Good afternoon and welcome to yet another recap of what’s going on today. Although Christmas is coming, that hasn’t slowed the pace of news down one bit.
The AIA Los Angeles throws its hat into the ring against UCSB’s Munger Hall
It’s the saga that won’t die, and likely won’t stop making headlines until the University of California, Santa Barbara cancels the project. The AIA Los Angeles chapter is the latest body to weigh in on the university’s decision to build Munger Hall, a hulking behemoth of a student building with 4,500 beds but little access to natural air or light (to say nothing of the fire concerns). In its letter, AIA LA President Mitra Memari reportedly wrote that the prisonlike project was harmful, unhealthy, and set a negative precedent for all student housing moving forward. The chapter urged the school to cancel the project and start over with best practices in mind.
The AIA LA is only the most recent chapter to come out swinging against the project; the AIA Santa Barbara similarly disparaged the building in November, and last week eight former architects from across various University of California campuses released an open letter all urging UCSB to cancel it.
H/t to Archinect
Planner and architect Alexander Garvin has died at 80
Alexander Garvin, an architect, planner, advisor, author, and Yale University teacher for more than 55 years has passed away at the age of 80. A New Yorker by birth, Garvin would join Philip Johnson’s office after graduating with a joint architecture and planning degree from the Yale School of Architecture in 1967. He soon departed to work under Mayor John Lindsay, and later became integral in the bid to develop an Olympics proposal in the 1990s at the site of what would become Hudson Yards. In 2002 Garvin became the director of planning for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which was tasked with rebuilding Lower Manhattan after the September 11thattacks; there, he acted as a key champion for Daniel Libeskind’s ground-level-centric master plan, which eventually came to pass.
H/t to the New York Times
New York City hands out $51.4 million to help struggling arts orgs
Arts organizations, museums, nonprofits, and individual artists alike have been hammered by the pandemic, and thankfully New York City is throwing at least some of them a lifeline. The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) announced on December 9 that it will hand out a total of $51.4 million in grants to 1,022 different organizations spanning the smallest of the small to cultural behemoths—the Whitney Museum of American Art and Guggenheim, for example, will receive more than $100,000 each.
“Through another challenging year, our cultural community has helped to bring New Yorkers back together, to reinvigorate our public and educational spaces, and to set us on the road toward a vibrant, equitable recovery for all,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals in the announcement. “Culture is essential to healthy, vibrant neighborhoods, and there is no recovery for New York City without our cultural community. That’s why, with this historic investment, we’re directing support to systematically oppressed communities, to arts education, and to working artists, empowering artists and arts workers to collaborate with New Yorkers on creative programming in every corner of our city. We thank Mayor de Blasio and our partners on the City Council for this tremendous show of support.”
A full list of the grantees can be found here.
H/t to Artnet News
Chasing Anne Rice’s architectural legacy
Author Anne Rice passed away on December 11, leaving behind a long literary canon (much of it involving vampires). But another lasting influence that resonates throughout her books is Rice’s architectural legacy in her home city of New Orleans. From 1993 to 2003, she resided in from the ornate, 55,000-square-foot brick mansion that was formerly St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage, which, like the Victorian homes around the city, frequently featured in her work. Nola.com breaks down Rice’s history at the orphanage, as well as the 156-year-old building’s path from orphanage to condo complex.
H/t to Nola.com
Conservative groups gear up to contest offshore wind
The construction of the largest offshore wind farm in United States history was given the green light by the Biden administration in May of this year, but conservative groups are still gearing up to try to block the Vineyard Wind project. If built, the farm’s 84 turbines off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard would generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. However, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank with overt anti-climate action views, has teamed up with six local plaintiffs to bring a lawsuit against the project. Among other things, the group is alleging (via a trailer it cut for the case) that the wind farm would harm the local ecosystem, that wind farms don’t work and have never worked anywhere in the world, and that the turbines would subject residents to dangerous electromagnetic frequencies.
H/t to Gizmodo
Berlin’s hulking ICC is getting a second chance at life
Berlin’s Internationales Congress Centrum (ICC), a monolithic convention center built in 1979, is thankfully getting a new lease on life as an international cultural center. The sprawling, 258,000-square-foot complex is actually two buildings in one, and heating and lighting the entire center has proven prohibitively expensive in the past. Domus has broken down the (listed, so there’s no fear of demolition) building’s extensive history and plans for the future as the new ICCC, and how opinions have changed over the structure’s, and Domus’s, life.
H/t to Domus