Architect as Secretary of HUD
December 15, 2008, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Architecture, North America, Politics, Urban Design

Shaun Donovan, armed with degrees in architecture and public policy from Harvard’s GSD and Kennedy School, is Obama’s nominee for HUD. In 2004 he foresaw the subprime crisis, which means he is a sharper cookie than 99.99% of Wall Street.

New York HPD bio

New York Times profile

Interview with Gwendolyn Wright in the Architects’ Newspaper

And an interview with the Observer.

Obama’s audacious public works
December 15, 2008, 8:02 pm
Filed under: Design, Economy, North America, Politics, Transportation

In the Boston Globe, Bob Campbell comments on Barack Obama’s proposed public works program: “The audacity of hope for better public works.”

In his radio announcement, Obama mentioned roads and bridges, sewer systems, schools, mass transit, electrical grids, dams and other public utilities, windmills and solar panels, and expanded access to the Internet.

Nothing in there specifically about architecture.

McDonald’s, WalMart, Subway, Oh My!
November 9, 2008, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Design, Economy, Green, North America

retailers go green, big time.

Albert Speer Jr helped design the master plan for Beijing Olympics
August 8, 2008, 6:02 pm
Filed under: Asia, Urban Design
Albert Speer Jr

Albert Speer Jr

"Bird's Nest" National Stadium, Herzog de Meuron

"Bird's Nest" National Stadium, Herzog de Meuron

Albert Speer Jr, an architect and urban planner like his father, helped design the master plan for Beijing’s Olympics. He was tasked with laying out the plan for access to the Olympics complex, focusing on the construction of an imposing avenue, which connects the Forbidden City and the National Stadium, aka Bird’s Nest.

From The Guardian and The Times of London.

Anish Kapoor + Herzog de Meuron = ???
August 7, 2008, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Architecture, art, North America
Barcelona Forum, Herzog de Meuron

Barcelona Forum, Herzog de Meuron

At 56 Leonard Street in Tribeca, New York (corner of Church and Leonard Streets), Herzog de Meuron and Anish Kapoor are collaborating on a new residential tower. Kapoor will design a site specific sculpture for the ground floor.

Millenium Park sculpture, Chicago, Anish Kapoor

Millenium Park sculpture, Chicago, Anish Kapoor

August 6, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Green, Landscape, Urban Design

A new book from MIT Press, Blubberland by Elizabeth Farelly, considers our excesses—space, McMansions, too large cars, supersized plates, plugged-in everything—and asks why it is so hard to abandon habits, relatively recently formed, that we know are destructive to our health, our environment, our social well-being.

In a short text in Architectural Record, she defines blubber’s spatial features—those vast empty calorie shopping malls and cul-de-sac neighborhoods dotted with McMansions and perfectly manicured lawns.

From Blubberland:

I, like you, drive too much. I buy too much–of which I keep too much and also throw too much away. I overindulge my children, and myself. Directly as well as indirectly I use too much water, energy, air and space. My existence, in short, costs the planet more than it can afford. This is not some handed-down moral stricture, nor any sort of guilty self-flagellation, but a simple recognition of fact. The consequences are obvious, and near enough now to see the warts on their noses. For my own future, as well as my children’s, I must change. And yet–this is what’s weird–I, like you, can’t. Cannot abandon comfort, convenience and pleasure for the sake of abstract knowledge. Can’t stop doing it. This is interesting.

It’s interesting because we think we are so rational, so intelligent, and yet we behave, both individually and as a herd, in such unintelligent ways. That’s what drove this book into being.

Housing Lenders Fear Bigger Wave of Loan Defaults
August 4, 2008, 8:25 am
Filed under: Economy, North America

More bad news on the housing / economy front from the New York Times.

Sting likes Bob Stern!
August 3, 2008, 3:44 am
Filed under: Architecture, North America, Urban Design
The highest priced new apartment building in New York City. Photo by Todd Eberle, Vanity Fair.

The highest priced new apartment building in New York City, 15 Central Park West. Photo by Todd Eberle, Vanity Fair.

Sting, Bob Costas, Norman Lear, Sandy Weil, and Denzel Washington live in the new Robert A.M. Stern building on Central Park West. In Vanity Fair Paul Goldberger discusses how this retrograde-looking building turned out to be the most successful in recent New York development history:

nothing appeals to people, particularly rich people, like something new that doesn’t look too new. . . . What Stern actually designed, it turned out, was a building in which every apartment looked like an old Park Avenue apartment after someone had renovated it.

Architect Robert A. M. Stern stands on the concierge desk at 15 Central Park West.

Architect Robert A. M. Stern stands on the concierge desk at 15 Central Park West.

Rising construction costs
July 30, 2008, 5:08 pm
Filed under: Economy, North America

What to do about it, from the Observer:

As the economy sours, ever-rising construction costs seem to be an in-vogue subject: Last night, the New York Building Congress released a report on the topic; the

Manhattan Institute put out recommendations for controlling cost escalations earlier this month; and, on Monday, the Bloomberg administration announced a set of initiatives to lower costs of city projects.

The basic problem–costs have been going up at least 10 percent annually for the past few years–doesn’t seem to have any easy solutions, as the reports (both of which involved consultation with the same firm, Urbanomics) recommended a broad array of changes that could lower costs to varying degrees.

“only an idiot would have said no”
July 30, 2008, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Asia, Politics

Jacques Herzog on choosing to build in China:

Only an idiot — and not a person who thinks in moral terms would have turned down this opportunity — would have said no. I know that there are architects who now claim that they would never have even considered building in China. This is both a naïve and arrogant position, one that reflects a lack of knowledge of and respect for the incredible cultural achievements this country has continuously provided over the last 5,000 years and still provides today.