The Future Is Video

West
Monday, August 10, 2009
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When CAD rose up in the ’80s and began replacing hand-drawing as the preferred means of rendering architecture-to-be, practitioners began decrying the death of the field. Obviously that was not the case, but in our increasingly digitized age/culture/lives, where sexy renderings predominate (to the cost of real architectural discourse, some might say, and probably rightly) on blogs and, uh, architectural websites and beyond, videos are becoming an increasingly important component of the process of placemaking. Or at least competitionwinning, as the above video by SPF:architects shows. Read More

ANY Gwathmey

East, East Coast
Monday, August 10, 2009
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Gwathmey enjoys his parents Hamptons home—of his own design—during brighter days. (Courtesy Dans Hamptons)

Gwathmey enjoys his parent's Hamptons home—of his own design—during brighter days. (Courtesy Dan's Hamptons)

Back before the bubble—be that real estate or dotcom—there was a rather significant architectural rag known as ANY Magazine, meaning exactly that, or, if you’re the nitpicking sort, Architecture New York. If you’re reading this blog post, or writing it for that matter, it probably predates your architectural conscience. That said, it was a very Important and Influential publication, one with such luminaries contributing as Stan Alan, Peggy Deamer, Tony Vidler, Greg Lynn, and the rest of the gang. Well, the mag has a modest but earnest web presence, along with its younger sibling publication, the equally venerable log. Among the people involved with the former was the recently deceased Charles Gwathmey. On the occasion of the architect’s passing, ANY has posted an interview the architect did for Issue 11, way back in 1995, with Cynthia Davidson. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. It’s so nice it makes us wish we’d been around to read the thing first-hand.

Brad Pitt Thinks This Is A Game

Eavesdroplet
Monday, August 10, 2009
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The $70 million Pitt-Jolie estate in the south of France which doubles as a stress reliever for the hunky actor. (Courtesy sawf.org)

The $70 million Pitt-Jolie estate in the south of France, which doubles as a stress reliever for the hunky actor. (Courtesy sawf.org)

Or a puzzle. At least that’s what New York mag said the would-be-architect said to Parade mag this weekend. To be more precise:

Architecture is like play to me. As a boy, you play with Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Legos, and you get interested in how things are made, like cars and drills and all that. Years later you come back around to what interested you as a boy. Now, if I have something that I’m dealing with that’s causing me a lot of stress, my mind goes to architecture. I walk around the yard and start thinking about what I need to do to the house structurally. It’s similar to puzzles in that way, like a crossword puzzle or anything else I can put my mind into. It’s a relief for me.

Read More

Making Buildings Dream

International
Monday, August 10, 2009
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From Germany via Dangerous Minds comes this stunning 3-D architectural illusion: A square building appears possessed, its facade rippling, segmenting and mutating. Giant hands manipulate the building’s surface and then dissolve. A wave ripples through the building’s bricks as if it were shivering. Read More

Design Your Vegetables

West
Monday, August 10, 2009
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AN is sponsoring a new competition put together by Good magazine, the Urban & Enviromental Policy Institute at Occidental College, and the LA Good Food Network called Project: Redesign Your Farmers Market, which asks designers and non-designers alike to improve upon the current model for farmers markets. Entrants will have until September 1 to design a new venue, product, distribution method, or marketing mechanism to increase returns to farmers and access to healthy foods for consumers. It’s all about helping local farmers give us more good food. What could be better than that??  Check out more here. Read More

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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