Mumbai, like many populous modern cities, has a traffic problem that may be better be categorized as a traffic nightmare. At the Kala Nagar Junction, where five main traffic arteries merge to connect nearly 60,000 commuters per hour from the Island City to the western suburbs of Mumbai, the BMW Guggenheim Lab and Mumbai Environmental Social Network launched a competition to search for realistic solutions to the infrastructural tangle. Likely designed when traffic congestion was not as severe, the Kala Nagar Junction is no longer capable of accommodating the daily commuter demand. The competition, open to students and professionals, called on participants to consider solutions that not only resolved the traffic problems, but also produced public spaces and safe pedestrian routes. The six winning designs – 3 from the professional category, 2 from the student category and 1 people’s choice that was decided by community votes and visitors to the Guggenheim Design Lab.
In 2005, OLIN - a landscape architecture, urban design and planning studio – was selected to join HNTB Architects in the design of a master plan for University of California Berkley’s southeastern campus that aimed to unify its distinct elements and strengthen the social spaces of the campus. HNTB led the renovation of the California Memorial Stadium and worked with STUDIOS Architecture and OLIN to design the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance. These projects are unified by the design of the grounds which are just part of the transformation planned for the campus, which also includes the renovations and landscape design for the Haas School of Business, UC Berkley School of Law and the Piedmont Avenue.
In an effort to address housing concerns throughout the city, New York City held the adAPT NYC Competition in search for a micro-unit apartment building that would be developed into a new housing model for the “small household population”. The winner and five finalists were announced earlier this week, revealing a sharp focus on consolidating various living areas to save space and resolving to give multi-functionality where ever possible. There is also an emphasis on community in each of the proposals, making up for the small units with more public amenities within the building. Join us after the break to take a closer look at the projects.
The bursting of the housing bubble wreaked havoc on cities across the United States causing widespread blight in once-thriving community economies. Foreclosed, abandoned and condemned homes continue to pockmark neighborhoods and communities, adding to the vacant lots of populous but affected cities like Philadelphia. The Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia approximates that there are nearly 40,000 vacant lots throughout the city of brotherly love, about 74% of which are privately owned, making them virtually inaccessible to rehabilitation. But the city has a strong drive to amend these conditions. With organizations like DesignPhiladelphia’s “Not a Vacant Lot” and the city’s Redevelopment Authority, some of this land is being put to good use.
Mark your calendars! MoMA has plans for the new exhibition, Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes which will be centered around Le Corbusier‘s worldview of architecture. It explores both his most famous architectural projects, as well as the means by which he was able to realize them. Through a collection of early watercolors, drawings and photographs, curator Jean-Louis Cohen provides a peak into Le Corbusier’s journeys and developments as an architect, revealing how he explored the world and what he drew from his travels and observations.
More on ‘Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes’ after the break.
Public Architecture is an organization with a simple goal: to address public interest through architecture and solve problems of human interaction within the built environment. The San Francisco based non-profit was established in 2002 and in its past ten years it has served as a forum for public discourse, education and advocacy for the design of public spaces and amenities. In 2005 it launched its 1% program, a now nationally recognized portfolio of pro-bono work by architects and firms ready to donate 1% of their year’s billable hours to provide work for nonprofit organizations requesting a variety of services that strengthen their architectural identity and community impact. To date, there are 1100 firms registered with the 1% program.
New York City’s Midtown West will be experiencing a large makeover over the coming years. Shortly after Hudson Yards broke ground in late 2012, Brookfield Properties initiated the first phase of its 5.4 million-square-foot master plan for Manhattan West on the corner of 33rd Street and 9th Ave. Hovering over Penn Station’s Railroad tracks, an engineering feat will support two 60-story towers that will encompass residential and commercial functions, as well as public and community space.
The new issue of MAS Context, a quarterly publication released by MAS Studio, takes on the daunting issue of production and consumption impacting cities through the lens of a handful companies operating out of Chicago. Production and consumption have a negative connotation in today’s atmosphere of sustainability and conservation but architecture is fundamentally a celebration of the craft of inventing, designing and making. MAS Studio, in collaboration with Chicago-based collective The Post Family, looks critically at the social, environmental, and political implications of consumer culture while celebrating the excellence of production.
More after the break.
Slums, shanty-towns, favelas - they are all products of an exploding migration from rural to urban areas. Over the last half century, people living in or near metropolises has risen in proportion to the global population. Migrations from rural areas to urban areas have grown exponentially as cities have developed into hubs of economic activity and job growth promising new opportunities for social mobility and education. Yet, with all these perceptions holding fast, many people who choose to migrate find themselves in the difficult circumstances of integrating into an environment without the proper resources to accommodate the growing population. Cities, for example, like Mumbai, India’s largest city and 11th on the list as of 2012 with a population of an estimated 20.5 million. According to a New York Times article from 2011, about 60% of that number live in the makeshift dwellings that now occupy lucrative land for Mumbai’s developers.
More to come after the break.
Iwan Baan‘s name may ring a bell for all those following Hurricane Sandy’s devastation across New York City and New Jersey’s coast. The photographer’s iconic photograph made headlines when it was featured on New York magazine’s front page days after the storm, showing lower Manhattan in complete darkness, set against its vibrant counterpart uptown, as the United States’ east coast was recovering from the extensive damage left in Sandy’s wake. The image not only brings to mind the absolute helplessness that New York City faced during the storm, but also lends a hand in a social commentary that is notably pervasive in Baan’s work.
Starting February 20th, 2013, The Perry Rubenstein Gallery in Los Angeles will feature the Baan’s work in his first, two-month exhibition entitled The Way We Live, honing in on the images that encapsulate the world of architecture, urbanism and human engagement.
More on Iwan Baan: The Way We Live after the break.
As most New Yorkers know, people are willing to shell out a hefty sum to live in a place where work and play are right around the corner from each other. But as the article by Ken Layne in The Awl points out, the west coast is a somewhat different place. UNLIKE New York City, which is crowded with restaurants, bars, and entertainment, as well as offices, design firms and businesses; Silicon Valley, which caters to programmers and tech companies that hire at $100k a year, offers few of the amenities that a nearby town like San Francisco does. So, Layne concludes, residents are willing to spend hours of their day making their way into the fortressed office parks of Silicon Valley, flanked by parking lots and boulevards, just to have a cultural reprieve to call home.
Jonas Eliasson, Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), takes a stab at one of the largest problems in big cities: traffic congestion. In this TEDx, Eliasson discusses techniques that urban planners and policy makers can use to help mediate the problems caused by rush hour commutes by car. Contrary to most other suggestions we see, Eliasson’s solution does not involve any plans to widen sidewalks, encourage public transportation and create bike lanes; rather, this suggestion is more policy oriented.
SFMoMA will highlight the legacy of Lebbeus Woods in an exhibition that will run from February 16 through June 2, 2013. It will include 75 works from the past 35 years of his career. Lebbeus Woods is often categorized as an architect, but always as an artist and visionary. His career has been filled with imaginative leaps through the concepts of space and form, exploring politics, society, ethics and the human condition. He was a great influence on architects, designers, filmmakers, writers and artists. The exhibition will celebrate his untimely death late last year and the breadth of influence that his work had on the art and design community.
New York’s Garment District, consisting of 18 blocks in the west side of midtown, was the city’s most well known industries in the boom of the 1920s through the early 50s. The influx of immigrants and the geography of New York City made it a natural hub for manufacturing and trading activity. The work began in small workshops and at home in crowded tenements and eventually grew out of these crammed space into factories and warehouses. The industry inadvertently transformed Seventh Avenue into rows of skyscraper factories that faithfully abided to New York City’s zoning regulations. The 125 loft buildings all shared the pyramidal forms due to step-back laws governing design.
Now, The Skyscraper Museum in New York City is celebrating this neighborhood and its influential development of business, industry and architecture and the mark that it left on the city with an exhibition called URBAN FABRIC. It is curated by Andrew S Dolkart, the Director of the Historic Preservation Program, and will be running through February 17th.
Learn more and watch the curator’s lecture after the break.
When plans for the High Line were first revealed it made quite an impression on the design community. The converted elevated rail line, long abandoned by New York City, was threatened by demolition until a group of activists fought for its revival and helped transform it into one of the most renowned public spaces in Manhattan. Now Queens, a borough with its own abandoned infrastructure is on its way to redeveloping the land for its own version of the High Line, to be known as the Queensway Cultural Gateway.
In late December, the Trust for Public Land announced that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has awarded a $467,000 grant to the organization to begin a feasibility study on the 3.5 mile Long Island rail line. Early proposals reveal a new pedestrian and bike path, public green space and a cultural gateway that will celebrate Queens’ diversity in art, sculpture and food, serving the 250,000 residents that live in the neighborhoods along the route, which include Rego Park, Forest Hills, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Forest Park.
Join us after the break for more.
The future of design requires thinking innovatively about the way current construction techniques function so we may expand upon their capabilities. Sustainability has evolved far beyond being a trend and has become an indelible part of this design process. Sustainable solutions have always pushed against the status quo of design and now the Structural Technology Group of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – BarcelonaTech (UPC) has developed a concrete that sustains and encourages the growth of a multitude of biological organisms on its surface.
We have seen renditions of the vertical garden and vegetated facades, but what sets the biological concrete apart from these other systems is that it is an integral part of the structure. According to an article in Science Daily, the system is composed of three layers on top of the structural elements that together provide ecological, thermal and aesthetic advantages for the building.
More after the break.
Elevators have been around for quite a long time; maybe not those that soar to hundreds of feet in a matter of seconds, but the primitive ancestors of this technology, often man-powered, were developed as early as the 3rd century BC. These early wheel and belt operated platforms provided the lift that would eventually evolve into the “ascending rooms” that allow supertall skyscrapers (above 300 meters) to dominate skylines in cities across the world. Elevators can be given credit for a lot of progress in architecture and urban planning. Their invention and development allowed for the building and inhabiting of the structures we see today.
Supertall skyscrapers are becoming more common as cities and architects race to the top of the skyline, inching their way further up into the atmosphere. These buildings are structural challenges as engineers must develop building technologies that can withstand the forces of high altitudes and tall structures. But what of the practical matter of moving through these buildings? What does it mean for vertical conveyance? How must elevators evolve to accommodate the practical use of these supertall structures?
For many young architects the biggest complaint of 2012 has been insufficient pay in exchange for hard work and long hours under the guise of an internship. As if graduating with a degree in architecture is not grueling enough, NCARB, the US architectural licensing board also requires three years (amounting to thousands of hours) of training under a licensed architect, followed by a seven-part exam. Becoming an architect takes an exceptional amount of commitment, time and money. College graduates are already shaking under the weight of student loans and a stunted economy and job market; but what makes matters worse is that architecture as a profession has gained a reputation for exploiting recent graduates by hiring them as interns with little or no compensation.
2013 can be the year to turn this trend around. Is the architectural profession willing to make this resolution?
Follow us after the break for more.
In this TEDxRamallah, Palestinian Architect Saud Amiry – who works in architectural restoration on Palestinian buildings – discusses her journey as someone finding a path for herself. Although she speaks about her nationality and her family’s refugee history, her focus is on learning how to find the things that are fulfilling in one’s life in the face of challenges. Her sense of humor and passion is inspiring. Not only is she an architect working in a field for which she has a passion, she has also stumbled upon the role of an author, having written “Sharon and my Mother–in-Law: Ramallah Diaries”, which is an account of living under Israeli occupation. Even in the dire political circumstances of of her refugee status, Amiry finds humor under tragic circumstances.
More about Amiry after the break…
Watch this video tour of the Bacardi Building in Miami, Florida, by the grandson of the original founder. The building, built in 1962, became the headquarters of the company for fifty years and has become an iconic modernist symbol in the city with an additional building added to the property in 1970. The building is designed by Enrique Guitierrez. The unique facade of the building was designed by ceramic artist Francisco Brennand using 20,000 tiles. The building resonates with Miami’s culture and has become a landmark for nearby residents. Tito Bacardi, who is the tour guide in the video, explains with pride how its the company’s legacy has become intertwined with the architecture – a building that represented Bacardi’s relocation from Cuba to America.
In Bangladesh, where rising sea levels are having profound effects on the landscape, one nonprofit organization called Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha run by architect Mohammed Rezwan is fighting back by adapting, a true quality of resilience. Rising water levels and the tumultuous climate is displacing people by the thousands; a projected 20% of Bangladesh is expected to be covered in water within twenty years. For a country that is one of the densest populated state on the planet, this figure has disastrous consequences for a population that has limited access to fresh water, food, and medicine. In response to these conditions, Shidhulai has focused on providing education, training and care against the odds of climate change by adapting to the altered landscape: moving schools and community centers onto the water – on boats.