LEGO announced its newest Architecture Series release, making the probably overdue choice to add the Sydney Opera House designed by Jørn Utzon as the 12th member of the collection. Although the announcement saw broad distribution on the Internet today, the LEGO Architecture Series page has yet to reveal the design on its website. The Sydney Opera House kit will be available in stores March 1st and will retail at $39.99. The full collection of the LEGO Architecture Series is available here.
Beautiful Streets is a new online experiment from Open Plans that uses what’s called a “pairwise survey” to compare the streets of Philadelphia. Users of the site are confronted with a pair of images randomly generated by Google Street View to make a snap judgment about which street is more attractive.
Here is how the Beautiful Streets website describes the system:
“It’s an experiment: we’re trying out a different way to evaluate places, called pairwise surveys, as popularized by the fantastic All Our Ideas. We’re also testing out some neat interface ideas, and learning about the use of Street View in evaluating places for urban planning projects.
With your help, we’ll compare 200 randomly selected streets in Philadelphia and ask which one in each pair is more beautiful. We expect this experiment will produce some neat data, which you’ll be able to download here soon.”
One compelling idea posed by the site is that the design of streets is the fundamental determinant of the success or failure of neighborhoods and buildings. Bearing in mind the limitations of simple binary comparisons, the images found on Google Street View, and the unreasoned, snap judgments that will provide the data for the experiment, the website presents a useful example of open source data collection that is ready for more nuanced application in any number of venues. Imagine a similar website for park space, multi-family residential buildings, or even brutalism. It’s a two-way street of teaching and learning opportunities for urban designers and end users.
The AIA|LA has launched the Mayoral Candidate Forum series, commencing on February 17 with mayoral candidate and LA City Councilmember Jan Perry. The forum series will be moderated by LA City Planning Commission President Bill Roschen and LA Times Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne.
According to a recent post by Blogdowntown, Councilmember Perry’s initial forum was a collegial affair, with Roschen and Hawthorne agreeing with most Perry’s points—her arguments included support for policies that would drive economic development at the neighborhood level and policies that would require urban design guidelines for LA’s ongoing build-out of public transportation resources.
Will Wright, director of government and public affairs for the AIA|LA, has taken the occasion of the forums to make a broader appeal for the next mayor of Los Angeles to appoint a “Deputy Mayor of Architecture and Urban Design.” Stuart Magruder, AIA, current president of AIA|LA, has also taken to the Internet leading up to the events, making the case for strong leadership from LA’s community of architects and urban designers leading up the 2013 mayoral election in a short YouTube video.
The schedule for the remaining candidates is as follows:
Friday, February 24 (7pm - 9pm) - Mayoral Candidate Austin Beutner
Friday, March 2 (7pm - 9pm) - Mayoral Candidate Kevin James
Friday, March 9 (7pm - 9pm) - Mayoral Candidate Wendy Greuel
Friday, March 16 (7pm - 9pm) - Mayoral Candidate Eric Garcetti
Following recent news of Bjarke Ingels Group’s Valentine’s Day installation in Times Square comes another spat of big news from the Danish architecture firm. First came the announcement that BIG’s design for the Kimball Art Center had been selected for construction of the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. The winning design triumphed against such distinguished competitors as Will Bruder, Williams + Tsien, Brooks + Scarpa, and Sparano + Mooney. The video above includes a quick description of the design by Bjarke Ingels himself, who says that the Kimball design “merges the natural and the artificial.” The project will begin construction in 2013 with an expected completion date of 2015.
Then renderings of another BIG design for a snowy North American clime hit the wire—although this time with a more contemporary set of materials doing the twist in designs proposed for Vancouver instead of Park City.
BIG’s design for a 49-story mixed use tower is included in a set of documents requesting a zoning change for a Downtown Vancouver site at the corner of Beach and Howe streets. The Beach & Howe project actually comprises two buildings, according to Vancity Buzz: The 49-story “residential tower with a 9-storey podium…includes market rental housing, commercial uses, and a childcare facility.” The project also includes a six story building that will include retail (i.e., grocery store, drugstore and liquor store) and office space. The project will total 653,046 square feet.
Over on the FORM Views page, Michael Webb has recently posted a pair of posts that will interest those who like to mix design with media. First, Webb describes the Dziga-Vertov retrospective at the Hammer Museum’s Thornton Wilder. An excerpt from the post: “Beyond the formal brilliance is a fascinating portrait of the Soviet Union—not as the squalid backwater it was, but as a heroic beacon for humanity.”
A second post reviews the new book from Jean-Louis Cohen titled The Future of Architecture Since 1889. Here is an excerpt from that post: “Cohen gives an organic account of how architecture was shaped by social forces, economic growth, war, and advances in technology.”
Michael Webb is a regular contributor to FORM. Check back in monthly for new posts from this author of 26 books, including his most recent, Modernist Paradise: Niemeyer House, Boyd Collection (Rizzoli) and Venice CA: Art +Architecture in a Maverick Community (Abrams).