Frank Gehry interview on Playboy

“Ninety-eight percent of buildings are boxes, which tells me that a lot of people are in denial. We live and work in boxes. People don’t even notice that. Most of what’s around us is banal. We live with it. We accept it as inevitable. People say, ‘This is the world the way it is, and don’t bother me.’ Then when somebody does something different, real architecture, the push-back is amazing. People resist it. At first it’s new and scary.”

“The thing is, I hate the celebrity architect thing. I just do my work. The press comes up with this stuff and it sticks. I hate the word starchitect. Stuff like that comes from mean-spirited, untalented journalists. It’s demeaning. It’s derisive, and once it’s said, it sticks. I get introduced all the time, ‘Here’s starchitect Frank Gehry…’ My reaction: ‘What the fuck are you talking about?‘”

Don´t miss Frank Ghery’s epic interview on the January issue of Playboy.

More snippets of the interview after the break:

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ArchDaily Architect’s Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Our picks for this holiday

We, the architects, are a special breed. We have very particular tastes, dress in very particular ways and we even invented our own language. For us, a pen can be even more meaningful than our computers, and you might find yourself looking all around town for that perfect standard notebook that you have used for ages. So we decided to compile this special gift guide with things that we use, we like, and that we would love to find below our tree.

Hope you like it! Feel free to share your gift ideas for architects on the comments below. (more…)

Architects in Movies

Gary Cooper in Fountainhead (1949)

From the mid 1900′s to the beginning of the 2000′s, being an architect as a profession has made its way into key roles on the big screen for many big shot celebrities. Whether the roles they play in the are similar to the reality of the profession or not, I’m sure many architects that have watched some of these feel honored that their profession is one that deserves to be highlighted in ways that are not not just in architectural publications, but in the cinema world as well. More images after the break. (more…)

The Indicator: Photographing the Architect, Part 1: The Social Mask

August Sander, architect Hans Heinz Luttgen, 1926, gelatin silver print (via iphotocentral.com). He seems confident yet uneasy before the lens. Like other upper-class subjects, he was photographed in front of a plain background, allowing the subject to speak without the aid of a cluttered context.
August Sander, architect Hans Heinz Luttgen, 1926, gelatin silver print (via iphotocentral.com). He seems confident yet uneasy before the lens. Like other upper-class subjects, he was photographed in front of a plain background, allowing the subject to speak without the aid of a cluttered context.

A passage from Susan Sontag’s groundbreaking book, On Photography haunts me:

A photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence. Like a wood fire in a room, photographs—especially those of people, of distant landscapes and faraway cities, of the vanished past—are incitements to reverie (p. 16).

This comes close to explaining my fascination with portraits. It is not necessarily the subject’s fame that draws me to these images. In fact, the portraits selected for this essay were chosen because they did not immediately communicate the aura of fame. They weren’t distorted by fame’s messy narrative.

Portraits of contemporary architects are so self-consciously calculated. Like cover art, they are created to communicate certain attitudes, like confidence, knowledge, and power, toward an audience. Both photographer and image-savvy architect-subject are aware of how to manipulate photography to greatest effect.

Portraiture in architecture has thus become celebrity photography. Everyone knows how to behave now, have for decades. When a superficial marketing intent tries to communicate the depth of a person it becomes difficult to trust the resulting image. There is a giant yawn between this premeditated intent and the clichéd pose that obscures the person in the frame.

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Office dA coming to an end?

: Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de León

Office disputes happen all the time, it’s in our architect’s DNA.

You might have heard about office dA’s ongoing dispute. Sad, as office dA has done such great buildings, such as the awarded Macallan Building, the BanQ restaurant and Helios House, among a long list of projects of which innovation in terms of materials and fabrication are a common thread. I won’t get into much detail, as it’s all covered in the Boston Globe (and Monica Ponce de Leon´s reply on Archinect), and this is not a gossip blog. However, I wanted to share this quote from Nader Tehrani, which highlights the collaboration and fluidity a practice can have:

“Monica and I made presentations to the public that were like Sonny and Cher. When you are able to finish each other’s sentences, there is clearly a collaborative spirit there.”

I recommend you to watch our interview with Nader Tehrani (now head of the architecture department at MIT) to know more about the (soon to disappear?) firm.

Iakov Chernikhovs Architecture Prize 2010 Top Ten Finalists

The Iakov Chernikhov International Prize for Young Architects recently announced its 2010 laureate, Fantastic Norway, recently featured here on ArchDaily and now we have the complete Top Ten nominee list to share with our readers. Among this group of young and promising architects you will find some outstanding works that will hopefully go a long way to shaping the future of the profession. The complete Top Ten and links to their work after the break.
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Iakov Chernikovs Architecture Prize 2010 / Fantastic Norway

Cabin Verdehaugen

On November 17th Fantastic Norway was awarded the 2010 Iakov Chernikovs Architecture Prize by the ICIF. We here at ArchDaily have previously featured the work of Fantastic Norway and wish to congratulate them on their accolades and share with our readers some examples of their work.

More after the break.

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Dear Other Architects

Charles Holland, director at UK based firm FAT Architecture (see their public bathroom proposal for London) runs Fantastic Journal, an interesting blog on which he recently published the following open letter to us, the other architects:

Please stop entering design competitions. It’s sheer folly. Here’s why:

1. It’s massively wasteful of your time and resources. Can you think of another comparable industry, or, more pertinently, profession, that spends so much time and money on bidding for work? Do doctors undertake a number of unpaid, speculative operations in order to convince people that they really need a hip replacement? No.

2. It gives away your main asset – your ideas – for free. After that, the rest is routine.

3. You are highly unlikely to win. This is just a fact. Some are better at them than others but no one wins them all and most lose often.

4. Even if you do win, it’s still unlikely that the building will be built. Most competitions are speculative, not in the sense that the client is looking for experimental architecture, but in the sense that there is little or no funding in place and they have not informed you of all the impediments still in the way of the project.

5. Therefore, there is often only one thing more disappointing than losing a competition and that’s winning one (in the long run).

6. They are a pretty terrible way of procuring a building. Imagine a system where you want something but you’re not sure exactly what it is. So you make a list of things you think you want and invite everyone in the world to send you their ideas for what it looks like. You have no other interaction with them, communicate – if at all – by email and, in the end, hope for the best and pick the one you fancy. This is the architectural competition process. It’s similar to internet dating, but less fun.

7. Competitions momentarily flatter you into thinking that you are designing, say,Oslo Opera House or a New Town outside Madrid but, in reality, you’re not. Until you get the commission it’s just pretend.

8. No one else in the world understands why you’re doing it. They just get used to you not coming out or refusing to take a holiday or forgetting to wash for five days. But they still think you’re mad.

9. You could do without the stress. All that time. All that effort. The all-nighters and the break-neck journey to the printers to get the boards made up! The intern dispatched to Inverness to hand them in because you’ve missed the courier’s deadline! The anxious wait for the results that sometimes never come! Honestly, you could do without it.

10. Remember: it’s not the failure that will kill you. It’s the hope.

So, if you’re thinking of entering a competition, don’t! Take your office down the pub instead. It will be more fun and cost a lot less. You might even meet someone down there who wants to give you a job. Remember: if you stop, I can too.

A look into the life and work of Harry Weese

© THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

When the Chicago Magazine shared Robert Sharoff’s piece on the late with us, it piqued our interest and we began to took a closer look at the life and work of this talented architect.   As Sharoff notes, at Weese’s prime, he was the leading architect of Chicago – a man focused on historic preservation and focused on manifesting Miesian principles in a new light.  Sharoff’s and our deeper look into Weese’s work is an attempt to infuse the architect’s reputation with positivity, not letting his architectural achievements become clouded by his later struggle with alcohol.

More about Weese’s life and projects after the break. (more…)

Top 250 US Architectural Firms

Pier Head, Liverpool / AECOM

It’s that time of the year. Architectural Record has published their list of Top 250 architecture firms. The companies are ranked according to revenue for architectural services performed in 2009 in $ millions.

The list is compiled from a survey conducted for Engineering News-Record’s annual Top 500 Design Firms Sourcebook. As last year, number 1 was for AECOM Technology Corporation, an engineer-architect firm from Los Angeles, California.

The firms classify themselves by:

A = Architect
AE = Architect-Engineer
AP = Architect Planner
EA = Engineer-Architect
AEC = Architect-Engineer-Contractor

See the top 25 after the break. (more…)

Wallpaper* Magazine Architects Directory 2010

Photo by Jonathan de Villiers

As every year, Wallpaper* Magazine have chosen their list of 30 emerging architects throughout the world, and 13 of them gathered for above’s picture at the Centre Pompidou Metz. The complete list is as follows:

sporaarchitects / Marchal Fürstenburger / Carson & Crushell / Rocha Tombal / Walker Architects / Ramdam / NArchitekTURA / Edgley Design / Suárez Santas / Scenario Architecture / Frei + Saarinen / Hein-Troy / OnOffice / 2-B-2 Architecture / Aas/Thaulow / Axelrod Architects / Claudio Vilarinho / Dieter Janssen / Johan Sundberg / Moto Designshop / Najjar & Najjar / Obra Architects / Owen and Vokes / Rory Hyde Projects / Takao Akiyama / Tennent + Brown Architects / X -Arquitectos / Zoka Zola Architects / Jose Ulloa Davet & Delphine Ding / Skourtis-Stavropoulou Architects

For more information click here.

After Strong Spring, Drop in Architecture Billings Index

BILLINGS (BLUE) AND INQUIRIES (RED) FOR THE PAST 12 MONTHS

Just over a month ago, we were happy to report that our field seemed to be through the toughest time, as the Architecture Billings Index had increased for the third straight month showing a sustained economic improvement. Now, we are definitely not so happy to share some information that a lot of architects assumed would happen.  Following our strong spring, the billings index dropped quite precipitously from 48.5 to 45.8 and every region declined.   The rough month suggests that our recovery will continue to be long and frustrating, a worrisome reality that some professionals may have been anticipating. “I was a bit surprised by it, particularly the magnitude,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said. “It’s been jumping around for the past six to nine months, but this is a big drop after some pretty steady gains.”

We know these times are extremely difficult but we are still keeping our optimism and hoping for the best.

As seen on the Architect’s Newspaper

Is the worst over?


ABI from Calculated Risk

According to Bloomberg Newsweek, US Architects should be seeing signs of improvement as the Architecture Billings Index has increased for the third straight month, up from 46.1 in March to 48.5.  Measured by the AIA, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) serves as an indicator of future building for offices, warehouses and retail properties.  The indexes are developed each month by asking firm participants whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended.  The score is generated based on the proportion of respondents choosing each option.  Breaking the index down regionally, the Northeast fared the best with 51, followed by the Midwest at 49.2, the South at 46.5, and finally, the West at 44.7.

However, we know that statistics often times don’t clue us in on the real happenings, so we’d like to hear from you.  What has been your experience?  Do you feel that the economy is finally turning around and the worst is over?  Or, are you worried, due to the latest economical problems with Greece and crisis of the Euro, that another crash is due to affect our profession? (more…)

Why open architecture competitions are good for Architects, a counter argument

Maya Lin Vietnam Memorial Entry

Derek Leavitt (@architectderek on Twitter) recently posted an opinionated blog entry on ‘Why Open Architecture Competitions Are Bad for Architects’  . The author outlined why entering competitions is detrimental not only to the individual, but also to the field of architecture.

Competition has been a defining characteristic of architecture for centuries.  Without competitions to spur creativity, a young woman would have never submitted her graceful yet powerful black line…and we would be without the Vietnam Memorial.  Without architects using competitions as a way to test urban gestures, a young team would have never submitted their idea to use just a portion of their allotted site, leaving the rest for a public plaza…and we would be without the Pompidou Center in France.  And, dating quite farther back, without an Italian man initially losing a competition and then determined to further his architectural understanding, we would be without the grand achievement of Brunelleschi’s dome.

The point is that although competitions are demanding, and at times may seem unfair, they are a staple in our profession which pushes the field forward.  With this in mind, we will attempt to argue in favor of the open competition, in the hope that we can persuade and inspire you to keep listening to your instinctive competitive nature and keep compiling those entries. (more…)

AD Recommends: Phillip Johnson by David LaChapelle

© LaChapelle Studio

Philip Johnson (1906-2005), one of the most influential American architects portrayed by .

Philip Johnson received the Pritzker Prize back in 1979.

This and another photo at LaChapelle Studio.

The architect behind Tron Legacy

When is was a kid, the futuristic alternative world featured in Tron blew my mind.

So, I was very excited to hear about Trong Legacy, a remake of the film. With details such as Jeff Bridges coming back (he starred in the 1982 version) and a soundtrack by Daft Punk (who also star as “MP3″s on the movie), I knew this sequel would be up to the level set by the original.

And thanks to  Cliff Kuang’s article at Fast Company “Why Tron Legacy Will be Awesome: the Director’s an Architect”, I noticed that the guy behind this awesome movie is an architect graduated from : Joseph Kosinski. And the fact about his school is not casual, as he states on the video:

I decided that architecture would be the kind of ultimate combination of the creative interests I had and the technical interests I had, so… Columbia was one of the first institutions that was giving architecture students the tools that automotive designers and visual effects facilities down in Los Angeles were using in feature films…

And Jeff Bridges explains further:

It’s interesting different filmmakers where they come from and what they bring to the film and [Kosinski's] an architect and so the film has a very, you know, heightened design feel to it. And he hired this wonderful production designer, Darren Gilford. And he is out of car design so it adds another thing. It’s not somebody, you know, who is an interior decorator.

I have the feeling that the movie won’t disappoint Tron fans, and will be something worth watching from an architecture point of view.

Read Cliff Kuang’s article at Fast Company.

International Convention of Architecture 2010 in Budapest

Grand architecture versus right architecture is the topic of this year’s International Convention of Architecture that will be held on March 6 at Istituto Italiano di Cultura, , .

Highly recognized architects invited from around the globe such as Eduardo Souto de Moura, Tony Fretton, Édouard François, Heinz Tesar and Petra Čeferin will hold lectures to present an overview of trends in architecture in Hungary and abroad. This event has become a tradition over the last seven years, having grown into the most important event for the architect community in Hungary.

For the complete program and more information on the convention, please click here.

Daniel Libeskind, interviewed at Livestream

Livestream + Live4Space are co-hosting a live interview with Daniel Libeskind today at 2:00PM ET (GMT -5). Thanks to the Livestream platfom, Libeskind will not only discuss his role on the WTC master plan, but will also answer questions by the audience. All you have to do is go to the streaming website here and send your questions during the interview.

The live event has concluded, and you can now watch a replay on the above video.