Posts tagged with "Arizona":

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Kanye West's latest performance was filmed inside James Turrell’s Roden Crater

Though rapper Kanye West has continued to push his art into the visual field for the last few years, fans were still surprised last January to learn that he donated $10 million towards the completion of James Turrell's Roden Crater, a series of tunnels and experiential spaces burrowed into a dormant volcano in the painted deserts of northern Arizona. The project began in 1977 and has been in the works for so long that, in 2013, “Sooner or Later, Roden Crater” became its unofficial tagline. Though Roden Crater is not officially complete yet (due to a lack of funding), ARTnews announced that West had produced a film within the hollowed volcano this summer and it will soon be released through a collaboration with IMAX. Titled Jesus is King, the film documents one of West’s Sunday Service performances in the gospel tradition, set to the music of his eponymous album to be released sometime this year. A poster has also been released for the movie and it features Alpha (East) Tunnel, one of the ‘light tunnels’ within Roden Crater. On top of the $10 million he independently provided, West partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) to work towards accruing $200 million to put towards Roden Crater's completion within the next five years, $40 million of which has been raised to date. When finished, visitors will be able to explore the three mile-wide site’s 21 viewing spaces and six tunnels, all designed to align with celestial phenomena, for which Turrell consulted a number of noted astronomers—including E.C. Krupp, the current director of the Los Angeles Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, as well as the late Richard Walker, an Astronomer based in the nearby town of Flagstaff. Unfortunately, because the crater is unfinished, access to the public has been restricted and will likely remain that way until the project is complete. Until then, West’s film will likely provide substantial shots of the art bunker's interiors when presented in IMAX theatres starting October 25.
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Arizona activists oppose new 12,000-acre Benson development

The town of Benson in southeastern Arizona is set to acquire another Tuscan-style housing development, golf courses and all, made possible in the wake of the Trump administration's repeal of the 2015 “Waters of the U.S” act. The new development would be within arm’s reach of the San Pedro River, a body of water vital to the state’s desert ecosystem, and currently threatened by rising temperatures and a lowering water table.  Mike Reinbold is the man behind this master plan, a lead developer at El Dorado Benson LLC. While he insists that the 12,000-acre, 28,000-home development will have no effect on the region’s water supply, environmental groups are poised to sue. Benson currently has a population of about 5,000 people, sprinkled around a landscape of open, rolling hills and brush on the banks of the San Pedro. The proposed development, called Villages at Vigneto, promises to “dredge-and-fill” the site to reach a population target of 70,000.  Yet the most potentially effective piece of legislation to block construction is set to be obsolete as early as January 2020. Reinbold is optimistic about the repeal, telling The Arizona Republic that, “If there's no 'Waters of the U.S.,' by default, you don't need a permit. Thereby, the permit is no longer needed and is no longer valid. It gets put on a shelf.” El Dorado Benson has amassed a coalition to fight for his interests, a politically connected group that includes Vice Mayor Joe Konrad, who spoke at a news conference for the newly organized Southwestern Communities Coalition. “We’re here to join together as a united force, to push back against the outsiders, who will pretty much stop at nothing to impose their agenda upon us. We will stand against the evil that masquerades as environmental activism.”  However, local environmentalists are ready for a fight, as they have been working to block development in this particular community since 2006 when a permit was first acquired by a previous developer. Robin Silver, cofounder of Tucson’s Center for Biological Diversity, commented on the loosening of the Clean Water Act, saying, “Under the guise of private property rights, they think that they can go ahead and destroy public treasure. We’re losing the San Pedro, and there’s no federal advocacy to help us.” Called ‘The Center’ for short, it is just one group involved in the battle. Other organizations including the Lower San Pedro Watershed Alliance, the Sierra Club, the Tucson and Maricopa Audubon Society, and the Cascabel Conservation Association have pledged their support to conserve the public lands and groundwater supply. While these organizations have been labeled “fearmonger activists” by Konrad, the resounding voice is simply summed up by Silver: “When you’ve got a gigantic development, you have to look at all of the effects.” 
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Last home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will be auctioned off

As impossible as it may sound, Frank Lloyd Wright is credited as the architect of over 532 structures throughout the world. His refusal to retire, even at the end of his life at 91, led to the design of some of his most beloved works, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Price Tower, and the Marin County Civic Center. On September 19, it was announced that a sale through Heritage Auctions will be held for the Norman Lykes House, the very last building Wright ever designed. On a rocky desert bluff at the edge of Arizona’s Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the Norman Lykes House—also known as the Circular Sun House—represents a culmination of so many of Wright’s signature design gestures: it is airy and curvilinear like his later works, yet it is also long and low to the ground akin to his earlier Prairie homes. It is reportedly only one of fourteen circular homes the architect designed, and might be the only one to feature a crescent-shaped pool enclosed by a cylindrical wall punctured by circles. Smooth concrete blocks and built-in handcrafted Philippine mahogany furniture constitutes the majority of the home’s material palette. “It's not just that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright home that makes it sellable,” said Jack Luciano, a partner with the Heritage Agency, “but that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright house that is livable." Wright designed the home in 1959 for clients Norman and Amy Lykes, and his apprentice John Rattenbury was appointed to oversee the project during its eight years of construction. In 1994, Rattenbury was invited back to the home to oversee major changes, including the enlargement of the master bedroom (which reduced the number of bedrooms from five to three) and the conversion of its former workshop into a home theatre. Though there will be no minimum bid set on the property, it is expected to exceed its most recent purchase of $2.6 million. The winner of the 3,100-square-foot home will also receive all of Wright’s furniture currently on the property. “We want to make sure the person that buys this house maintains the integrity of the home, remodels it, keeps it and loves it just like the former two owners have,” said Luciano. Interested buyers and agents can attend the auction within the home on October 16.
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Border wall construction could destroy 22 archaeological sites across Arizona

A new 123-page report by the National Park Service (NPS) has detailed the potential loss of ancient artifacts at the southern border as the United States continues to construct an extensive border wall. The culmination of a project conducted by NPS archaeologists at Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the report highlights up to 22 endangered archaeological sites along a short stretch of the wall's path. The report, obtained by The Washington Post via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), is especially significant because of its authorship; the internal report shows concern coming directly from a sector of the federal government. The Organ Pipe Cactus area, which is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, received U.S. National Monument status in 1937. The area covers 330,688 acres of desert land southwest of Phoenix, and the 11.3-mile strip along the border has already seen significant physical damage from increased traffic of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents using all-terrain vehicles. The proposed plan to replace the existing 5-foot-tall vehicle barrier with a 30-foot illuminated steel wall has the potential to cause irreparable damage to archaeological fragments spanning the area’s 16,000 years of inhabitation. Concerns also stem from the ecological implications of dropping such a towering structure in a designated biosphere reserve. Environmentalists have repeatedly fought the federal government’s plans to run the wall through protected areas like the this, citing impositions on wildlife migration and the neglect of critically endangered species. Of particular concern is the Quitobaquito Springs area, an oasis 200 feet from the barrier that is inhabited by a number of threatened and declining species. The identification of these risks comes at a time when CBP is scrambling to complete 500 miles of barrier before the 2020 election at the request of President Trump. As the president continues to share the wall’s progress on social media, his administration continues to fight off lawsuits over construction on protected lands. Construction on the Organ Pipe Cactus reserve-area border wall officially began last month, as construction geared up for part of a 43-mile fence span that also cuts through Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Regufe. Kevin Dahl, Arizona’s senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, described how the time constraints are eliminating steps in the careful process of protecting Arizona’s archaeological sites: “Archaeology takes time, and they have a deadline,” Dahl told The Washington Post. “Putting a wall there is insane. This is just one more reason why ramming this wall through, using illegal, unconstitutional money, is damaging to these public resources. We’re destroying what the wall is supposed to protect.”
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Kanye West donates $10 million to James Turrell's volcanic crater project

Artist James Turrell has been taking advantage of the natural landscape of the Roden Crater in Arizona’s Painted Desert since 1977. The unfettered sight lines and isolated desert landscape are perfect for Turrell’s work, and the artist calls Roden Crater “a controlled environment for the experiencing and contemplation of light.” Now Turrell’s long-term, still-under-construction arts center has found a celebrity backer; yesterday, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Kanye West had donated $10 million. Funding for what Turrell hopes will eventually become an arts campus has been sporadic. While several of the spaces have already been built, only $40 million of the required $200 million had been fundraised before Kanye’s commitment. Once complete, Roden Crater will include an amphitheater, additional rooms, and will host a residency program. Inside the two-and-a-half-mile-wide crater, Turrell has carved a network of temple-like rooms and tunnels that are exposed to the sky, creating vantage points that change based on the weather and time of day. West traveled to Roden Crater on December 11, 2018, and again the next week, tweeting that his tour had been a life-changing experience and that “We all will live in Turrell spaces.” He followed that up with a later visit to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art to visit Turrell’s Into the Light exhibition on December 27. On Monday, the rapper-turned-designer released a statement explaining that he wants Roden Crater to be “experienced and enjoyed for eternity.” The gift stands out among West’s philanthropic work, as he thus far hasn’t made similar contributions to any other artistic institutions. Still, this isn’t the first time that Turrell’s work has infatuated a rapper; Drake danced his way through homages to the artist’s light installations in the 2015 video for Hotline Bling. Turrell is attempting to fundraise the rest of the $200 million in conjunction with Arizona State University. According to Artforum, that money will go towards keeping the site open for the next five years, and the school hopes to eventually integrate Roden Crater with the curriculum of the “Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, School of Sustainability, School of Earth and Space Exploration, and School of Social Transformation.”
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Waymo's self-driving cars in Arizona elicit violence

Residents of Chandler, Arizona, are waging war against the city’s new fleet of self-driving cars. Distraught locals have slashed tires, pointed guns, and thrown themselves in front of Waymo vehicles in order to prevent them from transporting passengers, according to The Arizona Republic. In April 2017, technology development company Waymo started a trial of self-driving taxis in Phoenix, the first of their kind. This past month, the service continued to expand as it launched its first commercial self-driving car service called Waymo One, where people of the Phoenix metropolitan area can request a driverless car through the simple use of a cell-phone app. Since Waymo vehicles took to the streets some two years ago, 21 rioting incidents have been reported to the police, particularly in Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix. While safety concerns seem to have triggered many of the violent outbursts, other locals see Waymo as a threat to their livelihood. People are worried that technology is going to replace them in the workforce. Taxi drivers across the world, for instance, have fought against the rapid dissemination of Uber and other ride-hailing services. Waymo's current controversy is just the latest in a series of incidents where autonomous vehicles or ride-sharing companies are getting into trouble. Last March, the self-driving car industry as a whole suffered the ultimate backlash when a self-driving Uber SUV mindlessly hit and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona.
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Waymo's self-driving taxi service goes live

Self-driving cars are ever inching closer to feasibility, as the Alphabet-owned company Waymo announced the official rollout of its self-driving taxi service today. The launch of Waymo One in Arizona, although only initially available to research testers from Waymo’s research program, is a milestone that critics thought Waymo wouldn’t be able to reach before the end of 2018. This year was a pretty dour period for real-world autonomous vehicle (AV) testing. Uber drew ire and shut down its self-driving car operations in Arizona after a test vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian crossing the street. Federal regulators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shut down a self-driving school bus program in Florida. And in Chandler, Arizona, just outside of Waymo’s AV testing ground, residents complained that the self-driving cars would regularly stop without warning at a T-shaped intersection and require that the human safety drivers take control. Waymo is starting small with a pool of invite-only riders, but the launch today fulfills a pledge the company had made to get its fleet of AVs on the road before the end of the year. Customers can hail an autonomous vehicle in the Metro Phoenix area through the Waymo ridesharing app in the cities of Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, and Mesa. Each car will be decked out with touchscreens, where passengers can connect with a Waymo rider support agent to have questions about their trip answered. In-car chaperones will be present during the first phase of Waymo One’s rollout, but moving forward, the company wants to graduate to fully-driverless rides. The early rider program will continue, and test riders will have early access to features that Waymo wants to include in their taxi service. The company is hoping to use the feedback from its Phoenix-area riders to eventually expand the program to other cities and the general public.
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West Coast sees big wins (and losses) in architecture and urbanism ballot initiatives

As Democratic voters moved to retake the House of Representatives and key gubernatorial seats, a series of local architecture-, urbanism-, and climate-related initiatives saw mixed results in western states. Aside from being a referendum on the divisive governance style of President Donald Trump, the midterm election brought with it fierce debates over contentious issues like expanding rent control and funding supportive housing in California, taxing carbon emissions in Washington State, and boosting renewable energy generation in Arizona and Nevada. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of some of the major initiatives and their outcomes.   Arizona: Proposition 127: An initiative to require electric utilities to use renewable energy for 50 percent of their power generation by 2035 failed in the state. The battle over Proposition 127 saw the highest amount of political spending in the state this year, with the state’s main electrical utility, Arizona Public Service, pouring over $30.3 million into a political action committee dedicated to fighting the measure.   California: Proposition C: San Francisco’s supportive housing ordinance was overwhelmingly supported by the city’s voters. The initiative will raise $300 million per year for supportive housing and services from a modest tax levied on companies in the city that gross over $50 million annually in revenue. The measure is similar to the so-called “head tax” in Seattle that was passed and quickly repealed earlier this year. Proposition 1: An initiative to approve $4 billion in “housing-related programs, loans, grants, and projects and housing loans for veterans” in the state gained wide approval. Proposition 2: An initiative to dedicate $2 billion from the state’s 2004 “millionaire’s tax” toward providing “homelessness prevention housing for persons in need of mental health services“ was approved. Proposition 4: An initiative authorizing $1.5 billion in bonds for the “construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of children's hospitals in California” was approved. Proposition 6: Voters in the state defeated a Republican-led effort to repeal a recently-passed gas tax increase. The recent increase is helping to fund bridge and road repairs while also providing new—and much-needed—mass transit funding for the state’s growing public transportation systems. Proposition 10: A state-wide effort to repeal the controversial Costa-Hawkins law that limits how municipalities can institute rent control was soundly defeated. Rather than instituting rent control statewide, the measure would have allowed municipalities the flexibility to set their own policies. Tenants’ rights and anti-displacement advocates saw the effort as providing a lifeline for their constituencies; ultimately, the $76 million raised by real estate and Wall Street interests against the measure was too much for grassroots voters to overcome.   Colorado: Proposition 112: Voters in the Centennial State chose to reject a ballot initiative that would have increased oil and gas drilling setbacks from homes, businesses, and waterways. Resistance to the measure was no match for heavy spending by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the proposition’s main opponent. With controversial hydraulic fracturing rising to new highs in the state and an increasingly bleak outlook for climate change-related disasters around the world, Colorado’s pro-environment movement has been dealt a powerful rebuke.   Nevada: State Question No. 6: Voters in Nevada approved a measure that would require state utilities to generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In order for the measure to become law, however, it will need to survive a second vote in 2020.   Washington State: Measure 1631: Washington state residents largely rejected a measure that would have imposed a first-in-the-nation tax on carbon emissions. The initiative performed well in liberal King County—home to Seattle—but lost pretty much everywhere else in the state. Measure 940: Washington state residents approved a measure that would require law enforcement officials to receive “de-escalation” and mental health training as well as provide first aid under certain circumstances. The initiative would also require authorities to conduct an investigation after a deadly use of force by a member of law enforcement in order to verify that such force meets a “good faith” test.
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Waymo faces tech hurdles as self-driving taxi deadline looms

As the technology propelling autonomous vehicles lurches forward, car companies have been struggling to make the leap between fundamental research and a marketable product. After an Uber test car struck and killed a woman in March of this year, the ride-sharing company abruptly shut down their self-driving program in Arizona. Now Waymo, the Alphabet-owned self-driving car company that had pledged it would launch a fleet of autonomous taxis in Arizona by the end of 2018, has reportedly been running into issues of their own. According to The Information, residents of Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, have become fed up with Waymo’s testing. The year-long process has seen cars stop without warning while making right turns at a T-shaped intersection, and sources have told The Information that the human safety drivers stationed in the passenger seat have routinely been forced to take manual control of the car. As with most other autonomous vehicle companies, Waymo uses safety drivers to take over when the car is in an unsafe or illegal position; the disengagement rate, or how frequently the human driver needs to take over per miles driven, is generally indicative of how well a self-driving car can move around on its own. The cars in Chandler have been deployed within a geo-fenced area–a location with GPS-defined boundaries–around Waymo’s office. Even in this small area, residents have complained that the abrupt stopping at intersections has caused them to nearly rear-end the test cars or to illegally drive around them. Waymo wouldn’t comment specifically on The Information’s report, but a spokesperson has said that Waymo’s cars are "continually learning" and that "safety remains its highest priority." The company hasn’t backed down from its ride-hailing plan either, though it may be some time before a truly autonomous taxi service hits the streets. Waymo plans to station a human chaperone in each taxi, and the cars will operate within a set area where the streets have been thoroughly mapped. Early adopters will (maybe) be able to hail a ride in Waymo’s fleet of autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans at the end of the year, but the company eventually hopes to roll out 20,000 electric Jaguar-built SUVs by 2020.
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Howeler + Yoon and substance are among winners of AIA Small Project Awards

Big ideas start with small changes. This is definitely the case for the 11 outstanding projects that were just honored for their design excellence in small project design as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) just announced its 2018 Small Project Awards winners. The awards are given in three categories: architectural objects or environmental art that cost up to 150,000 in construction (Category 1), small project constructions that cost up to 1,500,000 in construction (Category 2), and projects under 5,000 square feet (Category 3). The theme this year is “Renewal.” Here are a few of the Small Projects award winners: Howeler + Yoon Architecture designed Shadow Play, a hovering canopy formed from triangulated modules. Located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, Shadow Play is a cluster of shade structures that casts geometric shadows that transform the streetscape and how pedestrians congregate in the public space. The canopy’s design maximizes the shaded area but also allows for apertures that bring breezes underneath, making it an ideal space to sit and relax. substance architecture designed the Principal Riverwalk Pump Station in Iowa, which also received the award. The design includes two objects–a Pump House that responds to the neighboring Café Pavilion with similar materials of black zinc and steel, and a Gate Valve Platform that combines translucent glass atop and a solid concrete base. According to the AIA, “The creation of this facility has literally led to the renewal of Des Moines' Historic District and, in concert with the Café Pavilion, it frames a popular public space along the river.“ Kevin Daly Architects was recognized for a low-cost, low-impact prototype backyard home. The 500 square foot parcel dubbed BI(h)OME has an innovative facade made of a paper honeycomb inside layers of ETFE, making a lightweight but sturdy structure that creates a pleasing aesthetic. The prototype is recyclable and customizable, and aims to serve as a housing option for 500,000 single families in Los Angeles, a city that struggles with a “shelter crisis.” Sawmill, designed by Olson Kundig, is a family retreat standing in the high desert of California. In response to the harsh climate and the remote location, the net-zero home utilizes recycled but durable materials and employs strategies to reduce environmental impact and minimize operating costs. Cutler Anderson Architects’ design of Studio / Bunkhouse blends in with the wooded site in Washington. The 80 square feet compact, multi-purpose toolbox is set at the top of a waterfront bluff and complemented by the jury for the ability to work with limited power-tools within the challenging site. Other winners include Allford Hall Monaghan Morris for The Grand Lake Poolhouse, FXCollaborative for their Chapel at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, and Edward Ogosta Architecture’s design of Rear Window House. For the past 15 years, the AIA Small Project Awards program sets out to promote value and design quality in buildings, no matter their size. The complete list of the awarded projects can be seen in the link.
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Studio Ma designs net-zero timber building for Arizona State

This is an article from our special November timber issue. Phoenix–based Studio Ma has unveiled a radically sustainable master plan and conceptual design for Arizona State University’s Interdisciplinary Science & Technology Building—a science and research complex that will be centered around a vast atrium filled with plants and water. The scheme will literally embody what its professors will be teaching—achieving triple net-zero performance by consuming zero net energy, and producing zero waste and zero net greenhouse gas emissions. “Beyond the field of architecture, we need to be working with scientists,” said Studio Ma principal Christiana Moss. Much of the technology for the building was, in fact, developed by ASU scientists. The green elements inside and out are many. A light-rail station will run right up to the edge of the structure, offsetting carbon usage, while wetlands and bioswales along the periphery will absorb and clean runoff. Not only will the complex’s cross-laminated timber (CLT) frame sequester carbon much more effectively than steel, ASU developed carbon-collection panels that will trap carbon dioxide, which can then be employed to enrich the soil. Sunshades will keep the interiors cool; and rooftop solar photovoltaics will help power the building. “This represents a closing of the energy loop,” said Moss. “We’re collecting as much as we use. The building, in a way, becomes living.” Inside the massive day-lit atrium, the biome’s thick diversity of plants will purify waste air, while its wetlands landscape will recycle rainwater, which will be stored in tanks under the biome. An adjacent water-treatment portion of the complex will also treat and recycle sewage (perhaps for the entire campus) for use as gray water using low-energy, bio-based systems. The final phase of that treatment will be moving the water through a hydroponic reactor inside the atrium. The interior will also be a centerpiece for farming, with grassy areas and even a canal entering the heart of the building. “These things have been done,” said Moss. “But they haven’t been done at this scale, in the same place.” The project’s delivery date is fall 2020. ASU recently issued an RFP, and another architect (still to be selected) will be brought in to oversee the design. But whatever happens, “the function needs to drive the form; and it will require a much broader team of researchers to pull off,” said Moss. “There’s a whole field of research that needs to be opened up to what this is proposing,” Moss added. “This is the beginning of a whole future I see for architecture. This is where we all need to go.”
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Bill Gates buys 25,000 acres of Arizona desert to build a smart city

A Bill Gates-run investment firm is hopping on the thriving smart city trend and recently paid $80 million to acquire 25,000 acres of land in Arizona with plans to build a technologically-integrated community from the ground up. Gates sees the city, tentatively named “Belmont,” as a chance to build information networking into the bedrock of any future development there. "Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs," said a representative from Belmont Partners, Gates' Arizona-based real estate investment group. Currently an undeveloped patch of desert 45 minutes west of Phoenix, the future of Belmont might hinge on old-fashioned infrastructure. While currently without water or electricity, the city’s growth would also be driven by the completion of I-11, an interstate highway connecting Phoenix to Las Vegas, Nevada. While the highway is tentatively set to complete construction in 2018, no timetables for Belmont have been publicly announced yet. What has been laid out is how the land will be divided up. Out of the 25,000 acres, 470 will be used for public schools, while 3,800 acres will go towards retail, office and commercial space. The remaining land will hold 80,000 residences. Arizona is no stranger to utopian city projects. The iconic Arcosanti, only an hour north of Phoenix, was founded in the 1970’s with the intent of merging the built environment with the natural world. Sadly, Arcosanti’s ambitious goal of demonstrating the efficiency of a smartly planned city never quite came to pass. While still a learning space and monument to designer Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti currently only houses between 50 to 150 people at any one time. "Smart" planned communities have a history of going awry, and Songdo, South Korea is a prime example. Originally built as an interconnected smart city meant to lure international investment, the majority of residents are now South Koreans who have been priced out of Seoul. Despite the underground trash system and personalized language learning programming for residents, Songdo also remains sparsely populated. Only time will tell if Gates’ city will be an inclusive, holistically planned community, or just a test ground for Microsoft products.