Positively Palm Springs

West
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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John Lautner’s 1968 Elrod House in Palm Springs. (Courtesy Palm Springs Art Museum)

We are just back from three sunny, margarita-and-architecture-filled days in Palm Springs. This small desert city was barely a mirage until the arrival of Liberace, Frank Sinatra (you can rent his house for $1,900 a night), and air-conditioning helped make it a popular resort in the 1950s. But the clear warm desert air (and wealthy patrons) seemed to lend itself to visionary modern architecture. Read More

Healing the Struggling TODs

West
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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Poor walkability and skimpy parking inhibit use of the Slauson Blue Line station in Los Angeles (Photo © Nick Rother)

Not all TODs (transit oriented developments) were created equal. So ULI Los Angeles has launched a series of TOD Technical Assistance Panels to re-strategize under-performing transportation centers. The first of these workshops – led by volunteer urban-design professionals – presented its findings on February 19 at LA’s Slauson Avenue Blue Line station. The  station suffers from poor security; poor pedestrian connectivity to the surrounding neighborhood (including an above-grade platform separated from street life); and poor insulation from noxious industrial uses. Panel recommendations focused on getting people to the station and adding retail. This included a security kiosk, improved lighting, and more visible crosswalks and sidewalks. Read More

LEEDers in Education

Midwest
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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(photos by Cameron Campbell, RDG Planning and Design unless otherwise noted)

It’s official: design students at Iowa State University learn their craft in a LEED Platinum facility. The King Pavilion is the third Platinum building in Iowa, and one of the only design school buildings in the country to reach this highest level of certification. Designed by RDG Planning & Design of Des Moines, the wing features a green roof, extensive daylighting, blue jean insulation and other recycled building materials, among other sustainable strategies. Click through for more photos. Read More

Beacon from a Distance

International
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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Richard Meier Partners U.S. Embassy

Architecture writer Robert Booth reports in The Guardian that the only two British jurors on the selection committee for the new U.S. Embassy in London pronounced that the Kieran Timberlake design was “not good enough to represent one of the great nations in London.” Whether in meetings or in a “Minority Report” remains unclear, the two Lords on the jury, architect Richard Rogers and developer/art collector Peter Palumbo, allegedly found the design boring and that they “fought to the death” to swing votes in favor of the Thomas Mayne scheme that they considered “touched by genius.” Read More

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Pritzkers Take the Stage

East, East Coast
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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Herzog & de Meuron have designed the sets for the Met's latest production of Atilla, which premiers tonight. (Ken Howard/Courtesy Metropolitan Opera)

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, like many of their starchitect brethren, have not had an easy time of late in New York, from the stalling of 56 Leonard to the continuing reconfiguration of the Parrish Art Museum. (Yes, we know everybody’s having a hard time of late, but that’s a different story.) Well, the Basel-based architects just got their big break, as they say in the theater: a debut at the Met. No, they are not the latest hot shot firm to proffer an addition to the ever-transforming complex. Better yet, they’ve designed the set for a new production of Verdi’s Atilla, which premiers tonight. We’re not exactly sure what to make of the ghostly scenery that somehow floats above the chorus, from a forest picnic of sorts to post-apocalyptic-looking ruins (hopefully not the remnants of some failed project). Yet even in this unusual setting, the designer’s unusual forms shine. Fashion doing about as well as architecture these days, does it come as a surprise that Miuccia Prada has lent her talents to the costumes? With any luck, Herzog & de Meuron will take over the Oscars next year. Read More

Advertising Jiujitsu

East, East Coast
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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If you’re an architecture geek like us, you love playing Spot the Building while watching TV or at the movies. (The International, otherwise mediocre, is one of our favorites for this very reason.) That’s why this Cadillac commercial caught us so off guard when we saw it the other day. At first, we knew we recognized the “museum” at the start, even though it wasn’t actually one. In fact, it wasn’t even one building. Read More

WWCOT to DLR: Merger Mania

West
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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WWCOT's Indio Teen Center

We learn via email today that  California firm WWCOT has been taken over by midwest mega-firm DLR Group. WWCOT’s offices in LA, Modesto, Palm Springs,  Riverside, and Shanghai will be known as DLR Group WWCOT. The merger, says 500-person DLR, will give the firm a needed presence in California and Asia, and improve its education, healthcare, and senior community design. Like most businesses, architecture’s biggest firms are interested in the takeover, which gives them more geographic reach, more talent, and more clients. This move follows behemoth firm AECOM’s purchase last October of Ellerbe Becket, and in 2007 RMJM’s purchase of Hillier, and Arcadis’ purchase of RTKL. According to a 2009 survey by business management consultant ZweigWhite, Seventy-one percent of architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms plan to conduct a merger or acquisition in the next five years. Sounds high, but maybe there will be one giant firm running all of architecture the next time we check?

A New Direction for Domus?

International
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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The February 2010 cover of the magazine.

The famed Italian architecture and design magazine Domus announced new leadership today, with the reinstatement of former editor-in-chief Alessandro Mendini for an eleven-issue term beginning in April. Joseph Grima, until recently the director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, has been brought on to bolster the magazine’s web and international presence and will take over as editor-in-chief following Mendini’s term.

The somewhat unusual arrangement will give Grima time to rethink the magazine’s content across media platforms, while the print edition continues under the steady hand of Mendini, who has previously edited Domus, Modo, and Casabella magazines. Deputy editor Stephan Casciani has also being retained. According to a statement from the magazine, Domus has an international circulation of approximately 51,000 copies. Read More

Piano Bombed

Midwest
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
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(photos courtesy Fat Caps and Chrome)

Chicago is known for the combination of its excellent architecture and tough, gritty urban life. Both aspects of the city’s personality met briefly yesterday, when two graffiti crews tagged a long wall of the Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing at the Art Institute. While we would never endorse vandalism, there is no denying the visual power of the bright colors and riotous script dashed across Piano’s formal surfaces. The Art Institute, however, did not ponder the artistic merit of the tags. Read More

No Green in Green?

East
Monday, February 22, 2010
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The solar panels are just the start of this green-house in Harlem. (Courtesy Warburg Realty)

Is it really possible to make your house too green? California may not think so, but a Harlem brownstone is finding that to be the case. Last week, Curbed spotted 151 West 122nd Street, which the realtors declare to be the “greenest house in Manhattan.” While there are a few others that might argue for that throne, this one holds the title by apparently being the first standalone townhouse in the borough to achieve a LEED rating, Silver to be exact, courtesy a Better Homes and Gardens makeover. But all that green cred is not translating into green credit, as the building’s price has fallen from $4.05 million some 17 months ago to $2.79 million. At least one critic, gadabout blogger Harlem Bespoke, has complained that the problem is the project has forgone its charm for slick environmentalism—there’s no brownstone left in this brownstone!. Could this be the case, as ArchNewsNow turned up more green backlash today? Or is it simply the fact that no one is willing to spend this kind of money, no matter how nice a house, in Harlem?

The Makers of the Design Canon

Midwest
Monday, February 22, 2010
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Recent acquisitions by the AIC's A&D department include the Obama logo designed by Sol Sender.

You probably would not expect to find the ubiquitous “@” symbol in the same category as the Olivetti portable typewriter, the Saarinen tulip chair, or the Pininfarina Cisitalia 202 GT car. But on Saturday at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, persuasively argued for its inclusion in MoMA’s famed design collection alongside the items described above.

Within the very small world of museum architecture and design curators the AIC’s symposium, “Modern Construction: Creating Architecture and Design Collection” assembled a blue-chip group to discuss acquisition methodologies, philosophies, and approaches. Read More

A Public Art Plan for the Derby City

Midwest
Friday, February 19, 2010
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The report identified possible urban sites for public art (photos by Sarah Lyon).

Today the City of Louisville and the New York-based public art organization Creative Time unveiled a long-term plan for funding and developing public art across the city.  The Louisville Public Art Master Plan recommends the creation of a Committee on Public Art (COPA) that will oversee the city’s current art collection, manage a granting system for new public art and advise future city leaders on the continued creation and development of new art. Read More

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