Richard J Williams Talks Modernism & Sex

© Iñigo Bujedo-Aguirre

In this interview with BD, Richard J Williams discusses his recent book “Sex and Buildings,” which analyses how some places, such as his home town of Edinburgh, ”wear their morality on their sleeve,” while other places. such as Brazil, have an idea that “modernism can be sexy.” He also talks about the US attitudes to sex and , bringing up the ‘Playboy townhouse’ of the 1960s and the TV show Mad Men, as well as architects Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler and John Portman. You can read the full interview here.

Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2013

Courtesy of Estonian Centre of Architecture

Launching September 4th, the Tallinn Architecture Biennale: Recycling Socialism will be exploring the modernist and socialist architecture from the 1960s to the 1980s in a 5-day long main program. The core events of the program are the two-day Symposium, the Curators’ Exhibition, the Vision Competition Award Ceremony and the International Architecture Schools’ Exhibition. With such a diverse program, this event is expected to be one of the most outstanding events in the region. Events run until September 30th. More information after the break.

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The Threat Hanging Over LA’s Modernist Homes

Richard Neutra’s 1929 Lovell House. Image Courtesy of Wikiarquitectura

A shadow hangs over the hills of Los Angeles, threatening its modernist architecture. In this article on the Daily Beast, Andrew Romano investigates the trend for the ‘McMansions’ which are now popular among LA’s super-rich, and the risk that they pose to the style that “many believe was perfected in Southern California” – the hillside modernist home. But it’s not all bad news: he finds that the Schairer House, designed by Gregory Ain in 1949 is now being restored, and Beverly Hills last year past its first preservation laws. Read the full article here.

Zumtobel Group Award 2014

2012 winner – R Urban

Recognized as one of the few global players in the lighting industry, Zumtobel Group is inviting submissions between September 1 and November 30 for their 2014 Award in three categories: Buildings, Urban Developments & Initiatives, and Applied Innovations. Architecture practices, engineering bureaus, urban and landscape planners, universities and technology start-ups, NGOs and other public or private initiatives can submit their current projects. As in previous years, the Zumtobel Group Award 2014 will be held under the curatorship of Kristin Feireiss and Hans-Jürgen Commerell of Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin. More information, including images of previous winners, can be viewed after the break.

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How to Construct Large Structures Out of Small Ones

© Kenneth Cheung

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight, interlocking composite component which can be snapped together to create airplanes, spacecraft and even larger structures. Likened to chain mail but based on a newly-developed geometry, the parts form a structure that is 10 times stiffer for a given weight than existing ultralight materials. The structure allows much less material to carry a given load and could revolutionize all moving vehicles, reducing their weight and the costs of while allowing greater design flexibility. To find out how it happens, read the full description here.

More Park, Less Way: Improving Philadelphia’s Parkway

© elPadawan

In this article in the Wall Street Journal, a number of key players discuss the ongoing work to transform ”the most elegant urban boulevard in the US”, Philadelphia‘s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The parkway has been on a long journey from boulevard to highway, and thanks to a new plan entitled “More Park, Less Way”, it could be on its way back, with a variety of plans to change the Parkway into a vibrant, more densely populated series of spaces with more amenities for local residents. You can read the full article here.

eVolo 2014 Skyscraper Competition

Courtesy of Magazine

eVolo Magazine just announced the launch of the 2014 Skyscraper Competition which is open to architects, students, engineers, designers, and artists from around the globe. One of the world’s most prestigious awards for high-rise architecture, it recognizes outstanding ideas that redefine skyscraper design through the implementation of novel technologies, materials, programs, aesthetics, and spatial organizations along with studies on globalization, flexibility, adaptability, and the digital revolution. The participants should take into consideration the advances in technology, the exploration of sustainable systems, and the establishment of new urban and architectural methods.

The competition is an investigation on the public and private space and the role of the individual and the collective in the creation of a dynamic and adaptive vertical community. The early registration deadline is November 19, and the deadline for submissions is January 20. For more detailed information, please visit here.

The Penn Station Proposals: Vanity Projects?

Courtesy of SHoP Architects

In this article in the New York Observer, Stephen Jacob Smith discusses the future of Penn Station, now that Madison Square Garden’s permit has been extended by just 10 years. Smith thinks that the grand redesigns of the station itself are pure vanity – considering the poor organization of the current station and the competing interests of the stakeholders involved – and proposes that there are better improvements to be had in unseen infrastructure improvements rather than show-stopping architecture. Read the full article here.

Request for Qualifications: MLK Jr. Memorial Library

Courtesy of District of Columbia Public Library

In honor and celebration of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, which took place August 28, 1963, the RFQ for architectural services for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library was officially launched today by the District of Columbia Public Library. Currently a Mies van der Rohe building, which is his only library and the only Mies building in D.C., people using the public library more than ever to seek assistance in navigating the complex networks of information available to them and in converting that information to knowledge for their personal needs (education, lifelong learning, enjoyment, jobs, business development, and so on).

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library will be a place for residents to explore, connect, create and engage. They seek an inspiring design for the library of the future that will accommodate great flexibility in library uses and in technology. The RFQ’s are due no later than September 23. A pre-proposal conference is also set to take place September 10. For more information, including the full RFQ document, please visit here.

Jakub Szczesny’s Keret House Open for Residence

© Polish Modern Foundation / Bartek Warzecha

Would you ever want live in the Keret House - the world’s skinniest dwelling - in WarsawPoland? Well, now’s your chance. The Polish Modern Art Foundation has announced an open call for resident applications to artists (under age 35) practicing in the fields of architecture, visual arts, literature, music or film. If selected, artists will have the opportunity to live in the Keret House for up to 21 days to realize a project of their own design. The residency aims to foster individual artistic expression, promote creative exchange, and expose artists to the cultural environment of while offering them the chance to experience what many believe to be an “impossible architecture.” See if you are eligible to apply here

The Bloomberg Years: Reshaping New York

Courtesy of NYTimes

Since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2001, the fabric of New York City has been in constant flux. In just 12 years, Bloomberg has lead an effort to rezone 37 percent of the city to create opportunities for high-density growth, as well as aided the 40,000 new buildings and 450 miles of bike lanes. Putting these efforts in perspective, the New York Times has released the interactive feature “Reshaping New York” that compares statistics with drastic ‘before and after’ comparisons. Check it out and read our report on Bloomberg’s lasting affect on the Empire State here.

Urban Current[s] Competition Entry / L+CC + Taller 301 + openfabric

Courtesy of L+CC + +

A conceptual framework for the development of the city of Medellin, the Urban Current[s] competition proposal by L+CC (Land+Civilization Compositions), Taller 301, and openfabric considers it important to think of the river territory beyond a simple design of public space. Instead, this is seen as the opportunity to re-structure and establish a framework for the future development of Medellín. Their approach creates new principles for the development of the city by using all available resources (natural, social, economic, political, and cultural) to link the city with its history, its ecology, and the movement of people in the territory. More images and architects’ description after the break.

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Archifest 2013: A Festival of Ideas for the City

Courtesy of Institute of Architects

Taking place September 27 – October 13 at DhobyGhaut Green, Singapore and various satellite venues, Archifest 2013: A Festival of Ideas for the City returns with a brand new theme – Small is Beautiful. Organized by Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA), and curated by Shophouse and Co., this annual architecture event will use the city as a laboratory and frame Singapore as an urban ecosystem beyond singular architectural projects. It will explore and celebrate projects, design studios, communities and ideas that might be small by choice and circumstance, but are large in ambition and impact.

Festival highlights include Archifest Pavilion Design Competition, Archifest Conference, SIA Design Awards Presentation Ceremony, School of Urban Ideas, Architours and Fringe. Early bird registration ends August 31. To register, and for more information, please visit here.

Agar Grove Estate Redevelopment Proposal / Hawkins\Brown

Courtesy of Forbes Massie

Hawkins\Brown, with Mae Architects and Grant Associates, have been appointed by Borough of Camden to develop proposals in collaboration with residents for the potential redevelopment of the Agar Grove Estate, a major housing regeneration project for London with an estimated construction value of £55 million. The current proposal being developed includes the demolition of 112 homes and the provision of around 360 new homes, bringing the total number of homes to around 500. A range of unit types has been introduced including family terrace housing and maisonettes with gardens, as well as lateral flats with balconies. More images and architects’ description after the break.

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CAADRIA 2014 Conference

Courtesy of Kyoto Institute of Technology

CAADRIA 2014: The 19th International Conference of the Association of Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia is set to take place May 14-17 in Kyoto, . Hosted by Kyoto Institute of Technology, keynote speakers include Paul Richens (Professor, University of Bath), Joichi ”Joi” Ito (Director of the  Media Lab), and Hitoshi Abe (Chair, Professor, UCLA & Architect).

With the theme, ‘Rethinking Comprehensive Design: Speculative Counterculture,’ the conference is influenced by Buckminster Fuller’s holistic worldview as the concept of Comprehensive Design was proliferated by the publication of the Whole Earth Catalog, an American counterculture publication, by Stewart Brand in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 45 years have passed since then, and now the concept of Comprehensive Design has evolved from a utopian idea to an actualized design tool. More information after the break.

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How Shoddily Constructed Buildings Become Weapons of Mass Destruction

Maria Auxiliadora School / Architecture for Humanity

Why is it that the Bay Area can suffer a 6.9 and lose just 63 people, while Haiti suffers a slightly stronger quake and loses about 100,000? The answer: shoddy construction. As Bryan Walsh of points out, “We tend to focus on the size of an earthquake, but death toll has more to do with the quality of buildings. [...] Poverty — and even more, poor governance and corruption — is the multiplier of natural disasters. [...] That’s why one of the most vulnerable places in the world is south-central Asia.” Learn more about the dangers of poorly constructed buildings here and see what the “true value” of architecture is here.

MoMA’s Le Corbusier Exhibit is Must-See, Says Critic Alexandra Lange

Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) with Pierre Jeanneret. Villa Savoye Poissy-sur-Seine, France. 1929–31. Wood, aluminum, and plastic, 16 x 34 x 32″ (40.6 x 86.4 x 81.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris/FLC. Image Courtesy of MoMA.org

Although critiquing the exhibit for some “critical flaws” – namely the choice of theme and the lack of explanatory text – ’s review for The New Yorker praises the MoMA’s Le Corbusier exhibit, “An Atlas of Modern Landscapes,” as a “must-see” thanks to its varied displays, which show “the terrific span of Le Corbusier’s career in , space, and scale [...] If current architects take anything from the exhibition [...]  it should be the power of those big, gestural drawings, where visual and verbal argument vividly come together.” Read the rest of Lange’s critique at The New Yorker. 

John-Jacob-Astor Competition

Courtesy of EXPO REAL

In his day, John Jacob Astor’s name was closely associated with the most innovative real estate projects and pioneering commercial buildings as he became a successful, results-focused real estate tycoon. In his honor, EXPO REAL is now seeking the most extraordinary and fascinating contemporary commercial real estate projects through the medium of the John-Jacob-Astor Competition. All new and converted commercial real estate developments or mixed use real estate completed between 2007-2013 are eligible for submission. Submissions are due no later than September 13. For more information, please visit here.