Rebuilding Sandy Hook: How Svigals + Partners’ Design Offers Safety and Solace

Courtesy of

Just over two years have passed since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Thanks to an 89% vote by Sandy Hook’s residents in favor of demolishing the old building the site now sits empty – awaiting the construction of Svigals + Partners‘ design for a replacement building which is not only tasked with being a high level teaching facility, but also with sensitively addressing the collective trauma which inevitably remains a part of the site’s history.

With such a challenging history to the site, how is it possible to balance the emotional needs of a community with the functional needs of an educational institution? We spoke to Jay Brotman AIA, a partner at Svigals, to find out.

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Winners of the 2015 Building of the Year Awards

After two weeks of nominations and voting, we are pleased to present the winners of the 2015 ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards. As a peer-based, crowdsourced architecture award, the results shown here represent the collective intelligence of 31,000 architects, filtering the best architecture from over 3,000 projects featured on ArchDaily during the past year.

The winning buildings represent a diverse group of architects, from Pritzker Prize winners such as Álvaro Siza, Herzog & de Meuron and Shigeru Ban, to up-and-coming practices such as EFFEKT and Building which have so far been less widely covered by the media. In many cases their designs may be the most visually striking, but each also approaches its context and program in a unique way to solve social, environmental or economic challenges in communities around the world. By publishing them on ArchDaily, these buildings have helped us to impart inspiration and knowledge to architects around the world, furthering our mission. So to everyone who participated by either nominating or voting for a shortlisted project, thank you for being a part of this amazing process, where the voices of architects from all over the world unite to form one strong, intelligent, forward-thinking message.

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In Conversation With Sheila O’Donnell And John Tuomey, 2015 Royal Gold Medallists

and Sheila O’Donnell – recipients of the 2015 Royal Gold Medal. Image Courtesy of RIBA

When Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey, who practice in partnership as O’Donnell + Tuomey, were named as this year’s recipients of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, a palpable collective satisfaction appeared to spread throughout the profession. No one could find criticism in Joseph Rykwert and Níall McLaughlin’s nomination, nor the ultimate choice of the RIBA Honours Committee, to bestow the award upon the Irish team. Their astonishingly rigourous body of work, compiled and constructed over the last twenty five years, has an appeal which extends beyond Irish and British shores. A robust stock of cultural, community and educational projects, alongside family homes and social housing projects, leaves little doubt about the quality, depth and breadth of their mutual capabilities and the skill of those that they choose to collaborate with.

Read the conversation with the Gold Medallists after the break.

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When One Size Does Not Fit All: Rethinking the Open Office

Pathé Foundation / Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Image © Michel Denancé

Workplace design has undergone a radical transformation in the last several decades, with approximately seventy percent of today’s modern now converted to open plans. However, despite growing concerns over decreases in worker productivity and employee satisfaction, the open office revolution shows no sign of slowing down. The open office model has proliferated without regard for natural differences in workplace culture, leading to disastrous results when employees are forced into an office that works against their own interests. If we are to make more effective, we must acknowledge that ultimately, design comes out of adapting individual needs for a specific purpose and at best, can create inviting spaces that reflect a company’s own ethos.

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Architecture as Instrument: The Role of Spielraum in the Work of Barkow Leibinger

Courtesy of Barkow Leibinger

Founded in 1993, Berlin-based practice Barkow Leibinger has become known for a research-based approach to design that fully explores the possibilities offered by tools, fabrication techniques and materials. In the following essay, adapted from his contribution to Barkow Leibinger’s monograph Barkow Leibinger: Spielraum, art critic Hal Foster examines the historic context of the practice’s work and the influences that have shaped their production.

One origin myth of modern architecture involves the voyaging of German designers like Walter Gropius to North American cities such as Buffalo, where they first saw in situ the industrial structures, such as grain elevators, that they had already proposed as models for functionalist buildings in Europe. The partnership of Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger is a new variation on this old theme of international encounter: in the late 1980s the American Barkow and the German Leibinger met at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD, where Gropius had once presided as chair). In the literature on the office, this encounter is taken as a primal scene: Frank Barkow, the rangy man from Montana, impressed by the huge infrastructural projects and the great land art of the American West (e.g., hydroelectric dams, in the first instance, Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson, in the second), meets Regine Leibinger, the sophisticated daughter of the innovative director of TRUMPF, the designer-manufacturer of laser-cut tools based near Stuttgart (which is also where a classic of European modernism, the Weissenhof Siedlung, is located). After training at the GSD, under the chairmanship of Rafael Moneo, the two young architects set up a practice in Berlin, in 1993, at a time when the new Europe came to represent what the old America once did: an expanded horizon for ambitious .

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An Interview with Zhang Lei, AZL Architects

Nanjing Wanjing Garden Chapel / AZL Architects. Image © Yao Li

“We have to try to work with scale and memory. I think in the last twenty years the main problem is that we lost the 归宿感 [sense of belonging]. The people here have been moving from house to house for a long time, the result is that we don’t have a feeling of home… even if you are staying in a nice house or villa you don’t consider it as an ideal or permanent home where you could stay. This might be considered the problem. More than ten years ago we used to have that feeling, the sense to belong to a specific space. We used to live in neighbourhoods where we had a social background, a community, now you don’t have any community, you don’t see the neighbors any more. Now Chinese people are becoming lonely, they are losing that feeling and becoming ‘homeless’.” - Zhang Lei, Nanjing, 2013

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AD Classics: Bibliotheca Alexandrina / Snøhetta

Courtesy of Snøhetta

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina on Egypt’s Mediterranean Coast is a spectacular, state-of-the-art facility with an unresolved architectural identity. Commissioned in 1989 as a contemporary resurrection of the fabled Library at Alexandria once venerated throughout the ancient world, the present building was intended to serve as a city’s connection to history and heritage. But its stark modernity and technological innovations make it decidedly more forward-looking than historically referential, a cosmopolitan exploration of form and engineering perhaps longing for a stronger sense of regional belonging.

To some critics, the library has political overtones that obfuscate its architectural message, at worst acting as a monument to political posturing whose utility and conceptual integrity is only of secondary concern. And while critical scrutiny of the project necessitates its political and socio-historical contextualization, the building’s architecture—the competition-winning design submitted by Norwegian firm Snøhetta—is worth appreciating and evaluating as an autonomous object and as a precedent for contemporary library design.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Victims Honored with “Memorial in the Sky”

First Place: William Smith, Hiroshi Kaneko (US, Team 749421). Image Courtesy of matterbetter

The winners of matterbetter’s international Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) Memorial and Park ideas competition have been announced. Attracting 293 submissions worldwide, the competition hoped to inspire a new memorial park and public space, free from the political overtone, at the Marine Establissement site in the center of Amsterdam that could be used as a place for remembrance, ceremonies, recreation, and private gatherings in honor of ’s victims.

MH17 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down near the Ukraine–Russia border on July 17, 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board. You can view all 10 winning proposals, after the break.

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Architecture Criticism By the People, For the People: The Films of Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine

Courtesy of Living Architectures

Selected as one of Metropolis Magazine’s Game Changers for 2015, Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine are altering the face of architectural criticism thanks to one simple premise: you don’t need to be an expert to have an opinion on the buildings you live with every day. In the following profile, originally published by Metropolis as “Game Changers 2015: Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine,” Veronique Vienne uncovers what it takes to instil such a simple idea with both subtle poignancy and razor-sharp wit.

If walls could talk, what stories would they tell, not only about our intimate selves but also about our cultural assumptions, our social interactions, and the values we cherish most? Short of getting the inside story directly from walls, filmmakers Ila Bêka, 45, and Louise Lemoine, 33, strike up conversations with that other silent cast: the people who sweep the rooms, wash the windows, fix the leaks, and change the light bulbs.

“Our goal is to democratize the highbrow language of architectural criticism,” says Bêka, an architect and filmmaker trained in Italy and France. “Free speech on the topic of architecture is not the exclusive property of experts.”

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Surface As Sculpture: Henry Moore’s Brick Reliefs In Rotterdam

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In 1954 British sculptor Henry Moore was commissioned to design and install a large wall relief into Joost Boks’ new bouwcentrum (Construction Centre) in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. The project, pieced together with approximately 16,000 hand-carved Dutch bricks, stands as the sculptor’s only work completed in the humble material. In a short film produced by ARTtube, architectural historian Wouter Vanstiphout narrates the fascinating story behind Wall Relief No.1.

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Democratizing Design: Michael Graves’ Legacy On Display in the “Past as Prologue” Exhibition

Often Graves’s tableware takes on the proportions of a . In turn, buildings are often simplified to the level of tableware. Above: Denver Central Library, South Facade (1993). Image Courtesy of Michael Graves & Associates

On show until April 5th at the in New Jersey, Michael Graves: Past as Prologue celebrates the fifty-year career of one of the United States’ best-known and prolific architects. Graves is known for his unapologetic postmodernism which often divides opinion the profession. However in this review of the exhibition, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Shape Shifter,” Samuel Medina finds that while it is easy to criticize in Graves’ design style, it is hard to find fault with the noble intentions underlying his work.

“It’s been fifty years of more is more,” says Karen Nichols, a principal of Michael Graves & Associates, reiterating an aphorism Graves has taken a liking to in recent years. She is standing in front of an exhibition board in the retrospective, Michael Graves: Past as Prologue, which is currently on show at the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey. Nichols joined the firm in 1977, precisely the time when her employer made the fateful and rather lucrative pivot towards Postmodernism. The text on the exhibition wall behind her pinpoints The Big Break to the same year, depicting it with two like-minded projects. The first is the built Plocek House (1977), which originated the hide-the-keystone game Graves has been playing ever since. The other, the unrealized scheme for the Fargo-Moorhead Cultural Center Bridge (1977–1978), intended to enlighten the twin midwestern communities with a dose of the Enlightenment architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux’s architecture parlante.

To hear Nichols (and Graves) tell it now, it’s as if Graves were always more Venturian than Venturi, from his earliest neo-Corbusian villas, up through the pedimented temple he built for Disney in 1988. The truth is, Graves—the Cubist, the classicist, and the caricaturist—has always had a hard time saying “No.”

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Video: Tour Through Mons International Congress Xperience with Daniel Libeskind

In light of the recent opening of Mons International Congress Xperience (MICX), Daniel Libeskind hosted a private tour through the conference center, explaining his thinking behind the building’s expressive form. The experience was captured on this short film by Spirit of Space with the intention to open the discussion up to a larger audience.

The building, an important new landmark in the Belgium city of Mons, is described by Libeskind as “an expression of contrasting geometric forms.” Aside form providing function and “lively” spaces for auditoria and conference use, the building aims to be “a hinge between the old city and the new.”

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Architecture vs. PR: The Media Motivations of the Guggenheim Helsinki

One of the finalists in the Helsinki competition. Image Courtesy of Malcolm Reading Consultants

More than ever, the media shapes architecture. The controversial Helsinki Guggenheim competition is as much about the use and exploitation of contemporary media as it is about design. The competition organisers are hugely proud to have over 1,700 entries to tweet about, but informed critics are less impressed. Has quantity ever guaranteed quality?

The competition has certainly created an impact. Some celebrate this, while others feel it has been detrimental to the profession, with so much unpaid time invested resulting in a low-level contribution to museum design.

Meanwhile, the spectre of Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim, an “iconic” building that gave the American foundation so much positive publicity when it opened in 1997, haunts the Helsinki project. Finnish politicians hope for a similar success, a Sydney Opera postcard effect in this remote corner of the earth.

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MVRDV and Interior Urbanism: An Interview With Winy Maas

Markthal Rotterdam. Image © Daria Scagliola+Stijn Brakkee

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, one of the major changes within cities around the world has been the rise of so-called “privately-owned public space,” a development which has attracted the attention of many urbanists and is still being widely debated. However, for MONU Magazine, the increasing prevalence (and arguably, acceptance) of such privately owned spaces for public use gives us an opportunity to discuss another aspect of public space: interior urbanism. With the rise of the shopping mall and the increasingly diverse functions required by buildings such as libraries, interior spaces now resemble exterior public spaces more and more.

The following interview is an excerpt from the 21st issue of , in which MONU’s Bernd Upmeyer and Beatriz Ramo interview MVRDV founder Winy Maas, discussing the concept of interior urbanism in the work of MVRDV, in particular in their Rotterdam Markthal, Glass Farm and Book Mountain projects.

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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 -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 3D printing.

See the program in action, after the break. 

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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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