Gem Barton, based in Brighton, England, is a writer, academic lecturer, curator and designer. As a regular contributor to journals and magazines such as Mark, Blueprint, Design Bureau and Inhabitat she explores and share her passion for architecture and design. Gem’s column ‘The B-Side’ will look at the alternatives to architectural traditions and explore what it means to be knee-deep in the 21st century design world. Follow her @gem_shandy
Allow me to make an unlikely comparison of two powerhouses: Zaha Hadid (62) and, bear with me now, Lady Gaga (26). Both are breaking the mold with their unique aesthetics; both are at the top of their respective industries; both are commercial successes. However, there is one undeniable difference: it only took the world a few years to recognize Lady Gaga and for her to skyrocket to fame. It has taken Dame Hadid the better part of three decades to receive a comparative level of acclaim. Is it fair to compare successful architects and super songstresses? In an architectural world where we are faced daily by terms such as ‘celebrity’ and ‘starchitect’ it may well be time to look deeper into the matter.
Read more about what architecture could learn from the Music Industry, after the break…
First envisioned back in 2003, the enormous crystalline glass structure stands nearly complete on top a historic warehouse on the edge of the River Elbe. Rising costs, delayed schedules and legal issues with the contractor, have plagued this magnificent concert hall with controversy. However, according a report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, contractor Hochtief has initiated a new deal to ensure the completion of the building.
A revised contract, which is expect to adjust the architect’s fee’s to €94 million (€17 million over the original project cost), has projected Elbphilharmonie will be completed within the next four years. The news is bittersweet, as the architectural community and the residents of Hamburg have been waiting years for this highly anticipated concert hall to be complete, yet they cringe at the news of an overblown €575 million price tag.
Only a few days are left to apply to São Paulo’s Escola da Cidade – School of Architecture and Urbanism. Since 2009, the college has offered specialization courses; this year it is offering two non-degree graduate courses under the theme of ”American Civilization – A Look through Architecture” : ‘Housing and City’ and ‘Geography, City and Architecture’.
Two dynamic post-graduate programs offered by the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles have been charged with examining core contemporary issues facing architecture today. Spanning topics from advanced manufacturing methodologies and new building systems, to urban planning and design challenges faced globally, these post-professional tracks allow students to rethink architecture and design through the creative lens of the SCI-Arc community.
The architecture school’s Emerging Systems, Technologies & Media (ESTm) and Future Initiatives (SCIFI) programs are conceived as intensive one-year (three semesters) post-professional degrees in architecture, functioning as think tanks and research engines within the larger framework of the school.
In 1969, zoologist Desmond Morris released a book titled The Human Zoo; in it, he argued that human beings, tribal by nature, aren’t wired to live in the big, crowded modern-day cities we find ourselves in:
“Some people call the city a ‘concrete jungle’ — but jungles aren’t like that. Animals in jungles aren’t overcrowded. And overcrowding is the central problem of modern city life. If you want to look for crowded animals, you have to look in the zoo. And then it occurred to me: The city is not a concrete jungle — it’s a human zoo.”
Humans in a city are like animals in a zoo. It’s a fascinating claim, one that led me to a rather unusual thought.
If we take for granted Morris’ claim that the city is essentially a human zoo, and that, as we are all aware, it’s far more difficult for animals to mate in captivity, then – could cities actually limit our capacity for love? As our world becomes more and more urbanized, will it also become more lonely?
Is there any way to stop it?
Today, the Serpentine Gallery announced the architect that will design the 13th edition of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Every year the gallery invites a renowned international architects who have not built yet in the UK, to design a temporary pavilion that hosts public activities in at the Gallery’s lawn, in London’s Hyde Park between June and October. The list of architects for the past editions includes several Pritzker laureates. More info of this program at our Serpentine Gallery Pavilion infographic.
The Japanese architect based in Tokyo established his firm Sou Fujimoto Architects back in 2000. He graduated from the Department of Architecture at the University of Tokyo in 1994, and has been a lecturer at Kyoto University since 2007. With a solid trajectory in residential and cultural projects, the firm has consistently shown a unique and innovative approach to the spatial qualities within his buildings, exploring new ways of housing design, space and materials. Sou was also part of the team that won the Golden Lion at the 13th Venice Biennale, with “Architecture, possible here? Home-for-All”, the Japan pavilion.
About the design of the pavilion Sou stated: “For the 2013 Pavilion I propose an architectural landscape: a transparent terrain that encourages people to interact with and explore the site in diverse ways. Within the pastoral context of KensingtonGardens, I envisage the vivid greenery of the surrounding plant life woven together with a constructed geometry. A new form of environment will be created, where the natural and the man-made merge; not solely architectural nor solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two.
The Pavilion will be a delicate, three-dimensional structure, each unit of which will be composed of fine steel bars. It will form a semi-transparent, irregular ring, simultaneously protecting visitors from the elements while allowing them to remain part of the landscape. The overall footprint will be 350 square-metres and the Pavilion will have two entrances. A series of stepped terraces will provide seating areas that will allow the Pavilion to be used as a flexible, multi-purpose social space.
The delicate quality of the structure, enhanced by its semi-transparency, will create a geometric, cloud-like form, as if it were mist rising from the undulations of the park. From certain vantage points, the Pavilion will appear to merge with the classical structure of the Serpentine Gallery, with visitors suspended in space.”
We are big fans of Sou’s work, and we are very excited to see this project being built at Hyde Park. As usual, expect a complete coverage of this project. You can watch our interview with Sou after the break:
After winning the Aberdeen City Garden competition in early 2012, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro‘s ‘Granite Web’ design was rejected over the summer in a 22-20 city council vote for being overly expensive. Despite public approval the proposal, which totaled a whopping £140m, was rejected in favor of a collection of more fiscally responsible city projects, such as refurbishing the Aberdeen Art Gallery and redeveloping the site of the St. Nicholas House.
Just recently, the City of Aberdeen announced a £300m city-wide plan of improving roads, schools and cultural buildings, with only £20m allotted for the city center, which will be pedestrianized but not much else. Thus, confirming the “final nail in the coffin“ for DS+R’s ambitious web of lush gardens and cultural landmarks.
Read more after the break…
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Situ Studio has unveiled the fifth edition of Times Square’s annual Heartwalk installation – a heart-shaped “room within the city” made of salvaged Sandy debris. Inspired by the “collective experience of Hurricane Sandy and the love that binds people together during trying times,” Heartwalk begins as two weathered ribbons of wooden planks that gradually lift to form an illuminated heart enclosure in the middle of Duffy Square.
More images after the break…
That was the question I posed yesterday, in response to our publication of The WA100, Building Design’s ranking of the world’s largest architecture firms. My conclusion was that ranking, by size, tells you very little about the success of the world’s largest firms. But ranking by income and efficiency? Well, that tells you quite a bit more.
By looking at the Top 5 Fee Income Earners and the 5 Most Efficient Firms of 2012 – and their strategies – we can understand far more what it takes to be successful in this tough market. Since The WA100 is much more than a list of rankings, but also a compendium of information, I went back to the source to investigate these firms more.
The big guns (Aecom, Gensler, etc.) have aggressively pursued a diverse range of projects on an international scale (particularly in China and the Middle East) – a stance that is far from surprising, considering how competitive they are.
More interesting, however, is that the most “efficient” firms (those firms that, while nowhere near the size nor clout of the Big 3, have earned higher fee incomes per employee), have either stayed in strong markets or diversified internationally, creating a niche for themselves in these markets (a strategy discussed at length in “The 7 Things You Need To Know Before Doing Business Abroad”).
Learn the business strategies of the top income earners and most efficient earners of 2012, after the break…
Although preservationists continue to mourn the seemingly inevitable demise of Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital, a solid victory for Brutalism has finally been confirmed. Lawmakers in Goshen, New York, have passed a proposal to renovate Paul Rudolph’s iconic Orange County Government Center, authorizing $10 million in design funding. The 15-6 vote was secured by the overwhelming evidence that an upgrade would be more cost effect than County Executive Ed Diana’s fallback plan to replace two-thirds of the building and preserving only the court section. In addition, lawmakers felt the pressure of a March 12 deadline that would risk losing up to $2.7 million in federal funds to repair water damage caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.
More after the break…
Fast Company has released a list of what they believe to be the world’s top ten most innovative companies in architecture. From applauding Wang Shu’s abstinence from westernization to praising Mazzanti Arquitectos for transforming impoverished areas of crime into community hubs, this compilation honors some of the world’s most influential practices, regardless of their size.
Review the complete list after the break and share your thoughts in the comment section below. (more…)
Non-profit art organization FIGMENT asked the question “What would an art pavilion made out of recycled materials and based around the idea of “The City of Dreams” look like to you?” STUDIOKCA decided that it looks like an earthly cloud made of recycled water bottles; “A place to dream, in the ‘city of dreams’.”
This competition-winning cumulus, entitled ‘Head In The Clouds’, is campaigning to be the central pavilion at FIGMENT’s free art festival on Governor’s island in NYC this summer. The cloudy-centerpiece will contain a stage for events and provide a place for the 200,000 festival-goers to dream and contemplate the changing light.
Support their Kickstarter campaign here and continue reading after the break for more info…
After months of debate, the United States Congress has passed a bill that will allocate $51 billion to Hurricane Sandy relief helping the thousands who lost their homes and businesses to the devastating storm last October. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $400 million of the aid will be used to fund New York’s buyout program, an initiative to help address the damaged homes and coastline. The program is two-fold; in part it will help reimburse the property damage caused by the storm, but the initiative has a larger goal, which is to address the nature of coastal flooding and create a barrier that would mitigate the damage created to the coast by storm surges in the future. Since the storm, there have been many suggestions as to how to prepare for the type of damage brought on by Hurricane Sandy of 2012 and Hurricane Irene of 2011. These suggestions range from flood gates to barrier reefs. Cuomo’s buyout program, as reported by the Architect’s Newspaper Blog, hopes to encourage residents along vulnerable flood zones to sell their land to the city for the development of a natural coast that would absorb the impact of strong winds and storm surges.
More after the break…
Yesterday, we published The WA100, Building Design’s ranking of the world’s largest architecture firms’ physical and financial growth for 2013 (which you can find here). The ranking is comprehensive, chock-full of information, and – although not by any fault of its own – inherently misleading.
Why? Because we’re wired to read a ranking subjectively, looking to #1 as the best in some capacity, and then to compare other entries, with higher or lower rankings, as somehow better/worse than their neighbors.
But this list is objectively ordered by size (a.k.a the number of employees). Not by the amount of money earned. Not by the number of projects completed. Not by the prestige of those projects, or even the quality of the work.
So what does it mean to be in the Top 5 of this ranking? Not much.
Which is not to say that the list isn’t worth a longer look…
Check out the Top 5 Most Admired Firms of 2012 (and other ways we should be evaluating the world’s largest firms), after the break…
OMA has won the design competition for the Essence Financial Building in Shenzhen, China. Led by OMA Partners David Gianotten and Rem Koolhaas, the design beat out four other entries by international and Chinese practices.
The skyscraper will be OMA’s second in Shenzhen (the first being the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, which will be completed in April this year). By challenging many typical office tower conventions (such as a central core plan and curtain wall systems), OMA hopes their buildings will help lead the way for a “new generation” of office towers in the city.
As David Gianotten commented in the Press Release: ”OMA is very excited about its continuous and deepening participation in Shenzhen’s development, especially as the city makes its latest evolution: from a manufacturing city into a services hub. This next generation of urbanism calls for a new generation of office towers of which the Essence Financial Building could be one.”
More on the Essence Financial Building, after the break…
Looking to redefine the relationship between students, buildings and the city of Milan, Bocconi University challenged architects world-wide to design a “campus for the third millennium”. Although first prize was awarded to SANAA’s courtyard-centric complex formed by a series of undulating figures, OMA’s proposal provides an interesting twist to intercity university campuses.
Formulating a composition of objects that “represents a three-dimensional re-learning of humanistic values”, OMA’s Bocconi Urban Campus proposal sets the stage for Homo Economicus. Two clusters of independent buildings – an “extroverted” new school of management and the “introverted” a-frame student housing tower – are centered around a public amphitheater topped by a canopy of “architectural” umbrellas. While the thirteen story tower shelters the more intimate campus programs and acts as a backdrop to the boisterous new school, all spaces remain permeable to the activities of the surrounding city and establish the most appropriate and stimulating connection.
More photos of OMA’s proposal after the break…
The 2013 Jury of Fellows from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) elevated 122 AIA members to its prestigious College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to the profession. The 2013 Fellows will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the 2013 National AIA Convention and Design Exposition in Denver.
Continue reading for more information and the complete list of newly honored Fellows:
Building Design has released their annual ranking, The WA100, of the world’s largest architecture firms. Coming in the #1 spot (up from #2 last year) is Aecom, who, with 1,370 employees worldwide, narrowly outranked Gensler (with 1,346 employees). Completing the top three was IBI Group (1,129 employees). Aecom, Gensler, and Japanese-based firm Nikken Sekkei (ranked #4) were the top 3 earners of 2012, each making over $400 million US Dollars in Fee Income.
Of the top 10 largest firms, 5 are based in North America, 3 in Asia, and 1 in the UK (Aedas, which ranked 5th, is dually based in both China and the UK). A similar trend is also evident in the list as a whole – as you can see from the graphic we compiled (after the break), US firms remain the biggest employers of architects and the highest-earners. Although the UK represents about half the number of employed architects as the US, UK firms earned almost as much in fee income.
Interestingly, the only firms to grace both the Top 10 list and Building Design’s survey of the Top 5 Most Admired Firms of 2012, were Gensler (#2 Largest; #4 Most Admired) and Foster & Partners (#10 Largest; #1 Most Admired). Zaha Hadid Architects (who shared the number 5 Most Admired spot with Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, ranked as the 45th largest firm).
See our graphic and the full list of the world’s largest firms, after the break…
Median, a magazine that focuses on exploring pressing societal issues, recently launched their open call for contributions for their upcoming ‘Post-Industrial’ issue. As cities around the world experience tremendous declines from their industrial peaks, it is critical to re-imagine the future of the Post-Industrial City. They are looking for innovative ideas from public policy, urban design, economics, or architecture that can contribute to shaping the post-industrial landscape’s uncertain future. Submissions are due no later than March 31. For more information, please visit here.
The Lisbon Architecture Triennale has announced the panel of judges for this year’s projects. The panel will be composed of important architects like Bjarke Ingels of BIG, Minsuk Cho of Mass Studies, Phillippe Rahm of Philippe Rahm Architects and Luis Santiago Baptista of the journal Arqa.
The theme of the Triennale this year is “Close, Closer” and it intends to initiate a discussion regarding the changing role of the contemporary architect. There will be three exhibitions, a lecture program, a series of electronic publications, student awards, a Debut Award for young architects and a career achievement award.