Imagine: After three years of careful dismantling, moving, painstakingly re-assembling and most importantly, restoring, John Notman’s historic Athenæum building has finally arrived at its new location in Fairmount Park, where it will serve as the headquarters of the newly formed Philadelphia chapter of the Friends of Brownstone (PhilaFOB). Flush with government funding from lottery and fracking revenue, PhilaFOB made the Athenæum Board of Directors an offer it couldn’t refuse. So now, for the first time since 1845, the lot at 6th & St. James Streets is vacant, and the Athenæum, still a vital independent lending and research library, with growing architectural and design collections, must re-imagine itself without its historic building. Given its location and its corporate purposes, what might a mid-21st century Athenæum look like?
OMA has announced the addition of four new equity partners, all promoted from Associate level, to take its total number of partners to ten. The move is a reflection of OMA’s increasing workload in both architectural projects, and also the increasing involvement of AMO, the company’s research offshoot. With two of the new partners based in their overseas offices, it also represents a move to strengthen their work in markets outside of their European base. Read on after the break for details of all four new partners.
Andrés Duany, a founding partner of Miami firms Arquitectonica and Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company and a co-founder of the Congress for New Urbanism, turns 65 today. As an advocate of New Urbanism, since the 1980s Duany has been instrumental creating renewed focus on walkable, mixed use neighborhoods, in reaction against the sprawling, car-centric modernist urbanism of the previous decades. More about Duany and New Urbanism after the break.
“The Biennale reveals that modernism was never a style. It was a cultural, political, and social practice,” says Sarah Williams Goldhagen in her recent article for New Republic, The Great Architect Rebellion of 2014. This year, the Venice Biennale dissects the notion of modernism by providing a hefty cross-section of architectural history in the central pavilion. However contrary to Koolhaas‘ prescriptive brief, the 65 national pavilions show modernism was not just a movement, but a socially-driven, culturally attuned reaction to the “exigencies of life in a rapidly changing and developing world.” Unexpected moments define the 2014 Venice Biennale: from Niemeyer‘s desire to launch Brazil into the first world through architectural creation, to South Korea‘s unveiling of a deep modernist tradition with influence across the nation. This Biennale proved to be truly rebellious – read Goldhagen’s article from New Republic here to find out why.
Are Brutalist buildings, once deemed cruel and ugly, making a comeback? Reyner Banham‘s witty play on the French term for raw concrete, beton brut, was popularized by a movement of hip, young architects counteracting what they perceived as the bourgeois and fanciful Modernism of the 1930s. Though the use of raw concrete in the hands of such artist-architects as Le Corbusier seems beautiful beneath the lush Mediterranean sun, under the overcast skies of northern Europe Brutalist architecture earned a much less flattering reputation. Since the 1990s, however, architects, designers, and artists have celebrated formerly denounced buildings, developing a fashionably artistic following around buildings like Erno Goldfinger‘s Trellick Tower, “even if long-term residents held far more ambivalent views of this forceful high-rise housing block.” To learn more about this controversial history and to read Jonathan Glancey‘s speculation for its future, read the full article on BBC, here.
An exhibition celebrating one of North America’s foremost postmodern architects will open this October, marking 50 years of Michael Graves‘ practice. Past as Prologue maps the evolution of Graves’ work in architecture and product design through an array of media including sculpture, painting, furniture, drawings and models. The comprehensive exhibition will begin with Graves’ work from 1964 and conclude with works currently in progress. The exhibition will be hosted by Grounds for Sculpture with a mission to provide insight into the five-decade progression of Graves’ unique design process. More on the exhibition after the break.
Fumihiko Maki, the Pritzker Prize laureate and 67th AIA Gold Medalist, turns 86 today. Widely considered to be one of Japan’s most distinguished living architects, Maki practices a unique style of Modernism that reflects his Japanese origin. Toshiko Mori has praised Maki’s ability to create “ineffable atmospheres” using a simple palette of various types of metal, concrete, and glass. His consistent integration and adoption of new methods of construction as part of his design language contribute to his personal quest to create “unforgettable scenes.”
”Mouthful of meetings” is a moderated conversation taking place at the 2014 Venice Biennale with a focus on socioeconomic sustainability and current projects in developing countries around the world. The event is organized by South of North, a collaboration between Nordic architects working in the non-profit sector in developing environments. Contributors will include contemporary Nordic and African practices with an emphasis on recent works of socially committed architecture. Read on after the break for more details of the event.
In an article for the New York Times, Alexandra Lange discusses a number of US projects which are “transforming, but not disrupting,” their respective communities. In this vein, she cites Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates’ new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury, Boston, as a prime example of a new kind of architecture which “comes from understanding of past civic hopes, redesigning them to meet the future.” Examining some of the key concepts that make for successfully integrated community buildings, such as the creation of spaces that actively forge personal connections, Lange concludes that perhaps it is now “time for strategic architecture.”
The idea that urban planning could build upon citizen action, rather than consisting of imposed boulevards or housing blocks (as with the urban renewal that originally gutted Roxbury) is gaining traction.
Read the article in full here.
Frank Gehry’s design for the performing arts center at ground zero in New York has been shelved and the planning board will instead select a design from three other finalist architects, the New York Times has reported. This follows on reports from February that Frank Gehry’s original design was being revised and his plans for an initial 1,000 seat center were being abandoned. “We’re in the process of selecting a new architect,” said John E. Zuccotti, the real estate developer who is the chairman of the arts center’s board. “Three architectural firms are being considered.” Gehry, however, has said that he’s heard “zero at ground zero” and hasn’t been informed of the board’s decision. To learn more about the plans for the performing arts center see the full article from the New York Times.
The impact Daniel H. Burnham had on urban planning and the American city is still felt today, many years after his death, on what would have been his 168th birthday. Over the course of his lucrative career, Burnham pioneered some of the world’s first skyscrapers, inspired the City Beautiful Movement with his vision for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and created urban plans for numerous cities before urban planning even existed as a profession. Burnham said of his unusual large scale thinking, “Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”
Kenzo Tange (4 September 1913-22 March 2005), the Pritzker-Prize Winning Japanese architect who helped define Japan’s post-WWII emergence into Modernism, would have turned 101 today. Inspired by Le Corbusier, Tange decided to study architecture at the University of Tokyo in 1935. He worked as an urban planner, helping to rebuild Hiroshima after World War II, and gained international attention in 1949, when his design for the Hiroshima Peace Center and Memorial Park was selected. Tange continued to work in and theorize about Urban Planning throughout the 50s; his “Plan for Tokyo 1960″ re-thought urban structures and heavily influenced the Metabolist movement.
Louis Sullivan, Chicago‘s “Father of Skyscrapers” who foreshadowed modernism with his famous phrase “form follows function,” would have turned 158 today. Sullivan was an architectural prodigy even as a young man, graduating high school and beginning his studies at MIT when he was just 16. After just a year of study he dropped out of MIT, and by the time he was just 24 he had joined forces with Dankmar Adler as a full partner of Adler and Sullivan.
The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) has announced Maarte Hajer as the Chief Curator of IABR-2016-. Hajer, a professor of Public Policy at the University of Amsterdam and Director General of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, was selected for his proposed theme, “The Next Economy.” More on Hajer’s appointment after the break.
The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends Survey for July 2014 show that the Workload Index among UK practices fell back to +28 (from +34 in June) with confidence levels among RIBA practices about the level of future workloads remaining “very strong in practices of all sizes across the whole of the UK.” Whereas last month’s survey saw Scotland top the index with a balance figure of +50, London showed the greatest strength in July with a balance figure of +38. Practices located in Wales and the West were the most cautious about prospects for future workloads, returning a balance figure of just +12. The survey shows that actual workloads have been growing for four consecutive quarters and the overall value of work in progress last month was 10% higher than this time last year.
With the International Union of Architects (UIA)’s World Congress taking place last month, the eyes of the architecture world were on South Africa where – according to Phineas Harper of the Architectural Review - the conference was full of architects of all backgrounds with “irrepressible energy,” sharing ideas on how architecture can be used for social good with an urgency that is somewhat unfamiliar in the Western world. ”Whoever said architecture was stale, male and pale should have been in Durban,” says Harper. You can read the full review of the event here.
Harper’s review also singles out the “electrifying” keynote speech of Rahul Mehrotra, who explained how he used his architecture to bridge social and cultural gaps while still serving his clients’ needs, in projects such as his Hyderabad offices. You can see him discuss these ideas in our interview with Mehrotra here:
In an article for the London Evening Standard, Robert Bevan examines one of the many often overlooked consequences of conflict: the destruction of monuments, culture, and heritage. With heightened conflict in the Middle East over the past decade an enormous amount of “cultural genocide” has occurred – something which Bevan notes is “inextricably linked to human genocide and ethnic cleansing.” Arguing that “saving historic treasures and saving lives are not mutually exclusive activities,” case studies from across the world are employed to make the point that with the loss of cultural heritage, most commonly architectural, the long term ramifications will resonate throughout this century.
Articles on China’s building boom often highlight the property bubble, megalomaniac planners, governmental corruption and private graft, substandard building practices and the destruction of the nation’s cultural heritage.
In Mark #51, we interviewed four Chinese architects on four aspects of China’s building practices to reveal the mechanisms at the foundation of this unedifying image. Li Hu offers his thoughts on architecture, Liu Yuyang on urban planning, Li Xiaodong on aesthetics and Liu Jiakun on construction processes. What can we learn from their experience?