For the last two months, the U.S. Architecture Billings Index has remained in negative territory. Although the ABI rose slightly from the previous month’s 48.8 mark to 49.6 in April, the score still reflects a decrease in design services. As the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports, the new projects inquiry index also revealed a slight increase, rising from 57.9 to 59.1.
“Despite an easing in demand for architecture services over the last couple of months, there is a pervading sense of optimism that business conditions are poised to improve as the year moves on,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “With a healthy figure for design contracts this should translate into improved billings in the near future.”
A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break…
Over the last decade, the amount of bicycle commuters have increased 60 percent in the U.S. As the U.S. Census Bureau reports, this is the largest percentage increase of all commuting modes tracked by the 2000 Census and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey. Along with the study, the Bureau released a new interactive map that allows you to zoom-in and explore the commuting statistics for every neighborhood in the U.S. Find out how to access this map and read some highlights from the report, after the break…
Set to open to the public on Wednesday after a highly controversial and contested journey from idea to reality, the September 11 Memorial Museum has inevitably been a talking point among critics this week. The museum by Davis Brody Bond occupies the space between the Memorial Plaza at ground level and the bedrock below, with an angular glass pavilion by Snøhetta providing an entrance from above. A long ramp, designed to recall the access ramp with which tons of twisted metal was excavated from the site, descends to the exhibits which sit within the perimeter boundaries of the twin towers’ foundations, underneath the suspended volumes of Michael Arad‘s memorial fountains.
The content of the museum is obviously fraught with painful memories, and the entrance pavilion occupies a privileged position as the only surface level structure ground zero, in opposition to the great voids of the memorial itself. The discussion at the opening of the museum was therefore always going to center on whether the design of the museum – both its built form and the exhibitions contained – were sensitive and appropriate enough for this challenging brief. Read the critics’ takes on the results after the break.
Today marked the ceremonially opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Set to officially open to the public next Wednesday (May 21), the subterranean museum has already made headlines for its emotional 70 foot decent to the bedrock of the World Trade Center Towers.
Prior to entering the museum’s interior, visitors must first walk past the footprints of the Twin Towers, commemorated by Handel Architects’ cascading granite voids, before entering a Snøhetta-designed stainless steel and glass pavilion that is the museum’s entrance.
As Snøhetta’s founding partner, Craig Dyker describes, the pavilion’s main purpose is to serve as the “threshold between the everyday life of the city and the uniquely spiritual quality of the Memorial.”
More about the pavilion from the architects, after the break…
Six teams have been invited to form interdisciplinary teams in Washington D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park competition. Envisioned as a “21st century play space,” the project intends to unify two disconnected parts of the city with a single, multi-use parkscape that will span the width of the Anacostia River. If approved, the Bridge Park will host array of programs, from an education center and performance space, to a cafe and water sport activity areas. Review the complete list of shortlisted teams, after the break…
In response to New York City’s rapidly expanding population, NBRS + Partners has proposed a 40 story tall skyscraper that could help the city embrace its rapidly shifting demographics and size. Entitled “VIVO on High Line,” the adaptable steel-frame tower is essentially the vertical extension of the city’s beloved High Line park.
“The podium screen engulfs the High Line folding it in and extending the lifeblood into the building base, like capillary action drawing it vertically,” described the team.
The New York Public Library (NYPL) has abandoned Norman Foster’s controversial plans to transform part of its 20th century Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” into a circulating library. The news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the city’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio expressed skepticism towards the $150 million renovation earlier this year.
According to a report by the New York Times, Blasio does not intend on reducing the NYPL funding, however the money will now be allocated to other purposes.
Several library trustees have stated that in order to keep up with the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, they now intend on completing the renovation of the library’s mid-Manhattan branch on Fifth Avenue.
A response from Norman Foster, after the break…
Paul Rudolph’s threatened Orange County Government Center has new hope. According to a report by Architectural Record, New York City architect Gene Kaufman has offered to purchase the building and transform it into artist studios, though under one condition: Kaufman’s practice Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman must be commissioned to design the city’s new government building adjacent to the brutalist landmark. This news comes a week after an 18-3 vote secured plans to restore a portion of Rudolph’s building and return it to its former use.