Fountainhead Quad City: East Moline’s Future Development Along the Mississippi River

Aerial View, Fountainhead Quad Cities; Developer J. Paul Beitler of Beitler Real Estate Services

East Moline, Illinois, will soon have an all new, highly developed waterfront mixed use area that will include park space, retail and commercial areas and luxury apartments along its Mississippi River front.  The $150 million development will be a host to 300 apartment units, senior citizen housing, condominiums, storage facilities, a sports recreational center, medical facilities along with a variety of amenities that includes neighborhood retail shops, food courts, banks, pharmacies and restaurants, hotels and a central park with a band shell.  At over 3.5 million square feet, Fountainhead Quad Cities - developed by Beitler Real Estate Services with James DeStefano of LVD Architecture as the master planner – will bring new residents to the area while attracting the thousands of motorists that pass through the region today.

More after the break.

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Cathedral Announces Competition to Design Tomb for King Richard III

Cathedral via Wikimedia Commons

Since the remains of Richard III were discovered beneath a car-park near Leicester Cathedral last year, the local church has been left with a perplexing question: what to do with him now? The King’s remains are an important part of English history, and an important tourist attraction, but how should they mark his final resting place?

In response to this issue, Cathedral authorities have launched a design competition asking selected architects to submit ideas for a new tomb for King Richard that will be located in the Gothic Cathedral. The brief is an unusually delicate one; the architects submissions will have to consider appropriate symbolism and practicality in their design, not to mention the challenge of designing, in a modern age, the grave of someone who lived centuries ago. They also need to be mindful of the controversy surrounding the King, as the brief states: Richard demonstrated both the honorable and dishonorable characteristics of human beings.”  Some consider him a great English King,  while others, a bloodthirsty tyrant.

Read more about the brief and see an early submission after break…

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Video: Vito Acconci, Is Architecture Art?

Following on from their previous ‘videopolemic’ tribute to Lebbeus Woods32BNY has released their second video featuring artist and designer Vito Acconci’s response to the question, “Is architecture ?”. Having straddled both architecture and art throughout his carrer, Acconci is cleary comfortable in discussing their relationship, as he talks passionately about the importance of putting people at the center of both. “Because architecture is used… it can possibly be misused, and once it is misused, I think, the user goes one step further…than the architect”. 

More about Acconci after the break…

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World Water Day: 10 Projects that Exemplify Water Conservation

© Tim Griffith

In celebration of World Day, we have complied a list of ten environmentally conscious designs that epitomize the importance of water conservation. See what they have to offer, after the break. 

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Five Firms Shortlisted to Rehabilitate U.S. Embassies Worldwide

US Embassy in Beijing, by SOM. SOM is one of the 11 firms shortlisted by the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings (BOB). Photo © SOM

The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has selected five design teams in a worldwide Architecture/Engineering Design Services solicitation to rehabilitate/renovate facilities that “represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, , maintainability, , culture, and construction execution.”

Each of the five selected firms, which include Weiss/Manfredi Architects, have “extensive renovation and restoration experience.” See them all after the break…

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Construction of China’s Tallest Building On Hold Due to Concrete Scandal

© KPF

Scheduled to be the tallest tower in and the second tallest building in the world by 2015, Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 660-meter-high Ping’an International Finance Center has received a major unexpected set back. Following an industrywide inspection conducted last week, government officials have discovered a low-quality sea sand has been used by developers to create substandard concrete for KPF’s supertall skyscraper and at least 15 other buildings under construction.

Although sea sand lures contractors by costing significantly less than standard river sand, it contains a deadly mixture of salt and chloride that corrodes steel in concrete and threatens the structural integrity of a building over time.

According to Bloomberg, Shenzhen’s Housing and Construction Bureau found 31 companies violated industry rules and ordered eight of them to suspend business for one year in the city for using substandard sea sand to make concrete.

The Beam / MVRDV and de Alzua+

Courtesy of MVRDV

Development corporation ADIM Nord with MVRDV and have been announced the winners of an urban renewal in the French town of Villeneuve d’Ascq. Dubbed ‘The Beam’, the winning proposal will transform a cluster of disused parking lots and a former petrol station into a dense, pedestrianized haven, whose 15,000 square meters of offices, retail space and lodging will hover over the adjacent motorway as a icon of a larger urban regeneration effort for the town center.

More information on The Beam after the break…

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Architects Selected for Competition to Design Nobel Prize’s New Home

Blasieholmen at Nybroviken in Stockholm. Image © Jeppe Wikström

Out of 140 architects considered, 12 architects have been selected by the Nobel Foundation to compete to design their new home, a Nobel Center in Blasieholmen, Stockholm. The conspicuously European selection, chosen for their “design and artistic abilities and experience working in intricate urban environments,” includes some very big names – including BIG, David Chipperfield Architects, Herzog & de Meuron, and . The only non-Europeans to compete will be ’s Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa.

See the full list of competitors, and more information on the competition, after the break…

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Foster + Partners Approved for Mixed-Use Development on London’s Albert Embankment

Courtesy of

Foster + Partners have received the green light from the Lambeth Council for three mixed use towers on the 20-21 Albert Embankment in . Ranging from 15 to 27 stories, the curved steel and glass structures will provide the area with 253 apartments, including affordable homes for senior living, along with offices, restaurants and a residents’ bar, gym, pool and spa.

Grant Brooker, Senior Partner at Foster + Partners: “We are absolutely delighted that 20-21 Albert Embankment has received planning permission – working alongside our clients at St. James and with great support from Lambeth and the GLA, we hope to transform this important and highly visible site into a vibrant riverside community that sets a benchmark for the regeneration of this part of the river.”

More after the break…

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ABI Continues to Steadily Climb for Seventh Straight Month

via Calculated Risk

An increasing demand for design services in the United States continues to strengthen the (). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has reported the February score as 54.9, up slightly from a mark of 54.2 in January. This score reflects a strong increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). In addition, the new projects inquiry index was 64.8, higher than the reading of 63.2 the previous month and its highest mark since January 2007.

“Conditions have been strengthening in all regions and construction sectors for the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “Still, we also continue to hear a mix of business conditions in the marketplace as this hesitant recovery continues to unfold.”

Key February ABI highlights:

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Fashion Retailer Commissions OMA to Convert Venice Palazzo

Courtesy of

Both Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright can be found on a lengthy list of architects who have tried to build in Venice and lost their battle to conservationists. However, OMA has broke through this barrier, as the practice was recently approved – after five years pending – to go forth with a project to renovate a 16th century palazzo for the fashion retailer Benetton near the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal.

More details and statements from the architect after the break…
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Aerotropolis: The Key to a Prosperous, 21st Century City?

via Evolve Media & Dr. John Kasarda

“The rapid expansion of airport-linked commercial facilities is making today’s air gateways anchors of 21st century metropolitan development where distant travelers and locals alike can conduct business, exchange knowledge, shop, eat, sleep, and be entertained without going more than 15 minutes from the airport. This functional and spatial evolution is transforming many city airports into airport .” - Dr. John Kasarda

Major international airports have developed over time into key nodes in global production and enterprise systems through speed, agility and connectivity. These transportation hubs are able to dramatically stimulate local economies by attracting a wide range of aviation-related businesses to their peripheries and resulting in what John Kasarda, a US academic who studies and advises governments on city planning issues, has dubbed the “Aerotropolis.” The Aerotropolis, like any other traditional city, consists of a central core with rings of development permeating outwards; unlike a traditional city, however, the city’s core is an airport and all neighboring development supports and is supported in turn by the airport industry. Several airports around the globe have organically evolved into these airport-dependent communities, generating huge economic profits and creating thousands of jobs, but what Kasarda is arguing for is a more organized and purposeful approach to the development of these Aerotropolises – what he believes to be the future model of a successful city.

Read on for more on the Aerotropolis vision.

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2013 Pritzker Prize: Toyo Ito

Portrait of © Yoshiaki Tsutsui

“Although Mr. Ito has built a great number of buildings in his career, in my view, he has been working on one project all along, — to push the boundaries of architecture. And to achieve that goal, he is not afraid of letting go what he has accomplished before.” — Yung Ho Chang, Member of the Pritzker Jury for 2013

Toyo Ito has been announced as the Pritzker laureate for 2013. Ito is the thirty-seventh recipient of the and its sixth Japanese recipient.

The Pritzker jury applauded Ito for his ability to synthesize many architectural languages and functionalities in the expression of one personal “syntax,” inspired by the organic structures found in nature and the sensual nature of the human user.

Calling him a “creator of timeless buildings,” the Pritzker Jury further praised Ito for “infusing his designs with a spiritual dimension and for the poetics that transcend all his works.” Among those works, the Jury singled out his Sendai Mediatheque, whose innovative use of structural tubes “permitted new interior spatial qualities,” TOD’S Omotesando building in Tokyo, “where the building skin also serves as structure,” and Tokyo’s Tama Art University Library as particularly inspiring.

In response to the accolade, the highest award in the profession of architecture, Ito humbly expressed that, with each project, he only becomes more “painfully aware of [his] inadequacy, and it turns into energy to challenge the next project.” For that reason, Ito professed, “I will never fix my architectural style and never be satisfied with my works.”

Read more of the Jury’s selection of Toyo Ito as the 2013 Pritzker Laureate, after the break…

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House Bill Proposes to Eliminate Funding for Eisenhower Memorial

Courtesy of Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial saga continues, as Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) proposed legislation that would forego Frank Gehry’s controversial design and eliminate federal funding. Although Bishop’s radical bill would save $100 million in funding, it ignores any possibility of compromise.

In response, the AIA stated:

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Christo Unveils Inflatable, Light-Infused Installation in Germany

© Wolfgang Volz, 2013 Christo

The internationally – and often controversial - acclaimed artist Christo has unveiled the “largest indoor sculpture ever made”. Prepared to debut in a public exhibition starting March 16, the inflated “ Air Package” has been designed to occupy a 117-meter-tall former gas tank known as Gasometer Oberhausen in . The 90-meter-high, 50-meter-wide sculpture is made from 20,350 square meters of semitransparent polyester fabric and 4,500 meters of rope, with a total weight of 5.3 tons and a volume of 177,000 cubic meters. 

The seemingly endless, inflatable installation was conceived in 2010 and is Christo’s first major work after the passing of his wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude in 2009.

More on Christo’s “Big Air Package” after the break…

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Predictions from the Past: New York 2012 and LA 2013

in 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner’s Predictions; and LA’s predictions from 1988 for 2013

Throughout history, people have spent a great deal of time pondering what the holds.  Scientific discovery and technological innovation – along with rebellious androids, zombies, flying cars, hover crafts, visiting aliens – have been consistently used as stereotypes that emerge in predictions for our imagined future.  And while Hollywood was busy exploring dystopian scenarios of this near-future, architects were composing utopian images of an optimistic vision for cities.

Architects have built careers upon predicting what cities can potentially become – developing forms, functions, plans and visions of possibilities in the social, political, economic and cultural realms through architecture. In 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner of NYC predicted a culturally diverse, economically viable, global city for New York in 2012.  In 1988, Los Angeles Times Magazine gave its 25-year forecast for Los Angeles in 2013, predicting what a life for a family would be like, filled with robots, electric cars, smart houses and an abundance of video-conferencing. Find out how their predictions fared after the break.

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Photography: Toyo Ito by Iwan Baan

Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture © Iwan Baan

“Whoever reviews Ito’s works notices not only a variety of functional programs, but also a spectrum of architectural languages.” — From the 2013 Pritzker Jury’s Citation

Toyo Ito has just been announced the winner of the 2013 Pritzker Prize. To commemorate this master architect, we’ve reached out to Iwan Baan, architecture’s premier photographer, and assembled a retrospective of some of Ito’s greatest works (all photographed, of course, by Baan) – including the Za Koenji Public Theatre, Toyo Ito’s Museum of Architecture, Silver Hut – TIMA, Ken Iwata Mother and Child Museum, Yaoko Kawagoe Museum, Suites Avenue Hotel, Huge Wineglass Project, Mikimoto 2, Tama University Library & White O. See them all, after the break…

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Shigeru Ban’s Cardboard Cathedral Underway in New Zealand

Courtesy of Christchurch City Libraries’ Flickr

Shigeru Ban just can’t get enough of paper tubes. The Japanese architect, renowned for his design of structures that can be quickly and inexpensively erected in disaster zones, is at it again in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, which was hit hard by a devastating earthquake last February. The earthquake of magnitude 6.3 killed over 200 people and inflicted irreparable damage on the city’s iconic gothic cathedral of 132 years. The cathedral was a copy of one in Oxford, , and was one of the most famous landmarks of the Christchurch, pictured on postcards, souvenirs and tea towels.

A pioneer in so-called “emergency architecture,” Shigeru Ban has begun construction on a highly anticipated, unique replacement: a simple A-frame structure composed of paper tubes of equal length and 20 foot containers. The tubes will be coated with waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants that the architect has been developing since 1986 – years before environmental friendliness and the use of inexpensive were even a concern in architecture.

Read more about Ban’s visionary Cardboard Cathedral after the break…

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