We’ve built you a better ArchDaily. Learn more and let us know what you think. Send us your feedback »

Critical Round-Up: Renzo Piano's Whitney Museum

Depending on how you measure it, Renzo Piano's new building for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (designed in collaboration with New York practice Cooper Robertson) could be the most long-awaited museum of the 21st century. At just a fraction under seven years since the first designs of the building were released, the incubation period has been long enough on its own - but in fact the project has its roots in a scrapped 1981 design by Michael Graves, when the Whitney was instead planning an extension to their previous home in Marcel Breuer's 1966 masterpiece on Madison Avenue. With such a highly anticipated building, the Whitney could hardly have a better man for the job; Piano is one of the most prodigious museum builders of our time. Yet despite this, since construction began in 2011 the design has been beset by criticism for its ungainly external appearance.

Ahead of the Whitney's grand opening on May 1st, this past Sunday saw a slew of reviews from New York's many reputable art and architecture critics, who attempted to make sense of the institution's long-overdue move from their idiosyncratic but endearing former home. We've rounded up some of the best of them, after the break.

© Flickr CC user Payton Chung © Flickr CC user Steven Severinghaus © Flickr CC user Steven Severinghaus © Flickr CC user Bill Benzon

Lacaton & Vassal's Lesson in Building Modestly

The French duo of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal are known for their delicate interventions, repurposing neglected structures with apparent effortlessness. Originally published on the Harvard Gazette website entitled "They Build, But Modestly," this article recounts the lessons which they offered students in a recent lecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Around 1980, two young architects finished their training in Bordeaux, France, and moved to Nigeria. In that African nation’s remote regions, they were inspired by the simple structures they saw amid the stark, stunning desert landscapes. The houses were open to the air, had utilitarian thatched roofs, and were made with bits of local wood. Modesty prevailed in structures that also invited beauty.

The lessons of building in Africa stayed with Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal in their Paris-based practice, Lacaton & Vassal: use what is there, stay simple, embrace open air, and honor light, freedom, and grace. They practice social architecture based on economy, modesty, and the found beauty of environments.

Palais de Tokyo Expansion / Lacaton & Vassal. Image © 11h45 Nantes School of Architecture / Lacaton & Vassal. Image © Philippe Ruault Palais de Tokyo Expansion / Lacaton & Vassal. Image © 11h45 23 Semi-collective Housing Units / Lacaton & Vassal. Image © Philippe Ruault

What Is The Role Of Hand Drawing In Today's Architecture?

Update: We have now published our follow-up article of readers' responses - see it here.

6 Classical Buildings That Are Younger Than You Think

For the best part of a century, architectural discussion has been dominated by modernism and other related forms of futurism and functionalism. For some, this constant invocation of the radically new has begun to look quite tired. In the 1980s looking backwards for inspiration famously brought us the adaptive and populist postmodernists, but also emerging at this time was New Classical architecture, which completely rejected any continuity with modernism and returned instead to traditional rules. In the years since, New Classical architecture has evolved into a resurgence of pre-modern forms, with the term also incorporating designs that would never have been considered "classical" in the first place - including Gothic and non-western historicist styles. We've rounded up some of the most surprising, interesting - even high-tech - examples of New Classical architecture after the break.

© Wikimedia user Colin Smith © Flickr user Joe Schlabotnik © Geograph user Andrew Blades © Flickr user odonata98

How Subvert Studio Proposes To Revive a Renowned Lisbon Landmark

With Lisbon now bouncing back from the 2008 recession, its estimated 12,000 buildings in decay offer plenty of opportunities to bring the city's buildings more in line with its new economic structure. In this article, originally published by Curbed as "What Could Be Next for a Noted Lisbon Modernist Relic?" Lisbon's Subvert Studio presents a speculative proposal for one of the city's most notable - and visible - modernist ruins.

Views from the balcony of what was once the Panoramic Restaurant of Monsanto show a band of green treetops, a stretch of white cityscape that spans Lisbon's old and new quarters, and a glimmering slice of the Tagus river beyond, mouthing toward the Atlantic. Bracketing the view is blue: a blue sky above, and below, a blue smash of broken glass, reflecting and refracting the sky's color. Wherever there is a vista at the Panoramic Restaurant of Monsanto, wherever there are windows—and the view is the focal point of the space—there is broken glass.

Last used as a club at the top of a 2,400-acre city park, the modernist structure has slipped ever further into riotous abandon since the mid-1990s. Windows have collapsed, graffiti long ago joined the reliefs by Portuguese ceramic muralist Querubim Lapa on the walls and the stained glass sculpture at the entry, chunks of ceiling have tumbled to the ground. And in recent months, a discussion has emerged: what to do with this city-owned modernist relic, which some estimate will require 20 million Euros to fix?

Patrik Schumacher Actually Makes a Good Point

Last week Patrik Schumacher, director at Zaha Hadid Architects and the practice's frontman in the field of architectural theory, took once again to Facebook to disseminate his ideas - this time arguing that "the denunciation of architectural icons and stars is superficial and ignorant." In the post, Schumacher lamented the default position of the architectural media which he believes sees success and reputation as "a red cloth and occasion to knock down icons," going on to outline his beliefs on why stars and icons are useful and even inevitable mechanisms of architectural culture.

Schumacher has made headlines via Facebook before, with a post last year in which he argued for an end to the "moralizing political correctness" that has led to the popularity of socially-conscious design - a post which attracted almost universal outrage from architects, critics and social media users of all stripes. However this latest post had a very different feel; many people, myself included, seemed to find themselves at least partially agreeing with Schumacher. After all, at the most basic level he was asking for designs to each be judged on their individual merits - what's not to like?

A Virtual Look Into The Eames Case Study House #8

The Eames Case Study House #8, usually known simply as Eames’ House, is usually presented as a kind of kaleidoscope of details. It remains one of the most exuberantly performative homes in the history of architecture, with its resident designers, Charles and Ray Eames, as the chief actors. They enacted the day-to-day as an ongoing celebration, documenting the daily rituals of work, play, and hospitality with photography and film. What this theatre of life conceals is that the Eames’ house was itself, structurally, a kind of theatre. Examining the house as an interactive Archilogic 3D model holds, for this reason, some revelations even for those for whom the house looks as familiar as an old friend.

AR Issues: Architecture That Goes Beyond Style Wars

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this editorial from AR’s March 2015 issue, AR Editor Catherine Slessor discusses the phenomenon of "architects and magazines pursuing content rather than style," arguing both that architects should be raising the bar and also that the media, by nurturing their critical stance, should be a part of the solution, not the problem.

In what style shall we – or indeed, should we – build? Historically, architecture’s relationship with "style" is complicated and vexed. We can easily identify the formal attributes and origins of specific styles that attest to why Gothic cathedrals or Victorian train sheds look the way they do. But beyond the constraints of such historical determinism, Postmodernist and Parametricist multiplicities have allowed a hundred flowers to bloom, and their aroma began to stink the place out long ago.

10 Things The “Cities: Skylines” Video Game Taught Us About Modern Urbanism

Ask a random person in the street about their favorite hobbies, and it’s unlikely that they’ll say “urban planning and traffic management” - yet when video games began to take off in the late 1980s city-building was one of the first breakout hits, in the form of Maxis’ SimCity series. The huge success of the “Sim” series in general drove conversations about the value of simulation, as part of the general 1990s optimism about virtual worlds being the future. Sim games became the subject of academic critiques of their philosophy of the world, while city builders became a lot more than a game: in 2002, SimCity 3000 was used as a semi-serious test for mayoral candidates in Warsaw.

After a slump caused by a difficult transition to 3D graphics, city builders are back in vogue. Following what is widely considered as a disappointing SimCity reboot in 2013, Finland’s Colossal Order recently released Cities: Skylines to critical and financial success. But simulations require assumptions; they are, after all, written by people who have their own conscious and unconscious views on how and why cities work. The limitations around designing a video game - the fact that each asset must be modeled and textured, and that each transport option requires a huge amount of work to simulate - mean that Cities: Skylines is as stripped down and streamlined an articulation of urban philosophy as Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse or the New Urbanists' models, and just as interesting. We investigate 10 things this game tells us about 21st century urbanism, after the break.

Are Computers Bad for Architecture?

In his articles for ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly often praises the value of computers and automation, a sometimes controversial viewpoint with plenty of supporters on either side. In particular, his previous post on ArchDaily, "5 Reasons Architects Should Learn to Code" provoked a significant discussion. But what is the value of this automation? In this post originally published on ArchSmarter, he expands on his view of what computers can be useful for - and more importantly, what they can't.

I write a lot about digital technology and automation here on ArchSmarter, but deep down inside, I have a soft spot for all things analog. I still build physical models. I carry a Moleskine notebook with me everywhere. I also recently bought a Crosley record player.

I can listen to any kind of music I want through Spotify. The music world is literally at my finger tips. Playing records hasn’t changed what I listen to but it has changed how I listen to music. There’s more friction involved with records. I have to physically own the record and I have to manually put it on the turntable. It’s a deliberate act that requires a lot more effort than just selecting a playlist on Spotify. And it’s a lot more fun.

Architecture, Economics and Aquariums: Can ICM Revive the Bilbao Effect in Asia?

The "Bilbao effect" was once viewed as the savior of the other cities; a way for post-industrial cities in the 1990s and 2000s to not only replace their economic reliance on failing industry with tourism, but to reinvent themselves as capitals of High Culture, enriching both body and soul. This has long since ceased to be the case, and many now see it instead as an ironic monument to hubris. But while architecture in the west is attempting to find a viable successor, rapidly expanding economies in Asia and South East Asia seem poised to embark on a new wave of architectural and cultural flourishes designed to attract tourists and Thai Baht.

Avia Park, Moscow. Image Courtesy of ICM AquaMundo, Santo Dominigo. Image Courtesy of ICM Mardan Palace, Antalya. Image Courtesy of ICM Life Support, Antalya. Image Courtesy of ICM

Hand vs. Computer Drawing: A Student's Opinion

In the debate about how architects - both present and future - represent our ideas, it is easy to find a lot of articles supporting both sides. One can read as many arguments as they want and find valid points supporting both hand-drawing and computer production. One could argue that there is nothing prettier than a well done hand-rendering of a project. Another could say that, although hand-drawing is something that catches the eye, it is not practical at all, takes longer than doing it on the computer and does not allow architects to easily modify it.

There is however another facet that does not come up as frequently as it maybe should: how does this discussion affect students? I believe we lie in a cross-fire, between the idea of what architects do and what they actually do.

Light Matters: Learning From Vernacular Windows

Before computer daylight simulations were used to optimize the atmosphere and energy in buildings, generations of builders developed simple principles to create the best windows for their site. Two lighting experts have studied these traditional openings in buildings to find inspiration for more sustainable designs today. Francesco Anselmo, a lighting designer at Arup, and John Mardaljevic, Professor of Building Daylight Modelling at the School of Civil & Building Engineering of Loughborough University, have analysed the sun and skylight variations from northern regions like Stockholm down to the equator in cities like Haiti or Abu Dhabi.

Read on to learn more about the variety of traditional windows.

Window in Rome, Italy. Image © VELUX Group Window in Stockholm, Sweden. Image © VELUX Group Window in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Image © VELUX Group Window in London, Great Britain. Image © VELUX Group

Why Budapest's Contemporary Architects had to Go Underground to Find Success

This article by ArchDaily's former managing editor Vanessa Quirk first appeared on ArtsCultureBeat, the web magazine of Arts & Culture concentration at Columbia Journalism School’s MA program, titled "The Secret Life of Hungarian Contemporary Architecture."

This time last year, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán stood at a podium in a pristine new subway station. Raw concrete beams criss-crossed above him; state-of-the art, driverless trains stood silently beside him. It was the opening ceremony for Line 4, a subway line that due to delays, corruption, and disputes had been 40 years in the making.

“The people of Budapest began to accept the thought that only their grandchildren would use Budapest’s new Metro line, or not even them.” Orbán told the crowd. He recounted an old joke that embodied the cynicism that once surrounded the project: Chuck Norris had been on Metro Line 4.

Orbán credited the line’s completion, which occurred only a few weeks before the 2014 parliamentary elections, to “the solidarity and unity that was established in 2010 [when Orbán’s government took power] and has since been maintained.” He didn’t mention how, under his first government (1998 to 2002), he had withheld funds from the project, contributing significantly to its delay. Nor did he mention that his party had fought against the idea that the line, an expensive infrastructural project, needed architecture at all.

Today, though, the line’s stunning architecture is its most noticeable feature. Line 4 is not just a watershed achievement in Hungary’s history, but also a symbol of what it takes to make contemporary architecture in Hungary today. Both literally and figuratively, contemporary architecture had to go underground.

Fovam Station / sporaarchitects. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky Gellert Station / sporaarchitects. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky Kálvin tér Station / PALATIUM Studio. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky Bikás Park Station / PALATIUM Studio. Image © Tamás Bujnovszky

Spotlight: Kisho Kurokawa

Kisho Kurokawa (April 8th 1934 - October 12th 2007) was one of Japan's leading architects of the 20th century, perhaps most well-known as one of the founders of the Metabolist movement of the 1960s. Throughout the course of his career Kurokawa advocated a philosophical approach to understanding architecture that was manifest in his completed projects throughout his life.

For and Against All-Nighter Culture: ArchDaily Readers Respond

Nearly three weeks ago, the editors at ArchDaily reached out to our readers to help us investigate one of the most difficult challenges of architecture education: what do students and teachers think of the 24-hour studio culture that has come to pervade the architecture profession? As we mentioned in our original post, the idea that all-nighters are simply an unavoidable part of an education in architecture has come under fire recently, with some schools attempting to combat them by closing their studios overnight. Is this the right approach to reducing the hours that students are (over)working? If not, what should be done instead? Perhaps there are some people that still think a 24-hour culture can be beneficial to young architects?

The response we got to our question was astonishing, with 141 comments on the article itself and over 100 more on our Facebook post. From this discussion, two overriding themes emerged: firstly, many commenters seemed to believe that architecture students have too much work in the first place; secondly, there was almost complete consensus that closing the studios achieves nothing but moving the problem of all-nighters from the studio to students' homes. For the sake of brevity we've chosen not to include the many responses that mention these themes ideas in this post, but for anyone interested in seeing the evidence of these opinions, we encourage you to visit the original article.

As for the remainder of the comments, we've rounded up some of the most interesting contributions. Find out what 15 commenters had to say about the 24-hour studio culture - taking in arguments for and against it as well as discussing its wider consequences and ways to avoid it - after the break.

Virtual Reality: Coming to an Architecture Office Near You

Virtual Reality. It’s an old term, even an old technology, but it carries new weight - and it’s coming to architecture, soon. Its prevalence will be a result of its near universal accessibility; the experience can now be powered by the modern cell phone. It’s probably on your desk, in your pocket - you may even be reading on a virtual reality engine right now. The price point to participate, thanks to Google Cardboard and a device you already own, is less than twenty dollars.

Google Cardboard might be considered a wearable, but don’t think Google Glass and shiver. As it stands, the technology is more inline with a smart-tv or peripheral, not something to be worn in public. Before we get into what it is, let’s talk about what it can do. We as designers have gotten very good at showing what a space might look like, but in many ways we have come no further in demonstrating what a space feels like.

Mateusz Pospiech Proposes a Megastructure to Replace Iran's Dried Up Zayanderud River

For generations, nature has been held up as something to respect, to take inspiration from, to place at the center of architecture. Few new designs today are complete without some visualized parkland or tree placed implausibly high up on the latest visionary high rise development. But what do you do when nature ups and leaves? How can architecture respond? That’s the question that Mateusz Pospiech’s master’s thesis, completed at the Silesian University of Technology, attempts to answer by taking the severe example of the disappearance of Iran’s Zayanderud River and proposing the equally incredible solution: an enormous, six-kilometer-long ecologically sustainable megastructure along the dried riverbed, healing the scar both in the landscape and in the minds of Iranians.

Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech Courtesy of Mateusz Pospiech