Jean Nouvel’s Tower Verre Finally Ready to Break Ground

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Jean Nouvel‘s long-awaited 53 West 53rd Street, also known as the Tower Verre or the Tower, may finally be ready to move ahead with construction after the project’s developer Hines purchased $85.3 million worth of air rights from its neighbors MoMA and the St Thomas Episcopal Church and arranged the $860 million construction loan required for the project.

Originally proposed in 2007, the design has been plagued by problems, including significant delays due to the financial crisis and a difficult approval process which resulted in the building’s height being slashed from 1,250 feet to its current planned height of 1,050 feet. However, according to a statement from Hines groundbreaking on the project is now “imminent.”

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The Living and BIG Among Winners of the Holcim Awards 2014 for North America

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The Holcim Foundation has announced the Winners of the Holcim Awards 2014 for North America, the award which recognizes the most innovative and advanced sustainable construction designs. Among the winners are BIG and The Living, with designs which the jury stated showed “sophisticated and multi-disciplinary responses to the challenges facing the building and construction industry.”

The ten recognized projects share over $300,000 in prize money, with the top three projects overall going on to be considered for the global Holcim Awards awards, to be selected in 2015.

Read on after the break for the full list of winners

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The High Line’s Third (and Final) Section Opens this Weekend

Fantastic news: the High Line at the Rail Yards – the third and northernmost section of the park – will be opening to the public on Sunday, September 21! Read the full announcement: http://bit.ly/RailYardsOpening Photo of the Interim Walkway, one of the new design features in the Rail Yards, by Kathleen Fitzgerald | OCD

This Sunday (September 21), the third and final section of the New York City High Line will open at the Rail Yards. You can expect to see familiar benches morphed into picnic tables and seesaws amongst a lush, diverse and seemingly unkept landscape that is reminiscent of the “forgotten” tracks. As Piet Oudolf - the Dutch garden designer who worked with James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio & Renfro - described, the $75 million northernmost section will be an “introduction to the wild” that responds directly to the public’s desire to “walk on the original tracks.” Stay tuned for more images from the opening.

Ten Top Designers Get the Products of Their Dreams With “The Wish List”

Tableware / Zaha Hadid + Gareth Neal. Image © Petr Krejčí

Terence Conran asked nine of his friends in the design world “What have you always wanted in your home, but have never been able to find?” The result is The Wish List, a set of ten projects dreamed up by big name designers such as Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers, but designed and crafted in collaboration with emerging designers.

Sponsored by the American Hardwood Export Council, the only restriction was that the product had to be made of wood, leading to designs ranging from Foster’s modest geometric pencil sharpeners to Paul Smith‘s dream garden shed.

As part of the 2014 London Design Festival, the resulting ten products will be on show at the V&A Museum until October 24th.

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SCI-Arc Appoints Hernan Diaz Alonso as New Director

“Pitch Black” – Joint-winner in the AR+D Awards for Emerging Architecture. Image © , Courtesy of

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has appointed Hernan Diaz Alonso as the Los Angeles architecture school’s new Director beginning September 2015. Alonso, principal of Xefirotarch and educator widely credited for spearheading the transition of SCI-Arc to digital technologies, will succeed architect Eric Owen Moss who has served as the school’s director since 2002. Continue after the break to watch Alonso’s “New Director Presentation” and preview a selection of his work.

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AR Issues: A Biennale for Critical Times

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ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this post, we take you back to AR’s July 2014 issue, which focused on this year’s Venice Biennale. In her introduction, AR Editor Catherine Slessor argues that while previous Biennales have been hopelessly out of touch, this year Rem Koolhaas has initiated a critical conversation at a crucial moment in time.

In its giddy, self-referential way, the Architecture Biennale always seems blissfully detached from the real world. Set in the preposterous, decaying stage set that is modern , the press vernissage is a frenzied bacchanal, as the global cognoscenti descend like locusts on a fragile urban eco-system already bludgeoned by battalions of tourists and hulking cruise ships.

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10 Modernist Buildings Receive Conservation Grants from Getty Foundation

Luce Memorial Chapel, Taichung, Taiwan / I.M. Pei. Image © Anonymous Blogger

The has named the first 10 recipients of its philanthropic “Keeping It Modern” initiative, which aims to advance the understanding and preservation of 20th-century modern architecture. From Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute to Le Corbusier’s Parisian apartment, each recipient was chosen for their architectural significance and potential to advance practices related to modern architecture.

View all 10 projects, after the break…

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Skaters Win Battle Against Southbank Centre

© Miller Hare

London‘s  announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement with skateboarding group Long Live Southbank, and is dropping plans to move the famous skatepark to a new site underneath Hungerford Bridge nearby. The decision, which is ensured by a binding planning agreement with Lambeth Council, brings a close to a dispute that has lasted almost a year and a half – ever since the unveiled redevelopment plans by Feilden Clegg Bradley which included the removal of the skatepark in favour of retail space in the Southbank’s undercroft.

The agreement also involves both sides dropping a series of legal challenges initiated during the dispute, including the Southbank’s challenge over the registration of the skatepark as an ‘asset of community value,’ an attempt by Long Live Southbank to have the skatepark listed as a village green, and a judicial review of Lambeth Council’s decision to reject the village green application.

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Heathcote Examines The Architecture Of Scottish Independence

Enric Miralles

Scotland have voted against independence.

Arguably there are only two architects in history that have become almost completely synonymous with one particular city – Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Glasgow and Antoní Gaudi for Barcelona. Indeed, a Catalonian architect, Enric Miralles, designed the Scottish Parliament Building in Holyrood, Edinburgh. The fact that both of these are part of large enclaves who are seeking, or have sought, independence is perhaps just a coincidence. Architecture, often used as a symbol for the identity of nationhood, will certainly be part of a wider dialogue about the Union of the United Kingdom following yesterday’s referendum.

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SFMOMA Tops Out

© Henrik Kam

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has topped out its Snøhetta-designed extension, marking the halfway point in the museum’s transformation. Rising behind SFMOMA’s existing Mario Botta-designed building, the 10-story addition will add more than triple the amount of gallery space, 130,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor galleries, flexible performance art spaces and a dramatically expanded education program for students and teachers upon completion in 2016.

More images after the break…

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New Images Take You Inside ALA’s Helsinki Central Library

Central Library. Image © ALA Architects

Take a tour inside ALA Architect’s Helsinki Central Library with a new animation and set of images revealing the project’s spacious interiors. The project, which was awarded to ALA through an international competition, boasts a unique set of programs, such as a ground floor cinema, second story sauna, “Nerd Attic” and dreamy “Book Heaven” that is topped with a cloud-like undulating roof and includes a distinctive outdoor “Citizens’ Balcony.”

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Spotlight: Peter Smithson

Alison and Peter Smithson (year unknown)

Peter Smithson (18 September 1923 – 3 March 2003), the acclaimed British architect often associated with New Brutalism, would have turned 91 today. He attended the school of architecture in Newcastle, but left to serve in the war in India and Burma. After returning to complete his degree in 1948, he enrolled in the Royal Academy architecture school. In 1950 he set up his own practice with his wife Alison, and the two went on to become some of the most influential British architects of the mid-20th century.

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ASTOC and HPP Selected to Masterplan Moscow’s New Finance Center

© Team : ASTOC / HPP

ASTOC and HPP have been announced as winners of a two-stage competition to “New Moscow’s” International Financial Center (IFC) in Rublyovo-Arkhangelskoye. The phased, 460 hectare development will capitalize on the Moscow River’s greenbelt by extending the river landscape throughout the IFC to achieve a balance between nature and city.

More information, images and a video about the winning proposal, after the break…

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Are Property Developers “Ruining Our Cities”?

Phase 3, Battersea Power Station redevelopment (). Image Courtesy of Foster + Partners / Gehry Partners

Alongside a number of recent articles that explore the rise of the urban property developer and the subsequent “threat” to the built environment, Oliver Wainwright of The Guardian explores at length how developers are “exploiting planning authorities and ruining our .” In discussion with Peter Rees, former Chief Planning Officer for the City of London and responsible for the financial district’s monuments of today, Wainwright discusses the lack of accountability of the vast majority of urban developers. While local councils attempt to secure the next iconic development for their area many planners, authorities and developers are locked in a battle over the built fabric of our cities. Read the article in full here.

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Trading Parking Lots for Affordable Housing

9×18 Scheme © Credit Peterson Rich Office/Sagi Golan via the NYTimes

The cost of living in New York has skyrocketed over the years, causing one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s biggest challenges to be the integration of . Considering this, architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has spotlighted a plan that suggests trading parking lots for micro housing units. Envisioned by three young architects at the Institute for Public Architecture, the “9×18” scheme has the potential to transform the city by capitalizing on outdated zoning regulations that would unleash more than 20.3 million square feet of usable space. Read more here on the New York Times.

UK Politicians Invited to Workshop to Learn About Architecture

One possible activity for the workshop includes guided tours of from the Thames. Image © Flickr CC User Donna Rutherford

Oliver Colvile, chairman of the UK‘s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Excellence in the Built Environment, has proposed that Members of Parliament should be invited to an architecture workshop to improve their understanding of the built environment. The workshop would be jointly run by the APPG and the Farrell Review, and could include activities such as designing a virtual town or an architectural sightseeing tour along the Thames. More on the proposal after the break.

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London Official Confirms that “The Pinnacle” Has Been Scrapped

© via wikipedia

The Pinnacle, the 63-storey tower that would have been the tallest in the City of London‘s central cluster, has finally been abandoned, according to Gwyn Richards, the City’s new head of design. Originally granted planning permission in 2006, the “helter-skelter” design by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF) was put on hold in 2011 due to financial issues. Now a replacement scheme is in the works which could be revealed in a matter of weeks.

More on the Pinnacle, and its replacement, after the break

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Combo Competitions: Emphasis On The Idea

Courtesy of Combo

Combo Competitions, an organisation founded by Swedish, London based architect Per Linde, organises international idea competitions for architects, designers and students. With a gentle emphasis on the ideas presented in proposals, rather than aesthetics alone, their main driver is to promote design concepts ”where everything comes together to form a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts.”

With the increasing ease in producing “amazing renderings and images,” underling concepts can often be lost – or hidden by – a seductive final image. Combo Competitions seeks to reverse this trend by rewarding an emphasis on “well advised concepts” alongside appearance and presentation. Their latest competition, entitled Hello , invites participants to explore a way of re-introducing nature into people’s consciousness.

Find out more about the competition and hear from Per Linde after the break…

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