Typological to Evolutionary: A New Theory of Cities

Champs Elysees – , France. Image © Flickr User justininsd

Why do cities exist and how will they grow and change? As more than half of the world’s population now lives in it is becoming increasingly important for urban designers and planners to seek answers to these questions. This article by Laura Bliss from City Lab presents the “science of cities,” and the ways in which the urban-planning world is moving away from traditional methods of simply putting cities into categories, in favor of a more evolutionary theory. Benefiting from the vast amounts of data available today on statistics such as crime and voting patterns across cities, researchers have worked to establish the quantifiable characteristics of urban areas as a whole, and recent studies in this area reveal how the shapes of cities themselves could be connected to internal economic and social processes. Learn more about these radical developments in the full article from City Lab.

The Race to Save Architecture in Myanmar’s Biggest City

View from Golden Hill Towers in Yangon, (2010). Image © Flickr CC User Soe Lin

Preservationists are in a race to document and preserve some of Yangon’s most admired cultural icons. Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon is experiencing an all to familiar story: rapid development taking precedence over preservation. As the reports, “Hulking monoliths of concrete and blue-plated glass are replacing fine old residential and government buildings…Although much has already been lost, many architecturally or esthetically significant structures have hung on. The question now is  how long they will last.” Read the complete story, here.

Help Us Honor Rem Koolhaas On His 70th Birthday

Courtesy of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design, via Flickr

Rem Koolhaas, one of today’s most celebrated architects, has lived a significant year. With the closing of his much-talked about Venice Biennale just days away, the Dutchman also turns 70 years old this coming Monday. 

Koolhaas’ approach to architecture and architectural thinking holds tremendous importance and weight – so much so that Bjarke Ingels, one of his many protegés, has called him “the Le Corbusier of our time.”

In recognition of his contribution to the world of architecture (and on the occasion of his birthday) we’re asking you, our readers, to post video and/or visual tributes to Rem to your social media accounts using the hasthtag #Rem70. Has Koolhaas influenced the work of your studio or office? Show your support or appreciation in a short video clip! Would you like to share a portrait or illustration of Rem or his projects? Do you have an anecdote or story? Be creative! We’ll be publishing our favorites on his birthday, so start tagging (#Rem70) and stay tuned.

Karim Rashid Shifts Focus to Architecture

Lotte Amoje, Food Capital / Karim Rashid. Image © Lee Gyeon Bae

Karim Rashid, internationally renowned for his work in industrial design, has recently shifted his focus towards real estate. Alongside his team of nine architects, the -based designer is currently working on 11 buildings worldwide, including four in . With extensive knowledge in product design and no formal , Rashid believes designing architecture isn’t out of his realm:

“I have to say, and I don’t mean this in a pejorative way, that architecture, in a sense the more pedestrian architecture, is generally quite simple compared to industrial design. In other words, it’s far more sophisticated to do something like a mobile phone than it is to do an average building.” Read the full interview, here.

Can Good Architecture Be as Calming as Meditation?

Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute was among the “contemplative architecture” that the researchers used during the study. Image © Flickr CC User dreamsjung

If ever architects needed a little vindication in their work, this might just be it: a team of neuroscientists have found evidence that good architecture can positively affect the human brain. Testing a highly susceptible group of subjects (i.e. architects), the team demonstrated that so-called “contemplative architecture” can have similar effects to meditation – except with much less effort on the part of the person experiencing it. This article in the Atlantic discusses the team’s work at length, delving into the science behind the discovery, but also uncovering an interesting oddity in the world of architectural : it seems not much is being done because ”it’s difficult to suggest that people are dying from it.” In the case of the current study, the team “totally loaded the deck” by only selecting architects as their subjects, apparently not aiming to prove anything but simply to secure further funding. Read the full article here for more on the latest in architectural neuroscience.

Are Monuments And Memorials Intrinsically Introverted?

© Richard Lea-Hair and Historic Royal Palaces

The Observer’s Rowan Moore “accidentally got swept into a tide of humanity at the weekend, or to put it another way, couldn’t move for crowds.” In memorial of the start of the centenary of World War One, of which today marks the anniversary of the armistice (11.11.1918), the Tower of London have installed a sea of 888,246 ceramic poppies in the former moat. The artwork, created by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, and entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, ”has caught the national imagination.” For Moore, however, “it is deeply disturbing that a hundred years on from 1914, [the UK] can only mark this terrible as a national tragedy.” He argues that “the spectacle of all these red poppies is emptier than that. [...] It is a deeply aestheticised, prettified and toothless memorial.” Read the article in full here.

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19 Great Monuments Destroyed by War

Great Mosque of Samarra, Iraq . Image © Flickr CC User James Gordon

One of the most important Islamic architectural monuments, the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq is one of many priceless monuments that has been “lost in conflict.” Paying homage to the architectural masterpieces that have been victims of war, has put together a list of 19 of the world’s “greatest buildings you’ll never see.” View them all, here.

Two Universities Win NCARB Award for Merging Practice and Education

“The Dean of : Design Education Must Change” (click image for article). Image Courtesy of Metropolis Magazine

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has awarded Parsons The New School for Design and the 2014 NCARB Award to aid the development of innovative programs that merge practice and education.

“The award honors innovative ways for weaving practice and academy together to address real-world architecture challenges,” says NCARB CEO Michael J. Armstrong. “The winning proposals for 2014 explore new paradigms of practice and move students from the theoretical to applied practices working with licensed practitioners.”

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Robert A.M. Stern Reportedly Set to Retire from Yale in 2016

After serving as dean at the for nearly two decades, Robert A.M. Stern is reportedly stepping down. According to Yale Daily News, faculty and administrative staff members have indicated that Stern will be retiring when his term as dean concludes in Spring 2016. “[Stern] took [the school] from a place where people were not paying attention to it many years ago — he has brought incredible international attention to the school,” Professor Michelle Addington stated in regards to Stern’s widespread influence as dean. “He has given me the opportunity to rethink my subject, and that doesn’t happen at too many places.” More information, here.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights: “Failed Memorial and White Elephant”?

. Image © Aaron Cohen/CMHR-MCDP

In an article for The Walrus, Adele Weder examines Antoine Predock‘s (who was recently made a National Academy Academician) Canadian Museum for Human Rights: a “colossal, twelve-storey mountain of concrete and stone, 120,000 square feet of tempered glass, and 260,000 square feet of floor space.” Early advocates of the museum “felt that was ripe for such a statement piece,” just as Bilbao had been for the Guggenheim. Welder’s explorations are clear and concise, finding all sorts “of paradoxes swirling around the Museum for Human Rights.” Noting that “it’s definitely a kick-ass building, with its aggressive outer form, jagged paths inside, big black slabs of basalt, thick sheets of glass, and the huge metal girders that hold it all together,” Weder argues that it’s position as a “failed memorial and white elephant” may be it’s eventual undoing.

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Guggenheim Creates New Curatorial Position for Architecture and Digital Initiatives

AD Classics: Solomon R. Museum / Frank Lloyd Wright. Image © Flickr CC User Richard Anderson

Architect and scholar Troy Conrad Therrien has been appointed as the Guggenheim’s new Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives. Therrien will now contribute to the development of the museum’s engagement with architecture, design, technology, and urban studies, in addition to providing leadership on select new projects under the direction of the Chief Curator and the Director’s Office.

“Advancing innovative programming that relates to architecture, technology, and urban studies, particularly on a global stage, is a priority for the Guggenheim,” Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim stated. “Troy’s impressive and dynamic background spanning academia, architecture, and computer science should expand our forward-looking curatorial team.” Read the complete press release, here.

Call for Proposals: Boston Living with Water

Courtesy of Living with Water

The Boston Harbor Association, City of Boston, Boston Redevelopment Authority, and Boston Society of Architects have teamed up to launch Boston Living with Water, “an international call for design solutions envisioning a more resilient, more sustainable, and more beautiful Boston adapted for end-of-the-century climate conditions and rising sea levels.” The two-phase competition, open to all leading planners, designers and thinkers, will award the best overall proposal $20,000; the second and third best will each receive $10,000. Submissions for the first phase are due December 2, 2014. Learn more, here.

Interested in Becoming a Guest Curator for the Boston Society of Architects?

http://www.archdaily.com/209493/bsa--society-of-architects-space-howeler-yoon-architecture/. Image © Andy Ryan

BSA Space, home to the Boston Society of Architects and the BSA Foundation, is currently accepting proposals from all designers interested in becoming a guest curator. The selected curator would be responsible for conceiving, fabricating, executing, and installing all aspects of a major exhibit within the BSA’s 5,000 square foot gallery space. Proposals should take into consideration a diverse audience and seek to capture the imagination of the public by conveying the power of design as an instrument of change within Boston. All major exhibitions will run four to six months and guest curators will receive a budget of $30-70K. The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 14 at 4:00PM. More details can be found, here.

Knight Foundation Announces $5M Open Call for Ideas to Improve American Cities

Courtesy of

What makes a city successful? Miami-based Knight Foundation aims to answer this question with their latest contest, the Knight Cities Challenge. Innovators across all disciplines are invited to propose their idea to improve one of 26 Knight communities, across the United States with an established network of support for the foundation’s initiatives. Proposals should focus on three key levers of city success: attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of robust civic engagement in the chosen community. “No project is too small — so long as your idea is big,” says Carol Coletta, Vice-President of community and national initiatives for Knight Foundation.

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Venice Biennale Hosts Third Annual “Archives and Exhibitions” Livestream Conference

Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

With just over two weeks left in the 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture, Paolo Baratta, President of La Biennale, is hosting a one day conference on the intersection between archives, exhibitions and digital integration. Focusing on the themes of the ”dissipation of memory” and the “vulnerability of digital data” in an age of ever-changing technological platforms, the conference is the third in a series of archive-themed events hosted at the Giardini in the Biennale Library, and will feature a screening of Digital Amnesia, a documentary on the lifespan of archival technology, along with a round table discussion with leading archivists and curators from around the world. Panelists include the Mirko Zardini, Director and Chief Curator from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, archive superintendents from three Italian provinces, professors from three Italian universities, and Debora Rossi, the chief archivist for the Venice Biennale.

The event will be live streamed on the Biennale website Today (November 7th) from 10:00am to 6:00pm Central European Time.

Centre Pompidou To Open Design and Architecture Gallery

AD Classics: Centre Georges Pompidou / Renzo Piano + Richard Rogers. Image © conservapedia.com

Yesterday, during the opening of a new photography gallery, president Alain Seban announced the contemporary art museum will soon open a new design and architecture gallery inside the famed Renzo Piano- and Richard Rogers-designed building. “Eventually, there should be almost no offices in the building, and we’ll keep only the technical facilities that are strictly indispensable,” said Seban. “When allocating the spaces, the works and the visitors have to take precedence.”

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SANAA and Jean Nouvel Among Seven Invited to Design Hungarian Museum Complex

Liget Competition Entry (click for more). Image © Fundamental

An international jury behind Budapest’s new National Gallery has launched a second and invited competition for a select few of the industry’s best after the first, open competition lead to “disappointing” results. Jean Nouvel, David Chipperfield, Mecanoo, Nieto Sobejano, Renzo Piano, SANAA and Snøhetta have been asked to submit proposals for a 5-building museum complex on the edge of Városliget, one of the city’s main parks. It will house the new National Gallery, the Ludwig Museum, an ethnography museum, architecture museum and photography museum.

The competition, known as the Liget Project, is being directed by jury members Wim Pijbes, the director of the Rijksmuseum, and Henri Loyrette, former director of the Louvre in .

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Does Devolution Hold The Key To Greater Investment In The Built Environment?

Town Hall (Alfred Waterhouse)

The British city of Manchester, often seen as the ’s second city alongside Birmingham, will become the first metropolis outside of London to be given greater local autonomy over budgets and city planning. The devolution deal, which will also see the city receive the right to directly elect a Mayor (in line with large cities in the US, for example), will furnish the city with “a new housing investment fund worth up to £300million.” As it is understood that the first Mayor of Greater Manchester will be elected in 2017, there’s time to discuss how this new political environment in the UK might help boost building in what has described as a “Northern Powerhouse.”

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