The Architect Newswire is an aggregation of news from media outlets around the world, intended to keep you abreast of all of the industry’s important developments. The stories we feature are not reported, edited, or fact-checked by Architect’s staff.

THE NEW YORK TIMES
In San Francisco, an unlikely group of anti-preservationists
A San Francisco neighborhood of 90 Victorian homes has become a curious bastion against preservation measures taken by the city’s Planning Department. In the New York Times, Matt Smith reports that many neighborhood homeowners, such as architect Robin Levitt, have abandoned restoration projects due to the difficulty of obtaining building permits. “I consider myself a preservationist, and I encourage preservation,” said Mr. Levitt. “When regulations make it prohibitive economically to make improvements on your property, it’s over the top for me.” Currently, garage add-ons that extend beyond the front of a house could nix a project, as could windows that aren’t consistent with a house’s original materials and architecture. Smith reports that preservation regulations could become even more stifling if the city declares the Pierce St. neighborhood a historical landmark district, which would empower Planning Department officials to veto any project not in keeping with a building’s architectural integrity. 

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THE WASHINGTON POST
Did DC succeed in its 2011 architecture resolutions?
At the beginning of 2011, architect Roger K. Lewis suggested a number of resolutions for those who shape D.C.’s built environment. Those included a greater commitment to sustainable infrastructure, the modernization of zoning ordinances, and more investment in public transit. Looking back a year later, he gives the city good marks for its sustainability measures, noting that more buildings have received LEED certification that ever before. On the transit front, he applauds the Metro Silver Line extension towards Dulles International Airport, while noting that Metro problems persist, including single-tracking at inconvenient times. Unsurprisingly, in the community infrastructure department, Pepco’s maintenance of the area’s power grid gets poor marks.

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SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Five changes San Francisco can build on in 2012
While Roger Lewis looks at the year behind, San Francisco Chronicle critic John King makes five suggestions for his city in 2012. First, he encourages Mayor Ed Lee to emulate Joseph Riley, the mayor of Charleston, S.C., who in 2008 told an audience, “Never allow buildings to be built without adding beauty to the city.” On a more concrete level, he encourages Lee to authorize the repurposing of 19 disused public toilets into micro-business outlets. And there’s a whole torrent of requests for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art--that a curator be named, that the new gallery space devote an exhibit to the role of architecture in the 21st century city, and that they reveal large-scale models of the structure’s new facade.

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DER SPIEGEL
An interview with Rem Koolhaas
In this exclusive interview with Der Spiegel, the 67-year-old Dutch-born architect Rem Koolhass “discusses soulless cities, the failings of Europe's largest urban redevelopment project in Hamburg and the problems with SPIEGEL's brand-new headquarters.” Interestingly, the interview begins with a tour of Der Spiegel’s headquarters, HafenCity, a commission Koolhass lost to Danish firm Henning Larsen. As they begin the interview in the building’s atrium, Koolhass reflects “It can be wonderful when a building has character, but it can also be an obstacle. It can limit you.”

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METROPOLIS
Q&A with James Benya
Seven years ago, the Portland, Oregon–based lighting designer James Benya popularized the concept of daylighting. Since then, the technique has become what Metropolis calls “one of our most popular and most commonly misapplied green building strategies.” In this segment of their “Leading Luminaries” story, Benya talks to Derrick Mead about how buildings’ window-to-wall ratios can get out of control, why LEDs aren’t “silver bullets,” and why lighting controls are becoming an increasingly large portion of his firm’s building budget.  
 
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THE GUARDIAN
In Rome, a row over rampant billboards
Roman citizens are revolting as advertising agencies are plastering the historic city with billboards. The Guardian’s Tom Kington reports that “There has been a proliferation of protest websites and a demonstration outside Rome's town hall, and more than 10,000 Romans have backed a new law to limit the number of billboards.” According to those opposing the billboards, he writes, the problem began in 2009, when Rome’s mayor Gianni Alemmano declared amnesty for 32,000 ads--both legal and illegal--covering the city. Three years later, while drawing up a more coherent rulebook for advertisers, the city has raked in roughly $10.7 million in rent.
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LOS ANGELES TIMES
A micro-city at LACMA
“Metropolis II,” a massive installation of model highways, skyscrapers, and railways by artist Chris Burden, has gone on a trial run at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it will be officially exhibited beginning on Jan. 14. The L.A. Times’s Jori Finkel reports that the work “resembles a miniature city, complete with a tangle of freeways and pockets of buildings in various styles—a log cabin here, a glittering Art Deco skyscraper there, an Eiffel Tower lookalike in the distance.” Visitors to the installation’s trial run likened the urban scene and the 1,100 cars coursing through it to something out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. New York architect Caterina Roiatti said her five-year-old son was “obsessed” with the cars. When asked for her own reaction, she said, “I like some of the buildings. They are simplified and abstract in interesting ways.”
 
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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Prospective Queens “High Line” sparks transit debate.
An old rain line in Southern Queens, disused for the past five decades, is generating a lot of buzz as a potential public park in the style of Manhattan’s High Line. In the New York Daily News, Lisa L. Colangelo reports that the potential park, dubbed “Queensway,” has some detractors, who think a restored rail would be a greater boon to the borough. “Certainly a quick trip to JFK Airport from the core of the city is something people have talked about from Year One,” said George Haikalis, a civil engineer who heads the Institute for Rational Mobility, a nonprofit representign transit advocates. “Nobody in the rest of the world would be so dumb as to let a valuable asset like that sit there.” Andrea Crawford, a member of Friends of the QueensWay, disagrees. “To say this particular right of way could be a viable rail of some sort does not have a basis in reality,” she says.
 
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