The streets of Lower Manhattan were especially crowded today as New Yorkers and tourists alike gathered around the World Trade Center site to mark the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. A national moment of silence was observed at 8:45 a.m. this morning—the time the first jet struck the World Trade Center—to reflect on the disaster and all who were touched by the devastation. Over a decade after the attacks, Lower Manhattan is in the midst of a strong recovery. With AN‘s offices only a couple blocks away from the World Trade Center site, we have been able to watch daily as construction continues at rapid speed.
Last Saturday, the San Antonio community inaugurated the Lake|Flato Architects–designed Urban Ecology Center (UEC). Sited on the West Side of Phil Hardberger Park, the 18,600-square-foot UEC will be home to the Alamo Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists. This latest showpiece in the city’s park system will serve as a functional ecological system, a meeting space, and an urban ecology learning facility. Parks Project Manager Sandy Jenkins explained that the center was built with the intention of informing future generations about environmental concerns and the preservation of ecological systems. Former mayor Phil Hardberger, who recognized the asset of parks in improving the general urban quality of life, originally prompted the construction of the park in 2010. Covering 311 acres on eiter side of the Wurzbach Parkway, it was built as a means to preserve San Antonio’s environmental treasures and natural heritage.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has launched a new online guide to educate folks on the benefits of exposing themselves to nature. The polemic makes the case that there are long- and short-term health advantages of spending time alfresco, whether in the wilderness or in community parks. Health Benefits of Nature involves hundreds of case studies, research studies, and news articles that are categorized into 23 health concerns such as depression, asthma, stress, and general health to emphasize nature as a critical health tool.
That old saw about how you can’t take public space with you is bound for the trash heap. Landscape architect John Bela, co-founder of San Francisco–based Rebar, and artist Tim Wolfer of N55 have developed Parkcycle Swarm, a green space initiative that puts people and green space together—on wheels. The basic Parkcycle module is a mobile green space made of an aluminum frame, plywood, standard bicycle parts, and astroturf. Each one measures 2.6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and 7.4 feet long. Parkcycles offer instant open space to neighborhoods. All users have to do is park the Parkcycle and sprawl out on the turf to enjoy a bottle of beaujolais or play some hackie sack. Four of the small mobile parks are currently making the rounds at the Participate public arts festival in Baku, Azerbaijan.
[ Editor's Note: For those of you who are getting excited about The Architect's Newspaper and YKK AP's Reimagine the Astrodome design ideas competition, you have until September 17 to register. Once you've done that, take the time to read the following article, which appeared in the September/October 2013 issue of Texas Architect. Written by Houston-based architect and writer Ben Koush, it covers the current status of the Dome, what it means to Harris County, and Space City's record of not bothering to preserve its architectural heritage. ]
Ever since the Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams, in a snit after being refused a new stadium, took his football team to Nashville in 1997 and renamed it the Tennessee Titans, the fate of the Astrodome has been up in the air. Matters were made worse when, instead of rehabilitating the Astrodome a new, neo-traditionalist baseball stadium, Minute Maid Park, was built down-town for the Astros in 1999, and then in 2002, a hulking new football stadium, Reliant Center, was built uncomfortably close to its predecessor to house the replacement team, the Houston Texans, and the Houston Rodeo.
It is going to be an uphill battle for the developers behind two massive residential projects planned for Greenpoint, Brooklyn. DNA Info reported that Community Board 1 rejected the proposals to build over a dozen 40-story residential towers on the northern tip of the borough, but they indicated they could be persuaded to change their minds. The bargaining chip is more affordable and senior housing. The board would like the developers behind the two developments, Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street, to drastically bump up the number of affordable units in their plans, which so far include housing, retail, a public school, and esplanades along the water. This decision is just the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).
Presented by The Architect’s Newspaper and Enclos, day one of the upcoming Facades+PERFORMANCE conference in Chicago on October 24th to 25th consists of a stimulating architectural symposium exploring all aspects of building facades, from design to construction to client perspective. With new, specialized technology for construction, facades become increasingly complex.
In his session at Facades+PERFORMANCE Mark Dannettel, facade specialist and vice president at engineering design firm, Thornton Tomasetti, will speak on two recent facades that embrace complex design, yet maintain an aesthetic appeal. Entitled “Cable-nets and Other Complex Facades,” Dannettel’s lecture will address the methods used to create two spectacular but amazingly different Chicago buildings by locally-based firms: the cable-net supported, double curtain wall of Solomon Cordwell Buenz‘s Loyola University Information Commons and the hyper-facetted glass facade Krueck + Sexton‘s Spertus Institute.
Fulton Street, the bustling commercial strip of the Brooklyn neighborhood, Bedford Stuyvesant, has just received a much-needed makeover. The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., along with community stakeholders and city officials, gathered this morning at the new Marcy Plaza to celebrate the completion of a $20 million neighborhood revitalization project, funded by the city. The organization led efforts to revamp Restoration Plaza with the help Garrison Architects, build a new plaza along Marcy Avenue, implement public art, and overhaul a mile-long stretch along Fulton Street with expanded sidewalks, new benches, trees, plantings, bike racks, and lighting. These streetscape improvements aim to bolster local businesses and support the local residential community by creating a safer and more walkable neighborhood.
The Benjamin Franklin Museum at Independence National Historical Park (INHP) in Philadelphia has bid adieu to the 1970s. Closed by the National Park Service (NPS) for a $23 million, two-year renovation, the historic site has re-opened as an 8,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility to learn about the “relevant revolutionary.” Quinn Evans Architects (QEA) was tasked with renovating the original 1976 underground museum designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (VSBA). The museum now involves interactive displays, personal artifacts, and a glass pavilion, also known as the ghost house, operating as the main entrance from Franklin Court.