Another Round of Human Rights Violations for the Sake of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Mikhail Mordasov/AFP/Getty Images via The Atlantic

Imminent domain has a new justification and it’s called the . Once again, the anticipation of the Olympics brings to light the slew of human rights violations that are permitted by countries as they prepare to host the games. So what is the real cost of hosting the ? We posed this question on ArchDaily last year in regards to Rio de Janeiro’s pick for hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Summer Games.  And here we are again, looking at the controversies that surround building the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, , which has been preparing for the games for six years now since it won its bid in 2007. If Brazil’s practices with the favelas struck a nerve with human rights groups, Sochi’s is sure to spark more controversy.

More after the break.
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PowerWINDows: A Proposal for Skyscraper-Compatible Wind Turbines

Courtesy of University of Wollongong

Could a new revolution in wind-turbines be on its way? A team from Australia’s University of Wollongong (UOW) have collaborated with leading marine engineering firm Birdon Pty Ltd, to develop PowerWINDows – a new type of wind-to-energy converter that could potentially be appearing on near you soon.

Read more about this new idea after the break…

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Johannes Vermeer Award 2013 goes to Rem Koolhaas

© Fred Ernst

With the ambition of honoring and encouraging outstanding artistic talent, the Dutch state prize for the arts – the – has been awarded this year to architect and writer . The jury made a unanimous decision, citing Koolhaas’s critical contributions to architecture and urbanism since his career began with the publication of Delirious New York in 1975. 

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Build Your Own Neutra Home!

Kaufmann House, 1947 Palm Springs, CA / Richard Neutra, architect © Julius Schulman

The mid-century modern master, Richard Neutra was well known for his cutting edge . Since Julius Shulman immortalized his in his iconic photographs, Neutra’s bright, airy homes have widely been seen as the pinnacle of modernism and desirability. One problem though, they’re in high demand and it’s not exactly like they’re making any more Neutra buildings; in fact, quite the opposite is true and as a result they have become a pretty expensive commodity.

Read more about how to get your very own Neutra home after the break…

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MONU Magazine New Issue: Communal Urbanism

Courtesy of

MONU, a unique bi-annual international forum for artists, writers and designers that are working on topics of urban culture, development and , just released their newest issue #18 on the topic of ‘Communal Urbanism’. How should we live together? is the central question focusing on contemporary communal living in cities. According to Martin Abbott’s contribution “Learning to Live Together”, this is a question often discussed among the housemates of Berlin’s 40 year old communal “Hausprojekt Walde”. Rainer Langhans, one of the early members of the legendary “Kommune 1″, founded in Berlin in 1967, is convinced that in the future we will live increasingly communally. For more information on MONU’s latest issue, please visit here.

Happy 70th Birthday Peter Zumthor!

at the Steilneset Memorial. Image © Andrew Meredith

Sharing a birthday with I.M. Pei, Peter Zumthor (April 26, 1943) turns 70 years old today. Known for his sensuous materiality and attention to place, the 2009 Pritzker Laureate is one the most revered architects of the 20th century.

Although Zumthor has completed far fewer projects than architects of comparable renown, his work has had a resounding impact on the world of architecture. His buildings are mysterious and enticing, but show no signs of style or formal preconceptions. His concern is with context, experience and materiality, not aesthetic. Perhaps this is his most significant contribution to architecture: a truly meaningful architecture of place and experience.

We invite you to explore Zumthor’s work, both past and present, after the break…

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Happy 96th Birthday I.M. Pei

Le Grand Louvre © Greg Kristo

Ieoh Ming Pei, the Chinese-American architect who is arguably the greatest living member of the modernist generation of architects, turns 96 today. When he received his Pritzker Prize in 1983, the jury citation stated that he “has given this century some of its most beautiful interior spaces and exterior forms”.

Though known as a modernist, Pei has rejected the implications of globalism inherent in the “International Style“, instead advocating contextual development and variation in style. He has commented “the important distinction is between a stylistic approach to the design; and an analytical approach giving the process of due consideration to , place, and purpose”. On a trip to China in 1974 he even urged Chinese architects to look more to their architectural tradition, rather than designing in a western style.

Pei’s most well known work is likely his crystalline extension to the Louvre in Paris; other highly influential works include the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.

To celebrate ’s 96th birthday, we invite you to take a look over the catalog of his works here on ArchDaily, after the break…

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Wang Shu Honored as One of TIME 100’s Most Influential People

Ningbo History Museum © Lv Hengzhong, Courtesy of Amateur Architecture Studio

TIME Magazine has released their tenth-edition of the 100 issue, representing who they believe to be the world’s 100 most influential people in 2013. Gracing the list among music titan Jay-Z and Kickstarter CEO Perry Chen is architecture’s very own , who was honored for “successfully blending China’s quest for novel and eye-catching architecture with respect for traditional aesthetics.”

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AIA Selects the 2013 COTE Top Ten Green Projects

Yin Yang House; Venice, California / Brooks + Scarpa
 © John Linden

The American Institute of Architects () and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. 

The program, now in its 17th year, is the profession’s best known recognition program for sustainable design excellence. The program celebrates projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology. They make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.

The 2013 COTE Top Ten Green Projects and Top Ten Plus after the break…

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Fideicomiso: When Architects Become Developers (And Everybody Wins)

Once Building, by Adamo-Faiden Architects, crowdfunded via fideicomiso. Image © Cristobal Palma.

A decade before Kickstarter made “” a buzzword (particularly in architecture circles), a similar concept – going by a far more poetic name – was already alive and well in the streets of Buenos Aires.

Fideicomiso is a system of development which gained popularity in Argentina after the financial crisis of 2001; banks crashed, the public grew wary of developers, and a more democratic system of development gained prevalence. Under fideicomiso, the architect himself takes on the risk of development; residents collect their assets and provide them to the architect, who buys the land, funds the project and oversees the design/construction.

Now, Elias Redstone, a researcher who took part in Venice Takeaway (Britain’s Pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale) and spent investigating this model in Argentina, has returned to his home country – and is anxious to see if this system could be applied in Recession-struck Britain.

Read more about this revolutionary model of development, after the break…

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New York City Preserves Public Housing by Leasing Infill Land

NYCHA, Public Housing. Courtesy of Flickr User agentvladimir. Licensed via Creative Commons

For the past four decades, as cities faced financial pressures, high-rise public housing met its decline.  Cities throughout the country demolished public housing that was failing financially and socially, like Chicago’s Cabrini-Green Housing Project whose demolition was completed in 2011, to make way for developments that encouraged economic and social diversity by way of the HOPE VI Program. This strategy resulted in the uprooting and relocation of former residents who faced uncertainty throughout the process.

The City Housing Authority (NYCHA) stands out among housing authorities in the United States due to its size – 179,000 units in 2,600 buildings across the city – and the fact that the buildings are relatively well maintained.  NYCHA has avoided resorting to demolitions to deal with its issues, instead resorting to special police services that costs NYCHA a purported $70 million a year.  Over the past decade NYCHA has been underfunded by approximately $750 million causing backlogs in necessary repairs.

To address the mounting costs of public housing, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has proposed an infill strategy that would attract developers onto NYCHA land and create a new layer of commercial space and residential units in public housing developments.  The goal over the next five years is to develop methods of preservation for the housing development and promote mixed-use and mixed-income developments to generate income for NYCHA.

More on the plan after the break.

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UK Survey Reveals Gap Between Large and Small Practices

According to the survey, large firms such as Foster + Partners make up just 3% of practices, but employ 40% of architects. Image courtesy of Foster + Partners

recent survey by the RIBA of over 2,100 practices revealed there is now a widening gap between ‘massive’ and ‘micro’ practices, with a ‘squeezed middle’ in between, as reported by BD.

This was the first mandatory survey of its members conducted by the RIBA, and gives a glimpse, for the first time, into the workings of every chartered UK practice. The RIBA’s executive director of membership and profession Richard Brindley described the findings as a “tale of two professions operating in different universes”. The polarized profession is most damaging to the practices in the middle; those of 10-50 employees which are large enough to have costly overheads, but not large enough to absorb them.

Large practices, employing 50 people or more, include just 3% of practices, but, thanks to their size, include 40% of registered architects. At the other extreme are practices of 10 employees or less, who account for 53% of practices despite employing a meager 10% of architects. The survey found that the majority of practices employs fewer than six people.

Read on for more results and analysis of the survey

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Positive Signs of Growth Reflected in Steady ABI and Higher Intern Employment Rates

Courtesy of Calculated Risk

For the eight consecutive month, the Architecture Billings Index () is reflecting a steady upturn in design activity. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag between architecture billings and construction spending. Although the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI score was 51.9, down from a mark of 54.9 in February, this score still reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). In addition, the new projects inquiry index was 60.1, down from the reading of 64.8 the previous month.

“Business conditions in the construction industry have generally been improving over the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “But as we have continued to report, the recovery has been uneven across the major construction sectors so it’s not a big surprise that there was some easing in the pace of growth in March compared to previous months.”

Key ABI highlights and details indicating higher employment rates for intern architects after the break…

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Zaha Hadid Wins Veuve Cliquot Business Women Award

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Zaha Hadid has been announced as the winner of the 41st Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award at a ceremony in London on Monday. Now in its 41st year, the Veuve Clicquot Award was set up by the Champagne house to recognize the work of successful businesswomen worldwide, who embody their spirit of Madame Clicquot.

Madame Clicquot was a 19th Century businesswomen who, after being widowed at the age of 27, took the reigns of her husband’s Champagne business and became one of the first women to lead a male-dominated company. The company describes her as a women who was ‘proud and strong-willed’ who demanded “only one quality, the finest.” The award appraises the nominees under the headings of entrepreneurship, financial success, corporate social responsibility and whether or not they are seen as a role model to others.

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The Uncertain Future of Seoul, Korea’s “Dream Hub”

Block H; Courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

According to Business Insider and a number of other real estate development outlets, the “” project in Korea that drew designs from internationally renowned architects including Daniel Libeskind -designer of the master plan – MVRDV, Dominique Perrault, BIG, REX, KPF and Tange Associates is on the verge of collapse.  The Yongsan Development Corporation reportedly defaulted on a major loan repayment, citing difficulties in raising funds due to the real estate slump since the 2008 global financial crisis.  The collapse of the project is still speculative, as it is unclear how the next round of loans that are to mature in June will fare.  

The $28 billion real estate “Dream Hub” project was to develop 56-acres in central Seoul into a modern business hub.  In its planning it included shopping malls, hotels, department store, apartment blocks, and mixed-use office towers.  Follow us after the break for a recap of the projects that were planned for this development.

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RIBA Campaigns For Space and Light Requirements in New Homes

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In preparation for a ministerial review of housing standards by the UK government, the RIBA has launched their “Without Space + Light” campaign aimed at advocating minimum requirements for total space and natural lighting in order to improve quality in new built homes.

The campaign, supported by a survey titled “Housing Standards and Satisfaction: What the Public Wants“, aims to combat the recent trend towards ‘shoe-box homes’, highlighting the dissatisfaction among owners of new homes when it comes to living standards and the fact that new homes are an average of 10% smaller than they used to be.

Not only are the space standards in UK homes poor compared to past , they also lag behind standards set by other European countries: in Ireland, new homes are on average 15% larger, in the Netherlands they are 53% larger, and most strikingly in Denmark they are a full 80% larger.

Read more about the campaign after the break…

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Designers React to Folk Art Museum’s Imminent Demolition

Courtesy of FolkMOMA

UPDATE: Since we first reported on this story, the Architectural League of has written an open letter to the MoMA, calling for “a compelling justification for the cultural and environmental waste of destroying this much-admired, highly distinctive twelve-year-old building.” Signatories include Steven Holl, Thoma Mayne, Richard Meier, and Robert A. M. Stern. You can find the letter here.

As we reported yesterday, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has announced their plans to demolish the 12-year old American Folk Art Museum, designed by Tod Williams & Bille Tsien. The MoMA, which has planned a new expansion on either side of Williams & Tsien’s building, claims that the building will prevent the floors from lining up and thus must be demolished. Moreover, officials claim that the building’s opaque facade isn’t in keeping with the MOMA’s glass aesthetic.

Designers and architects, outraged by the MoMA’s decision to destroy such a young and architecturally important part of New York’s urban fabric, are now challenging the validity of the MoMA’s claim. Not only has a petition been started to prevent the demolition, but many are pleading with MoMa to consider how the Folk Art Museum could be integrated into the new expansion. In fact, a Tumblr – crowdsourcing ideas for potential re-designs - has even been set-up.

See more designers’ reactions & suggestions on how to save the , after the break…

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Light Matters: Louis Kahn and the Power of Shadow

Looking at His Tetrahedral Ceiling in the Yale University Art Gallery, 1953. Gelatin silver print. Image © Lionel Freedman. Yale University Art Gallery Archives Transfer.

Light matters, a monthly column on light and space, is written by Thomas Schielke. Based in Germany, he is fascinated by architectural lighting, has published numerous articles and co-authored the book „Light Perspectives“. 

Does shadow have the power to give form to architecture? The increasing number of transparent buildings and LED installations would enforce the impression that light has eliminated the relevance of shadow. But to answer that question, let’s look back to a master of light whose architecture was shaped by shadow: Louis Kahn.

More Light Matters, after the break…

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