All Planning Is Local

East, East Coast
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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Stringer (far left) and Anthony Borelli, his planning director (far right), with last years fellows. (Courtesy MBPO)

Stringer (far left) and Anthony Borelli, his planning director (far right), with last year's fellows. (Courtesy MBPO)

One of the roles played by the city’s 59 community boards—besides issuing liquor licenses—is to oversee local planning issues, and while the input of the board is only advisory, it tends to weigh in the decision making of the City Planning Commission (as was the case at Hudson Yards earlier this week) and the City Council. The only problem is, the boards have no professional planners on staff. Manhattan has been blessed with a great deal of help the past three years, however, thanks to a fellowship program begun by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and today he announced it will hopefully be expanding to the entire city by next year. Read More

Visit the Haunted iMuseum

East, East Coast
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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The Museum of the Phantom City in Action. (Courtesy Cheng + Snyder)

The Museum of the Phantom City in Action. (Courtesy Cheng + Snyder)

Perhaps it’s just a reflection of the post-bubble zeitgeist, but there’s been much ado lately about the Museum of the Phantom City app for the iPhone, from BLDG BLOG to Urban Omnibus all the way up to the Times. Admittedly, who doesn’t love a nice iPhone app (not that we would know personally…) especially one that allows you to navigate the city that could have been—at least if architect’s ruled the world—in real time and space. Developed by the two-man firm of Cheng+Snyder as part of the Van Alen Institute’s New York Prize fellowship, the app uses the phone as a tracker to pinpoint unrealized projects, usually of a highly theoretical persuasion—John Johansen’s Leapfrog Housing, Michael Sorkin’s Brooklyn Waterfront, THINK’s World Trade Center proposal. If this all sounds terribly confusing, either download the app yourself, or better yet, meet up with Chen and Snyder in Bryant Park from 2:00-4:00 on the phantasmagorically appropriate day of October 31, where they’ll give a full tour of the museum, so to speak.

Bowled Over by Bronx Architecture

East
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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The Lehman College Art Gallery has launched a new wesbite chronicling the architecture of the Bronx.

The Lehman College Art Gallery has launched a new wesbite chronicling the architecture of the Bronx.

The Bronx isn’t exactly known for its architecture, excepting maybe the Grand Concourse, but the Lehman College Art Gallery is hoping to change that perception with a new and very impressive website chronicling the borough’s vast architectural heritage. (The gallery happens to be located in one of those hidden treasures, a campus building that was Marcel Breuer’s first project in the city.) The site, called simply Bronx Architecture, chronicles some 75 notable buildings scattered about the borough, ranging from the notable (the Bronx County Building, the Hall of Justice, the Kingsbridge Armory, new Yankee Stadium) to the obscure (Villa Charlotte Bronte, the Institute for Special Education, Williamsbridge Reservoir Keeper’s House). Read More

One Santa Fe Finally Moving

West
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
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It’s been a long time coming, but the fully-entitled One Santa Fe mixed-use project, designed by Michael Maltzan in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District,  is finally nearing the start of construction. After nearly a year of reworking the final drawings to minimize costs, the $150 million project, developed by a partnership that includes the McGregor Company, Polis Builders, and Goldman Sachs,  will begin construction in mid 2010 with an anticipated completion 36 months thereafter. Read More

City Stunts

Midwest
Monday, October 19, 2009
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(all photos: Michelle Litvin)

A new exhibition at the Graham Foundation’s Madlener House puts urban residents on notice: engage your community, become amateur planners, designers, and architects. Actions: What You Can Do with the City was organized and curated by the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal and seeks to challenge traditional planning’s organization of the built environment into work, residential, and leisure zones. The exhibition is composed of 99 actions, “common activities such as walking, playing, recycling, and gardening that are pushed beyond their usual definition by the international architects, artists, and collectives featured in the exhibition.” The actions range from cheeky solutions to lying down on hostile benches (Action #38) to sensible maps of how and where to forage for urban fruits and vegetables (Action #9). Read More

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The Walled City

West
Monday, October 19, 2009
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Steinberg Architects livens up Palo Alto

Steinberg Architects livens up Palo Alto

At the risk of sounding schmaltzy, let me say that the SF Peninsula’s new Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, which had its grand opening yesterday, is an admirable stab at making up for what we lack in contemporary American society: non-institutional housing for the elderly, daycare for the toddlers, a state-of-the-art gym–all wrapped up in an architecturally interesting package. My friend Angharad, who lives nearby and has three boys under the age of 5, said wistfully, “I mean, I could be Jewish.” Read More

Eavesdrop MW 01

Midwest
Thursday, October 15, 2009
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MacLear and Wright (center) spotted with Metropolis Martin Peterson (left) and Karrie Jacobs (right) at MoMA in May. (Courtesy Metropolis)

MacLear and Wright (center) spotted with Metropolis' Martin Peterson (left) and Karrie Jacobs (right) at MoMA in May. (Courtesy Metropolis)

PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES
Word on the street is that Chicago’s modern design auctioneer extraordinaire Richard Wright and Philip Johnson Glass House executive director Christy MacLear have been spending time together. That’s a lot of design obsession for one relationship, we’re just sayin’. Moreover, what about the poor flooded Farnsworth House? Wright, it seems, prefers to rendezvous at the imitation over the original, even as its water-stained furniture is being restored. Richard—your hometown needs you! (OK, so the Glass House is actually older than Farnsworth, but we all know Johnson borrowed his best ideas.) Read More

Chiofaro Chopped

East
Thursday, October 15, 2009
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Don Chiofaro has agreed to reduce the height of his Boston Arch project, including losing the skyframe that gave its distinctive look. Now, it will look closer to his International Place project seen at left. (Courtesy the Chiofaro Company)

Don Chiofaro has agreed to reduce the height of his Boston Arch project, including losing the skyframe that gave its distinctive look. Now, it will look closer to his International Place project designed by Philip Johnson and visible at left. (Courtesy the Chiofaro Company)

The news out of Boston this morning is that developer Don Chiofaro has bowed to community opposition (pun intended?) and will reduce the height of his harborside Boston Arch tower complex, designed by KPF. Formerly at 1.5 million square feet, the building will shave off 10 to 15 percent of its bulk, including the loss of the distinctive “skyframe” that gave it its name. The frame, which rose to 780 feet, is gone, leaving the towers behind, also at reduced heights. The slenderer residential and hotel tower will now rise to 625 feet, instead of 690, a Chiofaro representative told us today, and the 560-foot office tower will also shrink. Final designs are still in the works. Not to say we didn’t see this coming. Read More

Behold the 4th Bin

West
Thursday, October 15, 2009
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First-prize logo winner Green Team, from design firm Two Twelve.

How many New Yorkers are ready—or have even heard of—Local Law 13? Known as The Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act , the law makes it illegal for New York residents to dispose of any electronic item in the trash after July 1, 2010, and requires all electronics manufacturers doing business in New York to “accept their products in NYC for recycling at no cost to the consumer.” Read More

Amanda in Demand

East
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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Amanda Burden and First Fan Charlie Rose at some other awards. (New York Social Diary)

Amanda Burden and "First Fan" Charlie Rose at some other awards. (New York Social Diary)

Playing up to NYC Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden is usually more strategy, than pleasure. But the standing ovation she received today from architects, developers, and city agents, including Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber, felt real as Burden stepped up to accept the J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development from the Urban Land Institute.

Established in 1936 with offices around the globe and 40,000 members in the U.S., the Washington DC-quartered Urban Land Institute supports enlightened development research and practices. The Nichols Prize for community building comes with $100,000; past winners have included Senator Patrick Moynihan, architecture historian Vincent Scully, Al Ratner of Forest City Enterprises, and developer Gerald Hines. Read More

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Monterey Is Gossip Country

West
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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Asilomars Julia Morgan-designed lodge

Asilomar's Julia Morgan-designed lodge

The gossip goldmine that is the Monterey Design Conference (held at the lovely Asilomar conference center) has delivered yet again. Somehow all the ocean mist, the fragrant Pine trees and the camp-like atmosphere (not to mention plenty of booze) seem to open up the floodgates that are architects’ mouths. Thom Mayne started the fireworks with tirades against big American firms working in China and Dubai (“HOK, and those other H architects”) against GM (“They have no idea”) and even against rural folk (“all the intelligence in this country comes out of the cities”). Perhaps even more interesting was the war of words launched by some of the older architects in attendance against the fancy young whippersnappers. Read More

A Beautiful Complexion

West
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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310 University, designed by WRNS Studio

310 University, designed by WRNS Studio

When architects talk about the “skin” of a building, I realize they’re going techie on me, but I also appreciate the sense of lightness and fluidity that the word conveys. (Did they talk about  “la peau d’un bâtiment” in those Ecole des Beaux-Arts days?)

A delightful “skin” has shown up recently on an office building in Palo Alto, the Peninsula town next to Stanford University. Read More

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