Thursday, May 09, 2013
Norman Foster: Paris does not need skyscrapers.
The most beautiful cities of the future will be inspired by today's most sustainable cities. And it does not mean that build up. Paris, London and Copenhagen are these cities. Of course, Manhattan is a shining example in terms of energy consumed, the presence of high buildings is beneficial. Many people go to work on foot, others use public transport. Few people own a car. But Copenhagen, Paris, Munich and Berlin are all cities in which to walk, they are durable and offer a high quality of urban life. You need a good mix of uses and buildings. Consider Copenhagen and Detroit, with a population and a similar climate: the second is three times higher population density than the other and yet it consumes ten times more energy, mainly because of gasoline. Under these conditions, I do not see how Paris would need skyscrapers.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The consensus in New York is building - Quote of the Day
What is new about the large corporate quarters now under construction is that they are all being planned and designed in a “whole cloth” fashion in a single glass and steel style for a single class of user and resident. The first of these zones—the World Trade Center Complex, Hudson Yards, Cornell’s Roosevelt Island technology campus, Atlantic Yards, and, if the mayor’s planning and real estate gurus have their way, the Sunnyside Yards in Queens—all have precedents in exurban corporate campuses and districts across American.
But in New York these corporate landscapes have a unique profile—except for the Cornell campus—in that they are built on concrete pads above parking and transportation lines that link them to the surrounding city and boost and their values as real estate. Like Battery Park City, which may be considered a precursor and a model for these developing quarters, they are purposely isolated and apart form the surrounding city like a suburban, gated community. The World Trade Center is the first of these places to arise in New York, and though it has the powerful Michael Arad memorial at its center and humanly scaled Snøhetta museum, we won’t really understand this landscape until the scaffolding and chain link fence come down on its perimeter. Though its plan partially inserts the old Manhattan grid into the project, from the look of it, it will be a monstrously scaled landscape of foreboding spaces, underground shopping, and bland skyscrapers landing on bare concrete. The quality of the area is typified by Tower One: the 1,776-foot-tall boring and bland middle finger to the rest of the city. This landscape represents a sad lost opportunity for what could have been a model of a mixed-use quarter that resembles the best parts of this metropolis. But this type of attention was never devoted to that other corporate city on a concrete pad, Hudson Yards, which seems to be planned for a commercial district of Houston rather than New York. The High Line will of course meander through this area and it will have at least one fascinating new urban type, Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Culture Shed, which will roll along tracks just next to the elevated park. But from the looks of the shiny real estate presentation drawing of the area, it will likely be the most corporatized landscape this city has ever seen. Some may consider Hudson Yards a “planned” community but in truth it is the result of a process that only looks at the bottom line (and the Houston streetscape) not what this city has been at its best or might be at its best in the future.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Hear Bloody Hear: London Mayor—Get Bigshots Out of Cars, Onto Transit “Like Everybody Else"
THE QUOTE comes from an excellent article in Streetsblog, but instead of linking to it directly from Twitter I wanted to first direct people to this quote from a Matt Chaban article in the Observer: "
“Nobody on Park Avenue walks,” [New York City developer] Michael Shvo said last month....
“I stopped walking a decade ago,” said Mr. Shvo nonchalantly, a statement of success rather than disability.After the jump, Chaban continues:
Nearby was Irwin Cohen, the man who turned the old Nabisco factory into the Chelsea Market. With the High Line nearby, he had seen the transformative power of an impressive infrastructure project firsthand—so how might he feel about reclaiming the Park Avenue median as an actual park?
“That’s ludicrous,” his wife Jill Cohen said. “What if you’re coming here? Where would your driver stand the car?”
“I don’t know that Park Avenue needs it,” a friend piped up. “The sidewalks are plenty wide already.”
“As long as they don’t make it bike lanes,” Mr. Cohen said.
Saturday, February 09, 2013
Quote of the Day
An individual only has one life, and if during it he has no great environment, no community, he has been irreparably robbed of a human right.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Quote of the Day - In which it is revealed that faces and posture can reveal much
I was reminded that Mr. Foster is also responsible for the canopied enclosure of the inner court at the British Museum, a pompous waste of public space that inserts a shopping gallery into the heart of a sublime cultural institution.
That's a good sign. Most critics reflexively rave about the British museum, because it was designed by Sir Norman Foster.* It reminded me of something I wrote after a trip to England:
Watch the faces of people walking around Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and you'll see happiness and contentment. Watch the faces of people walking around Renzo Piano's Morgan Library addition (or Sir Norman Foster's British Museum courtyard), and you'll see people who look bored, at best, or who have the pained expression of someone who's just been forced to swallow something that's supposed to be good for them, like Castor Oil.
* a nice guy, by the way
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Quote of the Day - Daniel Libeskind Tells the Future
It sometimes feels as if cities like Paris and Venice have been coated with formaldehyde and turned into museums. The old formulas of ‘respecting context’ won’t work. We must create a new context and puncture past beauty with raw, powerful contemporary architecture—buildings that shock and amaze and bring out the romance of relics of Victorian and ancient times. It was once true that the palace, Palladian villas, and churches were architectural, while the other structures in a city were just buildings. But I think the art of architecture is ready to come out in every single structure we erect. -
He does have a way with words. If only he would quit his day job and become a writer.
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