So Long SCI-Arc

West
Friday, September 11, 2009
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3030-3060 Nebraska Avenue, once home to SCI-Arc, is no longer worth preserving says Ray Kappe. (Courtesy Santa Monica City Council)

3030-3060 Nebraska Avenue, once home to SCI-Arc, is no longer worth preserving, says Ray Kappe. (Courtesy Santa Monica City Council)

“I hadn’t even heard about it,” Ray Kappe told us when we called him to find out about an item in Curbed the other day noting that the Santa Monica City Council had overturned a ruling by the Landmarks Commission that would have designated SCI-Arc’s original home as a historical icon worthy of preservation. Kappe, who founded the school in 1972 at a 1950s industrial building at 3030-3060 Nebraska Avenue [map], actually sided with the council in its decision, calling the building “messed up completely.” He said it used to sport “a pretty good 30s modern look. It had good character, but now it’s got dumb character.” That’s because at one point the landlord replaced the ribbon windows with generics, among other changes. Read More

Bathing Beauty

East
Friday, September 11, 2009
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(courtesy kahntrentonbathhouse.org)

(courtesy kahntrentonbathhouse.org)

Since My Architect, interest in Louis Kahn’s work has grown exponentially, and many of his lesser-known buildings have received greater care. Among the most endangered was the Trenton Bath House in Ewing, New Jersey. Though it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, it’s future was uncertain until 2007 when the Township of Ewing and Mercer County, NJ acquired the property and agreed to restore it, a process you can now follow on a new website.

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Atlantic Yards Money Pit?

East
Thursday, September 10, 2009
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SHoPs new design for Forest City Ratners Barclay Center arena in Brooklyn. (Courtesy SHoP Architects)

SHoP's new design for Forest City Ratner's Barclay Center arena in Brooklyn. (Courtesy SHoP Architects)

When Forest City Ratner released new designs by SHoP Architects of the Barclays Center yesterday, it was seen as an effort to right a listing ship. But no sooner had those copper-hewed renderings hit the presses than the city’s Independent Budget Office released a report [PDF] today noting that the arena will cost the city $40 million in revenues over the next 30 years as a result of financial incentives granted to the developer. Furthermore, the city lost a potential $181 million in lost opportunities through tax breaks and incentives provided to the developer, which cost the state $16 million and the MTA $25 million, though the report also notes both will release a net gain of $25 million and $6 million, respectively, if the deal goes through.

Emerson Morphs in Hollywood

West
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
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Thom is right at home with this Emerson project. (Courtesy Curbed)

Thom is right at home with this Emerson project. (Courtesy Curbed)

When Boston’s Emerson College chose to open a satellite “campus” for students studying and interning in LA (it’s really just one building), the school would have been hard pressed to find a more suitable architect than Thom Mayne. After all, Morphosis has had a string of academic successes of late, including the new 41 Cooper Square in New York and the Cahill Center for Astronomy at Caltech. Indeed, some of the firm’s earliest successes were two high schools in Southern California. Now, Curbed alerts us to this latest project, complete with the above rendering. The details are kind of sketchy, though we do know there will be 224 residences in that La Defense-like box with classrooms in the inner blob, which is, like, so Thom Mayne.

Fijne Verjaardag Sol Lewitt!

East, East Coast
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
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Ben Van Berkel stands before the New Amsterdam Pavilion he designed with his firm UN Studio and Handel Architects located at the Battery. (Courtesy Handel Architects)

Ben Van Berkel stands before the New Amsterdam Pavilion he designed with his firm UN Studio and Handel Architects located at the Battery. (Courtesy Handel Architects)

That would be Dutch for “Happy Birthday Sol Lewitt!” For you see, the Dutch have arrived in the city this week to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Henry Hudson and the subsequent founding of New Amsterdam. As part of the week-long festivities, they have unveiled a Ben Van Berkel-designed pavilion (above) down on the Battery that was announced back in January. But once those festivities are over, perhaps ours trans-Atlantic friends might head uptown to Columbus Circle, where the MTA unveiled its latest Arts for Transit project today, a 53-foot long tile rendition of one of Lewitt’s wall drawings entitled “Whirls and twirls (MTA).” The installation was revealed today as it would have been the Conceptualist artist’s 82nd birthday. (He died in 2007.) Read More

A School for the Future

West
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
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Architecture for Humanity just announced the winner for the 2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom. The global competition involved 1,000 registered design teams from 65 different countries. The challenge for the architecture, design, and engineering community was simple–partner with actual students and their schools to create real solutions for a classroom of the future. The winner, Teton Valley Community School in Victor, Idaho, was designed by local firm Section Eight. The concept is centered around the idea of place-based education in the school, a mode of learning that gives more importance to cultural and environmental sustainability than technology and consumerism. Read More

Broad Shoulders, Big Ideas

Midwest
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
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The Chicago Grid, Brinistool + Lynch (all images courtesy The Burnham Plan Centennial)

Big. Bold. Visionary: Chicago Considers the Next Century, another event commemorating the Burnham Plan Centennial, taps local architects, planners, and landscape architects to envision the ideal Windy City of the future. Some designers took a creative and sometimes whimsical approach, while others offered up more practical concepts. Read More

Fire Blast

West
Friday, September 4, 2009
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The fire this time. (Photo: Mary Beth Trama)

The fire this time. (Photo: Mary Beth Trama)

Among other scary lessons, the latest L.A. fire reminds us why it’s important to stick to a small footprint. As of this writing, the Station Fire in Los Angeles County has destroyed 64 homes, three commercial buildings, and 27 outbuildings, and has burned through at least 145,000 acres of land. In the midst of the blaze stands the historical Mt. Wilson Observatory, which was in danger from the nearby flames, but now appears to be safe. Read More

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Perfect Angle for Treasure Island: 68 Degrees

West
Friday, September 4, 2009
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(Rendering courtesy CMG Landscape Architecture.)

Sixty-eight degrees happens to be the best angle for the streets in San Francisco’s Treasure Island project, a utopian vision of green, pedestrian-centric living. The planners have realized that nobody will walk if they’re buffeted by blasts of wind that sweep the island from the southwest, so they came up with a compromise that blocks wind while giving cars enough clearance to turn.

It was just one of the interesting factoids that came up during yesterday’s tour, organized by the AIA SF for their Architecture + the City Festival, going on right now  (still time to catch one of the other tours and get in on the learning and schmoozing!). Read More

Imagined Infrastructure

National
Friday, September 4, 2009
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Urban Algae: Speculation and Optimization, Mining Existing Infrastructure for Lost Efficiencies

Urban Algae proposes a park on a floating pontoon between Lower Manhattan and Red Hook that would harvest CO2 emissions from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.

cityLAB, an urban think-tank at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, has announced the six finalists of its WPA 2.0 competition. The competition, which stands for working public architecture, invited designers of all stripes to submit proposals for rebuilding our cities’ infrastructure as a sort of throwback to the Great Depression-era WPA. Juried by Stan Allen, Cecil Balmond, Elizabeth Diller, Walter Hood, Thom Mayne, and Marilyn Jordan Taylor, the top-six picks run the gamut from heading off an impending water crisis to creating a softer, gentler version of our infrastructure. One finalist, Urban Algae: Speculation and Optimization, Mining Existing Infrastructure for Lost Efficiencies, proposes to harvest CO2 emissions through photosynthesis. Submitted by PORT Architecture + Urbanism, the solution could be rolled out nationwide on coal-fired power plants and toll booths, but the designers also outlined a scheme for creating a public park on floating pontoons between Lower Manhattan and Red Hook, which would harvest emissions from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Read about the other finalists after the jump. Read More

Bayou Ball

National
Thursday, September 3, 2009
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Trahan clad the exterior of the museum in planks of sinker cypress, which comes from logs that have been submerged for years in the soft muddy bottoms of swamps and bayous. (Courtesy Trahan Architects)

Trahan clad the exterior of the museum in planks of sinker cypress, which comes from logs that have been submerged for years in the soft muddy bottoms of swamps and bayous. (Courtesy Trahan Architects)

Construction began last month in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on the Louisana State Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum. “What do sports and regional history have in common?” you might ask. Trahan Architects certainly had to ponder this question when figuring out an elegant way to combine the disparate program elements under one roof. In the end they took inspiration from Louisiana’s geomorphology, basing their layout of interior spaces on “the fluid shapes of the braided corridors of river channels separated by interstitial masses of land.” See exactly what is meant by this in the images after the jump. Read More

An Olympic Conundrum for Chicago

Midwest
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
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SOMs official Olympic village proposal.

SOM's official Olympic village proposal.

We’ve been following Chicago’s Olympic bid rather closely of late, and not only because we’re on the way to inaugurating a Midwest edition of the paper. First, there was SOM’s intriguing proposal to create “sustainable,” “low-impact” Olympics that would have few legacy costs by using temporary facilities, an approach the IOC apparently favored. Then there was the impact of that plan, which still called for the demolition of some buildings—as well as hundreds of trees in Washington Park—most notably at the Walter Gropius-designed Michael Reese hospital campus. Outcry from preservationists led the city to delay demolition, which made time for the preservationists to develop alternative plans. Olympic opponents may be catching another break now, as, ironically enough, the very things the IOC purportedly liked about Chicago’s bid-lite may also be its undoing. Read More

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