Sejima Lands Biennale

International
Monday, November 9, 2009
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Kazuyo Sejima

Kazuyo Sejima

The president of the Venice Biennale, Paola Barrata, announced this morning that the director of the 12th International Architecture Exhibition will be Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA Architects. Last week, we reported rumors that the next director was going to be a woman—a first for this most important of international contemporary architecture expositions. The names most frequently bandied about for this major job were Sejima and Liz Diller. Read More

Eavesdrop NY 18

Eavesdroplet
Friday, November 6, 2009
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And justice for all construction data miners?

And justice for all construction data miners?

Industrial Espionage, Mail Fraud, Racketeering, Oh My…

We never thought we’d hear racketeering and construction data in the same sentence, but here it is. In early October, Reed Construction Data filed suit in federal court against a division of McGraw-Hill Construction called Dodge. The suit charges that Dodge has unlawfully accessed confidential and trade-secret information from Reed since 2002 by using a series of fake companies to pose as Reed customers. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York on October 8, seeks an unspecified amount in lost profits and punitive damages, trial by jury, and injunctive relief as a result of Dodge’s misuse of Reed’s proprietary construction-project information. Worse yet, Reed claims, Dodge allegedly manipulated the information to create misleading comparisons between its products and services and Reed’s in an effort to mislead the marketplace. Read More

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After Megaprojects

East
Friday, November 6, 2009
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Residential and commercial construction alike doubled in New York under Mayor Bloomberg, who rezoned over a fifth of the city to create large parcels for development under the assumption that the economy would continue to boom. Now, stalled megaprojects like Brooklyn’s City Point complex leave depressing holes in neighborhoods, serving as daily reminders of the tenacious recession and leaving the city strapped for the cash it was counting on to fund other projects. What is to be done? Read More

Moss: SCI-Arc Staying Put

West
Friday, November 6, 2009
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Architect and SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss talked to us the other day to correct our recent post on SCI-Arc’s future in the LA Arts District. Yes, he agreed, SCI-Arc does want to eventually own its own home (it tried unsuccessfully to buy its building from its landlord, developer Meruelo Maddux, a few years ago) . But the school’s lease is not up next year, nor does SCI-Arc face any pressure to leave anytime soon.

“SCI-ARC’s not going anywhere. SCI-Arc has no plans to go anywhere, and is not obligated to go anywhere,” he said. Read More

World Arch Fest: Dia Dos

International
Friday, November 6, 2009
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nwbbar

Community service? The nWn Bar by Vo Trang Nghia Co.

I just finished my day of judging the Civic and Community session of the WAF in Barcelona. The festival competition is divided into sixteen categories, with each session winner going into a final round to determine the Building of the Year. My session’s jurors included the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and the Canadian (now living in London) Renato Benedetti, and we spent the day working our way through 14 entries, including the new British Embassy in Algiers by John McAslan + Partners, and a fine Mexican church and community center by Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos. Read More

Back On Board

East, East Coast
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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Former TransLink CEO and new NYCTransit President Thomas Prendergast (far right) cuts the ribbon on a new bike bridge in Vancouver)

Former TransLink CEO and new NYCTransit President Thomas Prendergast (far right) cuts the ribbon on a new bike bridge in Vancouver.

If there was any question Howard Roberts’ resignation yesterday was forced, it can be put to rest, as his replacement atop New York City Transit, the MTA division that runs the subways and buses, was announced today. Thomas Prendergast will be returning to the agency—after a hiatus atop Vancouver’s public transit system—where he used to run the Long Island Railroad, and before that was VP for subways. Though only 57, Prendergast has more than 30 years experience in the field, having begun at the Chicago Transit Authority out of college, then the Federal Transportation Authority, before joining the MTA in 1982. Read More

Voters Endorse Rail in Southern Ohio

Midwest
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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An effort to block a streetcar line in Cincinnati, represented here by the solid yellow line, was defeated at the polls. (courtesy cincystreetcar.com)

On Tuesday, voters in Cincinnati voted to reject Issue 9, a proposed charter amendment that would have made any passenger rail-related spending conditional on ballot approval. The amendment appeared to be an effort to block the proposed Downtown to Uptown streetcar line. Now that the ballot measure has been defeated, the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that local officials appear poised to announce significant Federal funding to advance the project.

Bad News For LA: Estolano Out!

West
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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Estalano

Estalano

We’ve just learned thanks to the LA Times and Curbed that LA Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) CEO Cecilia Estolano is stepping down from her post at the end of this month. Estolano was widely-praised for her aggressive moves to promote affordable housing, turn around struggling neighborhoods, establish a Clean Tech corridor in Downtown LA, and bolster the agency’s funding, even in difficult economic times. We just ran a Q+A with Estolano in our last issue, which can be read here. Estolano is reportedly taking a job with Green For All, an Oakland-based environmental group focused on generating green jobs in underserved neighborhoods. We’re trying to get a follow-up with Estolano now, so stay tuned…

World Arch Fest: Hola Barcelona!

International
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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Barceloneta: It sure beats Grand Rapids.

The Diagonal Mar: It sure beats Grand Rapids.

This week, the second World Architecture Festival is taking place in one of the most design-conscious cities in the world: Barcelona. Sadly, the festival is located in the Diagonal Mar district on the city’s waterfront, along with the hotel that WAF sponsor emap provided to jurors (I am here serving on the jury for the festival’s Civic and Community award). At first glance, this entirely new district of the city seems to have more in common with Grand Rapids than the Catalonian capital. I mentioned this to a British colleague, who replied, “Are American cities this nice?” He’s right: We can’t even do modern urbanism better than the Europeans. Read More

The Return of Cousin St. Vinny

East, East Coast
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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Might the courts override the LPC and save Albert C. Ledners National Maritime Headquarters in Greenwich Village? (Courtesy MAS)

Might the courts override the LPC and save Albert C. Ledner's National Maritime Headquarters in Greenwich Village? (Courtesy MAS)

Back in March, Protect the Village Historic District sued the Landmarks Preservation Commission over its granting of a hardship to St. Vincent’s Hospital, so that it might demolish Albert C. Ledner’s National Maritime Union Headquarters, now known as the O’Toole building, and replace it with a new hospital tower designed by Pei Cobb and Freed. The focus of PVHD’s suit is that the hospital did not explore suitable alternatives, nor did the commission require them, but now, the state Supreme Court appears to be questioning the very nature of the hardship finding—that retaining the O’Toole buildings prevented the hospital from carrying out its charitable mission—or at least that is the finding of a brief filed today by the Municipal Art Society and half-a-dozen preservation groups that directly challenges the LPC on the matter. Read More

Thrown from the Bus

East, East Coast
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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Roberts (far left) cuts the ribbon last year at the re-opened subway entrance to Bloomingdales on the Upper East Side.

Roberts (far left) cuts the ribbon last year at the re-opened subway entrance to Bloomingdales on the Upper East Side. Despite progress, the head of NYC Transit often took the blame for troubled subways and buses.

If you’ve been frustrated by the recent flood of delays on the Subway, don’t complain to Howard Roberts. The president of New York City Transit, which operates the R142s and the various city buses, Roberts submitted his resignation today, effective the end of the month. The move did not come as a surprise to the Times, which noted that the move had actually been expected by many within the MTA because of failings over a recently renegotiated transit workers contract and, more simply, “a changing of the guard [...] is often accompanied by staff shake-ups.” (Jay Walder, the new head of the MTA who accepted Robertson’s resignation, took over roughly a month ago.) Read More

Taking Green Footsteps

National
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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Are architects doing enough for sustainability? The Rocky Mountain Institute has a new website that can help.

Are architects doing enough for sustainability? The Rocky Mountain Institute has a new website that can help.

Planetizen published an interesting piece over the weekend looking at the relative disconnect between sustainability and starchitecture, or how form may have gotten futuristic of late, but not with the future in mind. The article’s a little plodding at times, though the argument is valid and clear:

Many contemporary buildings embody the age-old conflict between individual expression and the common good, while some appear almost antagonistic towards the environment. Frank Gehry’s aluminum billows and Daniel Libeskind’s tilted spires are largely aesthetic accents that use computer-aided design to create forms unbuildable, if not unimaginable, even a decade ago. The sheer expense of iconic libraries, concert halls, and corporate headquarters contradicts environmentalism’s drive for efficiency.

Read More

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