Today’s News - Wednesday, January 10, 2018
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● We are soooo saddened by the news that we've lost a personal hero: Mildred Schmertz. Stephens pens a tribute to "Architectural Record's first female editor - a pioneering architect and journalist"; sayeth Record's McGuigan: "She was a sharp observer of our world, with an even sharper wit."
● Finch recalls a Twentieth Century Society study tour to Chicago in the 1990s with Gavin Stamp: He "stopped short of dancing on Mies's grave but he drew the line at a visit to Farnsworth House," and "had to acknowledge that some of his pet hates (commercial development, tall buildings, America) might have to be reconsidered" (late-night cocktails included).
● Demolition has begun in Johnson & Burgee's AT&T Building lobby, with the Landmarks Preservation Commission's blessings: the development team "promised extensive community outreach on the project, but no public community meetings have been scheduled so far."
● Alessi calls out Büchel's "lazy sleight of hand" in his attempt to get Trump's border wall prototypes protected status: "No, Donald Trump is not a conceptual artist. And border walls are not 'land art'" - the effort "turns trauma into a punch line."
● Cramer parses a "lengthy passage defining the government position on climate change vis-à-vis the military" in Trump's $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 that runs counter to the "administration's irresponsible actions on the issue to date. Is it possible that cooler heads have prevailed?" (alas, no).
● Lieven takes a deep, deep (and fascinating!) dive into climate change and why "the U.S. Army is the only institution that can break the partisan deadlock on the worst threat the nation faces - the U.S. military has an institutional and patriotic duty to instruct Americans concerning this threat."
● Conniff, on a (slightly) brighter note, considers what is being done to make room for wildlife on the "margins of human development - city residents have rallied to their wildlife, sometimes in extraordinary fashion."
● Bliss tackles Sidewalk Labs' plans for Google's "smart city" on Toronto's waterfront. It might "stir the heart of any utopia-builder," but "privacy questions and fears have come. So have issues like inclusion and access. Until more planning takes place, we may need to reserve judgment."
● Davidge of OpenHAUS minces no words about what she thinks about giving a piece of Melbourne's "heart and soul" to Apple with a site on Federation Square: "the price is too high. So what is Apple offering back, culturally and civically? Free daily lessons on how to use Apple products, apparently. We have truly reached the point of peak cynicism."
● Bates, on the other hand (and whose firm Lab Architecture Studio designed Federation Square), explains his reasons for supporting an Apple store: "I knew that my decision would be controversial. That I would be pilloried and abused. I may have made the wrong decision in this instance. But I don't think so."
● Meanwhile, in the heart of Bangkok, there are big plans to transform Siam Square into the Siam Innovation District to "help to develop innovation in the ageing society, inclusive community and smart city, sustainable development, and the digital economy and robotics."
● From Chicagoland: "University of Chicago faculty tells Obama to move his "socially regressive" library - it "will not provide the 'promised development or economic benefits' to surrounding neighborhoods."
● Dunmall, on a brighter note, notes a "flurry" of new construction in the Windy City: "Though many of these projects are functional as opposed to outstanding, Chicago still punches head and shoulders above many of the rest in terms of architectural literacy, innovation and sheer feats of structural and design ingenuity."
● Litt cheers MetroHealth's promise to "be sensitive to the hazards of gentrification" in its plan to turn nearly half of its 52-acre campus in Cleveland into open green space - a "hospital in a park" (site plans only for now - no architect(s) named or designs released - yet).
● Grabar cheers a proposed California bill that would allow unrestricted housing by transit: "It's just about the most radical attack on California's affordability crisis you could imagine. It also makes intuitive sense," but "will likely be crushed. Still, it represents a reassuring trend..."
● Levy explains that, while the $1.6-billion Moynihan Station "will be a bright, spacious improvement on Penn Station's depressing environs - there are reasons for skepticism. Most of the project's budget prioritizes the station's form while not addressing the problems with its function."
● Perkins+Will uses the "deliciously 1950s" aura of the old (and long unused) Atlanta Dairies plant to transform it into a 10-acre home to offices and cultural destination in Downtown Atlanta.
● Dash Nelson tells the amazing tale Rexford Guy Tugwell, NYC's first planning commissioner who "lost a bigger battle against Robert Moses than the fight Jane Jacobs won" (compared to Tugwell, Moses was practically Jacobsian!).
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Obituary by Suzanne Stephens: Mildred Schmertz, 1925-2018: Architectural Record’s first female editor - a pioneering architect and journalist, 92: “Mildred was a tireless advocate for the best architecture of the moment, except for what she deemed a passing fad,” said RECORD’s editor-in-chief Cathleen McGuigan. “She was also, until the very end, great company - a sharp observer of our world, with an even sharper wit.”- Architectural Record
Paul Finch: My tour of Chicago with Gavin Stamp highlighted his inconsistencies: The late critic stopped short of dancing on Mies’s grave but he drew the line at a visit to Farnsworth House: [He] had to acknowledge that some of his pet hates (commercial development, tall buildings, America) might have to be reconsidered..."It’s really rather impressive"...His adage that the only good Modernist is a dead one was the background to a set of unsought arbitrary feuds with living talented Modernists...- The Architects' Journal (UK)
Exclusive: Demolition begins on AT&T Building lobby: Though it’s up for landmarking, parts of the AT&T Building are being torn down this minute. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has approved demolition of the lobby...at 550 Madison Avenue...Unsurprisingly, the surprise demolition didn’t please preservationists...The 550 Madison team promised extensive community outreach on the project, but aside from the Landmarks hearing, no public community meetings have been scheduled so far. -- Philip Johnson; John Burgee; Docomomo US; Snøhetta; Gwathmey Siegel- The Architect's Newspaper
Andrea Alessi: No, Donald Trump Is Not a Conceptual Artist. And Border Walls Are Not “Land Art”: PROTOTYPES, as exhibition and petition, amounts to little more than a 30-foot-tall sight gag...what they represent also has consequences, sometimes life or death consequences...PROTOTYPES turns trauma into a punch line...just because you can call something art with little effort, doesn’t mean you should...Christoph Büchel’s lazy sleight of hand, thankfully, does little to transform these walls into something more than what they are.- ArtSlant
Ned Cramer: Swords Into Plowshares: The military is signaling the alarm about climate change. Government spending should reflect that concern: The language runs counter to the Trump administration’s irresponsible actions on the issue to date...Is it possible that cooler heads have prevailed? Alas, the legislation does not enact climate policy or fund any action.- Architect Magazine
Anatol Lieven: The Only Force That Can Beat Climate Change Is the U.S. Army: ...the only institution that can break the partisan deadlock on the worst threat the nation faces: ...the Trump administration has now decided to remove climate change from the list of security threats...The most urgent and important task facing climate change activists...is to persuade the U.S. national security establishment of the mistakenness of this decision...the sheer scale of the threat to the security of the country means that the U.S. military has an institutional and patriotic duty to instruct Americans concerning this threat...- Foreign Policy magazine
Richard Conniff: Habitat on the Edges: Making Room for Wildlife in an Urbanized World: Efforts to protect biodiversity are now focusing less on preserving pristine areas and more on finding room for wildlife on the margins of human development. As urban areas keep expanding, it is increasingly the only way to allow species to survive: Even in the absence of new parks and other habitat, city residents have rallied to their wildlife, sometimes in extraordinary fashion.- Yale Environment 360
Laura Bliss: When a Tech Giant Plays Waterfront Developer: A "smart city" in Toronto might be a smart real-estate play for Sidewalk Labs. And for the public? ...“Quayside"...would reimagine urban life in five dimensions - housing, energy, mobility, social services, and shared public spaces...privacy questions and fears have come...So have issues like inclusion and access...layering technology beneath a neighborhood may also prove a savvy way of extracting new value from land...Until more planning takes place, we may need to reserve judgment. -- Dan Doctoroff; Rohit Aggarwala [images]- CityLab (formerly The Atlantic Cities)
Tania Davidge/OpenHAUS: How’d you like them Apples? ...the Victorian government has offered Melbourne’s “heart and soul” to Apple with a site for a new store on Federation Square. “Quite frankly, the price is too high": So what is Apple offering back, culturally and civically...Free daily lessons on how to use Apple products, apparently. We have truly reached the point of peak cynicism...[The square]...works because it is so uniquely Melbourne...local and international but never global, unlike Apple, whose global bland - excuse me, brand - is built on global ubiquity and very seldom on local nuance. -- Foster + Partners [images]- ArchitectureAU (Australia)
Donald Bates: Why I support an Apple flagship store at Federation Square: Bates, whose practice Lab Architecture Studio originally designed Federation Square, explains his reasons for supporting the Victorian government’s decision to demolish part of the square to make way for an Apple retail outlet: I knew that my decision...to support the changes...would be controversial. That I would be pilloried and abused...I may have made the wrong decision in this instance. But I don’t think so. -- Foster + Partners- ArchitectureAU (Australia)
Innovation makeover for Siam Square on the way: Chulalongkorn University plans to embark on what it calls a Siam Innovation District project in March entailing investment of about Bt1 billion over five years...in the heart of Bangkok...will be established with four main areas...marketplace, futurium, industry liaison, and talent building...will also help to develop innovation in...the ageing society, inclusive community and smart city, sustainable development, as well as the digital economy and robotics.- The Nation (Thailand)
University of Chicago faculty tell Obama to move ‘socially regressive’ library: The Obama Presidential Center will not provide the “promised development or economic benefits” to surrounding neighborhoods...they urged the Obama Foundation “to explore alternative sites on the South Side that could be developed with more economic benefits, better public transportation, and less cost to taxpayers.”- Washington Times
Giovanna Dunmall: Letter from Chicago: keeping up with construction in the Windy City: ,,,a flurry of high rises are in the works (currently over 50 are in the pipeline). Though many of these projects are functional as opposed to outstanding, Chicago still punches head and shoulders above many of the rest in terms of architectural literacy, innovation and sheer feats of structural and design ingenuity. -- Jeanne Gang/Studio Gang; Ross Barney Architects; Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; Goettsch Partners; Magnusson Klemencic Associates; Hartshorne Plunkard Architects; HDR/Gensler/Clive Wilkinson Architects/EGG Office [images]- Wallpaper*
Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History converts a horse stable into a powerful space: ...designed by Daniel Burnham, has laid vacant for over 40 years...will see scaled-back goals completed...now able to host events and exhibitions for the first time...Much to the joy of architects and preservationists alike, the soaring heavy timber dome has survived in excellent condition...the museum will occasionally open...letting the world in to see just how architectural a horse stable can be. -- Site Design Group [images]- The Architect's Newspaper
Steven Litt: MetroHealth unveils plan to turn main campus into 'hospital in a park': Hospitals are designed to heal patients. But can they also be designed to heal a city? MetroHealth aims to find out. The latest version of the transformation plan for the county health system's main campus...calls for turning nearly half of the [52-acre] complex into open green space with connections to the Towpath Trail and other amenities...would be sensitive to the hazards of gentrification...hopes to qualify for certification as an Eco District... [images]- Cleveland Plain Dealer
Henry Grabar: California Bill Would Allow Unrestricted Housing by Transit, Solve State Housing Crisis: ...would all but abolish...residential zoning restriction in California’s urban neighborhoods. It’s just about the most radical attack on California’s affordability crisis you could imagine...flies in the face of every assumption...about neighborhood politics and design for a century. It also makes intuitive sense...it will likely be crushed...Still, it represents a reassuring trend in California politics...- Slate
Alon Levy: Why a New Train Hall Won't Fix Penn Station: The $1.6-billion Moynihan Station will be a bright, spacious improvement on Penn Station’s depressing environs - but it will leave many problems unsolved: There are reasons for skepticism. Most of the project’s budget prioritizes the station’s form while not addressing the problems with its function...There are alternative proposals to Moynihan Station. -- Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM); Vishaan Chakrabarti [images]- CityLab (formerly The Atlantic Cities)
Milking It: Perkins+Will revives old Atlanta Dairies plant as a cultural destination: With its red-and-white milk carton raised proudly...the Atlanta Dairies cooperative served Georgia‘s capital for 60 years. Complete with a Streamline Moderne facade and typographic logo...[it] had an aura that was deliciously 1950s...Like all milk, however, it couldn’t stay out in the Southern sun for too long...10-acre lot will soon be home to offices while doubling as a new cultural and entertainment destination in Downtown Atlanta... [images]- The Architect's Newspaper
Garrett Dash Nelson: Rexford Guy Tugwell and the Case for Big Urbanism: New York City’s first planning commissioner lost a bigger battle against Robert Moses than the fight Jane Jacobs won: The story...suggests that the problem with Moses’s plans was not that they were too big, but that they were too small...Tugwell began to think about how the federal government might dramatically reorder the relationship between people, communities, and land...New York seemed like a promising place to test this theory...cities today have many problems which littleness can’t solve.- Places Journal
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