Hundreds of historic buildings and landscapes under the administration of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are at risk of being abandoned or demolished, claims a study from the National Trust for Historic Preservation released earlier this month. According to the report, entitled “Honoring Our Veterans: Saving Their Places of Health Care and Healing,” the VA has failed to comply with federal preservation requirements and maintain their historic properties, some dating back to the Civil War. The agency has instead favored the expensive construction of new facilities.
The design team at MODU, in collaboration with Ho-Yan Cheung of Arup, have created an urban public space for the 5th China International Architecture Biennial. Their design pays homage to Beijing’s iconic Olympic Park, while drawing attention to environmental issues in the country’s densely populated capital. The biennial committee has also commissioned designs from leading international architects such as Wang Shu, Zaha Hadid, and Mohsen Mostafavi.
Our friends at On the Road, a yearlong series of LA-centric architecture, art, and design programs taking place throughout the city, are at it again. Last weekend they took their talents to the residential realm, encouraging a series of designers to respond to eight single-family houses on the city’s west side through postcards placed inside the homes’ mailboxes.
Bad news for biking enthusiasts in Los Angeles. According to LA Downtown News, Bike Nation’s deal with the city of Los Angeles to create a Bike Share program is now basically dead. The plan, originally slated to open this April, called for an eventual 125 stations in Downtown and 400 (containing 4,000 bikes) across Los Angeles.
San Diego’s New Central Library, which opened earlier this fall, was a long time coming. The project has been in the works since at least 1971, when the first of 46 studies on the subject of a new library building was published. Rob Wellington Quigley, FAIA, who designed the $184.9 million structure with Tucker Sadler & Associates, came on board in 1995. Why did he stick with it so long, through budget problems and four site changes? “It’s in my backyard,” Quigley said. “It was just too important a project, culturally, to the city, and to all of us…though it was very difficult, economically, to withstand all the stops and starts.”
In Griffis Sculpture Park near Buffalo, New York, a twisting triangular tower serves more than a purely aesthetic purpose. Designed by architect and assistant professor at the University of Buffalo, Joyce Hwang, the 12-foot-tall sculpture of stained plywood panels is conceptualized as a protective home for bats. Constructed conspicuously but practically, the University reports that Hwang’s Bat Tower is an effort to raise awareness for the recent disease-caused decline of these flying mammals, usually considered pests.
Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema
Museum of Modern Art
The Roy and Niuta Titus Galleries and the Film Lobby
Dante Ferretti: Designing for the Big Screen
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters
Through February 9, 2014
When you enter the Film Entrance to the Museum of Modern Art at 11 West 53rd Street, you are greeted by two large lions. No, you are not 11 blocks south at the New York Public LIbrary, nor are you in Venice, Italy. You are entering the world of Dante Ferretti, the 70-year old multi–Academy Award–winning art director of films, opera, exhibitions, and even two New York City restaurants, Salumeria Rosi (design inspired by a scene in Federico Fellini’s Satyricon). Large, muscular, physically confident objects dot the floor—the clock-face from Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011), Art Deco chandeliers from Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975), and Arcimboldo figures comprised of vegetables, fruits and flowers (Milan World Expo, 2015). But these are actually lightweight, ephemeral objects made of fiberglass and not meant to last beyond the creation of the film or duration of the event. The clock and chandeliers were on the cusp of being tossed when curators Jytte Jensen and Ron Magliozzi salvaged them.
It has long seemed that Philadelphia’s cultural community was destined to exist forever in New York’s shadow. Though it has had through its history great flourishes of home-grown creativity from Thomas Eakins and Frank Furness, great institutions like The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and collections like the Barnes Foundation and the Annenberg. These were still not enough to overcome its “second city” status to its neighbor up the Jersey Turnpike.
But now Philadelphia seems to embracing its outsider status as an anti-New York where artists and can actually afford to live and start up collective galleries and exhibit spaces.
In a hybrid of LEGO and origami, Paper Punk has created their first boxed set of punch-and-fold, customizable paper building blocks. Urban Fold is the California-based company’s newest creation by founder Grace Hawthorne, a designer, author, and artist from San Francisco who currently teaches at Stanford University’s d.school (Institute of Design). The set gives builders the opportunity to create a paper city in punchy colors and patterns, inspired by Berlin graffiti and the photography of Matthias Heiderich.
After a three-month streak of positive growth, the Architecture Billings Index revealed a small dip in the demand for design services. The ABI score slid down from 54.3 in September to 51.6 in October (any score above 50 indicates an increase). AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said that the tumultous political climate—read Government Shutdown—contributed to the drop in activity last month.
The Philadelphia Water Department wanted a 3 million gallon sewer overflow tank. Neighbors wanted maintenance of current community recreational space. Now, landscape architecture firm Andropogon has split the difference for Philadelphia residents concerned with the fate of Lower Venice Island. Using high performance landscape design, the firm has envisioned the 5-acre island between the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal as a space for both water maintenance and for community promenade and play.
The open office trend is rooted in some good ideas: encourage communication by breaking down barriers; give workers more space to breathe without confining cubicles. But a wave of new research is questioning the efficacy of the open strategy.