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EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI RAVAGE JAPAN, DESIGN STANDARDS MAY REDUCE EXTENT OF DAMAGE
The calamitous combination of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that hit Japan earlier today has flooded cities, crumbled buildings and left a still-unknown number dead, injured and stranded. Updates and reports are still coming in, but, as expounded on in this Times article, Japan’s stringent building codes and a comprehensive system of seawalls helped to stave off what could have been even more extensive damage and higher death tolls. Preparedness and construction safety standards may have prevented the disaster from claiming the number of lives and destroying property to the degree of last year’s earthquake in Haiti or the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. To stay informed and assist in response efforts, you can check updates on Google’s crisis response page, follow constantly-updated news reports, and see graphics explaining the impact of the tsunami and its movements across the Pacific on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website, including a fascinating (and terrifying) propagation animation. Meanwhile, GOOD has assembled, and is continuing to update, this list of ways that citizens can offer help from afar.
FAST COMPANY’S 50 MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES
Fast Company has released their selections for the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the world, as well as a series of top ten lists for “6 key industries” — Advertising, Biotech, Fashion, Mobile, Music and Design. Ranking first and second on the design list are Omnibus favorites Stamen Design (who made #48 on the overall top 50) and Local Projects (see Give a Minute). (Curiously, architecture firm Snøhetta makes the top 50 at #35, but is absent from the Design top ten.) Fast Company highlights an interdisciplinary mix within the design field — firms that design with information and technology (Stamen), create conversational experiences (Local Projects) and make awesome typefaces (Hoefler & Frere-Jones) all are at the top of the list. The list itself underscores the importance of design innovation in the global business landscape and reaffirms FastCo’s role as a tastemaker in future-facing thinking about the evolution of design professions.
THINGS TO DO
Fancy yourself a master of New York geography trivia? Tonight you have the chance to prove yourself at the Queens Museum’s 4th Annual Panorama Challenge! Commissioned by Robert Moses for the 1964 World’s Fair, the Panorama is the world’s largest scale architectural model (would we expect any other scale from Moses?), and will provide a visual aid to contestants answering questions about the city’s landmarks, bridges and neighborhoods. The games begin at 7pm, and beer and snacks will provided.
“Single Room Occupancy: New Typologies,” an exhibition by Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects (formerly featured on the Omnibus for the Floating Pool project) opens tomorrow evening following a presentation of the firm’s recent projects tonight at 6pm at the Pratt Manhattan Campus, entitled “Typologies of Social Engagement.” The exhibition will display four projects that address housing in New York City neighborhoods, and, in conjunction with the lecture, investigates the future of sustainable living and housing prototypes for underserved communities. The lecture is tonight, March 11, at 6pm at 144 West 14th street, and the exhibition will be on view through April 10 at 0.00156 acres Gallery on 114 Smith Street in Brooklyn.
OLD BROOKLYN CHURCH MAKES A HOME FOR NEW ARTS COMMUNITY
In Greenpoint, an Irish Catholic church makes unexpected bedfellows with local artists. The Times reports on the collaboration between filmmakers, musicians, visual artists and Reverend James Krische to keep St. Cecilia’s church a vital hub of activity. Declining enrollment and lack of funding forced St. Cecilia’s schools to close its doors in 2008, but rather than let the building fall into disuse, as has happened with so many Brooklyn churches, the Reverend reached out to the local arts community — in part because St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music. The popularity of the classroom-turned-studio spaces spread through word of mouth, and St. Cecilia’s is now a location for film and TV shoots, band practices and gallery shows. Most importantly, it is an example of how to bridge the divide between older populations and incoming demographics in changing Brooklyn communities, and of how to keep historic structures relevant through re-evaluating their program.
Domus launches a new app to ease the life of the archi-traveler. Architecture guides to Berlin, Shanghai, Milan and New York are now available for the iPhone in English and Italian. Replete with maps, directions, images and facts, the guides create itineraries for tourists, and even curious locals, to investigate the built environment with the expert aid of “the most authoritative international magazine of contemporary architecture, art and design.” New York’s edition features 80 buildings, 100 architects and four itineraries: Downtown Architecture, Art and Design Walk; The Center: Midtown Drift; Unorthodox Modern; and Contemporary Curtain Walls. Domus plans to release more versions, creating cell phone accessible tour guides to the worlds great cities. Though an exciting platform to start exploring to be sure, the guides do make you wonder if, as the New York Guide says, “the best architectural moments often happen by way of surprise, through direct and accidental encounters.”
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Gowanus by Design is asking for speculative ideas on the future urban development of the Gowanus Canal community. Called “Connections: the Gowanus Lowline,” the competition invites participants to imagine potentials to reengage postindustrial lands, and create dynamic, pedestrian-oriented architecture that either passively or actively engages with the canal and the surrounding watershed. Submissions are due April 17th, and the winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize, along with the satisfaction of participating in generative urban discourse, of course.
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The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.