2015 ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards: The Finalists

After an exciting week of nominations, ArchDaily’s readers have evaluated over 3,000 projects and selected 5 finalists in each category of the Award.

Similar to last year, over 18,000 architects and enthusiasts participated in the nomination process, expressing what architecture means to them by highlighting the buildings that have inspired them the most.

This year’s finalists represent a diverse group of projects, coming from all corners of the globe and from firms of different sizes and trajectories. Yet they all capture architecture’s capacity to improve people’s lives.

Remember that the firm behind the overall most voted project will receive an HP T520 Designjet T520 ePrinter, and the second and third most voted practices will receive an HP T120 Designjet ePrinter.

The winners of the two iPads from the nomination stage are: Linda Hinderdael (iPad Mini) and Sylvia Robert (iPad Air). We’re also going to give away two more iPads to our readers during the final voting stage so be sure to vote!

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Augmented Reality App “Lego X” Simplifies 3D Modeling

© Gravity

Imagine forgoing time-intensive 3D modeling programs to instead create 3D printable models by playfully stacking sensored LEGO bricks. This reality isn’t far from fruition, as the London-based studio Gravity has released plans for an augmented reality app that uses location-mapping and gyroscopic sensors to generate digital (and scalable) models of your creation in realtime. The program, “” uses an algorithm to intuitively smooth out edges and join corners, allowing for easy modifying and seamless .

See the program in action, after the break. 

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The Power Of The Plan: Drones And Architectural Photography

Boa Nova Teahouse / Álvaro Siza Vieira. Image © Joao Morgado

What is the draw of the aerial view? Whereas architects and designers often find solace in this particular spatial perspective there is a more inclusive, universal appeal to this way of seeing. The ease of access to online mapping services has increased our collective reliance on understanding our world from above.

Maps condense the planet into a little world inside our pocket, the commodification of which has universalised the ‘plan-view’ photograph. The question of whether or not their ubiquitous availability, having now been assimilated into our collective consciousness, is a positive step for the status of the plan is a discussion ongoing. Yet, in the face of this dilemma, architectural photographers are pushing the boundaries of drone in order to find new meaning.

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2015 Wood Design Award Winners Announced

Burr Burton Academy Mountain Campus / Bensonwood + Annette Dey, PE  © Marvin Windows

The 2015 winners of the Wood Design Awards have been announced at the Bay Area Wood Solutions Fair in Oakland, California. Presented by WoodWorks, an initiative of the Wood Products Council, the awards seek to “recognize extraordinary buildings that exemplify not only wood’s beauty, but the versatility and structural performance attributes that make it such an interesting material to architects and engineers.”

The celebrate excellence in nine categories at both regional and national levels. See the winning designs for 2015 after the break.

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Michael Sorkin On The Guggenheim, Museum Culture, and “The Next Helsinki” Competition

Finalist: GH-121371443. Image Courtesy of Malcolm Reading Consultants

Aside from attracting a huge level of media interest, the record-breaking competition to design the Guggenheim Museum’s planned outpost in Helsinki also generated a significant level of criticism – not least from Michael Sorkin and his collaborators, who launched a counter-competition seeking alternative suggestions for how the site could be used. In this article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine as “‘We Mean to Be Provocateurs’: Michael Sorkin on the Next Helsinki Competition,” Zachary Edelson interviews Sorkin on his reaction to the Guggenheim’s shortlist, his hopes for his own competition, and the critical role that museums play in the worlds of both art and architecture.

The reverberations of the Bilbao Effect, where a prize museum infuses a region with prosperity and global cache, have concentrated on an unlikely city: the Finnish capital of Helsinki.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is famous for its Fifth Avenue museum, but its 1997 Frank Gehry-designed Bilbao outpost famously catapulted its small Basque host city to new levels of international renown. The city’s tourism revenue quickly helped recoup the museum’s extensive costs: $100 million for design and construction, subsidies towards a $12 million annual budget, $50 million for an acquisitions fund, and $20 million to the Guggenheim for its name, curatorial services, and the use of parts of its collection. Within three years, visitors’ spending had garnered $110 million and by 2013 more than 1 million had entered the gleaming metallic structure. Many have tried to replicate Bilbao’s success but opposition against such massive expenditures always looms. In this case, it has manifested in a rival competition led by New York-based architect and writer Michael Sorkin and titled The Next Helsinki.

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Aaron Betsky Appointed New Dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture

The ’s Main Campus at Taliesin West. Image © Flickr User: lumierefl

Critic, curator and educator Aaron Betsky has been announced the new dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Betsky will assume his role immediately, taking over responsibilities regarding the School’s academic programs, personnel, students, finances, and character, as well as relations with the Foundation’s broader programs.

“I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to continue the work that for so long made Taliesin into a workshop for reinventing American architecture,” said Betsky. “I look forward to continuing its traditions and making the School into the best experimental school of architecture in the country.”

Betsky’s appointment comes at a critical time, as Taliesin is at risk of losing its accreditation should the school fail to raise two million by the end of 2015. Read on to learn more.

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Chinese Company Constructs the World’s Tallest 3D Printed Building

Image via australiandesignreview.com

Once again, Chinese company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co has expanded the capabilities of 3D printing. After constructing ten houses in under twenty-four hours last year, now they are back with both the world’s tallest 3D printed building – a five-story apartment block – and a 1,100 square meter mansion with internal and external decoration to boot.

On display in Suzhou Industrial Park in Jiangsu province, the two buildings represent new frontiers for 3D printed construction, finally demonstrating its potential for creating more traditional building typologies and therefore its suitability for use by mainstream developers.

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AR Issues: A Primer From the Prince

Courtesy of The Architectural Review

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this editorial from AR’s January 2015 issue, AR Editor Catherine Slessor reflects on The Prince of Wales’ ten principles for sustainable urban growth, which sparked widespread debate when they were published online near the end of December, arguing that the Prince’s views are not just “some rose-tinted view of the past as the answer to the problems of modern life.”

Some 25 years ago, the AR produced a special issue entitled “A Primer for the Prince”. It recognised that in Britain, The Prince of Wales had come to exert a considerable influence on architecture, greatly increasing public awareness of the built environment and encouraging debate about the character of buildings and cities.

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From Formalism to Weak Form: The Architecture and Philosophy of Peter Eisenman

Courtesy of Stefano Corbo

Despite his significant impact on architecture through both built and theoretical works, most studies of Peter Eisenman‘s career focus on either one aspect or the other. In “From Formalism to Weak Form: The Architecture and Philosophy of ,” Stefano Corbo attempts to redress this balance, connecting themes in the design and the theory of the influential architect across the many stages of his 50-year career. The following is an excerpt from the book’s introduction, giving a brief overview of the chronology of Eisenman’s career and the ideas that have influenced him over time.

All of the different moments characterizing Eisenman’s trajectory imply different phases, different projects, different programmatic manifestos and, above all, an evolving notion of form. To approach the complexity of his discourse means dealing with form in all its declinations: formalism, de-composition, deconstruction, and weak form. Each of them has constituted the mutant epidermis of Eisenman’s theoretical corpus, based on philosophical references and provocative statements.

Thanks to his ability to connect with the cultural tendencies of the time, Eisenman has explored different territories: first, structuralism and Chomsky’s linguistic theory; successively, Derrida and Delueze’s post-structuralism, passing through the influence of Colin Rowe’s formalism, and his recent interest in the return to autonomy as theorized by Pier Vittorio Aureli. At the same time Eisenman has always played a central role in influencing and manipulating the American architectural debate, due to his propagandistic activity, first with the IAUs (Institute for Architecture and Urban studies), and then with the magazine Oppositions.

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Archiculture Interviews: James Kunstler

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“Suburbia has… several destinies.” Author and social critic James Kunstler is one of several contributing speakers in Arbuckle Industries‘ groundbreaking documentary Archiculture. In the latest extra from the film, Kunstler provides his perspective on the modern housing sector and the shift from city life to suburbia, specifically examining the decline of the city as a result of political upheaval. Additionally, he postulates how architecture will evolve in the future and offers his ideas for overcoming America’s suburbia-centric ways by drawing inspiration from the past, advocating that young designers focus on tectonics to shift back to a smarter built environment.

Design Like You Give a Damn: The Legacy of Architecture for Humanity

Collège Mixte Le Bon Berger. Image Courtesy of

In the introduction to Architecture for Humanity’s 2006 book Design Like You Give a Damn, founder Cameron Sinclair recounts a story from the early days of the organization. Half-joking yet deadly serious, he describes the day when, while still running Architecture for Humanity from a single cell phone around his day job at Gensler, he was contacted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees who told him that Architecture for Humanity was on a list of organizations that might be able to help a potential refugee crisis in Afghanistan should the US retaliate in the wake of September 11.

“I hope it’s a long list,” says Sinclair. “No,” comes the answer.

“We’d like to think it was because we had already become a voice for humanitarian design – an unexpected touchstone in the movement for socially conscious architecture,” writes Sinclair of the incident. “The sad truth is that until 1999, when our fledgling organization got started along with a handful of others, there was no easily identifiable design resource for shelter after disaster.”

Now, after their sudden and rather unceremonious demise, Architecture for Humanity has left architecture a very different world from the one it entered almost sixteen years ago.

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Workplaces of the Future to Abandon the Open Plan and Feed Employees with Sky Gardens

Interior showing sky gardens. Organic Grid + / Sean Cassidy & Joe Wilson. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Magazine

The winners of Metropolis Magazine’s Workplace of the Future 2.0 Design Competition have been announced. This year’s competition challenged participants to redefine the idea of the office, illustrating their interpretation of the evolution of workplaces within the next 15 years.

Although their approaches are different, each of the winning designs, selected from 153 entries, shows innovation in how they develop new office prototypes by employing technological ingenuity, maintaining much of the same construction while providing different experiences to suit the employees’ unique needs. The winning entry (Organic Grid +) and the runner-up (the Hybrid Office) both reflect architecture which is highly receptive to its inhabitants.

Learn more about the winners after the break.

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Dear Martha: An Open Letter to the Pritzker Prize Committee

Courtesy of Conrad Newel

As the Pritzker Jury begins its deliberations for the 2015 Pritzker Prize, this is a critical time of year for shaping the landscape of architectural debate for the coming year and beyond. The following is an open letter to Martha Thorne, the Executive Director of the , from Conrad Newel, author of the popular blog Notes on Becoming a Famous Architect.

Dear Martha,

I have to hand it to you and all the people on the Pritzker committee, you guys are a very crafty bunch. Just when I thought I had you all figured out, you have now – even though only slightly – succeeded in confounding me.

From my 2011 analysis of the Pritzker, I figured that your potential pool of laureates was always a very predictable bunch. In fact anyone could look at my data and predict with reasonable certainty that the next laureate would most likely be an Asian or Caucasian male starchitect from Europe, The USA, or Japan. I further pointed out that none of your laureates have done much in the way of humanitarianism, despite the fact that the mission statement of the Pritzker also asks that the recipient should be making significant contributions to humanity. I maintained that this part of the mandate has been consistently overlooked.

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Code of Context: The Uneasy Excitement of Global Practice

Safdie Architects. Marina Bay Sands. Singapore

Global, the Winter 2014 issue of ArchitectureBoston magazine, out now, is an examination of the challenges and opportunities facing architects working abroad, from the Middle East to Africa to Asia. The topics explored in this issue include how to value resource-constrained approaches, honor local vernacular, and learn from the urbanization precedents set in other parts of the world. In this article, Jay Wickersham FAIA examines how in a globalized market, architecture firms can take steps to ensure that their designs act in the best interests of the foreign communities they affect.

The signs of architecture’s are all around us. Foreign students flock to Boston to study architecture, prominent buildings are designed by foreign architects, American firms build practices around international projects. Globalization has allowed architects to work outside their own regions and cultures, at a scale and with a freedom of design they might never enjoy at home. But beneath the excitement and glamour of international practice, I sense an unease. Are we creating vital and original new architectures, or are we homogenizing cities and landscapes and obliterating regional differences? Are architects helping to strengthen and develop the economies of host communities, or are they acting as unwitting tools of inequality and repression?

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City ID and Billings Jackson’s Maps Hope to Make Moscow More Legible

© Ivan Anisimov

Any system is only as good as its weakest link. A public transport system can have all manner of souped up trains, glamorous transport hubs and turbo-buses, but this can all be for nothing if one station has a confusing layout that unintentionally directs passengers onto the wrong route. For something as interconnected as a transport network, continuous and steady passenger flow is absolutely crucial. With this is mind, the Moscow Department of Transport and Road Infrastructure Development, commissioned City ID - a firm known for their wayfinding solutions in cities such as Bristol and New York - and their frequent collaborator Billings Jackson Design to develop a new system of smart signage for the city.

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Architecture For Humanity Closes San Francisco Headquarters

As reported by SFGate, on January 1st Architecture for Humanity laid off all staff and closed its Head Office in San Francisco. Although there has been no official statement from the organization, the news has been widely circulated, with founders Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr issuing a statement saying that they are ”deeply saddened” by the news, and urging the organization’s other chapters around the world “to continue their much needed work.”

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Inequality and Informality in New York: SITU Studio’s Proposal for MoMA’s Uneven Growth Exhibition

© SITU Studio

When it comes to discussing informal housing, it’s usually cities in developing nations that take the spotlight – however, as revealed by SITU Studio’s contribution to MoMA’s Uneven Growth exhibition, issues of informal housing are indeed present in cities across the spectrum of development. In this , originally posted on Arup Connect as “Inequality and informality in New York,” Sarah Wesseler speaks to SITU Studio principle Bradley Samuels about their unconventional proposal to address an issue that is frequently overlooked in  city policy.

Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, a newly opened exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, focuses on the complex relationship between urbanization and inequality. Over the 14-month period leading up to the launch, six interdisciplinary teams explored how these issues are playing out in different parts of the world, each developing an architectural response for a specific city.

Architecture firm SITU Studio (together with Cohabitation Strategies [CohStra]) was tasked with studying its home city, New York. (Arup transport planner Michael Amabile also consulted with the team.) We spoke with SITU principal Bradley Samuels about the project.

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Archiculture Interviews: David Byrne

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“Architecture affects how we see ourselves fitting into a city, and how we relate to one another.” In this latest video from Arbuckle Industries following its release of Archiculture, David Byrne, known for his music, writing, and art, provides his perspective on some of the issues facing architecture today. In the interview, he addresses the need to rethink design practice as an all-encompassing approach, and advocates the tailoring of designs for their specific purposes. Byrne also discusses the problem of the “starchitect” phenomenon, the relationship of people with the built environment, and the resulting atmospheric effects that spatial and acoustic qualities can impart.