Anchors Aweigh on the AIA Boat Tour

East
Friday, July 2, 2010
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The Manhattan setting sail from Pier 62, amid the Nouvel and Gehry-glittered skyline. (Courtesy Classic Harbor Line)

Anyone who’s chugged around Manhattan on the Circle Line knows that the tour’s ever-voluble guides have Gotham factoids down pat, but can stumble when it comes to telling Emery Roth from Hugh Stubbins from Davis Brody Bond. Well, if you’ve longed for a hard-core architecture aficionado at the helm, your yacht has come in. Last Saturday, the second Around Manhattan Official NYC Architecture Tour shoved off from the archi-sparkling skyline at Chelsea Piers. Read More

Journey to the Center of the Bay Bridge

West
Thursday, July 1, 2010
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Access to the inside of the new Bay Bridge skyway is via catwalks suspended over the water.

Action-movie directors: Consider shooting your next film in the innards of one of the biggest projects going up in the Bay Area: the new, $6 billion eastern span of the Bay Bridge.  There’s the evident glamour of a self-anchored suspension bridge–the Calatrava-esque part with the tower and cables holding everything up, which is still yet to be built. But already in place is the 1.2-mile  “skyway” portion, and inside the concrete monolith are whole rooms, including an electrical substation, and a tunnel that runs the length of the skyway.  Only maintenance crews are typically allowed in this secret warren, but a media tour led by a Caltrans representative provided a close-up of some of its more unusual features. Read More

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Walmart, Wages War in Chicago (Guess Who Won)

Midwest
Thursday, July 1, 2010
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These pro-Pullman protesters got what they wanted. (Ira and Andrea/Flickr)

After years of trying to land a second Walmart in Chicago, the world’s largest retailer succeeded in a big way yesterday when the City Council unanimously endorsed a Supercenter on the Far South Side, the anchor of a 270-acre mixed-use development. While only a few months ago the outcome of that store seemed uncertain, it all broke last week, when the unions reached a tentative agreement with Walmart to pay $8.75 an hour in its stores, more than the current minimum wage but less than was initially sought. On top of that, the retailer has cast doubt on whether a surefire deal has been set. Meanwhile, the city is bracing for the prospect of dozens of stores, through a deal arranged by Mayor Richard Daley, both a bane and a boon as it could mean an investment of $1 billion though also a costly one if it undercuts current retailers. The Sun-Times‘ incomparable Fran Spielman spells it all out for us: Read More

A Hub-bub in the Bronx

East, East Coast
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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The city wants to turn the two lots bisected by the subway into a new mixed-use commercial center—a hub for the Hub.

Of all five boroughs, the Bronx arguably fell the furthest during New York City’s 1970s collapse (the decade that saw the infamous burning) while it has not seen nearly the revival of Brooklyn or Queens in recent years. There’s the new Yankees Stadium, and the Grand Concourse remains resurgent, but there is still much to be done. The city’s Economic Development Corporation is hoping to nudge things along just a bit east at the Hub, an architecturally and historically rich area centered around the intersection of 149th Street, Third Avenue, and Melrose Avenue. On two lots covering 112,000 square feet where the 2/5 Trains shoot out of the ground, the city is hoping to create a new mixed-use retail center that can anchor the area’s continued redevelopment. Read More

Digging into the Past of New York Parks

East
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx (Photo: Malcolm Pinckney)

Most New Yorkers have an intimate relationship with the city’s many parks, especially during summer months when public events transform our favorite green spaces into temporary yoga studios and music venues. It can be easy to forget the industrial past of these urban oases, or the planning work and earth-sculpting toil responsible for the conversion of reservoirs and jails into Bronx parks and West Village gardens. Before They Were Parks, an exhibition presented by the New York City Parks Department, narrates the often untold history of the city’s open spaces. Read More

Boston Arch Taking Off?

East
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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Massport approved of Don Chiofaro's Boston Arch project, so long as it ditches the skyframe that pushes it to 690 feet, above the 625-foot limit. The condos at left are 590 feet tall.

UPDATE: Yanni Tsipis, a Chiofaro critic, counters: “In addition to the 625 foot limit on the Harbor Garage site, which was to be expected, note that [Massport flight paths] would also allow a 900 foot building in the middle of the Boston Common or a 1,000 foot building in the middle of the historic Back Bay brownstone district… certainly doesn’t mean any of these would be a good idea!”

Ever since the Boston Redevelopment Authority finalized its study setting heights along the post-Big Dig Rose Kennedy Greenway, the fate of developer Don Chiofaro’s Boston Arch has been very much in question. The city is recommending no more than two towers rising to 200 feet on the site, saying it will cast shadows on the politically sensitive park. This did not prevent Chiofaro from presenting his own claims earlier in the month that the 40-story office and 59-story residential towers designed by KPF that he wants to build will have no negative impacts, that the claims are overblown. Now, Massport, Read More

Remington Arms Reloaded

East
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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Bridgeport's Remington Arms plant has won a reprieve.

Nils Wiesenmüller of the Bridgeport Design Group reports that the historic Remington Arms Factory has been saved—at least for the moment. As we reported on April 19, the building, which once made guns for Czarist Russian armies and served as General Electric’s corporate headquarters, was slated for demolition by G.E., which still owns the structure. But the Connecticut Post claims that the city’s Inland Wetlands Watercourses Agency has tabled G.E.’s demolition permit for the moment because it cannot prove that “no materials, soil, or hazardous waste would make their way into nearby Stillman Pond during the two years it would take to deconstruct the 13 interconnected structures and powerhouse on the 72-acre property.” Still, it seems that G.E. and some in the city are determined to see the building torn down, so we are continuing our effort to save the structure and find an alternative use for it. We started a petition with Wiesenmüller, and while it now has almost 500 signatures, we need more. Please sign the petition and keep the pressure on to save this historic structure!

Moving Past Dingbats

West
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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Professional Winner: Microparcelization

The LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design just announced the winners of its Dingbat 2.0 competition, developing new designs to replace one of the most prevalent types of post-war LA apartment blocks. An exhibition of the winners went on display last Thursday, and will run through July 24 at LA Forum Events @ Woodbury Hollywood, 6518 Hollywood Boulevard. The winning professional scheme was “Microparcelization,” by the team of Carmen C. Cham, James Black, and Tyler Gross. The scheme replaces multi-family Dingbats with a new neighborhood made up of diverse, very small single family lots. The winning student team, from the Universidad Nacional del litoral in Argentina, transformed service streets into green spaces and deconstructed Dingbat boxes into diverse and original array of compositions. Incidentally, the third student prize went to Columbia University’s Ryan Lovett. We couldn’t help but notice that his entry, Substantiating Surface, looked exactly like his entry for the AN/SCI-ARC New Infrastructure competition last year (see bottom two pix after the jump). Hmm.. The idea—self sustaining communities within a tight urban grid—is strikingly similar as well. That’s not good.. Read More

Beekman Tower Has Bad Back

East, East Coast
Monday, June 28, 2010
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Baby don't got back. (Courtesy A. Fine Blog)

We’re not sure where the rumor started—most likely Curbed—but for a while now, it’s been going around that the southern side of Frank Gehry’s Beekman Tower isn’t faceted because it got smoothed out during a value-engineering process in 2009 that saved the project after it nearly stalled out (at half its planned height no less). The latest iteration is a lament on ArchDaily. We called Gehry’s people, many of whom were out of the office, but when they finally got back to us, the answer was a definitive “Nope.” This baby’s backside was always flat. We asked why but were told that this is “a question for Frank, only Frank,” who happens to be on vacation with his family in South Africa. Which can only mean one thing. World Cup. Who knew we had such a soccer fan in our midst? Maybe he’s checking out all those cool stadiums? Anyway, our guess is it has something to do with zoning envelopes. And now, consider the record corrected. For the second time.

Trade Show Wandering

West
Monday, June 28, 2010
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The poker table at Har-Bro's booth. The company specializes in property damage restoration.

After having rolled through the AIA Convention in Miami and Dwell on Design in Los Angeles, we just can’t get enough of the weirdness of American trade shows. Finally we’ve found a show that tops them all: The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Conference in Long Beach. The convention, which runs through tomorrow, is a delight for those looking to find those unsexy items that really make buildings run and last, like security systems, anti-mold measures, insurance, parking systems, janitorial services, outdoor lighting, and so on. And the exhibitors have outdone themselves with creative ways to get people to look at things that at first blush might not be too enticing. Start with the prospect of ipods, iphones, ipads, and flip video cameras, and move into interactive fare like a candy booth, a poker table, monogrammed golf balls, several golf putting greens, fresh-baked cookies, a wii station, a dart board, a wheel of fortune, and a good old fashioned raffle, to name just a few. Read More

The Most Fun at P.S. 1?

East, East Coast
Monday, June 28, 2010
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There was a party in the Citi Thursday night. (All photos by Matt Chaban)

Admittedly, we’ve been pretty darn obsessed with this year’s P.S.1 Young Architects Program, Pole Dance. But after last week’s party, the enthusiasm appears to have been justified. Not because this is the first one ever with its own interactive component, where you can log-on to the Pole Dance site and manipulate its sound (also a first) with your phone, or watch visualizations, or upload your own pictures. Not because of all the beautiful and architecturally famous people who came out, as our photos clearly document. No, this may just be the best damned pavilion in the program’s decade-long history because it’s the most damn fun. Your proof is after the jump. Read More

Name Change for Polshek Partnership

East
Monday, June 28, 2010
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Richard Olcott and Jim Polshek show presidential library to Bill Clinton, or vice versa.

While it may sound a tad like a movie starring Kirk Douglas, Ennead Architects is the new official name of the firm formerly known as Polshek Partnership. The change, according to partner Todd Schliemann, who has been with the firm since 1979, is meant to reflect the collaborative and dedicated spirit that has long suffused the practice’s philosophy, founded in 1963 by James Polshek, now 80, and that will now be even more pronounced. Polshek retired from active duty five years ago, and there was some confusion, according to Schliemann, about who had designed which projects. Read More

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