Democratic By Design is a short film, produced by the General Services Administration and narrated by Luke Russert, that tackles the issue of federal architecture. Buildings designed for the government typically have a familiar aesthetic. Washington, DC, is dominated by Neoclassical Architecture, building on the connotations of ancient Greek and Roman fora and temples as a symbol of democracy. But they perpetuate a sense of dominance and formality. Most of these buildings – city halls, courthouses, agency headquarters – were built in the 18th and 19th century, yet they leave behind a legacy and association in the architecture of the federal government.
On the contrary, government buildings built in the mid to late 20th century, specifically after 1962, have a more varied vernacular. This can be credited to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, aide to President John F. Kennedy. His one page document outlined guidelines for public architecture – an effort to contextualize and modernism government buildings. This video brings his words to life via well-known architects who have have designed federal buildings.
Join us after the break for a look at some of these buildings.
A recent survey into the billing activity of architecture firms across the country has revealed a growing trend in homeowners’ preferences. The AIA Home Trends Survey released a series of charts, marking the rise between 2011 and 2012 of preferences for low maintenance, and energy efficiency home options with a rise in a desire for homes that have a proximity to neighborhood amenities. What this means is that home buyers are moving away from the auto-centric lifestyle of mid century suburbs and are coincidentally opting for the more sustainable choice where walking and public transportation may take preference. AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA, notes that in many areas, there has been a rise in interest in urban infill locations over exurbs, and a general push within communities for public accessibility and proximity to work places, retail options and open space.
What is behind this trend? Is the influence of sustainable design breaking into the mainstream of the American home-buying conscience? Is sustainability changing the “American Dream”?
It’s a race to the top as developers are reaching higher and higher with impressive glass skyscrapers that house exclusive apartments and panoramic views across Manhattan, level with some of the city’s tallest buildings. Gary Barnett of Extell Development Co. is the man behind the 1,005 foot high One57 tower in Midtown Manhattan. He announced last month that he would be developing the tallest residential building in New York City (without the help of a spire). Adrian Smith, chosen as the architect for the job, is best known for his work on the Burj Dubai. The new building, still in its early stages of design planning and financing, will tower over the Empire State Building at a planned 1600 feet, that’s just 176 feet shy of World Trade One, the tallest building in Manhattan.
The AIA is joining numerous other city agencies in the promotion of healthy communities through intelligent design choices. A new document: Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design is a series of guidelines that offer architects and designers specific methods for the design of buildings and communities that encourage healthy lifestyle choices.
Learn more after the break.
Never is the value of architecture so poignant, as when it becomes a tool to facilitate learning, development and exploration. Inspired by this video, which presents three new schools in Concord, New Hampshire that physically embody the educational philosophies of independence, collaboration, and creativity, we spoke with HMFH Architects to delve further into this vital question: how can architecture help children develop the early skills, creativity and inquisitiveness needed to become the independent and inspired adults of future generations? Find out after the break.
Adaptation: Architecture, Technology and the City is a publication that is a result of the collaboration between INABA and Free that brings interviews and art works into a conversation about the advancement of digital technology and its place in the built environment. The publication is a fascinating study into the dialogue between technological advancements in transportation and communications and the tangible environment with which is inextricably linked.
Delicately crafted models by twelve students at Eindhoven University of Technologywill be the feature of an exhibit on Rudolf Olgiati called Die Sprache der Architektur (The Language of Architect). Oligiati was a Swiss Architect of the mid-20th century whose work has been attributed to the New Objectivist Movement. His work, which largely featured single family homes, brought a modernist aesthetic to the tradition of the mountainous Grisons of eastern Switzerland.
More on this exhibit after the break.
For architects, Oslo has become a safe haven from Europe’s economic turmoil. According to an article by J.S. Marcus for The Wall Street Journal, dozens of new architectural projects currently under construction are not only changing the city’s humble skyline, putting the city on the cutting-edge of architectural design, but are also pulling in a base of buyers that are eager to call the city’s waterfront home (no wonder Norway was voted our #1 country for architects to find work). And nowhere can Oslos’s transformation be better seen than in the new quarter of Operakvarteret, where a 20,000 square-meter, mixed use development project has brought various, innovative architects together to design a new face for Oslo.
More after the break.
Earlier this week, Architect Robert K. Levy optimistically declared that the study which will evaluate the federal law limiting Washington building heights is a “win-win” situation for everyone involved. Writing for The Washington Post, Levy states: “By conducting a detailed, comprehensive city-wide study, the D.C. Office of Planning and the NCPC [National Capital Planning Commission] will produce analyses and recommendations leading to a fine-grain, strategic plan for building heights across the District. [...] Ultimately this study is a win-win proposition for all stakeholders.”
But can the situation really be so rosy? While Congress spends 10 months studying and debating the possibility of making alterations to the capital’s zoning policies, urbanists, planners and citizens have already begun weighing in on the matter – and opinions are decidedly divided. Many question the true motivations behind the possible changes, and whether those changes will truly improve the livability and sustainability of the city - or just alter it beyond recognition.
We’ve gathered both sides of the argument so you can make your own informed decision – after the break…
While the Eiffel Tower was negatively received at first for its utilitarian appearance, it soon became a major attraction for Paris, France in the late 19th century. It represented structural ingenuity and innovation and soon became a major feat, rising to 300 meters of7,500 tons of steel and iron. Just three years after its unveiling, London sponsored a competition for its own version of the tower in 1890. The Tower Company, Limited collected 68 designs, all variations of the design of the Eiffel Tower. Proposals were submitted from the United States, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Turkey and Australia. Many of the designs are bizarre interpretations of utilitarian structures, following the aesthetics of the Eiffel Tower, only bigger and taller.
Join us after the break for more on the story of the Tower of London.
Miami, Florida is booming with new architectural projects by big names: everything from new condominums by BIG,to the new Miami Beach Convention Center. So why are so many big projects migrating to Miami Beach? The city is turning itself into an American cultural and civic center.
Join us after the break for more.
In recent years Downtown Brooklyn has become somewhat of a hub of cultural activity. Just past the triangular intersection of Flatbush Ave and Fulton Street, a high density of cultural buildings, expansive retail, and entertainment exists. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC announced in late November that the city and private companies will be partnering to produce three new projects in this area that will bring affordable housing and additional cultural and community spaces to Downtown Brooklyn. This last city-owned parcel will be developed into mixed use facilities: a 515,000 square foot building at Fulton St, Rockwell Place and Ashland Place; a 32-story mixed use building on Flatbush and Lafayette to be designed by Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos and a third building currently in the RFP stage of development at Ashland Place and Lafayette.
Join us after the break for more.
The power and destruction of Hurricane Sandy made New Yorkers acknowledge just how vulnerable the city is to natural disaster. The storm pummeled Queens’ and Brooklyn’s shores, destroyed and flooded homes while Manhattan’s lower half was submerged and plunged into darkness for a week. But arguably, Staten Island, New York City’s Forgotten Borough, received the brunt of the storm and the slowest level of recovery. In the midst of the controversial clean-up, the New York City Economic Development Corporation decided to plow through the tragedy with pursuant talks of the planned developments on the St. George waterfront in Staten Island. While some residents may be offended that the subject of the talks was not of the EDC’s recovery programs, the real controversy is the way in which the EDC is planning to go forward with its proposal. It is planning to build the world’s largest ferris wheel along a vulnerable coast line that just saw damage from one of the worst storms to hit NYC in recent history.
Read more on this development after the break.
Shipping container architecture has gained a lot of ground over the past few years for its simplicity, affordability and flexibility. Yes the very same containers that make transatlantic voyages and are carted around hitched to trucks have become a tool for architects to design restaurants, to serve as retail or pavilions and even homes. According to an article by Matt Chaban on the New York Observer, NYC plans to prepare for the next disaster with apartments built out of shipping containers to be used as disaster relief shelters.
Join us after the break for more.
New York, San Fran, Chicago…Columbus, Indiana. Which of these doesn’t go with the others? Well, according to the AIA, none. Columbus, Indiana, a small town of about 44,000 has been ranked by the AIA as the nation’s 6th most architecturally important city, right after Washington DC.
So what’s so special about Columbus? Apparently, a 1950s philanthropist by the name of J. Irwin Miller took it upon himself to foot the bill for any new public building in the city. The result? Today, Columbus has more than 70 buildings designed by internationally renowned architects – including I.M. Pei, Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, Richard Meier and Harry Weese.
Check out a Video on Columbus “The Athens of the Prairie,” after the break…
Visit the Kickstarter Campaign here.
A small group of students and architect Tobias Holler of sLAB Costa Rica at the New York Institute of Technology, have teamed up to design and build a communal recycling center for Nosara, Costa Rica – a city that is facing grave problems with sanitation and illegal dumping of garbage on beaches and in wildlife areas. Construction started last summer after a Kickstarter campaign that raised $15,000 helped provide expenses and costs associated with housing the students that assisted with the construction. A relaunch of the Kickstarter campaign will provide the project with additional funds to bring the students back to accelerate the pace of construction. The funds also support the documentary by Ayana de Vos, whose film follows the progress of the project and features waste management and sustainability in Costa Rica.
Join us after the break for more.
Similar to what LEED did for buildings, City Protocol promises to do for cities. The first certification system for smart cities, due to come out in April 2013, is being developed with the guidance of over 30 organizations. It will provide a framework for designing sustainable systems in a model that integrates the vast number of elements that contribute to urban development. This global thinking expands upon the goals of the LEED certification system, which provides a more isolated, building specific agenda for architects.
More about the City Protocal Certification Program after the break.
This interview with professor and author Tom Fisher, Dean of University of Minnesota, is part of a documentary series called “Things May Happen”, in which he describes the dangers of Fracture-Critical Design. This topic is also the subject of his recent book, Designing to Avoid Disaster: The Nature of Fracture-Critical Design. Fisher discusses examples in which our systems, whether they be architectural, structural or even social and financial, fail with disastrous consequences. In a TEDxUMN talk at the University of Minnesota, Fisher spoke about the 1-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007, the failure of New Orleans’ levees during Hurricane Katrina, the BP Oil Spill on the Gulf Coast, the Wall Street investment bank failures, the housing foreclosure crisis and now the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Covering a whole spectrum of “when things go wrong” scenarios, Fisher illuminates the failed foresight in designing systems that are resilient to disaster.
Interestingly, he notes that our economic system, as designed, has a tendency to fail and fail big enough to affect the global economy. Our lifestyle, as designed, is unsustainable and requires “five planets to support”. These warnings are part of Fisher’s discourse and is a call for resilient and considered design systems that anticipate failure and avoid disaster.
Sunny & Mild Media presents Part 2 of its Googie Architecture Series, presenting design work at the cusp of technological innovations of the 1950s. Emerging out of an obsession with the fast new world of cars, planes and rockets, Googie Architecture became an ultramodern style that sought to encapsulate the spirit of the 21st century. The new forms – sweeping, cantilevered roofs, starbursts, and flowing forms – became a form of advertisement that caught the attention of motorists, for its vibrance along the stretches of highways and for its distinctive style.
This installment features a closer look at the diners and restaurants that thrived in the ’50s and were designed with the Googie style. Even the one of the first McDonald’s restaurants adapted the style to work with its logo. Many of these buildings stand in ruin now, but the style was used in all kinds of building typologies – most of which emphasized the car: drive-thru’s, drive-in’s, car washes, diners, and gas stations. Even Las Vegas, and our associations with the its architecture today, are a reflection of that style.
Results from the Transforming the Bridge Competition for Cleveland, Ohio, are in. The competition called for an innovative solution for the redevelopment and repurposing of the abandoned Detroit-Superior Bridge. The brief called for a variety of uses, dedicated pedestrian and bike paths, performance spaces, and landscaping solutions. Nine projects made the cut…
Join us after the break for a closer look at the winning projects.