Irina Vinnitskaya

Architectural League Announces 2013 Winners of Emerging Voices Award

Kukje Art Gallery, Seoul (South Korea) / SO-IL, credit: Iwan Baan

Emerging Voices is an award developed by the Architecture League of New York that annually selects eight practitioners in a juried portfolio selection.  Award recipients are selected from the disciplines of architecture, landscape design and urbanism and display the sensibility of the profession in light of the larger issues related to the built environment.  This year’s selection includes: SO-ILPRODUCTORAOgrydziak Prillinger ArchitectsMASS Design Groupgraciastudio , dland studioDIGSAU, and cao | perrot Studio.

Details after the break. 

Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Life

Henri Labrouste (French, 1801-1875). Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, 1854-1875. View of the reading room. © Georges Fessy

MoMA’s upcoming  Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light  celebrates the impact of this 19th century architect on space, materials, luminosity and on great places of assembly.  The exhibition will run from March 10th to June 24th, 2013 and will be the first solo exhibition of Labrouste’s work in the United States.

More on ‘Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light’ after the break.

The Psychology of Urban Planning

Courtesy of Entasis

Walkability, density, and mixed-use have become key terms in the conversation about designing our cities to promote healthy lifestyles.  In an interview with behavioral psychologist, Dr. James Sallis of the University of San Diego in The Globe and Mail,  Sallis discusses how his research reveals key design elements that encourage physical activity.  In the 20th century, the automobile and new ideals in radically changed the way in which cities were structured.  Residential and commercial areas were divided and highways were built to criss-cross between them.  Suburban sprawl rescued city dwellers from dense urban environments that had gained a reputation for being polluted and dangerous.  In recent decades, planners, policy makers and environmentalists have noted how these seemingly healthy expansions have had an adverse affect on our personal health and the health of our built environment. Today, the conversation is heavily structured around how welcoming density, diversity and physical activity can help ameliorate the negative affects that decades of mid-century planning have had on health. Sallis describes how much of a psychological feat it is to change the adverse habits that have developed over the years and how design, in particular, can help encourage the change.

Rethinking Kala Nagar Traffic Junction

Andres Perez and Team – Student Category; Image Courtesy of BMW Guggenheim Lab

, like many populous modern , 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. 

OLIN Collaborates with HNTB to Master Plan UC Berkeley’s California Memorial Stadium

UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, Athletic Center and Plaza; Photograph © Tim Grifftih

In 2005, OLIN - a landscape architecture, and planning studio – was selected to join HNTB Architects in the design of a master plan for University of California Berkley’s southeastern that aimed to unify its distinct elements and strengthen the social spaces of the . 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.

adAPT NYC Competition Announces Micro Apartment Winner and Finalists

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

In an effort to address housing concerns throughout the , 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.

What Cities Can Do with Vacant Lots

Glenwood Green Acres; © Tony Fischer Photography

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 of populous but affected cities like Philadelphia.  The Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia approximates that there are nearly 40,000 vacant lots throughout the of brotherly love, about 74% of which are privately owned, making them virtually inaccessible to rehabilitation.  But the 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. 

Public Architecture’s 1% Program Provides Projects for Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity; el dorado architects

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 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.

Brookfield’s Manhattan West Breaks Ground

Manhattan West; Courtesy of Brookfield Development

’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.

MAS Context #16: Production

MAS Context #16: Production; Cover by David Sieren

The new issue of MAS Contexta quarterly publication released by MAS Studio, takes on the daunting issue of production and consumption impacting 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.  , 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.

Slum Rehabilitation Promise to Mumbai’s 20 Million

Aerial View of ; Courtesy of Flickr User Cactus Bones; Licensed via Creative Commons

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 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.  , 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: The Way We Live

The City and the Storm, 2012; © , Images courtesy of Perry Rubenstein Gallery

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  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.

Our Ideal City? Seen through the eyes of the Pacific West Coast.

View of Silicon Valley via Flickr user Shootyoureyeout

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 , 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 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.

TEDx: How to solve traffic jams / Jonas Eliasson

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, 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: 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: Lebbeus Woods, Architect

Lebbeus Woods, Project: Inhabiting the Quake, Quake , 1995;; © Estate of Lebbeus Woods

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.

Urban Fabric: Building New York’s Garment District

URBAN FABRIC: Building New York’s Garment District; Courtesy of the Skyscraper Museum © 2012

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 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 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.

High Line-Inspired Park proposed in Queens

Rockaway Rail Branch of the LIRR; Photos Courtesy of Friends of the Queensway © 2012

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 , 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 .

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.

Biological Concrete for a Living, Breathing Facade

© cowbite

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 CatalunyaBarcelonaTech (UPC) has developed a 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.