Gowanus: Sunk or Saved?

East
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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The shores of the Gowanus are, for better or worse, likely to remain undeveloped for years to come (sahocevar/Flickr)

The Environmental Protection Agency balked at the Bloomberg administration’s controversial proposal to clean up the Gowanus Canal, favoring its own Superfund program in an announcement today, as had been expected. In a statement, regional administrator Judith Enck said  that, after much consultation with concerned parties, the EPA “determined that a Superfund designation is the best path to a cleanup of this heavily contaminated and long neglected urban waterway.” The Bloomberg administration opposed the designation for fear it would stigmatize the waterway and drive off developers who were planning projects on the polluted canal’s shores. Read More

OMD in Joshua Tree

West
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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Jennifer Siegal’s Prefab Showhouse has been sitting on Venice’s Abbott Kinney Blvd since 2006, giving clients a preview of what they can get if they invest in a work by her firm, OMD (Office of Mobile Design). Well it’s no longer there. It was recently transported via semi and (once in the desert) robotic tank (yes, robotic tank) to Joshua Tree, where it has found its place as an off-the-grid guest residence for  film producer Chris Hanley. The 720 square-foot steel frame structure, with a high sloping ceiling and a steel support chassis, uses solar panels for electricity and also has tankless water heaters, radiant heat ceiling panels, and translucent polycarbonate glazing. It’s not too far from one of our favorite desert houses, Taalmankoch’s iT House, in what is becoming a precious little off-the-grid architecture community. Oh, and if you go, make sure to check out one of our favorite bars in the world, Pioneertown’s Pappy and Harriet’s. Read More

CUP Tools Up

East
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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A Makita for affordable housing. (Courtesy CUP)

Two years ago, the Brooklyn-based Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) asked housing advocates and community groups what educational tools they needed the most. The topic of affordable housing was at the top of the list, so designers set to work devising a handy way to help New Yorkers comprehend the much-debated subject. “Affordable housing is a term that has been thrown around for a long time,” said CUP staff member John Mangin. “A lot of people are suspicious of it, it is complicated, and the technical meaning behind it is not always apparent when you hear the word.” Read More

The Calligraphic City

East
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
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Anthony Candido's Study for a Cable City (2009).

When I first encountered the work of the architect and painter Anthony Candido, it was moving—or rather, the dancers whose costumes he had splashed with black paint were moving across the floor in a work choreographed by Nancy Meehan. The irregular black strokes and drips seemed to both follow and impel the dancer’s movement, melding abstract thought and nature through gesture. Candido’s current exhibition, The Great White Whale Is Black at Cooper Union in New York, more than fulfills the promise of the costume designs, for it offers a rich body of work spanning five decades of an extraordinary career. Read More

A European Version of AN?

International
Monday, March 1, 2010
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Just when things were looking bleak for print, here comes new bi-monthly European publication Panorama, which has already been billed by one blogger as Europe’s answer to the Architect’s Newspaper. The printed (yes, PRINTED!) glossy broadsheet is published by the makers of  Future Arquitecturas, a magazine on international competitions. A one year subscription will cost £15.00 in Europe and £17.00 in the rest of the world. We found its Facebook page here. No response yet from the pub, but it appears Panorama began  last year, and is published in both English and Spanish. According to the RIBA bookshop, the January issue  included an interview with Spanish architect Carlos Ferrater as well as stories on the new Dallas Theater Center, on plans for the new home of the National Archives of France, and Andalusia’s tallest building, The Towers of Hercules. We’re so proud of our little printed sibling.

Lange vs Ouroussoff

East
Monday, March 1, 2010
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Ouroussoff of the New York Times, obsessed with curves and starchitects?

Love Nicolai Ouroussoff or hate him, Alexandra Lange’s takedown, “Why Nicolai Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough” on Design Observer, is a highly engaging read. The design community seems to tire of its most visible critic after a few years, and Lange begins her piece by revisiting Michael Sorkin’s takedown of then Times critic Paul Goldberger from the mid 1980s. Many of us recall a similar fatigue that set in during Herbert Muschamp’s time on the job. Lange, a frequent contributor to AN‘s “Crit” column, hits Oroussoff with a three pronged attack, with sections subtitled, “He Doesn’t Seem To Live in New York City” (a jab at his globetrotting), “He’s Slippery” (on vagueness of his writing), and “He Doesn’t Care” (an accusation that he’s passionless). She is anything but passionless: “When I see a terrible building, or even just one with large, windy, unmanageable public spaces, I get mad,” she writes. The popular press could always use more voices with such informed conviction.

Cultural Democratization or Theft?

East
Friday, February 26, 2010
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In this week’s Friday review, Mark Lamster parses Don Argott’s new documentary The Art of the Steal, a film that critiques the relocation of the Barnes Foundation from suburban Merion, Pennsylvannia to downtown Philadelphia. Whatever your view of the move, the trailer makes the film look like stimulating viewing. Opens tonight in New York and Philadelphia and On Demand. In select cities nationwide beginning March 12. 

To the Ramparts

International
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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Viñoly's massive Battersea development got the approval of the British architecture office this week. (Courtesy World Architecture News)

With all the notice being paid to the new U.S. embassy this week, an even bigger (physically if not psychically) project just next door was overshadowed as it won a key approval yesterday. Rafael Viñoly’s massive Battersea development, which will turn the iconic Battersea Power Station and 40 surrounding acres (once on the cover of a Pink Floyd album) into a huge mixed-use community, won approval from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. According to our colleagues at BD, the CABE found the 5.5 billion pound project to be “intelligent and well-resolved.” Read More

King of the Hill

National
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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Ayers.

Hard to believe Glenn Beck isn’t already up in arms over the president’s decision to nominate his long-time friend and former Weatherman (some might say terrorist) to become the Architect of the Capitol. Oh. Wait. Wrong Ayers. Stephen Ayers, who has actually been serving as AoC for the past three years on an interim basis, was nominated to take over full-time on Tuesday by the Obama administration. Previously, Ayers held the position of Deputy Architect of the Capitol, taking over when his predecessor, Alan Hantman, retired after a decade of service. Ayers has had a distinguished career of public service, including a stint in the Air Force, then a turn in the public sector followed by work at Voice of America, the government-run radio network in Europe. By all appearances, his experience in facilities management in general and at the Capitol in particular should silence critics who have been giving the industry grief over the AoC position in recent years. Read More

Disappearing Detroit

Midwest
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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Walden Street, Detroit by photographer Andrew Moore. An exhibition of his Detroit work will be on display at the Akron Art Museum in June.

The plight of Detroit is a subject of endless fascination for architects and planners and has been irresistible to photographers. Still, the scale of the city’s problems retains the ability to shock. According to the Detroit Free Press, the city is moving to bulldoze between 2500 to 3000 abandoned homes this year—a fraction of the more than 10,000 homes considered dangerous and slated for demolition. Given the fact that it costs approximately $10,000 to demolish a house, the 2500 figure is all the finacially strapped city can afford to take down. Read More

Ferry Funds Dry Up

East
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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All aboard the A train. (Courtesy NY Water Taxi)

Commuters who have come to rely on the ferry that connects the Rockaways and Wall Street will have to find another way to get to work starting March 19. The city has subsidized the route since it launched plans for new and expanded ferry service in 2008, but last year’s average ridership was a little more than half of the 300-passenger daily quota required to continue funding. Read More

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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

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