Karen Cilento

Sea Tree / Waterstudio.NL

© Architect Koen Olthuis of

As a response to urban density, Waterstudio.NL has created a floating Sea Tree that would restore environmental value in crowded metropolises.  The Sea Tree, a multilayered tower-esque structure, would inhabit the harbors and rivers surrounding major cities, such as , as a way to provide an opportunity for flora and fauna even when land is sparse.

More about the Sea Tree after the break.

Inconvenient Space / Maziar Behrooz

Special thanks to Maziar Behrooz for sharing this lecture with us! Filmed during a PechaKucha event at the Parrish Art Museum, we enjoyed a good laugh while watching and hope you do, too.  Behrooz’s selections made us wonder, what’s your favorite “inconvenient” piece of architecture?  Be sure to share your thoughts below.

Cuomo to rethink Jacob Javits

Existing Jacob Javits Center

In his State of the State address last week, Governor Cuomo introduced the notion of replacing the Jacob Javits Center along Manhattan’s West Side with a new convention center in Queens.  Such a plan envisions a 3.8 million-square-foot exhibition center at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Jamaica, Queens – a project that would become the largest convention center in the United States and a major urban redevelopment project.   Through a joint-partnership with Genting Americas, the government would provide the land and Genting would provide the $4 billion to finance the convention center.  “Let’s build the largest convention center in the nation, period,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It will be all about jobs, jobs, jobs, tens of thousand of jobs.”

More about the Convention Center after the break.

Update: The Shard / Renzo Piano


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We have been covering Renzo Piano’s Shard for London throughout its design and construction process.  Slated to become the tallest building in Europe, the Shard will make a remarkable impression of the London skyline, dwarfing most of the metropolis as the 1000ft+ tower streamlines toward the sky.   The tower has been constructed in an era of economic uncertainty, and although its height alludes confidence and a feeling of power, as it takes shape, many question the motives behind the project and its future implications on the city.

More about the Shard after the break.

Kutaisi Airport / UNStudio

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We are continually impressed by the variety of projects from UNStudio’s office.  The firm just unveiled a new vertical city highrise for  previously featured on AD, and recently, the Dutch studio’s international air terminal and traffic control tower for Kutaisi was officially presented by Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia.  The country is growing quickly and changing rapidly, with new tourist and economic activity, plus different political developments.  As such, the design for the new airport seeks to showcase Georgia new identity by providing a contemporary gateway to the country.

More about the airport after the break. 

Scotts Tower / UNStudio

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In early December, Ben van Berkel unveiled his firm’s latest design for a 31-storey residential tower in .  The tower presents a new take on functional and flexible space, as the structure is conceived as a framework for a vertical city complete with landscaped gardens, sky terraces, roof gardens and recreational facilities.  ”An interesting facet of the Scotts Tower is the way that it reacts to the urban context of . Instead of the more usual means of planning a city horizontally, we have created neighborhoods in the sky; a vertical city where each zone has its own distinct identity,” explained van Berkel.

More about the tower after the break.

In Progress: Broad Art Museum / Zaha Hadid

Courtesy of the

In 2007, Zaha Hadid won an international design competition for the Broad Art Museum on the campus of State University. The 4000 m2 building, which is donated by alumnus Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, will provide ample space for large art installations and galleries dedicated to “international contemporary culture and ideas through art.”  The design takes cues from the surrounding topography as the volume seeks to extend and emphasize existing circulatory and visual connections.  Manifested in a series of pleats, the building’s abstracted connections create linear perpsective lines that change are the vistor moves past and through the building, “creating great curiosity yet never fully revealing its content,” explained Hadid. Ground breaking began in March of 2010, and now, construction is nearing completion on the project, which is slated to open in April of this year.

Check out more construction photos, along with the competition proposal renderings, after the break.

Update: Hangzhou Gateway Tower / JDS Architects

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Back in June, we shared JDS winning mixed use project for , China.  Conceptualized as the iconic link that fuses two prominent parts of the city, the H project is a dynamic experiment of formal expression.  The tiered volume opens pedestrian connections at the ground level, and supports a generous landscape that functions as a rain water retainer on the roof level.   The young firm has just received the necessary building permits, and will begin construction in March of 2012.  We’ll keep you covered on the building’s progress, and be sure to view our previous coverage of the winning competition proposal here.

Updating New York’s Zoning Resolution / Zone Green

via Elegran

As Manhattan grows and progresses, change, with regard to building performance, is inevitable. Many newly constructed buildings uphold sustainable standards from the start; yet, the city is overwhelming settled with existing structures that need some upgrading – case in point, the retrofit project of the Empire State building that will cut energy usage by close to 40% and carbon emissions by over 100,000 metric tons over the next 15 years.  As the city tries to put its greenest face forward by retrofitting older buildings and adding sustainable features, zoning laws from the 1960s did not account for, and thus, in some cases do not allow, such changes.

Recently, the city has introduced its latest initiative, Zone Green, which Amanda Burden, Chair of the City Planning Commission, has called the most comprehensive effort of any U.S. city to sweep aside zoning obstacles to the construction and retrofitting of green buildings.  ”Removing zoning impediments to green buildings will give building owners more choices to make investments that save money, save energy, and improve the quality of our environment,” explained Burden.

More about Zone Green after the break. 

MILIEUX

Check out this fun video of students from Carleton University enjoying a series of cool architecture installations at their annual public gala.  This year, Barry J. Hobin & Associates Architects and GRC Architects with Wall Sound-Lighting.com and Graphic Carleton Services sponsored the efforts to transform the open hall with architectural interventions and installation art to create one of the largest student organized events in Ottawa.  We love the tunnel that changes color and the metal slides on the grass – what’s your favorite?

How We Work / Architecture For Humanity

With the New Year approaching, how will you give thanks for a great 2011?  We are big supporters of Cameron Sinclair’s   and we hope this video will inspire you to join their efforts in some way in 2012.   In the past few years, we have experienced serious natural disasters and Architecture for Humanity constantly provides a sense of stability, offering immediate help and a future plan for those most severely affected.   In the past 12 years, the organization has built over 2250 structures in 44 countries  - an amazing accomplishment that has impacted millions of people.   How many more millions can we help in 2012?  Check out Architecture for Humanity to join their team, and make this a resolution you will keep.

Hangzhou Waves / JDS


© JDS

JDS has just been awarded first prize for their Waves scheme – a competition entry that called for the design of not one, but two buildings for the financial district of Xintiandi of , .    The two sloping volumes offer different exterior expressions and hold different programmatic entities (a hotel and an office building); yet, the forms are guided by similar attitudes regarding sunlight, green roofs, an active ground plane, etc, which immediately creates a strong relationship between the pair.

More about the winning competition entry after the break.

Update: ABI / November


Finally! Amidst all the holiday cheer, we are happy to report a positive Architecture this month. From August through October, the has had a crazy run with large dips in the index, but November has changed that with a score a 52.0. Up from 49.4 in October, the 52.0 teamed with a new projects inquiry index of 65.0 rounds out a strong November.  Interesting to note, the South led the regional averages with 54.4 followed by the Midwest (50.9) and then the Northeast (49.1) and the West (45.6).  And, the sector breakdown measured multi-family residential at 55.8 while industrial/commercial tallied 53.9/ “This is a heartening development for the design and construction industry that only a few years ago accounted for nearly ten percent of overall GDP but has fallen to slightly less than six percent,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Hopefully, this uptick in billings is a sign that a recovery phase is in the works.  However, given the volatility that we’ve seen nationally and internationally recently, we’ll need to see several more months of positive readings before we’ll have much confidence that the U.S. construction recession is ending.”

Tri-Colonnade / SO-IL / Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale

Check out this great video by SO-IL about their spatial facade for the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale.  Referencing the 1980 Venice Bienale where 20 architects collaboratively designed a “facade” that challenged the notions of an individual and collective expression, SO-IL has taken a similar approach for their 2011 work.  The firm, no doubt, is used to challenging the accepted norms of architects and architecture – case in point, their Pole Dance for MoMA PS1 - and this Biennale proposal marks a distinction between the facade as a flat symbolic representation, and the use of the facade to actually become a spatial and experiential element. “It is high time to revisit this canonical exhibition of post-modernism. 40 years after our predecessors expanded the territory of the architectural discipline into the experience of time, we continue to believe that growth and innovation are limitless if a new territory of spatiality can be defined,” says Jing Liu of when reflecting on the intention this installation.  With ’s prismatic paneled “colonnade” of marble tiles backed with mirrors, visitors can experience a changing depth of the installation and discover new spaces while wandering through it.

Contour Crafting / Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis

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At first glance, Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis’ Contour Crafting (CC) seems both fascinating and unreal – a fabrication machine that has the potential to construct entire structures in a single run.   Supported by the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research, CC’s combination of conventional robotics and “age-old tools” creates a layered fabrication process where large-scale parts can be fabricated at remarkable speeds.  On his blog,  Khoshnevis, a professor in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, explains that the system is a scale-up of the rapid prototyping machines now widely used in industry to “print out” three-dimensional objects designed with CAD/CAM software, usually by building up successive layers of plastic. ”Instead of plastic, will use concrete,” explained Khoshnevis.

More about Contour Crafting after the break.

Cité de l’Océan et du Surf Wins Award in 2011 Annual Design Review / Steven Holl

© Fernando Guerra

In the beginning of December, we shared the news of Steven Holl‘s 2012 AIA Gold Medal award; a prestigious honor given to those who continually push the field forward with their “humanist approach to formal experimentation.”   A few short weeks later, Holl’s Cité de l’Océan et du Surf  (translated to ) has received a 2011 Annual Design Review Award.  This new museum in Biarritz, France is a collaborative effort with Solange Fabião and has attracted international attention for its spatial duality of crafting an atmosphere “under the sky” and “under the sea”.

More about the award after the break. 

Urban Umbrella / Young-Hwan Choi

Photo by Samantha Modell via TransportationNation

Tired of scurrying under makeshift unpleasant scaffolding hovering over the streets of Manhattan? Back in 2009, Bloomberg launched an urban design intervention initiative calling for designers to provide a “fresh new sidewalk shed” to replace its dingy predecessors. Entitled urbanSHED, the international design competition challenged participants to develop a sustainable and economic prototype to be used for ’s 1,000,000+ linear feet of sidewalks. Such a prototype must meet or exceed the City’s current safety requirements and regulations, and improve technical and structural performance. The winning shed was designed by Young-Hwan Choi, a student from the University of Pennsylvania. The shed is the first design to be approved under the City’s Buildings Bulletin 2011 and will be installted in Lower Manhattan soon!

More about the design after the break. 

National Art Museum of China / UNStudio

© UNStudio.

For their latest museum design in Beijing, Ben van Berkel and UNStudio have designed a formal expression which takes ques from Chinese culture to create an architecture that offers dynamically varied spaces for the NAMOC collections.  Based on uniting dualities – past and future, day and night, inside and outside, calm and dynamic, large and small, individual and collective – the two volumes reference ancient Chinese ‘stone drums’ and function in a contemporary way as a media facade with illuminated art projections.

More about the design after the break.