And, we are back with our monthly updates of the Architecture Billings Index. Last month looked promising as March marked the fifth consecutive positive rating. However, April’s index has been calculated as 48.4 – a drop from March’s 50.4. The index has been a roller coaster ride of slight positive trends followed by negative setbacks, and AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, explains, “Considering the continued volatility in the overall economy, this decline in demand for design services isn’t terribly surprising. Also, favorable conditions during the winter months may have accelerated design billings, producing a pause in projects that have moved ahead faster than expected.”
More about April’s index after the break.
Parisian architect, Manuelle Gautrand, has shared her massive cultural, recreational and retail center for Triangle de Gonesse, France with us. The competition proposal intends to showcase a variety of European countries’ features – with regard to retail, leisure and cultural amenities – by organizing specific areas for designated countries.
More about the proposal after the break.
Greek firm, KLab Architecture, has designed a series of suites for Mykonos, one of the most popular summertime destinations (the island’s population rises from 10,000 to 50,000 seasonally). As is typical of KLab’s work (check out their Urban Cubes project previously featured), their hotel project looks to the vernacular language of island’s vocabulary and capitalizes on the environment’s relationship between the landscape and the sea, to formulate a modern interpretation of the cycladic architecture that has evolved over centuries.
More about the hotel room design after the break.
Earlier this week, Pratt Institute extended an invitation to the ArchDaily team to attend their 123rd commencement, celebrating the achievements of 1300 bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates at Radio City Music Hall. The event also marked a special day of recognition for four honorary degree recipients: artist/curator/critic Ai Weiwei, architect, engineer and artist Santiago Calatrava, patron on the arts and education Kathryn Chenault, and the Metropoitan Museum of Art’s longest-serving director Philippe de Montebello.
We were privileged to have an opportunity to congratulate Mr. Calatrava on his doctor of architecture degree, and pose ArchDaily’s traditional interview questions. Mr. Calatrava’s contributions to the professions of architecture and engineering can be found scattered across the world, and bring a sense of dynamism that result from the merge between art and technology, expression and functionality.
Calatrava’s charm and good humor made for a friendly conversation that we hope you enjoy.
We recently shared six conceptual visions for the transformation of Los Angeles’ Union Station. Upon the release of the vision boards, the team’s proposals (EE&K, a Perkins Eastman Company, in association with UNStudio; IBI Group with Foster+Partners; Grimshaw with Gruen; Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners, with Ten Arquitectos and West 8; NBBJ with Ingenhoven Architects; and Renzo Piano Building Workshop with Parsons Transportation Group Inc.) sparked much public interest. As we reported earlier, the Metro staff will recommend a winner to the Metro board on June 28th, but in the meantime, we’d like to share a closer look at some of the proposals.
UNStudio’s proposal with EE&K imagines Union Station as a multi-modal transit hub filled with mixed use development and outdoor spaces. The conceptual vision board explores possibilities for the station and its surrounding areas, highlighting a key integration of transportation and outdoor park spaces with its “green loop” strategy.
More about the vision board after the break.
Yesterday, Marina Abramović and OMA announced the creation of the Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art under the performance dome at MoMA’s PS 1 in Long Island City. Abramović will team with the architects to create a part-art, part-educational and part-performance venue that will not only focus on Abramović’s performance methods, but, interestingly, on educating the public with regards to viewing and appreciating long duration performances.
Perhaps, Abramović’s name sounds familiar, and rightly so. She has wildly been hailed as one of the most progressive and devoted long-duration performers; one of her most recent New York performances took place at the MoMA where she sat completely silent, just starring at visitors for the museum’s entire opening hours. And, now, with this Institute, Abramović will be able to teach her ways to aspiring performers, and more viewers will be able to experience and appreciate her performance methods. Abramović commented, “The Institute’s aim is to protect and preserve the intellectual and spiritual legacy of performance art from the 1970′s into the future, and will serve as an homage to time-based and immaterial art.”
More about the Institute after the break.
Danish firm, CEBRA, was recently awarded first prize for their new education center in Odense. The building explores how curved forms can penetrate and define the rectilinear confines of the 134,550 sqf school building. Soft curving levels open to floors below and provide a mixing of visual and auditory experiences in a dynamically changing environment. Moreover, such levels provide a flexible learning environment, with “the human-being placed at the center.”
More about the project after the break, including CEBRA’s awesome hand renderings.
The billings index is our industry’s leading indicator of construction activity, and for March, the commercial sector is continuing its positive run with a score of 56.0. Although scores above 50 reflect a positive showing, the new projects inquiry dropped to 56.6 from a high 63.4 reported in February. “We are starting to hear more about improving conditions in the marketplace, with a greater sense of optimism that there will be greater demand for design services,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “But that is not across the board and there are still a number of architecture firms struggling so progress is likely to be measured in inches rather than miles for the next few months.” Regionally, the Midwest leads with 54.1, following by the Northeast, South and West with scores of 53.9, 50.1 and 46.6, respectively.
While the five month run seems to show promising conditions, the index is barely above the cutoff score of 50 and conditions have remained volatile throughout this post recession period. And, although we enjoying sharing the statistics, we understand the numbers don’t tell the whole story, so we would like to hear how your firms are fairing. Have your projects included an increase in commercial programs recently? Let us know in the comments below.
Beginning in 1955, the American Academy of Arts and Letters have awarded architectural accolades to those who made a significant contribution to architecture as an art. Recently, the organization began giving such awards, formerly called Academy Awards, to honor American architects whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction or explores architectural ideas through any medium of expression. This year’s winners include Kathryn Gustafson (Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture), Hilary Ballon (Arts and Letters Award for medium expression), Marlon Blackwell, Elizabeth Gray & Alan Organschi and Michael Maltzan (Arts and Letters Awards for personal direction)- a mixture of architectural academics and practitioners, landscape designers and fabricators.
More about the winners after the break.
Amanda Burden has been making a big impact on the City. As Chair of the New York City Planning Commission and Director of the Department of City Planning, Ms. Burden’s efforts to revitalize New York have resulted in the preservation of the High Line, the creation of the East River Waterfront Esplanade, and the future development of Freshkills Park – a former landfill in Staten Island, to name a few. Both on an architectural and urban level, and also from a sustainability policy viewpoint, Ms. Burden’s years as Chair has effectively “raised the quality of design in our city and our expectations about design and city life.”
This week, Ms. Burden has been recognized by the Architectural League of New York and has been awarded their highest honor, the President’s Medal. Such an award is rightly deserved as Ms Burden’s impact on architecture and planning initiatives has shaped the public spaces that have grown to define New York. The President’s Medal is an honor that is awarded by peers from an organization that is independent of any professional or policy agenda, and with this recognition, Ms. Burden joins recent recipients such as Massimo and Lella Vignelli, Hugh Hardy, Richard Meier, Ada Louise Huxtable, Robert A.M. Stern, Kenneth Frampton, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.
More about the award after the break.
We’ve been following the growth of CLOG – an architectural publication seeking to prolong the discussion on pointed topics – from its inception last autumn with the inaugural issue on BIG, followed by their take on Apple. Currently, CLOG is working toward the release of Rendering (submissions are due today!). This evening, CLOG is participating in a “Young Journals Symposium” at Cooper Union. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by at 7:00 at the Cooper Union Rose Auditorium. The event will feature a round table discussion led by Cynthia Davidson, the Log’s editor and founder, and feature panelists such as the editors of CLOG, Another Pamphlet and Pidgin. This symposium is quite timley as we recently shared an article about Paul Goldberger leaving for Vanity Fair, and the implication of news publications slowly eliminating architecture discussion from their pages. In a way, this symposium responds directly to that matter, as the editors will discuss their motivation for creating such outlets for discussion.
After co-founding studiometrico, Italian architect, Lorenzo Bini, has recently opened a new architectural firm in Milan entitled Binocle. Bini takes his creativity displayed in his Bastard flagship store in Milan (the converted cinema received the coveted ArchDaily Building of the Year Award for Interiors in 2009), to a different level with this transformed reuse project for offices in Via Zumbini, Milan. The project includes a complete overhaul of an existing industrial building from the 1930s and the construction of a new entity to create 17 units of 100 and 150 sqm available for small practices in search of a workplace.
Architectural design: BINOCLE / Lorenzo Bini
Collaborators: Claudia Brunelli, Valentina Cocco, Michela Fancello, Sandro Riscino
Consultants: Gennaro Postiglione
Location: Via Bonaventura Zumbini 29, Milan
Client: Immobiliare del Nord S.p.a.
Structural design: Atleier LC
Lighting design: Rossi Bianchi Lighting Design
Project area: 1.350 sqm
GSA: 1.900 sqm
Photographs: Giovanna Silva
On-site photographers: Iacopo Boccalari, Francesca Pozzi, Carla Vitali
Influential architecture critic, Paul Goldberger, has announced his move from The New Yorker to Vanity Fair, both Condé Nast publications. During his 15 year run at The New Yorker, Goldberger has eloquently commented upon projects’ affects in the social realm, as well as their theoretical underpinnings from an academic perspective. Goldberger’s highly decorated professional career has been shared between The New Yorker and initially, The New York Times where Goldberger served as the leading architecture critic and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism in 1984. Goldberger has said his leave from The New Yorker was partly initiated as a way to devote more time to Frank Gehry’s biography; yet, upon Graydon Carter’s persistent requests, Goldberger will become a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. Interestingly, Goldberger’s writings will not strictly be focused upon architectural criticism. “Graydon’s eager to do a broad range of things on design and I’m excited to be doing that. And I’m not being coy, we haven’t figured out exactly what the parameters are yet, but there will certainly be stories that are design-oriented, not strictly architecture ,” Mr. Goldberger told the New York Observer.
Addicted to checking your favorite site, like ArchDaily, for constant updates, or checking in with Facebook or Foursquare? Don’t worry – you’re not alone, and Columbia’s Spatial Information Design Lab can prove it. In addition to sharing your whereabouts with friends, your geographic mark provides valuable insight in examining the psycho-geography and economic terrain of the city.
More about the study after the break.
Last week, we received copies of two of Steven Holl’s newest publications, Scale and Color Light Time. Published by Lars Müller, the books examine Holl’s preoccupation with light and color as ways to inform the shaping of space. Holl’s architecture has consistently defined itself with formal gestures grounded in light and meaningful applications of textures and colors. While accurate to associate Holl with water color, the books shows the range such a medium has had over Holl’s career, as it has afforded the flexibility to serve as both an exploratory and explanatory tool.
More about the books after the break.
In the middle of March, we attended a community meeting for the third installment of the High Line and shared James Corner and DS + R’s visions for the final stretch of the elevated rail line. While the meeting offered an in depth look as to how it would tie together the previously featured conceptual elements, perhaps the already daring project needs a little more spice…perhaps, the High Line needs Jeff Koons. The American artist has been in contact with the founders of the Friends of the High Line (the nonprofit which saved the railway from being demolished) as it is possible the public park could be outfitted with his lastest sculpture, Train, a massive replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive. Oh, and did we mention that the train would be danging dramatically in the air, suspended from a crane?
More about Train after the break.
Jonathan Segal, an architect and developer from San Diego, California, is nearing completion on his latest project, the Cresta. Our friends from Breadtruck films have compiled this short construction video as a teaser until the final project is fully finished. Check out the clip, and we’ll keep you updated on the project.
Last week, we shared a great series of modular summer residences by Visiondivision that ranged from a small cabin to a massive castle. In the meantime, the firm has also been working on a competition proposal to replace a church in Våler, a small Norwegian town, after a devastating fire. For a firm that typically takes a standard design approach and then reinvents it or inverts it to form a completely new paradigm, we were impressed by their ability to bring a simplistic elegance to this religious structure.
More about the church after the break.
Under the guidance of David Mah, Carl Koepcke and Marshall Prado from Harvard Graduate School of Design created a system for constructing a rapidly deployable ice shelter using snow and ice as building materials. The temporary shelter is intended for cold environments and utilizes the insulative properties and inherent compressive strength of the proposed building materials to craft a spatial catenary volume.
More about the ice shelter after the break.
Last month, our reporting of the Architecture Billings Index was a little pessimistic, as the slight upward movement was no sure sign of a stable recovery. Yet, February marks the fourth month the Billings Index has remained in positive territory (a score of 50 or more indicates as such), and while we are cautious to mark the volatile index’s movement as a trend, we sure hope it is! February reported a score of 51.0 and a significant jump was reached in the new project inquiry index (up from 61.2 to 63.4). In fact, the 63.4 score is the highest inquires for new projects since July of 2007. “This is more good news for the design and construction industry that continues to see improving business conditions,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The factors that are preventing a more accelerated recovery are persistent caution from clients to move ahead with new projects, and a continued difficulty in accessing financing for projects that developers have decided to pursue.” Breaking the index down regionally, the Midwest leads with 56.0, followed by the South, Northeast and finally the West with scores of 51.3, 51.0, 45.6, respectively.