Daily digest: Athens appoints a chief heat officer, Governor Kathy Hochul wants to beef up NYCHA, and more

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Daily digest: Athens appoints a chief heat officer, Governor Kathy Hochul wants to beef up NYCHA, and more

Athens in the summer (Evan Wise/Unsplash)

Good morning and welcome back to the last week of August. With Labor Day looming, it also marks the proverbial end of summer in the United States—even if there are technically a few more weeks until the season runs out on the calendar.

Here’s what you need to know today:

Athens appoints its first Chief Heat Officer to help the city adapt to climate change

Untamable heat waves and wildfires aren’t just confined to the U.S. Athens, Greece, has suffered through triple-digit temperatures and out of control fires this summer, a problem exacerbated by the city’s miles of sprawling black top, lack of air conditioning, absence of green space and shade… the list goes on and on. Now, Eleni Myrivili has been appointed as the city’s (and Europe’s) first Chief Heat Officer and has been named responsible for coming up with strategies to help make the city more resilient and comfortable.

The role springs from an initiative at the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, which is aiming to both train future heat officers and to facilitate their placement. Myrivili will work to help break up Athens’ heat island effect, which prevents heat from dissipating at night (one easy way to do this is painting rooftops white, a technique employed to great effect in New York and elsewhere), but has also proposed opening cooling centers, expanding access to in-home air conditioners, and petitioning power plants to divert electricity to residences during heat waves.

H/t to the New York Times

AECOM wants to convert a historic Italian train line to run on hydrogen

Speaking of sustainability and climate resilience, AECOM has signed onto a memorandum of understanding to convert a historic Italian train line to run on hydrogen—a cheaper and potentially more resilient alternative to electrifying the Apennine railway, which runs through a mountainous region recently depopulated after a series of devastating earthquakes. The rail line runs from Arezzo in northern Italy to L’Aquila in central Italy, hitting several major cities like Turin along the way. No estimated date of completion for the project has been given yet.

H/t to Global Construction Review

New York Governor Kathy Hochul turns her focus to NYCHA

Kathy Hochul has officially been sworn in to replace Andrew Cuomo as governor of New York State, and in an interview last week she turned her attention to the beleaguered New York City Public Housing Authority (NYCHA). The authority operates with a $300 million budget deficit and desperately needs $40 billion for repairs—however, though NYCHA is a state-owned agency, control has been handed over to New York City’s mayor and past governors have been hands-off in their dealings with it. Brian Benjamin, the state senator representing Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side who was selected as Hochul’s lieutenant governor on August 25, will now assemble and lead a task force to help identify and solve problems NYCHA’s problems and revenue woes.

H/t to Gothamist

The University of Texas at Austin shakes up its school of architecture

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture announced a slate of new appointments this morning. Kory Bieg, founder of OTA+ and currently an associate professor, has been appointed as the Program Director for Architecture. Associate professor Ulrich Dangel has been named the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, while associate professor Danelle Briscoe, also the head of db design studio, will become the Graduate Adviser for Architecture. Professor Ming Zhang will become the new Program Director for Community and Regional Planning, and associate professor Mirka Benes has been tapped as the new graduate adviser for the school’s landscape architecture program. All of the aforementioned changes will take effect at the start of the fall 2021 semester.

“Each of these faculty members bring a wealth of distinct experience to these leadership positions, and I am looking forward to the changes they will bring to our school,” said Michelle Addington, dean of the UT School of Architecture, in the school’s statement.

A Brutalist West Hollywood apartment building that made waves is going more traditional

An upscale Brutalist apartment building planned for 8615 West Knoll Drive in West Hollywood that drew praise for standing out from its sunny neighbors when first unrelieved in 2018 is going back to the more familiar stucco and wood. The five-story, ten condo complex designed by Marcello Pozzi has seemingly gotten a major overhaul in the three years since its initial unveiling, as new images showing a boxy building with extruded, street-facing balconies surfaced at an August 26 West Hollywood Planning Commission’s Design Review Subcommittee hearing.

H/t to Urbanize Los Angles

A 40-year Zaha Hadid retrospective debuts in China

Zaha Hadid Architects has built plenty in China from bulbous towers to blockbuster air hubs, but a new exhibition at the Modern Art Museum Shanghai is the first retrospective of Zaha Hadid’s work in mainland China dating back 40 years. ZHA Close Up: Work & Research closed yesterday, August 29, and was sold out through then, and included work from Zaha Hadid Design, which encompasses fashion and design objects as well as furniture.

H/t to Artnet News