A new Kickstarter campaign is hoping to raise a goal of $3,500 to fund the second annual MAPEO Borderless Workshop – a workshop that focuses on community mapping and brings diverse people and minds together to think about cities within the US-Mexican border region. By rallying individuals from different disciplines with different backgrounds, MAPEO aims to “learn more about our own cities, evaluate urban challenges and come up with ideas on how to improve our life in cities in a very quick and meaningful exercise.”
Architecture for Humanity-Denver is seeking to raise money for the transformation of a museum parking lot into an outdoor classroom for children in need. The goal of Denver’s Museo de las Americas is to educate the community about the diversity of Latino Americano art and culture from ancient to contemporary through innovative exhibitions and programs, but the museum is lacking the necessary space for its increasingly popular youth summer camp.
Read more about the project and how you can help after the break.
“We don’t live in nature any more – we put boxes around it. But now we can actually engineer nature to sustain our needs. All we have to do is design the code and it will self-create. Our visions today – if we can encapsulate them in a seed – [will] grow to actually fulfill that vision.” - Andrew Hessel in a recent ArchDaily interview
“Engineering nature to sustain our needs” is exactly what the Glowing Plant Project aims to do. Synthetic biologist Omri Amirav-Drory, plant scientist Kyle Taylor and project leader Antony Evans are working together to engineer “a glow-in-the-dark plant using synthetic biology techniques that could possibly replace traditional lighting” – and perhaps even create glow-in-the-dark trees that would supplant (pun intended) the common street light.
How is this possible? Read on to find out.
The petition demanding that architect Denise Scott Brown be retroactively acknowledged as a joint recipient of the 1991 Pritzker Prize has surpassed 12,000 signatures. Notable supporters include past Pritzker Prize recipients Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Scott Brown’s own husband and partner of 40 years, Robert Venturi. The success of this Change.org campaign, fueled by two young women of the Harvard GSD‘s Women In Design club, is larger than the one female architect it aims to honor – it is a campaign to rethink the difficult and often unjust position of the woman in architecture.
Read more after the break.
The Future of Places Forum, the inspiration for our Ten Ways to Transform Cities through Placemaking & Public Spaces article published earlier this week, will open this June in Stockholm, Sweden. The forum will be hosted by UN-HABITAT, Project for Public Spaces (PPS) and the Ax:son Johnson Foundation and will be the first of three conferences leading up to Habitat III in 2016. Its overall aim is to ”contribute to a New Urban Agenda around people and places” and to “highlight how and why cities need to embrace a people centered approach in order to achieve positive urbanization.” The conference series will define examples of excellent urban practices from around the world as well as future projects that reflect sustainable and equitable processes which build community, enhance quality of life, and creates safe and prosperous neighborhoods.
The Bullitt Center, a six-story, 50,000 square foot office building in Seattle that aspires to be the world’s greenest commercial building, opens its doors to the public today on Earth Day. This $30 million “living laboratory,” designed by Miller Hull Partnership, distinguishes itself from other sustainable projects with its composting toilets, the exclusion of 350 common toxic chemicals – including PVC, lead, mercury, phthalates, BPA and formaldehyde – along with a strict energy and water budget that aims for self-sufficiency under the Living Building Challenge. The environmentally-conscious Bullitt Foundation hopes that the new center will demonstrate that carbon-neutral office space can be “commercially viable and aesthetically stunning,” a series of systems that can be easily copied elsewhere without being overly demanding in upkeep.
Read more about the Bullitt Center after the break…
In 2011, UN-HABITAT and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) signed a 5-year cooperative agreement to aspire to raise international awareness of the importance of public space in cities, to foster a lively exchange of ideas among partners and to educate a new generation of planners, designers, community activists and other civic leaders about the benefits of what they call the “Placemaking methodology.” Their partnership is helping to advance the development of cities where people of all income groups, social classes and ages can live safely, happily and in economic security and in order to reach these ambitious goals, the duo recently released 10 informative steps that cities and communities can take to improve the quality of their public spaces.
To find out what these steps are, read on!
Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, one of the most important Mexican architects of the 20th century, died yesterday on his 94th birthday in Mexico City. Ramírez headed the construction of many of Mexico’s modernist landmarks including several museums, the nation’s largest sports stadium and a shrine that attracts the most pilgrimages in the country.
Read more on Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and his architectural legacy after the break.
SOM and CASE has formally launched AEC-APPS, the first crowd-sourced, web-based library for applications used by architects, engineers and construction professionals. This is a one-of-a-kind initiative in the AEC Industry and is a non-profit online community that allows digital tool users and toolmakers to share ideas, tips and resources covering a wide array of applications, ranging from commercially-marketed products to user-created scripts and utilities. After months of beta testing, the site currently hosts more than 500 users who have posted 800 apps that can be used in the design, construction and operation of buildings.
Read more about this new initiative after the break.
There are many sustainable technologies designers can utilize these days to make a project more Earth- and people-friendly, but smog-eating cement isn’t the most talked-about – until now. The City of Chicago is pioneering the use of a revolutionary type of cement that is capable of eradicating the air around it of pollution, potentially reducing the levels of certain common pollutants by 20 – 70% depending on local conditions and the amount of exposed surface area.
This week, 2008 Pritzker Prize laureate Jean Nouvel is expressing his vision for the workspaces of the future at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. Nouvel was asked by Cosmit, the Salone’s parent company, to create a huge project tailored specifically to the Saloni that would document the tremendous changes that have altered living and working spaces over the past few years. Nouvel responded with a project that “frees up the office space” and is a “counter to urban segregation and the zoning of other specially dedicated workplaces.” He achieves these goals in his design by rejecting cloned and enclosed spaces as well as serial repetitiveness, suggesting more cohesive formulas that will better serve the domestic and international workplaces of the future.
More from Cosmit on “Project: office for living” after the break.
An interesting phenomenon is taking place in London: the priciest tiers of its housing market are increasingly being driven by overseas investment, primarily from the Far East. The most interesting – and perhaps most concerning – aspect of these investments is that at least 37% those who buy property in the most expensive neighborhoods of central London do not intend to use that property as a primary residence. This results in upscale neighborhoods and residential properties that are largely abandoned and contribute almost nothing to the local economy of the city. Parts of Manhattan are experiencing similar behavior, leading us to ask the question “what is happening to our cities as they become more and more globalized and how will this trend affect city economies around the world?”
Read more after the break…
Mercer, a consulting leader that helps other organizations around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their employees, releases a survey annually that helps multinational companies and other organizations compensate employees when placing them on international assignments. Their survey for the year 2012 evaluates over 221 cities around the world on their quality of living with New York City as the base city and highlights several trends that can add onto what we as designers and urban planners believe makes a city successful and livable.
Read on for the 2012 results.
“Originally seen to reflect the democratic attributes of a powerful civic expression – authenticity, honesty, directness, strength – the forceful nature of Brutalist aesthetics eventually came to signify precisely the opposite: hostility, coldness, inhumanity. [...] Separated from its original context and reduced in meaning, Brutalism became an all-too-easy pejorative, a term that suggests these buildings were designed with bad intentions.” - “BRUTAL”/“HEROIC” by Michael Kubo, Chris Grimley and Mark Pasnik
Brutalism, an architectural movement that peaked in the 1960′s, inspired the development of countless governmental buildings in Washington DC as well as across the world. Though Brutalism’s original intentions may have been good, many believe that the actual manifestation of these buildings was not and consider them to be little more than an eyesore on the District’s landscape. One such concrete structure, the FBI’s J. Hoover Building, is currently facing possible redevelopment as the government has decided to relocate FBI headquarters and given the private sector the rare opportunity to transform this so-called “monolith” into a new kind of monument.
More on the Hoover Building after the break…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Growing Power, a Chicago-based urban agriculture organization, announced recently the formation of Farmers for Chicago, a program that will transform vacant south-side Chicago lots into productive urban farms. The program will make available up to five acres of city-owned vacant lots for urban farming activity and “help expand the supply chain for local neighborhood-level food production and wholesale,” “improve community access to healthy food, help participants to supplement their incomes, and to foster workforce training.”
Read more about Farmers for Chicago after the break.
The Canada Council for the Arts and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has announced “Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15″ as winner of a national juried competition to represent Canada at the 2014 Venice Biennale in Architecture. Lateral Office of Toronto will organize and curate an exhibition designed to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Canada’s largest but least populated northern territories, known for its pristine arctic wilderness and Inuit lifestyle.
Read more about Canada’s contribution to the Biennale after the break.
William McDonough of William McDonough + Partners has decided to become Stanford University‘s first “living archive” in an effort to change the way we as humans remember and record our daily lives. Although technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo have made verbal and visual documentation a much larger part of our lives, McDonough has decided to record nearly every moment of his day – every day – for the greater, intellectual good.
Read more on McDonough’s archiving process…
Britain’s Education Secretary Michael Gove and the Department for Education have released blueprints for the baseline design for schools that they believe “demonstrate good practice that can be achieved within [a] set cost and area allowances.” The government’s goal is to reduce the cost of new school buildings from the previous £21m to less than £14m each for the replacement of 261 of the most run-down schools in the country.
These new schools, however, will be 15% smaller than the ones designed originally under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) program, potentially compromising important spaces such as corridors, assembly halls, canteens and atriums. Many teachers have expressed concern for these changes, as they could lead to congestion, bad behavior among students and would “undermine attempts to maximize the value for money of school buildings by making them available for community functions after hours.”
Architects and the architecture community at large are also worried about the design implications of such a standardized school building prototype – how will it interact with the existing school buildings and how could restricted design affect Britain’s educational system?
More after the break…
The Ponte Tower is a residential high-rise in Johannesburg, South Africa with a unique history and now a promising future. It was designed by architect Manfred Hermer in the 1970′s to be one of the most desirable places to live in the city, with an iconic, hollowed out interior, three-story apartments and rooftop jacuzzis. Over time, however, the building fell into disrepair and instead of serving as an icon of extreme wealth and prosperity, it became an icon of poverty and indifference. In still racially-divided South Africa, this was marked by the moving out of whites and the moving in of a primarily black population as property values plummeted. It has been associated with high levels of crime, a lack of sanitariness and even suicides, thanks to the building’s hollow core.
Recently, however, the derelict Ponte Tower has received more attention from investors and the architect himself, who doesn’t necessarily want to restore the building to its former glory but wishes to at least make it a decent place to live. The introduction of stringent security has encouraged more open-minded, middle-class citizens to move in, hoping for a profitable return as the Ponte Tower continues to grow in terms of value. Watch this featured video for more on the building’s comeback and what it will mean for its current and future residents.
Architects: Coop Himmelb(l)au
Design Principal / Ceo: Wolf D. Prix
Project Partner: Michael Volk
Project Architect: Günther Weber
Design Architects: Martin Oberascher, Jörg Hugo
Project Team: Sergio Gonzalez, Rob Henderson, Guthu Hallstein, Matt Kirkham, Veronica Janovska, Dieter Segerer, Markus Baumann, Jasmin Dieterle, Anja Sorger, Jana Kucerova, Jan Brosch, Ivana Jug
Client: Municipality of Busan: Kim, Byung-Heui; Cho, Seung-Ho; Chai, Young-Eeon; Seo, Myoung Seok
Photographs: Duccio Malagamba, Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au