Good morning, architects. That is a picture of the Times Square subway station, one of the busiest stations in New York's system, closed and empty. And here's another Metropolitan Transit Authority photo, this one of Grand Central Terminal, also deserted. The arrival of Sandy, the threatening extratropical cyclone that is currently pounding the East Coast, has put the brakes on mass transit all along the Eastern seaboard. Public transit systems in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., are all closed, the largest pre-emptive public transportation closure in the nation's history. The Holland Tunnel and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel are closing, and New York City is considering shutting down part of its electrical grid.
So, for East Coast architects and readers stuck at home today, here's some rainy-day reading. Jason Kottke passes on a classic story from The New Yorker by Joe Morgenstern about an engineer who realized that his design for a skyscraper was structurally unsound—just before the start of hurricane season. (At least, that's rainy-day reading for those who can handle a heart attack–inducing story about liability.)
BRUTAL HOUSTON. The Houston Chronicle's Lisa Gray deems the Alley Theatre, by the late Brutalist architect Ulrich Franzen, zombie-proof. It's not a building whose appeal she understands, so she takes an unusual step for architecture writers and gathers opinions other than her own. Novel! When it comes to the Alley, or most Brutalist architecture, opinion is not so uniform as the style's detractors would like to believe.
BRUTAL D.C. The Washington Post, on the other hand, simply dictates that preserving the Brutalist design for the FBI building would be "an unpopular suggestion." At the very least, this appeal to change the FBI building comes with a design alternative attached. Gensler has suggested an adaptive design scheme that would add store-front retail, cut-outs along the façade, and a soccer space for the top of the building. However, Gensler's Duncan Lyons tells the paper that he doesn't have much confidence that the government would do anything to keep the building if the FBI leaves it.
UNBUILT CALGARY. Calgary is the latest to jump on the "unbuilt" bandwagon. Metro Calgary asks some area architects to give their thoughts about the city's architecture in tandem with the release of Stephanie White's Unbuilt Calgary.
...AND REMAINDERS. Indianapolis architect John Johansen dies at 96... Cleveland's Dimit Architects profiled... Library of American Landscape History turns 20... The Boston Globe re-runs a Q&A with landscape architect Michael D'Angelo... Memphis, Tenn., church honors local architect...