Amazon renderings released this week in a Seattle design review board meeting would have made the late Buckminster Fuller proud. They reveal new plans for an additional structure on the proposed three-block, three-tower Amazon complex in downtown Seattle: three five-story conjoined biodomes up to 95 feet tall, with the largest 130 feet in diameter. These glass and steel domes, envisioned by local firm NBBJ, would provide 65,000 square feet of interior flex work and brainstorm areas for Amazon employees, while leaving abundant space to accommodate trees and diverse plantings. Inspiration came from nature found indoors—in greenhouses, conservatories, and convention centers around the world. From Renzo Piano’s “Bolla” in Genoa, to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels. (Fun fact: the largest dome in the United States—an indoor sports arena—is in fact in Washington State, in Tacoma, a city south of Seattle.)
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is planning an extensive expansion of its facilities. On May 7, at The Philadelphia School, representatives from Cooper, Robertson & Partners—the New York–based architecture firm selected to design the hospital—revealed renderings to community members regarding the world’s oldest and largest children’s hospital. Along with the construction of modern facilities, highlights include innovative stormwater management solutions and an open campus with extensive green spaces.
Chicago’s bike-for-rent made its test premiere during the annual “Bike the Drive” event on the Windy City’s Lake Shore thoroughfare Sunday, and Wednesday opened the new service for membership sign-ups.
Chicago’s Department of Transportation unveiled its bike share plans in April, tapping Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs New York and DC’s bike-share programs, to roll out 400 stations and about 4,000 three-speed “Chicago Blue” bicycles across the city.
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ]
Reaching Mount Rushmoor was a significant—indeed iconic—moment of the trip, our sense of arrival heightened by the steep and long hill that takes the visitor up to the Avenue of Flags and the rather pompous facilities that are in stark contrast to the desolate scenes one remembers from Hitchcock’s North by North West.
One of the few regions that superstar Bjarke Ingels has yet to invade is Southern California, and he’s made it clear that he wants that to change. It just might, soon. Ingels, we hear from an unnamed source, has been added to one of the teams competing to design the city’s 4th and Arizona mixed use project in Santa Monica, a city experiencing the beginnings of a building boom. They’ll replace RTKL on a team that also includes local firms Koning Eizenberg and Rios Clementi Hale. So now this shortlist is the most starchitect-heavy of any in the region, including not just BIG, but OMA with VTBS and Robert A.M. Stern with Brooks + Scarpa. In addition to a building that could reach up to 130 feet, the RFP calls for a “programmable gathering space that adds to the community’s civic life with public gatherings and seasonal activities.” Currently, the city hosts an ice skating rink on the site in the winters. According to the RFP a winner is expected to be chosen by Santa Monica’s city council by this August. Stay tuned.
It’s finally here! Well, in a few more excruciating days, New Yorkers will be able to hop on a bright blue City Bike and cruise through the city (or at least those 12,000 or so founding members, the rest of us will have to wait one more week). While some locals haven’t taken to the alien bike docking stations popping up on city streets quite yet, it appears that the vast majority of the city is ready to roll. With the docking stations in place, crews are now distributing bikes. According to a tweet from the NYC DOT this afternoon, some 850 bikes have already been docked around the city, and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and a few of the bike share team took the opportunity to pose on some of the bikes today. The official opening day is May 27.
New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn unveiled Blotto today, a temporary installation by Atlanta/New York City-based artist John Morse meant to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. The artwork, which was inspired by ink-blot tests and depicts two cars crashing into a martini glass, has been placed in more than 100 phone kiosks in locations in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx with high concentrations of drunk driving collisions. The installation is part of NYC DOT’s ongoing campaign to curb instances of driving while intoxicated, which has contributed to at least 46 deaths in New York City streets and led to more than 19,000 arrests in the past two years alone. “We’re using creative imagery to help motorists recognize there is no room for interpretation when it comes to drinking and driving,” said commissioner Sadik-Kahn in a statement. “Drunken driving is reckless driving and when motorists raise a glass, it’s the lives of other New Yorkers they have in their hands.” The installation will be on view until June 17. AN publisher Diana Darling lost her sister, Teresa Wallace (age 36), nephew, Rhea Wallace (age 6), and niece, Kenzi Wallace (age 3 months), when they were killed by a drunk driver in July 1996 in Dallas, Texas. Ms. Darling supports Mothers Against Drunk Driving and any other initiative that seeks to stop drunk drivers.
[ Editor's Note: The following is a reader-submitted letter to the editor that ran in print edition, AN 05_04.10.2013. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email email@example.com. ]
It is hard to believe that The MIT Press published Jill Stoner’s Towards a Minor Architecture based on the kind of prose indicated in Jeffrey Hogrefe’s review of the book (Literary Unbuilding AN 03_03.06.2013). Stoner writes, “Architecture can no longer limit itself to the aesthetic pursuit of making buildings; it must now commit to a politics of selectively taking them apart.” Really? We think we know what she “means,” but this really is bad writing. There is no architecture, only works of architecture. People are involved in aesthetic or other pursuits, not architecture.
Maybe You Lost My Number: Eavesdrop wants to know why we weren’t invited to your Kentucky Derby party, De Leon and Primmer. You guys are practically the only cool architecture firm in the River City! We were down in Louisville the weekend of the Derby and wandered (hungover, naturally) past your office on Sunday morning.
The ongoing efforts of artists and designers to reignite the spark of downtown development in aging industrial cities face no simple task. But as architects and developers begin to put pencil to paper, the best public art projects draw on the spiritual side of that renewal.
Flint, Michigan’s inaugural Free City Festival, held May 3-5, did just that when it revived a mile-long stretch of now-razed Chevrolet plants with public art, transformational lighting displays and a reverberating gospel choir.