Eavesdrop CA 03

Eavesdroplet
Friday, April 2, 2010
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Ben Prosky, Win De Wit, and Brooke Hodge at the Architizer LA Launch Party. (Courtesy Guest of a Guest)

DRAMA At SFMOMA
In mid-March, Curbed SF revealed, via an unnamed source, six of the eight architects that it claimed had been shortlisted for SFMOMA’s planned expansion, which would house the late Donald Fisher’s art collection. The list included international big-hitters like David Adjaye, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, OMA, Snøhetta, and Renzo Piano. And so began rumor-mill heaven. Read More

Preservation Gang

Midwest
Friday, April 2, 2010
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(photo: reallyboring/flickr)

On the heels of their much praised Aqua tower, Studio Gang is talking on a very different kind of project, the renovation and conversion of the historic Shoreland Hotel in Hyde Park into rental apartments, and retail and event spaces, the Chicago Tribune reports. The building, which was most recently used as student housing by the University of Chicago, is in rough shape. Some of the once opulent interiors are in tact, but other spaces have been gutted or badly damaged, which could offer interesting opportunities to juxtapose contemporary insertions with historic elements. The project adds adaptive reuse and historic preservation to the firm’s already diverse portfolio. Read More

Neutra Dodges Gettysburg Bullet

East
Friday, April 2, 2010
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The Cyclorama in 1962. (Photo: Lawrence S. Williams Inc. Photography/Courtesy National Park Service)

Preservationists have won a small victory in the long-running battle over Richard Neutra’s modernist Cyclorama building at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan told the National Park Service that it must fully comply with the National Environmental Policy Act before tearing down Neutra’s 1961 landmark. Preservationists filed a lawsuit in December 2006 arguing that the park service did not follow the law in its 1999 General Management Plan, where it was decided to raze the building. Read More

East Coast Champs

National
Thursday, April 1, 2010
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Michael Van Valkenburgh (right) with colleague Matt Urbansky at the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Van Valkenburgh has just won top honors from the American Academy. (Matt Chaban)

The American Academy of Arts and Letters named the winners of its 2010 architecture awards Tuesday, which were dominated by northeastern designers. Long-time GSD professor Michael Van Valkenburgh is the recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture. The annual award of $5000 has been given to preeminent architects since 1955, ranging from Louis Kahn to Elizabeth Diller. Van Valkenburgh has designed more than 350 landscapes, including the recently opened Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Academy also announced the winners of its Academy Awards in Architecture, for strong personal work, which go to New York’s planning-obsessed Architecture Research Office and the Afterpartying MOS, of New Haven and Cambridge. And City College architecture dean, critic, and designer Michael Sorkin also won an Academy Award, largely for his writing. The four winners beat out 50 nominees and were selected by academy members Henry Cobb, Hugh Hardy, Steven Holl, Laurie Olin, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams.

Dark, Brooding, and Tangley

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 1, 2010
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The Noho Hotel will soon bloom with metallic flower petals. (Photo courtesy Curbed)

When Smith-Miller + Hawkinson was brought in to design a new, Landmarks-worthy facade for 25 Great Jones Street, a 13-story sliver of concrete and steel in Noho, some people complained that the architect’s proposal remained too modern, even despite such genre-bending neighbors as 40 Bond Street. Regardless of such complaints, the LPC approved the new facade a few weeks ago, and as if to prove the doubters wrong, the designers have installed a mock-up on site. “In the context of the neighborhood I think it works perfectly—and curiously familiar in scale and coloring to the cornice ornament of the building adjacent to the East,” Henry Smith-Miller said, adding with a chuckle: “It’s dark, brooding, and tangley. The jungle is coming. Watch out for King Kong.” To see what he’s talking about, check out the mock-ups after the jump. Read More

Fast Train To Sin City

West
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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The proposed Victorville station of the DesertXpress.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that, in spite of some hold ups with environmental approvals, work is expected to begin this year on the $4 billion DesertXpress, a high-speed rail link between Vegas and Victorville, California. Construction on the 185-mile project, which involves two parallel, at-grade tracks through the Mojave Desert, mostly along the I-15 corridor, should take four years. Service is scheduled to being in late 2014. Aecom and Stantec have both been involved in the project thus far, along with a slew of engineering companies. The decision to begin/end the line at Victorville has raised some eyebrows. There are advocates who are pushing for an extension to Palmdale—the site of a future high-speed rail link to Union Station—allowing non-stop rail service from downtown LA to Vegas. DesertXpress chose the Victorville terminus because it is the first major population center west of the Cajon Pass, easily accessible to millions of people in the Inland Empire, and could be paid for without recourse to public tax dollars. To date, the project has been entirely privately funded, though it could be eligible for Federal Stimulus money in the future.

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The Burbs Unbound

National
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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Uniondale, Long Island. You can do better. (Photo: June Williamson)

The suburbs are in a sorry state—rampant foreclosures, derelict downtowns, and anyone under 35 fleeing for their lives. But as we’ve reported in a look at Long Island, the burbs are now seeing the stirrings of a smart-growth insurrection as town officials try to find a sustainable way to the future. Helping lead the charge, the Long Island Index is today announcing the launch of Build a Better Burb, an open ideas competition to rethink what the suburbs can be. They want us to dream big—and they’re dangling $22,500 in prizes for the boldest solutions for retrofitting Long Island’s acres of “underperforming asphalt.” Read More

The Bright Side of Collapse

East, East Coast
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
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The 250-foot crane on Saturday, before its collapse and after. (Adam B./Courtesy Gothamist)

It may have been a jarring reminder of the two deadly crane accidents two springs before, but fortunately little more. A smaller mobile crane toppled onto 80 Maiden Lane in the Financial District on Saturday evening, but it caused little damage and no fatalities, unlike the collapse of two tower cranes in March and May 2008, which claimed seven and two lives, respectively. The exact cause of this latest accident remains unknown, but it was believed to be a combination of human error (the boom was not sufficiently lowered) and mechanical failure (bad hydraulics). In a twist of fate, the crane fell onto the building occupied by the city’s Department of Inspections, which is charged with routing out the corrupt inspectors who let the prior accidents happen, though there appears to be no malfeasance in this incident. Two days later, two Brooklyn condos under construction collapsed, Read More

9/11 Memorial Pools Almost Framed

East
Monday, March 29, 2010
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99.8 percent of the 9/11 memorial pools' steel framing has been erected.

Today, the Port Authority and National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced the near completion of steel framing for the design’s memorial pools. 99.8 percent of the project’s 8,151 tons of steel has been installed to date. For what it’s worth, when completed the Memorial will boast more steel than was used in the construction of the Eiffel Tower. In the coming months, workers will begin the installation of the granite panels that line the walls of the pools, which will be the largest manmade waterfalls in the country when finished, pumping 52,000 gallons of recycled water per minute. A mockup of the waterfalls was built in Brooklyn in January. Follow this link to see an AP video of memorial designer Michael Arad discussing the motivations behind the project.

California Universities Fail Seismic Test

West
Friday, March 26, 2010
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While most all California public Universities occupy earthquake-prone buildings, UC Berkeley topped the list with 71 structures that engineers say you wouldn't want to be in when the big one hits.

Since the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, a lot of attention has been focused on the preparedness of the United States to absorb such massive tremors. Nowhere is this more true than in California, the state that is perhaps the most poised in the country to deal with such disasters, as well as the most prone to suffer them. A recent report last week from California Watch—a consortium of investigative journalists who relish tackling the tough issues—found that the state’s public universities have been particularly remiss in earthquake-proofing their facilities. The report identified 108 buildings owned by state universities that engineers say would suffer serious structural damage in the event of a major quake. UC Berkeley topped this list with 71 occupied buildings that failed to make the grade. California is expected to feel one or more magnitude 7.5 or greater earthquakes in the next 30 years.

Iron Men Invade New York

East
Friday, March 26, 2010
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Antony Gormley's Event Horizon. (all photos: James Ewing, courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery)

Starting today, New York’s Flatiron District will host British artist Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon, a temporary installation of 31 life-size human figures.  The nude figures, modeled after the artist, will be situated at ground level, on rooftops, and even as high as 57 stories.  The installation, sponsored by the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art., is the group’s first project to extend beyond the boundaries of Madison Square Park. Read More

The Problem With Architecture Web Sites

Other
Thursday, March 25, 2010
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Zaha Hadid's web site is a good example..

Ok, we promise this is our last link to AN contributor Alissa Walker’s Fast Company posts for a while. But this one is definitely worth it. The other day  she focused on a subject we’ve been pondering for a long time: how despite their design expertise, most architects’ sites aren’t very good. Many, she points out, overuse gimmicks and make finding information and projects way too difficult. Sites for Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas’ OMA, she says, are all completely Flash-reliant (a no-no in the new i-Phone, i-Pad world) and “use label-less maps, wordless grids, sketches and other graphic devices with rollovers as navigation, with no easy way to locate or share projects.” One site that we at AN find particularly confusing is that of Lorcan O’Herlihy (one of our favorite architects, by the way), which puts projects into a grid that resembles the Periodic Table of the elements. Sure, it looks great, but.. Well, you get the idea.

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