An increasing demand for design services in the United States continues to strengthen the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has reported the February ABI score as 54.9, up slightly from a mark of 54.2 in January. This score reflects a strong increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). In addition, the new projects inquiry index was 64.8, higher than the reading of 63.2 the previous month and its highest mark since January 2007.
“Conditions have been strengthening in all regions and construction sectors for the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Still, we also continue to hear a mix of business conditions in the marketplace as this hesitant recovery continues to unfold.”
Key February ABI highlights:
Both Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright can be found on a lengthy list of architects who have tried to build in Venice and lost their battle to conservationists. However, OMA has broke through this barrier, as the practice was recently approved – after five years pending – to go forth with a project to renovate a 16th century palazzo for the fashion retailer Benetton near the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal.
More details and statements from the architect after the break…
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial saga continues, as Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) proposed legislation that would forego Frank Gehry’s controversial design and eliminate federal funding. Although Bishop’s radical bill would save $100 million in future funding, it ignores any possibility of compromise.
In response, the AIA stated:
The internationally – and often controversial - acclaimed artist Christo has unveiled the “largest indoor sculpture ever made”. Prepared to debut in a public exhibition starting March 16, the inflated “Big Air Package” has been designed to occupy a 117-meter-tall former gas tank known as Gasometer Oberhausen in Germany. The 90-meter-high, 50-meter-wide sculpture is made from 20,350 square meters of semitransparent polyester fabric and 4,500 meters of rope, with a total weight of 5.3 tons and a volume of 177,000 cubic meters.
The seemingly endless, inflatable installation was conceived in 2010 and is Christo’s first major work after the passing of his wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude in 2009.
More on Christo’s “Big Air Package” after the break…
Brazilian architect Carla Juaçaba has been announced as the winner of the inaugural arcVision – Women and Architecture Prize, an international social architecture award instituted by the Italcementi Group. The prize honors Juaçaba’s work for exemplifying significant qualitative excellence and attention to the core issues of construction, such as technology, sustainability, social and cultural implications.
More on Carla Juacaba after the break…
Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the winners of the Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life – and that ultimately can be shared with other cities to improve the well-being of the nation. Out of the 305 cities that competed in this inaugural competition, Providence, Rhode Island, was presented the Mayors Challenge Grand Prize for Innovation and a $5 million implementation award for its “cutting-edge early education initiative”. Mayors Challenge innovation prizes also were awarded to Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Santa Monica, all of which will receive $1 million to support implementation.
Design Corps – a partner of Public Interest Design Week – has announced that Version 3.0 of the Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) Evaluator, an evolving web-based tool, will officially launch next Saturday, March 23, during the Structures for Inclusion (SFI) conference at the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis Campus. SFI participants will receive the first peek at this new, collaborative design tool. Thereafter, it will be available free of charge, online at SEEDNetwork.org.
Based on SEED’s bottom-up approach to design problem-solving that truly activates community concerns, the SEED Evaluator 3.0 not only advocates, but also requires an inclusive and participatory process for achieving successful design projects with involvement from community stakeholders as well as designers and project planners. The tool offers specific steps for creating a collaborative approach to public interest design and for identifying and measuring the success of like-minded project goals focused on the triple-bottom line of social justice, economic development, and environmental conservation.
SEED Evaluator 3.0 breaks down the design process into three phases (application, details, and results) with review and evaluation required at the end of each phase. The tool helps to ensure that an effective process is followed, adequate participation is included and results are transparent. Projects completed with the Evaluator become SEED Certified, providing project accountability and proof that a project successfully addresses social, economic and environmental needs.
Click here to register to attend Structures for Inclusion and other Public Interest Design Week events, online atEventBrite.com, or click here to learn more about the SEED Network and Evaluator tool, online atSEEDNetwork.org.
Japanese architectural photographer and editor Yukio Futagawa (1932-2013) lost his battle to cancer on March 5 at the age of 80 in Tokyo, Japan. Futagawa was best known as the founder of the distinguished Global Architecture (GA) Publishing Group, which he established in 1970, and director of Global Architecture (GA) magazine. Throughout his 60-year-long career, Futagawa photographed modernist works from some of the world’s most famous architects and presented them in elegant magazine and book series. Two of his most important works include a ten-volume collection of “Japanese Traditional Houses” in the 1950s and a lavish twelve-volume collection that illustrates the complete works of Frank Lloyd Wright.
GA will continue to operate under the direction of Yukio’s son Yoshio.
Intrigued by the hexagonal plan and complex structure of Shigeru Ban’s Centre Pompidou Metz in France, ANTIVJ visual artists Simon Geilfus and Yannick Jacquet, and composer Thomas Vaquié transformed the building’s undulating facade into a digital spectacular with a light show that “abolishes notions of scale by contrasting micro-architecture with human construction”. The piece was loosely inspired by the research of deep-sea expert Peter A. Rona, whose work explores the fascinating marks left by unknown, hexagonal-shaped sea creature called Paleodictyon Nodosum, which Rona believes is designed to cultivate bacteria.
Learn more and watch the making of after the break…
After winning an international competition, OMA has been commissioned to masterplan a new 10km2 Airport City for a population of 200,000, linking the new Hamad International Airport with the city of Doha, Qatar. OMA’s masterplan is a series of four circular districts along a spine parallel to the HIA runways, intended to create a strong visual identity and districts with unique identities. Phase One of the 30-year masterplan, which links airside and landside developments for business, logistics, retail, hotels, and residences, will be mostly complete in time for the 2022 World Cup, hosted by Qatar.
Rem Koolhaas commented: “We are delighted and honored to participate in the exciting growth of Doha, in a project that is perhaps the first serious effort anywhere in the world to interface between an international airport and the city it serves.”
More on OMA’s airport city after the break…
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) have unveiled an ambitious cultural complex, which began to take shape in October after the project broke ground in the heart of Changsha, China. In true Hadid-fashion, the Changsha Meixihu International Culture & Arts Center defines itself by extreme sinuous curves that radiate from each of the three independent structures and links them to a pedestrianized landscape that offers a “strong urban experience”, forming what they hope to be a global destination for theater and art.
The architects’s description after the break…
Czech-born architect Eva Jiřičná has been announced, by unanimous decision of the esteemed AJ Judging Panel, as the Winner of the 2013 Jane Drew Prize “for her outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture.” Zaha Hadid, prize judge and winner of last year’s Jane Drew Prize, lauded Jiřičná’s for redefining the idea of retail space with her innovated use of industrial materials and famous steel and glass staircases.
Fellow judge Ivan Harbour of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners agreed, stating: “If you walk into any Apple store today, in the end, they all started with Eva.”
In addition to this, Jiřičná’s dedicated mentorship of numerous students and colleagues throughout her career has proved to be “incredibly influential” to the advancement of the profession and women in architecture.
Jiřičná, who judged the inaugural Jane Drew Prize in 1998, said: “I feel very humbled and honoured to win this award. Jane Drew was one of my major heroines. When you are starting out you look at the lives of women in your and other professions. As you progress you appreciate what these women achieved – how courageous they were. Jane Drew was one of those women. She was a pioneer.”
More on Eva Jiřičná after the break…
Seattle-based architect Jim Olson of Olson Kundig Architects has been selected by Washington State University to design a new Museum of Art. Over the years, Olson has complied a spectacular portfolio of stunning homes designed for art collectors worldwide. This experience has given Olson a “wealth of experience in not only crafting beautiful environments for works of art, but in working with artists to discover new opportunities for expressing their creativity,” according to Chris Bruce, director of the museum.
One friend said, “It looks a bit austere.” At first glance, it probably is. But like so many great minimal environments, it asks for patience and generosity. You give, and in turn it gives back.
This is also what the artists Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, Donald Judd, and, more recently, Olafur Eliasson ask. Trust them with your time and you may be rewarded with a small measure of serenity—perhaps even with the connection between art and the divine that Dominique de Menil was so focused on.
Designed by Louis Kahn, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is an outdoor sanctuary at the southern tip of what is now called Roosevelt Island, created as a memorial to FDR. The park opened last fall. Kahn’s gift took 40 years to be realized, but it presents a path for human beings to treat each other to peace.
Continue reading after the break…
Gehry’s chiseled, 244 foot tower is not the only mixed-use proposal currently being considered by the city of Santa Monica, as officials have selected three international teams led by prominent architects to submit proposals for a “significant” and “signature” development on a 2.5 acre site downtown. Located on Arizona Avenue between 4th and 5th streets, the parcel is currently occupied by a parking lot and two banks. Although the city did not specify a size constraint, the proposed designs will be expected to fit within the surrounding context and include an appropriate mix of of retail, office, hotel and residential space.
The following teams have been asked to submit proposals in May:
Saturday in Marseille, France, pedestrians and city officials joined Foster + Partners to celebrate the completion of the Vieux Port Pavilion at the mouth of Marseille’s World Heritage-listed harbor. Minimal, yet effective, this “discreet” intervention provides a new sheltered events space on the eastern edge of the port. With six slender pillars supporting its razor-thin profile, the polished 46 by 22 meter stainless steel canopy amplifies and reflects the surrounding movement of the harbor, creating a spectacle that encourages pedestrians to linger.
More on Foster’s Vieux Port Pavilion after the break…
Led by UK housing minister Mark Prisk, architects from five high-profile British practices – Haworth Tompkins, Foster & Partners, Amanda Levete Architects, Avanti Architects and de Matos Ryan – have embarked on a week-long visit to Brazil in search of major infrastructure opportunities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. The trip is part of the UKBrasil Season, a six-month series of dynamic and engaging projects designed to showcase the best of British business, culture, science and innovation in Brazil and become the largest post-Olympic legacy project in the world.
Mark Prisk stated: “Brazilian companies in these cities are actively looking for fast-track construction systems, innovative building materials and low carbon solutions to meet current and future demand, not only in preparation for hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games but also to compete in the country’s many major infrastructure projects.
More after the break…
Developers M. David Paul Associates and the Worthe Real Estate Group have commissioned Frank Gehry to design a mixed-use hotel and residential tower in his hometown of Santa Monica, California. The 22-story “Ocean Avenue Project” aims to stimulate the coastal city’s economy with street-level restaurant and retail space below a 125-room hotel and 22-unit condominium tower topped with a rooftop observation deck. As for accommodating the car-centric lifestyle of the West Coast, resident and visitor parking will be available in a three-story subterranean garage beneath the tower. In addition, the developers plan to integrate a 36,000 square foot museum campus that will add a cultural perk to the development just North of its two-acre site.
Although this project looks promising, the 244-foot, Gehry-esque tower is currently pending approval from the City. A vote by the end of March will decide its fate.
More images of the “Ocean Avenue Project” after the break…
Originally constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair, the resilient structure of New York’s Queens Museum of Art has been undergoing its fourth and most ambitious renovation since April 2011. This $68 million renovation, designed by Grimshaw Architects, will double the institution’s size, expanding the museum to a total of 105,000 square feet upon its completion in October 2013.
This dynamic cultural center in Grottammare, Italy, will be Bernard Tschumi Architects’ first commission in Italy. Inspired by the city’s small medieval center, the roughly 7,000 square meter structure will house a variety of exhibitions, conferences and workshops in an effort to “strengthen people’s ties to the territory with which they identify” by exchanging information about the existing city and envision its possibilities for the future.
The architect’s description after the break…
Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture will present “COLD war COOL digital,” an exhibition of 20 scaled prototypes of modernist, pre-fabricated, and globally-distributed Cold War era housing systems that were created using contemporary 3D printing technologies (opening reception 2/18 at 6:15, details below). The exhibition will investigate architectural modernism and its global influence and will connect with contemporary prototype pre-fabrication methods and digital research in housing and skyscraper design. A symposium that explores the technical, aesthetic, and political aspects of prototyping and pre-construction in architecture will be held tonight in conjunction with the exhibition.
Continue reading for more details…