Public Effect

Another Gold Scrim

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Continuing Tropolism's theme of, er, shiny gold buildings: 8 woningen Kettingstraat in The Hague, by the Dutch architecture office Archipelontwerpers. A shimmery, totally-doing-the-Gehry-thang scrim at a revitalized section of the historic urban fabric. What is of more interest to us, however, is the rest of the project: behind eight historical restored facades are eight modern houses. We love this kind of hybrid.

Via we make money not art.

Toyo Ito's Structural Awesomeness


The good folks at Architechnophilia have reported on yet another Zaha Hadid design that did not win a high profile international competition. Until she does another gold-brick-lego building, we're over reporting that stuff.

Of interest to us was the actual winner of the competition: Toyo Ito. Ever since his Mediatheque building in Sendai, with its airy structural tube framework, we've been thinking about how to hold up our own structures in more innovative ways. His office cranked out yet another design, this time for the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House. We're not sure what all the blobby forms do, because the house translator is still on vacation. However, it looks like another fantastic, yet buildable, structure.

Ken Smith: Master


Our friends at Archinect report that Ken Smith has been awarded the title (prize?) of Master Designer of the Orange County Great Park. His takeover of Manhattan, now complete, he has skipped to the other coast to begin a bi-coastal strategy of national takeover. Next stop: the Heartland!

Of interest is the two-part PDF of his team's entry. It is densely packed with great information, and represents how his quirky imagination is supported by a deep respect for great public space in America. It's worth a read.

Steven Holl In Kansas City


Speaking of Luminarias, our friends at Archidose gives us some wonderful in-progress photos of the Nelson-Atkins Museum expansion by Steven Holl, now named the Bloch Building. The building continues on the glass channel system theme, seen in his Helsinki Kiasma building and at Pratt Institute Higgins Hall, but at a scale that lets the glass channel system look elegant, fluid, landscape-like.

New Orleans Plan Revised, Unleashed

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After revising the really dumb parts of their resettlement plan, the commission charged with doing the master plan for New Orleans has released their plan. The New York Times reports on it, and as bonus visual we have a PDF from the Times-Picayune (in exile at, as well as a much more thorough, albeit ambling, accounting of what's going on down there. What we get from the articles is imaginative thinking and a sense of teamwork on the commission.

There was a hurricane about four months ago, and they already have a master plan to rebuild their city. And, it's one designed to account for the political protests that always surround such massive rebuilding efforts. Even though the situations are entirely different, and a compmarison can create the illusion that they are similar: it's difficult to believe that the master plan developed for the World Trade Center took longer, because it was moving office space and a few blocks of street grid.

Water Cube: Beijing


Wacky in a way only state-sponsored architecture can be is the National Swimming Center in Beijing, going up right next to another of H&DM's stadiums (no, not this one). The center is enclosed by what appears to be a wall whose structure is an irregular spaceframe (made to resemble the cellular pattern of soap bubbles) and is clad in what appears to be a frosted or patterened glass. All of this from a wonderful photo gallery at Structurae. The building was conceived by Australian-based PTW Architects. Structural design by Arup, of course.

Tipped off by We Make Money, Not Art.

NY Times Trifecta: Future, Present, Past


Newspapers are such wonderful organizations. They are like huge mechanical writing machines, that create sets of articles with unintended synchronicities. Take, for example, this week-end's fare, neatly summarized by the staff here at Tropolism as Future, Present, Past:

(click continue reading for more)

Big Thinking For Rebuilding New Orleans


Ask, and Tropolism shall receive. A big government solution: create financial infrastructure to support the redevelopment of neighborhoods, covered by the New York Times. Our favorite part: "the federal corporation would have nothing to do with the redevelopment of the land; those plans would be drawn up by local authorities and developers."

The Word On Rem In Dallas


Tropolism means no gossip. Speculation and behind-the-scenes opinions, however, are very welcome. Which is why we enjoy reading Do You Want Some Coffee?: they stay full of wonder while balancing academic conversation, critical conversation, conversations about the personalities in the world of the celebutantes, and, best illuminated by this piece on Rem Koolhaas's presentation for a theater in Dallas, conversations about brilliant moments of architects speaking.

Interstate 10 Over Lake Pontchartrain: Almost There


We here at Tropolism loves us some highways. Engineered beauty! So it's with great delight, yet without much surprise, that we discovered our first news item of the day: the New York Times reporting that the repairs to the causewaaaay for Interstate 10, over Lake Pontchartrain, are nearly complete. It's simplistic to believe that rebuilding neighborhoods could be this easy, because roads are engineered projects, and they have a large and efficient impact the economy; rebuilding 50,000 privately and separately owned residences, each with individual needs and character, is a completely different matter. But what if we could rebuild, say, 25% of the homes like we rebuilt I-10?

Rural Studio Driving Tour


The New York Times produces an exceptionally useful piece related to works of architecture by calling the Travel section. They tour the work of Rural Studio, Sam Mockbee's legacy in western Alabama, and its ongoing work. Of most interest, besides the helpful who-to-talk-to and where-to-stay, is the fact that Rural Studio has expanded into public work. Growing up in rural Ohio, I would have given my eyeteeth to work with something like Rural. Now, I can simply visit a different state.

HdM Kicks for Goal: Update


Waaaay before we launched we were fascinated by this underpublished soccer stadium by Herzog & de Meuron. The good folks at Interactive Architecture and Information Aesthetics (those are two different websites) have posted pictures of the new stadium in action. All we can say is SCORE.

Playing With Blocks


When we were little, we played almost exclusively with Legos. In fact, our best childhood fantasy was that we could construct the whole world out of a perfect and infinitely variable system of interlocking, and brightly colored, blocks. Go figure. Now, we must settle for java-based "psycho-social building experiences". But we'll manage.

Via Future Feeder.

Center for Urban Pedagogy


With a name destined for ridicule, the Center for Urban Pedagogy could have been a one-exhibition wonder. But no. They are Involved. The are Policital. And, most of all, they are Productive. No complaining, only solutions. This, we can respect.

Folksongs For The Fivepoints


Continuing our theme of ways people map the city, we discovered, through BoingBoing, the Folksongs for the Fivepoints project. You can remix the sample sounds of the Lower East Side and create your own folk song. A glorious noise.

The AIA NY No Longer Blows


Hell. Also known as a full day of continuing education credits.

Props to the AIA for a great Center for Architecture and offering two days of continuing ed credits, for those of us who got zero over the year. Unfortunately, the presenter from the light-gauge steel framing company had a laptop that couldn't get the aspect ratio correct, wasting about 200 man-hours of licensed New York Architect's time. Just add it to Microsoft's 2035 Information Crimes Trial list of charges.

Choosing not to look at a vendor's XP laptop in high-resolution projection, I instead strolled around looking at the exhibition for NYC AIA's 2005 awards. New York has a lot of gorgeous projects, interiors, and buildings to be very proud of. Many of them have appeared on these pages. Some have not. Some will

The second thing I did was survey my fellow classmates. First impression: I see white people! Mostly guys in their 50s. A healthy mix of women, but no more than 25%. Minorities, mostly of asian descent, composed about 10% of the room.

The quality of the curation is wonderful. Budget, but with a superb graphic sensibility.

Christmas Humor, New Orleans Style

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Tropolism means having a sense of humor. It means also a sense of civic pride. One of the reasons I'm so attached to NOLA is that its citizens often combine these two in a way which is effortless, and makes sense. Not unlike New Yorkers, although the character of our satire has a different flavor.

Above and after the jump: exclusive photographs from special architect correspondant Tatiana, of the annual and beloved Christmas toy train display at Lakeside Mall in Metairie. The talent of Frank Evans, an obsessive railroad-toy display designer, comes through with spraypainted X's on the houses, collapsed roofs, and a comment on the evacuated Broussard Pump Station #1. Read all about it in today's Times-Picayune, tipped off by our friend and diligent NOLA describer, Sturtle. You'll note that the people interviewed all had an appreciation of the depth of humor, the civic pride, and the craftsmanship that went into the display. The perfect architectural moment.

And, more pictures after the jump.

Banlieue, We Hardly Knew Ye


Tropolism means creative ideas for new housing. Everywhere. This article suggests some really brilliant ideas by the Dutch, particularly this one:

In the old days, the argument runs, a person with a working-class identity could live in "working-class housing." But today people have housing careers that vary as much as their professional ones. When they are young and not terribly bothered by noise, they might choose small, functional places close to cultural attractions and nightlife. They can move to larger, quieter ones when they have families and then trade space for comfort when their children leave home.

Props to the author for touching on Le Corbusier's revolutionary uniformity, while handily avoiding the 'the building made them do it' crap. We think Le Corbusier's credit is long overdue. The problem wasn't what he came up with. The problem is that no one came up with a variety of other stuff to mix with his towers-in-the-green to make them messy (urban). Shame on us.

Attention USA suburban developers: can we please, please, please have some variety and density?