Sidewalk Sipping with Sadik-Khan at NYC Pop-Up Cafe

East
Thursday, August 19, 2010
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NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, the Downtown Alliance's Nicole LaRusso, David Byrne, and Janette Sadik-Khan at the pop-up cafe. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

Sidewalk cafes have long been a popular feature of New York City dining, but many restaurants’ sidewalks are too narrow to set out tables and chairs without violating city code. Offering a solution to this spatial problem, on August 12 the Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled its first “pop-up cafe” in Lower Manhattan—an 84-foot-long and 6-foot-wide wooden platform with planters, wire railing, 14 cafe tables, and 50 chairs—as the agency’s latest move to reclaim road space for public use. Read More

Creating Vernacular Modern in Rural China

West
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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One of the Bay Area’s venerable firms, EHDD (founded in 1972 by Joseph Esherick, George Homsey, Peter Dodge and Chuck Davis, the last of which is still active in the office), joins the list of firms that have been working in China. However, its new project is not a speculative skyscraper in Shanghai or some other bigger-than-thou marquee building.  It is an architectural triumph of another sort: a much-needed rural school that incorporates modern methodologies for sustainable design. It also manages to evoke Chinese vernacular architecture in a modest, graceful way–an aesthetic coup that seems to be a rarity in modern China. Read More

Expedited Boarding in the Loop?

Midwest
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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Overview_image-1

Block 37 (courtesy Joseph Freed and Associates)

Mayor Daley has announced a plan for a high speed rail line linking O’Hare to the Loop and has appointed a 17 member panel to look into the project. According to the Sun-Times, though, he has a major caveat: the line should be entirely privately financed and run with no city or government money of any kind. He gave this ultimatum to the panel of prominent business and civic leaders. The line would connect O’Hare to the currently unfinished station under Block 37. Is such a plan feasible? The mayor thinks so. “There’s already interest by private investment funds, foreign investment funds,” Daley said, according to the Sun-Times. “They’ve come to see me, I’ll be very frank, talking about this. That’s exciting.”

Save Our Skyline, Begs Empire State Building

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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We know hackers and preservationists are staunchly opposed to Vornado’s 15 Penn Plaza, because the 1,216-foot Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed tower would replace McKim Mead & White’s notable-if-not-renowned Hotel Pennsylvania. Anthony Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, is also not a fan for the simple reason that Malkin Holdings is holding the Empire State Building. And its views would most likely be compromised by 15 Penn Plaza. Malkin is now speaking out against the project, under the aegis of a group calling itself Friends of the New York City Skyline, a posse which also includes MAS, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Landmarks Conservancy. It may be too little, too late. Read More

The Future Future of JFK Terminal 4

East, East Coast
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
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JFK Terminal 4, with 30 additional gates, as planned for some time in the future. (CLICK TO ZOOM)

If this rendering of Terminal 4 at JFK looks familiar, good. That means you’re reading, as it, or something very much like it, was in our story last week about the Port Authority and Delta’s plans for expanding the terminal. What is different, though, if you look closely, is the number of gates. This rendering was released by Delta last week, though it initially confounded us because the talk had been of nine new gates, not the 30 we counted when we compared it to the terminal’s current layout, which you can see and compare after the jump. It turns out, the wrong rendering had been released, and this is in fact the ultimate plans for the future development of Terminal 4, with 10 new gates on Concourse A (right) and 11 more added to Delta’s nine on Concourse B (left). That makes for a total of 46 gates—larger than some mid-sized airports—up from a current 16. No wonder they have to tear down Terminal 3 to make room for more plane parking. But not before Hal Hayes has something to say about it. Read More

LA Will Not Be the Same Without John Chase

West
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
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Lean On Me: John Chase (center) and friends

The accolades keep pouring in for former West Hollywood Urban Designer John Chase. Frances Anderton is busy writing the obituary for us (and her blog for KCRW’s Design and Architecture is full of Chase memories). Here’s a lovely tribute from Marissa Gluck and Josh Williams at Curbed LA. And one from AN contributor Alissa Walker. And below is a moving piece from AN contributor Tibby Rothman:

In Memory of John Chase, Formidable Friend, Daring Dresser, Urban Enthusiast

LA planner James Rojas just posted this: “LA has lost its greatest urban planner. John Chase has passed away.”

But John Leighton Chase was also a writer. And, he was better than the rest of us at it. I remember reading his stuff for the first time, and knowing very clearly that I’d never be that good. Read More

Flooding the Unisphere Once Again

East, East Coast
Monday, August 16, 2010
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For the first time in 15 years, the Unisphere, one of the ’64 World’s Fair’s numerous icons, is back on, its fountain at full force thanks to a $2 million renovation funded by the Queens Borough President and the city. Designed by landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke, the fountain is, as Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe puts it, part of the city’s Versailles that is Flushing Meadows. While not quite the Lincoln Center fountain, we’d still sit here any day and enjoy some Belgian waffles, which a press release informs us were served at Thursday’s rechristening, having been a favorite at the Fair.

Learning From, and Ignoring, Hong Kong

East Coast, International
Monday, August 16, 2010
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Hong Kong (right) and Kowloon, one of the many cities-within-cities that have sprung up on the island in recent decades. (Mr. Wabu/Flickr)

We’re fairly critical of the planning process here in New York, but our pal Norman Oder has us beat a thousand times over with his watchdog website The Atlantic Yards Report. Which is why we were surprised to find him writing over on Urban Omnibus about just how laudable our way of doing things can actually be, at least compared to the current vogue for Asian-style authoritarian planning, particularly that of Hong Kong. Jumping off from Vishaan Chakrabarti’s praise for Hong Kong’s “doubling down on density,” Oder points out that of the locals he’s heard from, “enough is enough.” Read More

Another Sad Day For LA Architecture

West
Friday, August 13, 2010
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John Chase, at left, with Frances Anderton, Clive Wilkinson, and friend

We’re still reeling from the tragic death of Stephen Kanner, and now we have learned that two more of LA’s brightest lights, Elaine Jones and John Chase, have also died. Jones was A. Quincy Jones’ widow, and Chase was the urban designer for the City of West Hollywood. Both were valuable advocates for architecture and good friends. We’re still gathering information and will get it to you as soon as we can.

Dyson Awards Aim to Improve Society Through Design

International
Thursday, August 12, 2010
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Copenhagen 1

The brief for the James Dyson Award design competition is deceptively simple: Design something that solves a problem. The winner and nine finalists representing the United States all responded with highly functional designs that could make a positive impact on the way we live, none more so than the U.S. winner, the Copenhagen Wheel, designed by Christine Outram and students in the SENSEable City Lab at MIT. The hybrid battery-powered disk turns any bike into an electric boosted bike, helping cyclists go longer distances and ride up hills. Read More

Thoughts From That Other Biennial, in California

West
Thursday, August 12, 2010
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The Eco Center at Heron's Head Park, Toby Long Design

The California Design Biennial includes a well thought out spectrum of designers from the practical to the extraordinary.  Held this year at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the fourth running of the event (which continues through October 31) has five categories: Fashion Design, Transportation Design, Graphic Design, Product Design and, for the first time, Architecture. Bravo to each curator for making every category work together. Frances Anderton, host of KCRW’s DnA: Design and Architecture radio series, was curator for the Architecture category.  Her selections address the social and community roles of building, like the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.  The large public facility, completed in 2009 by Safdie Rabines Architects, is open to hikers needing respite. Read More

Columbia Builds Holl-y Hell in Inwood

East
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
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The Campbell Sports Center designed by Stephen Holl has some neighbors ready to punt.

Can Columbia build anything without causing a ruckus? There is, of course, the famous gym proposed for Riverside Park that triggered the 1968 riots, and more recently the huge fight over its 17-acre Manhattanville expansion. Now the Times is reporting a “teapot-size storm” surrounding the university’s proposal to build a new athletic center within its complex in Inwood. According to the Gray Lady, the issues are the same as anywhere in Manhattan: light, views, and context. “It does not relate well to the community,” said Gail Addiss, 61, an architect who lives opposite Baker Field. “It’s similar to Frank Gehry architecture — large metal things whose glare is going to cause more brightness to reflect into people’s windows.”

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