A collection of strange industrial relics in St. Louis has gone the way of many before it, as the city’s last gasometer has fallen.
Gasometers are storage devices for natural and coal gas, built during the 20th century but abandoned after 2000 when underground storage became the preferred method. The Laclede Gas Company Pumping Station at 3615 Chevrolet, built around 1920, was the area’s last. Michael R. Allen wrote an epitaph for the bygone piece of infrastructure, providing a remembrance that asks, are industrial relics worth preserving?
Basically silos for gas, the structures leave behind industrial skeletons that are sometimes stunning, always intriguing — a Flickr group devoted to their documentation has more than 1,000 entries. They are more common in Europe than in the U.S., but Laclede’s St. Louis structures were the most notable on this side of the Atlantic. In Vienna they are celebrated, with four architectural teams currently converting four gasometers for new uses.
Could that hulking behemoth, Chicago’s Main Post Office, see new life at last? According to the Sun-Times’ David Roeder, developer Bill Davies is betting on it, and he has brought Antunovich Associates to the table. If talk of a downtown casino has any merit, the Post Office could be the right place for it.
The massive 1921 building (expanded in 1932) comprises 2.5 million square feet downtown, looming over Congress Parkway. Davies’ fanciful plans for the facility have grabbed headlines since 2009, when the US Postal Service first put it on the auction block. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is still pushing the state legislature for a casino license, touting the potential revenue as a much-needed influx for school construction and repairs.
Reflecting the various currents of contemporary architecture and urbanism, the Architectural League of New York has announced its line-up for the 2013 Emerging Voices lecture series. The series showcases notable talent from across North America and is selected through a portfolio competition that emphasizes built work. The program has had a remarkable track record at identifying important architects. Past Emerging Voices have included Steven Holl, Morphosis, Jeanne Gang, and SHoP among many other boldface archinames.
Marlon Blackwell uses ribbed ceiling to evoke craft while mitigating contemporary challenges at Arkansas museum.
The setting for the gift shop at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art seems idyllic—a vast glass wall opens onto a entry courtyard that gives way to a placid pond reflecting the Ozarks landscape. But to create a design for the 3,100 square-foot space in Bentonville, Arkansas, architect Marlon Blackwell had to overcome multiple hurdles. The first: a thicket of concrete columns supporting the green roof of the Moshe Safdie-designed building. Next: the west-facing glass wall, which made heat gain an issue. And finally: the very small budget (the total project cost was $644,000).
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has seen some success in his time in office. But one element still remains a thorn in his side: MUNI, the city’s transit agency. In his State of the City address the other day (watch full speech below) Lee vowed to improve the notoriously late and overcrowded system, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. ”We need to modernize our system…to better match up with 21st century patterns of where people live, work, and shop,” said Lee.
A few remedies that Lee has suggested: the formation of a task force to help develop a plan for modernizing the system and dealing with the city’s growing population; expansion of BART, the Bay Area’s regional transit system; new work rule reforms; and a bevy of new technologies. ”Truly great cities have great transportation systems—Paris, New York, London, Tokyo,” Lee said. “I say San Francisco is pretty great, too, and deserves one as well.” The city is in fact adding a new transit line, the downtown T-Central, to help alleviate congestion problems. It’s slated to open in 2019. Check out images of the city’s upcoming line below.
After a nearly five-year delay, a $350 million mixed-use development in Jersey City is slated to break ground in the next few months. The Real Deal reports that the Jersey City Municipal Council and Planning Board approved plans back in December. Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman + Associates Architects will design the two 50-story towers at 70 and 90 Columbus Street. The 1.2 million-square-foot development, a joint venture by Ironstate Development and Panepinto Properties, will consist of a 150-room hotel and approximately 1,000 rental apartments in addition to retail space.
The much-talked-about 7 line subway extension on Manhattan’s West Side isn’t the only mega-infrastructure project making progress in New York. Construction continues far below the streets of Manhattan’s East Side as crews tunnel through bedrock for the Second Avenue Subway line. This week, the MTA released a gallery of photos showing construction progress on stations between 63rd and 73rd streets. The photos show the enormous rock caverns that will one day be subway stations being prepped with liners, rebar, and concrete casing. According to Gothamist, construction progress varies by station, with the 72nd Street station 96 percent complete and the 86th Street station 42 percent done.
Modern art as we know it has run its course. The visual giants of the last century such as painting, sculpture, and movies have greatly diminished in cultural importance. For the sake of my argument and to aid a simpler perspective and understanding, I’m combining modern art and contemporary art as one. I’m defining the modern art movement as starting somewhere around 1890. I believe the movement ended around 1990, and interestingly enough, this incidentally coincides with the ascent of architecture and the new digital technologies that are propelling it forward.
Changes are brewing in East Harlem. DNAinfo reported this week that Community Board 11 just approved a new rezoning plan for a 60-block stretch that runs along Madison, Park, and Lexington avenues between East 115th and East 132nd streets.
Instead of recommending uniform changes, the proposal addresses the needs and character of each specific area in East Harlem whether it be residential, light industrial, mixed-use, or commercial. According to DNAinfo, taller buildings will be permitted “in exchange for permanently affordable housing units.” The proposal also looks at possible solutions for the foreboding Metro-North viaduct that extends over Park Avenue.
In post-Hurricane Sandy New York, it looks like Zone A is expanding, and stretching beyond waterfront properties to encompass buildings farther inland. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released preliminary new maps on Monday revealing that an additional 35,000 homes and buildings are now listed in flood zones. Business and homeowners included in these new zones will likely see their insurance rates rise.
Right now you can log on to Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany’s Leuphana Digital School and participate in online courses being led by none other than Daniel Libeskind. Professor Libeskind, on the faculty at Leuphana since 2007, is collaborating with other professors and a team of tutors to guide students on the “Ideal City of the 21st Century.” The university conceived of the project as a “cost- and barrier-free academic course for collaborative web-based learning.” Online students will participate in six team assignments through the end of April. Their goal: to design an ideal city and invite others to experience it through digital visualization.
Enrollment is on-going so students can enter for any of the assignments and even arrange for college credit with home institutions. Students are asked to upload text, diagrams, photographs, and videos as the project progresses. Video lectures will also be presented by Libeskind and participating faculty. In the end, a winning team will be announced and all material could eventually be published. We’ll be sure to report on the outcome of the project once it’s complete.
Single Room Occupancy hotels are a dying breed in Chicago. Notoriously undermanaged and generally unpopular among immediate neighbors, the majority of these base-service dwellings have been condemned or rehabbed into other residential uses over the past decade.
The fate of the Chateau Hotel, one of the last SRO hotels on Chicago’s North Side, looks to be leaning toward the latter.