NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT–Yale’s Ezra Stiles College, designed by Eero Saarinen and completed in 1961, reopened to students last month after a one-year, $55 million dollar renovation. The project was the last in a complete overhaul of all the residential colleges at Yale, which started in 1998 and has cost over $500 million (adjusted for inflation).
Students are happy with the work, praising the new brick pizza oven in the dining hall, shift from single to suite-style rooms, and improved furniture and lighting. Jon Rubin ’12 told the Yale Daily News (YDN) the renovated Stiles is “definitely a step up” from the college he lived in two years ago.
In this video from Cities of Opportunity 2011, architectural superstar and OMA founder Rem Koolhaas shares his views on the contemporary evolution of the city and his vision for the future of urban centers. Produced by accounting giant PwC (a.k.a PricewaterhouseCoopers before their 2010 re-branding) and the Partnership for New York City, Cities of Opportunity 2011 “analyzes the trajectory of 26 cities, all capitals of finance, commerce, and culture and through their performance, seeks to open a window on what makes cities function best.”
GENEVA–Galerie Anton Meier inaugurated the first exhibition in Switzerland devoted to the work Pierre Jeanneret on September 20 at the Palais de l’Athénée. The exhibition, “The Chandigarh Project,” features a selection of furniture created for the Chandigarh capital complex on the border of Punjab and Haryana states in India. Intended to offer the public “clearer public insight into the humanistic work of Pierre Jeanneret, often overshadowed by his illustrious cousin, the show features pieces handcrafted on site for the new capital presented with “rare street furniture” as well as Le Corbusier’s symbols and prints. Highlights include teak tables, cane chairs, wooden armchairs, an a cast iron manhole cover with a recessed reproduction of the Chandigarh master plan as drawn by Le Corbusier in 1951. The exhibition comes after a scandal that erupted in 2010 when UBS decided to pull an ad featuring Corbusier. Debates continue involving the provenance of Chandigarh artifacts such as these, as dealers continue to buy items from Indian officials to resell abroad.
More information and photos after the break.
The AIA has issued a “comprehensive look yet at the built environment’s role in economic recovery, highlighting six specific policy steps that will generate jobs and help grow the American economy.” Coming on the eve of President Obama’s major jobs initiative, the report cites George Mason University economist Stephen J. Miller in arguing that every $1 million in new construction spending supports “28.5 full-time, year-round-equivalent jobs.”
Miller and the AIA blame tight credit markets blocking potential progress in this area. The publication, “The Built Environment’s Role in the Recovery,” is issued with this problem in mind. “We’re putting these recommendations forward now because it’s time for the Administration and Congress to get real about creating an environment in which people are willing to lend and borrow,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA, quoted in a recent AIA press release. “When credit flows to worthy projects, it unleashes the job creation potential of the American economy.”
PORTLAND–A recent study by Portland-based Earth Advantage Institute reveals that Energy Star and LEED certification for new and existing homes not only saves money but might also raise resale value. The study, conducted over four years in the six-county Portland metropolitan area, found that newly constructed homes with third-party certifications for sustainability and energy efficiency sold for 8% more on average than non-certified homes, and existing homes with certifications sold for 30% more. A similar study was also conducted Seattle, showing 9.6% price premium with certification. While the results are inconclusive, they are compelling.
From the Washington Post Writers Group VIA Los Angeles Times:
Bottega di Archiettura Metropolitana aka BAM! recently won a Bjarke Ingalls-judged urban design competition for proposing to deal with the Venice, Italy’s rising water problem… with giant concrete bowl islands!
Sure, the scheme neither addresses how the existing city should retrofit itself nor does it work out some key technical concerns–how does one move from one bowl to another? what happens when the bowls fill with water?–but with renderings so incredibly beautiful why besmirch oneself with such trivialities?
Read more at FastCo. Design
Burden, a performance artist known for crucifying himself on a Volkswagen and once hiring a friend to shoot him in the arm, doesn’t have any particular interest in transportation or urban planning, he says, although he has used toys in his artworks since the 1970s. “Toys are interesting as objects — they’re the tools you use to inculcate children into adults,” he told Fastco Design. “They’re a reflection of society.” His mini-city is “modeling something that’s on the twilight of extinction: the era of the ‘free car,’” Burden says, referring to the idea of jumping into one’s car anytime and going wherever one pleases. “Those days are numbered, but think it’s a good thing. The upside is that cars can be faster and safer, and you don’t have to worry about drunk drivers. Think about it: The cars in Metropolis II are going a scale speed of 230mph. That’d be great to do for real in L.A.”
The second iteration of stillspotting nyc–a two-year multidisciplinary project that takes the Guggenheim’s programming into the streets of New York City–features Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and U.S. and Norway–based architecture firm Snøhetta in collaboration on urban soundscapes around Lower Manhattan. To a Great City, the Manhattan edition of stillspotting nyc, will be open to the public for two extended weekends on September 15–18 and 22–25, 2011. The installations explore the relationship between space and sound.
The architects have selected, and sometimes altered, urban spaces embodying the concept of a central tone, extending the perception of sound in the realm of space. Visitors will experience the confluence of music and architecture at five locations that quietly celebrate the city, ten years after September 11th. Around the periphery of Ground Zero, “participants may encounter a green labyrinth created by The Battery Conservancy, reflect in an underground chamber at Governors Island National Monument, and enter otherwise inaccessible spaces in landmark skyscrapers.” Participants can visit spaces multiple times at their leisure to understand how their perception changes based on circumstances such as time, stress, appetite, and sleep.
Exhibition: stillspotting nyc: manhattan (To a Great City by Arvo Pärt and Snøhetta)
Venue: Five locations, starting at Castle Clinton National Monument in Battery Park, across from 17 Battery Place, New York, NY
Dates: September 15–18 and 22–25, 2011
Read the press release here: http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/press-room/releases/4219-stillspottingmanhattan
In this July 2011 TEDGlobal talk, physicist Geoffrey West argues that mathematical laws of networks and scalability govern the properties of cities. West demonstrates how wealth, crime rate, walking speed, and other aspects of a city can be predicted based on a city’s population–universally, and with startling accuracy.
West’s presentation is constructed through a comparison of cities’ statistical similarities with the mathematical laws of biology. Both are dominated by economies of scale, but while the pace of life decreases as biological organisms scale upwards, the pace of life in cities increases. For example, doubling the size of a city systematically increases income, wealth, number of patents, number of colleges, number of creative people, the number of police, crime rate, number of aids and flu cases, and waste by 15% per capita.
Although some might find West’s fervent empiricism tiresome, his model of urban scientific inquiry holds massive potential both as data and methodological model for theoretical inquiry autonomous from practice. As a scientist, West is free from our field’s predilection towards theory as model for practice–he can speak of his observations, but lets them remain as such. Any practical suggestion would limit the versatility of the information he and his team have produced, forever linking that new body of knowledge with a delimited body of interpretations. By way of example: West’s argument is reminiscent of Christopher Alexander’s classic essay, “A City is Not a Tree,” in which Alexander argues that cities are fundamentally social networks, and that those lattice like-networks are in opposition to the synthetic tree-like networks designed by Modernists from Tange to Hilbershimer. Alexander’s essay, organized categorically and grounded in anecdotal models, is too oppositional to have easy currency outside of its use with respect to the projects it references and criticizes. Given that, it is not surprising that Alexander’s later work in A Pattern Language is more often identified as a political statement against modern planning ideals than as the dictionary of design strategies it purported assumed itself to be. West’s argument, organized systematically rather than categorically and grounded in data rather than anecdote, operates in an epistemological universe resistant to the political and able to be understood and applied in a wide variety of contexts for numerous related and unrelated causes.
Growing demand for green products, new standards, and continuing economic shifts are transforming business practices at Steelcase, O Excotextile, and others reports Tristan Roberts in the Greensource feature “Green Manufacturers Examine Their Impacts.”
“If implemented, the material would take care of most of construction’s attempts at carbon reductions in one fell swoop,” says Material ConneXion Vice President Dr. Andrew H. Dent of the company’s selection for 2011 MEDIUM award. The selection, Novacem‘s Carbon Negative Cemement, replaces calcium carbonates used in typical cement formulation with magnesium silicates and uses a lower-temperature production process that runs on biomass fuels.
Typical cement is responsible for approximately 5 percent of man-made carbon dioxide; the emissions are caused by the processing of limestone and raw materials and the burning of fossil fuels.
Novacem associate engineer Daniel Bowden says that while the cement is still in development, it is already achieving strengths of up to 80 Mpa.
For information about the award and other cool new green products follow this link: http://archrecord.construction.com/products/ProductFocus/2011/1108green_materials/
Tensions mounted between modernist and traditionalist camps earlier last month when Paul Finch, UK Chairman for the Commission for Architecture and the Build Environment, praised the fact that modernists had won bids to design buildings for the 2012 Olympics. In response, Robert Adam, member of the Traditional Architecture Group, and Michael Taylor, senior partner at Hopkins, the firm that designed the Olympic velodrome, met for a discussion on hegemony, timeliness, and pastiche moderated by Guardian staffer Lanre Bakare.
The conversation is lively and aggressive. Ironically, the ‘progressive’ Taylor comes off as complaisant (“Let’s agree vast parts of our cities are covered in very bland modern buildings with too much glass and steel.” “There are some buildings where there will be common ground – for example, the works of Brunel, or Crystal Palace.”), and opinionated (“Anyone would recognise the problems with modernism and see values in traditionalism which they like, but the problem is traditionalism is fixed and isn’t something that people think is moving forward.”) and Adams, a bit of a snob, (“MT: People are benefiting from cars, aeroplanes and other modern technology, and so to take the appearance and facades of your architecture as one separate element which should make a very clear and literal quotation back to history seems to be inconsistent. And I think people struggle with that. / RA: I think only architects struggle with that. Most people don’t have a problem with a Ferrari in the drive and a Georgian house behind it.) proves to be keenly aware of traditionalism’s place in contemporary Britain (“The prejudice towards traditionalists is rather like sexism. It’s just in the culture. If you’re in the profession, that’s just what you do. When you’re delivering the prejudice you don’t really notice it, but if you’re on the receiving end of it, then it’s a problem”). More an exhibition of conflicting ideologies than a conversation about contemporary viewpoints, the discussion is a fascinating look into how two feuding camps see themselves and their place in the world at large.
Sunland Park, N.M– Martin Resendiz, mayor of a small community near Las Cruces, admitted earlier this month to signing contracts with a San Diego–based parking design firm while drunk. The company, Synthesis +, is suing the city for nonpayment. Resendiz claims the contracts were never valid since the City Council did not approve them.
“The day I signed … I had way too much to drink. It was after 5 p.m. and I signed it (the contracts) and I didn’t know what I was signing,” Resendiz wrote in response to questions from Synthesis+ lawyers. “My sister had to pick me up.”
“Again, this was after two or three hours of us drinking, not exactly the best time to do business, not exactly the best time to read over legal documents, which he (Soltero) did not portray at any time to be legal documents,” Resendiz said in a deposition.
Soltero is a Synthesis+ executive. The deal is worth over $1 milllion; the drinking happened at Ardovino’s Restaurant in Sunland Park.
From the people who brought you Masdar, an airport in the Thames Estuary.
Flights will be able to operate 24 hours a day at the planned site on the Isle of Grain, by the Medway in north Kent. London mayor Boris Johnson, previous champion of proposals to build an airport on two artificial islands on the Thames estuary, described the Foster proposal as ‘exciting’.
Foster + Partners previously designed Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport, built on an island reclaimed from the sea.
A minor transatlantic controversy erupted last month after UK “architecture minister” aka Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with responsibility for architecture and the built environment John Penrose apparently compared architects with other negatively-stereotyped groups, noting architects are “just one of those groups people love to mock.” The comments were part of a longer blog post about Rowan Atkinson, Dreamland, and VisitEngland’s new Smartphone-based marketing campaign.
And now a controversial look back… way back.
Physicist Amelia Sparavigna recently identified an artifact in a Turin museum as the world’s first known protractor. Sparavigna argues that the artifact’s ornate decoration, which resembles a compass rose with 16 evenly spaced petals surrounded by a zigzag with 36 corners, was used in combination with a plumb line to measure the slope angle of an object beneath it.
As billings continue to decline in the US, the nation of Vietnam is quickly emerging as a hot spot for Western architecture firms seeking new work. About two dozen North American and European firms now have projects in the Southeast Asian country, including Foster + Partners, HOK, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Some are even reportedly opening permanent offices there.