A Final Lesson From Max Bond

East
Monday, September 21, 2009
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Library in Bolgatanga, Ghana (all photos by Quilian Riano)

Fifty-one years after his graduation the late Max Bond Jr.’s influence is once again felt in his alma mater, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. An exhibit and celebration of his life and work opened there on Monday September 14th and will run through October 18th. The exhibit takes a close look at Max Bond’s personal life, his passion for social equity, and his professional design work.
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Quick, See It Before It Melts!

West
Friday, September 18, 2009
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Grow Melt at The Late Gardens in Sonoma

"Grow Melt" at The Late Show Gardens in Sonoma

At The Late Show Gardens, visitors were reminded that one of the temporary installations at this new garden show in Wine Country was, in fact, extremely temporary. A representation of global warming,  the six-foot-high wall of ice was designed by a group that included Berkeley’s Peter Walker and Partners. In the 90-degree heat of  a September day in Sonoma, the wall dramatically collapsed shortly before 3pm. The luminous ice was juxtaposed with thin green columns of cactus reflected in a pool of water–a startling and otherworldly image that could have come straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki movie. Read More

Alexander Has His Moment

West
Friday, September 18, 2009
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Christopher Alexander

Christopher Alexander

Last week, we wrote about Christopher Alexander winning the prestigious Scully Prize. Now, he’s been named the third most important urban thinker by venerable planning site Planetizen, after Jane Jacobs and Andrés Duany and ahead of F.L. Olmsted and Kevin A. Lynch. Even Daniel Burnham, who’s celebrating the centennial of his eponymous plan was lower on the list. If we sound surprised, it’s because many of us here in the office had either never heard of Alexander or long forgotten about him, his heyday having been so long ago. But clearly he is on people’s minds, considering Planetizen‘s list of the 100 most influential urban thinkers comes from a survey of its readers.

Perhaps Ned Cramer put it best, when we discussed Alexander’s selection by the Scully jury, of which the Architecture editor was a part: “I think it’s a lot like Venturi in the 90s, people are really starting to recognize a very influential designer, someone they’d been drawing on for years without even realizing it.”

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Park It Here

West
Friday, September 18, 2009
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AN Contributor Alissa Walker enjoys the pocket pasture at Silverlake restaurant Local

AN Contributor Alissa Walker enjoys the pocket pasture at Silverlake restaurant Local

Today  is Park(ing) Day LA. It’s the third year that the City Of Angels is participating in this transformation of metered parking spots into temporary microcosms of park-like environments — some replete with bench seating, grassy areas, and fresh food off the grill. San Francisco-based art and activist studio, Rebar, created the idea in 2005 as a comment on the lack of quality public spaces as well as to promote social interactions and critical thinking among urbanites. And the meters? Organizers are continually plunking change into the metal coin collectors while the parks occupy the parking spot. Some highlights include: Read More

Solar Communications

International
Friday, September 18, 2009
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The photovoltaic tower can be affixed to existing cell phone towers to produce on-site electricity to power broadcasting equipment. (Courtesy MDAA)

The photovoltaic tower can be affixed to existing cell phone towers to produce on-site electricity to power broadcasting equipment. (Courtesy MDAA)

On the occasion of the 2009 G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, architecture firm MDAA (Massimo d’Alessandro & Associati) of Rome designed a photovoltaic tower to power an existing cellular communications aerial. The installation brought to life an idea that has been paddled about quite a bit in recent years: equipping our existing infrastructure with energy-producing technology. After the G8 tower was erected, MDAA designed a more efficient version for Vodafone (the largest mobile network operator in the world). The new tower raises the design quality, lowers  the use of materials, and is capable of producing 15KWp, enough to run broadcasting equipment. Check out that design, as well as more on the G8 tower, after the jump. Read More

High Speed Ahead

National
Thursday, September 17, 2009
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Someday, high-speed rail will criss-cross the map. (Courtesy America 2050)

Someday, high-speed rail could criss-cross the map. (Courtesy America 2050)

We’ve been paying an awful lot of attention to high-speed rail of late. That’s partly because it’s a pet project of the president, as well as the various regions we cover. Well, bids were due last month for the $8 billion to be doled out in stimulus funds for high-speed rail development (after all, that kinda money isn’t going to go very far toward building any one system, let alone the dozen or so needed to begin supplanting planes or cars), and while the money will likely get split up amongst different states and localities so as not to anger any constituency, the infrastructure-oriented, RPA-affiliated group America 2050 released a report today recommending where best to spend that money, and we’ve got bad news for our colleagues on the West Coast and Great Lakes—it should go right here in the Northeast Corridor. (It should be noted the RPA, like AN is headquartered here in New York, so maybe it’s just bias at play.)

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Bureau V: The AntiPopUp

East
Thursday, September 17, 2009
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(Courtesy Bureau V)

Don't call it a pop-up.

There has been so much talk in recent years over the confluence of fashion and architecture, we won’t attempt to add to the “discourse” accept to note that Fashion Week is ending today and with it a number of cool and interesting installations around town. One of particular note was created by our friends at Bureau V—two Asymptote alums and a former DSRer—who have now made their third installation for designer Mary Ping and her Slow and Steady Wins the Race brand. We’re not exactly sure what’s going on here, as one of the principals sent over this nice photo in reference to a separate email, but Style.com puts it thusly: “[It] uses the idea of the still life to, as Ping puts it, ‘react to the temporality of the pop-up, and go back to an older tradition of talking about objects.’” If you hurry, you can still catch the installation and the objects thereon—some designed by Ping—some merely selected by her, through tomorrow at Saatchi & Saatchi’s ground floor events space at 275 Hudson Street.

The Bayonne Question

East
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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The Bayonne Bridge is currently the fourth longest steel arch bridge in the world.

The Bayonne Bridge is currently the fourth longest steel arch bridge in the world.

The Port Authority has released a report conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which points out that the Bayonne Bridge will begin to impose more and more restrictions on commercial shipping. Designed by master bridge designer Othmar Ammann and architect Cass Gilbert and completed in 1931, the span was at the time the longest steel arch bridge in the world, supporting a road bed of more than 8,000 feet, 1,675 feet of which hang from the arch with no intermediary support. However, its 165-foot height will no longer cut the mustard with todays larger ships, more and more of which are expected to pass through the region with the completion of upgrades at the Panama Canal to be completed in 2015. The Corps determined that the roadway could either be jacked up to 215 feet high, or, alternately, that the bridge could be knocked down and replaced with a tunnel. The Port Authority has devoted $10 million to figure out which is the best solution.

Norway Gets Fresh

International
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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Duo (all images courtesy LK Hjelle).

While Denmark, Sweden, and even Finland may better known as leaders in design, in recent years the small family-owned Norwegian company LK Hjelle has been working with the collaborative Norway Says to produce innovative contemporary furniture that should be better known in the US. The company, best known for its more traditional upholstered furniture, has embraced contemporary designs, both for seating and tables, that are practical and well made with a fresh, lighthearted sensibility. Read More

A New NYC Anthem

East
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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After a great summer spent in Maine and Canada we are back at the newspaper ready to soldier through the New York media wars. This week we were inspired by our fair city all over again. In case you missed the VMA awards and all the brewhaha about Kanye West, check out Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind! Jay-Z and Alicia Keys rocked the house. I suggest this as New York’s new City song. It could play on the jumbotron in Times Square and at Yankees stadium. The black and white NYC fly-over images at the back of the stage were incredible. The designer, photographer, videographer should win awards for this. Check it out.

We Vote For He

East
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
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He Gin Lee, Queens Architect, wants your vote.

He Gin Lee, Queens Architect, wants your vote.

It’s a bit of a tradition for newspapers to issue endorsements in political races, and so when we got wind that an architect was running for mayor, well, who else could we support? It being primary day, if you haven’t voted yet, we recommend you consider casting your ballot for He Gin Lee. According to the bio on his campaign site, He “was named the ‘Architect of the Year’ by New York City” in 2003 and 2004 and “is not your typical politician who sees this mayoral position as a role and opportunity to win fame or satisfy personal ambitions.” A profile in July in City Hall notes that the Korean-American architect has built numerous churches in Queens, many of which can be found on He’s firm’s website. And while our incumbent mayor has much for the design and construction of the city (for better or worse), He told City Hall that is his main reason for running: “I’d like to make a beautiful city. That is my goal.” And were he to win, he’d join some 850 fellow architect-pols nationwide.

Green Tremors

International
Monday, September 14, 2009
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The deep drilling involved in geothermal power production can induce earthquakes.

The deep drilling involved in geothermal power production can induce earthquakes.

Icarus. The Tower of Babel. We all know what can happen when humans reach too high. Well, apparently reaching too low can also have some negative side effects. In mid-August, a geothermal power plant under construction in Germany set off a trembler that registered at 2.7 on the Richter scale. A similar project in Basel, Switzerland, set off successive earthquakes in 2006 and 2007, one registering as high as 3.4. While some seismic activity has always resulted from geothermal installations, a new process which digs deeper and involves fracturing solid rock, rather than harvesting existing steam beds, both promises to increase power production and, evidently, earthquakes. The news is disheartening, considering that a report from the Department of Energy that came out earlier this year cast geothermal energy as real possibility for significantly reducing our reliance on fossil fuels in a relatively short time frame.

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