Critical Round-Up: Renzo Piano’s Harvard Art Museums

© Nic Lehoux

With the opening of the Harvard Art Museums a week ago today, Renzo Piano was able to finally complete on a project which, in various guises, has been in progress for seventeen years. The relationship between Piano and began with a 1997 plan to build a new branch of the Fogg Museum on the Charles River and ended, after objections from locals and then the 2008 recession, in the decision to consolidate the university’s three museums (The Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Arthur M Sackler Museums) under one roof.

With its long history, restricted space, the listed facade of the original Fogg Museum and the ultimate difficult neighbor in Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, the Harvard Art Museums project was inevitably going to cause a fuss on completion. So how did Piano do? Find out what the critics said after the break.

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Video: Vito Acconci on Why Unbuilt Projects Are as Important as Built Ones

In this video from Crane TV, writer, poet, artist, and architect Vito Acconci discusses why his goal is not always to have his projects realized. Beginning his career with an education in creative writing from the University of Iowa, Acconci expresses his longtime desire as an artist for art to become “part of the world,” explaining that this eventually led him to extend his creativity beyond words and artworks. Architecture was the perfect vehicle for this because, unlike art, it is inescapable: “there isn’t any place you can be where you aren’t in the middle of architecture,” he says.

However, unlike many architects, his projects push beyond the constraints of realistic structures, and he estimates that only 10 percent of Acconci Studio’s proposals are realized. To some architects this would seem like a failure, but to Acconci it means that his creative ideas are unprecedented, perhaps paving the way for what architecture could be in the distant future.

TCA Think Tank Creates “Parasite Pavilion” With Five-Day Workshop in Venice

© Marco Cappelletti

Casting complex shadows and engulfing visitors in a series of maze-like spaces, the Parasite Pavilion was constructed as part of the Synergy & Symbiosis event at the 2014 Venice Biennale, which showcased the best of the UABB Shenzhen and Hong Kong Biennale from 2005 to 2014. Based on the Bug Dome pavilion, a similar experiment from Hong Kong 2009, constructed by Weak! Architects as an icon of “illegal architecture,” this new pavilion is the product of an intensive five day workshop, with the cooperation of architects and students from Europe, Australia, and China. Read on after the break to learn more about the Pavilion and Workshop.

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GAD’s Serra Gate on Display for Istanbul Design Week

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GAD Architecture has installed their latest sculptural design, Serra Gate, in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, just in time for Istanbul Design Week. Named after the minimalist sculptor whose work inspired the design, the Serra gate’s steel form was created using cutting edge technology. The sinuous curvature was conceived through the software “Mathematica,” and was modeled using the latest 3D printing technologies.

GAD Principal, Gokhan Avcioglu, had this to say: “We are delighted that Serra Gate has been featured in Taksim, one of the most important squares of Istanbul. Being a ground-breaking structure, Serra Gate will make the residents of Istanbul question how public spaces have been defined by urban interventions.” Serra Gate will be displayed in a variety of venues throughout the year 2015. See pictures of this amazing structure, after the break.

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Studio Origin Represents Seoul in the UIA 2014 World Congress

Interior View. Image © Studio Origin

This year’s UIA World Congress was held in Durban, South Africa, and saw the participation of many well-respected firms. Representing South Korea were Kang Jun Lee and Yung A Kim of Studio Origin, whose pavilion highlighted the city of Seoul. Meant to herald the city as the host for the 2017 World Congress, their carefully arranged design offers space for a number of different promotional displays. See the details on this unique structure, after the break.

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“Jellyfish Barge” Provides Sustainable Source of Food and Water

Exterior View. Image © Matteo De Mayda

With the earth’s population increasing at an exponential rate, sustainable agriculture and access to clean water are becoming desperately important. Cristiana Favretto and Antonio Giraridi of Studiomobile recognize this and have proposed a solution. Dubbed the Jellyfish Barge for its shape and translucency, this floating greenhouse is capable of growing its own food hydroponically and producing up to 150 liters of fresh drinking water per day. Even more beneficial is its low-cost, easy-to-assemble design that can be implemented in a variety of locations. Learn more about how this fascinating project works, after the break.

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Video: Harvard Art Museums Construction Time-Lapse

Harvard Art Museums have released this time-lapse video of their recently completed four-year renovation and expansion project carried out by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Payette. Filmed from June 2010 – November 2014, the video shows the amount of work that went into renovating, expanding and uniting the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum under the same roof. Watch as snow falls (and then melts) on the construction site in the full video above and learn more about the project here.

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Defining Place: Alternative Urban Futures from The Neighbourhood

Courtesy of The Neighbourhood

3D printing technology is quickly emerging as a technology that could be applied at the scale of the built environment. But could we use 3D printed materials to create engaging urban spaces that are constantly changing? Creative communications agency, The Neighbourhood, has imagined speculative architecture based on 3D printed materials.

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Winning Proposals “Reanimate the Ruins” of Detroit’s Packard Motor Plant

Ecological Engineering Center . Image Courtesy of

Parallel Projections has announced the winners of the Reanimate the Ruins competition, an international challenge to redesign and memorialize Detroit’s historic Packard Motor Plant. The competition called for designers to simultaneously honor Detroit’s history, while envisioning a future of technological, social, and aesthetic healing.

This year’s jury has selected three winners and six honorable mentions. Read more after the break to explore the award-winning proposals.

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In Honor of Michael Graves, The Architectural League Revisits 200 Years of Drawing

Denver Library, South Elevation, 1994, pencil and colored pencil on yellow tracing paper, 14 x 26 inches. Image Courtesy of Michael Graves & Associates, photo: Ken Ek

With their “Past as Prologue“ symposium – a day of lectures celebrating fifty years of Michael Graves‘ career - approaching tomorrow, the Architectural League of New York is taking a look back at one of its seminal exhibitions which heavily featured Graves’ work. When “200 Years of American Architectural Drawing” launched in 1977, Times critic Ada Louise Huxtable said “By any definition… a major show,” adding “here is architecture as it comes straight from the mind and the eye and the heart, before the spoilers get to it.” In memory of the show, the Architectural League has published a selection of essays and images from the accompanying book, including the work of Graves, Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk and Richard Meier.

Check out the Architectural League’s collection of 200 Years of American Architectural Drawing here, and don’t forget to tune in to the livestream of the Past as Prologue symposium here at 9.30 EST on Saturday.

New Republic Honors Great Thinker Louis Kahn

© Robert C. Lautman

New Republic has presented a list of 100 great thinkers from the past 100 years. The list, as the magazine puts it, honors “people we believe have made the greatest intellectual contributions to the fields and causes that this magazine holds dear.” One of these fields is architecture, and ’s honoree for that category is the illustrious Louis Kahn. Kahn is famous for projects such as the Kimbell Museum and the Salk Institute. His work displays what architecture critic Sarah Williams Goldhagen describes as a “cognitively rich, metaphorically complex, multi-sensorial approach.” Curious to see who else made the list? See the full roster here!

A+U Interviews Co-Founders of Google[x] Startup, Flux

A+u magazine was recently granted an exclusive interview with the co-founders of Flux, the Google[x] startup whose mission is to harness data to automate architectural and . The discussion is one of 14 essays and interviews from leading urban technologists in the current November issue, Data-Driven Cities.

“We began our exploration with the premise that buildings and the sustainability of our modern lifestyle are deeply intertwined. In addition, buildings – more specifically, housing – is an issue of human dignity. We wanted to find ways to apply Google-scale thinking to tackle these important issues,” says co-founder Nicholas Chim in the interview.

Read on after the break for ’s full interview with Flux co-founders, Nicholas Chim and Michelle Kaufmann. And check out the November issue of , available in digital and print editions, which features new essays by Carlo Ratti (MIT), Dan Hill (City of Sound), Alastair Parvin (Wikihouse) and more.

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Garden Bridge Plans Face Fresh Attack After Initial Planning Permission

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After gaining the first in a series of required planning approvals last week, Thomas Heatherwick‘s highly controversial Garden Bridge proposal has once again come under fire from a variety of opponents, with campaign group Thames Central Open Space (TCOS) dubbing it a “luvvies’ folly,” and the Guardian’s architecture critic Oliver Wainwright saying that it is “not in fact a bridge – in the sense of being a public right of way across the river – but another privately managed tourist attraction, on which £60m of public money is to be lavished.”

Much of this new assault is the result of the 46 conditions which came with Lambeth Council’s recommendation to grant the bridge planning approval, which as BD Online uncovered, include closing the bridge between 12 and 6am, a ban on cycling, and a restriction of group sizes to 8 people or fewer, unless booked in advance.

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RIBA Future Trends Survey Shows UK’s Confidence Is Rising Exponentially

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The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for October showed that confidence is very high among UK architects, with the workload index up rising substantially to +37 from +29 in September - the second highest ever workload forecast balance figure. This positive figure was spread right across the country with the most optimistic reports coming from Scotland, with a workload index figures of +80, and Wales, which reported a figure of +28. In addition, the percentage of respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed was down “considerably” to 12% – the lowest since the survey began in January 2009.

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2014 World Bamboo Design Competition

Courtesy of WBDC 2014

Architects, students and designers worldwide are being summoned to propose innovative design solutions centered around bamboo that explores the material’s future potential. The competition, organized by World Bamboo and Damyang-Gun, hopes to “discover fresh ideas related to domestic and foreign industrialization of bamboo.” Architecture is one of three divisions in the competition. Winners will receive up to $10,000 in . Submissions are due November 30, 2014. You can learn more about the 2014 World Bamboo Design Competition, here.

Bosco Verticale: The World’s “Most Beautiful and Innovative Highrise”

Bosco Verticale, / Boeri Studio. Image © Kirsten Bucher

Bosco Verticale by Boeri Studio has won the 2014 International Highrise Award, deeming it to be the “most beautiful and innovative highrise in the world.” Selected from a competitive shortlist of towers by Rem Koolhass, Steven Holl and Jean Nouvel, the forested highrise was praised by the jury for bringing 800 trees and 14 thousand plants to the Milan skyline.

“The Vertical Forest is an expression of the human need for contact with nature,” stated jury president Christoph Ingenhoven. “It is a radical and daring idea for the cities of tomorrow, and without a doubt represents a model for the development of densely populated urban areas in other European countries.”

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Hadid, Gehry, and Others Fight to Save Helmut Richter’s Modernist Masterpiece

Science Secondary School in Kinkplatz, Vienna, Exterior. Image © Manfred Seidl

The Science Secondary School in Kinkplatz, Vienna is the work of late Modernist architect Helmut Richter. Considered to be his most iconic and enduring work, Richter’s school is now faced with partial demolition to make way for a conversion of the building’s use and architects from around the world are making an effort to prevent that demolition from happening. Influential individuals, from Zaha Hadid to Bernard Tschumi, have signed a voicing their dissent and demanding that Richter’s legacy be protected. See the details, and sign the , after the break.

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Andrew Burges Architects Wins Competition for Park and Aquatic Centre in Sydney’s Green Square

© Andrew Burges Architects via www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

The City of Sydney has selected the team of Andrew Burges Architects working with Grimshaw and TCL, as the winners of a competition to design a new park and aquatic centre in Green Square, around 4 kilometres to the South of central . One of the city’s six “Major Development Zones,” the park and aquatic centre is part of a larger development in the centre of Green Square, with an adjacent site slated for a new public square and library.

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