Winning Proposals Suggest Alternatives for San Francisco’s 280 Freeway

Fieldshift by Erik Jensen and Justin Richardson. Image Courtesy of The + Design

The Center for Architecture + Design and the Seed Fund announced the winners of the Reimagine. Reconnect. Restore What if 280 came down?, a competition that explored the idea of removing ’s 280 Freeway, north of 16th Street,  in an effort to pedestrianize that portion of the city while generating funds for several regionally important transit projects. The open competition, which encouraged designers to submit urban design interventions, from public art to infrastructure, awarded $10,000 in prizes. 

This is not the first time that San Francisco has demolished a freeway to successfully revitalize a neighborhood (remember the Embarcadero and the Hayes Valley?) and it certainly isn’t a first for other American cities, either. In fact, demolishing old, ineffective and/or obstructive freeways has become a powerful vehicle for urban change in this country and the 280 Freeway Competition is just one example of that trend.

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Rafael Viñoly on Walkie Talkie ‘Death Ray’: Consultants to Blame

Street, or the “Walkie Talkie,” by Rafael Viñoly Architects. Image © Flickr User pembridge2

Why is the “Walkie Talkie” melting cars? Well, according to its architect, Rafael Viñoly, it’s not because of the building’s shape or material, but rather “the superabundance of consultants and subconsultants” that UK law requires.

As reported by BD Online, Viñoly admitted that the building’s unusually hot solar reflection (or “death ray,” as many headlines are calling it) had been predicted early in the design process; however, it was thought it would only reach a temperature of 36 degrees, “but in fact it’s 72.”

Viñoly then went on, placing blame on the consultant-heavy nature of design in the UK: “One of the problems that happens in [...] is the superabundance of consultants and sub consultants that dilute the responsibility of the designers until you don’t know where you are.”

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Founders of Architecture for Humanity Step Down, Launch Five-year Plan

“It’s great to see something you started evolve into an institution. We are excited about the future of the organization and plan to continue lending support in whatever ways we can.” , co-founder

Architecture for Humanity founders, Kate Stohr and Cameron Sinclair, will step down after 15 years of leading the San Francisco based non-profit organization to focus on new ventures. Upon leaving, they have drafted a five year strategic vision, reiterating the organization’s purpose and needed areas of improvement. Matt Charney, Board President of , is confident that ‘Kate and Cameron’s vision and years of dedication leaves the organization in a solid place.” To further expand operations, board directors will begin an international search for a new executive director by the end of September.

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Urban Planning Lessons from the World’s Largest (Temporary) City

© la_eclectic

For two months out of every twelve years, Allahabad in India becomes one of the most populous cities in the world – thanks to the Maha Kumbh Mela, a Hindu Festival that is the largest single-purpose gathering of people on the globe. In an article for Smithsonian Magazine, Tom Downey relates his experience of the Festival and sheds light on how a temporary city can swell to such astronomical sizes and still function as well as, if not better than, permanent cities. It is hoped that the research by Harvard Graduate School of Design at the Kumbh Mela can inform the construction of refugee camps, emergency cities and even permanent cities in the future. You can read the full article here.

Freecell Wins Competition to Transform St. Louis Vacant Lot into Cultural Destination

© Freecell Architecture

Freecell Architecture has been announced as winner of the urban design-build competition, . Organized by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in , challenged US artists, architects and designers to propose a small-scale intervention for a vacant lot in the St. Louis Grand Center cultural district that could possibly spark large-scale urban transformation.

Among 60 candidates and three shortlisted finalists, Freecell’s winning proposal “Lots” was selected for its “innovative design and approach to the space as a gathering catalyst, hosting social and cultural activities to bring focus on activities of people unifying a community.” The project intends on activating audience engagement by hosting a series of concerts, dance performances, community celebrations, film screenings, and art exhibitions.

Read on for more about “Lots”…

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Final Design Team Shortlist Announced for New U.S. Embassy in Beirut

The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has shortlisted three design teams for the new U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon for Stage 3 evaluation. The project is part of OBO’s Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities initiative in which seeks to provide safe and functional facilities that represent the best in American architecture. The shortlisted teams are:

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RIBA Future Trends Survey Reveals Decrease in UK Architects’ Salaries

Courtesy of

The latest Future Trends Survey, published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), shows a decrease of 3% in average earnings bringing the average in the UK to around £40,000. The largest fall in earnings is with sole principals, a quarter of whom are receiving less than £18,500 per annum. This is compared to principals in partnership who continue to average a of around £50,000.

According to the report, Architects earning the highest wages with an average salary of around £53,000 are working “in-house for private firms such as developers or other commercial groups.” Reported unemployment has fallen to 2%, which is lower than in recent years.

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How the Law’s Loopholes Shape Our Cities

A loophole in Lebanese laws is allowing the proliferation of towers in Beirut. Image © Flickr CC User Sean Long

In preparation for its December issue, entitled The Law and its Consequences, Volume Magazine is holding an open call for examples of local laws that have had unintended – or just unusual – consequences for our cities. The issue asks: “If we consider the law to be a piece of design, can we apply design intelligence to the law?”

The law has a long history of affecting a city’s character. Perhaps the earliest design stipulation is contained in the book of Deuteronomy (22:8): “In case you build a new house, you must also make a parapet for your roof, that you may not place bloodguilt upon your house because someone falling might fall from it.” Since then, laws such as fire regulations, zoning restrictions and preservation guidelines have become an everyday conundrum for architects, ultimately affecting the outcome of design. But these laws often create unexpected loopholes, which can lead to peculiar design quirks that come to define a city’s sense of place.

Read on after the break for just some examples of the consequences of the law

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RIBA Announces 2013 Manser Medal Shortlist

Slip House / Carl Turner Architects . Image © Tim Crocker

The shortlist for the 2013 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Manser Medal, awarded to the best new house or major extension in the UK, has been revealed. Amongst the five competing projects, which have all won either National or Regional RIBA , is Astley Castle, which has also been shortlisted for the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize

The 2013 Manser Medal shortlist includes:

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The Real Carbuncle: The Low Standard of Student Housing

Baker House tops Wainwright’s list of the world’s best student . Image © Wikimedia – dDxc

In the wake of two heinous designs for student housing dominating the conversation in the Carbuncle Cup, The Guardian’s Olly Wainwright explores the causes of such poor standards in the field of student accommodation. He explains how the economics and planning regulations surrounding student housing in the make it a hugely profitable area of the construction industry, while also making it susceptible to low standards which would be seen as unacceptable in any other housing sector. By contrast, in another article he lists the world’s best designed student accommodation. You can read the full article investigating poor standards here, and his top 10 list here.

And the Curators of the US Pavilion at the Biennale Will Be…

“Spontaneous Interventions,” the US Pavilion for the 2012 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh

The U.S. Department of State has selected Storefront for Art and Architecture and Journal to organize the US Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architectural Biennale, “Fundamentals,” curated by Rem Koolhaas.

The US exhibition, titled, OfficeUS: Criticism by Remaking, will be curated by Eva Franch i Gilabert, Ana Miljački and Ashley Schafer.

More info on the US Pavilion, after the break…

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Happy Birthday Kenzo Tange!

© Flickr User: Jamie Barras

Kenzo Tange (4 September 1913-22 March 2005), the Pritzker-Prize Winning Japanese architect who helped define Japan’s post-WWII emergence into Modernism, would have turned 100 today. Inspired by Le CorbusierTange decided to study architecture at the University of Tokyo in 1935. He worked as an urban planner, helping to rebuild Hiroshima after World War II, and gained international attention in 1949, when his design for the Hiroshima Peace Center and Memorial Park was selected. Tange continued to work in and theorize about throughout the 50s; his “Plan for Tokyo 1960″ re-thought urban structures and heavily influenced the Metabolist movement.

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Renzo Piano Becomes Italian Senator

Courtesy of Architectural Review

Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano has been named a senator for life by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, giving him the right to vote in the Parliament’s Upper House. Napolitano also appointed three others to the position, including Claudio Abbado (an accomplished conductor), Elena Cattaneo (a biologist specializing in stem cell research), and Carlo Rubbia (a Nobel Prize winning particle physicist). 

In a statement, the president said that he is sure that all four ‘”will make a special contribution to their extremely significant fields,” noting that the positions were allocated “in absolute independence of any party political considerations” in wake of the Senate’s current tension surrounding former President Silvio Berlusconi.

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Designing Offices For Introverts, Extroverts, & Everything In Between

© Bruce Damonte

In an article for Fast Company, Chris Congdon explains the key to designing workplaces that cater to the needs of introverts, extroverts and everyone in between. According to Congdon, most office workers need a mixture: places to be around others, encouraging collaboration, and places to work alone and focus on individual tasks. The solution? A “pallette of places” which give workers an ample choice of where to work. Read the full article here and learn more about how do design successful workplaces here.

Apple Redesigns San Francisco Store to Preserve Historic Fountain

’ revised design for the new SF Apple Store.. Image Courtesy of Apple

Earlier this summer we reviewed plans for a new Foster + Partners-designed Apple Store in the heart of San Francisco which received a considerable amount of backlash for its accused ubiquitous design that disregarded the city’s historic Ruth Asawa Fountain. Since, Apple has decided to respond to the complaints and Foster + Partners have just released images of the revised design that preserves the fountain. 

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Reflection from the “Walkie Talkie” Making Cars Melt

Street, or the “,” by Rafael Viñoly Architects. Image © Flickr User pembridge2

The big story today is about a new development in London’s financial district dubbed The Walkie Talkie due to its unusual shape.

The combination of its shape (which is curved), its placement, and its height has apparently created a tremendously intense reflection and beam of light that creates extraordinary heat on a nearby block, and one Jaguar owner says his car literally suffered melting damage from having been parked in that spot.

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NASA Plans to 3D Print Spacecraft in Orbit

© Tethers Unlimited Inc.

As revealed in an article on Gigaom, NASA has recently added an extra $500,000 into a collaboration with Tethers Unlimited, a company researching ways to 3D print and assemble structures whilst in orbit. Using this technology, their SpiderFab robots reduce the size of the rockets needed to launch materials into space, and also allow for much larger structures to be created than in any previous technique – opening up new possibilities for construction in space. You can read the full article here.

Stephen Hodder Inaugurated as 75th President of the RIBA

Stephen Hodder, the newly inaugurated President of . Image © Ed Tyler, www.edtyler.com

Following Angela Brady’s two year tenure as head of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Stephen Hodder MBE was officially inaugurated as the 75th President of the UK’s largest architectural body yesterday. Hodder, perhaps best known as the recipient of the first RIBA in 1996 for the Centenary Building (University of Salford, UK), is chairman of the award-winning practice Hodder + Partners in Manchester (UK).

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