Daily digest: Salone del Mobile is on for September, China bans “ugly” architecture, and more

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Daily digest: Salone del Mobile is on for September, China bans “ugly” architecture, and more

The billowing, Steven Chilton Architects-designed Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre in Guangzhou was voted the ugliest building in China in 2020 by readers. Archy has shot to fame in recent years for cataloging China’s weirdest and wildest architecture. (Chong-Art Photography)

A note from the editor: The news moves fast. That’s why AN is launching a daily morning roundup to keep readers informed from the very start of their day. Everything from architecture, to planning, to tech, to professional news will be served up piping hot for easy digestion.

Here’s what you need to know today:

Salone del Mobile confirms a September show

Following fears that Milan’s Salone Del Mobile, the world’s largest furniture design fair, might cancel its 60th annual show over COVID, today it was confirmed that the festival will move ahead. Although the COVID infection rate in Italy (and across the E.U.) is still high, on Friday, April 19, Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza held a press conference announcing that they would ease lockdown restrictions across the country this summer. That includes lifting the current ban on holding trade shows effective July 1.

Salone del Mobile President Claudio Luti lauded the move last week after reportedly meeting with government officials, and confirmed that the Salone would now be held on September 5 through 10 (assuming infection rates keep declining). The April 2020 edition of the Salone was canceled over coronavirus fears last year. Unfortunately, Italy’s ban on indoor events will still be in place for the May 22 opening of the Venice Architecture Biennale, and some national pavilions will sit empty on opening day.

H/t to Dezeen

China cracks down “weird” and “ugly” supertall towers

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC) announced that after April 13, the government would be cracking down on towers over 1,640 feet tall (500 meters) and “ugly” buildings. That includes deliberate copies of existing structures, ducks, and many of the out-of-place and attention-grabbing towers that exist wholly out of scale with the rest of their environs.

Any tower over 1,640 feet (there are only six in China currently) will need to undergo additional government reviews to ensure that the project isn’t unsafe or a waste of money. This comes seven years after President Xi Jinping famously complained about the “weird” buildings that had sprung up across China in the last few decades as the country went on a building spree.

H/t to the Global Times

Manhattan’s 270 Park Avenue is nearly all gone

Three years after JPMorgan Chase announced that they were going to tear down their Union Carbide tower at 270 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan for a new supertall headquarters, the glassy 707-foot-tall, slab-shaped tower, is now almost totally gone.

After the news first broke that the 1961 tower, originally designed by SOM partner Natalie Griffin de Blois, one of the few women working in midcentury corporate architecture, was on the chopping block, preservationists rallied against what would be the largest controlled tower demolition in history. That methodical decommissioning is now almost complete and steel scaffolding for the replacement HQ, designed by Foster + Partners, is already being installed on-site. The replacement skyscraper will stretch 1,425 feet and be one of the tallest in New York City once complete.

H/t to New York YIMBY

Two men die in Texas after a driverless Tesla crash

Two men in Spring, Texas, close to Houston, are dead after the 2019 Tesla they were riding in hit a tree and burst into flames last night. Authorities reported that there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash, raising questions of whether this was the second self-driving vehicle death ever recorded.

According to local outlet KHOU, the car missed a turn and drove straight into a tree at high speeds then burst into flames. It took firefighters over 4 hours and 32,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire caused by the lithium-ion battery, and at one point, responders reportedly called Tesla for advice (battery fires need to be smothered with chemical retardants). Tesla hasn’t commented on the incident to the media yet but Elon Musk touted the safety of Tesla’s autodriving feature the day before the accident on Twitter.

H/t to The Verge

Biden stumps for bipartisan infrastructure bill support

President Biden is out and about today trying to gum up support for a sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure bill. As previously reported, $213 billion would go towards building and retrofitting affordable housing, while billions more would go towards improving drinking water infrastructure, building resiliency, improving broadband access, and tearing down community-dividing highways.

As such, the President is meeting with lawmakers from both parties today to forge a bipartisan consensus, even as Republicans are attempting to shrink the size of the bill down to $800 billion. Democrats have the ability to pass the package as-is through reconciliation procedures, but dissent over raising the corporate tax rate back up to 28 percent (it was cut to 21 percent from 35 percent in 2017) has even some Democrats threatening opposition.

H/t to CNBC