Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

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Stage 1 Finalists Announced for National Mall Design Competition

The Trust for the National Mall has announced the finalists for the first round of its National Mall Design Competition. The 700-acres of parkland have been worn down over the years thanks hoards of visitors (25 million a year), marches, and certain bi-annual decathalons. The scope of the competition includes three distinct areas of the mall: Union Square, the Washington Monument Grounds at Sylvan Theater, and Constitution Gardens. Finalists were selected for each area, and will move on to stage two of the competition (team interviews), and then—finally—a selected few will be asked to envision a design for one of the three designated area. From over 1,200 entrants, here are the firms who made the first round cut: Union Square Diller Scofidio Renfro & Hood Design Gustafson Guthrie Nichol & AEDAS Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects & Workshop: Ken Smith Landscape Architect Reed Hilderbrand & Chan Krieger NBBJ Rogers Marvel Architects & Peter Walker Snohetta & AECOM  Washington Monument Grounds Balmori Associates & Work Architect Company Diller Scofidio Renfro & Hood Design Handel Architects & W Architecture and Landscape Architecture Michael Maltzan Architecture & Tom Leader Studio OLIN & Weiss/Manfredi Ten Arquitectos & Andrea Cochran Landscape Architects Constitution Gardens Adropogon & Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Lee and Associates & Arthur Cotton Moore/Associates McKissack & McKissack & Oehme Van Sweden Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architect & Paul Murdoch Architects OLIN & Weiss/Manfredi Rogers Marvel Architects & Peter Walker and Partners
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Quick Clicks> Empty Spaces, Town & Country, Big Box Redux, and Taxing Gas

Empty Spaces. Searching for a place to exhibit her work as an art student in 2003, an artist from the rural mining town Malmberget, Sweden, organized a program titled Tomma Rum (Empty Spaces) that converts empty lots into artist studios and gallery spaces. As described in an interview with Polis, the program has morphed into a traveling summer artist-in-residence, where global artists have displayed their pieces on fences to streets in various towns. Town and Country. Is city life or country life better for your health? The Wall Street Journal reports on the ongoing debate between the quality of life in urban versus rural areas. Each have their benefits and drawbacks. Studies indicate that in urban areas, there are less obese children but also higher crime rates. In the country, there are larger numbers of fatal driving accidents but lower incidences of allergies. Big Box Redux. In Seattle, empty malls are attracting new tenants. A fitness center owner is converting empty mall space into a new climbing gym, while grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and sporting goods stores such as Sports Authority are taking over retail vacancies, The Seattle Times reports. Taxing Gas. A study conducted by the multi-partisan Leadership Initiative on Transportation Solvency, part of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, may have found a better way to increase funds for transportation infrastructure through a more effective gas tax system. In their report, DC Streets Blog highlights, that taxing gas when the price lowers and a more efficient program with a focus on design with economic performance are key.
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Rogers Marvel Secures Competition to Revamp White House Lawn Extension

Today, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) announced that Rogers Marvel Architects (RMA) has won a design competition to revamp President's Park in Washington, DC. The New York-based architects bested a distinguished list of landscape designers, including Hood Design Studio of Oakland California, Michael Van Valkenburgh of Brooklyn, and Reed Hildebrand Associates and SASAKI, both of Watertown, Massachusetts. After September 11th, 2001, security design in major public spaces took on a new significance, and President's Park South—a large ellipse forming a public extension of the White House's front lawn—this meant concrete jersey barriers and fences along E Street. Soon, though, the park could become one of the most pedestrian-friendly—and secure—in the capital, thanks to RMA's subtle combination of landscape architecture and security design. RMA is no stranger to blending security design seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. In New York, they created a secure streetscape for Battery Park City near the World Financial Center, complete with anti-ram walls, public amenities, and landscaping. Nearby, they designed a secure streetscape along Wall and Broad streets guarding the New York Stock Exchange, where sculptural bollards and a mechanical turntable flush with the street both create a distinct pedestrian environment and permit service vehicle access. Officials at the NCPC said today that a design competition was held to garner ideas about making a world-class public park, one where security is key but does not dominate the space. NCPC chairman L. Preston Bryant, Jr. praised RMA's design as a bold statement about security and landscape design that offers a model for keeping our public spaces open and inviting. At the heart of RMA's Washington D.C. design is the strategic layering of security perimeters, which form a flexible boundary accommodating a variety of security scenarios. To accomplish this, the architects raised the central ellipse and placed an anti-ram wall that doubles as a bench around its perimeter; the bench seating faces the ellipse and helps define the iconic space. According to RMA, this elevational tilting formally "presents" the ellipse lawn to the White House while also screening nearby parking spaces from the view of park goers. Punctuating the new perimeter wall are distinct pedestrian entrances with sculptured bollards to help guide pedestrian flow. This new boundary allows for the pedestrianization of E Street facing the White House. RMA vastly expanded the public space forming a large plaza—the E Street Terrace—flanked by leafy groves containing concession and maintenance structures. "The Ellipse is subtly reinvented to address recreation, public promenading, environmental responsibility, and security. We envision a President’s Park South that will physically and conceptually connect the President and the people," said Robert M. Rogers, principal at Rogers Marvel Architects, in a statement. "Around the formal ellipse, RMA calls for a less formal rain garden with natural vegetation designed to handle rainwater runoff from a perimeter parking lot." Officials at the NCPC said at today's announcement that elements of all five short-listed proposals could be incorporated into the final plan. Next, the National Parks Service and the United States Secret Service will review RMA's design before it heads to federal, local, and public review.
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Quick Clicks> Solar Butterflies, Parks Over Parking, Killer Commutes, and Nearly NeoCon

Solar Butterflies. Engadget spotted Dutch designer Jeroen Verhoeven's chandelier made of 500 butterflies cut from photovoltaic cells. Called the "Virtue of Blue," the light glows softly at night. (Via Psfk.) Capitol Green. New York isn't the only city replacing asphalt with greener, more pedestrian friendly streetscapes. According to DC Mud, a block of C Street in Washington, D.C. between two federal office buildings is set for a makeover. Plans call for creating a park on what's currently a large parking lot. Killer Commutes. Slate writer Annie Lowrey tells us what we already know: commuting isn't fun. She goes on to explain the consequences of many-an-American's daily burden: "Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia." Nearly NeoCon. Haworth Partners announced that they have partnered with Crate & Barrel. The table and two chairs will be available beginning in July and August. More at otto.
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Quick Clicks> Hi-Def Paris, Subway Songs, Biosphere 2, and Starchitect Pigs

La Vie Gigapixel. It's Paris like you've never seen it -- even if you have been there. A super-high-def 26-gigapixel photo of the city of lights (yep, that's 26 billion pixels) was stitched together by a team of photographers and a software company in France. Go ahead, pull up the full screen view and wander away the afternoon. We won't tell. (Via Notcot.) Metro Music. When Jason Mendelson moved from Tampa to Washington, D.C., the city's subway literally moved him to song. NRDC Switchboard says that he's creating a tune for every Metro stop across the system, each stylistically indicative of the station itself. Listen to his completed songs over here. Biosphere 2 at 20. Not often do we design entire mini-worlds, but then, Biosphere 2 was always unique. Now two decades old, the three-acre terrarium-in-a-desert is still helping scientists figure out life's little lessons. The AP/Yahoo News has the story. Scraps, Glass, and Stone. Curbed found a new book by Steven Guarnaccia transforming the classic Three Little Pigs story into three little starchitect pigs where Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright each build houses and the big bad wolf huffs and puffs (and critiques?) the walls down. (Guarnaccia also reimagined Goldilocks into a tale filled with chairs by Aalto, Eames, and Noguchi!)
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Quick Clicks> Legos, Towers, Loop, Rich Zip

Towering Ambition. An amazing exhibition that recreates some of the world's most iconic buildings in miniature is ongoing at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C through September 5th. Design Quarterly has more info on the Lego structures by Adam Reed Tucker (via Notcot) and the NBM has an interview. (There's also a lecture on architectural toys planned this Thursday.) High Hopes. The Atlantic features an Ed Glaeser article on the benefits of building up, detailing the benefits of the skyscraper and acknowledging the "misplaced fear" that planners and preservationists harbor toward the tower. Loop the Loop. In St. Louis, a proposed streetcar line connecting Forest Park with the Delmar Loop is right on track. With an Environmental Impact Study expected any day now, the St. Louis Business Journal says $3 million of a $25 million federal grant will push the project forward. Rich Zip. New York's bronze-clad Seagram Building by Mies van der Rohe has long been a symbol of wealth, but now the Wall Street Journal reports that the 38-story tower, with its own zip code (10152 if you were wondering), is also home to the wealthiest per capita income in the U.S. at $13.9 mil. The General Motors building came in second with an average income of $9.9M.
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Quick Clicks> Apples, Trains, Fields, Banks

Apple takes another bite. Once famous for its oysters, Grand Central will now be known for its Apples. Cult of Mac reports that the computer giant plans to open their biggest retail outlet yet, which will, no doubt be as busy as Grand Central Station. High speed posturing. If you don't want it, we'll take it! That's the message being sent out by Democratic governors to their Republican counterparts who are rejecting infrastructure dollars. Huff-Po's Sam Stein notes that governors from New York, Washington, and California are lining up to take Florida Governor Rick Scott's rejected $2 billion in federal funding for high speed rail line. Goal! One more hurdle to go. DNA reports that Columbia's Baker Field got the green light from the City Planning Commission to build the Steven Holl designed Campbell Sports Center.  Part of the plan includes a James Corner/Field Operations-designed park and 17,000 square feet of restored marsh and shoreline. Pool Hall Banking. A 1916 bank building on Philadelphia's Chestnut Street will take on an adaptive reuse that its architect Horace Trumbauer surely never dreamed of. PlanPhilly reports that  developer Paul Giegerich is thinking of turning the architect's two story cathedral of commerce into a swanky pool hall with food created by a star (Steven Starr to be exact).

Our Man in Washington

It's been a busy week for Ray LaHood, our favorite Transportation Secretary. On Monday, he sat down with the Times' Green Inc. blog to discuss a range of topics, most notably his recent declaration (video above, shot from atop a table at the National Bike Summit) that cyclists and pedestrians would get equal time, money, and consideration on America's streets. The next day, a blog post, ostensibly by the secretary, featured an interesting study showing that a staggering amount of us—Americans, not just readers of this blog—want more and bet transit options. And this goes for the nation's waterways as well, all delivered through a more transparent DOT. And in an unusually unbureaucratic move, the department is even sharing some of its responsibilities, partnering with the EPA to set fuel efficiency standards. The week was capped off today in a sweep through New York to press drivers stop texting and stump for high-speed rail, one of his pet projects. And to think people were afraid he'd be reactionary just because he was a Republican Congressman. Revolutionary is more like it.

Rise of the Archi-doc

Archi-docs (TM) seem to have become an ever-more popular film form, from My Architect to Sketches of Frank Gehry and Snakebit. Starting tonight, the National Buildings Museum in D.C. is hosting an entire film festival dedicated to the archi-doc. The festivities kick off tonight with a screening of Moving Midway, about one relatives plans to move the family's plantation home away from the sprawl encompassing it while at the same time selling the land to developers while others—including some former slaves—try to stop the move. On Monday, there is the debut of A Necessary Ruin, the work of LA-based filmmaker Evan Mather about the destruction of Fuller's Union Tank Car Dome, the largest free-span structure in the world at the time of its completion in 1958 with a diameter of 384 feet (trailer above). And a week from tonight, the festival closes with a screening of Megamall, which is about the rise of the film's titular developments across the country, with a particular focus on the Palisades Center in West Nyack. And before each film, a different short will be shown. Meanwhile, the fest has been excepting videos of "great green spaces," which you can watch on Vimeo or even submit your own.
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King of the Hill

Hard to believe Glenn Beck isn't already up in arms over the president's decision to nominate his long-time friend and former Weatherman (some might say terrorist) to become the Architect of the Capitol. Oh. Wait. Wrong Ayers. Stephen Ayers, who has actually been serving as AoC for the past three years on an interim basis, was nominated to take over full-time on Tuesday by the Obama administration. Previously, Ayers held the position of Deputy Architect of the Capitol, taking over when his predecessor, Alan Hantman, retired after a decade of service. Ayers has had a distinguished career of public service, including a stint in the Air Force, then a turn in the public sector followed by work at Voice of America, the government-run radio network in Europe. By all appearances, his experience in facilities management in general and at the Capitol in particular should silence critics who have been giving the industry grief over the AoC position in recent years. As we reported shortly after Hantman's retirement, some on the Hill had been agitating for a non-architect to take over the AoC position partly because of huge cost overruns and delays at the much-maligned (particularly by critics) new Capitol Visitor Center. But that's not the AoC's only responsibility, as the office also manages the entire Capitol Complex and surrounding grounds, a job the AIA and others said required an architect's unique and varied skill set. The institute issued a statement today calling for Ayer's timely appointment:
"Christine W. McEntee, Executive Vice President/CEO of the AIA, said, "Mr. Ayers has shown leadership, foresight, and a steady hand as he led the Architect of the Capitol’s office for the last three years. Mr Ayers has addressed many goals for the office in an exemplary manner. However, there are still urgent needs facing the Capitol complex, from reducing its carbon footprint to renovating buildings in need of repair, and the Office of the Architect of the Capitol will benefit from Mr. Ayers’ capable leadership."
Best of luck. He'll probably need it.
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Mayne Street

Granted he's won the Pritzker Prize and had a string of recent successes, but all the same we were more than surprised to get a forwarded White House press release from Morphosis today touting the appointment of Thom Mayne, one of the industry's gruffer individuals, to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He is the only practicing architect on the list. Created in 1982, the committee, according to its website, brings, well, the arts and humanities into the White House. Headed by the First Lady, activities under the previous administration included an "unprecedented" cultural exchange with China, a "bi-national cultural communique" with Mexico, and the creation of the Coming Up Taller awards to honor school-age artists. Of the 24 other committee members, there is one other architect, Christine Forester, though she has left the field for marketing and branding in the 1980s according to the release. Noted green guy and urban thinker Ed Norten is also a committee member, as are other notables Teresa Heinz Kerry, Yo-Yo Ma, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, and Anna Wintour. And despite our initial suspicions, a search of public records show no political contributions on behalf of Mayne.
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Senate Seeks Sustainability

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released its energy bill today. The main talking point is that the bill sponsored by Barbara Boxer and John Kerry takes a tougher stance on emission reductions than the House bill, shooting for 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, as opposed to 17 percent. But the bills share some comforting similarities, at least for architects. Just like the house bill, which we wrote about in July, the Boxer-Kerry bill includes important measures targeted at buildings, among them stricter building codes and retroactive efficiency standards for retrofitted buildings. Along with the bill passed by the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June, which called for other efficiency standards, Andrew Goldberg, the senior director for federal relations at the AIA, said the Senate stands to create strong, architecturally intensive standards Goldberg said one piece of the House bill that is missing is the GREEN Act, which encourages banks to offer better loans to sustainable projects. Because of the nature of the Senate, such provisions would actually have to be worked out in a separate committee, though Goldberg said he remains confident in the act's prospects. Another issue where the AIA is looking for improvement over the House bill is the allocation of funds generated by the sale of cap-and-trade credits. The Senate has yet to divvy up those credits—of which there could be more, in light of higher standards—but Goldberg is hoping for more than the 10 percent given over building related initiatives like training building operators and funding green public housing. "With the built environment accounting for 40 percent of greenhouse emissions in the country, we want to keep hammering home that buildings are the key to energy efficiency," Goldberg said. Which is not to say the AIA expects 40 percent of the cap-and-trade funds—improving the energy grid and using more renewable energy will go a long way toward addressing buildings' energy usage, though the feeling is buildings deserve more than they are getting in the House bill. Plus, building improvements not only mean greenhouse reductions but more of those vaunted green collar jobs.