Ever since the New Republic published Lydia DePillis’s piece entitled “If you Rebuild it, They Might Not Come” - a criticism of the progress of Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation – numerous blogs and journals have been in a uproar, defending Make It Right’s efforts at rebuilding the vastly devastated Lower Ninth Ward and presenting a much more forgiving perspective on the progress of the neighborhood since the engineering disaster that exacerbated the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To date, 86 LEED Platinum homes have been designed and constructed by world-renowned architects, including Frank Gehry and Morphosis, at a cost of approximately $24 million. Make It Right has promised to build up to 150 such homes, but DePillis‘s article points out that amenities in the neighborhood are low and the number of residents returning to the neighborhood is dwindling. Make It Right has made a commitment and the debate that ensues questions whether it is going far enough in delivering its promise to rebuilding community.
Read on for more on the Make It Right debate…
From April 7th through the 13th, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) will be hosting National Architecture Week in an effort to increase public awareness on the role architects play as a force for positive change in our communities and to elevate the public’s appreciation of design.
Similar to previous years’ observances, National Architecture Week will be virtual and composed of daily pinboards on the social networking site, Pinterest, and an Architecture Is Awesome contest on Instagram. The intent is to use the two social networking platforms to showcase architects’ good designs and encourage architecture fans to share their thoughts and engage with like-minded professionals during the week.
Five Ways You can Take Part in National Architecture Week:
When one thinks of the stereotypical “American” life, images of Suburbia, of small homes with white picket fences, immediately come to mind. But beyond the stereotype is the lived experience of millions of Americans, who have grown up in cities across the country, and indeed, the world.
If you are one of these millions, and have lived at least some of your life in a high-rise building, then you can be of use to the New York Times‘ new Op-Docs series. This summer they will create four short documentaries, directed by the filmmaker Katerina Cizek, exploring “the history and future of high-rise buildings and their relationship to issues of equity, segregation and social responsibility in cities around the world.” The fourth film will consist entirely of images sent by you, the public.
If you have an image (digital or a scanned still) that tells a story about your experience living in or around vertical housing, you can submit it to The New York Times here - just make sure to do it before April 15th.
Story via The New York Times
Mercer, a consulting leader that helps other organizations around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their employees, releases a survey annually that helps multinational companies and other organizations compensate employees when placing them on international assignments. Their survey for the year 2012 evaluates over 221 cities around the world on their quality of living with New York City as the base city and highlights several trends that can add onto what we as designers and urban planners believe makes a city successful and livable.
Read on for the 2012 results.
The estimated cost of Apple’s Cupertino City headquarters has escalated from an already hefty price of $3 billion to $5 billion (more than $1,500 per square foot), reportedly pushing back the original completion date to 2016. According to Bloomberg, Apple is working with lead architect Foster & Partners to shave $1 billion from the “ballooning budget”. Most of the cost is seemly due to Steve Job’s “sky-high requirements for fit and finish”, as the tech legend called for the 2.8 million square foot, circular monolith to be clad 40-foot panes of German concave glass, along with its four-story office spaces be lined with museum-quality terrazzo floors and capped with polished concrete ceilings.
Although lambasted for his ambitious plans and “doughnut-shaped” design, Steve Jobs wanted to create a masterpiece that looked as good as it functioned, just like his products. During a 2011 presentation to the Cupertino City Council, Jobs stated, “This is not the cheapest way to build something… there is not a straight piece of glass in this building.” He continued, “We have a shot… at building the best office building in the world. I really do think that architecture students will come here to see it.”
More after the break…
Whole Foods has teamed up with New York’s local organic grower, Gotham Greens, to build the first commercial-scale greenhouse attached to a supermarket. The 20,000-square-foot greenhouse, expected to open in Brooklyn this Fall, will provide locally grown produce year-round to nine Whole Foods stores in New York City area. (more…)
A new smartphone isn’t the only Facebook news making headlines, as the social media giant has received the green light from the Menlo Park City Council to move forward with their headquarter’s expansion on the outskirts of San Francisco Bay, California. The approved plans are a slightly toned down version of architect Frank Gehry’s original proposal, as the flamboyant butterfly-like wings which flared from each end of the 433,555-square-foot building have been removed.
“They felt some of those things were too flashy and not in keeping with the kind of the culture of Facebook, so they asked us to make it more anonymous,” stated Craig Webb, Gehry’s creative partner. “Frank (Gehry) was quite willing to tone down some of the expression of architecture in the building.”
After a 4-0 vote secured approval, Mayor Peter Ohtaki asked: “Where’s the ‘Like’ button?”
More after the break…
Robert Venturi has joined nearly 4,000 advocates in the call to retrospectively acknowledge Denise Scott Brown as a joint Pritzker Prize laureate, stating: “Denise Scott Brown is my inspiring and equal partner.”
His support was then quickly followed by Rem Koolhaas, who stated: “I totally support this action. The fact that one of the most creative and productive partnerships we have ever seen in architecture was separated rather than celebrated by a prize has been an embarrassing injustice which it would be great to undo.”
New updates after the break…
In an effort to “unlock people’s imaginations” about Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has challenged Santiago Calatrava, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects and SOM to propose four new visions that exemplify the potential of the highly disregarded area.
The challenge comes amidst a heated debate on whether or not the city should restrict Madison Square’s recently expired special permit to 10 years, rather than in perpetuity as the arena’s owners – the Dolan family – has requested. This would allow time for the city to “get it right” and come up with a viable solution for the arena and station that, as NYTimes critic Michael Kimmelman states, would not only “improve the safety and quality of life for millions of people but also benefit the economy”. Think Kings Cross in London. With a thoughtful mix of public and private investments, the crime-ridden station was transformed into a thriving cultural destination that benefited all parties.
More after the break…
Chicago is set to be the next U.S. city to park-ify on one of its abandoned rail-lines. First proposed back in 1997, the 2.7 mile, 13-acre Bloomingdale Trail and Park is proposed for a stretch of abandoned railway trestle dating from 1910, which has been lying unused since the turn of the century. And, even though it is already being compared to New-York’s High Line, the planners are adamant that the park will be an entirely different animal to its New York cousin.
Read more about Chicago’s unique proposal after the break…
What do the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Kremlin, and the Burj Khalifa have in common?
Elevators from the Otis Elevator Company. The company, which is celebrating its 160th anniversary today, has an interesting history: it was founded in 1853, the year Elisha Otis invented the elevator safety brake. Before Otis’ invention, buildings rarely reached seven stories (elevators were considered just too dangerous to implement).
But it was Otis’ elevator that would allow for the creation, and proliferation of, the skyscraper – an explosion that would for ever alter the 20th and 21st century skylines.
Read more about the Otis Elevators influence on skyscraper design (and how Otis performed a death-defying feat to increase the invention’s popularity), after the break…
Inspired by a childhood spent filming planes at LAX with an 8-millimeter videocamera, New York photographer and former Berkeley architecture student Jeffrey Milstein has turned his fascination for aviation into a career. Typically known for photographing the underbellies of aircrafts, Milstein’s latest series captures the artistic composition and elaborate array of patterns formed by airports and only seen from above. He describes this series as revealing “the patterns, layering and complexity of cities, and the circulation patterns for travel, such as waterways, roads, and airports that grow organically over time much like a living organism.”
More of Milstein’s photography after the break…
On May 2, Russia’s preeminent Mariinsky Theatre will celebrate the grand opening of a new, 851,575 square foot addition on a neighboring site, just west of the company’s original 1860 theatre and 2006 concert hall, in the heart St. Petersburg. Designed by Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects, Mariinsky II will be one of the largest theatre and concert venues in the world, providing a 2000-seat auditorium, state-of-the-art production facilities, and naturally lit rehearsal rooms, along with a rooftop amphitheatre and terrace.
WEISS / MANFREDI has been announced as winner of the international competition to design a new College of Architecture and Environmental Design for Kent State University in Ohio. The New York-based practice, in collaboration with the local architect of record Richard L. Bowen & Associates, was one of four national finalists selected from a competitive list of 37 applicants.
The winning proposal, dubbed the Kent State Design Loft, transforms the notion of a continuous studio loft into a three-tiered structure that opens to the city, connects to the public esplanade and surrounding landscape, and provides an abundance of creatively designed, flexible learning spaces that can be easily transformed to accommodate design crits, exhibitions and events.
“We are captivated by the potential for this project to become an innovative incubator for the arts and an internationally legible destination for the University,” said Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi.
The architect’s project description after the break…
An intense gender debate has been making headlines after Denise Scott Brown called for Pritzker to “salute the notion of joint creativity” and retrospectively acknowledge her role in Robert Venturi’s 1991 Pritzker Prize during an AJ Women in Architecture luncheon in late March. Since, nearly 2,000 advocates have passionately rallied in Brown’s support by signing an online petition created by Harvard’s GSD Women in Design Group. Among the signatures include architects Zaha Hadid, Farshid Moussavi and Hani Rashid, along with MoMA senior curator of architecture and design Paola Antonelli, architecture photographer Iwan Baan, Rice School of Architecture dean Sarah Whiting, and Berkeley College of Environmental Design dean Jennifer Wolch.
Responding to the outrage, Martha Thorne, executive director of Pritzker Prize, promised to “refer this important matter to the current jury at their next meeting”, respectfully pointing out that this presents an “unusual situation” considering each Laureate is chosen annually by a panel of independent jurors who change over the years.
More on the controversy after the break…
There’s no denying that London’s airport capacity is insufficient (to put it mildly) – not just for its current needs, but, most worryingly, for the future. Nor are architects ignorant to the situation; in the last few years we’ve published proposals from the likes of Foster+Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, Beckett Ravine, and Grimshaw Architects, offering their own unique perspectives on what could be done.
However, for all the proposals (some emphasizing new off-shore airports, others on bulking up infrastructure or existing facilities), it’s hard to untangle what’s actually being done towards making these ideas reality. To clarify the situation, and lay our doubts at rest, we spoke with Ricky Burdett, one of the commissioners of the newly created Independent Airports Commission.
In the video above, Burdett, a renowned architect and professor of Urban Studies at the LSE (who has previously served as architecural advisor for both the 2012 London Olympics and the Mayor of London, 2001-2006), explains the political situation in the UK that has been preventing action, and describes how the Independent Airports Commission has been assembled in order to help the government through this process.
More info on this controversial commission, after the break…
Just to be clear.. this was after all our April Fools ;)
We know a good idea when we see it. That’s why as soon as we heard about Google Nose we decided to call our friends at Google and work something out between us. Google has the power to bring you the scent of food, animals, and all sort of things. But what about buildings? That’s where we come in.
You won’t have to travel to Sydney to smell the Opera House. Or fly thousands of miles to Pisa to catch the smell of “leaning”. Starting today, you will be able to smell every building in the world from your computer. So far, we’ve been trying Google Nose with the following:
- High Line Park on a rainy day (smells like wetness)
- Any of our AD Classics (smell old)
- Kumutoto Toilets (smells like crustaceans… what were you thinking?)
- Burj Khalifa (smells like gold)
- Barbie Shanghai Store (smells like cotton candy)
We only have one problem. There are probably dozens… or even hundreds of buildings worldwide! So we do need your help. Prepare your noses and get out there. Smell those buildings and share your scents with us in the comments. We will do our best to replicate the smells and share them with the world.
“Originally seen to reflect the democratic attributes of a powerful civic expression – authenticity, honesty, directness, strength – the forceful nature of Brutalist aesthetics eventually came to signify precisely the opposite: hostility, coldness, inhumanity. [...] Separated from its original context and reduced in meaning, Brutalism became an all-too-easy pejorative, a term that suggests these buildings were designed with bad intentions.” - “BRUTAL”/“HEROIC” by Michael Kubo, Chris Grimley and Mark Pasnik
Brutalism, an architectural movement that peaked in the 1960′s, inspired the development of countless governmental buildings in Washington DC as well as across the world. Though Brutalism’s original intentions may have been good, many believe that the actual manifestation of these buildings was not and consider them to be little more than an eyesore on the District’s landscape. One such concrete structure, the FBI’s J. Hoover Building, is currently facing possible redevelopment as the government has decided to relocate FBI headquarters and given the private sector the rare opportunity to transform this so-called “monolith” into a new kind of monument.
More on the Hoover Building after the break…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Growing Power, a Chicago-based urban agriculture organization, announced recently the formation of Farmers for Chicago, a program that will transform vacant south-side Chicago lots into productive urban farms. The program will make available up to five acres of city-owned vacant lots for urban farming activity and “help expand the supply chain for local neighborhood-level food production and wholesale,” “improve community access to healthy food, help participants to supplement their incomes, and to foster workforce training.”
Read more about Farmers for Chicago after the break.
The Integrated School of Building, the not-for-profit institute in the city of Chicago, recently launched ‘Submit a 10′, a new lean course proposal system open to anyone, worldwide, interested in delivering courses through InSB. A 10 is either a 10 slide presentation (slideshare.net), or (up to) 10 minute video (youtube.com), or both, delivering an opportunity for quick and efficient learning to the public. In order to retain the best faculty, develop and deliver the best courses, and to meet current and ever-changing market demands in our industry globally, these speed sessions will fall under the broad categories that are Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Project Delivery, Urbanism, Real Estate, Interior Design, or Trades. For more information, please visit here.
Prefabrication has long been heralded as a possible way to infill New York’s vacant sites; however, it has only recently become a solid practical solution rather than an experimental concept. Riding the crest of the wave of new prefabricated housing is GLUCK+ (formerly Peter Gluck & Partners), in collaboration with developers Jeffrey Brown and Kimberly Frank. Together they have begun construction on one of New York’s first prefabricated steel and concrete residential buildings.
Read more about this and New York’s recent wave of prefabricated buildings after the break…