The New York Times Asks: Are “Starchitects” Ruining City Skylines?

Hudson Yards, New York by Related Properties. Image Courtesy of Visualhouse

The idea of “star architects” or “starchitects” is, if nothing else, polemic. Frank Gehry has expressed his hatred for being labeled with the term, and in 2013 we received a letter from a reader urging us to ban the phrase as it “undermines serious discourse regarding architecture and urbanism.” Now, the “” debate has reached the opinion section of .

Following recent comments by Witold Rybczynski that “starchitects” — often unfamiliar with the cities they are designing for — are designing buildings that don’t fit into their surroundings, the NYT has posed the question: Are superstar architects ruining city skylines? Weighing in on the topic are Allison Arieff, an architecture and design writer for the NYT, Vishaan Chakrabarti, an associate professor at Columbia and a partner at SHoP Architects, Angel Borrego Cubero, a Madrid-based architect, and the director and producer of “The Competition,” a documentary about architectural competitions, and Beverly Willis of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.

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UK Ministers to Consider Key Recommendation of Farrell Review

Sir Terry Farrell. Image © Agnese Sanvito, via Farrells Facebook Page

The House of Lords has announced that the proposal to appoint a ‘Chief Architect’ in the UK, one of the major recommendations of this year’s report by Terry Farrell, will be discussed by the ’s minister for architecture Ed Vaizey and Housing and Planning minister Brandon Lewis. The proposal was among 60 recommendations made by the Farrell Review at the end of March. Other proposals due to be discussed by ministers are a the idea of establishing a Place Leadership Council and design review panels for infrastructure projects. More after the break…

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Has The Surge Of Visitors to Museums & Galleries Reached A Tipping Point?

Crowds around Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre, Paris. Image © Guia Besana

In an article for the New York Times Rachel Donadio examines Masterworks vs. the Masses. From the Louvre in Paris to London’s British Museum, Florence’s Uffizi to the Vatican Museums, the increasing surge of visitors to these international cultural nodes “has turned many museums into crowded, sauna-like spaces.” Balancing everyone’s right to be “nourished” by cultural experiences with protecting and preserving the works of art in question is a very real problem. According to Donadio, ”even when the art is secure, the experience can become irksome.” With some museums seeing annual visitors of up to 6.7 million visitors (British Museum), addressing the issues faced by institutions that are a victim of their own success is becoming more and more pressing. Read the article in full here.

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World Photo Day: Adam Mørk by Kim Herforth Nielsen of 3XN

KPMG Headquarters / Architects. Image ©

In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here, Kim Herforth Nielsen of 3XN writes on behalf of Adam Mørk

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The Empowerment of Aesthetics: Denmark’s Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

© Nico Saieh

Denmark‘s exhibition for the 2014 Venice Biennale focuses on the country’s history as a pioneer in the development of a welfare state, and the role that architecture, in connection with art, literature and science had in creating an aesthetic manifestation of this ’better life for all’. By exploring the output of a range of fields in connection to a wider social movement, Empowerment of Aesthetics comes to a fuller understanding of how modernity affected architecture in .

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BIG Unveils Design For “Zootopia” In Denmark

Courtesy of BIG

Danish architects BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) have just released ambitious designs for a zoo in Givskud, . It’s a project that provides an intriguing opportunity for, as BIG explains, the creation of a space with “the best possible and freest possible environment for the animals’ lives and relationships with each other and visitors.” The firm has been working for the past two years to make Zootopia what the Danish press is calling “the world’s most advanced zoo.” According to Givskud Zoo‘s director Richard Østerballe, the park’s transformation will benefit greatly from BIG’s fresh approach to design–one that has been characterized by the integration of nature and natural elements into cutting-edge, innovative architecture.

The project will attempt to “integrate and hide buildings” within the landscape. Upon entering the zoo, visitors can either enter a large central square or climb the “building-landscape,” allowing them to get a general overview of the layout of the park. From this central element, visitors can access different areas of the zoo. A 4km hiking trail connects the different areas (which represent the continents of Africa, America and Asia).

 The first phase is expected to be completed in 2019 to coincide with the park’s 50th anniversary.

Read on for more images and BIG’s project statement. 

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Assemble Selected to Design Goldsmiths College Art Gallery

Courtesy of Assemble

-based firm Assemble has been selected to design a new art gallery for Goldsmiths College at the University of London. Assemble was chosen over five other shortlisted firms for the project, which consists of constructing a new 400 square meter gallery in the back of what was formerly a Victorian bath-house, and is now the college’s Grade-II listed art studios.

Assemble is a young practice that gained attention for its pop-up cinema in a gas station during 2010. The firm’s most recent project is their Yardhouse workspace in Stratford.  Assemble’s Goldsmiths gallery design integrates new and modern elements – such as steel frame lanterns – into the building’s unique character and existing structures, which includes old water tanks. “The Victorian bathhouse at Laurie Grove offers a series of extraordinary found spaces. The cast iron water tanks have a powerful materiality which will be preserved and amplified, whilst new top-lit galleries will provide a rich spatial counter-point in an ensemble offering unique opportunities for the display of art,” Paloma Strelitz and Adam Willis, from Assemble, said in a statement.

More details on Assemble’s winning design after the break…

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World Photo Day: Fernando Alda by Felipe Assadi

Metropol Parasol / Jürgen Mayer H. Image ©

In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here, Felipe Assadi writes on behalf of Fernando Alda

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Modernism in the Arab World: Bahrain’s Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

© Nico Saieh

In Bahrain‘s pavilion for the 2014 Venice Biennale, the country uses its position on the eastern edge of the pan-Arabic region to investigate modernity’s impact on the Arab world: first as a colonial imposition, then as a local attempt to reconcile global and Arabic culture, then finally as an acceptance of neoliberal ideals.

The exhibition collects 100 projects from across the Arabic states, with the intention of consolidating and preserving knowledge of this critical period. The installation itself, a giant bookcase, is the manifestation of this research, and will later be made available at the Arab Center for Architecture.

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MAD Architects + Studio Gang Selected for Chicago’s George Lucas Museum

The rejected proposal for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in Crissy Field, San Francisco. Image © Art Zendarski

After the controversy surrounding their rejection by San Francisco and subsequent relocation to Chicago, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts has today announced a team of MAD Architects and Studio Gang as the designers of their new building in Chicago‘s museum district near Northerly Island.

The building itself will be designed by , chosen “because of its innovative approach to design and the firm’s philosophy of connecting urban spaces to natural landscapes.” In this case, that landscape will be designed by , who will also add a bridge to Northerly Island, an area which they have worked on turning into an ecologically diverse urban park.

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SCI-Arc Parodies “Poor Door” Housing Design

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In 2008, a group of students from SCI-Arc put out a proposal for a series of mixed income city housing projects for Dubai. In their design, wealthy residents would live in apartments on the building’s perimeter, with natural daylight and views of the city, while low-income housing tenants would live in the core of the building, isolated from “the upper class.”  The proposal was a parody aimed at the classist design of residential development in Dubai, but what unsettled the students was that their proposal generated almost no controversy. Inspired by the recent approval of a similar ‘poor door’ in a project in New York, this article from the LA Times covers that parody, and shows that both at home and abroad, residential design is slipping towards socio-economic segregation.

Thomas Heatherwick Selected for Latest Maggie’s Centre

Heatherwick’s trademark ingenuity, demonstrated in previous projects such as the Garden Bridge proposal, will be needed for the difficult site in . Image © Arup

The Maggie’s cancer charity has announced Thomas Heatherwick as the latest high-profile designer who will contribute to the Maggie’s Centre program, with a site at the new Bexley Wing of St James’s University Hospital in Leeds. The new centre will be the first Maggie’s in Yorkshire, with Heatherwick joining the likes of Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Steven Holl in the list of Maggie’s Centre designers.

More on the appointment after the break

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7N Architects Unveils Masterplan for Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge Site

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7N Architects have revealed their designs for the 8.2 acre Fountainbridge site, one of the largest city centre developments in Edinburgh, where they plan 350 homes, a range of workspaces, a 130 room hotel, canalside retail and café space and two arts buildings. The intention for the former industrial zone is to offer “enhanced canalside features, open space and paths for both pedestrian and cycle use.”

More on the proposal after the break

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Stirling Prize Winning Architects Build LEGO Cities for the London Festival of Architecture

Organised as part of the . Image © Agnese Sanvito

As part of the 2014 London Festival of Architecture, teams of architects from the four of the most recent Stirling Prize winning British practices were challenged with creating the most imaginative piece of a city – out of LEGO. Each team began with a carefully laid out square on the floor of the largest gallery of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, at which point they were given just one hour and 45 minutes to create an urban masterpiece out of blocks. Each group of architects worked alongside students from the Royal Academy’s attRAct programme, which offers A-level art students the chance to engage with art and architecture. An esteemed panel of judges ultimately selected the team from Zaha Hadid Architects as victorious, who “considered London on a huge scale and used curving buildings of different typologies which echoed the shape of the Thames.”

Read more about the brief and the other participating entries after the break.

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Spotlight: Santiago Calatrava

. Image Courtesy of http://en.wikiarquitectura.com/

Today is the 63rd birthday of world renowned architect, engineer, and artist Santiago Calatrava Valls. Calatrava is well known for his neofuturist style and his wild feats of engineering. The Milwaukee Art Museum, his first building in the United States, is famous for its shading “wings” that open and close in response to the position of the sun. His complex of buildings in his native Valencia is also a frequent pilgrimage site for architecture enthusiasts. 

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100 Architects From 6 Continents Discuss “Time Space Existence” at the 2014 Venice Biennale

Time Space Existence. at the 2014 Venice Biennale.. Image © Nico Saieh

The much anticipated Time Space Existence collateral event at  and Palazzo Mora for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale brought together a diverse group of 100 architects from six continents in an “extraordinary combination.” Summoned by the Dutch non-profit Global Arts Affairs Foundation, the exhibitions the architects were asked to produce documents current developments and thoughts in architecture, highlighting fundamental questions by discussing the philosophical concepts of Time, Space and Existence. Featuring well established architects next to lesser known practices, they all share a “dedication to architecture in the broadest sense of their profession.”

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Syrian Refugee Camp Becoming Impromptu City

Aerial View of Zaatari Refugee Camp. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

As the Syrian civil war continues to rage, more and more Syrian citizens are emigrating across the border to refugee camps in Jordan.  While these camps were intended to be temporary, the sheer number of people they support and the uncertainty of when the Syrian crisis will end has leant them a sense of permanence.  This article from the New York Times takes a look at how Syrian refugees are prompting urban development and what this means for the future of refugee camp design.

Emerging Practices in India: Anagram Architects

Brick screen wall: SAHRDC building. Image Courtesy of Anagram Architects

Indian Architect & Builder, through a two-part series titled ‘Practices of Consequence’ (Volumes I and II) delves deeper into contemporary Indian practices that have carved a unique identity and place for themselves in the country today. This article, part of the first volume of the series, takes a closer look at Anagram Architects, a New Delhi based architectural firm.

Led by Madhav Raman and Vaibhav Dimri, Anagram Architects is a growing studio that works in architecture, installation, and material innovation. The firm is often experimental in nature, and each project is developed with a distinct, independent framework. Beyond architecture, Anagram Architects has also designed objects and installations with a strong, cohesive sense of material, detail and execution. Indian Architect & Builder’s interview with the founders, after the break…

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