currently underway in Manhattanville, proof of Columbia's determination to build something in the area, no matter what the courts say about pieces of its new campus the school does not control. (Courtesy Google Maps)

Last month’s court victory for opponents of Columbia University’s new campus in Manhattanville was not necessarily a defeat for the school’s planned 17-acre expansion, and not only because appeals remain. With roughly 94 percent of the area under its control, Columbia has said it plans to continue work on the campus, despite its insistence that it cannot be completed as planned without full control of all buildings therein. Last night, Columbia officials outlined their current approach to Manhattanville for the first time since the ruling at a hearing in Harlem on the future of eminent domain in the state (more on that in Issue 1!). Read More

Bridge? What Bridge?

East
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Who says local government never gets anything done fast? Last Monday the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) brought down the ailing Lake Champlain Bridge in less than ten seconds — check out its lightning-fast disintegration captured on the video clip above.

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Estolano Enigma Solved

Other
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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Estolano.

The LA Times has finally solved the mystery as to why LA Community Redevelopment Agency CEO Cecilia Estolano stepped down late last year. According to The Times (and Curbed LA), Estolano warned LA mayor Villaraigosa that she would resign before moving her agency to a building on the western edge of downtown, which the mayor had requested. ‘The mayor may want to know that he will lose the CEO of his CRA/LA over this,” Estolano wrote in one memo. The paper said that “Villaraigosa’s executive team was baffled by Estolano’s defiance and asked for her resignation.” In an interview with the Times Estolano disputed the claim that she was pushed out. Either way, she’s one of several top officials to leave or be pushed out by the mayor in his final term, as the story states. It’s a wild, uncertain time here in LA.

Konstantin Craving

Midwest
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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Osorom Seating Element for Moroso (all images courtesy respective manufacturers)

Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design currently on view in The Art Institute of Chicago’s new Modern wing marks the first stateside showcase of the Munich-born, London-trained designer. Curated by Zoe Ryan, the exhibition is the fifth installment of the museum’s A+D Series that previously featured Chicago architect Douglas Garofalo and graphic design firm Graphic Thought Facility.

It’s also the first show with a subtitle. Although delightfully alliterative, “Decisive Design” is a misnomer. It sets up Grcic, a craftsman who studied at the Royal College of Art and came of age under the sly wit of designers Jasper Morrison and Ettore Sottsass, as an exacting decider. Sure, the 100 plus objects in the gallery reveal that Grcic is always searching logical production methods and that he takes an honest approach to materials, but the products themselves tell stories richer than pure functionalism. Read More

Case Study Architect Kemper Nomland Dies

West
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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Nomland's Case Study House #10

Architect Kemper Nomland, who built Case Study House #10, has died at age 90, reports the LA Times. Nomland, who was born in California, joined with his father to create the firm Nomland & Nomland after WWII. Their most famous commission was #10, the only Case Study to be built in Pasadena. The house, constructed in 1947, was designed  for the sloping corner lot in its hillside neighborhood, with rooms placed strategically on several levels. Rooms were placed on several levels. Like most Case Study houses the project connected indoors and out with large glass walls and used affordable, off-the-shelf construction materials. According to the Times, after working with his father Nomland worked for several architectural firms, and at one point he designed a house for actress Jane Russell. He designed dozens of other homes, including his own.

Skin Condition

East, East Coast
Monday, January 4, 2010
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Putting the Verizon building behind bars—and plans for its recladding on ice. (StartAgain/Flickr)

It looks like one of New York’s ugliest buildings may also have turned out to be one of its naughtiest. The exchange place at 375 Pearl Street is reviled by many, including tall buildings expert and AN pal Carol Willis, thanks to its blank sides and besmirching of our Brooklyn Bridge panoramas. Fortunately, plans were in the works to have Cook + Fox reclad the building and turn it into something more befitting of an increasingly polished downtown, not unlike the recent transformation of another former phone exchanger across from Bryan Park, 1095 Avenue of the Americas. But that could all come tumbling down thanks to some long—or is it tall—overdue taxes. Read More

Burj Inaugurated and Renamed

International
Monday, January 4, 2010
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The newly renamed Burj Khalifa under construction. (all images courtesy SOM)

Today marks the official inauguration of the world’s tallest building, the Burj in Dubai. While the opening comes at a rocky time for the emirate and for the global real estate market, it was greeted with great fanfare, including, cannily, renaming the building the Burj Khalifa, after the president of neighboring Abu Dhabi, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The move signaled both Dubai’s gratitude for Abu Dhabi’s recent bailout and the unity of the emirates through the financial crisis.

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California Awards for 2009

West
Thursday, December 31, 2009
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LPA's Environmental Nature Center, an AIACC Design Award winner

It being the last day of 2009, we at AN’s California edition thought we’d remind you of some of the year’s best architecture by sharing the awards presented by the AIA chapters from around California. Wow, there are a lot of chapters in this state. We only link to the ones that have posted their award winners (a little depressing to see that several chapters latest awards postings are from 2006 or so..). Here you go: Read More

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Architects #1 in Something!

National
Thursday, December 31, 2009
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Unfortunately not a good thing. According to MSNBC (and via Curbed LA), architects saw the most job losses of any profession in 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job losses in the profession jumped 17.8 percent, bringing the total number of employed architects to 189,000 in the first three quarters of 2009, compared to 230,000 in the same period a year earlier. The good news: The BLS predicts a 10% jump in architecture jobs by 2018. But can we make it till then? The list, by the way, was rounded out by the following big job losers: carpenters, production supervisors/assembly workers, pilots, computer software engineers, mechanical engineers, construction workers, tellers, and bookkeepers.

Walkin by a Winter Renzo Land

East, East Coast
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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The courtyard of the Renzo Piano-designed New York Times Building, utterly transformed by a foot of snow.

We’ve come to hate snow in the city, as it readily turns to gross, sock-soaking brown muck. But today, when we stumbled upon a scene straight out of Aspen, we were reminded just how beautiful and transformative the white stuff can be. Ducking into Muji for some last-minute holiday shopping on our way back from the Gehry theater press conference on 10th Avenue, we were delighted to find a mountain clearing where the courtyard of the Renzo Piano-designed Times building once was. From the birch trees to the unbesmirched snow, its the sort of sight you would struggle to find even in Central Park, let alone Midtown. Excuse us for getting sentimental—it must be the eggnog—but these are the sort of moments that remind us of the power and import of good architecture.

Upending Mies

East
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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tk

Mies' 50x50 House gets a makeover at MASS MoCA. (Photo: Dylan Lathrop)

Mies van der Rohe has suffered some indignities lately, with a building at Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology knocked down and plastic palms taking root at the Dirksen Federal Building. Now comes Madrid-born artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s latest work, Gravity Is a Force to be Reckoned With, which realizes one of the master’s unbuilt projects—albeit upside-down. Read More

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