Fill it In, Trick it Out

National
Thursday, August 13, 2009
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Alexandros Tsolakis and Irene Shamma's futuristic airships.

Dwell and inhabitat’s REBURBIA competition last month drew hundreds of schemes for making the suburbs more sustainable, and now they want your votes to pick a “readers’ choice” winner from the 20 finalists. (The official winners will be picked next week by a jury, and featured in Dwell’s December/January issue). Read More

Autry Not Expanding Anymore

West
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
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The south elevation of Levin's plan

Plans for a $175 million expansion project for The Autry National Center of the American West in LA’s Griffith Park have been shelved. The expansion was proposed for the Autry’s Southwest Museum of the American Indian (the Center’s other two cultural facilities include the Museum of the American West, and the Institute for the Study of the American West). But according to the LA Times, its  approval hinged on the Autry making a commitment to support the museum as a fully functioning art institution. And in a letter delivered to members of the Los Angeles City Council today, the Autry stated that such a commitment “would be irresponsible” and that it was withdrawing its proposal. As pointed out by Curbed LA, the Autry had put forward a contemporary-style proposal by architect Brenda Levin last spring, which would basically have doubled the museum’s size, from 142,000 square feet to 271,000 square feet, including exhibition and visible storage space for the collection.  To see a walkthrough of the plans with Levin, visit here. The Autry says it will still care for the Southwest’s Native American art collection and historic building, and that they will convert Autry storage space into more galleries.

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Never Surrender Admirals Row

East
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
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The timber shed, the one building—out of 10—to be saved at Admirals Row under current plans. But not if the MAS has anything to say about it. (Courtesy Brownstoner

The timber shed, the one building—out of 10—to be saved at Admiral's Row under current plans. But not if the MAS has anything to say about it. (Courtesy Brownstoner)

Having lost its political fight to preserve most of Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Municipal Art Society has hit upon a novel idea and is now focusing its energy on the developers who are vying to redevelop the old naval officers’ houses into a grocery store. The RFP was recently released for the project, and through that process, MAS is hoping to persuade prospective builders where the Army National Guard and the city were not. “We hope that our experience and information will be helpful to responders looking to create an exciting new development at Admiral’s Row that combines both new construction and the preservation of the incredibly-significant historic buildings,” Melissa Baldock, a preservation fellow at the MAS, recently wrote on the group’s blog. The effort seems like fighting a nuclear submarine with cannon balls, but who knows. In these cash-strapped times, a developer might look favorably upon some pro-bono design work and the imprimatur of one of the city’s leading civic groups.

What is your favorite billboard?

West
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
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LA's most classic billboard..

With the LA City Council banning multi-story supergraphics, digital billboards and some freeway signs last week (thanks Curbed, as always for the juicy details), we’ve suddently gotten nostalgic for these building-sized ads. So we thought we’d put together (ok, it was just me) some of our favorite mega-billboards from recent times, including the most ridiculous, of course. We encourage you to post your own favorite billboards here. C’mon people, let’s find some good ones! Here are some of our faves (oh, and check out our next issue to read about how the billboard ban will affect architects): Read More

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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.

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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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