Meierland

East
Thursday, May 6, 2010
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Meier's model village, with the Getty Center in foreground. (Photo: Scott Frances/Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners)

An important part of Richard Meier’s design process is his use of scale models—usually beautifully crafted of wood—to consider a physical form in its broader context. In-house model makers are often asked to fabricate multiple iterations of projects, and the firm is famous for its elegant presentation models, such as the one for his extraordinary gridded skyscraper (designed with Steven Holl, Charles Gwathmey, and Peter Eisenman) for the World Trade Center competition. Fortunately, Meier has not only kept many of his models, some going back 40 years like the Smith House in Connecticut, but also a spectacular series of working models for the Getty Center (above). These are kept in Meier’s model museum—a loft space in Long Island City that is opened to the public starting tomorrow, May 7, through August 27 (the museum is closed to the public during the winter months, due to the climate’s impact on the models). Tours can be arranged through Richard Meier & Partners Architects at 212-967-6060.

The Grand Sleep

West
Thursday, May 6, 2010
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If built, the $3 billion, mixed-use Grand Avenue project would be one of the largest ever constructed in downtown LA.

According to the Los Angeles Business Journal, downtown LA’s long-delayed Grand Avenue project is going to, er, keep being delayed. Related, the developer, has asked the city for an extension to its deadline to begin construction on the $3 billion Frank Gehry-designed behemoth. The way things stand now, if they don’t get the pile drivers working by February 2011 LA will take their baby away. Related wants until February 2013, a period of time they’ll presumably spend with their fingers crossed, waiting for the condo market to climb back out of the hole it’s fallen into. Also caught up in this mess is a parcel of land that billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad wants to use to build his very own art museum. Could this cultural component be a bargaining chip that will invoke the city’s leniency? Well, Related sure hopes so.

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The Wright Ingredients

East, East Coast
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
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Welcome to the Wright, now approved by two dead baldmen. (Courtesy Andre Kikoski Architects)

Local boy Andre Kikoski won the James Beard Award today for his flashy new restaurant inside the Guggenheim Museum. It replaced the once dowdy cafeteria designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, for whom the award-winning eatery is named, long a vestigial space tucked in under the museum’s sweeping rotunda. Now all flashy curves and color, Kikoski’s space, which opened in January, was even considered a might bit better than the food served therein by New York food critic Adam Platt. The Wright beat out another local spot, Brooklyn’s Choice Kitchens & Bakery by Evan Douglis Studio, and Greensboro, Alabama’s PieLab, designed by Project M. Kikoski joins recent award winners Thomas Schleeser of Design Bureaux (2009) for Chicago’s Publican, Tadao Ando (2008) for Morimoto New York, Lewis Tsuramaki Lewis (2007) for New York’s (now defunct) Xing, Bentel and Bentel (2006) for the Modern… (We’re noticing a trend here, which maybe helps explain why the food in the city is so darn good.)

The Difference a Year Makes

West
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
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The Sacremento County Courthouse, home of the Superior Court that made the authorities ruling. (Tom Spaulding/Flickr)

For better and worse, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that the California legislature had not violated the state constitution in seizing some $2 billion from hundreds of local redevelopment authorities across the state, money that will continue to be used to cover educational shortfalls within the state’s sagging budget. This is good news in that it does not further imperil already tenuous state finances that have pretty much been trimmed well into the marrow. At the same time, as we detailed last year, this is an unprecedented taking of local funds—covered through special property taxes having nothing to do with the Legislature—that could also imperil the state’s economy by limiting the work the redevelopment authorities can do, work that often times goes to architects. Read More

Movies Movies Movies

National
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
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Once again the Society for Motion Pictures About the Built Environment (SMIBE) has dared filmmakers to document the constructed world around them, with its second annual short film competition (see our take on last year’s competition here).  This year’s theme, “Personal Infrastructures” (everybody loves the word infrastructure these days, right?)  spurred some great work, including First Place winner “Ice Carosello” by Matthias Löw, which captures the creation and enjoyment of an ice carousel (yes, a spinning block of ice in the middle of a frozen lake) in Sweden through time-lapse photography, accompanied by light techno background music. Now we REALLY want to visit one of these things. Our favorite of all was Augmented (Hyper) Reality: Domestic Robocop by Keiichi Matsuda, who explores the blurring line between humans and cyborgs as an animated human (or is it a robot?) digitally scans everything in his kitchen to make a cup of tea. Reality is coming, and we are all turning into iPads.

The Oil Spill Next Door

National
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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At the rate of 5,000 barrels per day, it would take two days to create a Victorian-sized oil spill.

When trying to wrap his brain around the quantities of oil oozing into the Gulf, Hulett Jones of the San Francisco firm Jones Haydu reacted like an architect: He went to SketchUp and did some modeling. Haydu then extracted his ideas to a nifty YouTube video that comes to the clever conclusion that  One Victorian = 2 days of leakage. Wouldn’t it be great if news stories provided this sort of concrete analog for their data points? Edward Tufte would be proud. You can watch the video after the jump. Read More

U.N., Me, and Everyone We Know

East
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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The U.N. complex, shown in its pre-renovation state, is returning to its techno-utopian roots. (UN Photo/Lois Conner)

One might think that the $1.9 billion overhaul of the United Nations Headquarters would be a multiple-stakeholder quagmire of Ground Zero proportions. However, as Michael Adlerstein, executive director of the U.N. Capital Master Plan, put it in a fascinating April 27 presentation, the consensus-based organization actually made it easier to push major decisions through, since the “joint stepping on of many toes” allowed various U.N. members to at least feel that they were being inconvenienced equally. Read More

AIA SF Marin Home Tours: Sneak Preview

West
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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In the 1960 home designed by Daniel Liebermann and renovated by Vivian Dwyer, time stands still.

This year the AIA SF is debuting a second home tour, up in Marin,  in addition to its popular home tour in San Francisco happening later on in September. Smart move: there’s some great architecture going on in this area just north of the city–the area is so close, yet a world away. Freed from the strictures of squeezing in between row houses, and surrounded by bucolic landscapes and bay views, architects have come up with some lovely examples of contemporary living.

The one-day tour on May 15 offers a look at five homes. But the one that is a definite “can’t miss” is architect Daniel Liebermann’s first home, which he built in 1960.   Read More

Brody House Is Money ($25 million worth)

West
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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A Quincy Jones’ Brody House in LA’s Holmby Hills has hit the market for a whopping $24.95 million, report the Wall Street Journal and LA Curbed. The 11,500 square foot modernist home  has nine bedrooms, a tennis court, pool, and a guest house on 2.3 acres. It also features a floating staircase, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and plenty of indoor-outdoor spaces. Not coincidentally the art collection of the home’s owners, Sydney F. and Frances Brody, is going up for auction today at Christie‘s in New York. It includes works by Picasso, Giacometti, Matisse, Degas, Renoir (not bad staging pieces for a house sale). The couple were founding benefactors of LACMA, major patrons of the Huntington Library and Gardens, and known  for throwing legendary parties full of stars. Frances Brody died last November. We think Mr. and Mrs. Brad Pitt would like living here.

Eavesdrop CA 04

West
Monday, May 3, 2010
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The Two Johns: Cary (left), formerly of Public Architecture, and Peterson, still of PA.

WAY TO GO CLIVE
The unofficial mayor of Silver Lake, Barbara Bestor, once again transformed local Mexican restaurant Casita del Campo into a sweaty mosh pit for architects and other designers at the end of March. Among those dancing like teenagers were Clive Wilkinson and his beautiful, young (mee-ow alert!) girlfriend Cheryl Lee Scott, a local real estate agent. Back when we reported on his fantastic new house in West Hollywood, we couldn’t help but notice that it seemed an empty place for a bachelor. Read More

Waffling on Walmart

Midwest
Monday, May 3, 2010
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Walmart has one store in Chicago, in Oak Park on the West Side. Can it pull off the same feat in Pullman? (Courtesy Google Maps)

The story surrounding plans for a new Walmart on Chicago’s Far South Side keeps changing faster than the retailer’s prices. Last week we noticed that its attempts to break into Brooklyn were eerily similar to those in the Windy City, though we failed to mention how the linchpin of the current argument, that no one would dare locate in Pullman, does not hold true in East New York, as the Gateway Center already has a Target and a few other big box stores. But according to the Chicago Reader, that may not be the case in Pullman either. The paper did the unthinkable and—gasp!—called up the other retailers who the local alderman said he contacted, including IKEA, Dominick’s, and Jewel-Osco, to confirm that they had turned Alderman Anthony Beale down. Read More

Mies, Ahoy!

Midwest
Friday, April 30, 2010
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(Courtesy Chicago Architecture Foundation)

The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s boat tours begin tomorrow, and they’ve added two evening “date night” cruises on Thursday and Friday evenings, beginning at 5:30. The hour and a half long tours highlights 53 architecturally significant sites. All Chicago Architecture Foundation cruises depart from the lower level and southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge at Wacker Drive. The 2010 Tour Schedule runs through November 21.  Tickets are $32 and are available at www.architecture.org or
1-800-982-2787.

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