The Perils of Subway Naming Rights

East
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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Can you see me now? (brettisrael/Flickr)

Our favorite wonky MTA blog has an interesting and funny post about how quickly and easily naming rights on a public transit system can get, in this case down in Philadelphia. While we all know transit systems are in trouble and should probably go about getting money wherever they can—short of more draconian fare increases, let’s hope—it is easy to go too far on the naming rights front, not only into parody but confusion. While it may be a bit unseemly that the MTA tried to charge the Yankees for the rights to have their name at a refurbished 161st stop last year, and that Barclays is actually paying up for the rights in Brooklyn, yet another advertising assault on our public lives. But SEPTA has gone a step further, renaming its Pattison Avenue Terminal to AT&T Station. Unlike the Barclays annoyance, this could be downright confusing because there is no geographical relevance here, nothing AT&T about this station. As another blogger puts it on SAS: “The whole situation raises the frightening prospect in the near future that, instead of riding the Broad Street Subway from City Hall to Pattison, people will take the Coca-Cola Trolley from Pizza Hut to AT&T.”

Detroit Plants Seeds for Innercity Entrepeneurs

Midwest
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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Forget school-top farms for privileged Manhattan children. You want something truly radical? How about taking over abandoned lots in Detroit so poor single mothers can make a living growing organic produce. That is in part the focus of Grown in Detroit, a new documentary about how the Motor City, on both the large and small scale, is trying to become the manure city. The film is currently screening at a few locations in town as part of the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival. For those of us not in the shrinking city, though, there’s an ingenious option to stream the doc on its website, albeit on a pay-what-you-will basis, which is almost as clever as the idea to turn Detroit into one giant, happy farm.

Bloomberg Taps Third Banker for Economic Development

East, East Coast
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
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Steel and Bloomberg, at the announcement of his appointment today. (Courtyesy NY Observer)

Maybe that headline is self-explanatory, even makes a good bit of sense. Or it did when Robert Steel’s two predecessors took the job of Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Dan Doctoroff and Robert Lieber, like Steel, used to work on Wall Street before joining the Bloomberg administration. But nowadays, appointing someone who spent three decades at Goldman Sachs (before heading to the Treasury Department earlier this decade and then on to unwinding Wachovia) is a bit of a head scratcher. This has nothing to do with populist fervor and Goldman still being more hated than BP despite the catastrophic oil spill. No, this is about the future direction of the city. Read More

Mess With the Imagination (Playground) of David Rockwell

East, East Coast
Monday, June 21, 2010
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For the past few years, David Rockwell, that master of stage and scene, has been developing the Imagination Playground, a deployable playground-in-a-box that has been finding its way across the country. Now, he is just finishing a larger playground, sort of a showcase for the concept, at Burling Slip in Lower Manhattan. (As the rendering after the jump shows, it’s quite literally a flagship.) To celebrate the opening of the new playground at the end of July, the Parks Department is taking imagination playgrounds on a pop-up tour, which kicked off this past weekend in Staten Island, with stops in all five boroughs to follow. It truly is a revolutionary concept in recreation, Read More

Swooping Into the Newest LACMA Wing

West
Monday, June 21, 2010
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LACMA’s new Resnick Pavilion by Renzo Piano doesn’t open until October, but the museum has given visitors a few chances to look inside. The results, which we took advantage of last week, are impressive. The single story, open-plan space feels raw, exposed, and much more comfortable in its skin than its neighbor, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (also by Piano, by the way). Here are some of my snaps of the new building, which is fitted with an installation by Walter De Maria (called The 2000 Sculpture) made up of hundreds of repetitive plaster shapes that make up a mesmerizing grid, really bringing out the best in this new building. Read More

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Design Writer Has Sweet Dreams for New Domino

East
Thursday, June 17, 2010
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You can do better! (Manu_h/Flickr)

The simmering opposition to the New Domino plan from the local community and especially its City Council rep has been well-noted, but the reaction from the design community has been more muted. And while the approval from the City Planning Commission, and the forthcoming showdown at with Councilman Steve Levin mean the project is pretty much headed for an up-or-down, maybe slightly tweaked if not entirely scrapped vote, design writer Stephen Zacks had made a bolder proposal, calling for the plan to be scrapped not because it is too dense and under invested, but because it is not visionary enough. “These unique sites are opportunities to generate new forms of urbanism and orders of magnitude greater revenue, instead producing the high volumes of similar units that are now languishing on the market,” Zacks declares in a letter to the Council (in full, after the jump). He has a few ideas of his own, something called Domino University, but is also soliciting them from others. Feel free to leave them in the comments section, or on his Facebook page. Read More

Eavesdrop MW 03

Midwest
Thursday, June 17, 2010
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The Lady Di-inspired Great American Tower, Cincinati's fabbest new building. (Courtesy SkyscraperPage.com)

CROWNING PORKOPOLIS

What’s the cliché? You can dress up a pig but it’s still a pig? I can’t remember. Some terrible former governor, who will not be named, used the line a lot. Anyway! The Great American Tower, the newest addition to Cincinnati’s skyline, was recently topped off with a giant tiara inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales. The glitzy tower could be the ugliest building in the Midwest. It’s a toss-up as to whether the Royal Family will add this to its rather lengthy list of regal embarrassments—oh Fergie!—or delight in the ghastly tribute. After all, the tower will be the tallest in the city, surpassing the Carew Tower, which reigned supreme since 1930 with its beautiful art deco interiors. The tiara’s (and building’s) design cred go to Gyo Obata, the “O” of HOK. Eavesdrop wonders why Gyo did not look to local royalty, like former mayor Jerry Springer. A skyscraper inspired by guests throwing chairs at one another could be interesting! Read More

BIG on Bikes

International
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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How to make the Danish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo truly a national symbol? Add some bike lanes, of course. Bjorke Ingles, head of BIG Bjorke Ingles Group and designer of the pavilion, takes us on a tour, via Archinect. (Be warned, though. Instead of soundtracking this with the Raveonettes or Kashmir, whoever put this together went with arguably the worst song ever, “I Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. You may want to mute your sound before hitting play.)

Terrible music aside, why is Scandinavian architecture so much fun?

Head Crane Inspector Headed to Prison

East Coast, Other
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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Delayo in court. (Courtesy NY Post)

James Delayo, once the head of the Department of Building’s crane inspectors until he was arrested two years ago for accepting bribes on the job, was sentenced to two to six years in prison today for his $10,000 take. According to the Times, Delayo apologized to the city, as well as his fellow crane inspectors, who “don’t deserve the bad publicity I brought them.” The judge called the crime “an extraordinary betrayal of public trust,” especially in light of the spate of crane accidents, some lethal, that preceded the city investigation that led to Delayo’s arrest. Though as Curbed points out, Delayo was not actually the biggest crook at the department.

Iron Designers Fight and Fundraise

East, East Coast
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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Will everyone have to wear toques tonight?

What will tonight’s secret ingredient be? Marshmallows? A T-square? Tea squares? To help raise funds for the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction, a charter founded in 2004 to teach and promote architecture and design, the school is hosting the Iron Designer Challenge tonight. Like an ARCH DL for a good cause, teams of four professionals and two students will compete for the title of champion, as well as structural innovation, people’s choice, and, of course, best use of the secret ingredient. Teams will start at 5:00, with three hours to finish their work, but there is also a party open to the public—this is a fundraiser, after all—from 6:00 to 8:30. Tickets are 50 dollars, but you get to mingle on the roofdeck with the likes of the jury, DDC commish David Burney, SHoP principal Gregg Pasquarelli, Cooper-Hewitt ed head Caroline Payson, and Parsons architecture dean Joel Towers. Plus, there’s a damned impressive designy silent auction.

Save the Soleri Santa Fe Theater!

West
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
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Santa Fe authorities and the All Indian Pueblo Council are battling over the fate of the "Paolo," as Soleri's 1964 amphitheater is known. (Photography by Raffaele Elba )

An earth-formed concrete amphitheater designed by Paolo Soleri may be demolished later this summer. One of only a handful of structures built by Soleri, the open-air theater (known as the “Paolo”) is on the campus of the Santa Fe Indian School, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The school commissioned Soleri to design the theater in 1964, and though it has been used for graduations and concerts since that time, the school now believes that it costs too much to maintain, and says it brings drunken crowds onto the campus during events. Read More

Beguiling Horizons from Bruno Cals

East
Monday, June 14, 2010
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Prada (Courtesy Bruno Cals and 1500 Gallery)

The almost abstract series of prints by Brazilian photographer Bruno Cals could show race tracks, prisons, railroads, or meadows. But what Cals has captured through his lens are in fact some of the world’s most seductive new buildings. In an exhibition on view through July 31 at 1500, a new gallery in New York with a focus on Brazilian photography, what resembles swells of water in Prada turns out to be the facade of Herzog & de Meuron’s Prada store in Aoyama, Tokyo. Read More

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