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Karissa Rosenfield

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March ABI Continues to Increase

For the second consecutive month, the US Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has indicated a "modest increase" in design activity in March. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI score was 51.7, up from a mark of 50.4 in February. The new projects inquiry index was 58.2, up from a reading of 56.6 the previous month.

“Business conditions at architecture firms generally are quite healthy across the country. However, billings at firms in the Northeast were set back with the severe weather conditions, and this weakness is apparent in the March figures,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The multi-family residential market has seen its first occurrence of back-to-back negative months for the first time since 2011, while the institutional and commercial sectors are both on solid footing.”

Sergei Tchoban's Mirrored "Mobius Strip" Debuts in Milan

Russian architects Sergei Tchoban (SPEECH architectural office), Sergey Kuznetsov, and Agniya Sterligova are featuring the "Living Line" sculpture at this year's Milan Design Week. Created for a central part of the University of Milan's main courtyard, which occupies the Ca 'Granda complex of 15th century Renaissance buildings, the mirrored plexiglass "Mobius strip" aims to reflect the exhibition's theme "Energy for Life." 

Video: One World Trade Center Features 500 Year Timelapse of New York City

When the One World Trade Center opens its observatory elevators in May, visitors will embark on an unusual journey back in time with animated timelapse that recreates the evolution of Manhattan's skyline starting from the 1500s. In just 47 seconds, visitors will relive the city's architectural history, including the devastation of 9/11, while being lifted up 102 floors. Watch the video above, courtesy of The New York Times

George Lucas Unveils Plan for Bay Area's Largest Affordable Housing Project

What some believe to be an act of revenge, George Lucas has unveiled plans to build the San Francisco Bay Area's largest affordable housing project in the wealthy community of Marin County. As CBS reports, the news comes just three years after valley residents shot down Lucas' proposal to develop the land with a 265,000-square-foot production studio. The new plan aims to provide veterans, firefighters, teachers and other service-oriented working class people with 224 low-income homes. 

"We’ve got enough millionaires here. What we need is some houses for regular working people," said Lucas, according to his lawyer Gary Giacomini who also ensured that the plan was "not a form of retaliation."

OMA Designs Chinese Pavilion for 2015 Venice Art Biennale

The Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation has commissioned OMA to design the Chinese Pavilion at the 56th Venice Art Biennale, just a year after Rem Koolhaas served as director of the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibition, "Other Future" will feature the work of composer Tan Dun, architect Liu Jiakun, artist Lu Yang, filmmaker Wu Wenguang / Caochangdi Work Station and choreographer Wen Hui / Living Dance Studio in an "immersive environment where artworks are juxtaposed in a field of projections and stages connecting the interior and exterior works."

Jean Nouvel Loses Court Case Over Philharmonie de Paris

Jean Nouvel has lost a court battle aimed to remove his name from the newly opened Philharmonie de Paris. As The Telegraph reports, Nouvel claimed that the £280 million concert hall was inaugurated prematurely and parts of the building was "sabotaged" in doing so, thus believing it to be morally inapt from him be associated with the building.

"The architecture is martyred, the details sabotaged," he said in a Le Monde editorial, "so taxpayers will have to pay, once again, to correct these aberrational decisions."

Sign Up Now for Porto Academy 2015

Now for its third year, 's famed Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (FAUP) will host "Porto Academy" - a week-long summer session of lectures, workshop studios and trips open to students internationally that provides the opportunity to work with the profession's finest. Planned to take place from July 20th through the 27th, this year's class will have the chance to work closely with the architects of Pezo von EllrichshausenMenos é Mais and many others. See a complete list of participating architects and find more details, after the break. 

Ball-Nogues Compostable "Pulp Pavilion" Brings Shade to Coachella

To demonstrate the structural potential of "pulp," Ball-Nogues Studio built an experimental reclaimed paper pavilion this year at Coachella. The lightweight, self-supported structure, known as the "Pulp Pavilion," was made from a low-cost blend of recycled paper, water and pigment sprayed onto lattices of organic rope. After its use as a place of refuge for festival goers, it will be either composted or recycled. See the pavilion illuminated at night, after the break.

Archiculture Interviews: Jess Zimbabwe

"We as a species assign value to people based on the environments we ask them to live in. And I think most people are worth more than a lot of the environments that we ask them to live, work, attend school and shop in."

Open Call: Prize Searches for World's Best Public Library

Applications are once again open for world’s best public library award. As part of the Danish Agency for Culture's Model Program for Public Libraries project, the prize aims to generate new ideas about how the design of public libraries can change to meet the changing needs of today’s society. Considered libraries must "take digital developments and local culture into consideration" and "welcome a diversity of population groups with an open and functional architectural expression in balance with its surroundings and a creative use of IT to improve user experiences." Learn more about the prize (here) and submit a library, here. Candidates for the “Public Library of the Year Award” have until June 15, 2015 to apply.

Tall Wood Building and Self-Supported Steel Structure Win RAIC's Innovation Award

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has awarded two British Columbia projects with the 2015 Innovation in Architecture award for their use of wood and steel: Michael Green Architecture's Wood Innovation Design Center in Prince George has been deemed to be an exemplar for tall timber buildings, while Patkau Architects' origami-inspired One Fold research project illustrates the structural potential of folding steel sheets. A closer look at both projects, after the break. 

A Look at China's "Nail Houses"

China's rapid growth has led to some unusual situations; shocking images of so-called "nail houses" continue to circle the internet, depicting defiant homeowners refusing to give up their homes for low compensation in the name of "progress." Standalone homes, and even some graves, are being surrounded by high-rise development and roadways, as land disputes play out in court. The Atlantic has just published a fascinating round-up of these peculiar situations. You can view them all, here.  

Open Call: Our Future With/Without Parks 2105

The Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture (JILA) will be celebrating its 90th anniversary in May 2015, and is pleased to host an international competition for design proposals envisioning future Tokyo with/without parks in 2105, 90 years from today.

Robert A.M. Stern to Build Britian's Most Expensive Flats

If approved, Robert A.M. Stern will build London's most expensive flats. Aiming to replace a 1960s car park and a number of other buildings in city's Mayfair district, the £2 billion "Audley Square House" apartment block is being commissioned by Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell.

As BD Online reports, Caudwell abandoned an already approved £300 million Foster + Partners scheme in favor of Stern's neo-classical design, saying he chose the New York-based architect for his "ability to design high-quality buildings that do not stand apart from their surroundings but rather fit in comfortably amongst their neighbors.”

Milan Expo 2015: Wolfgang Buttress Completes UK Pavilion's "Virtual Beehive"

Wolfgang Buttress' “pulsating” beehive is one of the first pavilions to complete for the 2015 Milan Expo. Serving as the UK's contribution, “BE,” the “virtual hive” is designed to highlight the plight of the honeybee and offer an “immersive sensory experience” that leaves visitors with a “lasting flavor of the British landscape.”

Comprised of a 14-meter lattice structure, made from 169,300 pieces of aluminum and steel, the domed structure sits at the end of a meandering wildflower meadow that leads visitors to the "hive." Once inside, a sensory composition of audio and visual effects will mimic the activity of an existing beehive in Nottingham. 

A look inside the beehive, after the break. 

C.F. Møller Designs Denmark's Largest Sewage Pumping Station

C.F. Møller has unveiled designs for Denmark's largest sewage pumping station. Planned to be built on Copenhagen's Kløvermarken, the new building will serve as an independent counterpart to the site's historic 1901 pumping station, originally designed by city architect Ludvig Fenger.

According to the architects, the brick station aims to "set new standards for large-scale sustainable utilities in Danish cities," while "closely integrating itself into the dense urban context." It will be built as a circular structure - the optimal shape of an underground pumping well - and feature two rainwater harvesting green roofs, a distinctive set of 24 meter-tall pressure towers, and two recreational "gardens" for employees. 

KPMB and West 8 Selected to Redesign Toronto Ferry Terminal

KPMB Architects, West 8 and Greenberg Consultants have been announced as winners of a competition to revitalize Toronto's Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbor Square Park. The winning proposal, "Harbour Landing" envisions a terminal embedded within the surrounding park and topped with a lush public green space that expands the waterfront park. 

"The vision for the area will result in a welcoming gateway to the Toronto Islands – one of the City's most unique and cherished parks – with amenities and infrastructure to support the approximately 1.3 million visitors who use the ferry each year," said competition organizers, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto in a press release. 

International Spy Museum Aims to Relocate to New Richard Rogers Building

The Washington DC International Spy Museum is seeking permission to relocate to a new $100 million building designed by Richard Rogers at L’Enfant Plaza. Contingent on approval from the Commission of Fine Arts, as the Washington Business Journal reports, the new 100,000-square-foot, six-story proposed museum would be sited on an open area adjacent to the L'Enfant Plaza hotel.

“I think everyone in the city knows that’s somewhat of a dead area right now,” said Spy Museum Chief Operating Officer Tamara Christian to WBJ. “When we came to Penn Quarter, it was somewhat of a dead area. Now it’s completely energized, and we’re really hoping that we’ll be able to be a catalyst to energize L’Enfant.”