David Basulto

Graduate Architect. Co Founder and Executive Editor of ArchDaily.com. Architecture geek.

AD Interviews: Craig Hartman / SOM

Anyone who has taken an Architecture History class already knows SOM: Skidmore & Owings & Merrill. This practice played a key role during the so-called “International Style”, in a time where the modernism was being consolidated around the world. The practice, which opened in 1936, is behind the centers of the most important cities of the USA and now the rest of the world. One day I was walking by ´s Downtown with a friend, and he was pointing buildings: “SOM, SOM, SOM, SOM… and that one I think is also by SOM”.

Currently the practice has become one of the largest AEC firms in the world, with over 10,000 projects dealing with architecture, engineering and design. They have offices in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London, Brussels, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

But back to their beginnings, SOM was behind several iconic buildings and other projects, such as the Lever House in Manhattan, or the Air Force Chapel in Colorado Springs.

But what is interesting is how the firm grew over the years, becoming one of the largest AEC practices in the world with over 10,000 projects. But don´t think about this practice as a building generating machine… what is interesting is how they have managed to keep innovating over the years. A hard task, specially when becoming a large corporate practice with a complex structure. But SOM has been up to the challenge. The Burj Dubai will soon become a case study in terms of structural engineering, the Cathedral of Christ The Light in Oakland has an innovative design, materialized using digital tools to fasten the design/building process, and their award winning detailed model of San Francisco has become a strategic tool to work within the city. And that’s just to name a few.

Recently, Fast Company named SOM among the 50 Most Innovative Companies, and Architect Magazine recently awarded five SOM projects with their R+D Award: The San Francisco Digital Model, the Oasis Generator, the Pine-Fuse Joint system, the Active Phytoremediation Wall System, and the Sustainable Form-Inclusion System. After these projects you can see that SOM is not a typical corporate practice, always researching and pushing architecture forward.

And well, we wanted to know more about the ideas and the process behind a corporate practice always innovating, and we had the chance to sat down with Craig Hartman (FAIA), Design Partner at SOM working at the San Francisco office.

Craig has been behind the award winning Treasure Island Master Plan, the Cathedral of Christ the Light (where the interview was conducted), the SFO International Terminal… and more projects.

I hope you like this interview, specially the young architects that are starting their own firms.

National Library in Astana, Kazakhstan / BIG


BIG was recently awarded with the first prize on an open international design competition for  ’s new National Library in Astana.

The new building has an area of  33.000 sqm, arranged as a continuous circulation on a Möbius Strip, as the result of 2 interlocking structures: the perfect circle and the public spiral. The sections (see below) clearly show how the horizontal program shifts to a vertical configuration,  combining vertical hierarchy, horizontal connectivity and diagonal view lines. The skin, which changes from wall to roof as the strip develops. It sounds a bit complicated, but the sections and diagrams explain this pretty well, and you can get the idea on how the spaces and diagonal views relate on the renderings. In short words, a clear lineal organization (ideal for an archive, library) is mixed with an infinite loop.

“What is a library but an efficient archive of books… and a path for the public to reach them” (Thomas Christoffersen, Project Leader)

This shape also looks forward to become a symbol for the nation: “the circle, the rotunda, the arch and the yurt are merged into the form of a Moebius strip. The clarity of the circle, the courtyard of the rotunda, the gateway of the arch and the soft silhouette of the yurt are combined to create a new national monument appearing local and universal, contemporary and timeless, unique and archetypal at the same time” (Bjarke Ingels).

But once again, diagram´s are way better to explain this than my words. See the diagrams, sections and renderings after the break:

Visa section of Swiss Embassy in Beijing / EXH Design

© Shu He
© Shu He

Architect: EXH Design – (Erich Diserens, Xi Zhang, Peter Becker, Kenan Liu)
Location: , China
Constructor: Beijing Shouhua Construction Group
Existing area: 104 sqm
Extension area: 213 sqm
Project year: 2007 – 2009
Photography: Shu He

© Shu He © Shu He © Shu He © Shu He

Burnham Pavilion / Zaha Hadid

Images courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects © Michelle Litvin
Images courtesy of © Michelle Litvin

The figure of Daniel Burnham has been very important for the city of as we currently know it,  as he was one of the authors of the Plan of Chicago, also known as the Burnham Plan,  which reshaped Chicago’s central area starting in 1909.  To celebrate the centennial of this plan several events have been held during this year, such as the Union Station 2020 competition and the Burnham Memorial competition. Also, two pavilions by UN Studio and Zaha Hadid have been temporally  installed at the Millenium Park (read our previous article about this), hosting multimedia exhibits on the future of Chicago. The pavilions will be opened to the public until Oct 31st, 2009.

Zaha Hadid Architects´s pavilion merges new formal concepts with the memory of Burnham’s bold, historic urban planning. Superimpositions of spatial structures with hidden traces of Burnham’s Plan are overlaid and inscribed within the structure to create a dynamic form.

Read Zaha´s statement on the design after the break:

AD Interview: Phil Bernstein

During the past AIA Convention we sat down with John Bacus from Google Sketchup to discuss how this tool can help architects on their workflows, with a tool that is easy to use, fast and extensible.

We also had the chance to talk with Phil Bernstein, faculty at Yale and currently the Vice President of AEC Industry and Relations for Autodesk. Given his background and current position, I immediately scheduled an interview with him as I wanted an architect on the industry to tell us more on how BIM is helping out architects in several ways.

Phil was very clear and precise on this, and the idea of this interview is to help our readers to make a decision on  adopting BIM solutions, and also to help architecture students to see how learning to use a BIM software can help them in their future job seek.

As an example on the importance of BIM, I asked early this morning on Twitter what our readers think on adopting BIM and if arch students feel like they need to learn this before graduating. Here are some answers:

  • eclosson @archdaily ; ive used REVIT 4 3yrs…valuable tool 4 small firms, wrkn on athletic complex in Romania w/ team of 6-8, only possible w/BIM
  • roddimo @archdaily BIM is inevitable and you better get on the wagon if u want the next job. Clients are now asking for it
  • cvandevere @archdaily  BIM is a process. There are a number of tools/programs that can assist in that process and it’s implementation. #bim #revit
  • ryansinger @archdaily I use it and like it. For simple projects line drawing works and you can use your hand instead of CAD
  • berntstenberg @archdaily Re: BIM–not yet. Perhaps it’ll be standard someday, but I think only for big projects. We do res. remodels–still draw faste …
  • archop @archdaily @ my firm economy put halt on moving to BIM, but it is inevitable. Also the community College I teach at will begin offering i
  • DanielCon @archdaily I have never worked on a project where BIM made the process easier or smoother.  I’m sure everyone will have to learn it but why?
  • Numaru @archdaily I’m an architecture student in Korea. Even thought my class mates don’t know BIM well, we feel pressure of BIM.
  • Winter_Street @archdaily we bite the bullet – here’s our recent blog post on the investment and rewards [of BIM] http://bit.ly/13u9NA

Field / Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Photo by Mauricio Pezo
Photo by Mauricio Pezo

Project: Field
Location: Arts Quad, University, Ithaca, New York,
Client: AAP, Escuela de Arquitectura, Cornell University
Architects: Mauricio Pezo, Sofia von Ellrichshausen, Yehre Suh
Collaborators: Sae-Jun Ahn, Laura Amaya, Jesica Bello, John Best, Irina Chernyakova, Constanza Cortes, Karen Drummund, Monica Alexandra Freundt, Thea von Geldern, Lisa Hollywood, Amanda Lee Huang, Soyoung Jung, Kyle Keene, Jina Kim, Viola Diane Kosseda, Weonyoung Joy Lee, Chris Leonberg, Timothy Liddell, Jacqueline Liu, Hana Ovcina, Mia Ovcina, Mansi Ajit Pandey, Anna Pelavin, Hilary Pinnington, Mitchell W. Pride, Lorena Quintana, Ashley Reed, Samuel J. Reilly, Landon Gary Robinson, Hira Sabuhi, Johann Schweig, Courtney Song, Jerome Soustra, Rachel Tan, Margarita Urquiza, Mauricio Vieto, Zhiqiang Wang, Christopher Werner, Sonny Meng Qi Xu, Soo Jung Yoo, Milena Zindovic
Photography: Karen Brummund, Mauricio Pezo, Irina Chernyakova, Jesica Bello
Project year: 2009
Construction Year: 2009
Surface: 30.000 m2
Budget: 3000 USD

This installation establishes an optical exercise extended into a landscape format. Field is a continuous and homogenous installation of 2800 red sacks filled with straw (21” wide x 32” high) that covered the entire Arts Quad of the Cornell University Campus, in Ithaca (NY). The sacks were distributed in a 10 feet by 10 feet regular grid that followed the natural slope of the ground surface.

ArchDaily + Mark Magazine = Free Subscription


UPDATE: As announced, at 11:59AM the form was closed for submissions. Stay tuned for the results.

Mark Magazine is in my opinion one of the best architecture magazines these days: It has a fresh selection of recent projects, a more in depth analysis of certain works that require it, interviews with young practices, and… did I mention that it has fresh content? You can read all about it on my previous reviews.

And what is best, is that also likes ArchDaily! We’ve been working together in the past in editorial content, maybe you´ve read my articles on some issues. This time we decided to extend our relation further to give our readers a chance to win not 1, but 2 subscriptions to this wonderful magazine.

We take this opportunity to invite you to join both Mark Magazine and ArchDaily Facebook pages, as news and other surprises will be announced exclusively through these channels in the future.

Please help us tell every architect about this giveaway: Post it on Twitter, post it to your Facebook profile, post it on your blog, email your friends… this giveaway is open to everyone, everywhere.

So, want to win a subscription? Just fill this form and read the small print after the break.

A public toilet, according to the architects

FAT's proposal for a public toilet

To celebrate their 175 anniversary, the (Royal Institute of British Architects) together with BBC’s Radio 4 called architects to re think the public toilet, addressing the lack of a decent  toilet provision.

In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, public toilet provision was a matter of civic pride; British public toilets were the best in the world. Local authorities would compete to create beautiful facilities which demonstrated the latest developments in sanitary engineering and architecture. This project aims to revive that tradition, and to position the public loo once again as a centerpiece for urban regeneration and to ultimately improve people’s lives.

The result? Judge by yourself. My favorite is FAT’s, but that´s just because I fall for everything they do.

All the toilets and their description´s after the break:

CIP Talks 2009

1250208392-ciptalksCIP Talks 2009 continues the success of its first edition last year, with a series of talks and round tables with prominent architects from around the world, taking place in  Zagreb, the heart of .

The success of last years edition was  to the level of the invited speakers: Joshua Prince-Ramus from REX, the brain behind the epic Museum Plaza, and part of the team of the Seattle Library (watch our interview with him here, previously featured projects here), Luke Pearson, british designer working with Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa, Michel Rojkind, the young mexican architect that is constantly evolving forms (see his works previously featured on AD), James Martin, the head consultant for legal issues for OMA, Albert Ferre, editor for the innovative publishing house Actar, among others. The diversity of their backgrounds (architecture, design, new media) make this event “boil” into architectural discussion.

For this years edition, the line up of speakers looks promising:

Shohei Shigematsu (OMA NY, watch our interview), Mikkel Frost from young practice CEBRA (watch some of their works on AD), Sissil Morseth Gromholt from PUSHAK (see their landscape friendly works previously featured on AD), Lea Pelivan + Toma Piejic from STUDIO UP (winners of this year’s Mies van der Rohe Award, Emerging Architects mention, with their Gym), Arnaud Billard from the climate engineering office TRANSSOLAR, Hans Ibelings, editor of A10 magazine, Mark Lee from Johnston&MarkLee (their interview will be soon posted on AD, you can seee their previous features here), Carmé Pinós, renowned spanish architect, and more. Check the full list of speakers here.

The good part? ArchDaily will be there! We will be participating in a round table under the theme “Legislation”, on Architecture and Media with Joseph Grima, Director for the Storefront Gallery (watch his interview here). We will also be making interviews  -as usual- with the rest of the speakers and bringing you the insights on the emerging Croatian architecture scene.

This year the event will take place between Oct 1st and Oct 3rd at the Zagreb Youth Theatre. Information about tickets and full program at the CIP Talks 2009 website.

St Edward’s University New Residence and Dining Hall / Alejandro Aravena

© Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma

Architects: Alejandro Aravena, Ricardo Torrejón
Partner Architects in : Cotera + Reed
Texas Team: Tiffani Erdmanczyk, Adam Pyrek, Travis Hughbanks, Leyla Shams, Joyce Chen
Chilean Team: Víctor Oddó, Rebecca Emmons
Project: 2006-2007
Completion: 2008
Built Area: 30.000 m2 (10.000 m2 dorms + 20.000 m2 parking)

Photography: Cristobal Palma

Diller Scofidio + Renfro win competition for the new Image and Audio Museum in Rio de Janeiro

Winner: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Winner: Diller Scofidio + Renfro

A restricted competition for a new museum in the middle of one of the most iconic places in , the Avenida Atlantica at Copacabana, has just been awarded.

The building will host the Museu da Imagen e de Som (Image and Audio Museum), that as of now is desegregated through the city in separate offices. The new building will host in one place facilities for the conservation and study of the brazilian visual heritage, along with a state-of-art museum.

The competition included the local practice Bernardes & Jacobsen, that has been previously featured on ArchDaily, along with Sao Paulo´s Isay Weinfeld (see his previous works featured on AD), Brasil Arquitetura and Tacoa Arquitetos. On the international side we have the regulars Daniel Libeskind and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, along with the japanese architect Shigeru Ban.

Just when I was writing this post, I found that the competition was awarded to Diller Scofidio + Renfro, at a ceremony held today.

I´ve heard a lot of buzz about this competition in Twitter and Facebook from our brazilian readers, it seems to be generating a lot of debate as of now. And it´s very obvious, as the building will be erected on a very iconic avenue, at a close distance from Museum of Modern Art by Affonse Eduardo Reidy and the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum by Brazilian master Oscar Niemeyer.

Not much to say about the winning entry by DS+R, it´s just another project along their line. But it´s not just the jury who voted unanimously for their project, they also won a reader´s poll at the main Brazilian news site O Globo.

And Libeskind… seriously?

My vote goes to Isay Weinfeld. And yours?

Images from all the projects so you can be the judge, after the break.

Livraria da Vila / Isay Weinfeld

Frontal view © Leonardo Finotti
Frontal view © Leonardo Finotti

Brazilian architecture has produced interesting works in the business/retail area, often limited to just interior design. Recent works by Marcio Kogan, Marcelo Alvarango  or Tao Arquitetura are good examples of a tradition that, in my personal opinion, has a peak at Mendes da Rocha’s Forma store in Sao Paulo. If you ever go to Sao Paulo to visit local architecture, don´t be afraid of your girlfriend/wife taking you to shopping, there´s lots to see there.

Leonardo Finotti shared with us an interesting project by local architect Isay Weinfeld that is up to this brazilian standard, the Libraria da Vila in Sao Paulo. An hermetic volume with a pivoting book facade contains an interesting space filled with books distributed over 3 levels as you can see on the photos:

AD Interviews: Stanley Saitowitz

Since my first trip to San Francisco I was intrigued by the local architecture scene. The empowered citizens and city regulations have been able to keep the traditional architectural style of the city, and apart from a few buildings by international practices (de Young Museum by Herzog & de Meuron, California Acadmy of Science by Renzo Piano and the Federal Building by Morphosis) I couldn´t find any local works that stand out from the rest of homogeneous .

But when I started to meet local architects, they all pointed me to Stanley Saitowitz, design principal at Natoma Architects. Teacher at UC Berkeley for 30 years, he influenced over many of the local architects that went to that school and that´s why I got all the recommendations. He has also taught at Harvard GSD, UCLA, Rice, Cornell, SCIARC, U Texas at , and more.

When we visited his office for the interview, we could see an incredible amount of works over the years, more than a hundred on the greater Bay Area and in other locations of the US (such as the Tampa Museum of Art, currently under construction).

There is something on the simplicity of the details and the material use that give a continuity to his works, as you can see on his previous projects that we have featured on ArchDaily.

Back to his office, it took my attention that the models used for the projects were always in a small scale (1:200 or similar), almost as crafted objects, related to the detail importance I mentioned previously.

His expertise on the residential area is not only recognized by the vast amount of publications that have featured his work, but also by inhabitants of his buildings and by his peers, who I heard this from.

But enough of my talk, just watch the interview and stay tuned for more projects to be featured in AD in the next days.

Some photos from our visit after the break.

Overlappings: Young Portuguese Architects Exhibition at the RIBA Gallery

© Joao Morgado

A month ago we told you about the upcoming exhibition Overlappings (which already ended), which included a selection of fresh portuguese architects.

Now, young architecture photographer Joao Morgado shared with us some photos of the exhibit.

The intervention of the space is kept minimal, same as the architecture being displayed. A set of 6 chests contain the works of each office (Aires Mateus, Bak Gordon, Inês Lobo, João Favila, Paulo David and Ricardo Carvalho & Joana Vilhena), each one displayed on a different way: computer screen, models, drawings, photos, etc.

I wouldn´t expect “less” from an exhibit of these brilliant architects.

More photos after the break:

Afterparty, P.S.1 2009 Installation / MOS Architects

© Florian Holzherr
© Florian Holzherr

A few months ago we presented you the winning entry for this years YAP competition for the summer installation, awarded to MOS Architects (Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample) as we reported earlier.

This competition has been a field for experimentation on digital manufacturing, new materials and new construction techniques -all under a tight budget-, as we saw in 2008 with the P.F.1 by WORKac.

To keep the courtyard fresh, a series of “hut” like structures conformed by inverted catenaries (part of an on going research by the practice) acting as chimneys: The faux fur that covers them collects heat from the sun, transfering it to the air inside the huts creating a chimney effect that keeps air flowing to cool the lower level.

© Florian Holzherr
© Florian Holzherr

The resulting space corresponds to the after-party concept envisioned by :

The main purpose of the afterparty is to provide a relaxing environment, as compared to the earlier venue, where the atmosphere is usually more frenetic. During an afterparty people often sit down, relax, and chat freely, meet new people in a more controlled setting. If the original party was one that continued until late at night, the afterparty will often include a morning snack, which usually counts as breakfast. …. Possibly in contrast to relaxation, the afterparty can provide a chance for people to get away from the eyes of people who were overseeing the main party. This tends to be more common in events such as school balls where alcohol consumption is not allowed, and provides a location where the partygoers will be allowed to drink. In this case, the afterparty may turn out to be more lively than the main party, as the people are freed from the restrictions that were placed on them during the main party.

All photos by © Florian Holzherr. See more after the break:

The Standard Hotel, New York / Polshek Partnership Architects

the standard new york
© Jeff Goldberg at Esto

A few months ago we had the chance to enjoy the Standard Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for Postopolis! LA. The renovation of an old building was very well done, very good work in terms of details.

And for the Standard Hotel in New YorkAndré Balazs repeats the formula of good design and details, but on a brand new building by Polshek Partnership Architects. The concrete building reminds of Le Corbusier works, standing over The Highline. The integration at the public space level  turns this building into more than just another addition to the  NY skyline, becoming an urban piece of the Meat Packing district, a detonator of the current renovation of the area.

The 20-story tall building includes 337 rooms, a restaurant (The Standard Grill) and a bar (The Living Room).  Interiors were designed by NY based architects Roman and Williams.

Photos of the construction at Plataforma. More photos of the building by Jeff Goldberg at Esto after the break, interiors to come on a future article.

Julius Shulman (1910-2009)

Case Study House #22, (playboy), 1960 Los Angeles, CA / Pierre Koenig, architect   © Julius Schulman
Case Study House #22, (playboy), 1960 Los Angeles, CA / Pierre Koenig, architect © Julius Shulman

was a residential experiment sponsored by the Arts & Architecture magazine, introducing the modern movement ideas for affordable and efficient housing during the post-war years in the US.

The result? Amazing houses by Richard Neutra, Raphael Soriano, Craig Ellwood, Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig and Eero Saarinen, built between 1945-1966 mostly in LA.

Most of you already know about this… mostly due to the incredible photos that registered this houses, reflecting more than just pure architecture, a lifestyle. And the man (genius) behind the lens was Julius Shulman, who passed away yesterday July 16th, 2009.

A selection of his photos after the break.

Rising Tides Competition results

BAY Arc by - Winning entry

When driving between SFO Airport and San Francisco on the edge of the Bay Area, I have always wondered what would happen when the sea level starts to rise.

Recently, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) organized an ideas competition (open to any professionals, not just architects) to address the sea level rise in the Bay Area, looking for innovative and creative  solutions to bring forward a  vision of a future estuarine shoreline applicable to the San Francisco Bay and beyond. 130 entries from 18 countries were submitted.

Six teams were announced as the winners, splitting a cash prize of $25,000. Among these entries we find interesting ideas, such as Faulders Studio’s laser light barrier that measures the sea level, powered by tidal ,  Kuth Ranieri Architects’s ventilated levee to balance the sea/bay water levels, or SOM’s smart membrane under the golden gate bridge.

But, as usual in some competitions, the honorable mentions bring more disruptive ideas, embracing a vision on a post-flood city instead of preventing it. There’s also humor among the honorable mentions, “Failure: Bring your boots” or “About Rising Tides: It´s the Delta, you stupid”.

Will our future be amphibious?

All the awarded entries after the break: