Milan Design Week 2013: Energetic Energies for Panasonic / Akihisa Hirata

© Santi Caleca

Envision a future where undulating “solar plants” transform the rectangular masses of our cities into a vibrant metropolis where technology aids in the coexistence of humans and nature. Represented in the conceptual installation “Energetic Energies” at the Milan Design Week 2013, this notion of redefining our relationship with the sky through photovoltaics is based on years of technological research and development by the Corporation, who commissioned Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata to imagine the possibilities.

The exhibition features a 30 meter-long makeshift city, whose “hills” of photovoltaics overtake clusters of white, translucent buildings while shadows of clouds move in and out of the space.

A video interview with and more images after the break…

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Local Economies Suffer as Foreign Investments Dominate London and NYC

Belgravia, one of London’s priciest and most deserted neighborhoods © Herry Lawford

An interesting phenomenon is taking place in London: the priciest tiers of its housing market are increasingly being driven by overseas investment, primarily from the Far East. The most interesting – and perhaps most concerning – aspect of these investments is that at least 37% those who buy property in the most expensive neighborhoods of central London do not intend to use that property as a primary residence. This results in upscale neighborhoods and properties that are largely abandoned and contribute almost nothing to the local economy of the city. Parts of Manhattan are experiencing similar behavior, leading us to ask the question “what is happening to our as they become more and more globalized and how will this trend affect city economies around the world?”

Read more after the break…

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First Press Conference of Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture

Courtesy of Organizing Committee of Biennale of \Architecture

The Organizing Committee of the Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture recently announced that the 2013 Biennale, which will open December 6, will be delivered by two curatorial teams, consisting of Team Ole Bouman and Team Li Xiangning + Jefferey Johnson. Old Bouman wil act as curator, creative director. Li Xiangning + Jefferey Johnson will be the curators, academic directors. The main venues for the event are the former YAOPI float glass factory (venue A) and the old warehouse at Shekou ferry terminal (venue B). More information after the break.

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Remembering Paolo Soleri 1919-2013

© www.arcosanti.org

Today the world has lost one of its great minds. Paolo Soleri, architect, builder, artist, writer, theorist, husband, father, born on Summer Solstice, June 21, 1919, has died at age 93.

Paolo Soleri spent a lifetime investigating how architecture, specifically the architecture of the city, could support the countless possibilities of human aspiration. The urban project he founded, Arcosanti, 65 miles north of Phoenix, was described by NEWSWEEK magazine as “…the most important urban experiment undertaken in our lifetimes.”

His own lifetime of work is represented in models, drawings, books, lectures and museum exhibits throughout the world. Soleri’s exhibition in 1970 at the Corcoran Museum in Washington DC – and the concurrent publication of his landmark book, CITY IN THE IMAGE OF MAN – changed forever the global conversation about on our living planet. His term, “Arcology” joining the words architecture and ecology to represent one whole system of understanding human life on the earth is meant to serve as the basis for that conversation.

More on the life of Paolo Soleri after the break… (more…)

Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse Rooftop to Host Contemporary Art Center

Restored Rooftop Terrace of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse © MAMO

When the gym and solarium on the 20-century’s most famous rooftop terrace – elevated 18-stories above Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse - went up for sale in 2010, French designer Ito Morabito of immediately jumped on the opportunity and purchased the space. With the support of the Foundation Le Corbusier, Ora-ïto initiated a campaign to restore the 1950‘s structure to its original state, by removing an addition that blocked the spaces 360-degree views of the city, and transform it into a contemporary art center, named the MAMO for “ Modulor” – as a nod to New York’s MOMA.

More about MAMO after the break… (more…)

Herzog & de Meuron Breaks Ground on Public “Bathing Lake” in Riehen

©

In 1979, just a year after founding their practice, Herzog & de Meuron won a competition to design a public swimming pool for the Swiss municipality of . After developing several unrealized iterations over the following years, the project was put on hold indefinitely in 1982. Twenty-five years later, in 2007, Herzog & de Meuron were commissioned to rethink the project and proposed to abandon the conventional pool concept with its mechanical and chemical water treatment systems in favor of a pool closer to natural condition with biological filtration.

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5468796 Architecture Receives First Emerging Architectural Practice Award from RAIC

Bohemier Residence / 5468796 Architecture + Cohlmeyer Architecture © 5468796 Architecture

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada has announced 5468796 Architecture Inc. as recipient of the inaugural Emerging Architectural Practice Award.  The firm is a Winnipeg-based collaborative studio of 12 young professionals with Johanna Hurme, MRAIC, Sasa Radulovic, MRAIC, and Colin Neufeld, MRAIC leading the office.  The firm operates under the principle that each project, while keeping to the parameters of cost, client expectations and site restrictions, must “advance architecture in some way”.  

Join us after the break for more on 5468796 Architecture and their recent award.

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The Debate Over Making It Right in the Lower Ninth Ward

The Float House / Morphosis, © Iwan Baan

Ever since the New Republic published Lydia DePillis’s piece entitled “If you Rebuild it, They Might Not Come” - a criticism of the progress of Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation – numerous blogs and journals have been in a uproar, defending Make It Right’s efforts at rebuilding the vastly devastated Lower Ninth Ward and presenting a much more forgiving perspective on the progress of the neighborhood since the engineering disaster that exacerbated the effects of in 2005. To date, 86 LEED Platinum homes have been designed and constructed by world-renowned architects, including Frank Gehry and Morphosis, at a cost of approximately $24 million.  Make It Right has promised to build up to 150 such homes, but DePillis‘s article points out that amenities in the neighborhood are low and the number of residents returning to the neighborhood is dwindling.  Make It Right has made a commitment and the debate that ensues questions whether it is going far enough in delivering its promise to rebuilding community.

Read on for more on the Make It Right debate…

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Celebrate National Architecture Week with the AIA

2013 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture

From April 7th through the 13th, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) will be hosting National in an effort to increase public awareness on the role architects play as a force for positive change in our communities and to elevate the public’s appreciation of design.

Similar to previous years’ observances, National Architecture Week will be virtual and composed of daily pinboards on the social networking site, Pinterest, and an Architecture Is Awesome contest on Instagram. The intent is to use the two social networking platforms to showcase architects’ good designs and encourage architecture fans to share their thoughts and engage with like-minded professionals during the week.

Five Ways You can Take Part in National Architecture Week:

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The New York Times Wants Your Images of High-Rise Life

Screenshot from The .

When one thinks of the stereotypical “American” life, images of Suburbia, of small homes with white picket fences, immediately come to mind. But beyond the stereotype is the lived experience of millions of Americans, who have grown up in cities across the country, and indeed, the world.

If you are one of these millions, and have lived at least some of your life in a building, then you can be of use to the New York Times‘ new Op-Docs series. This summer they will create four short documentaries, directed by the filmmaker Katerina Cizek, exploring “the history and future of high-rise buildings and their relationship to issues of equity, segregation and social responsibility in cities around the world.” The fourth film will consist entirely of images sent by you, the public.

If you have an image (digital or a scanned still) that tells a story about your experience living in or around vertical housing, you can submit it to The New York Times here - just make sure to do it before April 15th.

Story via The New York Times

2012 Worldwide City Rankings Reveal Important Regional Trends

Vienna, the city with the best quality of life in the world.

, a consulting leader that helps other organizations around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their employees, releases a survey annually that helps multinational companies and other organizations compensate employees when placing them on international assignments. Their survey for the year 2012 evaluates over 221 cities around the world on their with New York City as the base city and highlights several trends that can add onto what we as designers and urban planners believe makes a city successful and livable.

Read on for the 2012 results.

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Foster’s Apple Headquarters Exceeds Budget by $2 Billion

© , ARUP, Kier + Wright, Apple

The estimated cost of Apple’s Cupertino City headquarters has escalated from an already hefty price of $3 billion to $5 billion (more than $1,500 per square foot), reportedly pushing back the original completion date to 2016. According to Bloomberg, Apple is working with lead architect Foster & Partners to shave $1 billion from the “ballooning budget”. Most of the cost is seemly due to Steve Job’s “sky-high requirements for fit and finish”, as the tech legend called for the 2.8 million square foot, circular monolith to be clad 40-foot panes of German concave glass, along with its four-story office spaces be lined with museum-quality terrazzo floors and capped with polished concrete ceilings.

Although lambasted for his ambitious plans and “doughnut-shaped” design, Steve Jobs wanted to create a masterpiece that looked as good as it functioned, just like his products. During a 2011 presentation to the Cupertino City Council, Jobs stated, “This is not the cheapest way to build something… there is not a straight piece of glass in this building.” He continued, “We have a shot… at building the best office building in the world. I really do think that architecture students will come here to see it.”

More after the break…

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Whole Foods Set to Build First Commercial-Scale Greenhouse on Brooklyn Rooftop

via Fast Co.Design

has teamed up with ’s local organic grower, Gotham Greens, to build the first commercial-scale greenhouse attached to a supermarket. The 20,000-square-foot greenhouse, expected to open in Brooklyn this Fall, will provide locally grown produce year-round to nine Whole Foods stores in City area.  (more…)

Frank Gehry’s Facebook HQ Wins Approval

© Gehry Partners LLP via Menlo Park City Council

A new smartphone isn’t the only Facebook news making headlines, as the social media giant has received the green light from the Menlo Park City Council to move forward with their headquarter’s expansion on the outskirts of San Francisco Bay, California. The approved plans are a slightly toned down version of architect Frank Gehry’s original proposal, as the flamboyant butterfly-like wings which flared from each end of the 433,555-square-foot building have been removed.

“They felt some of those things were too flashy and not in keeping with the kind of the culture of Facebook, so they asked us to make it more anonymous,” stated Craig Webb, Gehry’s creative partner. “Frank (Gehry) was quite willing to tone down some of the expression of architecture in the building.”

After a 4-0 vote secured approval, Mayor Peter Ohtaki asked: “Where’s the ‘Like’ button?”

More after the break…

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Robert Venturi and Rem Koolhaas Side with Denise Scott Brown on Pritzker Debate

outside Las Vegas in 1966; photograph from the Archives of and Denise Scott Brown © Frank Hanswijk

Robert Venturi has joined nearly 4,000 advocates in the call to retrospectively acknowledge Denise Scott Brown as a joint Pritzker Prize laureate, stating: “Denise Scott Brown is my inspiring and equal partner.”

His support was then quickly followed by Rem Koolhaas, who stated: “I totally support this action. The fact that one of the most creative and productive partnerships we have ever seen in architecture was separated rather than celebrated by a prize has been an embarrassing injustice which it would be great to undo.”

New updates after the break…

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Four Architects Enlisted to Reimagine Penn Station

Penn Station via Wikipedia

In an effort to “unlock people’s imaginations” about Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has challenged Santiago CalatravaDiller Scofidio + Renfro, and SOM to propose four new visions that exemplify the potential of the highly disregarded area. 

The challenge comes amidst a heated debate on whether or not the city should restrict Madison Square’s recently expired special permit to 10 years, rather than in perpetuity as the arena’s owners – the Dolan family – has requested. This would allow time for the city to “get it right” and come up with a viable solution for the arena and station that, as NYTimes critic Michael Kimmelman states, would not only “improve the safety and quality of life for millions of people but also benefit the economy”. Think Kings Cross in . With a thoughtful mix of public and private investments, the crime-ridden station was transformed into a thriving cultural destination that benefited all parties. 

More after the break…

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Chicago On-Track To Break Ground On Elevated Parkway

Courtesy of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Chicago is set to be the next U.S. city to park-ify on one of its abandoned rail-lines. First proposed back in 1997, the 2.7 mile, 13-acre Bloomingdale Trail and Park is proposed for a stretch of abandoned railway trestle dating from 1910, which has been lying unused since the turn of the century. And, even though it is already being compared to New-York’s High Line, the planners are adamant that the park will be an entirely different animal to its cousin.

Read more about Chicago’s unique proposal after the break…

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A Brief, Interesting History of the Otis Elevator Company

Otis are in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building at 2,722 ft. Image © Emaar properties.

What do the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Kremlin, and the Burj Khalifa have in common?

Elevators from the Otis Elevator Company. The company, which is celebrating its 160th anniversary today, has an interesting history: it was founded in 1853, the year Elisha Otis invented the elevator safety brake. Before Otis’ invention, buildings rarely reached seven stories (elevators were considered just too dangerous to implement).

But it was Otis’ elevator that would allow for the creation, and proliferation of, the skyscraper – an explosion that would for ever alter the 20th and 21st century skylines.

Read more about the Otis Elevators influence on skyscraper design (and how Otis performed a death-defying feat to increase the invention’s popularity), after the break…

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