California Universities Fail Seismic Test

West
Friday, March 26, 2010
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While most all California public Universities occupy earthquake-prone buildings, UC Berkeley topped the list with 71 structures that engineers say you wouldn't want to be in when the big one hits.

Since the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, a lot of attention has been focused on the preparedness of the United States to absorb such massive tremors. Nowhere is this more true than in California, the state that is perhaps the most poised in the country to deal with such disasters, as well as the most prone to suffer them. A recent report last week from California Watch—a consortium of investigative journalists who relish tackling the tough issues—found that the state’s public universities have been particularly remiss in earthquake-proofing their facilities. The report identified 108 buildings owned by state universities that engineers say would suffer serious structural damage in the event of a major quake. UC Berkeley topped this list with 71 occupied buildings that failed to make the grade. California is expected to feel one or more magnitude 7.5 or greater earthquakes in the next 30 years.

Iron Men Invade New York

East
Friday, March 26, 2010
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Antony Gormley's Event Horizon. (all photos: James Ewing, courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery)

Starting today, New York’s Flatiron District will host British artist Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon, a temporary installation of 31 life-size human figures.  The nude figures, modeled after the artist, will be situated at ground level, on rooftops, and even as high as 57 stories.  The installation, sponsored by the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art., is the group’s first project to extend beyond the boundaries of Madison Square Park. Read More

The Problem With Architecture Web Sites

Other
Thursday, March 25, 2010
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Zaha Hadid's web site is a good example..

Ok, we promise this is our last link to AN contributor Alissa Walker’s Fast Company posts for a while. But this one is definitely worth it. The other day  she focused on a subject we’ve been pondering for a long time: how despite their design expertise, most architects’ sites aren’t very good. Many, she points out, overuse gimmicks and make finding information and projects way too difficult. Sites for Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas’ OMA, she says, are all completely Flash-reliant (a no-no in the new i-Phone, i-Pad world) and “use label-less maps, wordless grids, sketches and other graphic devices with rollovers as navigation, with no easy way to locate or share projects.” One site that we at AN find particularly confusing is that of Lorcan O’Herlihy (one of our favorite architects, by the way), which puts projects into a grid that resembles the Periodic Table of the elements. Sure, it looks great, but.. Well, you get the idea.

Soho Salvage

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 25, 2010
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How long before 74 Grand Street is put back in place? (Courtesy Curbed)

Another piece of New York City’s historic fabric is disappearing. But only for a short time! We hope… Curbed swung by 74 Grand Street today and discovered that deconstruction of the five story cast-iron building was just getting under way. The building has been leaning for years after being undermined by construction a neighboring lot. Because it had gotten so bad recently—some 30 inches out of alignment in spots—the Department of Buildings declared the building would come down before it brought the entire blog along with it. Afraid a unique piece of the city would be lost, the LPC demanded the facade be replaced whenever a new building gets built on the site, and it would be locked up in a city warehouse until then. The LPC signed on reluctantly, as the oldest cast-iron facade in the city was once stolen from such a warehouse and sold for scrap. We’ve got our fingers crossed this time around.

LA Gets Gold (Energy) Star

West
Thursday, March 25, 2010
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LA leads the country in Energy Star-rated buildings. Perhaps it will help clear up that smog problem. (Courtesy Rubicon Project)

LA is rarely thought of as the country’s greenest town, what with all the traffic and sprawl, but it’s doing a lot better than you think, as the News informs us. For the second year in a row, Los Angeles has been ranked number one in terms of energy efficient buildings, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star ratings. LA made it to the top of the list by having the most rated buildings—ones that use 35 percent less energy than the average—with 293. The top five include Washington, D.C. (204), San Francisco (173), Denver (136) and Chicago (134). This does not exactly mean it is the most efficient period, Read More

Welcome To The Big League

East
Thursday, March 25, 2010
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The redesigned headquarters of Major League Baseball is replete with references to the sport.

Just in time for the beginning of the 2010 season, Major League Baseball has spiffed up and expanded its headquarters and the office of its commissioner at 245 Park Ave. Conducted by Butler Rogers Baskett Architects (BBB) and exhibit design firm C&G Partners, the redesign included the addition of a 24,000-square-foot conference center on a full new floor. Aside from bringing the HQ into the 21st century with up-to-date teleconferencing equipment, the designers went out of their way to make every surface in the place scream baseball.

Read More

Blood on the Tracks

East, East Coast
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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God forbid, but we'll probably be seeing a lot more of this in the near future.

The MTA finally passed its so-called Doomsday Budget today. If this comes as a surprise, well, you’re not the only one taken aback. Last year, the transit authority was in a similar predicament—in part because the Legislature refused to implement congestion pricing but mostly because of the recession. But, as with most things in (at least New York) politics, an eleventh hour deal was brokered and the funds were found to stave off the draconian cuts. We figured that would be the case this time around, especially since the MTA’s new and particularly shrewd boss Jay Walder made all the right cuts that would be politically unpalatable for Albany to keep in place, like, say, Student MetroCards. So then why did they pass? Read More

Nouvel Under the Sun

International
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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Nouvel's National Museum in Doha, Qatar. (Courtesy Ateliers Jean Nouvel)

Fresh from landing the commission for the Serpentine Gallery’s annual summer pavilion in London, French architect Jean Nouvel was in New York yesterday for the official unveiling of the new National Museum in Doha, Qatar. Designed as a ring of low-lying, interlocking pavilions encircling a large courtyard, the 430,000-square-foot structure is created from sand-colored disks that define floors, walls, and roofs, almost as if growing out of the desert landscape. Read More

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RIP California Real Estate Journal

West
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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Here’s another bad sign for the shaky real estate industry: The California Real Estate Journal, CA’s only statewide commercial real estate publication, is folding. The last issue of the weekly will be on April 5. We received confirmation from the CREJ this morning, but have not yet been able to speak in depth to anyone there. More word as we get it.. For what it’s worth, the pub has received 20 regional and national awards for excellence in journalism. Ah, excellence in journalism. What a quaint phrase..

Preserving The Changes

National
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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The Medina County Courthouse in Hondo, Texas, will remain as-is after a battle between restorationists and preservationists.

In the world of historical preservation, when it comes to restoring a building, there is often the difficult question to answer of when does history begin and end? So many of our significant elderly structures have undergone numerous renovations and additions, such that stakeholders can easily come to loggerheads when deciding exactly what to protect and what to discard. Just such a drama has recently played out in Hondo, Texas—a little town west of San Antonio—where county commissioners have decided to not restore their courthouse to its original 1893 condition. While the project, which was to receive funding from the Texas Historical Commission (THC), would have restored an 1893 clock tower, it also required demolishing two wings of the building that were added in 1938-40 by the Works Projects Administration (WPA).

Read More

Kingsbridge Conundrum

East, East Coast
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
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That's a lot of empty space to fill. (Courtesy Bing Maps)

What to do with the Kingsbridge Armory, empty for more than two decades? That was the question the Related Companies answered with a proposal for a new mall, which was resoundingly rebuffed last year by the City Council, in part because that mall would have lacked union labor. The question of what to do with the mall was implicit in Related’s offer, as well, the suggestion being that without the mall, the massive nearly 600,000-square-foot building would continue to sit empty for more decades. Well, Bronx Borough President Rueben Diaz, Jr., one of the pols that led the fight against the mall, thinks he has an answer of his own, as the Observer reports, or at least he hopes the taskforce he’s appointed to come up with a solution does. As Diaz put it in a statement: Read More

Trapping Carbon In Concrete

National
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
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A sample of Calera concrete (©Jim WIlson/NYT)

The New York Times reports on a company called Calera, which says it can capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal and gas power plants and inject it into concrete. The company is pretty secretive about the process, but says that it combines carbon dioxide with seawater or groundwater brine, leaving calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, which are used in making cement. Many are skeptical that they can do this on a large scale, though, and others wonder about new environmental problems, like the creation of harmful acids. But if their claim is legit it could be a major boon to environmentalists and to the construction industry. This could be construction’s version of the Bloom box, which is essentially a little power plant in a box. What other inventions will transform our industry? Any ideas? Please chime in..

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