New York’s Oyster Bar: Serving up Reefs and Resiliency

Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects’ designs for Pier 42. Image Courtesy of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects

As part of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects‘ ongoing blog at Metropolis Magazine about effective implementation of landscape design principles, this article discusses one of the more unusual methods developed to create resilience and prevent storm damage: oysters. Drawing on her experiences creating an oyster reef at Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects’ Pier 42 project in New York, Johanna Phelps explains the challenges and opportunities that arise in establishing this unusual type of natural infrastructure in an urban location.

Since Hurricane Sandy struck New York in 2012, the city’s waterfront design discussions have focused on ideas of resiliency and planning for storm events. The recent Rebuild by Design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Presidential Rebuilding Task Force, featured six winning proposals that all envisioned a beefed-up Manhattan shoreline capable of handling large storm events and other hazards effects of climate change. Of the handful of ambitious designs, Scape/Landscape Architecture’s Living Breakwaters plan was the most interesting: the project called for the reestablishment of New York’s erstwhile oyster reefs, which the architects said would improve local ecology.

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Translating Smiljan Radić’s Serpentine Pavilion from Fantasy to Fabrication

The use of fiberglass allowed for the pavilion to be thin and brittle, but also had the strength to span a large face. The pigment made it fire retardant. Image Courtesy of Louis Webb Bird/AECOM

Settled neatly in the quiet hum of London‘s Gardens rests Smiljan Radić‘s 2014 Serpentine Pavilion, an ethereal mass of carefully moulded fiberglass punctuated by precisely cut openings. Radić desired a structure that appears thin and brittle, yet was strong enough to support itself, and his affection for the rudimental layered qualities of papier-mâché – his maquette medium of choice – inspired the use of fiberglass by AECOM, who engineered Radić’s wild ideas. In this article, originally published by as “Paper-Thin Walls, an AECOM engineer explains their solution. Read on after the break to find out more. 

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Is Bigger Better? HOK’s Acquisition of 360 Architecture and How Mergers Have Changed the Business of Design

World Expo 2020 Master Plan. Image Courtesy of HOK

International design, , engineering and planning firm HOK has recently announced its plan to acquire 360 Architecture, a firm specializing in sports facility design. With HOK’s global influence and ’s expertise, the acquisition could bring about significant advances in sports facility design and expand the market reach for each firm. When it comes to the business of architecture, acquisitions such as this often enable large corporate firms to take on a wider variety of projects, giving them a competitive edge against famous designer names in the industry. But what else can we learn from the growth of the world’s largest firms?

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What Gentrification Really Is, and How We Can Avoid It

Photo of Noe Valley, a low-density, high-income neighborhood, by Allan Ferguson

is seen as a rising menace in many cities. The process whereby rich “gentrifiers” move into neighborhoods, driving up property prices and thus driving out those unable to afford those prices, has drawn criticism from activists and planners for years. However, this article by io9 writer Annalee Newitz, first published by io9 as “This is What Gentrification Really Is“, tells us that the issue is not quite the struggle between good and evil that it first appears to be. Gentrification is a process dependent on economy, political climate, and the mercurial nature of itself – and sometimes fighting against it only serves to exacerbate the problem. Find out what we can do in the face of gentrification after the break.

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Yesterday’s Future, Today: What’s it Like to Work as an Architect in North Korea?

A silk co-operative clad with acres of PV solar panels, one of several illustrations exhibited at the Korean Pavilion in Venice. Image Courtesy of Koryo Tours

Originally published on Metropolis Magazine asThe Future of Architecture, According to a North Korean Architect,” this interview with Nick Bonner, Curator of the North Korean Portion of the Venice Biennale’s Korean Pavilion, delves into the realities of architectural work in one of the world’s most secretive countries.

There’s good chance you’ll never step foot in North Korea, which isn’t the same as saying you can’t. Interest in the socialist state is increasingly high, a fact reflected by a rise in tourists eager to discover the sites and spectacles of Pyongyang. Nick Bonner, founder of Koryo Tours, has been bringing visitors to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) for over two decades. He recently curated a small exhibition in the Korean Pavilion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

For “Utopian Tours” Bonner commissioned designs from an unidentified North Korean architect, asking him to envision a whole new infrastructure for accommodating larger and larger groups of tourists. The resulting handdrawn illustrations are fascinating: the future of —at least in —looks a lot like yesterday’s future, where tourists travel in hovercraft RVs, and workers live in ziggurat-shaped hotels inspired by mountains and trees.

Metropolis asked the trained landscape architect to give us a tour inside the present architecture scene of one of the world’s most isolated countries today.

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A City Without Cars: New York’s Recovery from Automobile Dominance

© Flickr CC User Healey McFabulous

Originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Playing in Traffic“, this article by Jack Hockenberry delves into the relationship between man and vehicle, illustrating the complex dynamic created in New York – a city with over 2.1 Million registered vehicles. Contrary to the car-centric schemes of New York’s infamous former Master Planner Robert Moses, Hockenberry argues that the city is the “negative space” while vehicles are obscured by our unconscious. 

It is a curiosity of modern urban life that the more cars crowd into cities, the more they become invisible. It’s a great feature that comes standard on any model these days. Unfortunately we can’t control it from the driver’s seat—however much we would like to wave our hands and watch through our windshields as gridlocked cars disappear, liberating us from traffic imprisonment. The invisibility I am speaking about only works if you’re a pedestrian or bicyclist. The number of motorized vehicles parked or driving at any given moment on the streets of New York City is astounding. An estimated 2.1 million are registered in the city, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Yet we never fully register them visually when we’re walking on the streets. The city is the negative space and that is how our eyes increasingly navigate urban landscapes. Everything around the cars and trucks gets knitted together by the eye and, even though the vehicles are present, we have gradually learned to ignore them unless we’re standing in the direct line of moving traffic.

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More Free Summer Reading: Nine Architecture Books From Routledge Available Throughout August

Reading room at the New York Public Library. Image © Thomas Hawk

Wondering what to do with the last, lingering weeks of summer? There’s still plenty of time for some enticing summer reading! Peruse this online collection of select on , chosen from academic publisher Routledge‘s titles on themes of Professional Practice and Sustainable Architecture, and available in their entirety for free throughout the month of August.

Including compelling and notable works, these books tackle relevant and significant contemporary issues facing the design world today. See what’s available after the break.

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A New Architectural Style for the Age of the Individual

MVRDV’s Silodam in Amsterdam. Image © Flickr CC User pnwbot

As modernist architects broke free from vernacular and developed a homogenized international style, many created sterile spaces and places out of touch with the decorative warmth of historical forms of human inhabitation. Negative reactions to the brutality of Modernist spaces encouraged architectural movements such as post-modernism and deconstructivism, but these never managed to usurp the rational modernist box as a dominant architectural paradigm.

However, the intended machine-like precision of these buildings has often become unintentionally humanized over time, through the addition of curtains, coloring, or even through accidental breakage and imperfect repairs or alterations. I believe that building on the successes and failures of modernism has spawned a new and previously unclassified architectural style: Pixelism. Find out what this new phenomenon is after the break.

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The Concrete Possibilities of Radical Form

Paseo Marítimo de Benidorm / OAB © Alejo Bagué

ArchDaily has partnered with CEMEX, a global leader in the building industry, to bring you an industry perspective into the latest advances that are relevant to architects. In this installment, we explore the role plays in the development of forms in architecture.  
 
Concrete is the most widely used manmade material in the world. Strong and plastic, it is capable of being poured into almost any form. Concrete can drip like water, flow in a graceful curve like a line of frosting on a cake, or jab into the sky like a craggy seaside cliff. It all depends on how it is mixed.

Like splicing DNA, specific physical traits can be selected depending on a project’s needs. Adjusting the mix or adding exotic materials to concrete can make it waterproof or sponge-like; it can change its acoustic properties, generate energy from footsteps or even clean pollution from the air. Concrete is amazingly versatile. It can even used like ink in giant 3D printers to print buildings.

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25 Free Architecture Books You Can Read Online

If you don’t have access to an library (and even if you do), sifting through shelves can take hours. Buying books can be even more painful — for your wallet, at least. Instead, why not browse this list of 25 books that are all free and easily accessible online? Some are well-known classics of , but we hope you find a few surprises as well.

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A Future Without Slums: Too Good to be True?

© Denis De Mesmaeker

As the tide of urban migration sweeps across the developing world, cities experience an overpowering pressure to provide basic services such as electricity and sewage treatment to an enormous amount of people building illegal shacks on city outskirts. When they fail, the slum is born – but is it possible for a city to expand without ? In Hanoi, Vietnam, officials hope to answer this question, with a number of tactics that have led to a “culture of semi-legal construction.” Read this article in The Guardian to learn how  manages to curb slums and provide a basic standard of living to its poorest inhabitants.

China’s “City-Making Process”: Investors’ Power in the People’s Republic

Real estate in Shanghai. Image © Pier Alessio Rizzardi

The world is looking at the urban machine of Chinese cities, at the newly founded theme-cities and at the new urban economic investment areas around the cities. The buildings are repetitive, the areas are sometimes uninhabited, but the thing that leaves urban planners, architects and the public amazed is that these buildings are often completely sold out even before they are completed.

To buy these freshly constructed residences takes money, and over the last three decades the Chinese economic miracle served precisely to grow the per capita income. The reform of the economic system in 1978 was the driving force that triggered the mechanism of capital production. The reform led to millions of people migrating to the cities from the underdeveloped west of the country in search of higher salaries and a well-founded hope of revolutionizing their economic existence.

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Beyond Ruin Porn: What’s Behind Our Obsession with Decay?

Historic mill city in downtown Minneapolis. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC License / Joey Lax-Salinas

Lately, architects are sharing an increasing captivation with ruins. As our technologies for envisioning the buildings of the future become ever-more accurate – enabling us not only to walk through, hover over, and inhabit walls, but also to calculate exact quantities of materials, structural load capacities and costs – our fascination for ruin, a process that is governed by laws of nature and time in a manner that is spatially unpredictable and rarely uniform, has also seen a rise in popularity.

Blogs such as Ruin Porn, Abandoned America and Architecture of Doom draw from a recent sub-genre of , identified as ‘ruins photography’ or ‘ruin porn’. While buildings can go into decay for many reasons, these images tend to focus on urban decay, especially in cities such as Detroit, Chicago and Berlin, which saw a surge of industrialization in the last century that has since dwindled.

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What Are the Best Things About Life in the City?

Turns out it’s not the big buildings and big crowds that draw people to cities. Image © Flickr CC User Ed Yourdon

Contrary to popular belief, the most visible aspects of cities – new, shiny buildings and crowds of people – aren’t really why people around the world are drawn to city life. Curious about the overwhelming trend toward global urbanization, design firm surveyed 1,000 people in Boston, Chicago, New York City, Austin, San Francisco and Washington DC to discover the most beloved elements of cities. Finding differences across regions and between generations, this article on Fast Company explores the humble and often surprising reasons we adore city living. Read the full article for more.

First Job Hunt: Does Size Matter?

Courtesy of Wikipedia User Mdd

students are constantly beset by questions concerning where they want to work, and for what type of firm – and these two questions often boil down to a decision concerning the size of the firm they want to work for. This article, originally posted on Arch Shortcuts thankfully makes this difficult choice a little easier. In it, blog Co-Founder Udit Goel reviews the pros and cons of big firms and small firms, including compensation, expected working hours, and responsibilities. Read the full article, after the break.

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Merging Bamboo & Concrete for the Emerging World

© Hannah Ahlblad

Developed by Hannah Ahlblad, a recent graduate of Wellesley College cross-registered at MIT’s School of Architecture + Planning, this article explores the potential of merging bamboo and , harnessing the strengths of both to create a sustainable, durable and affordable material for use in developing countries. Hannah’s project was created in conclusion to the semester-long emergent elective taught by Professor John E. Fernández, Director of MIT’s Building Technology Program.

In the rapidly developing economies of East Asia and Latin America, urban architecture often seeks to combine the local heritage with the prestige of Western contemporary form and practices. The materials used in urban areas of these growing cities follow the steel, glass, and concrete technology used elsewhere. Usually, emerging materials research looks at the structural properties and applications of materials under scientific development. Less consideration has been given to ancient building materials and their interaction with today’s engineering.

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How a San Francisco Architect Reframes Design for the Blind

Downey uses thin wax sticks to create tactile sketches. Image © Patricia Chang

San Francisco architect Chris Downey is changing how design is employed for people with disabilities and redefining how architects can approach accessible design. In this article by Lamar Anderson on Curbed, we learn about how Downey has developed his own design methods and utilizes his rare skillset to draw attention to what architects often miss when designing for the public. 

Architect  is standing next to a pile of Sheetrock, balancing a white cane in the air like a tightrope walker’s pole. The week before, construction had begun on a new office for the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco, or ILRC, a nonprofit community center for people with disabilities. Downey holds the cane up to approximate for the center’s executive director, Jessie Lorenz, how the reception desk will jut out at an angle from a column. Lorenz takes a step, and a pile of pipes on the floor clatters. “I don’t know what’s over there,” says Downey. Lorenz giggles. “I hope I didn’t break anything,” she says. Lorenz regains her footing and touches the cane. “That makes sense,” she says. “It’s almost like we’re funneling people into this part.”

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In Novels, A Character Flaw

Architects are woefully underrepresented in . According to Jay Wickersham, author of this article originally published in , there are very few books that accurately portray designers without sensationalizing or glossing over their craft. He does, however, point us towards some exceptions: works of fiction that come close to grasping what the study and practice of architecture is all about. Read the full article, along with these recommendations, after the break.

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