Vanessa Quirk

Vanessa Quirk, the manager of editorial content at ArchDaily, is a writer who hails from New York. She studied English and Music at the George Washington University and Oxford University. When she's not thinking about the latest in Architecture and Urban Planning, she's either cooking or singing - often simultaneously. LinkedIn / @vmquirk

Material Studies: When Architecture Meets Fashion

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A few months ago, fourteen 5th-year architecture students at the University of Southern California (USC) were given an unusual challenge: select two materials, and two only, to design and construct… a Mao jacket.

The results, exhibited at the university on March 7th, were fourteen fascinating experimentations with unusual materials – including everything from rubber erasers to acrylic paint to 5,500 metal Mao pins (shipped direct from ).

As Lee Olvera, the studio lead, told USC News, “It’s an exploration of program and function. In architecture, we’re called upon to design the skins of buildings all the time. This project infuses our intuitive skills of artistry and aesthetics with the rigor of analytical and performance-based material experimentation to create innovative working solutions.”

Check out more images from this unusual studio project, after the break.

Are the Palisades Too Pure for LG’s Headquarters?

Courtesy of Michael Kimmelman’s Twitter Feed (@kimmelman)

Responding to the bevy of critics slamming LG Electronics for building their new headquarters in the Palisades in New Jersey (half an hour north from NYC), Lee Rosenbaum, the Palisades-resident and architecture blogger known as CultureGrrl, maintains that “When it comes to preserving the ‘pristine Palisades,’ the boat has already sailed.” Since LG’s planned strip will be located on what is, according to Rosenbaum, already “a very commercial strip,” she suggests that “that the incensed defenders of the purportedly unspoiled beauty of the Palisades [...] haven’t actually set eyes on them.” Check out the images of her neighborhood as well as her very interesting Twitter tussles with The New York Times’ Michael KimmelmanVanity Fair’s Paul Goldbergerand New York Magazine’s  at her blog, and let us know what you think of the debate in the comments below.

Guy Horton on Zaha Hadid & the Architect’s Ethical Responsibility

Courtesy of ZHA

In this episode of KCRW’s Design & Architecture (DnA) podcast, ArchDaily contributor Guy Horton speaks with Frances Anderson about the architect’s ethical responsibility to protect workers’ rights, following up on his popular article “Will We Stay Silent? The Human Cost of Qatar’s World Cup.” The episode also features a fascinating look into Shigeru Ban‘s career and Pritzker win as well as the Folk-Moma controversy. Listen here.

Where Do You Work? The Offices of ArchDaily Readers

BIG’s office in Copenhagen. Image Courtesy of BIG- Group

In 2009 we reached out to our readers across the globe and asked “What does your office look like?” From transparent tubes (like Selgas Cano’s popular studio) to wide-open spaces (like BIG’s offices in Copenhagen), we learned that the projects we publish every day are produced in all kinds of settings. But has anything changed over these few years?

Once again we’re crowdsourcing your workspaces. Post a photo of your office via Facebook or Twitter, tagging us @ArchDaily, by using the hashtag #wherewework and let us know what inspired the organization and/or layout. We’ll ask some renowned firms to give us a peek into their offices too. Then in a few weeks, we’ll compile all of them into one post on ArchDaily for you to enjoy. So let us know – where do you work?

The Pritzker-Profit Connection: Shigeru Ban’s Works Gaining Value in NYC

Image © Karsten Moran for The New York Times

A recent article from The New York Times confirms something we’ve all long-suspected. A Pritzker translates into big bucks. Demand for Shigeru Ban’s Manhattan buildings has soared since his awarding of the prize. The New York Times reports that page views of the Metal Shutter Houses, for example, have quadrupled on the listings site Streeteasy.com. Why? The Pritzker name carries weight:

“In this second age of high-flying real estate, brand-name architecture and globe-trotting wealth, the identity of a designer has taken on ever-increasing value to ensure that a project’s multimillion-dollar homes stand out. Anyone can install waterfall showers and Wolf ranges. A Pritzker is harder to come by.”

“Though Mr. Ban’s Pritzker could make it costlier to hire him in the future, some developers find a laureate worth the expense. ‘You can save a lot on plans, because you only have to change 10 percent of the project, instead of 90 percent; the vision is just so complete,’ the developer Aby Rosen said. ‘And you also save a ton on the marketing. People want to write about these Pritzker projects, and an article is way better than an ad.’”

But what does it mean when architecture – particularly the architecture of a socially-conscious designer like Ban – becomes a brand-name item? As Laura Ilonemi writes, “the begins to perpetuate an environment that is unhealthy to architecture: too strong a divide is created between winners and non-winners of the same calibre. [...] Sought-after commissions, and opportunities perhaps better suited to candidates, may well go to Pritzker Prize winners, helping to reinforce the trend of ‘designer buildings’ in much the same vein as designer label consumer goods and products. ”

As one real estate agent, representing a resident of the Metal Shutter Houses, put it: “It’s like buying an Hermès bag but better.” Is, in the end, the Pritzker nothing more than a branding tool? Should it be more? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

David Chipperfield Architects To Design Nobel Prize’s New Home

David Chipperfield Architects has won the prestigious competition to design Stockholm’s new Nobel Centre in the Blasieholmsudden peninsula. The firm’s proposal – named Nobelhuset - beat out those by Swedish shortlisters Wingårdhs Arkitektkontor and Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor; the three had been selected from 12 high-profile entries (including the likes of BIG, OMA, and SANAA) in November of last year.

The jury unanimously chose Chipperfield’s design for the new headquarters, which will include exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, a library, restaurant, shop and a large auditorium where the annual Nobel Prize award ceremony will take place. Jury chair and Nobel Foundation executive director Lars Heikensten noted: “The jury finds the lightness and openness of the building very appealing and consistent with the Nobel Foundation’s explicit ambition to create an open and welcoming Centre for the general public.”

The Centre is planned to open in 2018. More images of Chipperfield’s winning proposal here.

VIDEO: In Boston, Reclaiming the Craft of Brick

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Our friends at Mecanoo have shared a fascinating mini-documentary exploring the complex brickwork on display in their latest project in Boston’s Dudley Square, the Dudley Municipal Center(nearing completion). Called “Boston Bricks with a Dutch Touch,” this documentary features interviews with everyone involved in the project – from workers to architects – and focuses on the difficulty of using in this elaborate manner. Enjoy the video above and check out some fantastic images after the break.

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VIDEO: Extreme Sustainability in the Congo

MASS has just released the third video in their Beyond the Building series, which examines how architecture and design can positively impact our world, beyond buildings (check out the first video here and the second here). The latest – “Ilima: Beyond Sustainability” – explores MASS’s collaboration with the African Wildlife Foundation as well as local masons to build a primary school in the rural Congolese village of Ilima, where, due to its remote location, practically all must be sourced locally.

For more information on MASS’s work in Congo, follow the project’s manager, Andrew Brose, via the hashtag #AndrewinIlima on Facebook and Twitter, and make sure to add your thoughts to how architecture can go #beyondthebuilding as well.

Hualien Residences: BIG’s Most Mountainous Housing Project Yet?

Courtesy of

Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled their latest – and certainly greenest – “mountainous” housing project (for previous examples, see: Mountain Dwelling and 8 House). Although still in progress, Hualien Residences, a beach resort housing complex in Taiwan, will consist of green “landscape stripes” that resemble mountains themselves. The project, which incorporates walking paths, underground jogging paths, and an observation point, has already been recognized as a finalist in the 2014 MIPIM awards for its use of design to encourage healthy, active lifestyles for the complex’s primarily older residents. 

The BIG U: BIG’s New York City Vision for “Rebuild by Design”

Render for The BIG U, “The Harbor Berm,” an elevated path through the park. Image Courtesy of rebuildbydesign.org

Yesterday BIG, along with 9 other teams including OMA and WXY, unveiled their proposals for “Rebuild by Design,” a competition which tasks teams with improving the resiliency of waterfront communities through locally-responsive, innovative design. Each proposal was required to be “flexible, easily phased, and able to integrate with existing projects in progress.” As Henk Ovink, the Principal of ”” as well as the Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, stated: “ is not about making a plan, but about changing a culture.” The winners will be announced later this spring.

BIG’s proposal, The BIG U, is rooted in the firm’s signature concepts of social infrastructure and hedonistic sustainability. It envisions a 10-mile protective system that encircles Manhattan, protecting the city from floods and storm water while simultaneously providing public realms specific to the needs of the city’s diverse communities. states: “We asked ourselves: What if we could envision the resilience infrastructure for Lower Manhattan in a way that wouldn’t be like a wall between the city and the water, but rather a string of pearls of social and environmental amenities tailored to their specific neighborhoods, that also happens to shield their various communities from flooding. Social infrastructure understood as a big overall strategy rooted in the local communities.”

More on the BIG U, after the break…

Emerging Architects Austin+Mergold Win Folly 2014

SuralArk Sketch. Image Courtesy of Austin + Mergold

Socrates Sculpture Park and The Architectural League of New York have announced that Austin+Mergold have won “Folly 2014” – an annual competition among emerging architects to design and build a large-scale project for public exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City – with their project SuralArk, an installation that is “part ship, part house.”

The annual “” program strives to give emerging architects and designers the opportunity to build public projects that explore the boundaries between architecture and sculpture. This year’s proposal beat out 171 submissions from 17 countries; it was selected by a jury made up of Chris Doyle, Artist; John Hatfield, Socrates Sculpture Park; Enrique Norten, TEN Arquitectos; Lisa Switkin, James Corner Field Operations; and Ada Tolla, LOT-EK.

SuralArk will open on May 11th through August 3rd. Learn more about the project after the break.

BIG Designs Labyrinth for Atrium of National Building Museum

© BIG. Image Courtesy of

The National Building Museum (NBM) has announced that BIG has designed a 61×61 foot maze to be housed in the building’s grand atrium from July 4th to September 1st of this year. According to the NBM’s website, the labyrinth’s Baltic birch plywood walls, which stand 18 feet high at the maze’s periphery, descend as you make your way towards the center. From the core, then, visitors receive a view of the entire layout – and a better understanding of how to get back out.

According to Bjarke Ingels, “The concept is simple: as you travel deeper into a maze, your path typically becomes more convoluted. What if we invert this scenario and create a maze that brings clarity and visual understanding upon reaching the heart of the labyrinth?” Of course, those uninterested in the challenge of figuring out the maze can peek down on it from the Museum’s second and third floors – but where would be the fun in that?

More images, diagrams and drawings after the break!

Choose Your Final Four in “Arch Madness”

Courtesy of Good Fulton & Farrell, Inc.

UPDATE: The results from the Elite 8 have been announced, and the time to vote for the Final Four has arrived! Do you think “Less Is More” should take the crown? Voting’s open until Friday afternoon (EST). 

In honor of the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament, Dallas-based architecture firm Good Fulton & Farrell has created an “Arch. Madness” tournament to crown the Best of Architecture. “The tournament pits 64 of the greatest in architecture stereotypes, culture, tools, and ideas against each . From things architects like, to misconceptions people have about architects (or undeniable truths), this will be a fun way to determine what is the best thing (or most ridiculous thing) about the architects we work with every day.” The winner will be crowned on April 8th. CLICK HERE to vote for your “Arch Madness” champion now!

Guggenheim Helsinki To Launch Search for Architect

Site of the potential Helsinki.. Image Courtesy of Apple Map View

The Art Newspaper reports that the Guggenheim will launch an international competition on June 4th to find an architect to design a satellite in Helsinki, Finland focused on “Nordic and international architecture and design, and their connection contemporary art.”

At the conclusion of the architectural competition, a decision will be made about whether or not to go through with the project. According to contributor and Helsinki resident, Laura Iloniemi, the potential museum has already stirred up considerable excitement – and debate – in Finland. Discover more details at The Art Newspaper.

First 3D Printed House to Be Built In Amsterdam

“The building industry is one of the most polluting and inefficient industries out there,” Hedwig Heinsman of Dus Architects tells The Guardian‘s Olly Wainwright, “With 3D-printing, there is zero waste, reduced transportation costs, and everything can be melted down and recycled. This could revolutionise how we make our cities.”

Working with another Dutch firm, UltimakerDus Architects have developed the KamerMaker (Room Maker), a 3D Printer enough to print chunks of buildings, up to 2x2x3.5 meters high, out of hotmelt, a bio-plastic mix that’s about 75% plant oil. The chunks can then be stacked and connected together like LEGO bricks, forming multi-story homes whose designs can be adapted according to users’ needs/desires. For Dus’ first project, they’ve taken as inspiration the Dutch canal house, replacing hand-laid bricks with, in Wainwright’s words, “a faceted plastic facade, scripted by computer software.”

So far, only a 3m-high, 180-kg sample corner of the future canal house has been printed; moreover, the blocks will need to be back-filled with lightweight concrete, meaning it’s not yet as biodegradable as its creators would like. However, its game-changing potential is already provoking much interest in the public; over 2,000 people have come to visit the site, including Barack Obama. Learn more at The Guardian and in the video above.

Morphosis, Zaha Hadid Design Eggs for NYC’s ‘Big Egg Hunt’

Egg designed by Morphosis. Image Courtesy of http://thebigegghunt.org/

Fabergé’s Big Egg Hunt, the world’s largest egg hunt (according to their site), launched today in New York City. Over 200, three-foot tall eggs have been hidden across the city as part of a charity event; you can download a free smartphone app to try and locate them yourself. Architecture enthusiasts may want to head out to Soho & Hudson Square, where eggs designed by Grimshaw and Morphosis have been hidden, or the Upper East Side to find Zaha Hadid’s. All of the eggs will be on display in Rockefeller Center from April 18 through 26.

The Latest Illustration from Federico Babina: ARCHIPORTRAIT

Toyo Ito. Image Courtesy of

Federico Babina, the illustrator behind the extremely popular ARCHIST and ARCHICINE, has just released his latest project: ARCHIPORTRAIT, “an artistic representation of 33 architects, in which the faces and the expressions are made of their architecture.” As Babina says, “The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the protagonist through his aesthetic.”

See all the portraits – from Corbu to Foster to Gehry and more – after the break.