The Big Bad Box Store?

East
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
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Big blue and bad? (Courtesy Gothamist)

Big blue and bad? (Courtesy Gothamist)

Yesterday, the Bloomberg administration announced the winners of its eighth annual Neighborhood Achievement Awards. Among the honorees was the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership for the Placemaking Award, the Bronx Library Center for the Development Award, and IKEA Red Hook for the Norman Buchbinder Award for Neighborhood Beautification. The latter makes sense, as it sure is a nice park, but we also thought it a bit ironic considering what we saw earlier that day on Archinect, namely an Atlantic article calling the big blue designer retailer the “least sustainable company on the planet.” Read More

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Whither BP?

West
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
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When BP opened their eco-friendly Helios House gas station on Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, it was touted as the future of such facilities, and a coup for a brand whose image was all about conservation. The station, designed by Office dA and Johnston Mark Lee, featured a metal-clad, geometric design, low-flow toilets, solar panels and a floor made of recycled glass, among other features. (it didn’t, however, offer alternative fuels..) But it appears that BP may not have had such high regard for their endeavor. A recent drive-by revealed that the station, still unchanged, was no longer a BP but an Arco. Yes, Arco, the Wal Mart of gas. One of the helpful guides at the station explained that BP actually owns Arco, and that the change of label was “an internal business decision,” whatever that means. Looks like green marketing just took one on the chin.

Chasing One Manhattan Plaza

East, East Coast
Monday, July 13, 2009
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Some day, all this could be yours, as far as the eye can see. (epicarmus/Flickr)

Some day, all this could be yours, as far as the eye can see. (epicarmus/Flickr)

The financial crisis has officially hit architects. No, not in the way you think. We’re talking about banks selling their marquee properties, namely the news today, delivered by the Observer, that JPMorgan Chase may be selling its former headquarters building at One Chase Manhattan Plaza. Designed by Gordon Bundshaft of SOM under the auspices of then-bank president David Rockefeller, the building, which also features an Iasmu Noguchi rock garden, was named a landmark by the LPC in February of this year. Maybe that helped auger the sale, which could include 22 buildings and which the bank continues to deny. (See, we care about commercial real estate, too, and not just famous houses.)

Trouble for Chiofaro?

East
Monday, July 13, 2009
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KPFs proposed Boston Arch (left) and the neighboring Pei Cobb Freed-designed Harbor Towers. (Courtesy KPF).

KPFs proposed Boston Arch (left) and the neighboring Pei Cobb Freed-designed Harbor Towers. (Courtesy KPF).

A double whammy came last week for Boston developer Don Chiofaro’s Boston Arch project, which we first wrote about last month. On Thursday, The Boston Business Journal ran a story suggesting Chiofaro was stuffing the BRA’s mailbox with letters supportive of his KPF-designed project, while the following day it reported that the aquarium the project was meant to improve feared for the worst.

The letters are part of the redevelopment authorities public comment period, and among them was one from the president of the Boston Aquarium who wrote that, according to the Journal, “the project threatens the long-term viability of the Aquarium.” Read More

L. Ron Hubbard Would Be Proud

West
Monday, July 13, 2009
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Yesterday while brunching in Hollywood we happened upon the biggest sign we’ve ever seen. Of course this being LA, it belongs to none other than the Church of Scientology. On July 3 their big blue building at the corner of Franklin and L.Ron Hubbard Way (yes that’s the name of the street) was officially fitted with a brand new sign that’s 84 feet long, 16 feet tall, and weighs 5.2 tons. It’s about three times the size of the former, well-known sign on the site. What’s more the marker, which reads “SCIENTOLOGY” in big white letters,  is fitted with LED lights so the letters glow at night (unlike the famous Hollywood sign nearby, by the way). Read More

Chasing After Zero

East, East Coast
Monday, July 13, 2009
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Locals and Cambridgians enjoy the latest issue of New Geographies. (All photos Kevin Greenberg)

Locals and Cambridgians enjoy the latest issue of New Geographies. (All photos Kevin Greenberg)

Kevin Greenberg sends us another insightful dispatch from Kenmare Street:

Last Tuesday, the Storefront for Art and Architecture felt like a satellite campus of the GSD as Harvard students and other Cambridgians joined locals at the Storefront for a release party for the second issue of New Geographies, a doctoral student-edited periodical recently launched by the GSD’s Aga Khan Program. The editors of New Geographies, Neyran Turan and Stephan Ramos, told us that they had several meanings in mind when they chose the theme for the second issue. Titled “After Zero,” the issue centers on the slippery idea of a “zero point.” The editors cite zero carbon and “zero context” urban developments (or “cities from scratch”) as contemporary examples that force designers to question design methodologies and justifications. Read More

High School Musical

West
Friday, July 10, 2009
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The laser-cut acoustical screen

The laser-cut acoustical screen.

Just weeks from completion, a shiny new auditorium by L.A.’s Hodgetts + Fung looks to put the little town of Menlo Park, CA on the architecture map.  The $28 million project is at a public institution of learning–Menlo-Atherton High–and the 500-seat venue was designed with top-notch acoustics and a stage that can accommodate a full symphony orchestra, in the hopes of  also hosting performances by professional touring groups. Painted in Kynar metallic paint (copper was too expensive), the exterior gleams. But the real treat is inside: the acoustical scrim around the stage is laser-cut with a pattern based on the historic oaks outside.  Read More

Art Island

East, East Coast
Friday, July 10, 2009
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"At The Same Moment" by Lawrence Weiner (here shown in the process of installation). Photos by Victoria Monjo

The physical distance that separates Governors Island from most New Yorkers often offsets the draw and mystery of the place. This summer, however, everyone has a new reason to make the mini-pilgrimage—only 10 minutes by ferry—to the island that was for so many years off-limits. An art installation dubbed PLOT09: This World & Nearer opened to the public on June 27th and features artwork by 19 international artists. Read More

The High Line of Hamblen County

National
Friday, July 10, 2009
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Caption TK

Take an elevated stroll along the Skywalk of Morristown, Tennessee.

New York and Paris will soon be joined by Morristown, Tennessee as cities that have turned abandoned, elevated bits of their aging infrastructure into pleasant walkways. New York’s High Line and Paris’ Promenade Plantee have justifiably received many pages of press, but Morristown’s 1968 Skywalk is known to few people outside of eastern Tennessee. Read More

Redlining the Panorama

East
Friday, July 10, 2009
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Caption TK.

Damon Rich (at rear) surveys the damage, as Michelle O'Brien looks on. (Photo: William Menking)

The Queens Museum of Art opened its latest exhibition Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center on Wednesday with a discussion of the mortgage foreclosure crisis in the city’s five boroughs. The event featured the exhibition’s designer Damon Rich, founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy and now urban design director for the city of Newark; policy expert Sarah Ludwig; community organizer Michelle O’Brien; and urban historian Kenneth Jackson­—all tip-toeing around the museum’s famed New York panorama. For the exhibition the panorama—which includes every mapped block in the city—has been fitted out with orange triangles, their one-inch legs set above every block with three or more recent foreclosures. Read More

Suburban Dreams

National
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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Little boxes on the hillside..

Little boxes on the hillside..

In the wake of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, global warming, rising energy costs, and constant gridlock, you’d think the model of Suburbia isn’t faring to well. Well, you’re not alone.   Dwell and Inhabitat are sponsoring a competition called Reburbia, dedicated to re-envisioning the suburbs. They’re asking entrants to design “future-proof” spaces, from small scale retrofits to large-scale restorations, to replace current types and systems like McMansions, cul-de sacs, big box stores, strip malls and car-centric communities. Ideas, they suggest, could come in the form of bicycle transportation hubs, energy generating freeway paving systems, and new housing prototypes (including a “McMansion farm rehab”, whatever that is). Enter here. And hurry, because entries are due on August 1! Winners will be announced on August 19 (Grand prize: $1,000).

TMI Too Late

East, East Coast
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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Earlier today, the Municipal Art Society posted an incredibly informative presentation that the group gave at the recent City Council hearings on the Bloomberg administration’s plans for rezoning Coney Island. The presentation, which can be found above, pretty succinctly explains what’s wrong with the city’s plan, why it won’t work, and alternatives–proposed, of course, by MAS–that could be undertaken. So why has this presentation surfaced so late in the process, when it will have little, if any impact on the rezoning? Read More

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