Workshopping Venice

International
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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The U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, shown in 2007. (Photo: Charles Giuliano)

The U.S. Department of State has announced that Workshopping: An American Model of Architectural Practice will represent the United States at the 2010 Venice Architecture biennale, opening on August 29. The State Department selected the exhibit, organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and co-curated by the museum’s principal curator Michael Rooks with Jonathan D. Solomon, founding editor of the series 306090 Books, in an open competition following the recommendation of the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions, convened by the National Endowment for the Arts. Read More

24 Rooms, 344 Square Feet

International
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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And you thought your apartment was small. Gary Chang, a Hong Kong architect, has outdone us all, managing to cram 24 “rooms” into his 344-square-foot box apartment through the clever use of movable walls, murphy beds, and other various architectural tricks. As he explains in the Reuters video above, it’s the perfect bachelor pad. “I realized that at one moment, I’m performing only one task, so the ideal thing for me is, I don’t have to move, I’m quite lazy, but the place changes for me,” Chang explains. It’s a far cry from his upbringing in the space, however, when he shared it with his parents, three sisters, and a tenant. Should he ever get a girlfriend, he’ll surely find a way to manage.

Regional Rebound?

Midwest
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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For the forth month straight, billings for firms in the Midwest are showing the strongest uptick of the four regions tracked by the AIA. And for the first time since the recession, in March billings in the Midwest have moved into positive territory, breaking the 50 mark, making it the first region to do so since the recession began. (Anything below means billings for work are falling, above rising.) In the graph above, the Midwest region is represented in red, the East in blue, the West in green, and the South in orange. According to the numbers, the recovery has arrived. Read More

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Playboy Saves The Day?

West
Monday, April 26, 2010
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The Trust For Public Land today announced that it successfully wrapped up its down to the wire save of Hollywood’s Cahuenga Peak, the 138-acre swath of land behind the Hollywood Sign that had once been slated for development (one of many pleas included red letters over the sign reading “Save The Peak”). The final donor: none other than Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who chipped in $900,000 to complete the $12.5 million needed to finalize the purchase. The Trust had missed its original April 14 deadline, but were granted an extension until April 30. Hefner, who had helped raise money back in the 70s to rebuild the sign, back when he was dating a whole other set of playmates, was joined by other LA stars,  philanthropists, and companies.  These included Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Aileen Getty, Norman Lear, CAA, LucasFilm, Walt Disney Company, CBS, NBC, Sony Pictures, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and many others. Really a historic Hollywood collaboration.

Eavesdrop NY 08

East
Monday, April 26, 2010
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The Mark Dendy Dance Theater troupe performs outside the new North Carolina Museum of Art during its grand opening festival. (NCMA/Flickr)

BEFORE SUBZERO, REFRIGERATORS WERE WHITE (OR AVOCADO)
Eavesdrop jetted to pollen-crusted Raleigh, NC, with an eclectic herd of reporters from the likes of Sculpture magazine and The Jewish Daily Forward to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art expansion designed by Thomas Phifer. We were not disappointed. The 127,000-square-foot museum is an elegant, single-story box penetrated by courtyards, pools, and gardens. The interior and exterior details are so deliciously subtle that they seemed to elude some of the mainstream press, who asked him why he didn’t site the building to dominate the street. Articulate and precise, Phifer hypnotized the skeptics by explaining every strategy convincingly, and they hung on his every word. (Check out AN correspondent Thomas de Monchaux’s own critical appraisal in our next issue.) Read More

Thinking By Hand

West
Friday, April 23, 2010
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A selection of Architect Frederick Fisher‘s  watercolors—which he often creates while developing designs for his houses, galleries, and other commissions— is on display through May 22 at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, 6018 Wilshire Blvd, LA, across the street from LACMA.  Minimal yet sensual, these abstractions of a house he is designing for himself in Ojai and of recent academic buildings explore the relationship of mass and void. His buildings grow from these soft blocks of pigment, and the subtlety of the wash expresses the care with which he crafts his forms. Read More

Some Serious Equipment

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 22, 2010
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Tip drill? Sorta—it's the cutter head, which will do all the heavy cutting for the Second Avenue Subway. (Courtesy MTA)

It would appear the Second Avenue Subway is really, truly happening. Not to have doubted all the construction work that’s gone on so far, but we have been-there-done-that about half-a-dozen times over the past century. Now, however, the 200-ton Cutter Head has arrived, the main piece of the Tunnel Boring Machine that will begin carving out the tunnels for the first phase of the new line. The MTA posted some pretty cool pics of the device, including the one above, on its Facebook page. And if that weren’t socially networked enough, there’s a YouTube flick of the thing being lowered underground with a soundtrack that sounds oddly like that of a softcore sex scene in some ’90s movie. Second Avenue Sagas points out that this is largely “symbolic,” as the real challenge, technically and fiscally, is not digging but building the lines and stations. That said, we still wonder if all this money wouldn’t be better spent on maintaining service than pushing ahead with capital projects, even if it does mean their nth death. While you ponder, the flick and more pics after the jump. Read More

Bucky Comes to Town

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 22, 2010
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The Union Tank Car Dome stood 384 feet wide, the largest structure of its kind when it was completed. (Courtesy theWarrenReport.com)

If you couldn’t make it down to D.C. last month for the Environmental Film Fest, it’s still not too late to catch one of the entries, A Necessary Ruin. The movie tells the story of the untimely destruction of Buckminster Fuller’s Union Tank Car Dome, a piece of railroad infrastructure that was the largest clear-span structure when it was completed in 1958 before being summarily destroyed three years ago. Its epic story will be told tomorrow night next Friday at the Center for Architecture, followed by a lively discussion with Jonathan Marvel, all part of the current show, Modernism at Risk. You can watch the trailer after the jump. Read More

Lean and Green

East, East Coast
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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New York continues to "go green." (Courtesy Rickshaw Diaries)

Vice President Joe Biden announced nearly half-a-billion dollars in stimulus funding today to promote green retrofits nationwide, and the biggest winner, according to a Bloomberg administration release, is New York State, which took home $40 million of the $452 million pot. The money will go to two programs, the PACE loan program and Green Jobs-Green New York. The former provides low- or no-interest loans to property owners who buy energy efficient building materials, including insulation, solar panels, and geo-thermal systems, which are then paid back through taxes and utility payments, though the retrofits average out to 20 to 30 percent on energy usage over the life of the product. And Green Jobs-Green New York provides funding to launch training programs so there are capable workers who can build, install, and maintain this new wave of high-tech devices.

Plug-In City Lives!

International
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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Live at last: the Archigram archive.

Dennis Crompton and Michael Webb plugged into the London launch of the Archigram website on Monday from New York City via a Skype connection to Westminster University. The two Archigrammers were meant to be present at the launch, but the Eyjafjallajökull volcano grounded their planes and kept them from joining Peter Cook and David Greene, who was scheduled to be at the event. So Crompton walked the assembled Londoners through the website from his Skype-enabled computer screen in Lower Manhattan. Read More

Philip Johnson Rises from Grave, Heads to Post Office

Midwest
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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(courtesy witchking.us)

Developer Bill Davies has engaged Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects to investigate possibilites for the Old Main Post Office Building on West Van Buren, according to a report in the Sun-Times. Davies aquired the massive structure from the city at auction, and speculation has been rife as to what could be done with the building, which is built over several north/south rail lines. Ritchie declined elaborate on the plans. In addition to the future of the Post Office, we were left wondering how long Johnson’s name will remain attached to the firm. He passed away in 2005.

He Fought the Good Fight

East, East Coast
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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Daniel Goldstein, DDDB spokesman and spiritual leader, at a press conference in front of Freddy's last November. (threecee/Flickr)

It appears this is the end of one of the greatest real estate battles since Jane Jacobs took on Robert Moses. But just as Penn Station was demolished and replaced by Madison Square Garden, Daniel Goldstein’s apartment building will soon go, replaced by the Barclays Center. We just received an unusual release from Forest City Ratner saying simply that the company “today reached an agreement with the remaining resident residing in the project’s footprint” and would not comment further. Goldstein’s name was not even mentioned, and while we’re waiting to hear back ourselves, the Times confirms it, along with the rather astounding fact that he was paid $3 million for his condo. The unit was originally bought in 2003 for $590,000, though the state notoriously offered only $510,000 last year, citing neighborhood blight. This comes on the heels of news yesterday that deals had been struck with the remaining 7 holdouts, including Freddy’s Bar, which now hopes to move to somewhere near 4th and Union avenues, not too far from its current home.

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