Burnham Depot Reno?

Midwest
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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(photo: Steve Koger, the Pal-Item)

Designed by the great Chicago architect and planner Daniel Burnham, this handsome if forlorn rail station may get a new life. Located in Richmond, Indiana, which is about halfway between Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, the old Pennsylvania Railroad Depot has been empty for over 30 years. According to the Richmond Palladium-Item, via archinect, owner Roger Richert recently bought the building for $75,000, but it is expected to take $1 million to stabilize. Richert is working with the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana to identify tax credits and other funding options in hopes of turning the building into a conference center, restaurant, a music venue, or retail space. Though the much of the interior is gone, Richert said the shell is strong, a testimony to Burnham’s robust design.

Not So Fast

West
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
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SF's Planning Department holds up 555 Washington again, this time over over uncollected fees.

555 Washington, the proposed 38-story neighbor to SF’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid, has ridden a troubled road on its way though the city approval process. It seems that uneven path will continue. The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the planning department recently put a hold on a vote on the project’s environmental impact statement, claiming that the developer still owes the city $102,000 in uncollected fees. Needless to say, the doodoo has hit the fan. Is the planning department trying to chisel the developer to fill its budget gap? Or was it simply incompetent in collecting the fees in the first place? Will the developer refuse to pay unless their project receives the green light? Or will it go along obediently while the city chases its tail? Stay tuned…

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Bergdoll Breaks It Down

East
Monday, April 12, 2010
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The man, the myth, with his finger in the dyke, saving the city from itself. (neutralSurface/Flickr)

Few things go together better than public radio and art museums—and not just for those ubiquitous canvas tote bags—and yet it was still a pleasant surprise to hear our dear friend and chief MoMA design curator Barry Bergdoll on one of our favorite shows, Marketplace, this evening. Bergdoll and his sonorous voice were on to discuss Rising Currents, the recently opened show we’ve followed very closely, including our latest feature. There was plenty of discussion about hard and soft infrastructure, the inherent optimism of a rather pessimistic venture, the value of oysterculture, and glocalism. And if that weren’t enough, today’s episode turns out to be a double feature, as there was also a piece looking at the potential (fiscal) downside of the Governor’s Island deal.

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Taming Governors Island

East, East Coast
Monday, April 12, 2010
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The new Governors Island, as envisioned by West 8 and Co. CLICK TO ZOOM (Courtesy GIPEC)

Even with last week’s heat wave making it feel like July in the city, it will still be seven weeks before that oasis in New York Harbor, Governor’s Island, opens for the season on June 5. But there’s still plenty of reason to celebrate like summer’s here, as the city reached its anticipated deal with the state for control of the 172-acre island yesterday. The city will now be responsible for the development and operation of all but 22 acres of the former Coast Guard base purchased for $1 from the federal government in 2003, whose National Parks Service remains responsible for a small historic district on the northern section of the island. This paved the way for the rather quiet unveiling today of the 87-acre final master plan designed by West 8, Rogers Marvel, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mathews Nielsen, and Urban Design+, which had been under lock in key since last spring, when the proposal was completed but held up by all the fighting over the island’s, uh, governance. Read More

Bedazzled Ws

West
Monday, April 12, 2010
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A couple of months ago we introduced you to the W Hotel in Hollywood, a collaboration of some of the leading design talent in LA. One of those firms, Sussman Prejza, just sent us a video that shows off their all-important fiery red and multi-colored “W” signs, seen throughout the building. In addition to the behemoth  35-foot-tall W on top of the hotel, the firm designed a slew of animated signs, which sparkle thanks to LED’s, red and/or crystalline filters, and faceted, laser-cut acrylic surfaces. The signs vary from 2.5 to 5.5 feet tall and are programmed with their own dedicated control computer, 10 network switches, 61 power supplies and over 24,000 LEDs. And you thought all that Hollywood sparkle was simple, didn’t you?

Hejduk Saves Face?

International
Monday, April 12, 2010
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Hejduk's Kreuzberg Tower, as seen on March 31. (Courtesy SLAB Magazine)

We recently reported on the defacement of John Hejduk’s Kreuzberg Tower and Wings in Berlin, the architect’s poetic 1988 project built as part of the IBA program. After an international outpouring of angst over the developer’s “renovation” of the building—in just two weeks, more than 3,000 people signed an online petition, with testimonials penned by architects including Peter Eisenman, Steven Holl, Thom Mayne, and others—the building’s managers, BerlinHaus GmbH, have now said they will meet with the design community to take public opinion into consideration, and perhaps rethink their plans. Read More

Our Man in Washington

National
Friday, April 9, 2010
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It’s been a busy week for Ray LaHood, our favorite Transportation Secretary. On Monday, he sat down with the Times‘ Green Inc. blog to discuss a range of topics, most notably his recent declaration (video above, shot from atop a table at the National Bike Summit) that cyclists and pedestrians would get equal time, money, and consideration on America’s streets. The next day, a blog post, ostensibly by the secretary, featured an interesting study showing that a staggering amount of us—Americans, not just readers of this blog—want more and bet transit options. And this goes for the nation’s waterways as well, all delivered through a more transparent DOT. And in an unusually unbureaucratic move, the department is even sharing some of its responsibilities, partnering with the EPA to set fuel efficiency standards. The week was capped off today in a sweep through New York to press drivers stop texting and stump for high-speed rail, one of his pet projects. And to think people were afraid he’d be reactionary just because he was a Republican Congressman. Revolutionary is more like it.

And Then There Were Five

Midwest
Friday, April 9, 2010
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The Arch is isolated from downtown St. Louis.

The competition to improve the grounds and urban connectivity at the St. Louis Arch site has attracted attention from some major talents in architecture, landscape, and engineering. The list of competitors has been trimmed to five: the Michael Van Valkenburgh-led team, the Weiss/Manfredi team, SOM Chicago/Hargreaves/BIG, the Behnisch-led team, and PWP/Foster + Partners/Civitas. The winner will be announced in late September.

Archi-Tron

East, East Coast
Friday, April 9, 2010
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The work of Eitan Grinspun, one of the panelists at Monday's "Post Parametric" event. (Courtesy Eitan Grinspun)

As architecture grows more technical and technologically dependent, it can become harder for designers to navigate the sea of new programs and computer code. Columbia University GSAPP professor David Benjamin is here to help, offering a panel discussion Monday night about the future of computing and design, “Post Parametric 2: Demo.” The program is the second event in a series that brings expert programmers and researchers together, providing a unique opportunity for architects to learn from people outside their profession. “The first event last fall, “Post Parametric 1: Data,” focused on how our new era of massive data might affect computing and design,” Benjamin said in an email. “Monday’s event involves five innovators demonstrating new technologies and speculating on the future directions for computing and design.” Read More

SHoP Floats

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 8, 2010
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SHoP's plans for the South Street Seaport may be back from the dead. (Courtesy SHoP)

One of the many flashy architecture projects believed to have been killed off by the recession was SHoP’s highly impressionistic proposal for the waterfront portion of the South Street Seaport. The bankruptcy of mall owner and would-be developer General Growth Properties seemed to scuttle plans for the sail-and-net-inspired complex, but having emerged from court protection, GGP is evaluating what to do with its remaining properties and it appears SHoP may once again be in the mix. The company is being spun off into two pieces following its bankruptcy, with the one made up of mixed-use and development-worthy projects getting a $6.55 billion infusion from three outside investors. It remains up to this new person what to do with the Seaport, but a GGP spokesperson tells Downtown Express, “Presumably the new company would continue to pursue the highest, best use of that property, which we felt was the proposal we put out.” Should the project return, there is still the issue of appeasing the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which saw it as more barnacle than beautiful.

CHA Wrecking Ball Returns

Midwest
Thursday, April 8, 2010
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The Harold Ickes Homes as reconceived by Destefano + Partners

The last five families were moved out of the Harold Ickes Homes at the end of March, one of the latest clusters of high rise public housing the city is clearing as a part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s “Plan for Transformation.” Dozens of highrise towers have been demolished across the across the city, opening vast tracts of land for mixed-income and in some cases mixed-used development. While few would dispute that the large-scale warehousing of the poor in these projects helped to create major urban problems, the nearly total erasure of these areas seems as blunt as the urban renewal tactics through which they were originally built. Read More

USC Says Fickett

West
Thursday, April 8, 2010
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A California home designed by Edward Fickett, circa 1966.

If you want to understand just how under-appreciated California architect Edward Fickett is just try finding a picture of any of his work online, and then compare that task with finding something by his contemporaries Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler. Fickett, who died in 1999 at the age of 83, was no slouch. To name a few of his accomplishments, he designed the passenger and cargo terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, Edward Air Force Base, Dodger Stadium, a bevy of hotels and restaurants, mansions for hollywood stars, and some 60,000 light and airy tract homes known as the “Fickett Houses.” Read More

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