Journey From The Center Of CityCenter

West
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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Helmut Jahns Veer Towers at CityCenter

Helmut Jahn's Veer Towers at CityCenter.

And so it begins. MGM Mirage’s 67-acre, 18 million square foot, $7.8 billion CityCenter, one of the biggest  developments in the history of mankind, officially opened today. It includes buildings by Cesar Pelli, Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, KPF and Norman Foster. We can’t wait to put together our commentary. Here are some initial thoughts after our first day here: Read More

New Gams for Lever House

East
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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Richard Wood's "Port Sunlight" at Lever House (all photos: Amy Barkow courtesy Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York)

The British artist Richard Woods is known for using patterns from historical sources such as Tudor architecture and the designs of William Morris in his Pop inflected works. His new installation at Lever House, entitled Port Sunlight, wraps the ground level elements at Gordon Bunshaft’s mid-century masterwork in vibrant panels, and while there isn’t a snowflake in sight the effect is festive. Read More

Light Walk With Me

East
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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In the above video, lighting designer Leni Schwendinger takes us on a light walk. Inspired by the Professional Lighting Designers Association’s LightMapping events, Schwendinger guides us through the nighttime streets of Greenwich Village, using her keen eye to observe and interpret the urban lighting conditions. What she reveals is a nuanced way of experiencing the city—New York or any place where electric light and the built environment can be found—after the sun goes down and is not to be missed. Enjoy.

The Final Slam Dunk?

East, East Coast
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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Forest City Ratner successfully sold bonds today, paving the way for construction of its new arena in Brooklyn.

Forest City Ratner successfully sold bonds today, paving the way for construction of its new arena in Brooklyn.

There may be a few hoops left to jump through before Bruce Ratner can begin construction of his SHoP- and Ellerbe Becket-designed arena for the Brooklyn, New Jersey, Nets, such as completing a partial sale of the team to a Russian oligarch, prevailing in some outstanding lawsuits, and going ahead with eminent domain against the area’s remaining holdouts. But the developer appears to have cleared the final major hurdle standing in his way with the successful sale of $511 million in tax-exempt bonds today for his $900 million arena. (There are still taxed bonds and an equity stake to be taken care of, but they lacked the December 31 deadline.) Read More

Bay Bridge Babylon

West
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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The new span of the Bay Bridge in progress. Photo by jitze on Flickr

The new Bay Bridge in progress. Photo by jitze/Flickr

Launching last Tuesday, Dave Eggers’ one-time-only Panorama newspaper celebrated the good old days of  investigative journalism with a muckraking piece on the Bay Bridge. Its “above-the-fold” piece, “Unparalleled Bridge, Unparalleled Cost” (which, unlike the rest of the issue, is available online), is a massive 22,000-word exploration into the bureaucratic issues that have caused the new Bay Bridge to be delayed for years and go from an original estimate of $1.8 billion to a final cost around $12 billion. Read More

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Kicked by the Curb

East, East Coast
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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Curbed calls Calatravas 80 South Street the biggest disappointment of the decade.

Curbed calls Calatrava's 80 South Street the biggest disappointment of the decade.

The recent building boom has proven to be as much about what got built—40s Bond and Mercer, One Bryant Park, the High Line—as what hasn’t—our Gehry Guggenheim, ample affordable housing, so much of the World Trade Center, not to mention Dubai. Our good pals at Curbed New York, so often trafficking in our real estate dreams and nightmares, have put together a run-down of their top 10 projects that never got built. Read More

R.I.P., I.D.

National
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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(Image Courtesy I.D. Magazine)

(Image Courtesy I.D. Magazine)

To get a brief taste of a world short one more smart design magazine, type ID Magazine into the search field. You might get i-D with a bunch of nude blondes on the cover or id magazine at the ready to discuss transgender issues in Oregon, but you will not easily find I.D., the magazine that has covered the art of design and the design of the everyday for more than 50 years, winning five National Magazine Awards in the process. While nobody who wanted to know the new brand names in the making dared miss I.D.’s Annual Design Review every July/August (since 1954!), it was really the steady hand and sharp eye of its most formidable editors Julie Lasky and, before that, Chee Pearlman that made I.D. a force of good in design. Lasky left last February to join the website Change Observer and continue championing innovative design. The rest of us will just have to turn the page.

And the Winners Are

National
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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(Rick Lowe's Project Row House. All images courtesy United States Artists)

(Denari's HL23)

Among the winners at last night’s ceremony for United States Artists (USA) were architects Neil Denari, Laura Kurgan, and architect/activist Rick Lowe. The $50,000 unrestricted awards are given each year “to ignite the creativity that makes this country great,” according to the organization’s website. USA was started in 2005 with seed money from the Rockefeller, Ford, Prudential, and Ramuson foundations to support artists in the wake of dwindling public funding for the arts.

They praised Denari as a “leading voice in the pedagogy and practice of contemporary architecture,” and commended him for showing that “progressive ideology is buildable.”

Kurgan’s work employs “data network information and uses it as a visual device to inform and educate the general public on social issues and their physical implications to the built environment.” Read More

The Big Bang

National
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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On Friday I posted a video about the Ocean Tower in South Padre Island, Texas, also known as the Leaning Tower of South Padre Island. It is, or was to be, a 31 story condo. Regrettably, after topping out one side of the foundation sank more than a foot into the sand, construction was halted, and on Sunday the structure was imploded. At 400 feet tall, it was the tallest concrete structure to ever be imploded, according to the demolition contractor, Controlled Demolition of Phoenix, Maryland. The above video, and many more like it on youtube, capture the magic moment.

Willets Wonderings

East, East Coast
Monday, December 14, 2009
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The city saw a robust response to an RFQ for the development of the western portion of Willets Point in Queens.

The city saw a robust response to an RFQ for the development of the western portion of Willets Point in Queens.

It appears the city’s plan to trifurcate development out at Willets Point has been a smashing success, as the Economic Development Corporation announced on Friday that 29 developers from across the country have expressed interest in the first phase of the project, an 18-acre swath of land on the western section of the 62-acre Iron Triangle that contains the densest mix of uses. “The quantity and quality of these responses are strong indicators that the development community has confidence in the successful redevelopment of Willets Point despite current economic conditions,” Seth Pinsky, president of EDC, said in a release. An RFP is expected sometime in 2010 for a selection of those 29 respondents. After that, the next hurdle is finishing land acquisition, which stands at 75 percent of the phase one area controlled by the city. If need be, the city has not ruled out acquiring what’s left through eminent domain, a specter that has cast a long shadow over the area’s redevelopment, though one that could be sunsetting. Read More

High Tech Holidays

Midwest
Monday, December 14, 2009
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(images courtesy SOM)

The Chicago office of SOM has designed a modern take on the menorah, which recently took top prize in a charity competition sponsored by Steelcase. The solid wax menorah, which was created by Colin Gorsuch, burns so that the eight inch square frame is revealed with the passing of each night of Chanukkah. Read More

Related Events?

East, East Coast
Friday, December 11, 2009
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City Council member Joel Rivera leads a rally against the Related Companies Kingsbridge Armory project on Wednesday. Council speeker Christine Quinn has taken a quieter approach with that developers Hudson Yards.

City Council member Joel Rivera leads a rally against the Related Companies Kingsbridge Armory project on Wednesday. Council speeker Christine Quinn has taken a quieter approach with that developer's Hudson Yards.

With all the ink spilled of late on the Related Companies’ faltering plans to transform the massive Kingsbridge Armory into an equally huge mall, another of the developer’s megaprojects has been lost amidst the protests: Hudson Yards. As Bronx City Council member Joel Rivera has been leading a noisy fight against the armory, demanding a living wage for workers who will someday populate its stores and food courts, speaker Christine Quinn has been more quietly negotiating with Related on adding affordable housing to the western section of the outsiszed development planned for the Far West Side. Read More

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