2013 MASterworks Awards

Campbell Sports Center / Steven Holl Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

To celebrate excellence in architecture and urban design in New York City, the Municipal Art Society has announced the winners of this year’s . Starting with “Best New Building,” Steven Holl was awarded for his Campbell Sports Center in Manhattan. See who else was honored, after the break.

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Apple Patents Glass Cylinder Design

Courtesy of

Apple has successfully secured a patent for the cylindrical, glass entrance to its Shanghai store. After trademarking the design and layout of its retail stores last January, this is one more battle Apple has won for copyrighting its signature look.

More on the patented design after the break.

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Young Architect of the Year Award Shortlist Announced

Ferreries Cultural Centre by [ARQUITECTURIA]. Image © Pedro Pegenaute

This week the shortlist for this year’s Young Architect of the Year Award (YAYA) was announced. The YAYA, organized by BD and now in its 15th year, has become a high-profile springboard for many practices led by architects under 40.

For the first time, this year the award is open to architects from outside the UK, allowing any practice based in the EU a chance to apply. The shortlist reflects this new opportunity, featuring practices from Belgium and Spain among the list of five.

The 2013 YAYA Shortlist includes:

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Gehry Confirms His Return to LA’s Grand Avenue Project

Gehry’s original scheme for Los Angeles’ Grand Avenue. Image Courtesy of KCRW

The Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Hawthorne may have hoped for (and indeed hinted at the possibility) of Frank Gehry’s return to the Grand Avenue Project, the long-awaited plan to develop the stretch of land east of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but now the speculation has finally become fact. Speaking last week at a panel discussion meant to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Disney Hall, Gehry finally put the rumors to rest.

More details, after the break.

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Reviving Beijing’s Hutongs with Micro Installations

Above Beijing’s historic hutongs. Image © Ivan Walsh

The Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright documents the current trend of micro-scale installations spurring new life into the historic hutongs of Beijing and gaining support from the local communities, eager to reject the economic pressures of destroying/. The local government’s endorsement, however, comes as a surprise – especially considering its fervent impetus to raze these areas just a few years ago. Read the full article here: Designers Use ‘Urban Acupuncture’ to Revive Beijing’s Historic Hutongs.

ACME Wins SAB Design Competition in Germany

© ACME

ACME has won an international competition for the design of the new headquarters of the Sächsische AufbauBank in Leipzig, . Chosen from submissions by 20 architectural practices (including Zaha Hadid and Sauerbruch Hutton), ACME’s design was referred to by the jury as “an innovative and [...] a visionary solution, which is manifested in a striking, distinctive appearance. Especially noteworthy is the symbiotic unity of building and open space design.” 

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Studio Gang Chosen to Convert Power Plant to Rec Center

Beloit College has chosen Studio Gang Architects to convert a century old power-plant into a campus recreation and activity center. The project was born out of an ongoing partnership with Alliant Energy Wisconsin, the local utility company that currently holds the space, who has been in talks within the college for over a year.

“The team is very excited to partner with Beloit College,” stated . “Together we can transform this historic structure into a new hub for wellness, green power, and great architecture. By reflecting Beloit’s core values in the design, values shared by our team, we will create a model that will bring many benefits to the college, city, and region. This is a project that has the potential to inspire other communities around the globe.”

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Plans Unveiled For Crystal Palace Rebuild

Terrace view . Image © ZhongRong Group

UPDATE: Following ongoing discussions, the city of and the Chinese ZhongRong Group have finally unveiled plans for the Crystal Palace replica, announcing a competition to find the “the best not the biggest” architects to take on the project.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “Paxton’s stunning Crystal Palace was a beacon of innovation in the 19th century, encapsulating a spirit of invention which was to shape London and the world for generations to come. Since the iconic building was destroyed, the conundrum of what to do with the crumbling site has not been successfully resolved.” Until now.

Check out renderings and more information, after the break…

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“Designing Recovery” Winners: Resilient, Livable Homes for Vulnerable Cities

Courtesy of GOATstudio

“Designing Recovery,” a competition focused on the planning and rebuilding of resilient and sustainable communities, has announced its three winning entries, by sustainable.to Architecture + Building, GOATstudio LLP, and Q4 Architects.

The competition, which was a collaboration between the American Institute of Architects (AIA),  Make It Right,  Architecture for Humanity, the St. Bernard Project, and Dow Building Solutions, was envisioned to aid communities affected by devastating natural disasters – in this case, New York City, New Orleans, and Joplin, MO.

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“A Short History of the Highrise”

Oscar Niemeyer – Brasília, 1958. Image © Marcel Gautherot/IMS

The New York Times has published “A Short History of the ” – an interactive documentary that explores the 2,500-year global history of vertical living and issues of social equality in an increasingly urbanized world. Organized in four short films – “Mud,” “Concrete,” “Glass,” and “Home” – viewers are given the option to “dig deeper” into each subject and explore additional archival material while viewing the film. Check out the film here.

Proposals Unveiled for Nobel Prize’s New Home in Stockholm

A P(a)lace to enjoy. Image © Nobelhuset AB

BIG, OMA and SANAA are amongst 12 architectural heavyweights competing to design the Nobel Foundation’s new home in , . Currently in the competition’s first stage, the architects have submitted anonymous entries for jury review. 

Once complete, the building hopes to become one of Stockholm’s main attractions. It will not only serve as the Nobel Foundation’s primary home, but also provide facilities for research and education, as well as public exhibition spaces, a conference center, library, cafe, shop and more.

Read on for the complete list of participating architects and a sneak peak of the proposed schemes.

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Why This Is the Year of the Architect

Butaro Hospital, by . MASS’s co-founder, Michael Murphy, spoke at the CGI Meeting, saying “We need to expand the horizons of what we expect from our built environment” . Image © Iwan Baan

Last week, we noted how the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) participation with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), as well as it’s many other initiatives, signify the organization’s commitment to putting on the agenda. The following article, written by Brooks Rainwater, the Director of Public Policy at the AIA, outlines these efforts and emphasizes how architects are tackling today’s most pressing global challenges.

Architects are increasingly demonstrating their ability to help solve large-scale problems in the areas of resilience and health. At the same time the continued ascendancy of social impact design has helped elevate the conversation and prescribed a needed emphasis on equity considerations, uplifting global populations, and the idea that design should be for and impact all people.

With more than 1,000 global leaders convened in New York last week for the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting it is an ideal time to ask the question, how does design fit into the global conversation?

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“Cooled Conservatories, Gardens by the Bay” Wins the 2013 RIBA Lubetkin Prize

Cooled Conservatories, Gardens by the Bay / Courtesy of . Image © Craig Sheppard

The RIBA Lubetkin Prize, awarded annually to the architects of the best new building outside the European Union, was won this year by Wilkinson Eyre and Grant Associates for Cooled Conservatories, Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. The prize, which was also awarded to Wilkinson Eyre in 2012 for the Guangzhou International Finance Centre, is now in its 13th year.

Upon announcing the news, RIBA President Stephen Hodder stated: 

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MASS Design Group Joins African Education Initiative

Butaro Hospital. Image © Iwan Baan

Together with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), MASS Design Group is helping to build 15 conservation primary schools over the next 10 years in African landscapes, home to some of world’s most important wildlife populations, including elephants, rhinos, great apes, and lions. They will design non-traditional educational campuses for primary school children that offer lessons and other services extending beyond the classroom walls.

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‘London As It Could Be Now’: Reconnecting Londoners with the Tidal Thames

The Thames Baths Project. Image © Studio Octopi / Civic Engineers /

Five proposals for reconnecting Londoners with the River Thames have gone on display at ’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA). The competition, organised by the Architecture Foundation, “launched an open call for multidisciplinary design teams to put forward new ideas and visions for self-selected sites along the Tidal Thames” earlier this year. The five selected teams were shortlisted earlier this year and recently discussed their designs at a public design workshop. The schemes are now being exhibited as part of the Richard Rogers RA: Inside Out exhibition.

Read extracts of the proposals after the break…

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World Building of the Year: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki / FJMT + Archimedia

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki / + Archimedia

At the last day of the World Architecture Festival, the winners of each category had their chance to showcase their projects in front of the jury and the audience. The jury, which included Ken Tadashi Oshima (University of Washington), Ken Yeang (Llewelyn Davies Yeang), Patrick Bellew (Atelier Ten), Jeanne Gang (Studio Gang Architects) and Dietmar Eberle (Baumschlager Eberle), gave the World Building of the Year Award to the new Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT) and Archimedia

The new Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki is an extensive public project that includes the restoration and adaption of heritage buildings; a new building extension which more than doubles the public exhibition areas; extensive basement storage and support areas; and the redesign of adjacent areas of Albert Park. The design creates an openness and transparency to allow views through, into and out of the gallery circulation and display spaces into the green landscape of Albert Park. The architecture developed from a concept which relates as much to the organic natural forms of the landscape as it does to the architectural order and character of the heritage buildings.

The collection of the gallery can be visited online at the Google Cultural Institute.

“The winning project transcended category types. You could say it is about new and old, or civic and community, or display. It contrasts the manmade and the natural, and the relationship between art and science. This is a major design achievement in a seismic zone, providing an example of design pragmatism and a carful reworking which does no more than it needs to until it is required. Balancing many different elements, the resulting design is a rich complex of built ideas.” – Paul Finch, WAF Director.

Other awarded projects at the WAF were the Australian Garden by Taylor Cullity Lethlean + Paul Thompson (Landscape Project of the Year) and the National Maritime Museum in by Cox Rayner Architects (Future Project of the Year).

LEGO® Architecture Landmark Series: The United Nations Headquarters

Courtesy of LEGO®

LEGO® has officially announced the next addition to their architecture-inspired products: The United Nations Headquarters. Standing alongside City’s East River, the United Nations Headquarters is a beacon of modernism and international collaboration, designed by a team of multinational architects including Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer. Scaling 5 inches high x 8 inches wide x 6 inches deep, this representation of the UN Headquarters costs  $49.99.

Check out more about the building and its history here.

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MIT Researchers Propose Self-Assembling Robots as Future of Construction

An exposed prototype of the M-Block, a new modular robotic system . Image © M. Scott Brauer

Picture this: self-assembling blocks that, when given a task, have the ability to reorganize themselves into new geometries.

This is precisely what research scientist, John Romanishin, at MIT‘s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has long envisioned for a near future — robotic modules known as M-Blocks. Romanishin has teamed with his professor, Daniela Rus, and colleague, postdoc Kyle Gilpin, to prototype robotic cubes with no external moving parts, able to climb over, around and even leap onto each other.

Till now, robots have depended on arms or attachments to move themselves. “We wanted a simpler approach,” says Romanishin, that uses fewer moving parts. Inside each M-Block is a flywheel that spins at 20,000 revolutions per minute, creating enough angular momentum when it brakes that the blocks assemble themselves in new configurations. On each face and edge of the cubes are magnets, naturally connecting the cubes when spurred by the flywheel.

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