Burj Bounce

International
Friday, January 8, 2010
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The Burj Dubai Khalifa opened on Monday, breaking a slew of records, but this video showcases one we never expected: a record-breaking base jump. Leaping from a window-washing crane on the 160th floor, two local experts plummeted 2,205 feet to earth, a feat few, if any, will ever replicate, though no doubt they’ll keep trying, as what’s even crazier is a British man attempted the same jump before the building was even completed, though he was caught in the act and promptly incarcerated, as the video after the, uh, jump shows. If that’s not enough, the Daily Mail‘s got some good photos. Read More

Sustainability Experts Descend On Downtown LA

West
Friday, January 8, 2010
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There’s hope for the greening of Downtown LA…. Last month the AIA’s Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT), a group of eight sustainability experts (including architects, landscape architects, urban designers, transportation planners, business development professionals, and workforce training experts) from across the country, presented their preliminary ideas for Downtown to the local community. The event came thanks to a grant awarded to the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) by the AIA’s Center for Community Design. The team recommended that the DLANC’s Sustainability Committee start or continue working on small scale interventions like tree plantings, community gardens, bike lanes, rerouting buses, its Harlem Place stormwater management/open space project, a sustainability website, Parking Day LA and other outreach events. It also proposed developing a vision that included a checklist of reminders that for all began with E (Empowerment, Equity, Environment, Economy, and Example). The SDAT team’s final report is to be delivered to the Neighborhood Council in early February 2010. We’ll let you know what they come up with.

–Gunnar Hand

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Broad Chooses Santa Monica?

West
Friday, January 8, 2010
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Eli and Edythe Broad

According to the Santa Monica Daily Press (via our senseis at Curbed) Santa Monica has basically claimed victory in its battle against Beverly Hills for Eli Broad’s new contemporary art museum. According to the story the Santa Monica City Council could vote on the deal as soon as this Tuesday. “I feel that the vast majority of issues have been discussed thoroughly and agreed to,” City Councilman Bob Holbrook told the Daily Press. Meanwhile in Beverly Hills city spokeswoman Cheryl Burnett told the Daily Press she wasn’t aware of any new developments in negotiations with the Broad Foundations. Doesn’t look good for Beverly Hills.. Read More

Some Healthy Construction News

East, East Coast
Thursday, January 7, 2010
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Robert LiMandri, commissioner of the Department of Buildings, visits a construction site last year. Deaths have fallen 84 percent on his watch. (Courtesy DOB)

While the recession has been woefully difficult for architects and construction workers, the latter have had some small reason for celebration: Last year, construction deaths in the Five Boroughs plummeted 84 percent, with only three in 2009, down from 19 in 2008. Partly this can be chocked up to reduced activity: the Department of Buildings, in a release heralding the declines, notes that new permits declined 33 percent, a staggering number itself—as much for not being higher, given everyone’s dour expectations, as for being so high. Also, there were no major accidents as there were in previous years—no Deutsche Bank fires, no consecutive crane collapses. Still, with fatalities at 12 in 2007 and 18 in 2006, this is clearly an awesome improvement. And credit is due, much more than the bad economy, to department Commissioner Robert LiMandri, who has made construction safety his abiding purpose. “We have been working to change the culture of the construction industry—to put public safety ahead of profit—and our message is being heard,” LiMandri said in the release. Well, we hear you, too.

New (Yorker) Urbanism

East, East Coast
Thursday, January 7, 2010
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(Courtesy newyorker.com)

Rarely are New Yorker cartoons anything more than esoteric—which is why we love them, right?—but this one, from last week’s issue, struck a particular chord. We still can’t decide if its more Duany or Grimshaw. We do hope Mayor Bloomberg saw it, though, as it could provide an example for the happy future development of Willets Point or the Gowanus Canal, both of which are fighting for their futures as industrial areas. And then, while looking this cartoon up, we stumbled across another good one, which you can find after the jump. If we had a penny for every time we heard about a contractor doing this… Read More

Stimulus Project Bottleneck

West
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Pasadena Civic Center, one of the projects currently held up by the state's Office of Historic Preservation

Pasadena Civic Center, one of the projects currently held up by the state's Office of Historic Preservation. Photo by Prayitno/Flickr.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that dozens of stimulus projects in California are being held up by an overwhelmed Office of Historic Preservation, one of  several agencies that must sign off on a government project before it can break ground. The story was triggered by a letter sent by the state’s stimulus watchdog to Governor Schwartzenegger, advising him that the problem will just continue to grow, now that funds from stimulus pump are just starting to reach the states.

Manhattanville Ho!

East, East Coast
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Demolition of 3229 Broadway is currently underway in Manhattanville, proof of Columbia's determination to build something in the area, no matter what the courts say about pieces of its new campus the school does not control. (Courtesy Google Maps)

Last month’s court victory for opponents of Columbia University’s new campus in Manhattanville was not necessarily a defeat for the school’s planned 17-acre expansion, and not only because appeals remain. With roughly 94 percent of the area under its control, Columbia has said it plans to continue work on the campus, despite its insistence that it cannot be completed as planned without full control of all buildings therein. Last night, Columbia officials outlined their current approach to Manhattanville for the first time since the ruling at a hearing in Harlem on the future of eminent domain in the state (more on that in Issue 1!). Read More

Bridge? What Bridge?

East
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
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Who says local government never gets anything done fast? Last Monday the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) brought down the ailing Lake Champlain Bridge in less than ten seconds — check out its lightning-fast disintegration captured on the video clip above.

Read More

Estolano Enigma Solved

Other
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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Estolano.

The LA Times has finally solved the mystery as to why LA Community Redevelopment Agency CEO Cecilia Estolano stepped down late last year. According to The Times (and Curbed LA), Estolano warned LA mayor Villaraigosa that she would resign before moving her agency to a building on the western edge of downtown, which the mayor had requested. ‘The mayor may want to know that he will lose the CEO of his CRA/LA over this,” Estolano wrote in one memo. The paper said that “Villaraigosa’s executive team was baffled by Estolano’s defiance and asked for her resignation.” In an interview with the Times Estolano disputed the claim that she was pushed out. Either way, she’s one of several top officials to leave or be pushed out by the mayor in his final term, as the story states. It’s a wild, uncertain time here in LA.

Konstantin Craving

Midwest
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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Osorom Seating Element for Moroso (all images courtesy respective manufacturers)

Konstantin Grcic: Decisive Design currently on view in The Art Institute of Chicago’s new Modern wing marks the first stateside showcase of the Munich-born, London-trained designer. Curated by Zoe Ryan, the exhibition is the fifth installment of the museum’s A+D Series that previously featured Chicago architect Douglas Garofalo and graphic design firm Graphic Thought Facility.

It’s also the first show with a subtitle. Although delightfully alliterative, “Decisive Design” is a misnomer. It sets up Grcic, a craftsman who studied at the Royal College of Art and came of age under the sly wit of designers Jasper Morrison and Ettore Sottsass, as an exacting decider. Sure, the 100 plus objects in the gallery reveal that Grcic is always searching logical production methods and that he takes an honest approach to materials, but the products themselves tell stories richer than pure functionalism. Read More

Case Study Architect Kemper Nomland Dies

West
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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Nomland's Case Study House #10

Architect Kemper Nomland, who built Case Study House #10, has died at age 90, reports the LA Times. Nomland, who was born in California, joined with his father to create the firm Nomland & Nomland after WWII. Their most famous commission was #10, the only Case Study to be built in Pasadena. The house, constructed in 1947, was designed  for the sloping corner lot in its hillside neighborhood, with rooms placed strategically on several levels. Rooms were placed on several levels. Like most Case Study houses the project connected indoors and out with large glass walls and used affordable, off-the-shelf construction materials. According to the Times, after working with his father Nomland worked for several architectural firms, and at one point he designed a house for actress Jane Russell. He designed dozens of other homes, including his own.

Skin Condition

East, East Coast
Monday, January 4, 2010
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Putting the Verizon building behind bars—and plans for its recladding on ice. (StartAgain/Flickr)

It looks like one of New York’s ugliest buildings may also have turned out to be one of its naughtiest. The exchange place at 375 Pearl Street is reviled by many, including tall buildings expert and AN pal Carol Willis, thanks to its blank sides and besmirching of our Brooklyn Bridge panoramas. Fortunately, plans were in the works to have Cook + Fox reclad the building and turn it into something more befitting of an increasingly polished downtown, not unlike the recent transformation of another former phone exchanger across from Bryan Park, 1095 Avenue of the Americas. But that could all come tumbling down thanks to some long—or is it tall—overdue taxes. Read More

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