Hidden In Plain Site

East Coast, National
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
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Curbed LA points us to a new video series by VBS.tv exploring the unexplored nooks and crannies of the country called Uneven Terrains. And like all things carrying the Vice label, the web series is populated by airy hipsters with a certain indifference, and yet sometimes they turn up some really cool stuff. Case in point: the hidden oil wells of LA, including in Beverly Center mall and a nearby high school. Our pal Dakota wonders how the parents (“Won’t you please think of the children!”) could let such a thing happen, but given oil prices, how couldn’t you? After the jump, you can check out the “ruins” of New York—been there, done that—and our favorite, the Missile Silo home—most silos have been decommissioned, and many have been privatized[!!!]. They’re perfect for any fan of urban exploration and cutting edge music. Read More

Of Architecture and Austism

National
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
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If you’re reading this, you probably have at least a passing interest in architecture and an equivalent understanding of its power to shape and influence the world. But what about those of us living in a world of our own? What about those of us on the autism spectrum? It turns out architecture can play an even more important role in their lives than for us average Joes, according to a Newsweek article (via Archinect) that explains the unexpected attraction of children with autism to SketchUp, Google’s free online drafting program. It turns out that for those on the spectrum, for whom verbal and interpersonal communication has often been challenging, the precision of the computer and the visual nature of SketchUp allow them to express themselves in new ways. Google has been exploring this world for a few years now, as the video above shows, and there is even hope it could help find careers for these aspiring architects. We’ll certainly welcome them into the field.

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Broad Museum: 90210 vs 90402

West
Monday, November 16, 2009
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An overhead of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards, where the museum might end up.

An overhead of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards, where the museum might end up.

After making nary a peep about his proposed Beverly Hills museum since last April, Eli Broad is again making it clear that he wants the project to move forward. And that he wants it to be much bigger. According to the LA Times, a plan sent last month to the Beverly Hills Planning Department calls for nearly 50,000 square feet of exhibition space (including a 6,100 square foot outdoor area for sculpture), up from the 25,000 previously anticipated. According to the story he’s also included Santa Monica as a possible contender for the museum, for which he would create a $200 million endowment. And now the cities are jockeying for position: Kevin McKeown, a Santa Monica city councilman, told the Times, “I’ll do everything I can to make this happen.” Meanwhile Cheryl Burnett, the city of Beverly Hills’ spokeswoman, issued a statement saying, “While we recognize that the Broad Foundation has many options. . . . There’s no better place than Beverly Hills to showcase this world-class contemporary art collection.” Let..the..fireworks..begin.

Focal Points

East
Friday, November 13, 2009
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TKTK

Louis Stettner, Man of the Twentieth Century, circa 1954.

In the late 1960s, the New York architect Stan Ries was consulting on design and photography for the art nouveau exhibit Hector Guimard at the Museum of Modern Art, when the director approached him with an unusual opportunity to photograph the entire design collection. Given two days to decide between architecture and photography as a career, he chose the latter. “With photography, the creative cycle is much shorter, and you don’t have to have a client,” he said. “I can make the photograph and I can suit myself.” Read More

Yes We CAN

West
Friday, November 13, 2009
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Gensler and Arup's "Pump-can"

Last night CANSTRUCTION LA, organized by the Society for Design Administration, announced the winners of its 2009 competition at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard. All 60,000 cans—from anchovies to pumpkin pie filling— used to build the amazing structures will go directly to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, as will over $7,700 in donations.  The structures will be on display at 5900 Wilshire through this Sunday. Check out this fantastic teaser video for the competition, which shows a clever can making its way from the supermarket to the venue. And here’s a video of winning team Gensler putting together their entry. All 10 participating teams produced stellar constructions, but a few stood out. They were: Read More

Free Design Help

East, East Coast
Thursday, November 12, 2009
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Theres hope on the horizon for non-profits in need of design work (pmarella/Flickr)

There's hope on the horizon for non-profits in need of design work (pmarella/Flickr)

Design has a strong history of pro bono work, from affordable housing to electioneering, and during these tough times, a helping hand can be especially appreciated. With that in mind, more than a dozen design firms and affiliates from New York are offering their services to those in the community in need as part of a new program called DesigNYC. With the goal of creating “a better New York by design,” the group is currently seeking applicants by the end of the month for help solving a design challenge. Read More

Connecting a Fractured California

West
Thursday, November 12, 2009
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We first found out about this from our friends at Planetizen. Apparently California has awarded Berkeley-based Calthorpe Associates a $2.5 million contract to devise a set of detailed growth scenarios for the state. The effort, known as “Vision California,” will investigate land use and transportation investments in California and it will also include merging the state’s existing regional plans from organizations like the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). Does this mean coordinated regional planning? In California? They’re all TALKING to each other? Could it really be?? Stay tuned…

Thrice As Smelly

East
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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A picture of a cement plant—though not the citys asphalt plant—along the Gowanus Canal. (Courtesy Joes NYC)

A picture of a cement plant—though not the city's asphalt plant—along the Gowanus Canal. (Courtesy Joe's NYC)

On Monday, we reported on the Bloomberg administration’s continued vociferous resistance to Superfund listing for the Gowanus Canal. While the main complaint by the mayor was that the Superfund stigma would poison the area for development for decades to come, we did not mention—at least not this time—that a major concern is also that the city could be held liable for some portion of the Superfund cleanup because of a number of polluting properties on the canal. That seems all the more likely now—as does the potential for listing—as the Post reported yesterday that the city has been sent a notice for its liabilities. According to the tab, “The city’s responsibility comes through previous/current ownership of an asphalt plant, incinerator, a pumping station, storage yard, and Department of Transportation garage.” In an interesting new twist, the Navy was also served with a notice for at least nine “facilities where the Navy directed and oversaw government contractors which owned and/or operated facilities adjacent to the canal.”

Green Day

National
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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Dont try this at home: ASU at Greenbuild

Don't try this at home: ASU's Power Plants at Greenbuild.

If you’re wandering the aisles of the Phoenix Convention Center for Greenbuild 2009 this week and need a break from the worthy trade booths, swing by Arizona State University’s Power Plants installation. It’s a mini-environmental system based on a polyvinyl panel with oxygen-rich aloe plants fed by an IV drip. Each structure incorporates a monitor displaying the scope of sustainable initiatives carried out at ASU. The idea behind the pipe is that it creates a structural narrative linking each element of the environmental system, and should be a lighthearted break in the day! The project is a collaborative design led by Jason Griffiths, Darren Petrucci, Phil Horton, and various members of the ASU student body. Also, don’t forget to come to The Architect’s Newspaper’s party tonight (co-hosted with Arup, SWA Group, and KMD Architecture) at Monorchid Studios, 214 East Roosevelt, just a five-minute walk from the convention center.

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Retracting the Retractable Roof Retraction

East
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
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Could this roof someday retract?

Could this roof someday retract?

Brooklyn has been called the borough of blogs, which probably explains why that’s where the big city papers are all launching their hyperlocal efforts. First there was the TimesFort Greene blog, and now the Post is getting in on the act—not surprisingly, we were notified about the new venture by the king of Brooklyn blogs, Brownstoner. While the Times has wound up with some odd, interesting mix of community driven news, the Post remains, at least in its first two posts, a decidely top-down affair, though this is not exactly a bad thing. Indeed, the inaugural post for the Post looks at borough president Marty Markowitz renewed efforts to include a retractable roof at the Grimshaw-designed concert pavilion at Asser Levy park, which we first unveiled back in April. Read More

Northerly Night

Midwest
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
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The Chicago skyline as seen from Northerly Island. (photo:-bc/flickr)

The Chicago Parks District is holding a public meeting on the future of Northerly Island tonight at the Spertus Institute from 6-9pm. The 91-acre peninsula, which is connected to the lakefront by a causeway, has played an important and evolving role  in Chicago’s civic imagination. It figures prominently in the Burnham Plan, was home to 1933-1934 World’s Fair, and later the Meigs Field airport, and was part of the 2016 Olympic bid. The meeting will offer a preview of plans for the island and solicit public comment.

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A One of a Kind Line

West
Monday, November 9, 2009
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All aboard! The first stop on LAs newest light rail line

All aboard! The first stop on LA's newest light rail line

After more than a decade of waiting (up to 15 years, depending who you ask), a light-rail Breda train will depart for East L.A. from Union Station this Sunday, November 15 as part of Metro’s new Gold Line Eastside Extension. The eight-station line, with stops in Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, will offer continuing service on the first phase of the Gold Line, which heads northeast through Pasadena and was completed in 2003. Read More

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