Karissa Rosenfield

AIA Signs Cooperative Agreement with Africa Union of Architects

Butaro Hospital / MASS Design Group. Image © Iwan Baan

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Africa Union of Architects (AUA) has signed a cooperative agreement to “share practice tools and resources, creating a framework for American and African architects to work collaboratively in achieving development and infrastructure goals in Africa.” The agreement articulates their mutual interests to advance the “Africa Sustainability Campaign” in spirit of the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to reinvigorate and formalize the ’s relationship with our colleagues in Africa,” said 2015 President, Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA. “We look forward to increased knowledge sharing on topics such as health and resilience which are critical to the sustainable future of our planet.”

Video: Universal Everything Turns Sydney Opera House into “Living Mural”

Universal Everything has transformed the Sydney Opera House into a “Living Mural,” as part of Vivid Sydney. Drawing inspiration from the early pioneers of animation – Len Lye, Norman McLaren and Walt Disney – the global animation studio first began to design their mesmerizing lightshow with a simple drawing. See it in fruition in the video above.

Win Tickets to the IDEAS CITY Conference Next Week in NYC

Courtesy of The

Next week, the New Museum in New York will kickstart the annual IDEAS CITY Festival on Thursday, May 28th. Themed after Italo Calvino‘s “The Invisible City,” the three-day event will “explore questions of transparency and surveillance, citizenship and representation, expression and suppression, participation and dissent, and the enduring quest for visibility in the city” through a number of platforms, such as panels discussions, poetry slams, mobile art installations, workshops, exhibitions and most notably the transformation of ’s Bowery neighborhood into a “temporary city of ideas.”

Interested in attending? Five of our readers have the chance to win tickets to the festival’s opening conference. Enter the sweepstakes below for a chance to watch a screening of Mannahatta: Studies for an Opera about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, listen to Bjarke Ingels discuss the relevance of literary speculation, and much more (the full conference schedule).

All those who will be in New York City on May 28th are eligible to participate. Follow the instructions to enter below.

Mecca to Build the World’s Largest Hotel

Abraj Kudai hotel . Image © Dar Al-Handasah via The Guardian

has unveiled plans to build the world’s largest hotel by 2017. The 10,000-room Abraj Kudai hotel will be built in the Manafia district, just south of the Grand Mosque. It will be a city within a city, hosting 70 restaurants, food courts, a bus station, shopping mall, conference center, ballroom and five floors dedicated entirely to the Saudi royal family; all will be set within a cluster of 12 towers standing atop a 10-story podium and centered around a massive dome.

Open Call: US Launches Competition for National World War I Memorial

Project Site. Image Courtesy of U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

The US World War I Centennial Commission has launched a design competition for the National World War I Memorial in Washington DC. The competition will be a two-stage design competition, and is open internationally to any professionals, university-level students, and all other interested participants. “The objective is to transform Pershing Park from a park that happens to contain a memorial to a site that is primarily a national World War I memorial, within a revitalized urban park setting with a distinct sense of place that complements the memorial purpose while attracting visitors, workers, and residents of the District of Columbia,” says the Commission.

The deadline for Stage I submissions is July 21, 2015, and Stage II finalists will be announced August 4, 2015. The Commission expects to announce its selected design in January 2016. Learn more about the competition, here.

5 Projects Honored with ECOLA Award for Use of Plaster

High Performance Rowing Centre in Pocinho. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

The European Conference of Leading Architects has announced the winners of the 2015 Award. The biennial prize, now in its eighth year, honors projects for their use of plaster. This year, two projects won first prize, including Portuguese architect Álvaro Fernandes Andrade for his Pocinho Center for High Performance Rowing in Vila Nova de Foz Côa, and three projects received honorable mention. Each project was selected from 149 shortlisted projects by a five-person jury, chaired by Peter Cook.

View all five winning projects, after the break. 

Video: The Bicycle Snake / Dissing+Weitling

The Louisiana Channel recently paid a visit to one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities to view what is dubbed “Copenhagen‘s new architectonic landmark,” Dissing+Weitling Architecture‘s “The Bicycle Snake.” “Strikingly slender” and boasting a simple orange track, the Bicycle Snake is a 230 meter dedicated entirely to . The steel bridge tries not to “be more that it actually is,” unlike many other landmarks, connecting bicyclists to two main parts of the city by elevating them up to seven meters above the sea.

ABI Slows in April

April 2015. Image via CalculatedRiskBlog.com

For the second month this year, the US Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has revealed a decrease in design serves. As the American Institute of Architects (AIA) report, the April ABI score was 48.8, down sharply from a mark of 51.7 in March. The new projects inquiry index was 60.1, up from a reading of 58.2 the previous month.

“The fundamentals in the design and construction industry remain very healthy,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The fact that both inquires for new projects and new design contracts continued to accelerate at a healthy pace in April points to strong underlying demand for design activity. However, April would typically be a month where these projects would be in full swing, but a severe winter in many parts of the Northeast and Midwest has apparently delayed progress on projects.”

A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break.

Allies and Morrison and O’Donnell + Tuomey Chosen to Design London’s Olympicopolis

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Allies and Morrison, together with O’Donnell + Tuomey and Josep Camps/Olga Felip Arquitecturia, has been chosen ahead of David ChipperfieldFeilden Clegg Bradley Studios and three other teams to design ’s Olympicopolis culture and education quarter. The major commission, which will be sited at the gateway to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park along the Stratford waterfront, will include new buildings for the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sadler’s Wells, the London College of Fashion, and potentially the Smithsonian Institute’s first permanent museum outside the US.

Thomas V. Vonier Elected 2017 AIA President

delegates chose Thomas V. Vonier at the 2015 National Convention in . Image © Flickr CC User Jack Kennard

Thomas V. Vonier, FAIA, has been elected as the 2016 First Vice President and 2017 President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Currently serving as 2014–2015 AIA Vice President, Vonier is the founder and past president of AIA Continental Europe from 1994 to 1995. He served on the AIA Board of Directors representing the AIA International Region from 2010 to 2012. Vonier received an M.Arch. and a B.Arch. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee after attending the school of architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. He is also currently Secretary General of the International Union of Architects, after previously serving as its Vice President. To see all other newly elected officials, follow this link.

Tham & Videgård Designs Sweden’s “Most Sought After Home”

© Tham & Videgård

Tham & Videgård Arkitekter has designed a home with the help of two million Swedes. Made possible by big data, the Swedish office analyzed 200 million clicks and 86,000 properties on Hemnet properties to design “Sweden’s statistically most sought after home.” The result, the Hemnet Home – a “new typehouse for everyone by everyone.”

Work Begins on Steven Holl’s Hunters Point Library in Queens

© Steven Holl Architects

Construction has commenced on Steven Holl ArchitectsHunters Point Community Library in Queens, New York. Rising along the shoreline on the city’s East River near a cluster of newly built high-rise condominiums, the 22,000 square-foot (6,705 meter) library aims to provide a community-centric public space and park to the increasingly privatized Long Island City waterfront.

Watch Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard Take Shape in New York

Herzog & de Meuron‘s 56 Leonard is taking shape in New York. Due to top out this summer, the 60-story has become known as the “Jenga tower” for its cantilevered glass facade. Upon its completion in 2016, the 821 foot-tall (250 meter) Tribeca building will be comprised of 145 residences and will feature a Anish Kapoor sculpture at its base. Check out the Rob Cleary time-lapse above to view the building’s progress over the last year.

8+8 Concept Studio Proposes Underwater Tennis Court in Dubai

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Polish practice 8+8 Concept Studio has released images of a proposed underwater tennis court planned to be built off the coast of Dubai. Staged beneath an expansive glass roof that would put marine life on display, the radical proposal is being called into question as engineers debate its feasibility. As the Daily Mail reports, the scheme seems unlikely due to the challenges of manufacturing glass sheets large enough to span a tennis court and ensure that the structure is impact resistant. Refracting light is also a valid concern.

MAD Transforms Japanese Home into Unconventional Kindergarten and Residence

© MAD

MAD Architects have broken ground on their first project in Japan, the “Clover House” kindergarten. “A kindergarten that feels like home,” as MAD describes, the renovation project is transforming an existing 105 square-meter home in , Aichi, into a fully functioning education institution that caters to students during the day and provides a home for its teachers at night.

Part of the original home’s wood structure will be reused and incorporated into the new building’s design. It’s “signature” pitched roof will create a “dynamic interior space,” while preserving some of the owner’s past memories.

Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge to Represent London’s Horticultural History

© Garden Bridge Trust

New images of Thomas Heatherwick‘s recently approved Garden Bridge depicts how it will look once built in 2018. With 270 trees, 2,000 shrubs, hedging plants and climbers, over 22,000 perennials, ferns and grasses and 64,000 bulbs planted on the bridge, the lush river crossing will take pedestrians through London‘s horticultural history, “from wild marshland to cultivated gardens,” as the Garden Bridge Trust reports. Five distinct landscaped areas, created by landscape designer , will span the bridge’s 6000 square-meters of open space and represent the capital city’s plant cultivation from centuries past.

Vote for Your Favorite Atlanta Bridgescape Proposal

Finalist A: “Green City Spectator” at Midtown’s 10th Street . Image © Atlanta Bridgescape Competition

Five finalists have emerged in the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition. The urban design challenge, which was launched earlier this year, sought creative ideas to enhance two existing freeway overpasses in the city’s Midtown and Downtown districts. Now in the competition’s final phase, the finalists have refined their ideas, taking in consideration a budget of up to $3 million for each project. The proposals are now undergoing public review and you are invited to vote for your favorite design as part of the People’s Choice Award. Read on to review each proposal and find out how to vote.

A winner will be announced this Friday, May 15 at the ’s 2015 National Convention.

MVRDV to Transform Abandoned Highway in Seoul into Lush Skygarden

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MVRDV has won a competition to transform an abandoned elevated highway next to Seoul‘s Central Station into a 938 meter-long skygarden. The ambitious project, dubbed the “ Skygarden,” aims to “build on the city’s ambition to be greener, more attractive and more user-friendly,” while acting as a catalyst for the surrounding neighborhoods. 254 species of trees, shrubs and flowers will take over the overpass, creating a unique “library of plants” organized according to the Korean alphabet. Even more, the skygarden will cut pedestrian commutes to the station by more than half, reducing the walk from 25 to 11 minutes.