New York, Here is Your New Skyline

East, East Coast
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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The city that never stops building.

UPDATE: Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in whose district the project is located, gave her strong support for it at a press conference before today’s meeting of the City Council. More below.

The battle for the soul of New York—or at least for its skyline—was over before it even really began. The City Council Land Use Committee just voted in favor of Vornado’s roughly 1,200-foot, Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed 15 Penn Plaza, apparently unswayed by complaints from the owner of the Empire State Building, Anthony Malkin, that it would ruin views of his iconic tower, and thus the city as a whole. In fact, the issue of the skyline barely even came up, and when it did, the council members, who voted 19-1 for the tower, essentially said New York must build to remain great. “I think it’s a project the city needs,” said Councilman Daniel Holleran, a Staten Island Republican. The bigger issue, by far, than the dueling towers was that of who would build 15 Penn Plaza, namely MWBEs. Read More

The U.S. Pavilion Sells Out in Shanghai

International
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the U.S. Pavilion earlier this year. The "Wall of Honor"—with its corporate sponsors—can be seen in the background. (Courtesy U.S. State Dept.)

Now that the pavilions have begun arriving at the Grand Canal, that other great architectural exhibition of the summer has faded into memory. No, we’re not talking about the one in Pasadena. Or at P.S.1. Not the Serpentine. This would be the Shanghai World Expo, which did have some pretty great pavilions upon its opening in June. Not among them, sadly, was the U.S. Pavilion, in large part because we refused to front the money for the structure, and so it got farmed out. Now, Marketplace has a report from the pavilion that pretty perfectly encapsulates the problems and perseverance of the little pavilion that couldn’t, even how it has won over many Chinese, what with their love with propaganda and irony.

Who Wants To Wheel Away A Lautner?

West
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
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We’ve learned from Curbed LA and the LA Times that John Lautner’s Shusett House (1951) in Beverly Hills is just days away from demolition. The crescent-shaped (and apparently legally unprotected) house was one of the architect’s first residential commissions. According to Curbed, in a last ditch effort the Lautner Foundation is writing  the home’s owners, the Mannheims, to ask if they’ll allow moving the house off their property. Of course they need a buyer for the new house. And that’s where you come in. If interested please contact the Lautner Foundation before it’s too late.

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Dressing Up For John Chase (now with fashion pix!!)

West
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
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Today, Frances Anderton shares her loving tribute to West Hollywood urban designer and dear friend to the LA design world John Chase. If you wish to share your own, friends and family will gather in West Hollywood for a memorial service this afternoon. Technically it’s considered a “celebration of his life.” And in that spirit all are encouraged to “dress as if John picked out your outfit.” That means bright and cheery, to say the least—no architect’s black allowed. We can’t wait to see what people choose to wear in his honor. The event takes place from 4pm to 7pm at Fiesta Hall in Weho’s Plummer Park at on his beloved Santa Monica Boulevard.

UPDATE: Below are a few fashionable pix from the event. The colorful clothes were a perfect tribute that John would have no-doubt loved. Read More

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Venice 2010> The Black Shirts are Coming!

International
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
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An installation made from frisbees. (CLICK TO ZOOM)

No, not the Fascists—that was 2008, when the Northern League held its national rally at the entrance gates of the biennale giardini. I mean the architects! They have arrived in droves, and it’s easy to spot them walking along the Grand Canal absorbing the searing heat and humidity of August in Venice. The second day of reading press releases, walking the giardini, and visiting collateral exhibitions reaffirms my sense that there is more art in the 2010 biennale than architecture. This is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing, and many of these installations do consider architectural questions. But it makes one wonder why national pavilions make the decisions they do about the architectural conditions in their country. Read More

Venice 2010> Going Gaga at the Giardini

International
Monday, August 23, 2010
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The Austrian pavilion, dressed up in a snazzy scrim.

The Venice biennale does not open officially to the press until Thursday, August 26, and just about all of the national pavilions in the giardini are madly rushing to finish before that date. All the pavilions that is, except sadly the crumbling Venezuelan pavilion, which will not have an exhibition in it this year. Read More

Five Years After Katrina, How Are the Levees Holding?

National
Friday, August 20, 2010
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Hope springs eternal from New Orleans, though much work remains to be done. (kla4067/Flickr)

We are coming up on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina next week, and while such milestones are as manufactured as they are macabre, at least in this case it provides a helpful moment for reflection. Half-a-decade out, we seemed to have reached a great enough critical distance for a serious appraisal of what has and hasn’t worked in terms of reconstructing the Crescent City. Documentarians and journalists are already weighing in, so why not the planners? Read More

The Best of Venice: Your Biennale Daybook

International
Friday, August 20, 2010
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Rem Koolhaas chats about Strelka, his new educational endeavor in Moscow, on August 26. (Courtesy Strelka)

The Venice Architecture Biennale has traditionally opened later in September. But this year, because of a scheduling conflict, it is opening on August 29 and will remain open until November 21. We will be blogging from the biennale during the press preview and beyond, so watch for our posts of events, press conferences, and parties. If you want a list of official biennale events you can of course check their website, along with the new iPhone app that launched today. But this year there seem to be more collateral events to the official program than ever before. Read More

Mexico City Design on the Menu at Brooklyn Taqueria

East
Friday, August 20, 2010
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Mexican artist and engineer Ricardo Cid adapted the vintage "rotulo dorado" process for a latter-day Brooklyn cantina. (Courtesy Ricardo Cid)

The restaurant La Superior in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is small place with very high standards. Not only does it have the best tacos and salsa in the five boroughs, but its low-cost décor features design elements by Mexican engineer/designer Ricardo Cid that are as exciting as the food. Cid, from Mexico City, claims he always wanted to be an artist but one that used “different and more complicated tools and calculations,” so he studied engineering at Mexico City’s UNAM. The university gave Cid a research grant, and he used the money to move to New York City and begin an independent research practice focusing on “old and lost methods of Mexican manufacturing,” and adapting them to new materials when the old ones could not be found. Read More

An Omen For DS+R?

West
Thursday, August 19, 2010
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DS+R's Charles Renfro on the Red Carpet (actually the "white" carpet, since Crest was the sponsor).

The red carpet is not a place where architects usually spend their time. But on Sunday Diller Scofidio + Renfro took home a Breakthrough Award, for their work in architecture. The prizes, handed out at the Pacific Design Center (AN was there believe it or not..) went to emerging performers like The Kids Are Alright’s Josh Hutcherson (Actor in Film) and Modern Family’s Sophia Vergara (Actress in TV). So how did Architecture wind up on the roster? “We’ve noticed that architects are starting to be known by name again,” said Jan Hall, Marketing Director for MMC, which runs the competition. On Monday, we’ll find out if DS+R win Eli Broad’s coveted new museum commission downtown. If they do, they’ll no doubt catapult into the elite starchitect sphere… Perhaps this is a harbinger of things to come?

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

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