In this six-minute-long video, Vox makes the argument that the primary reason behind the recent resurgence of streetcar systems—or proposals for streetcars, at least—in the USA is not because of their contributions to urban mobility, but instead because of the fact that they drive and sustain economic development. As it uncovers the causes for the popular failure of the streetcar systems in cities such as Washington DC, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City (low speed and limited connectivity, mostly) it asks why an increasing number of American city governments are pushing for streetcars in spite of their dismal record at improving transit. Is it solely due to their positively modern aesthetic? Are streetcars destined to function as mere “attractions” in a city’s urban landscape? Or is the real objective something more complex?
United States Of America
Across industrial North America, many small working class cities are faced with a plethora of abandoned property due to the downfall of the automotive industry. The prolific ruins of the largest abandoned factory in North America, Detroit's Packard Motor Plant, have served as an emblem for dozens of similar plants dotting the landscapes of cities across the continent. In 2010, shortly after the beginning of the global economic crisis, Chrysler closed a sprawling engine factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The factory has since been demolished and is now at the beginning of a five-year cleanup. Located adjacent to a densely populated suburban development, the 107-acre property begs the question: what can be done with such a massive piece of land?
In response to Kenosha's Chrysler problem, a team of urbanists, architects and researchers known as Urban Design for Everyone (UD4U) launched a global competition to reinvigorate the former industrial property. Proposals had to take the adjacent neighborhoods into consideration, with the ultimate goal of bridging gaps between disparate communities at opposite ends of the property. The winning proposals range widely from a stylized village of housing, to the creation of enormous urban farms, to the construction of an innovation park featuring a series of vast artificial lakes. After receiving 43 entries from 17 countries, a jury of local architects selected three exceptional proposals and five honorable mentions. Find out what the teams proposed after the break.
The Miami Design District, an 18 square-block neighborhood between Miami’s downtown and South Beach, has announced that the facade of its new mixed-use retail building will be designed by Sou Fujimoto. The two-floor, 17,000 square foot structure, which will feature "an elongated series of glass fins extending from the rooftop down to the open courtyard," will create unique pedestrian arcades covered by a "structural waterfall."
The Miami Design District, owned by Miami Design District Associates, aims to combine commerce with high-quality design, fashion, art and architecture, and has chosen Fujimoto on the merit of his past award-winning works, from House N in Tokyo, to the Musashino Art University & Library, to - most recently - his design of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London.
Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale Studios have been selected to transform Philip Johnson's 1981 Crystal Cathedral, originally a Protestant mega-church, to make it more in keeping with its new, Catholic identity.
The Cathedral, which had filed for bankruptcy in October 2010, was bought in early 2012 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. Earlier this month, the architects were chosen for the renovation: Johnson Fain will focus on the interior, while Rios Clementi Hale Studios will oversee the masterplan of its 34-acre campus.
Seeing as it’s the 4th of July, we thought we would take a moment to reflect on the state of Architecture in our country today. Where are we? What’s important to us now, July 4th, 2012? And what does the future look like?