Irina Vinnitskaya

Happy Birthday Walter Gropius

Gropius and Seidler by Dupain 1954; Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

On May 18th, we celebrate what would have been the 131st birthday of one of the most highly regarded modern architects of the 20th century, . Gropius was the founder of the Bauhaus, the German “School of Building” that embraced elements of art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography in its design, development and production (learn more in our infographic here).

The Bauhaus existed in the years between both World Wars, greatly influencing the current of modern art and architecture. Like many modernists of the period, Gropius was interested in the mechanization of work and the utilitarianism of newly developed factories. He and Adolf Meyer designed the Fagus-Werk factory, a glass and steel cubic building that is thought to be the pioneering work of the style of modern architecture. The Bauhaus in Dessau was designed in 1925 by Gropius, who distilled his teachings into  architectural elements of the building.

Zaha Hadid’s One Thousand Museum Tower for Miami Revealed

© ZHA

New renderings of Zaha Hadid Architect‘s 215 meter-high One Thousand Museum Tower in downtown Miami have been released. As the first Zaha Hadid-designed skyscraper to grace the skyline of the Western Hemisphere, the 60-story luxury condominium will mask its program with a prominent concrete exoskeleton. As Hadid described to the Wall Street Journal, the tower is designed with an interest in “how the structure is manifested” so that it may avoid the “generic modernist typology” that is commonly found in Miami.

One Thousand Museum Tower is one of several by high-profile architects that are beginning to take root in Miami, changing the tide of investment from real estate that is solely driven by waterfront locations to architecture that is high-end and luxurious.

Read on for more images and information…

Bloomberg’s Legacy: The Construction Boom of NYC

Freedom Tower; Courtesy of Flickr User Arturo Yee; Licensed via Creative Commons

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s twelve years in office will leave an undeniable impression on the physical landscape of the city for future generations.  The new and revised policies of this administration have encouraged unprecedented growth of New York City and its outer boroughs in the years following 9/11.  According to a new series called The Bloomberg Years by WNYC, and this article by Matthew Schuerman, Bloomberg’s three consecutive terms have made New York City taller, more attractive and, in turn, more expensive.

A New Tool for Comparing Cities

Population Density © The Urban Observatory

For the last fifty years Richard Wurman – architect, graphic designer and founder of the TED Conferences – has been dedicated to creating a platform that compares cities.  In Wurman’s early studies, he quickly learned that comparing global cities was no easy task. Cities use very different languages to describe their assets, from planning principles to land use types to social statistics. “They don’t collect their information the same way. They don’t describe themselves with the same legend,” he tells Nate Berg of Next City.  

Thanks to sophisticated mapping tools, delving into the statistical of numerous cities has become far more manageable than in 1962, when Wurman produced his first comparative analysis using clay models of 50 different cities. Wurman’s analog-driven statistical analysis has turned into the Urban Observatory, a website that allows users to choose from 15 variables and easily compare the public data of up to 16 cities around the world in real time.

More about the platform after the break.

Historic Toledo Museum of Art Goes Off Grid

Toledo Museum of Art; Courtesy of Flickr User Kevin Marsh, Licensed via Creative Commons

The 101-year old historic building that houses the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio has gone off grid, reports Candace Pearson of Architectural Record. Through a series of upgrades that began in the early ‘90s,  including covering 60% of the roof with solar panels, the Toledo Museum has gone from purchasing 700,000 kW of electricity a month to returning energy back to the grid – making it an exemplar of adaptability and sustainability in century-old public buildings. Find out how they did it at Architectural Record.

Micro Housing Makes a Comeback

adAPT NYC Winner / Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, and nARCHITECTS; Images via CURBED

In the early 20th century rooming houses and residential hotels with small bedrooms and shared bathrooms were the norm of city life: they provided cheap, day-to-day housing near downtown areas (where affordable food and entertainment was abundant). However, a tide of well-intentioned health and safety regulations in the 50s and 60s led cities to essentially ban this type of housing across the .

In an article for the Slate, the director of the Sightline Institute, Alan Durning, suggests that this was one of the most misguided legislations ever implemented in American cities: instead of enforcing higher quality housing for cities’ lower earning peoples, it has instead left them stranded, with fewer and fewer affordable housing options.

More after the break…

Finalists Announced for FAR ROC Competition for Resilient Rockaways

© McGregor Coxall

The FAR ROC Competition, released shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard, called for a thoughtfully considered proposal for an 80-acre, 11-mile long peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean in the Rockaways (Queens, NY). The RFP expressed the need to explore a comprehensive solution to developing Averne East, a FEMA designated Hazard Area Zone that experienced extensive storm surge damage and continues to be a vulnerable site for future natural disasters.  While the competition focused on this particular site, the full intention is to develop strategies that could be appropriated to low-lying and vulnerable regions all over the world.

The first phase of the competition was completed earlier this month: four finalists and six honorable mentions were announced.  The four finalists – Ennead Architects of , USA; Lateral Office of Toronto, Canada; Seeding Office of London, UK; and White Arkitekter of Stockholm, Sweden – will continue on to Phase Two with a $30,000 stipend, due in early October.

Join us after the break for more details on the finalists and honorable mentions.

Can Craft Beer Rebuild Neighborhoods?

Brooklyn , Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Courtesy of Flickr User Wally Gobetz

Gentrification has been a running theme in the social and economic fluctuations that occur in cities. Between housing booms and busts, the revitalization of small manufacturing and the shifting populations of cities grow and change organically, subject to a variety of trends.

Recently on Business Insider, Tali Arbel traced urban revival by following the successes of craft breweries that have sprung up in desolate and blighted neighborhoods. In many cases, brewers have found a home in cities full of abandoned warehouses and factory buildings where real estate is available and affordable.  As these neighborhoods become more affluent, rising in trendiness and popularity, they are beginning to price out these same businesses that helped establish them. This leads to the question, “Where are these businesses to go and how can gentrifying neighborhoods protect social and economic diversity?”

Uncube Interviews ‘India’s Greatest Architect’: Charles Correa

Gandhi Ashram © Associates

Charles Correa, arguably one of India’s greatest architects, is celebrated for his post-war work in India in which he connects modernism with local traditions.  Digital magazine, uncube, has dedicated a full issue to this renowned architect and includes reviews of the RIBA exhibition currently on view in London, a look at his most influential architectural projects, assesses his role as urbanist and planner, and an interview in which Correa reflects on his own career. 

We Made 2012: A Look Back at the London Olympics

We Made 2012 © Agnese Sanvito

On July 9th, The Building Centre will debut “We Made 2012″, an exhibition that looks back at the venues, landscape and legacy that made up the London 2012 Olympic Games and the individuals and organizations that made it possible. The exhibition celebrates the UK construction industry composed of architects, engineers, manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors.  It was made possible partially because the on January 27, 2013 the British Olympic Association launched the ‘Suppliers Recognition Scheme’ which allowed members of the construction industry to apply for a free license, which, once issued, allowed participants to talk freely about their contributions.

San Francisco To Transform City with Eco-Districts

; Photo Courtesy of Flickr User KP Tripathi

San Francisco’s Planning Department is working with California’s sustainability guidelines to structure growth within the city in accordance with the state’s requirements and the city’s goals through the department’s Sustainability Development Program.  The program aims to reduce water consumption, reduce waste and enhance community-scale energy resources.  To aid in the fulfillment of these goals, the program is implementing a tool called Eco-Districts – a community of property owners, businesses and residents within a neighborhood that collaborate to develop and initiate sustainable development projects in their area.  Using a set of performance metrics, neighborhoods can shape their projects with custom strategies for their community.

The Eco-District is fundamentally a community-driven development that has the potential to achieve the smart growth of sustainable ideas but also build local urban identity and enforce a sense of place among its residents.  The Eco-District movement has already taken shape in Austin (TX), Boston (MA), Seattle (WA),  Washington DC, and Portland (OR) in various degrees of development.  San Francisco’s adoption of this tool will help drive the successes of the Sustainability Development Program with a focus on holistic approaches of neighborhood development and support with environmentally conscious improvements.

Read on for more on San Francisco’s Eco-Districts.

MAS CONTEXT #18: IMPROBABLE

MAS Context #18: IMPROBABLE; Cover Design by Stephane Massa-Bidal

It is safe to say that architects and planners have always been among those striving for utopian ideals through physical space.  Just look at the 20th century, when designers converged around the idea of creating new for lives that embraced new technologies.  We had the Futurists who were obsessed with automobiles, speed and factory cities.  We had CIAM and Team 10 who collectively and individually developed the modernist ideals for housing and urban planning.  We had Archigram that developed conceptual creations for cities that walked, were inflatable, and could be packed and unpacked in locations all over the world.  We had Superstudio, an architecture firm that developed renowned conceptual works of the “total urbanization” of architecture.

As impractical and experimental as some of these proposals were, they initiated a conversation, not only about the physical space that they presented, but the social implications of their designs.  The latest issue of MAS CONTEXT, Improbable, tackles these “unlikely futures envisioned in the past that never became present” and explores how, to various degrees, these impossible and improbable agendas projects came to fruition.   Join as after the break for a closer look at the new issue.

Tapping into the Potential of New York’s “Lost” Underpasses

Broadway in Harlem; Kevin Harber via Flickr; Licensed via Creative Commons

The Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) cuts through myriad neighborhoods on its route between Queens and Brooklyn. Sometimes it takes the form of an elevated six-lane highway with nothing but dark parking lots below; sometimes as a deep trench that segregates neighborhood pockets. The Cross Bronx Expressway in the South Bronx similarly creates boundaries, isolating neighborhoods from each other.

Projects such as these, built under the heavy handed politics of Robert Moses in the mid-20th century, show little regard for community development. The effects of these projects can be seen today; the  spaces below the highway overpasses of tend to be dark, dingy places that we avoid or rush past. They’re perceived as “lost space” within the city, yet they have an innate potential to be much more.

The Design Trust for Public Space, a non-profit dedicated to promoting public space, sees that potential. With their new project, Under the Elevated: Reclaiming Space, Connecting Communities, they hope to take these “lost” spaces and turn them into safe and exciting venues that will, at long last, reconnect long-separated communities.

More on this exciting program, after the break.

Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica

Halley VI © A.Dubber, British Antarctic Survey

In order to illustrate how the ingenuity and innovation of contemporary architecture is enabling scientists to live and work in one of the most extreme environments on our planet, the British Council has commissioned curators from the Arts Catalyst to launch a new international touring exhibition titled Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in .

The first exhibition of its kind, Ice Lab will include architectural drawings, models, photographs, and films allowing for visitors to not only examine the architecture, but the life of these scientists in these research facilities. Sources of inspiration for the projects including original drawings from Archigram’s ‘Walking City’ will be on display alongside a new commissioned light and audio work by international visual artist Torsten Laushmann. The Glasgow-based artist will create this work in collaboration with ‘We Made That’, the exhibition’s designers.

The featured projects are:

In Progress: Porter School / Axelrod-Grobman Architects + NCArchitects + Geotectura

Porter School / Geotectura, Axelrod-Grobman Architects, NCArchitects

Architects: Axelrod-Grobman Architects, NCArchitects, Geotectura
Location: Tel Aviv
Area: 3700 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Courtesy of Yossef Cohen and Gilad Adin, Architect Dr. Yasha (Jacob) Grobman and Architect Irit Axelrod from Axelrod-Grobman Architects; Architect Nili Chen and Architect Nir Chen from NCArchitects; and Architect Dr. Joseph (Yossi) Cory from GEOTECTURA, Roy Kroizman, BRAUDE-MAOZ Landscape Architects, Nitzan Hafner and Gilad Adin

Infographic: How Our Cities Are Shaping Us

© Chris Yoon; http://www.behance.net/chrisyoon

Architects and city planners are becoming more and more familiar with the health effects of our built environment.  This to-the-point , designed by Chris Yoon, cites a few ways in which mid-20th century city planning trends have contributed to a growing obesity problem in the United States.  This data has alarmed scientists, planners and city officials into stressing the importance of redesigning the physical spaces so as to encourage physical activity and healthy choices.

NYC’s Plan to Mitigate Future Storms

East River Blueway Plan proposed by WXY Studios provides a natural waterfront along the existing and vulnerable FDR in ’s Lower East Side

Immediately after Hurricane Sandy hit the North American Eastern seaboard last October, New York City embarked on a debate to find ways in which the city could protect itself from future storms that climate scientists predict will escalate in frequency.  Engineers, architects, scientists from myriad disciplines came up with internationally inspired proposals, including sea walls, floating barrier islands, reefs and wetlands, to apply to this particular application. Diverse in scope, the ideas have gone through the ringer of feasibility and have left many wondering if we should we build to defend or build to adapt.

On Tuesday, NYC Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan that includes $20 billion worth of both:  a proposal of removable flood walls, levees, gates and other defenses that would be implemented with adaptive measures, such as marshes, along with the extensive flood-proofing of homes and hospitals.  

What does this plan entail and what can we imagine for the future of NYC? Find out after the break.

New Technology May Double the Height of Skyscrapers

Dubai Skyline; Flickr User rickz; Licensed via Creative Commons

Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE has unveiled a new hoisting technology that will enable elevators to travel heights of one kilometer – twice the distance than currently possible.  The new development implies that the Burj Khalifa, whose longest elevator travels a distance of 504 meters, will not remain the world’s tallest building for very long.

Join us for more after the break.