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

Window, Window, On the Wall

West
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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A mid-rise condo in the Millenium Tower, with its lower operable windows.

A mid-rise condo in San Francisco's Millenium Tower, with its lower operable windows.

For the last couple of weeks, every night’s been a party as the Millenium Tower plays host to Icons of Design, one of those opportunistic design events where hopefully everyone wins: High-end real estate is shown off, designers display their creative chops, charities get money, and the public gets a chance to wander through fantasy, “cost-is-no-object” spaces.

Read More

In Moe We Could Trust

National
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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Richard Moe announces his retirement. (National Trust)

Richard Moe announces his retirement. (National Trust)

National Trust for Historic Preservation president Richard Moe announced today that he will retire in the spring of 2010. Moe, 72, is the longest-serving president in the organization’s 60-year history. The legacy of his 17-year tenure will likely be his push to bring historic preservation into the mainstream by revitalizing urban historic districts and promoting the environmental importance of saving aging buildings and structures.

“It has been an enormous privilege to be associated with the National Trust over these years,” Moe said in a statement on the National Trust’s website. “It has been the most fulfilling professional experience I have ever had.” Moe went on to say that his departure will present an opportunity for the Trust to seek a generational change at a time when its financial base and its programming are on solid ground. Read More

Only In Brooklyn: Archostumes

East
Monday, November 2, 2009
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Architecture has never been so adorable.

Architecture has never been so adorable.

Last week, we threw out some ideas for architectural-themed Halloween costumes, including a proposal for a New Museum costume. Well, we’ve been one-, make that twice-upped by this adorable trio, who were spotted Trick-or-Treating in Cobble Hill by a colleague. Marcel Breuer, Frank Lloyd Wright, and SANAA must be so proud.

Mayne Street

West
Monday, November 2, 2009
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Were as surprised as he is.

We're as surprised as he is.

Granted he’s won the Pritzker Prize and had a string of recent successes, but all the same we were more than surprised to get a forwarded White House press release from Morphosis today touting the appointment of Thom Mayne, one of the industry’s gruffer individuals, to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He is the only practicing architect on the list. Created in 1982, the committee, according to its website, brings, well, the arts and humanities into the White House. Headed by the First Lady, activities under the previous administration included an “unprecedented” cultural exchange with China, a “bi-national cultural communique” with Mexico, and the creation of the Coming Up Taller awards to honor school-age artists. Read More

Eavesdrop CA 08

Eavesdroplet
Monday, November 2, 2009
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Ehrlich

Ehrlich

REVEALING BITS
Stephen Ehrlich is known to be a mild-mannered LA architect. But it looks like that wasn’t always so. As part of his tribute at Julius Shulman’s memorial service in September, Ehrlich bared not only his praise for Shulman, but also his butt cheeks. He wasn’t at the event, but the Getty presented an image that Shulman took of him in his—shall we say—perkier days. He was obviously hitting the beach a lot then, because we saw some serious tan lines. Uncle Julius, maybe you had another career waiting in the centerfolds? Read More

LA Architects Learning To Promote Selves

West
Monday, November 2, 2009
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…Or so hope the creators of Architects Reaching Out, a series of panels sponsored by the A+D Museum and the AIA Los Angeles, in which journalists, PR experts, photographers and web designers will give architects the tools to improve their self-presentation skills. Lessons will include getting good pictures, pitching to media outlets, creating monographs, composing press releases, and even putting together virtual building tours. The panels, moderated by architecture writer Michael Webb, will take place at the A+D’s new location at 6032 Wilshire Blvd in LA on November 14 and 21. Panelists will include KCRW’s Frances Anderton, AN’s California Editor Sam Lubell, architect Lorcan O’Herlihy, photographer Benny Chan, PR maven Christine Anderson, and web designer Shannon Vincent-Brown.

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Bright Holiday Ideas

Midwest
Monday, November 2, 2009
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(all photos courtesy Object Design League)

The Object Design League, working with Pavilion Antiques, is opening a pop-up design store in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. Opening the day after Thanksgiving, the shop, called Worth Your Salt, will feature pieces by 19 American designers, including lighting, accessories, jewelry, and household items. The designs explore themes of “industriousness and play” according to a statement from the league. Craighton Berman’s Coil Lamp, for examples, is made from a single electrical cord wrapped around a nearly invisible frame in the form of an everyday table-top light. Click through for a preview of a few of the objects that will be offered. Read More

Engine Company 201

East
Friday, October 30, 2009
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Designed by RKT&B Architecture, the Engine Company 201 firehouse in Sunset Park Brooklyn was commissioned under the DDCs Design and Construction Excellence program. (Courtesy Albert Vecerka/Esto)

Designed by RKT&B Architecture, the Engine Company 201 firehouse was commissioned under the DDC's Design and Construction Excellence program. (Courtesy Albert Vecerka/Esto)

Last week, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) broke ground on a police station in Staten Island designed by Rafael Vinoly. This week, the agency announced the completion of another such project: a firehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Both projects were commissioned under the DDC’s Design and Construction Excellence program, which has raised the bar on design in public architecture. The firehouse—Engine Company 201—was designed by RKT&B Architecture, a local firm that has been around since the 1960s and has completed its fair share of  city work. The building’s red glazed brick and backlighted Maltese Cross telegraph its function to the neighborhood, while the glass apparatus doors—a first for a firehouse in the city—maintain a close connection with the community. Look after the jump for more pictures. Read More

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