Irina Vinnitskaya

Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Transbay Transit Center Aerial View; © Pelli Clarke Pelli / Transbay Joint Powers Authority

The revamped Transbay Transit Center in downtown broke ground earlier this week, a 1.5 million square foot development that will be part , part public park and urban space, and part office and retail establishments.  The massive undertaking, designed by renowned architecture firm Pelli Clarke Pelli will bring together 11 systems of local and national transportation, serving 45 million people per year.  In addition to securing access to myriad transit lines, the project will also provide downtown San Francisco with a 5.4-acre rooftop park, designed by PWP Landscape Architecture, along with numerous cultural programs.

The project is budgeted at $4.2 billion and is projected for completion in 2017.  It is funded in part by the construction of a 1,070-foot tower that is adjacent to the Transbay Transity Center, which is also designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli and slated to be the tallest tower in San Francisco.  The tower will secure 60 stories of office space and will contribute to the projected $87 billion of revenue through 2030.

Join us after the break for more details on this project.

The G Project: Crowdsourcing a Better World

; G Adventures and The Planeterra Foundation

The G Project, hosted by G Adventures and The Planeterra Foundation, is giving four lucky innovators, inventors, visionaries and designers the opportunity to bring a humanitarian and forward-thinking project to fruition.  The G Project is inviting anyone to submit a design idea of any scale that will have a “positive impact on your planet”.  The idea must be a proposal that falls into one of four categories: freedom, beauty, knowledge or community.  It is a crowd-sourcing exercise that seeks to engage ideas of any variety and asks the global community to contribute to deciding which projects deserve to be realized.  

5468796 Architecture Receives First Emerging Architectural Practice Award from RAIC

Bohemier Residence / 5468796 Architecture + Cohlmeyer Architecture © 5468796 Architecture

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada has announced 5468796 Architecture Inc. as recipient of the inaugural Emerging Architectural Practice Award.  The firm is a Winnipeg-based collaborative studio of 12 young professionals with Johanna Hurme, MRAIC, Sasa Radulovic, MRAIC, and Colin Neufeld, MRAIC leading the office.  The firm operates under the principle that each project, while keeping to the parameters of cost, client expectations and site restrictions, must “advance architecture in some way”.  

Join us after the break for more on 5468796 Architecture and their recent award.

The Debate Over Making It Right in the Lower Ninth Ward

The Float House / Morphosis, © Iwan Baan

Ever since the New Republic published Lydia DePillis’s piece entitled “If you Rebuild it, They Might Not Come” - a criticism of the progress of Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation – numerous blogs and journals have been in a uproar, defending Make It Right’s efforts at rebuilding the vastly devastated Lower Ninth Ward and presenting a much more forgiving perspective on the progress of the neighborhood since the engineering disaster that exacerbated the effects of in 2005. To date, 86 LEED Platinum homes have been designed and constructed by world-renowned architects, including Frank Gehry and Morphosis, at a cost of approximately $24 million.  Make It Right has promised to build up to 150 such homes, but DePillis‘s article points out that amenities in the neighborhood are low and the number of residents returning to the neighborhood is dwindling.  Make It Right has made a commitment and the debate that ensues questions whether it is going far enough in delivering its promise to rebuilding community.

Read on for more on the Make It Right debate…

Which Has More Weight: Your University or Your Portfolio?

MIT Studio © Leo Shieh

Recently, cynicism has been circulating the professional world about what a degree from a particular university means. Although there are certainly some universities, or some degrees, that are valued over others, many contend that it really comes down to (or should come down to) what each candidate can bring to a potential employer.

So, a few weeks back, we conducted a poll on Facebook asking our readers: “Do employers put a lot of weight on what university you attended, or is it mostly about your ?” The results indicate that you, as both candidates and employers, put more emphasis on the portfolios.

Fountainhead Quad City: East Moline’s Future Development Along the Mississippi River

Aerial View, Fountainhead Quad Cities; Developer J. Paul Beitler of Beitler Real Estate Services

East Moline, Illinois, will soon have an all new, highly developed waterfront mixed use area that will include park space, retail and commercial areas and luxury apartments along its Mississippi River front.  The $150 million development will be a host to 300 apartment units, senior citizen housing, condominiums, storage facilities, a sports recreational center, medical facilities along with a variety of amenities that includes neighborhood retail shops, food courts, banks, pharmacies and restaurants, hotels and a central park with a band shell.  At over 3.5 million square feet, Fountainhead Quad Cities - developed by Beitler Real Estate Services with James DeStefano of LVD Architecture as the master planner – will bring new residents to the area while attracting the thousands of motorists that pass through the region today.

More after the break.

MAS Context #17: Boundary

#17 Boundary

The new issue of MAS Context, a quarterly publication released by MAS Studio, explores the actual and perceived divisions of space.  MAS Context #17: Boundary contains varying discussions of urban development, forced and naturally occurring segregation, the of such separations and ultimately, breaking the boundaries that frame our engagement.  Of particular interest in this issue is the philosophical divisions between designers and non-designers and the specialized world that architecture school and the architectural profession construct to define themselves. Through a series of essays, projects, personal accounts and photographs, MAS Context crafts an argument around the boundaries exist in our built and un-built environment – and ways in which we choose to transgress them.

More after the break.

Predictions from the Past: New York 2012 and LA 2013

New York in 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner’s Predictions; and LA’s predictions from 1988 for 2013

Throughout history, people have spent a great deal of time pondering what the future holds.  Scientific discovery and technological innovation – along with rebellious androids, zombies, flying cars, hover crafts, visiting aliens – have been consistently used as stereotypes that emerge in predictions for our imagined future.  And while Hollywood was busy exploring dystopian scenarios of this near-future, architects were composing utopian images of an optimistic vision for .

Architects have built careers upon predicting what cities can potentially become – developing forms, functions, plans and visions of possibilities in the social, political, economic and cultural realms through architecture. In 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner of predicted a culturally diverse, economically viable, global city for New York in 2012.  In 1988, Los Angeles Times Magazine gave its 25-year forecast for Los Angeles in 2013, predicting what a life for a family would be like, filled with robots, electric cars, smart houses and an abundance of video-conferencing. Find out how their predictions fared after the break.

Makoko Floating School / NLE Architects

Makoko Floating School © NLÉ architects

Unpredictable climate changes along the world’s most vulnerable coastal communities, have produced some fascinating design solutions that test the resiliency of architectural possibilities and the need for adaptation that will produce these changes.  The coastal community of Makoko, a slum neighborhood, off the Lagos Lagoon in Lagos, , is receiving an upgrade to its current solution, which is building homes supported on stilts within the lagoon’s waters.  NLE Architects, with sponsoring from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Heinrich Boell Foundation from Germany, designed the Makoko Floating School, phase one of a three-phase development that will become a floating community of interlocked and floating residences.  Construction on the project began in October 2012 and was completed just last month with grand appraisal from the community and UN visitors.

More on Makoko’s floating schools after the break…

2013 AIA New York Design Awards

Perot Museum of Nature and Science © Shu He

After reviewing hundreds of projects submitted by New York City-based architects and firms, a jury of twelve eminent architects, landscape architects, educators, critics, and planners convened by the Center for Architecture in New York has selected 42 thoughtfully considered projects for the 2013 AIANY Chapter’s Design . From small installations to large-scale projects, each awarded submission spanned a breadth of innovative ideas in a large variety of design solutions for projects throughout the world.

Winning submissions received either a “honor” or “merit” award in four different categories: architecture, interiors, projects and . All will be on view at a Center for Architecture exhibition designed by Kokoro & Moi, from April 18th through May 31st.

Join us after for the complete list of winning projects. Click on the project image for more information.

U.S. EPA: Strategies for Advancing Smart Growth, Environmental Justice, and Equitable Development

Creating Equitable, Healthy, and Sustainable Communities: Strategies for Advancing Smart Growth, , and Equitable Development

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released an extensive new publication that serves as a guide for low-income, minority, tribal and overburdened communities to build smart, environmentally just, and equitable developments using strategies that are accessible and affordable.  The guidelines build upon precedents of past successes within struggling communities, whether these struggles are in the face of discrimination, social or economic prejudices, or environmental injustice.  The identifies seven common elements that have been illustrated in in-depth case studies of communities that have struggled with those very issues.  By targeting community groups, governmental agencies, private and non-profit partners, regional and local planners and residents of these communities, the ’s smart growth guide for “Creating Equitable, Healthy and Sustainable Communities: Strategies for Advancing Smart Growth, Environmental Justice, and Equitable Development” seeks to bring access to valuable information about the inherent possibilities to creating healthful, sustainable, and prosperous communities under a variety of circumstances.

Join us after the break for a breakdown of the EPA’s findings and how they address equitability in community development.

Bloomberg Breaks Ground at Post-Sandy Housing Development in Queens

Hunter’s Point South Housing Development © nycmayorsoffice

Despite NYC’s recent bout with nature, Mayor Bloomberg is undeterred from developing housing along NYC’s long stretch of waterfront, taking into account that proper measures are taken for storm and flooding mitigation.  The latest in large scale developments comes to Hunter’s Point South in the neighborhood of Long Island City in .  The first of such a scale since the 1970s development of Co-Op City in the Bronx, plans will include two phases of design and construction. The first phase, designed by SHoP Architects with Ismael Leyva Architects will bring two residential towers with 925 permanently affordable apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail space, infrastructural installations, a five-acre waterfront park, and a 1,100-seat .

Join us after the break for more on this large scale development in Long Island City.

TEDx: The Design Genius of Charles and Ray Eames

YouTube Preview Image

, the husband and wife duo, left an indelible mark on and modern architecture.  Their work has been highly regarded for its invention and regard for the principles of modernism.  This TEDx Talk, delivered by their grandson Eames Demetrios, humanizes these idolized designers – bringing family, and their early struggles as designers to the forefront of the conversation.With a collection of rarely seen footage, the TEDx Talk reveals Charles and Ray’s relationship and life prior to designing the famous Eames Chair.

More after the break, including a vintage video interview with the Eames. 

Hands On Urbanism: “Cities in the 21st Century” at IHP

Sao Paulo; Courtesy of Flickr User Mau Alcântara. Licensed via Creative Commons

and design as programs of study emerged at professional and graduate schools in the early to mid 20th century, but did not become an option for undergraduate students until the 1970s.  Today, urban studies associated with every social science have become a part of regular discourse in colleges and universities throughout the United States.  As Andrew Wade, professor for the International Honors Program (IHP) points out – “Urban studies programs are sprawling faster than the cities they critique. The qualifier “urban” has become ubiquitous: where once stood geography, politics, and ecology now stand urban geography, urban politics, and urban ecology.”

As becomes a larger part of our colloquial vocabulary – describing more specifically the way cities emerge, develop, thrive, and collapse or endure – it has become clear that “cities are a source of problems and solutions for contemporary life” that require a deep level of exploration and understanding.  The “Cities in the 21st Century” study abroad program offered by the IHP is a unique opportunity that incorporates a hands on and observational approach to an urban planning education.  In an essay via Urban Omnibus, instructor Andrew Wade shares his and his students’ experiences in the program.  Read on after the break for more.

And the Winner Is… Competitive Advantages?

Kengo Kuma’s competition winning design for the V&A at Dundee. Courtesy V&A.

Architectural may be regarded as an opportunity or a burden. There are numerous architectural practices that have gained significant attention for their submissions and winnings in highly publicized , but the reality is that architectural are expensive and do not guarantee reward. And yet, they are an opportunity to engage in a critical dialogue about the projects at hand, and may be approached with more creative and imaginative risk than when working directly with a client, which is probably why they are so popular and numerous.  They are also an opportunity to bring the public into conversations about architecture in the public forum. These are just some of the considerations that The Architecture Foundation hopes to tackle in its new series, “And the Winner is…?“.

Throughout 2013, The Architecture Foundation will be hosting a three-series of critical and polemic explorations into the culture of architecture awards, competitions and festivals.  The first in the series, “Competitive Advantages” will be a discussion considering the nature of architecture competitions and their advantages and disadvantages as they pertain to the clients and the public, established architectural firms and emerging practices.

Design Excellence of U.S. Embassies: Openness and Security

U.S. Embassy in London / Architects

“The works of our artists, architects, and preservationists provide us with another language of diplomacy. A transcendent language that allows us to convey values that are at once uniquely American yet speak to all of humanity.  Increasingly in this world, art and architecture help us maintain our sense of openness and liberation.” — Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, April 12, 2010 

An embassy is much more than a building or a work of architecture; it functions as a symbolic representation of countries’ relationships to one another.  It represents the universal language of diplomacy – “communicating values and ideals, extending well beyond any moment in time”.  An embassy has the difficult task of representing two diametrically opposed concepts: security and openness.  The former typically overpowers the latter in importance, which is most probably why when we think of foreign embassies, it conjures up images of stately monolithic buildings surrounded by tall fences and menacing guards or “bunkers, bland cubes, lifeless compounds”, according to Tanya Ballard Brown of NPR’s All Things Considered.

More on the design excellence of embassies after the break…

Landfill Reclamation: Fresh Kills Park Develops as a Natural Coastal Buffer and Parkland for Staten Island

Courtesy of Department of Parks and Recreation – Draft Master Plan

Every natural disaster has an “aftershock” in which we realize the fragility of our planet and the vulnerability of what we have built and created.  We realize the threat to our lifestyles and the flaws in our design choices.  The response to Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 was no different than the response to every other hurricane, earthquake, tornado , tsunami or monsoon that has wrought devastation in different parts of the world.  We recognize our impact on the climate and promise to address how our development has caused severe disruptions in the planet’s self-regulating processes.   We acknowledge how outdated our systems of design have become in light of these damaging weather patterns and promise to change the way we design , coastlines and parks.  We gradually learn from our mistakes and attempt to redress them with smarter choices for more sustainable and resilient design.  Most importantly, we realize that we must learn from how natural processes self-regulate and apply these conditions to the way in which we design and build our urban spaces.

Since Hurricane Sandy, early considerations of environmentalists, planners and designers have entered the colloquial vocabulary of politicians in addressing the issues of the United States’ North Atlantic Coast.  There are many issues that need to be tackled in regards to environmental development and urban design.  One of the most prominent forces of Hurricane Sandy was the storm surge that pushed an enormous amount of ocean salt water far inland, flooding whole neighborhoods in New Jersey, submerging most of Manhattan’s southern half, destroying coastal homes along Long Island and the Rockaways, and sweeping away parts of Staten Island.  Yet, despite the tremendous damage, there was a lot that we learned from the areas that resisted the hurricane’s forces and within those areas are the applications that we must address for the rehabilitation and future development of these vulnerable conditions. Ironically, one of the answers lies within Fresh Kills – Staten Island’s out-of-commission landfill, which was the largest landfill in the United States until it was shutdown in 2001.  Find out how after the break.

NBBJ Reveals Plans to Extend Samsung’s Silicon Valley Headquarters

/ NBBJ

NBBJ‘s design for the new Samsung Headquarters in will become one of the new buildings to relieve the city of its dull, nondescript two-story office architecture that dominates the landscape and introduce a new culture of office environments with a little push from the architecture itself.  According to the LA Times by Chris O’Brien this architectural endeavor is just one move to establish ground in the rivalry between Samsung and Apple, whose highly anticipated spaceship-like, Foster + Partners-designed Cupertino Campus has made waves in the design community.  Technologically innovative and influential companies like Samsung, Apple, Google (also designed by NBBJ), Facebook, and Nvidia have engaged in a cultural shift of the work environment to create a hospitable and creative community for their employees.  The architecture of the campuses and offices introduced by each of these companies reflect the goals of an innovative business model that engages its employees in an innovative work environment that fosters collaboration and creativity.

See how the new Samsung Headquarters innovates office building design after the break.