Could Low-E Windows Melt Your Neighbors?

National
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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(Courtesy WCVB)

Every rose has its thorn, including those supposed holy grails of sustainable products. CFLs contain mercury. Biofuel competes with farmers for topsoil. Now high performance windows, particularly those of the double-pane, Low-E variety, have become the bane of suburbia, as they can apparently melt your neighbors home—or at least their vinyl siding. That was the news from a surprising report on Boston’s Channel 5 news, sent to us by Infared New England, who tests for these sorts of things. It turns out that under the right circumstances, the windows work as magnifiers, focusing light on nearby buildings like a rascally child picking off ants. At least two area women have suffered the consequences, and there are plenty of similar videos on YouTube. So let this be a warning to you about the risks of vinyl siding next time you consider using it on a project. (Okay, let’s be honest, if you’re reading this, god forbid such a thought ever crossed your mind. Still, it’s pretty crazy, the unintended consequences of this business of ours. Eh, Frank?)

Reading Terminal Market Lays Down More Tracks

East
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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(desmorider/Flickr)

Philadelphi’s Reading Terminal Market is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operated enclosed food markets, opening in 1892 in the ground floor of the F. H. Kimbal-designed terminal. Like those in New York, Boston, and elsewhere, the enclosed market was seen as a way to get hawkers, hucksters, and dry goods carts off the street, where they were deemed unsightly and unhygienic. The Reading Terminal Market thrived for decades before declining during the era of White Flight, though it was revived in the 80s as an upscale venue for prepared foods and artisanal and organic products. With the current craze for the latter, as well as the return of residents to the city, the market is as popular as ever, necessitating an expansion designed by local firm Friday Architects/Planners. The plan, announced—yes—Friday, involves the reorganization of the aisles to make room for more stores as well as additional retail space on what is currently an office mezzanine. Work is expected to begin early next year and be completed withing six to eight months. You can peep the plans after the jump. Read More

Floating Creatures Descend on LA

West
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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Back in April we took a sneak peak at CO Architects’ $107 million renovation of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s 1913 building. The project is finally done, and includes major seismic and structural upgrades, new exhibit installation, as well as the uncovering of original details like the ceramic-tiled exterior dome; an original stained glass skylight; and original marble walls. The museum re-opened a couple weeks ago, but only now released a whole batch of great pictures (courtesy of Tom Bonner). And they’re worth looking at. We especially appreciate the floating dinosaurs animals hung from the ceiling via carefully placed wires just below large skylights. Enjoy! Read More

Two Routes to Poster Art

East
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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John Hassall, No need to ask a P’liceman, 1908, lithograph, London Transport Museum, © TfL from the London Transport Museum Collection

Well, this is embarrassing: the MoMA and the Yale Center for British Art have nearly simultaneously come out with exhibitions on the same subject. In museum-world, isn’t that like two girls showing up to a party in the same dress?

Nevertheless, it’s an interesting enough topic that the repetition hardly matters. The Yale Center’s “Art For All: British Posters For Transport,” on view through August 15, and the MoMA’s “Underground Gallery: London Transport Posters 1920s-1940s,” on view through February 28, 2011, both offer a fascinating look at London’s innovative campaign to bring art into the Underground and create a strong civic identity. Read More

Now Showing: Johansen and Niemeyer

National
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
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We get a lot of Twitter followers every day (not to brag—but are you one of them?) and one particularly caught our eye today for its clever name, @formfollowshome. Turns out to be a simple blog, Form Follows You Home, the kind of no frills operation that would make Mies proud. All the blog is is a nice little catalog of one of our favorite things in the world: architecture videos. We’d seen quite a few of these, but this one of John Johansen taking Connecticut Public TV on a tour of his one-of-a-kind home was a particular standout. We got a tour ourselves, but here is proof for everyone to see that the man is a genius. After the jump, a two-parter with another grandmaster, Oscar Niemeyer, done by so-cruel-its-cool Vice magazine of all places. Read More

Calatrava PATH Station Takes Flight

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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It’ll be at least 4 years before Santiago Calatrava’s scaled-back, over-budget World Trade Center PATH station is completed (though as our upcoming feature on Lower Manhattan showcases, everything’s been a long time coming, but it seems to have finally arrived). Still, from the start of the interminable process, we’ve had some of the flashiest renderings around to tuck us in at night. Now comes an illustrated video courtesy the Journal‘s Metropolis blog that gives us our clearest view yet of just what’s planned, as well as what Calatrava meant when he told the New Yorker a while back that he was striving for something akin to Grand Central—a truly great room where the interiors, not the exteriors, would be what truly matters. If this video is any indication, despite all the cutbacks, he’s succeeded grandly.

Rockwell Makes a Ruckus at Imagination Playground

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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Rockwell, in—what else?—black T-shirt, with Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials at Tuesday's opening. (Spencer Tucker/Courtesy Mayor's Office)

“It doesn’t seem like it, but everything connects with each one perfectly,” said Gabrielle Sunderland, 12, squinting happily toward the hot July sun. Around her were piles of weather- and germ-resistant foam blocks in sundry shapes and sizes. The blue pieces are the signature element of David Rockwell’s Imagination Playground, which opened Tuesday on Burling Slip near the South Street Seaport.

A designer of theaters, high-end restaurants, and Broadway stage sets, Rockwell found his own children bored by the playgrounds of Lower Manhattan. So he set out to create a playspace where kids could use their own imagination, just as he once did. “Playgrounds are the places where kids can learn how to be a community and create their own worlds, but the ones we visited were all too linear,” he told AN at the opening. “That gave me the idea of a different kind of playground.” Read More

Showtime for School in Rundown Brownsville Theater

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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Where Al Joelson once performed, students will soon learn. (Courtesy POKO Partners)

Like many outlying parts of the city, Brownsville fell hard from its turn-of-the-century grandeur, with decaying reminders of its former greatness. Among them is the Loews Pitkin Theater, once home to the likes of Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, Humphrey Bogart, and Al Joelson’s last performance, as well as thousands of eager movie goers. The building has been closed since 1969—until last week, when a ground breaking was held for a new charter school and retail complex. Curbed and Brownstoner were among those in attendance, and they got some pretty amazing pictures of the building’s decrepit interiors (see some after the jump). We’ve since been sent the above rendering by the developers, POKO Partners, who are working with Kitchen & Associates, a firm based in Collingswood, New Jersey on the renovation. Read More

Hefty Bill for AT&T

National
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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The AT&T Building as rendered by Philip Johnson.

In April, a seven foot tall presentation drawing of the AT&T building was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for $71,000, one of the highest prices ever paid for a “modern architectural drawing,” according to a release. The Philip Johnson drawing was sold through the Wright auction house in Chicago, which has become a specialist in selling architectural materials. The V&A will show the piece in an upcoming exhibition on postmodernism. It is one of only a handful of works by an American in the museum’s 35,000 piece architecture collection.

The building is famous for its “Chippendale” top, which, when it opened in 1984, signaled the ascendency of postmodernism and the return of historical styles and classical references to the architectural vocabulary.

The drawing is part of a larger archive of Johnson’s work, which includes thousands of drawings, plans, and photographs of AT&T, Pennzoil Place, PPG Place, and the Chrystal Cathedral. The owner of the archive wishes to remain anonymous, according to the release.

Moss on the Market

West
Monday, July 26, 2010
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Cool and convivial: Moss' Lawson-Westen House was designed with warmth and friendship in mind. (Tom Bonner)

Deep-pocketed house-hunters on the prowl for an architectural icon this summer are in luck: The critically acclaimed Lawson-Westen House, designed by Los Angeles architect Eric Owen Moss, is on the market for the first time. The 5,100-square-foot Brentwood home remains the architect’s largest residential project and is an oft-cited example of the spatial subdivisions and geometric shifts that characterize much of LA’s modern architecture. Read More

Talk Radio Architecture

East
Thursday, July 22, 2010
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Roberta's, Home of Heritage Radio Network

 A hot night in an organic garden sometimes smells like steaming mulch. But a hot night in a Brooklyn organic garden will more likely smell like beer. At least that’s the first impression one gets at the Berlin-cool Roberta’s in Bushwick where there’s a restaurant in front and an Alice Waters-funded greenhouse outback atop the shipping-container home of Heritage Radio Network.com, and more particularly of “Burning Down the House,” a weekly podcast by Curtis B. Wayne, a Cooper Union/Harvard-educated architect turned radio host and budding East Coast counterpart to KCRW’s Frances Anderton in LA. His Wednesday night live coverage is architectural improv, ranging from trashing Prince Charles over the Chelsea Barracks fiasco in London to discussing local garbage circulation issues. Wednesday night, I was the guest talking about a full array of random architectural topics from the 28th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design and the Beekman Tower to the power of landscaping and William Makepeace Thackeray, although I am not sure that the mic was still on for that last bit. Listen and find out here at Burning Down the House.

Changes at Architecture School Urban Design Studios

Midwest
Thursday, July 22, 2010
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Terry Schwarz

Kent State University has named Terry Schwarz the director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). A satellite of the College of Architecture, the CUDC provides urban planning and design services to underserved communities and neighborhoods. Schwarz has worked at the studio since 2000, creating, among other projects, the Shrinking Cities Institute, to investigate urban vacancy and declining population, and Pop Up City, an initiative to animate underused land with arts activities. Schwarz has a masters in city and regional planning from Cornell, and has lectured and published widely.

The Urban Design Studio in Louisville has focused its mission on sustainability, according to Broken Sidewalk. The University of Kentucky College of Design, based in Lexington, recently withdrew its involvement in the studio, leaving the planning program at the University of Louisville as the primary partner. The Studio will also expand it’s collaboration with AIA Central Kentucky raise awareness of contemporary design in Louisville.

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