In recent years, few architects have had a tougher time in the media than Santiago Calatrava. Whether it’s his repeated legal battles over leaking roofs and peeling facades, the unceremonious death of his Chicago Spire project, or the media firestorm over his New York Transportation Hub that is $2 billion over budget, Calatrava has become a poster boy for those who criticize the supposed arrogance of today’s architects. However, in an engaging article for FastCo Design, Karrie Jacobs responds to what seems to be “a concerted effort to shore up his reputation,” coming to the defense of this “unreconstructed aesthete.” Read the article in full here.
Rome-based firm Beyond Architecture Group (BAG) has designed “experimental furniture” – dubbed Looking (C)up – for the Frammenti Music Festival at the Archaeological Park in Tusculum, Italy. The firm, known for building houses with bales of straw, chose to craft an astronomical observatory with wooden pallets.
Has the concept of the smart city ”crystallised into an image of the city as a vast, efficient robot?” In the age of the “Internet of Things,” where does the citizen fit in? In this article from The Guardian, journalist Steven Poole takes a critical stance against the purported utopian ideals of smart cities. Poole delves into the nuances of who the smart city is truly meant to serve, questions the debate over whether it should develop along a top-down or bottom-up approach, and poses the provocative thought: “a vast network of sensors amounting to millions of electronic ears, eyes and noses – also potentially enable(s) the future city to be a vast arena of perfect and permanent surveillance by whomever has access to the data feeds.” Questions of control, virtual reality, free-will, and hierarchies of power, Poole asserts are critical to the discussion of technology’s powerful role in the future. Read the full article to learn more about the possible potential of the smart city to “destroy democracy,” here.
BIG Returns to the National Building Museum with “HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation”
On the heels of its summer blockbuster indoor maze, which attracted more than 50,000 visitors, the international design firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) returns to the National Building Museum this January with a behind-the-scenes look at its creative process. The exhibition, HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation, takes visitors from the hottest to the coldest parts of our planet and explores how BIG´s design solutions are shaped by their cultural and climatic contexts. More than 60 three-dimensional models will be suspended at the second-floor balconies of the Museum’s historic Great Hall in an unprecedented use of this public space.
HOT TO COLD premieres 20 of the studio’s latest projects, interpreted through Iwan Baan‘s masterful photography of BIG’s built work, films by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, and the Grammy Award-winning graphic artist Stefan Sagmeister’s design for the accompanying catalog by Taschen. HOT TO COLD opens on January 24, 2015 and remains on view through August 30, 2015.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial announces the Lakefront Kiosk Competition, organized in partnership with the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago. In keeping with the mission of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Lakefront Kiosk Competition is an opportunity to support innovative architectural work and to use the city—more specifically, the iconic shoreline of Lake Michigan—as a laboratory for architectural experimentation.
The competition calls for the inventive design of a new kiosk that will be installed on Chicago’s lakefront, one of the city’s most vibrant public spaces. A jury of architects, curators, and city representatives will select one winner to receive the BP Prize, which includes an honorarium for design development and a construction budget to realize the design.
Not sure if “manic” can be classified as an architectural style, but that is what some are choosing to describe the newly discovered, hand-drawn floor plans of a grand place envisioned by King George III. According to the British Library, the King was “passionately interested” about architecture and drew plans for a future living quarters in Kew – now a district in West London – during a time when he was suffering from severe mental illness in the late 1780s. Learn more about the King’s vision for a grand palace, here.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for November showed that confidence in workload among UK architects fell back slightly with the workload index returning back to +29. This is compared to +37 in October, which was the second highest ever balance figure. The highest balance figures were in Northern Ireland (+50) and the North of England (+46), areas with the RIBA state “were initially the slowest to indicate a return to growth.” In addition, the percentage of respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed remained at 12% for the second month running – the lowest figure since the survey began in January 2009. Practices report that they are currently employing 6% more year-out and post Part II students than they were twelve months ago.
As the culmination of a five-month selection process, New York University (NYU) has announced that Davis Brody Bond and KieranTimberlake will be designing its major new facility along Mercer Street between Houston and Bleecker in New York. The facility’s many uses will include classrooms, teaching spaces for performing arts, a state-of-the-art sports facility, and student and faculty housing.
Collectively, the team was chosen for its high profile portfolio, which includes projects like the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the U.S. Embassy in London, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the 1983-2006 restoration and expansion of the New York Public Library.
Born and raised in London in 1953, British architect David Chipperfield‘s career has spanned decades and continents as an architect, designer and professor. Since 1984, he has been at the helm of David Chipperfield Architects, an award winning firm with over 180 staff at offices in London, Berlin, Milan, and Shanghai. Chipperfield is an honourary fellow of the American Institute of Architects and Germany’s Bund Deutscher Architekten, and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2004. In 2012, Chipperfield curated the Venice Biennale of Architecture under the theme Common Ground. Most recently, Chipperfield was named Artistic Director of Italian design brand Driade.
Read more about Chipperfield’s career and projects after the break
Award-winning architect, writer, and professor David Heymann has just released his first work of fiction: My Beautiful City Austin. Composed of seven humorous tales, the stories document the misadventures of a young architect in Austin and his accidental involvement in the slow decimation of his city’s charms. Unable to deter his clients from their poor choices, the well-intentioned designer finds himself complicit. Using fiction, Heymann paints a sharply dynamic picture of the architectural consequences of Austin’s rapid growth and “rediscovered allure.” Check out the book, here.
In an article for The Guardian, Oliver Wainwright steps “inside Beijing’s apocalypse”: the poisonous, polluted atmosphere that often clings to the Chinese capital. He explores ways in which those who live in this metropolis have started to redefine the spaces they frequent and the ways in which they live. Schools, he notes, are now building inflatable domes over play areas in order to “simulate a normal environment.” The dangers were made clear when ”this year’s Beijing marathon [...] saw many drop out when their face-mask filters turned a shade of grey after just a few kilometres.” Now, in an attempt to improve the living conditions in the city, ecologists and environmental scientists are proposing new methods to filter the air en masse. Read about some of the methods here.
Architect Steven Bingler and architectural journalist Martin C. Pedersen fear that architecture is loosing its credibility. In their recent op-ed on the New York Times, the pair claims that our profession’s biggest challenge is regaining public trust by reconnecting architecture with its users. Referencing his mother’s aversion to a student-built affordable housing project that he considered a “bold statement of design,” Bingler believes the key to salvaging the profession is for architects to stop dismissing and start listening to the general public’s take on architecture.
“The question is, at what point does architecture’s potential to improve human life become lost because of its inability to connect with actual humans?” Read the complete article, here.
In an article for The Guardian, Maryam Omidi explores Moscow’s Door19, a place where “Damien Hirst and David LaChapelle artworks adorn the raw concrete walls,” “flair bartenders serve up gem-coloured cocktails,” and “a rotation of Michelin-starred chefs flown in from around the world curate new menus each week.” It is indicative, she argues, of what Kuba Snopek (a lecturer at the Strelka Institute) describes as “hipster Stalinism” – a surge of redevelopment in certain parts of Moscow that cater to the ‘oligarchs’, wealthy creatives and Muscovite ‘hipsters’. At Door19, for example, apartments sell for between $15,000 and $20,000 per square metre.
Ray Eames (December 15, 1912-August 1988) is best known for her personal and artistic collaboration with Charles Eames, and together, their innovative designs shaped the course of modernism. Although Charles often gave the firm its public face (particularly in the male-oriented world of mid-century design), the two designers are almost always discussed as a couple and every project that their office pursued was in fact a team effort. When asked about any particular piece of furniture, for example, Ray always maintained that she contributed to the details of the design in a “million ways” and considered the overall form of each project in a critical fashion, emphasizing the collaborative nature of not just their partnership, but their entire office.
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, or simply Oscar Niemeyer, was one of the greatest architects in Brazil‘s history, and one of the greats of the global modernist movement. After his death in 2012, Niemeyer left the world more than five hundred works scattered throughout the Americas, Africa and Europe.
Niemeyer attended the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro in 1929, graduating in 1934. He began working with the influential Brazilian architect and urban planner Lúcio Costa also in 1932, a professional partnership that would last decades and result in some of the most important works in the history of modern architecture.
Chicago’s Studio Gang Architects have been selected to design a new Center for Science, Education and Innovation for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Named after its largest donor, the $325 million Gilder Center will include 218,000-square-feet of existing and new space. It is slated to open on Columbus Avenue at 79th Street on the west side of the Museum campus, in conjunction with its 150th anniversary in 2019–2020.
Edward Mazria, AIA, founder of Architecture 2030, has been selected to receive the 2015 Edward C. Kemper Award. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) chose Mazria for “catalyzing the architecture community to address climate change through the design of decarbonized, sustainable and resilient built environments.”
Vacation just got a little bit sweeter with these Gingerbread BNBs. Looking for a luxurious getaway? The Gingerbread Modern Home is a gorgeous estate, made from gluten-free gingerbread and featuring a frosted stucco exterior and mid-century taffy furniture (but please don’t eat the artwork). The house is part of a fundraiser for New-York charity Robin Hood to provide shelter to homeless families in New York during the holiday season.
Book a virtual stay at one of their three Gingerbread BNB-models – a Modern Home, Rustic Cabin, or Cozy Camper – and help give a family a home for the night. Every $100 raised provides shelter for one family for one night. So pack your candy cane suitcases and book a stay on the GingerBread BNB website.