Wright Room Service

Midwest
Monday, August 10, 2009
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(courtesy Wright on the Park)

A non-profit group in Mason City, Iowa is restoring the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright designed hotel, according to the AP. Completed in 1910, the Park Inn Hotel complex also includes a bank branch and a small office building. It had previously been used as a hotel, apartments, and a strip club. Read More

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Unforgettable Stage

International
Thursday, August 6, 2009
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The 4,000-square-foot video screen is made up of 800 LED Panels. It also expands and contracts.

The 4,000-square-foot video screen is made up of 888 LED Panels. It also expands and contracts.

Engineering firm Buro Happold is known for designing innovative structures. The glazed canopies it suspended above the courtyards of the Smithsonian and the British Museum baffle the mind with their seeming lightness. And the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic, on which the firm collaborated with fellow UK native Grimshaw, introduced upstate New York to some of the most space-age forms it has seen since Whitley Streiber’s Communion. Now the firm—along with designers Hoberman Associates and Innovative Designs—has turned its expertise to the world of rock and roll with its structural design for an expanding 4,000-square-foot video screen that will accompany U2 on their current 360º tour. Made up of 888 LED panels (500,000 pixels) the screen weighs 32 tons, can expand and contract from 23 feet tall to 72 feet tall in 90 seconds, and can be assembled in 8 hours and broken down into portable pieces in 6 hours. More pics and some videos after the jump. Read More

Alsop Retires (For Now)

International
Thursday, August 6, 2009
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Alsop (Courtesy Alsop Architects)

Alsop (Courtesy Alsop Architects)

Our compatriots across the Pond report today that Will Alsop, “British architecture’s most colourful personality,” is leaving his eponymous firm.

Following 30 years of running a private practice, the 61-year-old has told BD that he will shortly hand over day-to-day management of Battersea-based Alsop to others, in order to devote more time to painting and teaching.

The paper goes on to say that it’s an amicable departure, with Alsop staying on as a consultant to the Archial-overseen firm (for an American referent, think WSP or Aedes), though there are also hints of a falling out, and even the suggestion the fanciful designer could start up his own independent firm should he so desire. Read More

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Upending The Bad News

West
Thursday, August 6, 2009
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(From right to left) panelists Denise Bickerstaff, Cecilia Estolano, Rob Jernigan, Jerry Neuman, Dan Rosenfeld (obscured), and Larry Scarpa. Co-moderator Jennifer Caterino.

On Tuesday night AN, Gensler and the California Real Estate Journal (CREJ) hosted our panel discussion, Upending The Downturn at the Poliform showroom in Beverly Hills. Participants did their best to keep the tone positive, and suggested tips for surviving, and even excelling, during the recession and beyond. Most hinted that we’re almost out of the woods. Potential bright spots for architects and builders included affordable housing, government work (including slowly-moving stimulus-related projects), sustainable projects (including work in LA’s new Clean Tech corridor), health care, and design/build . Some even suggested that small projects are getting financing, and that larger ones should by the end of the year. The recession, one panelist pointed out, will be announced officially over in September. What?? And more good news: co-moderator Jennifer Caterino of the CREJ, noted that according to the Commerce Department US Construction spending rose .3 percent in June. What’s next? Constant sunshine? Oh yeah, it’s LA. There is constant sunshine.

Pixel Count

West
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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SmithGroups new Mission Bay building

SmithGroup's new Mission Bay building

You know that if a trend has hit a major office building, it’s really gone mainstream. The pixelated effect that has been seen in hip textiles and interior design is used for the glass facade on this SmithGroup project going up in Mission Bay. For people driving down Third St., it adds a bit of sparkle to the vista, reflecting the blueness of the open sky around it. Compared to the new Rafael Vinoly-designed UCSF cancer research building next to it (which Mitchell Schwarzer twitted for its blandness), it’s the sequined cocktail dress next to the Gap khakis.

Saving the Century

West
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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Minoru Yamasakis Century Plaza hotel and the towers that threaten it. (Courtesy Curbed LA)

Minoru Yamasaki's Century Plaza hotel and the towers that threaten it. (Courtesy Curbed LA)

Our friends over at Curbed report today that the LA City Council’s PLUM committee (gotta love the name–Planning and Land Use Management) voted in favor of “initiat[ing] a nomination to include the Century Plaza hotel on the city’s list of historical-cultural monuments,” which, in non-planner speak, means the Minoru Yamasaki-designed hotel will soon be on the cusp of garnering support for its historical bona fides. This would make it harder but not impossible for a developer to tear the building down and replace it with the towers you see above. Read More

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Late Is Better Than Never

Midwest
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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Zahas fabric and aluminum pod is lit at night by LED fixtures, in a changing color scheme designed by Chicago firm Dear Productions. (Courtesy Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Zaha's fabric and aluminum pod is lit at night by LED fixtures, in a changing color scheme designed by Chicago firm Dear Productions. (Courtesy Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

On Tuesday, after a nearly two-month delay, Zaha Hadid’s pavilion honoring the 100th-year anniversary of Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago finally opened in Millennium Park. The wait—allegedly caused by problems with the project’s contractor—was more than made up for by the dynamism of the space, or so thought the Tribune. The installation at last joins its neighbor, the on-schedule Burnham pavilion by UNStudio, which is already showing significant signs of wear on its plywood surface from being used as a public rumpus room. See more pictures of Zaha’s creation here.

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MoMA Makes for Bad Neighbor

East
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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A group of Midtown residents and concerned citizens, many from the West 54th/55th Street Block Association, have been the leading opponents of Jean Nouvel’s MoMA tower. They have been very vocal during hearings at Landmarks and, just a few weeks ago, City Planning Commission. Now, The Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development, as the group is calling itself, have launched a website, no2moma.com. There, they succinctly recast their previous opposition to the project–light & shadows, traffic & congestion, out-sized & ugly–as well as presenting a six minute documentary that makes the group’s best case yet. Our favorite part is the clip above, where the Nouvel tower rises, Frankenstein-like, from “a lot no bigger than a McDonald’s drive-thru.” The full video is after the jump, but, given statements made by some commissioners during a meeting Monday, all this flash and frustration may be too little too late. Read More

Neutra Strathmore Apartments Threatened

West
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
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Proposed Grandmarc Westwood project

Proposed Grandmarc Westwood project

AN contributor Michael Webb not only writes about Modernism, but he lives it: for the last 31 years he has resided in one of the units in Richard Neutra’s Strathmore Apartments in Westwood. According to Webb, developer Landventures is proposing to build a five-story block directly across the street from the Neutra apartments, which would block light and views, aggravate the noise and congestion on a heavily trafficked street, and “degrade an architectural masterpiece.” He and other residents are encouraging people to attend tommorow night’s hearing of the Westwood Community Design Review Board (7pm in the community room A of the Westside Pavilion at Pico and Westwood) to oppose the project. To see what the apartments mean to Webb, check out this essay he wrote about his unit a few years ago: Read More

Remembering Charles Gwathmey

East
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
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Gwathmey

Gwathmey

Charles Gwathmey passed away on Monday, but he was fondly remembered by his many colleagues, including Robert Siegel, Richard Meier, Michael Graves, and Peter Eisenman, in our obituary. We invite readers to share their own memories of this “fighter for modernism” in the comments section below. But please, be erudite, as Gwathmey would have had it no other way.

Design Observer Diversifies

National
Monday, August 3, 2009
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Design Observer started in 2003 as an online destination for commentary and discussion on design, primarily graphic design. Its founders, Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand, and Rick Poyner are all well-known voices in that field, and the site quickly grew to be one of the most widely read design forums, claiming 175,000 visitors a month, and attracting contributions from other notable writers and designers. Though it has touched on architecture, industrial design, photography, art, and pop culture, its primary focus has remained graphic design. That’s changing, however, as the site, now known as the Design Observer Group, has expanded to include four distinct pages, Observatory, Observermedia, Change Observer, and Places. Read More

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Taking Aim at the Downturn

West
Friday, July 31, 2009
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OK, it’s time to start doing something about this economic debacle. Next Tuesday, August 4, in Los Angeles, AN, The California Real Estate Journal, and Gensler will be co-hosting a panel to devise ways for SoCal firms to cope with the downturn. Topics will include finding architectural projects, exploiting creative measures like design-build, shaking loose financing, and securing public money and jobs, among other things. The panel will include Larry Scarpa of Pugh+Scarpa; Rob Jernigan of Gensler; Dan Rosenfeld of development firm Urban Partners (and Deputy for Economic Development to LA Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas); Cecilia Estolano, CEO of the LA Community Redevelopment Agency; Denise Bickerstaff of real estate consulting firm Keyser Marston Associates; and Jerry Neuman of real estate law firm Allen Matkins Leck. The event will take place at 6 pm at Poliform, 8818 Beverly Blvd. Networking, of course, to follow. Don’t miss this chance to pull yourself up by your bootstraps!

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