At just a little over 50 years old, the University of California San Diego is one of the younger college campuses in the United States, but despite this it is one of the most architecturally fascinating universities around. In the official UCSD campus guide, Dirk Sutro emphasizes that “UCSD does not have a single example of the historical-revival styles prevalent at other University of California campuses… and at San Diego’s two other major universities”. The history of UCSD architecture is one of ambition, which has made the campus a display case of modernism in all of its forms from the last half a century.
Thanks to photographer Darren Bradley, we can now share this history and a selection of the exciting structures it has produced.
Find out more about the UCSD campus after the break
Meagan Durlak and James Frankis, both students studying Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons New School for Design, have developed a mobile mapping tool to unveil the true dynamics of informal slum communities, as revealed by Metropolis Magazine.
The system, called Mark, is being tested in the Heliopolis favela of Sao Paulo, Brazil, after which the duo hope it will be “scalable and adaptable” enough to be applied to other informal settlements all over the world. The SMS-based tool is designed not only to provide information about the settlements to external organizations, but also to be a sharing platform for the residents who become cartographers of their own neighborhood.
Read about the motivation behind the Mark project after the break
Pierre de Meuron, founding partner of internationally-renowned architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron was born on this day in 1950. Throughout the course of his career, he and Jacques Herzog have developed a reputation (in the words of ArchDaily founder David Basulto for being “one of the few practices pushing new forms on architecture. They always start with something vernacular, extracting its inner essence and materializing it into something new that you will immediately understand”.
Most descriptions of the work of Herzog & de Meuron sound almost paradoxical: in one paragraph they will praise the firm’s dedication to tradition and vernacular forms, and in the next they will describe their thoroughly modern innovation. However, in the hands of Herzog & de Meuron this is no paradox, as they combine tradition and innovation in a way that the two elements actually enhance each other.
Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog were awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2001, and since have only gotten better, producing some of their most recognizable works in the past 12 years: after their 2000 design of London’s Tate Modern, they have added its recent extensions; their VitraHaus is among best known components of the outstanding Vitra Campus; their Bird’s Nest Stadium was the outstanding element of the 2008 Beijing Olympics; and they offered one of the most memorable incarnations of the Serpentine Pavilion last year.
On the occasion of Pierre de Meuron’s 63rd birthday, we invite you to look over just part of his firm’s astounding body of work, after the break:
Aldo Rossi (1931-1997), the architect known as much for his drawings and theory as he was for his designs, would have turned 82 today. Rossi was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1990, with the jury’s citation stating: “his work is at once bold and ordinary, original without being novel, refreshingly simple in appearance but extremely complex in content and meaning.”
His designs connected a range of influences: from turn-of-the-century architect and theorist Adolf Loos, to early Italian modernism, and even surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico. His work shares many themes with postmodernism too, although arguably his designs are less eclectic and have a stronger base in theory than the style-driven works of many postmodernists. Over 50 years on, the conception of urban space which he laid out in his book “The Architecture of the City” (1966) is still as relevant and thought-provoking as his built work.
The book argues for a greater understanding of the fabric of cities, and greater respect for cultural context from architects, who should try to make use of historical design precedent rather than trying to reinvent typologies. In practice, Rossi was unquestionably the master of his own theoretical approach, as evidenced by one of his most famous works, the San Cataldo Cemetary in Modena.
Ieoh Ming Pei, the Chinese-American architect who is arguably the greatest living member of the modernist generation of architects, turns 96 today. When he received his Pritzker Prize in 1983, the jury citation stated that he “has given this century some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms”.
Though known as a modernist, Pei has rejected the implications of globalism inherent in the “International Style“, instead advocating contextual development and variation in style. He has commented “the important distinction is between a stylistic approach to the design; and an analytical approach giving the process of due consideration to time, place, and purpose”. On a trip to China in 1974 he even urged Chinese architects to look more to their architectural tradition, rather than designing in a western style.
Pei’s most well known work is likely his crystalline extension to the Louvre in Paris; other highly influential works include the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.
Most parking is free – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a high cost. A recent podcast from Freakonomics Radio (which you can listen to at the end of this article) examined parking in US cities, investigating the “cost of parking not paid for by drivers” – a cost paid not just by the government, but by the environment – due to congestion and pollution caused by people searching for kerbside parking. For example, in a 15 block area of Los Angeles the distance traveled by drivers looking for parking is equivalent to one trip across the USA per day.
One potential solution which they discuss is a San Francisco project called SF Park, which makes use of sensor technology to measure the demand for parking in certain areas of the city and adjust price according to demand. In theory, this would create a small number of empty spaces on each block and dramatically reduce the time that many drivers spend cruising for parking spaces.
Though the idea is certainly an intelligent approach to the problem of kerbside parking, unsurprisingly all this talk of supply, demand and pricing sounds very much like an economist’s answer to a problem. But what can designers do to help the situation?
Perhaps, from the designer’s point of view, the real problem with kerbside parking and surface lots is that they are always seen as a provision “coupled with” a building or area of the city. There have been a number of attempts by architects – some successful and some tragically flawed – to make parking spaces less of a rupture in a city’s fabric and more of a destination in themselves. Could these point to another way?
Read about 3 examples of parking’s past, and one of its potential future, after the break…
This was the first mandatory survey of its members conducted by the RIBA, and gives a glimpse, for the first time, into the workings of every chartered UK practice. The RIBA’s executive director of membership and profession Richard Brindley described the findings as a “tale of two professions operating in different universes”. The polarized profession is most damaging to the practices in the middle; those of 10-50 employees which are large enough to have costly overheads, but not large enough to absorb them.
Large practices, employing 50 people or more, include just 3% of practices, but, thanks to their size, include 40% of registered architects. At the other extreme are practices of 10 employees or less, who account for 53% of practices despite employing a meager 10% of architects. The survey found that the majority of practices employs fewer than six people.
Read on for more results and analysis of the survey
In preparation for a ministerial review of housing standards by the UK government, the RIBA has launched their “Without Space + Light” campaign aimed at advocating minimum requirements for total space and natural lighting in order to improve quality in new built homes.
The campaign, supported by a survey titled “Housing Standards and Satisfaction: What the Public Wants“, aims to combat the recent trend towards ‘shoe-box homes’, highlighting the dissatisfaction among owners of new homes when it comes to living standards and the fact that new homes are an average of 10% smaller than they used to be.
Not only are the space standards in UK homes poor compared to past housing, they also lag behind standards set by other European countries: in Ireland, new homes are on average 15% larger, in the Netherlands they are 53% larger, and most strikingly in Denmark they are a full 80% larger.
Read more about the campaign after the break…
There are many ways that the architecture profession has lead the way in environmentally friendly design – but when it comes to the process of creating buildings themselves, the industry works its way through huge amounts of paper. Frank Gehry, through his offshoot technology company Gehry Technologies, is aiming to change that.
The company has recently announced that its GTeam software, which has so far been available for less than a year, will now make use of Box, a cloud based storage system that is well suited to large files associated with complex 3D models that are often required in designing buildings.
Read more about Gehry Technology’s new software collaboration after the break
Last week the UK’s Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced that he was commissioning a review of the country’s architecture policy, to be led by Sir Terry Farrell along with a number of high profile advisors, including Thomas Heatherwick, Alison Brooks and Alain de Botton. According to Vaizey, the review, expected to be complete by the end of the year, “will be a rallying point for the profession.”
In his article in The Guardian, Olly Wainwright rather hopefully questioned: “might this year-long study result in an innovative new piece of legislative guidance – perhaps along the lines of Denmark’s architecture policy, introduced in 2007?” While Wainwright somewhat flatly concludes, “somehow, that seems unlikely,” there’s no doubt that the UK could only stand to gain from learning from Denmark’s innovative policy.
So what lessons could the UK (and the world) learn from the Danes? Read on after the break…
Arguably the biggest buzzword in urbanism right now is the ‘Smart City’. The idea, although certainly inclusive of eco-friendly practices, has even replaced “sustainability” as the major intent of cities planning for positive future development. Smart City thinking has been used successfully in countries as diverse as Brazil, the US, the UAE, South Korea, and Scotland (Glasgow just won a £24million grant to pioneer new schemes throughout the city).
But what exactly are Smart Cities? What benefit do they bring us? And, more importantly, how can we best implement them to secure our future?
The answer, in my opinion, lies in the hands of architects.
More on the potential of Smart Cities after the break…
The findings of the recent BD employment survey in the UK, revealing that 22% of British architects are unemployed, certainly makes for unpleasant reading, but it is important to look beyond the upsetting numbers to figure out what they mean.
Much more than a simple number showing the rate of UK unemployment, a closer look at the results highlights problems, exposes trends, and dispels myths – from the assumed truth that London is an employment “oasis” to the supposed strength the profession has shown in this economic crisis.
Read more analysis of the survey results, after the break…
The city of Yatsushiro is known in Japan as a home for exemplary architecture – the legacy at least in part of Artpolis, a plan by the government of the Kumamoto Prefecture to seek out a range of talented architects to design cultural buildings in the cities of the region. Though the Artpolis scheme has been running for the past 22 years, perhaps its most successful building was completed back in 1991, with the construction of Toyo Ito‘s Yatsushiro Municipal Museum.
At the close of the 19th century, the funding of architecture was enriched by a new paradigm: that of the wealthy patron and philanthropist, who financed buildings through a sense of moral and social duty. This resulted in a number of grand public buildings, spanning cultural, educational and political institutions: the Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Music Hall, a huge number of Carnegie Libraries and even the UN Headquarters would not have been possible without the generosity of these men.
Where are gifts like these today? Are there modern versions of people like Carnegie and Rockefeller? In the 21st century, an age of encroaching corporatism and “the one percent”, it might be easy to believe that this form of construction funding is dead. This interpretation, however, does not reflect the reality at all. In fact, the recent history of the ‘wealthy patron of architecture’ is more interesting than you might think, and is rooted in the lessons learned from the pioneers of the past century.
Discover more about the fate of the architecture patron after the break.
The Luchtsingel is a pedestrian footbridge in Rotterdam that is being realized by crowdfunding, an exciting new means of funding in which the public donates money via an online platform (essentially investing in an unrealized idea) in order to make a project reality. The Luchtsingel, which uses the slogan “the more you donate, the longer the bridge”, has resonated with the public imagination and surpassed its initial funding goals, becoming an important part of Rotterdam’s urban rejuvenation.
Read more about the unusual birth of this public bridge, after the break…
A controversial plan to redevelop a large area of Liverpool’s waterfront has received an effective green light after the Communities Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, chose not to call in the scheme for a public inquiry. The £5.5 billion scheme is designed by Chapman Taylor and provides 9,000 homes, 300,000 square meters of office space and 50,000 square meters of hotel and other facilities. The scheme also includes the 55-story ‘Shanghai Tower’ and a cruise ferry terminal.
The plan has attracted criticism, in particular from English Heritage and UNESCO who worry that the size of the developments will negatively affect the Liverpool skyline, dominated for almost a century by the ‘Three Graces’ a trio of listed buildings that have come to define the view from the Mersey River. UNESCO has strongly opposed the development, placing Liverpool’s world heritage site on it’s ‘endangered’ list and threatening that if the scheme goes ahead, the area could lose its world heritage status.
Read more about the reaction to the scheme after the break…
A survey conducted by BD has revealed that 22% of qualified architects in the UK are currently unemployed. The survey included fully qualified architects as well as graduates who are still in training, and paints a bleak picture of the current state of the British architecture industry. Other trends which the survey highlights are a reduction in job security as many architects move to freelance work to stay active, and an average 30% wage reduction for those still in employment.
More results of the survey after the break
Alastair Parvin, co-founder of WikiHouse gave his TED Talk last week (one of the many architecturally relevant talks at TED 2013). Although the video of his latest talk is not yet available, to whet your appetite we present you with his speech from last year at TED@London. In it he explains the conditions of architectural and material culture that led to the foundation of WikiHouse, an open source database of house designs that can be manufactured with a CNC cutter and assembled in a day.
Parvin says: “If design’s great project in the 20th century was actually the democratization of consumption… I believe design’s great project in the 21st century is the democratization of production.” Last year, the WikiHouse project was one winner of TED’s City 2.0 Awards.
The Architecture Foundation has recently launched a month-long initiative named The Open Office. The scheme, which is described as “part ‘Citizens Urban Advice Bureau’, and part functioning practice” is the brainchild of London-based practice We Made That and will take place in the offices of The Architecture Foundation in Southwark, London until 22nd March. Operating on a walk-in basis, and displaying all work openly, The Open Office aims to engage and educate local communities on issues of architecture, urbanism and planning.
Read more about The Open Office scheme after the break.
Louis Kahn, the American architect known for combining Modernism with the weight and dignity of ancient monuments, was born 112 years ago today. His contemporary Philip Johnson once said of him that “he was his own artist. He was free, compared to me.”
Kahn might be categorized as a late Modernist, and a hugely influential one at that. He is perhaps best known for the Salk Institute, the National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, the Exeter Library and Kimbell Art Museum. His last completed design, for the Four Freedoms Park in New York, was also finally completed in 2012
The impression he left as an individual is equally as mythical. His sometimes esoteric but always insightful understanding of architecture led to him to being often described as a ‘mystic’ or a ‘guru’, and a complex private life inspired his son to film the Academy Award Nominated documentary “My Architect” in 2003.
On the occasion of his birthday, we think there is no better celebration than to rediscover his stunning catalog of works, and the film that not only inspects those buildings but the complex genius behind them: