Daily digest: London will convert empty offices into housing, confrontation at the MoMA, and more

Everybody, Get On The Floor

Daily digest: London will convert empty offices into housing, confrontation at the MoMA, and more

The City of London, London, is hoping to make more efficient use of its empty office space (Lauris Rozentals/Unsplash)

Welcome back to another week of news from around the world that you need to know, from London to New York and everywhere in between.

London wants to convert its empty offices into housing

Stricken by a pandemic-driven global economic recession and professionals deciding to work remotely, the City of London (yes, for non-Brits, the City of London is a separate area within the city of London, complete with its own Lord Mayor) announced that it would be converting vacant office space units into at least 1,500 homes by 2030. The City of London Corporation announced the move on April 27 as part of its five-year The Square Mile: Future City plan.

The plan will focus on London’s central business district, the City of London, aka the Square Mile. Apart from the office conversions, the City of London Corporation will attempt to lure technology companies to the area, and bolster the creative community by granting low-cost, long-term leases in under-utilized buildings.

H/t to the New York Times

Rome selects a firm to build the Colosseum’s new retractable floor

Rome kicked off the search for an architect and engineer to add a new retractable (but still historically accurate) floor to the Colosseum last December, and now the city has found its team. Yesterday, May 2, Italy’s Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities Dario Franceschini announced that the Milan-based Milan Ingegneria had been selected to design, build, and install the new floor.

The new addition to the UNESCO World Heritage Site will contain historically appropriate traps and pitfalls, but be capable of rapid deployment to either protect the archeological site below in the case of rain, or opening if the area needs to be aired out.

H/t to The Guardian

Paris’s Bourse de Commerce will finally open this month

Tadao Ando’s long-awaited transformation of the historic Bourse de Commerce stock exchange into an art museum finally has an opening date. Although the original 2020 opening had been stymied by COVID, François Pinaul, the building’s owner and art collector whose work will be on display in the new Bourse de Commerce-Pinault Collection, announced that the institution would finally open on May 22.

That date comes after France is expected to allow theaters, museums, and other cultural institutions to reopen on May 19, part of the country’s tiered reopening plan. Capacity will be limited until June 9, when those venues will see the occupancy cap lifted to 5,000… assuming visitors possess a health pass showing that they’re vaccinated. And yes, that’s the same day the Venice Architecture Biennale kicks off, so plan your Euro trip accordingly.

H/t to The Art Newspaper

Development and climate change are stripping the sand from California’s beaches

Decades of unfettered development along the Californian coastline have restricted the flow of new sand to the beaches there, which are now threatened by rising sea levels. The regularly scheduled sand deposit from the federal government has been delayed since 2018 over budget issues, and now homeowners are increasingly at risk from flooding. Ironically, the breakwaters, jetties, and river redirections built throughout the 20th century to protect the coast have only exacerbated beach erosion.

H/t to The Mercury News

Strike MoMA protestors and security guards reportedly clashed at the end of a walking tour

Last week, the International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF) announced that it would be marching through Manhattan and into the Museum of Modern Art to protest Leon Black’s continued involvement with the museum, unfair working conditions for employees, the museum’s restriction of the its lobby and garden to ticketholders, and the elimination of free visit Fridays.

The “Ruins of Modernity Tour” arrived at MoMA as planned on April 30, but according to Hyperallergic, was denied access into the museum proper. Instead, as protestors attempted to enter the building through a staff entrance, one of them was reportedly beaten by a security guard.

The museum responded by confirming that the protestors had attempted to unlawfully enter the building, that they were disregarding COVID distancing protocols, and claimed that two of their security guards had been “seriously injured” during the event.

H/t to Hyperallergic

Republicans introduce a bill to restart border wall construction

Although President Biden has pledged to halt all U.S.-Mexico border wall construction, and on Friday canceled all related construction contracts, Republicans aren’t standing for it. U.S. Representative Clay Higgins (R-LA) has introduced the Finish the Wall Act in the House, which, aptly, would force the Biden administration to resume border wall construction. However, as the President did not request any money for a border wall in his fiscal year 2022 discretionary funding request last month, it seems unlikely that work will begin any time soon, even if the House and Senate can force the administration’s hand.

H/t to Construction Dive