California Photovoltaism

West
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
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A concept drawing of SCI-Arc/Caltech's CH:IP solar house, which will enter into the 2011 Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC..

A band of students from SCI-Arc and Caltech have been selected to compete in the DOE’s Solar Decathlon, to be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 2011. The team will go head to head with 20 other student groups from all over the world—including Canada, Belgium, China, and New Zeland—to determine once and for all, or at least for the next two years, who can build the most livable and sustainable sun-powered residence of 500 square feet or less. Read More

Duke Is Out

Midwest
Monday, April 19, 2010
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(Courtesy SAIC)

Wellington “Duke” Reiter, the president of the School of the Art Institute, has announced he is stepping down and returning to Phoenix, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Reiter, an architect and former Dean of the College of Design at Arizona State University, arrived at SAIC in 2008. In his brief presidency, he oversaw the opening of the new Sullivan Center Galleries in the old Carson Pirie Scott building as well as curricular reorganization in a sluggish economy. In an email to students and faculty Reiter said he wanted to return to his practice: “I have decided to return to my ongoing work linking the fields of art, design and sustainable urbanism. These issues have always been my passion and I look forward to devoting my full attention to the creation of sustainable city models on a global basis.”

Spaceship, Sans Scaffolding

West
Monday, April 19, 2010
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The NY Times this weekend reported on the status of one of our favorite LA structures: LAX’s UFO-like Theme Building. It looks like the ugly scaffolding which has adorned the parabolic edifice for the past couple of years is finally  down, and the structural retrofit of the building (originally designed in 1961 by Paul Williams and Pereira & Luckman) is just about finished. The building underwent the procedure after a  1,000-pound chunk fell off one of the upper arches and landed on the roof of a restaurant. In addition to a sparkling new paint job, the Theme is now reinforced with a 1.2 million-pound tuned mass damper that sits on flexible bearings. The $12.3 million project was completed by Gin Wong Associates architects and Tower General Contractors. For those interested in unique LA experiences we recommend checking out the observation deck and the Encounter restaurant.

Brits Get Chummy in San Francisco

West
Monday, April 19, 2010
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RIBA launches chapter in San Francisco.

After the way Sir Norman Foster was ousted from a project  in San Francisco recently, we wondered whether there would be some mutterings at the kick-off party for the new chapter of the Royal Institute of British Architects (which is the sixth US chapter–there is also one in L.A.).   Read More

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Call to Arms!

East
Monday, April 19, 2010
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The massive Remington Arms complex in Bridgeport, Connecticut is slated for demolition.

The Remington Arms factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut is a spectacular 1.5 million-square-foot structure of 13 interconnected buildings stretching over 76 acres. Now its future is imperiled. Long a monument on the city’s East Side, it was originally built by the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Company beginning in 1915 to fill an order for one million rifles and 100 million rounds of ammunition to supply czarist Russian armies. Later, the building turned out bayonets, Colt automatic pistols, Browning Machine Guns, and automatic rifles. In 1920, General Electric purchased the property, and produced thousands of small kitchen appliances in the plant, but GE slowly pulled manufacturing from the building, and closed it entirely in 2007. The company claims to have looked for development opportunities for the shuttered factory, but concluded that it is “functionally obsolete (and) inappropriate for modern uses.” Now GE plans to demolish the structure, leaving a huge vacant property in Bridgeport—a city that can ill afford more dereliction. Read More

Mainstreaming Modernist Landmarks

East, East Coast
Friday, April 16, 2010
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The Spring Mills Building in 1963, the year of its completion. (Courtesy Abramowitz, Kingsland & Schiff)

On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission named the former Spring Mills headquarters at 104 West 40th Street the newest New York City landmark—arguably the most important designation of the year so far. What makes Spring Mills so special is, well, that it’s not exactly special. Unlike notable predecessors—Lever House, the Guggenheim, the Ford Foundation—Spring Mills was preserved less for its architectural pedigree than its historical significance. Designed by skyscraper savants Harrison & Abramowitz, and completed in 1963, it is less the 21 stories of green glass on a slender facade that sets this building apart—though that is important, too—than its serving as a marker for the 1960s arrival of the Garment District in Midtown from its former Tribeca home. This makes Spring Mills more in line with, say, West-Park Presbyterian Church, a cultural and community icon, than Chase Manhattan Plaza, an architectural standout for being the first of its kind downtown. In other words, modernist landmarks have reached a point where they are akin to their brick-and-mortar predecessors, becoming simply another architectural style or era to be grappled with on its own merits. Read More

Archigram Archived

International
Friday, April 16, 2010
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Archigram member Michael Webb's Temple Island.

It’s hard to remember that the phenomenally influential Archigram only worked together as a group for two years: 1962–1964. But all six members (four are still living) carried on extremely active practices on their own, sometimes in combinations with other members, and they produced an amazing body of work. The University of Westminster has embarked on an archival project to assemble this creative output in digital format and make it available online. Though this monumental task is far from complete, the university has amassed almost 10,000 images, and will go live with the website on Monday at 7 p.m. London time at a special event. I have been planning on flying over for the occasion, and, should Iceland’s volcanic eruption permit, will be in Westminster to report on it next week.

Eavesdrop MW 01

Midwest
Friday, April 16, 2010
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Cathedral Hall at the University Club.

DIAMONDS AND PEARLS
The cocktail reception for the Driehaus Prize, celebrating classical architecture and traditional urbanism, was held in the hoity-toity vaulted Cathedral Hall at the top of the University Club, a setting fit for a classicist or anyone wishing to recreate scenes from Dead Poets Society. The Trib’s Blair Kamin was there for a minute, along with oodles of Notre Dame students and recent grads sporting ill-fitting suits, engagement rings large and small, and strings of pearls. Definitely not a Jil Sander crowd. This year’s recipient, Rafael Manzano Martos, took the stage to give some remarks but most guests seemed to be oohing and ahhing over the fantastic views of Renzo Piano’s Modern Wing. Piano is the modernist even classicists love, secretly!

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NEA Gets Big Cheese

National
Thursday, April 15, 2010
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Yesterday, we wrote a story about Jason Schupbach taking over as the NEA’s Design Director. Today, we decided to post that story to Twitter and to look up Schupbach so we could include him in the tweet. What we found were two Twitter accounts, @CreateMA and @thecheesefreak. As it turns out, in addition to being a fan of design and grant writing, Schupbach loves cheese, or so we gleaned from the site, the CheeseFreak, the latter handle directed us to. There, an often giddy Schupbach has posted 24 episodes of his cheesy vlog since September along with very detailed posts about the cheeses and experiences surrounding them. That’s an average of more than three a month, kind of putting us to shame. If he brings even half this much enthusiasm to the NEA, we’re all in luck. And to learn more about all the great work he’s done in the recent past, here‘s a profile from the Globe that we turned up on Google. Ah, the Internet. (Oh, and it goes without saying that if you’re not already following us on Twitter, please do so.)

That Settles It

East
Thursday, April 15, 2010
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Did the center hold? Hold off mold? (jonas_k/Flickr)

MIT reached a settlement with Frank Gehry last month for what had been called a flawed, leaky design for his Ray and Maria Stata Center that led to a 2007 lawsuit, which also named construction manager Skanska as responsible. Blair Kamin revealed the news Tuesday on his Cityscapes blog, but he didn’t reveal much as the settlement remains private. Drawing on an MIT student newspaper story from March 19, Kamin notes,

“MIT retained outside consultants to examine the construction for defects, and those consultants produced reports which are not publicly available.” The account does not say whether any money changed hands in the settlement. [...] In an email Tuesday, Gehry said no money was involved in the settlement. On March 30, the university’s news office issued a joint statement from MIT, Gehry’s firm (Gehry Partners) and Skanska saying that the lawsuit had been “amicably resolved.”

So there you have it. Legacy preserved.

The Coachella Crane

West
Thursday, April 15, 2010
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Courtesy Crimson Collective/ Michelle Cassel

Ever since Woodstock, music festivals have morphed into celebrations of eclectic hedonism and of course, all types of artistic expression. Indio, California’s Coachella, which starts tomorrow, is no exception.  In addition to three days of music, the festival offers dozens of art installations. This year the most prominent, right at the festival’s entrance, is called Ascension, The Crane. It’s just that: a giant white crane made of modular aluminum tubes and a mesh fabric called Textilene. It measures 45-feet-tall with a 150-foot wingspan, and the big bird’s multi-colored LED lighting is powered by two adjacent photovoltaic stations that also serve as benches and canopies. The 35,000 pound crane, which was put together on site (all of its components fit into a single shipping container), was designed by Crimson Collective,  a group of socially-oriented designers led by LA visionary Behn Samareh. The group works to “bridge the gap between art and architecture,” through interactive installations. Check out a fantastic video detailing the construction here. It should be noted that the crane is a symbol of grace, wisdom and peace. This explains why all origami seems to be crane-based, including, apparently, gargantuan origami. Read More

Midwest Must Read

Midwest
Thursday, April 15, 2010
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Welcome AN Midwest.

Copies of AN‘s newest edition should be arriving in offices across the Midwest this week. With the mix of news, opinion, gossip, commentary, products, and projects that makes The Architect’s Newspaper a must read, the Midwest edition seeks to enrich the conversation within and across disciplines and showcase the talent in the eight state region. It’s free for architects and architectural designers in Illionois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, so subscribe today.

We look forward to getting to know our new readers, so spread the word. As always we welcome your tips, compliments, and, yes, your occasional  gripes. Contact us at midwesteditor@archpaper.com.

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