McMansions: The Ultimate Symbol of American Inequality

© Flickr CC User Doug Downen

In this fascinating post for Salon, Thomas Frank holds nothing back on the topic of so-called “McMansions“. Charting their history from the 1980s to today, he reveals the economics and government policies which made them possible, concluding that they are not just a symptom of the inequality in modern US society, but the very cause of it: “Everything we do seems designed to make this thing possible… This stupendous, staring banality is the final outcome for which we have sacrificed everything else.” You can read the full article here.

Waterfront Park Master Plan of the Busan North Port International Competition

BPA ( Port Authority) has just announced an international competition for the Waterfront Park Master Plan of the North Port, . The deadline for registration is June 10. To download all the necessary requirements to participate in the competition, please go to the official website.

Wood Encouragement Policy Coming To Australia

Cross Stitch House; Melbourne / FMD Architects. Image © Peter Bennetts

Latrobe City Council is pushing an initiative that would put “wood first.” If implemented, the “ Encouragement Policy” would educate architects and industry professionals about the structural and environmental benefits of in an effort to promote the local timber industry and use of sustainable building materials. Following the lead of the United States and New Zealand, both of which recently established “ encouragement” policies, the council hopes that this will set a precedent that can be applied throughout the rest of Australia. 

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Architects: Leave Fashion to the Experts

Zaha Hadid has recently launched a new line of swimwear for Viviona. Image Courtesy of Viviona

Le Corbusier donned signature glasses; Frank Gehry designed footwear; early twentieth-century architect Adolf Loos even wrote “Why A Man Should Be Well-Dressed.” Now Zaha Hadid is making her way into swimwear. But are the nuances of fashion too much for architects to dip their feet into? Read the full article at the Telegraph.

George Lucas Looks to Chicago

Lucas Cultural Arts Museum proposal for Crissy Field. Image © Art Zendarski

After being rejected, alongside two other shortlisted proposals, by San Francisco’s Presidio Trust to build a self-tiled cultural arts museum at Crissy Field, has turned his attention to the windy city of . According to a report by the SunTimes, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has challenged civic leaders to find an “accessible” site for the proposed 95,000-square-foot Lucas Cultural Arts Museum by mid-May.

“There aren’t museums looking at digital art and the art of storytelling like this. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Chicago,” stated Polk Brothers Foundation CEO Gillian Darlow, co-chair of the project’s task force. “This is a real effort. The city is serious. He’s serious. And the task force is serious.”

Plovdiv Central Square Architectural Competition

The Municipality of Plovdiv () and One Architecture Week invite worldwide architects to participate in an open international competition for concept . The competition is to outline the future of the Central Square in Plovdiv—an emblematic location where most of the significant historical periods of the city overlap. A solution for their untroubled co-existence is yet to be found.

The competition is international and anonymous. Eligible for participation are Bulgarian and foreign architects or teams with at least one member who is an architect and in legal capacity to practice architectural design. Participation in the competition is free. No preliminary registration is required. For more information regarding submission, prizes and complete timeline, please go to the competition’s official website.

Tour Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion Tomorrow

For the first time in decades, Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion will open to the public tomorrow (April 22) in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Built for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, “the Pavilion represents a pivotal time in American history when the allure of putting a man on the moon inspired renowned architect to create this emblem for Space Age enthusiasm,” described Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Lecture: Bjarne Mastenbroek in Shanghai

As part of the CA Group’s lecture series, “Architour,” one of the Executive Board of SeARCH, Bjarne Mastenbroek will give a lecture at 15:30 on April 25th at Tongji Architectual (Group) Co., Ltd.(TJAD) auditorium in Shanghai. For 2013 through 2015, “Architour” has as its theme “New Force of – Leading Young Architects”: each year, the CA Group will select nine young, global leaders in (four from Asia and five from the West) to lecture on topics that cross typologies and disciplines, from architectural design, urban planning to interior design. Sou FujimotoChristian KerezThomas Heatherwick and Ensamble Studio were part of the series’ speakers.

At the end of each year, an exhibition will be mounted; and at the end of the years, the contents of the lectures will be published as a book.

More info on the “Architour” at the CA Group‘s website and weibo.

Title: Lecture: Bjarne Mastenbroek in Shanghai
Organizers: CA GROUP, TJAD, China Fortune Properties(GROUP)co., Ltd, China Vanke Co., Ltd., bulthaup
From: Fri, 25 Apr 2014 15:30
Until: Fri, 25 Apr 2014 17:00
Venue: Tongji Architectual Design (Group) Co.,Ltd.(TJAD) Auditorium 1st floor
Address: No.441, Siping Road, Yangpu, Shanghai, China

Vision42 Design International Competition

This international competition aims to rethink and redesign one of the most iconic streets in the world—42nd street in Midtown Manhattan. Remaking this dense live/work transportation corridor into a more livable space 24/7 will transform City at its core and become a model for major urban thoroughfares worldwide. The aim of this competition is to increase interest in and gain support for the vision42 initiative for a river-to-river auto-free light rail boulevard on 42nd Street.

The competition is intended to encourage architects, planners, and urban designers from around the world to develop creative proposals for remaking this important but noisy, traffic-clogged street into an enhanced, world-class pedestrian environment that is served by a high-quality, low-floor, modern surface light rail tram. The winning will be one that utilizes the potential of the boulevard to inspire New Yorkers and its elected officials to transform the street into a model for a 21st century live/work space and transportation corridor.

For more information, please click here.

How Kiev’s Independence Square Helped Spur an Uprising

© Flickr CC User Michael Kötter

In a fascinating article for the GuardianOwen Hatherley visits Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kiev, the public square at the heart of the Ukranian revolution that ironically was designed under Stalin as a Baron Hausmann-style weapon against uprisings. Hatherley examines how elements of the public space were utilized by protesters, and how different areas of the square are now hosting a variety of political factions. You can read the full article here.

MONU Magazine New Issue: Geographical Urbanism

MONU– magazine on urbanism is a unique bi-annual international forum for artists, writers and designers that are working on topics of urban culture, development and politics.

Contrary to the simplified linear causality of the environmentalism of the past, which posited that natural geography shapes urban patterns, it is now thought that contemporary urbanization shapes the surface of the earth. Nikos Katsikis explains this tremendous current shift in the meaning of physical geography for cities in his contribution “On the Geographical Organization of World Urbanization”, putting the discussion of the 20th issue of MONU on the topic “Geographical Urbanism” in a historical context.

You can read more on this new issue here, and you can browse the entire issue on Youtube.

SketchUp Announces Mobile Viewer for iPad

Courtesy of

SketchUp have recently unveiled the latest app in their suite, SketchUp Mobile Viewer for . Allowing “on the go” access to models, the app also features access to “the entire universe” of files in their 3D Warehouse. Users can use the same familiar features, such as Orbit, Pan and Zoom, to “present their own private 3D models to clients and partners.” With a price tag of $9.99 from Apple’s App Store, early reviews suggest that this is a good first step with some way yet to go. Being the first ever SketchUp tablet product (with a planned Android version in the works), it has been released in conjunction with SketchUp 2014 which incorporated BIM capabilities for the very first time.

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Exhibition: New Moscow – Новая Москва, Urban Development by International Competitions 2012-2014

National Centre for Contemporary Arts (NCCA) / © Heneghan Peng, Dublin

A new series of international competitions are characterizing a clear change in the current urban planning strategy of Moscow. The initiator of these developments is the incumbent chief architect of the Russian capital, Sergey Kuznetsov. Together with his team, he has breathed new life into Moscow’s urban development since taking office in mid 2012. The exhibition New Moscow – Новая Москва presents two international competitions – from the fields of landscape planning (1st prize Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York) and cultural building (1st prize Heneghan Peng, Dublin) – and through these demonstrates the great gains for the city’s urban planning that are being drawn from this open, global approach.

Both of the competitions presented in the exhibition demonstrate the great potential for development and innovation in Moscow to meet the growing demands of the city residents for cultural and leisure facilities. A further important topic is the extension of the traffic infrastructure of this growing city, which is initiating a radical change in the building policy of the Russian capital.

For more information, please click here.

Title: New Moscow – Новая Москва, Urban Development by International Competitions 2012-2014
From: Sat, 31 May 2014 
Until: Sat, 05 Jul 2014 
Venue: Aedes am Pfefferberg
Address: 10119 , Germany

Exhibition: Louis Kahn / The Power of Architecture

The American architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) is regarded as one of the great master builders of the Twentieth Century. Kahn created buildings of monumental beauty with powerful universal symbolism.

This exhibition encompasses an unprecedented and diverse range of architectural models, original drawings, travel sketches, photographs and films. Highlights of the exhibition include a four-metre-high model of the spectacular City Tower designed for Philadelphia (1952-57), as well as previously unseen film footage shot by Kahn’s son Nathaniel Kahn, director of the film ‘My Architect’.

Title: Exhibition: Louis Kahn / The Power of
Website: http://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/2014/louis-kahn
Organizers: Design Museum
From: Wed, 09 Jul 2014 
Until: Sun, 12 Oct 2014 
Venue: Design Museum
Address: Shad Thames, SE1, UK

Chinese Firm 3D Prints 10 Homes in 24 Hours

Winsun New , a construction firm based in Suzhou, China, has successfully built ten small-scale houses using a massive 3-D printer. The 22 foot tall machine uses glass fibers and cement to produce building elements, such as walls, in successive layers. Winsun estimates that their printing process is approximately half as costly as traditional construction methods. Acknowledging ’s strict environmental policies, the company also has plans to use scrapped construction materials to print future buildings. You can read more about this ongoing project in this article from the Wall Street Journal.

NYU and Hudson Yards to Use Big Data to Improve Cities

Phase One Visualisation © Nelson Byrd Woltz; Courtesy of

’s Center for Urban Science and Progress has teamed up with the developers of Hudson Yards to transform the future 28-acre mixed-use neighborhood into the nations first “quantified community.” As Crain’s New York reports, the aim is to “use big data to make cities better places to live.” Information, from pedestrian traffic to energy production and resident activity levels, will be collected in order to study how cities can run efficiently and improve quality of living. You can read more on the subject, here.

RIBA’s 2014 Regional Award Winners Announced

Library of Birmingham / Mecanoo. Image © Christian Richters

has announced the first round of Regional Award winners, all of which will be considered for the RIBA national awards. From the list, Mecanoo’s Library of Birmingham takes center stage, as the artisan-inspired structure received a number of , including the West Midlands Building of the Year and Emerging Architect. Check out the complete list, after the break…

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Are the Palisades Too Pure for LG’s Headquarters?

Courtesy of Michael Kimmelman’s Twitter Feed (@kimmelman)

Responding to the bevy of critics slamming LG Electronics for building their new headquarters in the Palisades in New Jersey (half an hour north from NYC), Lee Rosenbaum, the Palisades-resident and architecture blogger known as CultureGrrl, maintains that “When it comes to preserving the ‘pristine Palisades,’ the boat has already sailed.” Since LG’s planned strip will be located on what is, according to Rosenbaum, already “a very commercial strip,” she suggests that “that the incensed defenders of the purportedly unspoiled beauty of the Palisades [...] haven’t actually set eyes on them.” Check out the images of her neighborhood as well as her very interesting Twitter tussles with The Times’ Michael KimmelmanVanity Fair’s Paul Goldbergerand New York Magazine’s  at her blog, and let us know what you think of the debate in the comments below.