US ABI Shows Continued Growth in June

June 2014. Image Courtesy of CalculatedRiskBlog.com

The US Architecture Billings Index () continued showing significant improvement in June, jumping to 53.5 from 52.6 in May, and hitting new records in the Projects Inquiry and Design Contracts indexes.

As the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports, the new Projects Inquiry Index surged to 66.4, its highest level in the year to date. In addition, the ’s new Design Contracts Index hit 55.7 – its highest mark since the indictor starting being measured in October 2010.

“The recent surge in both design contracts and general inquiries for new projects by prospective clients is indicative of a sustainable strengthening across the construction marketplace,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “With the first positive reading since last summer in billings at institutional firms, it appears that design activity for all major segments of the building industry is growing.  The challenge now for architecture firms seems to be finding the right balance for staffing needs to meet increasing demand.”

A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break…

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Techstyle Haus: An 800 Square Foot Fabric House That Uses 90% Less Energy

The planters filter rainwater, which is then reused to grow edible plants. Photovoltaic panels are arrayed along the curved roof. Image © Kristen Pelou

The Rhode Island School Of Design, Brown University and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, collaborated on a passive “fabric” house for the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe (which just wrapped up this month – see the winners here). In the following article, originally published on Metropolis MagazineMartin Pedersen reviews the remarkable house.

This summer’s 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe is well underway in , where a solar-powered village of twenty sustainable homes designed and built by college students from all over the country, has emerged on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Brown University, and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany, have teamed up for Techstyle Haus, an 800-square-foot house that’s not only a model of energy efficiency but an elegant piece of design as well.

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Reviving Vacant Buildings: A Tale of Two Cities

The Gardens in the early 1900s when it was the Jefferson County Armory. Image © Diane Deaton Street via Flickr

A former treasure in Louisville is now nothing more than a storage facility, while a dilapidated office building in Paris has sat empty for months on end. Both of these cities are taking proactive, but wildly different, measures to help the valuable vacant buildings and lots in their jurisdictions find new life. To learn more about each city’s potential solution to this global problem, keep reading after the break.

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Spotlight: Richard Rogers

© 2013 LLP

Richard Rogers, one of the leading architects of the British High-Tech movement, turns 81 today. Rogers made his name in the 70s and 80s, with buildings such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Headquarters for Lloyd’s Bank in London, which utilized highly expressive structures that placed services on the exteriors.

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Spotlight: Arata Isozaki

© Manel Armengol via Flickr

Arata Isozaki, Japanese architect, teacher, and theorist, turns 83 years old today. After graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1954, Isozaki worked for Kenzo Tange, one of his professors, before establishing his own firm. Despite this, the two remained collaborators until the 1970s. Isozaki won the RIBA Gold Medal in 1986 and founded the Italian branch of his firm, Arata Isozaki & Andrea Maffei Associates, in 2005.

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Ticollage City / Costa Rica Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2014

Courtesy of Costa Rica Pavilion

Curated and commissioned by German Architect / Urbanist  and Dutch Anthropologist / Economist , Costa Rica’s first pavilion at the Venice Biennale focuses on a competition-winning project for the new Costa Rican Legislative Assembly, a project which illustrates the “vicious circle of social segregation and spatial fragmentation in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Costa Rica (GAM).”

Read the curators’ description and take a virtual tour of the Costa Rica Pavilion after the break.

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Venezuela Begins Relocation of Thousands Living in Torre de David, the World’s Tallest Slum

Inside the Tower of David. Image © Vía ‘The Atlantic’

Monday night began the relocation process of thousands of inhabitants living in ’s Torre de David (Tower of David), the world’s tallest slum, according to reports by Venezuelan newspaper Últimas Noticias, BBC Mundo and tweets from journalists following the coverage. The relocation initiative is being carried out by the Interior and Justice Ministry, and comes just five days after the announcement that the Venezuelan government is in negotiations with Chinese banks interested in purchasing the building.

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Ideal/Real: The Argentine Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

© Nico Saieh

The Argentine pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale analyzes modernity in terms of the IDEAL and the REAL by looking at how the country has used “ideal” modern ideas to construct the reality of its cities.

The curators, and , structured the exhibit around eight periods, selecting cinema clips to represent the ideal and the real.

Enjoy photos from the pavilion and read the description from the curators after the break.

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OMA to Refurbish Paris Industrial Building for Galeries Lafayette

Exhibition tower, Three configurations, Model 1-100e. Image © / Frans Parthesius

OMA has unveiled its latest design project to blend the worlds of fashion and architecture: the refurbishment of a late 19th century industrial building for French high-end retail group ’s Fondation d’Entreprise, in Paris.

OMA is no stranger to the world of fashion, having collaborated on bold catwalk designs for Prada over the last decade as well as the renovation of a 16th century palazzo in Venice for Benetton. For Galeries Lafayette, a five-story, U-shaped, courtyard building built in 1891 will be transformed into a space for exhibitions and production. Located in Le Marais, one of Paris’ oldest neighborhoods, the architecture is protected under a heritage preservation plan. The building is to be fully preserved, cleaned and restored, and OMA’s design also includes the construction of a new exhibition tower for the courtyard. The tower will contain two sets of mobile platforms that can be split into four independent platforms, adding additional space and flexibility.

See photos and read a project description from OMA after the break.

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Pinup2014′s Competition Winners Showcase the Creativity of Emerging Talent Today

Jury Winner_Emerging talents_AE Superlab_Infinicities. Image Courtesy of The Morpholio Project

The Morpholio Project has just announced the winners of the Pinup 2014 competition. Drawing from an impressive shortlist of finalists, the Jury  – which included participants from Fast CompanyMetropolis Magazine, Columbia GSAPP, and even our very own Editor-in-Chief, David Basulto – has chosen nine outstanding examples of studio, 3D-printed or unbuilt works that exemplify the best of today’s emerging talent.

Amy Azzarito, jurymember and Managing Editor at Design*Sponge ”was impressed by the number of entrants who chose to devote their time and creative energy toward addressing social problems on a global scale, demonstrating an empathetic understanding that as the world grows increasingly smaller, the problems of our neighbors are problems for which we all bear responsibility.”

Duann Scott, jurymember and Designer Evangelist at Shapeways added: ”The breadth and quality of the entrants was truly inspiring, making it very difficult to pick the winners, or to put it better, not pick more to be winners,” said .

Beyond the jury’s picks, a public competition and The Morpholio Project chose five additional winners. See them all, after the break.

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Canary Wharf Development Including Herzog & de Meuron Tower Wins Planning Approval

Herzog & de Meuron’s Residential Tower. Image Courtesy of Group plc

A significant development at Canary Wharf has been approved by planners in London. The scheme, dubbed ‘Wood Wharf’ and consisting of 30 new buildings, was masterplanned by Allies and Morrison and includes a cylindrical residential tower by Herzog & de Meuron, and will provide 3,100 homes, 240,000 square metres of office space, a primary school, a medical centre, a community centre, a hotel, and around 100 retail outlets. Connecting the space will be a 3.6 hectare network of public spaces.

Read on for more on the development

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Condemned to be Modern: Inside Mexico’s Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2014

© Nico Saieh

’s pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale is centered on Octavio Paz’s reflections on the contraposition between tradition and modernity. Echoing the request from that the national pavilions focus on the theme Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014, Paz’s writings establish that “…modernity, for the last one hundred years has been our style. It is the universal style. Wanting to be modern seems like madness, we are condemned to be modern.”

Architects Julio Gaeta and Luby Springall use this reflection as the starting point for their curatorial project, designing the pavilion to show two story paths: one traditional and one modern. This concept is executed through the selection of works emblematic of Mexican modernity juxtaposed with works, events and interviews that influence architecture.

Check out photos from the pavilion along with the official text from the curators after the break.

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Capturing Hong Kong’s Dizzying Vertical Density

© Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze

Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze is a French photographer who captures the dizzying heights and uncommon densities of . Inspired by “the geometry of the urban environment and the vivid lives it shelters,” Jacquet-Lagrèze has not only captured the verticality of Hong Kong’s built environment, but also compiled a new book, Vertical Horizon, “a photographic journey between the buildings of a relentlessly growing city.” See more of Jacquet-Lagrèze‘s images, and read an excerpt from Vertical Horizonafter the break.

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Building Skin Developed That Could Cool Our Cities

© Harunori Noda

The urban heat island effect - the hot, overwhelming temperatures that a city’s concrete produces – has a huge impact on livability and comfort within the city. Now, an elegant cooling system has been designed that not only reduces energy usage, but – should it be installed on multiple buildings – could even lower the overall temperature of a city itself. Learn more, after the break.

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Video: A 3-Minute History of Chicago’s Millenium Park

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Did you know Millenium Park in ChicagoIllinois was actually a desolate industrial wasteland until the turn of the century? The 24.5 acre public park, host to a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design, and art, is now a popular destination for residents and tourists alike — all thanks to an unprecedented public-private partnership pioneered by former Mayor Richard Daley. To learn more about how Daley made Millenium Park a reality, with the help of famous designers like Frank Gehry, check out the video above.

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London Announces Design Competition for ‘Olympicopolis’ Site

The Olympicopolis site is to the South-East of the Olympic Park, near to Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre. Image © Flickr CC User Leo Reynolds

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced a new competition for the designs of a cultural quarter next to the 2012 Olympic park. The site has been dubbed ‘Olympicopolis’, and so far has expressions of interest from University College London, University of the Arts , the V&A, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and now possibly – according to the Guardian - Washington DC‘s Smithsonian.

Read on after the break for more details of the competition

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Álvaro Siza’s Archives May Soon Belong to Canada

Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

The archives of Álvaro Siza, whose drawings, sketches, and models have been exhibited in the most renowned cultural institutions around the world, may soon be transferred to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Centre Canadien d’Architecture, ) in Montreal.

The architect confirmed on Wednesday to Portuguese paper PÚBLICO that he has been “in talks” with the CCA, as well as other un-named institutions from different countries, in order to “decide the future” of his archives.

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16 Reasons to Study at ESARQ-UIC

ESARQ-UIC has a teaching method based on a scalar approach which covers building to landscape design, incorporating all areas of knowledge. This allows the school to produce highly competitive professionals, who are multifaceted, innovative, committed and entrepreneurial and are also able to act as leaders when facing new challenges.

To learn more about the Master and Postgraduate programs offered at UIC, read on…

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