HOLLYWEIRD

West
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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Hotel Hollywood (Courtesy LA Daily News)

So the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign was nearly turned into the backyard for a bunch of mansions, but fortunately the recession intervened—one of a surprising number of upsides to the downside, it seems. But that doesn’t mean those big white letters aren’t seeming a little tired, and so a Dutch designer has come up with a rather clever new use that Curbed tipped us off to: turn the sign into a giant hotel. As Christian Bay-Jorgensen explained it to the Daily News, “The ultimate goal would be to preserve an internationally recognized landmark while helping the city generate badly needed funding.” If that weren’t bad enough, our pal Alissa Walker points us to Jeffrey Inaba’s plan to uproot the individual letters, loaning them out to areas of town in need of cache. The design provocateur explains after the jump, plus images of both, uh, projects. Read More

Landscape On The Range

National
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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A sketch of Heritage Park in Fort Worth, Texas, by Lawrence Halprin.

I don’t know what y’all are doing on May 6 to 8, but if landscape design tickles your pickle then you might want to hightail it down to the Lone Star State. The Cultural Landscape Foundation has partnered with Preservation Dallas and Historic Fort Worth to bring us Landscapes For Living: Post War Years In Texas, a symposium on modern landscape architecture in Texas at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art. Read More

Bombing and Boosting Domino

East
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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Rival graffiti artists have overtaken what remains of the Domino Sugar refinery in Brooklyn. (Courtesy Animal New York)

As the redevelopment of the massive Domino Sugar refinery on the WIlliamsburg waterfront continues to trudge through the city’s public review process, what remains of the once mighty sweetener plant continues to deteriorate—or improve, depending on your attitudes towards street art. Following on the footsteps of the busted windows some feared would cause water damage to the main refinery building, now warring graffiti crews have set up shop on the bin building. A concrete addition from the 1960s that will be demolished to make way for some of Rafael Viñoly’s 2,200 apartments, the bin building has now been bombed by no fewer than 5 graffiti writers. But it’s not all bad news for the development, as it won conditional approval from Borough President Marty Markowitz on Friday, though some of those conditions are pretty steep Read More

Figment Island

East, East Coast
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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Ann Ha and Behrang Behin's winning Figment entry, "Living Pavilion," was lauded for its sustainabile simplicity. (Courtesy Figment)

After nearly a year of waiting, we’ve now seen the new designs coming to Governors Island sometime in the future. But there is also some exciting architecture, art, and, most importantly, mini golf coming to the island this summer, part of the fourth annual Figment arts program that has been populating the island with exciting activities and edifices since the park first opened. On Friday, Figment announced the winners of its call for entries for the aforementioned projects, namely an architecture pavilion, 17 sculptures, and a 10-hole mini golf course. Eschewing the flashy forms of the three finalists they beat out, Ann Ha and Behrang Behin took a creative yet affordable approach with their winning Living Pavilion, tethering together milk crates to create planters for a garden that proceed to fold in on themselves, forming a wave-like tunnel sodded with grass. Check out the architecture finalists plus a few of the winning sculptures after the jump. Read More

Kill Beale

West
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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Transbay Transit Center, rendering courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Turns out the vociferous opponents to a Beale Street station in San Francisco had it right. The California High Speed Rail Authority voted last week not to build an underground station at Beale Street to serve as the northern endpoint of the state’s future high-speed rail line. Instead, the bullet train will make its final stop in the Transbay Terminal that is already slated to be built in downtown San Francisco. Read More

Burnham Depot Reno?

Midwest
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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(photo: Steve Koger, the Pal-Item)

Designed by the great Chicago architect and planner Daniel Burnham, this handsome if forlorn rail station may get a new life. Located in Richmond, Indiana, which is about halfway between Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, the old Pennsylvania Railroad Depot has been empty for over 30 years. According to the Richmond Palladium-Item, via archinect, owner Roger Richert recently bought the building for $75,000, but it is expected to take $1 million to stabilize. Richert is working with the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana to identify tax credits and other funding options in hopes of turning the building into a conference center, restaurant, a music venue, or retail space. Though the much of the interior is gone, Richert said the shell is strong, a testimony to Burnham’s robust design.

Not So Fast

West
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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SF's Planning Department holds up 555 Washington again, this time over over uncollected fees.

555 Washington, the proposed 38-story neighbor to SF’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid, has ridden a troubled road on its way though the city approval process. It seems that uneven path will continue. The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the planning department recently put a hold on a vote on the project’s environmental impact statement, claiming that the developer still owes the city $102,000 in uncollected fees. Needless to say, the doodoo has hit the fan. Is the planning department trying to chisel the developer to fill its budget gap? Or was it simply incompetent in collecting the fees in the first place? Will the developer refuse to pay unless their project receives the green light? Or will it go along obediently while the city chases its tail? Stay tuned…

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Bergdoll Breaks It Down

East
Monday, April 12, 2010
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The man, the myth, with his finger in the dyke, saving the city from itself. (neutralSurface/Flickr)

Few things go together better than public radio and art museums—and not just for those ubiquitous canvas tote bags—and yet it was still a pleasant surprise to hear our dear friend and chief MoMA design curator Barry Bergdoll on one of our favorite shows, Marketplace, this evening. Bergdoll and his sonorous voice were on to discuss Rising Currents, the recently opened show we’ve followed very closely, including our latest feature. There was plenty of discussion about hard and soft infrastructure, the inherent optimism of a rather pessimistic venture, the value of oysterculture, and glocalism. And if that weren’t enough, today’s episode turns out to be a double feature, as there was also a piece looking at the potential (fiscal) downside of the Governor’s Island deal.

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Taming Governors Island

East, East Coast
Monday, April 12, 2010
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The new Governors Island, as envisioned by West 8 and Co. CLICK TO ZOOM (Courtesy GIPEC)

Even with last week’s heat wave making it feel like July in the city, it will still be seven weeks before that oasis in New York Harbor, Governor’s Island, opens for the season on June 5. But there’s still plenty of reason to celebrate like summer’s here, as the city reached its anticipated deal with the state for control of the 172-acre island yesterday. The city will now be responsible for the development and operation of all but 22 acres of the former Coast Guard base purchased for $1 from the federal government in 2003, whose National Parks Service remains responsible for a small historic district on the northern section of the island. This paved the way for the rather quiet unveiling today of the 87-acre final master plan designed by West 8, Rogers Marvel, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mathews Nielsen, and Urban Design+, which had been under lock in key since last spring, when the proposal was completed but held up by all the fighting over the island’s, uh, governance. Read More

Bedazzled Ws

West
Monday, April 12, 2010
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A couple of months ago we introduced you to the W Hotel in Hollywood, a collaboration of some of the leading design talent in LA. One of those firms, Sussman Prejza, just sent us a video that shows off their all-important fiery red and multi-colored “W” signs, seen throughout the building. In addition to the behemoth  35-foot-tall W on top of the hotel, the firm designed a slew of animated signs, which sparkle thanks to LED’s, red and/or crystalline filters, and faceted, laser-cut acrylic surfaces. The signs vary from 2.5 to 5.5 feet tall and are programmed with their own dedicated control computer, 10 network switches, 61 power supplies and over 24,000 LEDs. And you thought all that Hollywood sparkle was simple, didn’t you?

Hejduk Saves Face?

International
Monday, April 12, 2010
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Hejduk's Kreuzberg Tower, as seen on March 31. (Courtesy SLAB Magazine)

We recently reported on the defacement of John Hejduk’s Kreuzberg Tower and Wings in Berlin, the architect’s poetic 1988 project built as part of the IBA program. After an international outpouring of angst over the developer’s “renovation” of the building—in just two weeks, more than 3,000 people signed an online petition, with testimonials penned by architects including Peter Eisenman, Steven Holl, Thom Mayne, and others—the building’s managers, BerlinHaus GmbH, have now said they will meet with the design community to take public opinion into consideration, and perhaps rethink their plans. Read More

Our Man in Washington

National
Friday, April 9, 2010
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It’s been a busy week for Ray LaHood, our favorite Transportation Secretary. On Monday, he sat down with the Times‘ Green Inc. blog to discuss a range of topics, most notably his recent declaration (video above, shot from atop a table at the National Bike Summit) that cyclists and pedestrians would get equal time, money, and consideration on America’s streets. The next day, a blog post, ostensibly by the secretary, featured an interesting study showing that a staggering amount of us—Americans, not just readers of this blog—want more and bet transit options. And this goes for the nation’s waterways as well, all delivered through a more transparent DOT. And in an unusually unbureaucratic move, the department is even sharing some of its responsibilities, partnering with the EPA to set fuel efficiency standards. The week was capped off today in a sweep through New York to press drivers stop texting and stump for high-speed rail, one of his pet projects. And to think people were afraid he’d be reactionary just because he was a Republican Congressman. Revolutionary is more like it.

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