We Are Here Now / Spatial Information Design Lab / Columbia University

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Addicted to checking your favorite site, like ArchDaily, for constant updates, or checking in with Facebook or Foursquare? Don’t worry – you’re not alone, and Columbia’s Spatial Information Design Lab can prove it.  In addition to sharing your whereabouts with friends, your geographic mark provides valuable insight in examining the psycho-geography and economic terrain of the city.

More about the study after the break. (more…)

Update: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

© Adjaye Associates

We have been covering the progress of the National Museum of African American History and Culture over the last several months, our most recent being President Obama’s speech at the ceremony for the official ground breaking. Adjaye Associates recently shared with us some insight into the inspiration for the design and its grounding principles. We also have several new perspective renders illustrating the internal experience. More details after the break.

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Gehry’s controversial Eisenhower Memorial gains Support

Via Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

Despite strong objections from the Eisenhower family, classical architects and many others, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has issued a statement of support for Frank Gehry’s controversial Eisenhower Memorial design. The statement was signed by every member of the commission, including chairman Rocco Siciliano, vice chairman Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), both senators from President Eisenhower’s home state of Kansas, and five other members of Congress.

The commission’s letter reads, has followed the direction provided to him by this commission. He has also consulted with the Eisenhower Family. His design for the Memorial is exciting, creative and inspiring. It captures the life and the spirit – and commemorates the historic achievements – of Dwight Eisenhower as one of the greatest generals in human history and one of our finest presidents.”

Continue reading for more.  (more…)

Update: Resistance to NYU 2031 Expansion Heightens

Illustrative Rendering of the Greene Street Walk, Part of the NYU 2031 Expansion Plan. © NYU 2031

The contenders: NYU and the Greenwich Village community. Let Round 2 commence.

Almost two years after we first brought you news about NYU 2031, NYU’s plans for expansion in Brooklyn, Governor’s Island, and (most controversially) in Greenwich Village, and the fight has not only continued, but escalated. A debate, hosted by The Municipal Art Society of New York, two nights ago brought about 200 NYU affiliates and community residents together, but only spatially; there was a considerable lack of willingness to compromise from either camp.

NYU’s plan, thought up by Toshiko Mori Architect, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and Grimshaw Architects, has ruffled feathers mostly for the fact of its bulk. The 2.5 million square-foot development (1.1 million of which would be underground) is the largest ever proposed for the Village, and has drawn criticism for its potential to diminish light, greenery, and open space in the neighborhood.

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Alejandro Zaera-Polo named dean of Princeton’s School of Architecture

Photo: Princeton University, Office of Communications, John Jameson (2012)

Barcelona-based architect and scholar Alejandro Zaera-Polo has been selected as the next dean of Princeton University’s School of Architecture, where he has served as a visiting lecture since 2008. He is internationally known for his award-winning practice, Architecture, his extensive academic experience and contributions to international publications, such as El Croquis, Quaderns, A+U, Arch+, Volume and Log.

He will succeed Brooklyn-based architect Stan Allen, who has served as the school’s dean since 2002. After the new appointment becomes effective on July 1, 2012, Allen plans to return to full-time teaching and architectural design after a yearlong sabbatical. As reported by Architectural Record, Allen stated, “We were looking for somebody who worked at a very high level as a designer-practitioner, but also approached architecture as an intellectual activity. There aren’t a lot of people like that out there.”

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Update: The High Line + Koons

Image by James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and . Courtesy of Friends of the

In the middle of March, we attended a community meeting for the third installment of the High Line and shared James Corner and DS + R’s visions for the final stretch of the elevated rail line.   While the meeting offered an in depth look as to how it would tie together the previously featured conceptual elements, perhaps the already daring project needs a little more spice…perhaps, the High Line needs Jeff Koons.  The American artist has been in contact with the founders of the Friends of the High Line (the nonprofit which saved the railway from being demolished) as it is possible the public park could be outfitted with his lastest sculpture, Train, a massive replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive.  Oh, and did we mention that the train would be danging dramatically in the air, suspended from a crane?

More about Train after the break.  (more…)

Sign this Petition and Help Save Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center

Orange County Government Center by © New York Times - Tony Cenicola

Many of you may already be aware that Paul Rudolph’s iconic Orange County Government Center is at risk of being demolished. Leaky roofs and a damaging flood have convinced Orange Country executive director Eddie Diana to favor this dreadfully mundane neo-colonial office building over Rudolph’s Brutalist landmark. Cost is not an issue, as the price tag for the new building exceeds the cost to renovate the historical icon, and many understand the immense cultural value of preserving a legacy; however, this battle is nearing a loss and only solidarity will save it.

The World Monuments Fund (WMF) has launched a petition to oppose the demolition. With the Orange County Legislature deciding the fate of Rudolph’s building next month (May 3), it is important you sign the petition now. WMF needs to collect 20,000 signatures. Sign the petition here. (more…)

U.S. Census Bureau reports Los Angeles as the Nation’s Densest Urban Area

Downtown LA, 2010 © Slices of Light

Based on 2010 Census results, the nation’s most densely populated urbanized area is /Anaheim/Long Beach, , with nearly 7,000 people per square mile. Surprised? Not only did the Los Angeles area rank first, but of the ten most densely populated urbanized areas, nine are in the West, with seven of those in California. Continue reading for more.

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Michael Green presents ‘The Case for Tall Wood Buildings’

Courtesy of

Driven by the desire to find safe, carbon-neutral and sustainable alternatives to the incumbent structural materials of the urban world, Michael Green, Principal at Michael Architecture, has shared with us this highly-anticipated feasibility study, The Case for Tall Wood Buildings. The 200-page document encourages architects, engineers and designers to push the envelope of conventional thinking by demonstrating that wood is a viable material for tall and large buildings and exposing its environmental and economic benefits.

Co-author Michael Green explains, “To slow and contain greenhouse gas emissions and find truly sustainable solutions to building, we must look at the fundamentals of the way we build – from the bones of large urban building structures to the details of energy performance. We need to search for the big picture solutions of today’s vast climate, environmental, economic and world housing needs.” (more…)

Happy 126th birthday Mies van der Rohe!

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Today we celebrate the 126th birthday anniversary of Mies van der Rohe! The German-born American architect and educator convinced us all with his glass-and-steel buildings that “less is more“. Mies helped defined modern architecture and is known as one of the 20th century’s greatest architects.

To celebrate we have changed our logo to a Mies doodle, inspired by the Google doodle which is also honoring Mies today.

ArchDaily logo, 860-880 Lake Shore Drive © ArchDaily
Mies Google Doodle, Crown Hall © Google

In honor of Mies, revisit his work at ArchDaily:

For more information you can also visit the Mies Society website.

You can also check this great infographic on his work.

Robin Hood Gardens to be Demolished

© Chris Guy

After many years spent fighting to preserve the famous Robin Hood Gardens social housing complex in East , the architecture community mourns another loss. Tower Hamlets Council and the Thames Gateway Development Corporations have approved the demolition of the 1960s Brutalist complex in an effort to make way for a new £500 million sustainable development comprised of energy efficient, mixed-tenure homes and an enlarged central park. The historic building was built by modernist architects and remains an important piece to Great Britain’s architectural history. Continue reading for more. (more…)

Winners announced for the New Bauhaus Museum in Weimar

Second Place: Johann Bierkandt, Landau

The International jury, chaired by Prof. Jörg Friedrich (Hamburg), has awarded two second-place and two third-place prizes in the worldwide, open architectural design competition for the New Bauhaus Museum in . The purpose of the competition is to find an architecturally innovative, sustainable, energy-efficient and museologically sound solution for a new museum that takes full advantage of the urban-planning potential of the Weimarhallenpark. The announcement of the winners officially concludes the architectural design competition, in which 536 architectural offices around the world participated.

The two second-place prizes went to Johann Bierkandt (Landau) and the Architekten HKR (Klaus Krauss and Rolf Kursawe, Cologne). These prizes are worth 40,000 euros each. The two third-place prizes went to Prof. Heike Hanada with Benedikt Tonnon (Berlin) and Bube/Daniela Bergmann (Rotterdam). Each third prize comes with 30,000 euros in prize money. Three honorable mentions, worth 9,666 euros each, were awarded to the proposals by Karl Hufnagel Architekten (Berlin), hks Hestermann Rommel Architekten + Gesamtplaner GmbH (Erfurt), and menomenopiu architectures/Alessandro Balducci (Rome).

Continue after the break for more information and project descriptions.

 

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SOM announces Urgent “Call to Vision” for the Great Lakes

Courtesy of SOM

Today the world celebrates its most precious resource: water. Countries world-wide suffer from water shortages so extreme that they cannot produce enough food to support their basic needs. In an effort to protect the World’s largest source of surface fresh water, the City Design Practice of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is gaining international support in their pro bono pursuit to create a 100-year vision that will environmentally protect and economically revitalize the entire U.S. and region, a vision known as The Great Lakes Century.

“The availability and quality of fresh water to sustain a radically urbanizing world is unquestionably a core issue of our time and requires holistic environmental thinking at an unprecedented scale,” said Philip Enquist, SOM partner in charge of urban design worldwide.

Continue reading for more information on this important cause. (more…)

The RAINS Project / Sabrina Faber

Sana'a, © eesti via flickr

Sana’a, Yemen is at risk of being the first capital city in the World to run out of renewable, reliable and clean water supplies. With seasonal rain, expensive bottled water and polluted reservoirs, the residents of Sana’a are constantly faced with waterborne diseases and severe drought hazards.

In celebration of World Water Day, we would like to catch you up with the progress Sabrina Faber who was selected as winner of the 2010/2011 Philips Livable Cities Award – a global initiative designed to generate innovative, meaningful and achievable ideas to improve the health and well-being of city-dwellers across the world. Although the project went on hold due to political unrest, The Rainwater Aggregations (RAINS) Project was still able to complete three sites just in time for World Water Day. Continue reading for more. (more…)

Journey to the Center of New York: Can Design “Cure” Our Cities?

Plans for the , an underground park made possible by fiberoptic technology. Photo courtesy of James Ramsey and

Walk into the cafeteria at the Googleplex and you are nudged into the “right” choice. Sweets? Color-coded red and placed on the bottom shelf to make them just a bit harder to reach. “Instead of that chocolate bar, sir, wouldn’t you much rather consume this oh-so-conveniently-located apple? It’s good for you! Look, we labelled it green!” [1]

Like the Google cafeteria guides you to take responsibility of your health, Google wants to transform the construction industry to take responsibility of the “health” of its buildings. They have been leveraging for transparency in the content of building materials, so that, like consumers who read what’s in a Snickers bar before eating it, they’ll know the “ingredients” of materials to choose the greenest, what they call “healthiest,” options.[2]

These examples illustrate the trend of “medicalization” in our increasingly health-obsessed society: when ordinary problems (such as construction, productivity, etc.) are defined and understood in medical terms. In their book Imperfect Health, Borasi and Zardini argue that through this process, architecture and design has been mistakenly burdened with the normalizing, moralistic function of “curing” the human body. [3]

While I find the idea that design should “force” healthiness somewhat paternalistic and ultimately limited, I don’t think this “medicalized” language is all bad – especially if we can use it in new and revitalizing ways. Allow me to prescribe two examples: the most popular and the (potentially) most ambitious urban renewal projects in New York City today, the High Line and the Delancey Underground (or the Low Line).

More on “curative” spaces after the break. (Trust me, it’s good for you.)

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Update: ABI / February

Last month, our reporting of the Architecture Billings Index was a little pessimistic, as the slight upward movement was no sure sign of a stable recovery.  Yet, February marks the fourth month the Billings Index has remained in positive territory (a score of 50 or more indicates as such), and while we are cautious to mark the volatile index’s movement as a trend, we sure hope it is!  February reported a score of 51.0 and a significant jump was reached in the new project inquiry index (up from 61.2 to 63.4).  In fact, the 63.4 score is the highest inquires for new projects since July of 2007.   “This is more good news for the design and construction industry that continues to see improving business conditions,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “The factors that are preventing a more accelerated recovery are persistent caution from clients to move ahead with new projects, and a continued difficulty in accessing financing for projects that developers have decided to pursue.”  Breaking the index down regionally, the Midwest leads with 56.0, followed by the South, Northeast and finally the West with scores of 51.3, 51.0, 45.6, respectively.

Documentary featuring Michael Graves Premieres Tomorrow

Image provided by & ASSOCIATES

Premiering tomorrow on WTTW – one of Chicago’s PBS television stations – will be the new 30-minute documentary Architect Michael Graves: A Grand Tour. Popular Chicago TV tour host Geoffrey Baer profiles the life and work of the internationally acclaimed architect and winner of the 2012 Driehaus Prize for Classical and Traditional Architecture. The documentary will air Thursday, March 22 at 8PM.

Continue reading for more information on the documentary and view updated images of the Wounded Warrior Project. (more…)

Gehry is Open to Change as the Eisenhower Memorial Controversy Continues On

Via Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

In a letter presented at a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday, expressed his willingness to change the design of the controversial Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in order to resolve objections from the 34th president’s family.

“My detractors say that I have missed the point, and that I am trying to diminish the stature of this great man,” Gehry wrote. “I assure you that my only intent is to celebrate and honor this world hero and visionary leader.”

Continue reading for more information on the hearing. (more…)