Is It Time For the Anti-LEED?

seems to prioritize “Gizmo Green solutions” such as the photovoltaic panels on Ronald Lu and Partners’ Zero Carbon Building. Image © Ronald Lu and Partners

Steve Mouzon, a principal of Studio Sky and Mouzon Design, is an architect, urbanist, author, and photographer from Miami. He founded the New Urban Guild, which hosts Project:SmartDwelling. The Guild’s non-profit affiliate is the Guild Foundation, which hosts the Original Green initiative

The LEED rating systems were a great idea in the beginning, but they have become a symbol of all that is wrong with green building today. Getting a LEED rating is slow, difficult, and expensive, and the rating is skewed heavily to Gizmo Green solutions that are completely ignorant of where the building is being built, and for whom. We need the opposite sort of system today: one that is intelligent about where a building is built and who it’s being built for, and that is fast, friendly, and free so that anyone can use it.

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Preserving a Place for Protest in Paris

The “new” plaza now extends behind the historic statue that previously occupied its center. Image © Clement Guillaume

Following a three-year redesign, the Place de la République in Paris reopened this year, welcoming back the regular organized protests that make it one of the most important public spaces in Paris. For the designers of the space, TVK agency, it was important not to infringe on what many Parisians consider their inalienable right to protest – however a question remained over how the square could be more amenable to other uses at the same time. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Place for Protest,” Veronique Vienne explores how agency allowed Parisians to have their cake and let them eat it too.

In Paris, rituals of political discontent are traditionally celebrated on Place de la République. It is a favorite kick-off point for the countless marches that define democracy in the French capital. But before taking to the street in a slow-moving procession, crowds block traffic all around the esplanade, creating a gridlock that can cripple the city from Sacré Coeur to the Opéra. Meanwhile, citizens get to unfurl banners and shout slogans. It’s legal, good, clean fun.

Well, no more.

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A Walk Along the Bayou: An Award-Winning Proposal Aims to Reinvent Houston’s River

02 Mile Aerial Perspective – Downtown. Image Courtesy of UH College of Architecture

Nearly 9,000 kilometers separate Venice, Italy from Houston, Texas, and yet, both cities are bound by a simple connection: the coexistence of the urban fabric with the waterfront. This connection was brought to life this summer through The University of Houston’s exhibition at the Venice Architectural Biennale‘s Time Space Existence Event: RISKY HABIT[AT]: DYNAMIC LIVING ON THE BUFFALO BAYOU. Awarded  the Global Art Affairs Foundation (GAAF) Award for Best Exhibition, the exhibition showcased the complexities and potential of the city’s relationship with its waterfront. To better understand Houston’s waterfront and the changing relationship between the city and its river we visited the site ourselves. Read after the break to see what it’s like to talk a walk along the Bayou, and to find out what the Houston river project can learn from similar undertakings in Chicago, Des Moines, and Newark.

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Light Matters: Smart Flying Pixels Create a Floating Glow

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Imagine luminaires that could fly and visualise new buildings or individually guide you through space. What would happen if you could even interact with these flying pixels? These concepts could be realised in the near future as the first prototypes and experiments are being introduced. Software-driven LED pixels combined with drone swarm technology provide extraordinary possibilities for inducing new forms of spatial experience. These luminous pixel clouds emerge as digital patterns, but at the same time they emanate a romantic quality with their unique star formations twinkling in the night sky. The first projects have shared a playful note, but laboratories such as MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, ARES Lab and Ars Electronica Futurelab have shown an intriguing future in for guidance systems or envisioning real estate developments, as advances in battery technology and wireless control have opened new perspectives for a life with smart flying pixels.

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Beyond “Things That Flicker”: The Next Step for Media Architecture

Reconciling ‘media’ and ‘architecture’ evokes clumsy associations with Times Square, screens, integrated LEDs, paparazzi, or more generally ‘things that flicker’. Image © Flickr CC User MK Feeney

From November 19-22 in Aarhus, the Media Architecture Biennale 2014 held in will feature the world premier of ”Mapping the Senseable City,” an exhibition of the now ten-year-old MIT Senseable Cities Lab’s collected works. The following essay was written by Matthew Claudel, a researcher at the Senseable Cities Lab, In response to this collection, exploring what the future holds for , and imploring it to explore ideas beyond “TV screens for living in.”

The Actuated Cathedral

Media architecture is emphatically ambiguous. The phrase has been pasted wholesale onto a dizzying array of projects and products. But beyond imprecision, media architecture is vexed by an inherent tension: media are networked, immediate, dynamic communication systems that reach people broadly, while architecture is sited, singular, and persistent in time. Reconciling the two evokes clumsy associations with Times Square, screens, integrated LEDs, paparazzi, or more generally things that flicker.

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A Better Way for Sydney than the Bilbao Effect

In Sydney, a recent discussion about “Cultural Precinct Planning” hosted by the City Government has raised important questions about how the city can compete in the global cultural arms race. However, Sara Anne Best thinks it raised all the wrong questions. Originally posted on Australian Design Review as “Cultural Ribbon or Coastal Connections” this article argues that Sydney, with a culture and tourism industry so focused on outdoor leisure, could find a more unique way of attracting attention which includes the wider metropolitan area more than the usual city centre cultural hub, asking: “With three of the city’s iconic beaches currently undergoing renewal, what is the role of the seaside CBD in the context of Sydney’s cultural identity?” Find out the answer after the break.

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Seven Ways to Achieve Creative Success: The Rockwell Way

’s pop-up theater for TED. Image ©

The Rockwell Group takes advantage of a cross-disciplinary approach, with a diverse array of projects ranging from large-scale buildings to product and set design. In this article by Shannon Sharpe, originally posted on Metropolis Magazine as “The Rockwell Way we learn seven ways that the Rockwell Group has achieved creative success. Read the full article below to discover what drives this particular firm and how it could serve as an inspiration to anyone in the field of design.

How does the magic happen at Rockwell Group? “Pixie dust,” quips Marc Hacker, the firm’s in-house “Thinker.” All jokes aside, there is some truth here. From the animated Quan Yin statue in TAO Downtown to the shifting set of Kinky Boots, to the child-directed free play of the Imagination Playground, a distinct sense of magic imbues every one of these projects. All of them are driven not so much by a look, or even a sensibility, but by the endlessly curious creative process that shaped them. “I know this sounds trite, but it’s not about what’s true now,” says founder and president David Rockwell. “It’s about asking, ‘what if?’” What if an architect could be as experimental as a chef? What if the stage set became a character? What if your environment could transform with every step?

In the Rockwell Group world, asking “What if?”—also the title of a new book being released by Metropolis Books in December to commemorate the firm’s 30th anniversary—has to an embrace of design at all scales. “On a given day, we could be working on an exhibition, a park, a master plan, an airport interior, a children’s hospital, and a night-club,” Rockwell says. “That confluence of things is probably what makes us most unique.” The process behind these projects —the Rockwell way—is really a set of permissions to roam and explore.

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The High Line’s Final Chapter is Complete; But Don’t Close the Book Just Yet

View looking west along one of the Rail Track Walks. Image © Iwan Baan, 2014 (Section 3)

With the opening of the final section of New York’s High Line last month, the city can finally take stock on an urban transformation that took a decade and a half from idea to reality - and which in the five years since the first section opened has become one of the great phenomena of 21st century urban planning, inspiring copycat proposals in cities around the globe. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “The High Line’s Last Section Plays Up Its Rugged Past,” Anthony Paletta reviews the new final piece to the puzzle, and examines what this landmark project has meant for ’s West Side.

The promise of any urban railroad, however dark or congested its start, is the eventual release onto the open frontier, the prospect that those buried tracks could, in time, take you anywhere. For those of us whose only timetable is our walking pace, this is the experience of the newly opened, final phase of the High Line. The park, after snaking in its two initial stages through some 20 dense blocks of Manhattan, widens into a broad promenade that terminates in an epic vista of the Hudson. It’s a grand coda and a satisfying finish to one of the most ambitious park designs in recent memory.

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Reimagining 448 Local Libraries in Moscow, One Space at a Time

Interior Collage – #185. Image © SVESMI

SVESMI, an unassuming studio based in central Rotterdam, is at the center of a dauntingly complex project that may eventually see the renovation of 448 dilapidated and disused branch libraries in Moscow. Architects Anastassia Smirnova and balance their time between Rotterdam, which acts as their design studio, and Moscow from which, alongside architects Maria Kataryan and Pavel Rueda, they oversee the project at large. Faced by the potential challenge of reimagining over 450 public ‘living rooms’ spread across the Russian capital and demanding unusually high levels of spatial articulation and social understanding, the Open Library project is also unwinding the hidden narrative of Moscow’s local libraries.

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Reinier de Graaf: Mayors Should Not Rule The World

London City Hall, centre of operations for Mayor Boris Johnson. Image © Flickr CC User alh1

This weekend, the first planning session of the Global Parliament of Mayors took place in Amsterdam: a platform for mayors from across the world, triggered by Benjamin Barber’s book: If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.

In this book the current political system and its leaders is dismissed as dysfunctional. Defined by borders and with an inevitable focus on national interests, they are not an effective vehicle to govern a world defined by interdependence. Mayors, presiding over with their more open, networked structure and cosmopolitan demographics, so the book argues, could do it better.

It is of no surprise that this book has been welcomed by the same political class as the one it praises: mayors. As was apparent during the first planning session of the GPM: a conference about mayors, for mayors, attended by mayors, moderated by mayors and hosted by a mayor, all triggered by a book about mayors.

I recognize many of the book’s observations. Many mayors are impressive figures and time appears to be on their side. Nation states (particularly the large ones) have an increasingly hard time and, in the context of a process of globalization, cities, and particularly small city-states, increasingly emerge victorious. Cities have first-hand experience with many of the things that occur in globalization’s wake, such as immigration and cultural and religious diversity, and are generally less dogmatic and more practical in dealing with them.

So far so good.

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How Three Colleges Brought Modernist Design to the US

Entries to the Chicago Trinbune Competition, such as this one by Gropius and Meyer, may have sparked debate about modernism in the US, but lost to a more traditional design. However, a decade and a half later, competitions for three colleges revived the debate. Image via thecharnelhouse.org

Though modernism was developed in the 1920s, and was popular among many architects by the time the 1930s arrived, in many places it took years for the style to gain favor among clients. In the USA, people often point to the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower Competition as a turning point, the winning entry was actually a neo-gothic design. In this article, which originally appeared on Curbed, Marni Epstein looks at another potential turning point: three high-profile competitions in the late 1930s where modernist designs were (sometimes controversially) successful.

The Great Depression of the 1930s hit everyone, and hard—even architects and draftsmen found themselves out of work as development and construction dried up amid vanishing capital. They found a partial solution in the Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Record, two programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration that involved surveying and cataloging the country’s existing infrastructure. These programs, however, were a long way from the prestige, creativity, and financial rewards that came with new architectural commissions. The work available was limited, and what work existed was focused on the architecture of the past, not designs for the future.

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How to Design Offices for Clients Who Have Bigger Problems Than Design

How much impact can the configuration of an office have? Microsoft, Thames Valley Park by Perkins+Will. Image Courtesy of David Churchill

We spend a lot of time and effort debating and researching how to design the perfect office – perhaps too much time, according to Rachel Casanova, a Principle and Director of Workplace at Perkins + Will. In this post, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “When the Open Office Isn’t Always the Problem or Solution“, Casanova argues that we ought to be thinking about office design more holistically, taking into account not just the physical space of the office, but also how the client runs their workplace. At best, design can catalyse a more nurturing office environment, but for each company the way to achieve this may be different; there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ office solution. Read on after the break to find out why.

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21 Rules for a Successful Life in Architecture

The of BIG. Image Courtesy of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

Originally published by Entrepreneur Architect, Associate Professor at Louisiana Tech Kevin J Singh gives his 21-point rundown of how to have a successful and happy life as an architect. The list gives some pointers that will certainly help young students and graduates, but may well be useful to some of the not-so-young practitioners who need to refocus on what’s important.

The following is a compilation of my professional practice lecture on the last day of class. Instead of recapping the course or giving a final exam, I share with my students a presentation titled Advice as You Finish School and Start to Practice. I present a series of statements followed up with a brief explanation.

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The Green Building Wars

The Clinton Presidential Center by Polshek Partnership and Hargreaves Associates received a rating of Two Green Globes from the . But would LEED have rated it the same? Image © Timothy Hursley

Originally published by Metropolis Magazine, this comprehensive analysis by sustainability expert Lance Hosey examines the current disputes within the green building industry, where market leader LEED currently finds competition from the Living Building Challenge, aiming for the “leading edge” of the market, and the Green Globes at the other end of the scale. Arguing for a more holistic understanding of what makes materials sustainable, Hosey examines the role that materials, and material industries such as the timber and chemical industries, can have in directing the aims and principles of these three sustainability rating systems – for better or for worse.

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In Defense of Rewarding Vanity Height

One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the United States… arguably. Image © Joe Mabel via Wikipedia

Recently, ArchDaily editors received an interesting request from an anonymous Communications Director of an unnamed New York firm, asking us “In your reporting, please do not repeat as fact, or as “official,” the opinion that One World Trade Center in New York will be the tallest building in the United States.” He or she goes on to explain that the decision maker who ‘announced’ the building as the tallest in the US, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), is not officially endorsed by the AIA or the US Government, and that while their work is beneficial for architecture and cities as a whole, their criteria for height evaluation are flawed and have been criticized by many in the industry.

The desire to have the tallest building in a city, country or even the world goes back to at least the medieval period, when competing noble families of Italian hill towns such as San Gimignano would try to out-do each other’s best construction efforts (jokes about the Freudian nature of such contests are, I imagine, not much younger). Perhaps the greatest symbol of this desire is the decorative crown of the Chrysler Building, which was developed in secret and enabled the building to briefly take the prize as the world’s tallest, much to the surprise and ire of its competitors at the time.

With this competitive spirit apparently still very much alive, I thought it might be worthwhile to address the issue raised by our anonymous friend.

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On Top of the City: Behind the Scenes at the Leadenhall Building

View of The Leadenhall Building from the East along Leadenhall Street . Image © Richard Bryant – Courtesy of British Land/Oxford Properties

Settled comfortably around a black conference table – the only item of furniture in an office space still lacking its carpet tiles – on the 40th floor of the new Leadenhall Building, I had the opportunity to discuss with lead designer Graham Stirk and his partner, practice co-founder Richard Rogers, the forces that shaped their new building and how they came to be working in the City of London once again.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has a rich presence in the Square Mile, including the landmark Lloyd’s of London, standing directly opposite the Leadenhall Building. The firm has specialised in assured, sometimes assertive insertions within the City’s fine, historic urban grain, and so setting aside the sheer bravura of the 52-story, 225 meter skyscraper, with its sloping glass façade to the south (giving it the popular nickname of the Cheesegrater) the first question that arose was a simple one – how did the building come about?

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How to Design Elevated Cycling Structures that Actually Work

London’s proposed SkyCycle. Image Courtesy of Foster + Partners

There’s no doubt about it – cycling in is a big deal these days. But, while cycle lanes and bike-sharing schemes are all well and good for our , the cycling revolution hasn’t yet brought us many examples of beautifully designed infrastructure to gawp at. This article, originally printed on The Dirt as “Do Elevated Cycletracks Solve Problems or Just Create More?” discusses two seemingly similar examples of high profile cycling infrastructure, examining why one is a success and the other a non-starter.

This year, two designs – one proposed and one built – for elevated cycletracks, which create bicycle highways above street level, have gained considerable media attention. They highlight questions at the heart of urban design: Should cities blend or separate transportation options? How can cities best mitigate the hazards created when cars, bikes, mass transit, and pedestrians mix? How can cities create low-cost transportation networks in increasingly dense urban cores?

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Brutalism: Back in Vogue?

The Barbican in London. Image © Flickr CC User Rene Passet

Are Brutalist buildings, once deemed cruel and ugly, making a comeback? Reyner Banham‘s witty play on the French term for beton brut, was popularized by a movement of hip, young architects counteracting what they perceived as the bourgeois and fanciful Modernism of the 1930s. Though the use of raw concrete in the hands of such artist-architects as Le Corbusier seems beautiful beneath the lush Mediterranean sun, under the overcast skies of northern Europe Brutalist architecture earned a much less flattering reputation. Since the 1990s, however, architects, designers, and artists have celebrated formerly denounced buildings, developing a fashionably artistic following around buildings like Erno Goldfinger‘s Trellick Tower, “even if long-term residents held far more ambivalent views of this forceful high-rise housing block.” To learn more about this controversial history and to read Jonathan Glancey‘s speculation for its future, read the full article on BBC, here.