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 BALTIMORE SUN
Baltimore’s retail looking up
New retail projects are opening in many Baltimore city neighborhoods. “Downtown is ripe for additional expansion for retail companies that at one point dismissed coming into the city,” says retail executive hiring firm Millman Search Group CEO Mark Millman. “You'll continue to see more and more of this all over the country. Retailers are looking at cities closely as major profit areas.” Lorraine Mirabella reports that 371,000 square feet of retail space was added to the city’s downtown area between 2008 and March 2011. “To me, in an economy that is kind of floundering, we have exciting things happening in Baltimore City,” says H&R Retail vice president Geoffrey L. Mackler.

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THE JERSEY JOURNAL (NJ)
Jersey City suing over courthouse defects
Jersey City, N.J., is suing the developer, architect, engineers, and subcontractors of the $23 million municipal Justice Complex that was completed in 2001. Terrence T. McDonald reports that the City Council has hired locally based Helena Ruman Architects to analyze the building’s construction defects that the city has alleged include negligence in the “building, building foundation, interior and exterior stairs, interior and exterior walkways, interior and exterior railings.” Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.–based DMR Architects, which designed the complex and is a defendant in the lawsuit, deny responsibility for the alleged defects. “The issues of alleged concern identified by the City and the J[ersey[ C[ity] R[edevelopment] A[gency] appear to be limited to the sidewalks, planters and steps, project components for which DMR Architects was not responsible,” says DMR counsel Charles H. Sarlo. “DMR Architects neither retained nor had responsibility or control over the site contractor.”

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PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL
Phoenix construction jobs up
Jan Bucholz reports that Arizona in general and Phoenix in particular have seen an increase in construction employment during the past year. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, Phoenix added2,900 construction jobs between Oct. 2010 and Oct. 2011 while Arizona saw an increase of 4,600. The same report indicates that the construction trade currently employs 118,600 people in the state.

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THE KANSAS CITY STAR (MO)
Construction plummets in Kansas City area
Construction spending in the Kansas City from January to October 2011 was down 60 percent from that same timeframe in 2010. Kevin Collison reports that total construction activity during that period was $144.6 million. While non-residential construction declined by 71 percent, residential construction was the one bright spot—rising 18 percent.

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KUT (AUSTIN, TX)
Texas construction makes gains
Construction jobs in Texas rose slightly—by 3 percent—between October 2010 and October 2011. Reshima Kirpalani reports that statistics compiled by the Associated General Contractors of America included 5,000 new jobs in the Houston/Sugar Land/Baytown area and 1,800 new jobs in Austin. “The industry took a downturn for a couple of years in general, along with a downturn in the economy, but we’ve recently–this year specifically–seen a slow improvement that we hope continues into next year,” says Rogers-O’Brien Construction vice president Crisco Hobbs says.

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THE WASHINGTON POST
Manassas considering scaled-back development
A 2006 proposal for almost 200 condominiums and related commercial space in Manassas, Va., by developer Van Metre was killed by the recession. Jeremy Borden reports that the developer is now seeking approval for a smaller project—just 59 townhouses—on the same site in downtown. City development officials lament the downsizing as “unfortunate,” but others disagree. “I think, originally, there was this concept that city development was going to lead to this old town Alexandria feel, and people could live and walk and do everything in the city,” resident Nancy Emanuel says. “I’m not sure if it’s the right mind-set for what’s going on right now in the community.” The City Council is expected to vote on the project next week.

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LOS ANGELES TIMES
Balboa Island vs. Pacific Ocean
Newport Beach, Calif., officials are looking at replacing—and raising—the seawalls that protect Balboa Island. Michael Reicher reports that the project could cost $60 million—and total $500 million if the entire municipality’s seawalls are to be revised. The leaders of the “conservative city” seldom discuss climate change, but City Councilman Ed Selich is well aware that sea levels may rise four feet by 2100. “I just know that the evidence is there that [the sea] is rising,” Selich says, “and we have the responsibility to deal with it.” The current plan is to raise the walls by one foot now while providing for their future extension. “We don't want to overbuild now,” says city engineer Dave Webb. He foresees the need to reassess the situation in about 2050.

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WORCESTER BUSINESS JOURNAL (MA)
Architectural engineering program for WPI
New England’s first interdisciplinary program in architectural engineering will start next September at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the science- and engineering-focused university in Worcester, Mass. Livia Gershon reports that the Bachelor of Science degree will be one of only 17 similar programs in the U.S. “The WPI program will combine resources from the departments of civil and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, fire protection engineering, humanities and arts and mechanical engineering,” Gershon writes.

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CURBED NATIONAL
Architectural Digest’s latest 100

Sarah Firshein reports that new Architectural Digest editor in chief Margaret Russell is keeping the popular AD100 feature that was instituted two decades ago by then-editor Paige Rense Noland. The new list is out today, with 17 of the original 100 still featured, but 53 different names from the 2010 edition. Among this year’s architects are Alexander Gorlin Architects, Foster + Partners, Ike Kligerman Barkley Architects, Olsen Kundig Architects, Peter Marino Architect, Richard Meier & Partners Architects, Robert A. M. Stern Architects, Rockwell Group, Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors, Selldorf Architects, and Steven Holl Architects.

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GIZMAG
Mod housing

“Sliding Hub” is a new, prefabricated housing solution by Italian designer Gabriel Aramu. Bridget Borgobello reports that the steel-reinforced modules can be configured in 64 different ways to allow multiple uses. “Aramu envisioned the Sliding Hub project for rural conditions and nomadic communities, however the sleek design would also be suitable for an urban setting,” Borgobello writes.

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