Late Is Better Than Never

Midwest
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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Zahas fabric and aluminum pod is lit at night by LED fixtures, in a changing color scheme designed by Chicago firm Dear Productions. (Courtesy Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Zaha's fabric and aluminum pod is lit at night by LED fixtures, in a changing color scheme designed by Chicago firm Dear Productions. (Courtesy Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

On Tuesday, after a nearly two-month delay, Zaha Hadid’s pavilion honoring the 100th-year anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago finally opened in Millennium Park. The wait—allegedly caused by problems with the project’s contractor—was more than made up for by the dynamism of the space, or so thought the Tribune. The installation at last joins its neighbor, the on-schedule Burnham pavilion by UNStudio, which is already showing significant signs of wear on its plywood surface from being used as a public rumpus room. See more pictures of Zaha’s creation here.

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MoMA Makes for Bad Neighbor

East
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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A group of Midtown residents and concerned citizens, many from the West 54th/55th Street Block Association, have been the leading opponents of Jean Nouvel’s MoMA tower. They have been very vocal during hearings at Landmarks and, just a few weeks ago, City Planning Commission. Now, The Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development, as the group is calling itself, have launched a website, no2moma.com. There, they succinctly recast their previous opposition to the project–light & shadows, traffic & congestion, out-sized & ugly–as well as presenting a six minute documentary that makes the group’s best case yet. Our favorite part is the clip above, where the Nouvel tower rises, Frankenstein-like, from “a lot no bigger than a McDonald’s drive-thru.” The full video is after the jump, but, given statements made by some commissioners during a meeting Monday, all this flash and frustration may be too little too late. Read More

Neutra Strathmore Apartments Threatened

West
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
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Proposed Grandmarc Westwood project

Proposed Grandmarc Westwood project

AN contributor Michael Webb not only writes about Modernism, but he lives it: for the last 31 years he has resided in one of the units in Richard Neutra’s Strathmore Apartments in Westwood. According to Webb, developer Landventures is proposing to build a five-story block directly across the street from the Neutra apartments, which would block light and views, aggravate the noise and congestion on a heavily trafficked street, and “degrade an architectural masterpiece.” He and other residents are encouraging people to attend tommorow night’s hearing of the Westwood Community Design Review Board (7pm in the community room A of the Westside Pavilion at Pico and Westwood) to oppose the project. To see what the apartments mean to Webb, check out this essay he wrote about his unit a few years ago: Read More

Remembering Charles Gwathmey

East
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
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Gwathmey

Gwathmey

Charles Gwathmey passed away on Monday, but he was fondly remembered by his many colleagues, including Robert Siegel, Richard Meier, Michael Graves, and Peter Eisenman, in our obituary. We invite readers to share their own memories of this “fighter for modernism” in the comments section below. But please, be erudite, as Gwathmey would have had it no other way.

Design Observer Diversifies

National
Monday, August 3, 2009
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Design Observer started in 2003 as an online destination for commentary and discussion on design, primarily graphic design. Its founders, Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand, and Rick Poyner are all well-known voices in that field, and the site quickly grew to be one of the most widely read design forums, claiming 175,000 visitors a month, and attracting contributions from other notable writers and designers. Though it has touched on architecture, industrial design, photography, art, and pop culture, its primary focus has remained graphic design. That’s changing, however, as the site, now known as the Design Observer Group, has expanded to include four distinct pages, Observatory, Observermedia, Change Observer, and Places. Read More

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Taking Aim at the Downturn

West
Friday, July 31, 2009
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OK, it’s time to start doing something about this economic debacle. Next Tuesday, August 4, in Los Angeles, AN, The California Real Estate Journal, and Gensler will be co-hosting a panel to devise ways for SoCal firms to cope with the downturn. Topics will include finding architectural projects, exploiting creative measures like design-build, shaking loose financing, and securing public money and jobs, among other things. The panel will include Larry Scarpa of Pugh+Scarpa; Rob Jernigan of Gensler; Dan Rosenfeld of development firm Urban Partners (and Deputy for Economic Development to LA Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas); Cecilia Estolano, CEO of the LA Community Redevelopment Agency; Denise Bickerstaff of real estate consulting firm Keyser Marston Associates; and Jerry Neuman of real estate law firm Allen Matkins Leck. The event will take place at 6 pm at Poliform, 8818 Beverly Blvd. Networking, of course, to follow. Don’t miss this chance to pull yourself up by your bootstraps!

Eavesdrop NY 13

East Coast, Eavesdroplet
Friday, July 31, 2009
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COOPER SCOOPER
Eavesdrop held a glass to the emergency-exit door of the Cooper-Hewitt and heard rumblings that a ten-member, Smithsonian-led committee was about to announce a new museum director to succeed Paul Warwick Thompson. It sounded as if the committee was down to two candidates—Paola Antonelli and Aaron Betsky. The latter volunteered to a source that he was not in the running, but we think he was merely trying to throw us off the scent. Our olfactory sense is too highly tuned to be distracted. Expect an announcement any minute. Read More

Rezoning Day

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 30, 2009
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Yorkville, one of the high density areas of Manhattan that will be elligible for more affordble housing under a change to city zoning approved Wednesday. (Wikimedia Commons)

Yorkville, one of the high density areas of Manhattan that will be elligible for more affordble housing under a change to city zoning approved Wednesday. (Wikimedia Commons)

The rezoning of Coney Island may have takn up all the oxygen at the City Council Wednesday, but it was far from the only rezoning to pass, and far from the only important one. The council also approved a major downzoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which, at 175 blocks, is not only huge, but important, as it was meant to protect the area from out-of-scale overdevelopment. It may be a little too late for that, but better late than never, we guess. Or maybe never again is more like it. The Flatbush neighborhood on the south side of Prospect Park got a similar treatment, receiving a massive 180 block downzoning again to protect against uncharacteristic development. Dumbo was rezoned, though in a particularly contextual manner, given its unique historic character, as were four contiguous neighborhoods in Queens. But perhaps most important was a citywide change to the inclusionary housing bonus. Read More

Designing Better Healthcare

West
Thursday, July 30, 2009
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Mahlum's Providence North Portland Clinic. (All images courtesy AIA)

The healthcare reform battle’s getting ugly, but at least it can play out against some pretty backdrops.

The two built winners of this year’s AIA National Healthcare Design Awards, both in Portland, Oregon, are glossy and inviting. Mahlum’s Providence North Portland Clinic runs alongside a transit line downtown, greeting the street with a long wall of windows revealing glimpses of murals within. And a dramatic new pavilion at the Oregon Health and Science University (by Perkins + Will in joint venture with Petersen Kohlberg & Associates) spans a 75-foot change in elevation, creating a cascade of expansive vistas and terraces with a pedestrian walkway snaking through them. Read More

See The Chops For Yourself

West
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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Finally, the (budget) sun sets on the California State Capitol in Sacremento. (Courtesy terragalleria.com)

California has finally solved its budget impasse, but it wasn’t pretty. Many programs have been cut, including several that affect architects. To see a summarized version of the gruesome details, go here. Among the cuts, 100 state parks will now be closed and $1.7 billion in statewide redevelopment funds will be shifted to schools. Yikes.  That’s not to mention $52.1 million cut from AIDS programs, $50 million cut from the Department of Health Care Services, and $50 million in services for young children.

Stalling Out

East, East Coast
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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A stalled building in--where else--Williamsburg. (Courtesy Curbed.com)

A stalled building in--where else--Williamsburg. (Courtesy Curbed.com)

Last week, the Times reported on efforts by the city to address the wave of stalled projects plaguing the city. It was a surprising story, but not because of the news of the program–mind you, we were well ahead of the Gray Lady on that. No, what took us aback was the huge jump in the number of stalled buildings the Department of Buildings had recorded between the time our story ran on June 11 and theirs on June 19, with the total number of stalled buildings more than doubling from 138 to 362. We immediately called the DOB to find out more but, well, this being summer, we just heard back today. Read More

Put Up A Parking Lot

Midwest
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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(photo: Brian Newman)

(photo: Brian Newman)

Despite interest from developers and pleas from activists in St. Louis, yesterday the Missouri Circuit Court ruled that the demolition of the mid-century modern San Luis Apartments can proceed. An appeal brought to the court by The Friends of the San Luis last week attempted to prevent the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which owns the building, from the further demolition of the structure. The Archdiocese wants to build a surface parking lot on the site, creating a large gap in the urban fabric of Lindell Boulevard. Read More

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