News Highlights of the Week: June 23 – June 29, 2007

June 29, 2007

by James Murdock

Editor’s note: You may read the news digest below or listen to it, plus other news headlines from, as a podcast by clicking this link.

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Jorn Utzon’s 1973 masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House, is among the sites that UNESCO the added to its World Heritage List on Thursday. Also added was the Red Fort Complex, a 17th century garrison in New Delhi, whose accreted architecture recalls Indian history from the Mughal period to independence, Bloomberg reported on June 29. Appearing on the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s list helps raise awareness about conserving heritage sites and brings with it the possibility of financial assistance.

Although “billions of federal dollars have been allotted or spent in New Orleans since Katrina,” according to Edward Blakely, director of the city’s recovery office, until last week it had received “‘zero’ federal dollars for long-term community recovery.” The Christian Science Monitor reported on June 27 that charities, philanthropic foundations, and other private entities have so far taken the lead in reconstruction—pledging and paying $50 million for housing and other projects. The federal government, meanwhile, has yet to pay any of the promised $117 million toward the construction of public works including libraries, sewers, and schools. Uncle Sam has pledged or spent $4.6 billion on everything from emergency evacuations to levee repairs, but Blakely estimates that New Orleans could need as much as $200 billion and 20 years to rebuild.

Edinburgh-based RMJM Group is making some management changes at its $35 million acquisition, the Princeton, New Jersey, based Hillier Architecture. Peter Morrison, RMJM’s CEO, tapped his father, Sir Fraser Morrison, to head Hillier, according to a June 24 item in the Scotsman. The elder Morrison had headed Scotland’s largest construction firm until he sold his eponymous business for more than $500 million in 2000. J. Robert Hillier, the founder and chairman of what was the fifth largest architecture practice in the U.S., has taken the title of deputy chairman, according to an article in Issue 25 of the British Building magazine.

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Lord Richard Rogers and Buro Happold’s Millennium Dome, in London, finally has a new one hopes permanent function. The U.K. built this 365-meter-wide—one meter for each day of the year—PTFE-roofed tent near the Prime Meridian in Greenwich to mark the turn of the millennium. But since the exhibits closed on December 31, 2000, the structure stood largely unused: “more an annoying pustule than an imperious duomo,” The Guardian wrote on June 24. But architect HOK Sport and developer Anschutz Entertainment Group have transformed the dome, rechristened The O2 Arena, into a 23,000-seat sports and concert venue that opened this week. By constructing a building within a building, they made “something remarkable,” The Guardian opined, and “at last something coherent has been achieved.”

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