Not-So-Great News For Great Park

West
Monday, May 17, 2010
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Is the air coming out of the big orange balloon? Orange County’s Great Park, which is rising on the former El Toro Marine Base in Irvine, has since its inception in 2002 been the last great hope for OC residents hoping for a great rural retreat (landscape architects like Ken Smith and Mia Lehrer are among those working on it). But the housing market has now officially gotten in the way, delaying the needed $1.4 billion in construction funding by years. According to The Orange County Register, the 1,347-acre park will have only $17 million in unallocated funds by next summer, and building money is still years away. “I don’t know where the idea materialized out there that somehow we would have the great metropolitan park developed full scale within a matter of a few years,” said Great Park Chairman Larry Agran. “Nobody ever promised that, and certainly I believe we have been quite clear that you build out a park of this magnitude in typically a 15- or 20-year process.”

Last Stand for Chiofaro?

East
Friday, May 14, 2010
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Last Monday, we published a story on Boston finalizing its plans for the future development of the Greenway. In it, we made small mention of developer Don Chiofaro and his Boston Arch project. This was for a few reasons. First, we wanted to focus on the Greenway study as a whole, and its dozens of development sites, and not just one of them. Second, Chiofaro, as the video above shows, is a story unto himself. Or many stories. Most, in fact, as he has turned the study into a referendum on his project and not one about the future of Boston’s newest, if still slightly bedraggled park. That said, allow us to make up for our previous paucity with a lengthy look at where Chiofaro’s project stands, or, uh, doesn’t. Read More

New Practices on the Block

East
Friday, May 14, 2010
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And the New Practices New York winners are...

The New Practices New York juried portfolio competition took place on Wednesday. This biennial competition, sponsored by the AIA New York chapter and now in its third iteration, has quickly become one of New York City’s most important launching pads for architects who have been in practice for less than five years. The winners are featured in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture, which usually travels to the national AIA convention and other architectural societies (this year’s winners will be featured in Sao Paulo, Brazil) plus a one-year free membership in the AIA and visibility as a firm on the rise in this highly competitive city. This year’s jury included Toshiko Mori as lead juror, Joe MacDonald (a New Practices winner in 2008), Guy Nordenson, Galia Solomonoff, and yours truly. After reviewing nearly 70 portfolios Read More

Inching Toward ULURP Reform

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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The Tweed Courthouse, where the Charter Commission held its meeting Monday to set up expert panels, including one for land-use reform.

On Monday, the Charter Revision Commission held its latest meeting, where its members called for a series of five panels to better inform their decision on what, if any, issues to put on the ballot this fall—or next, more on that in a moment. One of the five panels that was called for was on land-use reform, the best indication yet that the commission may well perform the major overhauls the city’s developers and planners have been calling for, as we noted in a recent issue. The commissioned announced today that the land-use panel will be held June 24, at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library, and in addition to experts, public input will also be taken. So if this is an issue you care deeply about—be honest, who doesn’t love ULURP?—then we’ll see you there. As for this fall or next, the biggest debate remains not what but when the commission will conclude its work, as some commissioners and members of the public insist it is moving too quickly to fully engage all the necessary issues.

Not a Bridge too Fair

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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A rendering of a proposed replacement for the Goethals Bridge. It may look different in the end, as the bridge is being developed as a public-private partnership, but the Port Authority seems committed to a strong design regardless. (Courtesy PA)

Ever since the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, politicians and public authorities nationwide have been scrambling to get theirs up to code. New bridges, or at least proposals for them, abound, some nice, some not so much. Fortunately, the Port Authority appears committed to a high-design bridge. The authority released a request for information [PDF] this week, a precursor to an RFQ. The Observer picked up on the PA’s interest in building the thing with a public-private partnership, an approach with a mix of benefits—no upfront costs—and risks—less control or long-term revenue. But what is promising, nonetheless, is the PA’s commitment to constructing what could be called a statement bridge. Read More

Catalyze This

East Coast, National
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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Take that still largely speculative skyline!

Last fall, the Downtown Alliance unveiled a plan by ARO and a dozen or so other designers aimed at reviving an area the civic group dubbed Greenwich South. Among the proposals was an iconic, place-defining tower designed by one of our favorite firms, San Francisco’s IwamotoScott. While the Downtown Alliance’s plan was largely speculative, the tower has, uh, popped up once again, with bountiful new renderings on Inhabitat. It’s not entirely clear why the tower has been so thoroughly expanded upon, but we’re guessing all this new snazz has something to do with the firm’s upcoming appearance at the Design Triennial opening Friday, of which it’s a part. We’ve posted a few of our favorite renderings here, with more than a dozen available at Inhabitat. Read More

Straphangers with Fins

East
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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For years, the MTA has been dumping decommissioned subway cars into the ocean to create artificial reefs for marine life. If you’ve ever wondered if it works, YouTube appears to have the answer. This video shows fish and a giant turtle swimming amid old red bird subway cars. The juxtaposition of the natural and manmade in such an unlikely location is a delight to watch. Next stop, the ocean floor! (via Huffington Post).

Grow Baby Grow

West
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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Sure, sports fields are great. But wouldn’t it be cool if your school had a great garden? GOOD Magazine and the LA Unified School District think so too. They’re looking for architects as well as teachers, students, parents and anyone else to create affordable, scalable, modular school garden designs that any school can use. There’s more to it than you might think. Plans can  include not only plants and plant beds but pathways, tool storage, irrigation schemes, greenhouses, benches, seating, trellises, plant beds, paths, trees, potting tables, farmstands, and so on.. It’s a great idea to unleash creativity and learning in a place that’s so often dominated by tests. Winning designers will attend a one-day workshop with landscape architect Mia Lehrer to refine their proposals, and one garden will be installed in a Los Angeles school by October. Submissions are due by June 15, and the winners will be chosen by July 1.

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Beaming Up the City

East, East Coast
Monday, May 10, 2010
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A Shrike Commander twin-prop plane at twilight, like the ones being used to map New York at night. (Courtesy Texas Aviation)

If you were in New York any time during the last half of the last month, while you slept, you were being zapped with lasers. Or rather, the buildings you slept in. This according to a downright cool story in the Times today reporting that the city has been using a small prop plane to develop far-and-away the most detailed map we’ve ever seen. Like Robert Moses’s famed Panorama dozen times over, “but more accurate and digital,” as Rohit Aggarwala, the departing sustainability czar, told the Grey Lady. More than just creating a solar map of the city’s building stock, the aerial study is beginning to turn up an incredible data set, including all the pitch roofs capable of accommodating solar panels, how much—if any, sadly—of our wetlands remain, and even “zoning changes and stricter building codes.” And here you thought lasers were only good for tag, lasik, and jedi.

Mind Your Manors

East
Monday, May 10, 2010
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Winterthur Museum: Coming to a home near you.

In these days of shrinking endowments, museums have to do what they can to make a buck. In the case of Delaware’s Winterthur Museum, that means endorsing a new line of pre-engineered houses from Vermont company Connor Homes.

Read More

AIA SF Awards

West
Monday, May 10, 2010
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Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects' Ford Assembly Building renovation won a merit award for historic preservation. Image © Billy Hustace.

Once again our friend Stanley Saitowitz—San Francisco architecture’s answer to Meryl Streep— took home the most honors at the AIA SF’s annual awards, held at the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center last Thursday. Saitowitz took home prizes for his elegant, and relatively affordable, Tampa Museum of Art, his screen-obsessed Costa Rica house, and his effervescent Toast Restaurant in Novato, CA, which the jury described as “like walking inside a loaf of bread…..like swimming in sparkling champagne….” . Other big winners included Jensen Architects, noted for their SFMOMA rooftop garden and Walden Studios in Sonoma; EHDD, which took home awards for its UC Merced Science and Engineering Building and its Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo in Lincoln Park, IL; and Min Day, which took home prizes for its L Residence and its Community CROPS Center, both in Nebraska.

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Recycling Finally on NYC Streets?

East, East Coast
Monday, May 10, 2010
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Council members Peter Vallone, Christine Quinn, Jessica Lappin, Jimmy Van Bramer, and Letitia James in Astoria earlier today, pushing for more recycling bins in the city. (William Alatriste)

When was the last time you found yourself on a city street, empty water bottle or given-up-on crossword in hand? Being the conscientious New Yorker you are, no doubt you looked around for a recycling bin to deposit your refuse in. Odds are, you didn’t find any nearby, as the city—so often held up as a green beacon—is woefully lacking in recycling receptacles. That could change soon, with the passage of a package of recycling-related legislation that was unveiled just before Earth Day last month. Since the launch of a public recycling pilot program in 2007, there are now 300 bins scattered across the city. The council hopes to double that number within three years of the legislation’s passage and increase it to 1,000 within a decade. But the city has a long way to go, considering there are more than 25,000 “corner baskets” located in the five boroughs. Read More

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