Turkey: Fighting for Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Space

Courtesy of Plataforma Urbana

The impending destruction of the last public park in Istanbul was the straw that broke the camel’s back last Tuesday. When a peaceful demonstration to save Taksim Gezi Park was met with violent police retaliation, the situation quickly escalated into a nationwide protest against the increasingly authoritarian Turkish government. At this moment all across the country, thousands are standing up not only for Gezi Park but for the right to shape the place that they call home.

More information on the situation in Turkey after the break.  

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Governor Cuomo’s Solution for Ravaged Homes in NYC’s Coastal Region

© Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

After months of debate, the United States Congress has passed a bill that will allocate $51 billion to Hurricane Sandy relief helping the thousands who lost their homes and businesses to the devastating storm last October.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $400 million of the aid will be used to fund New York’s buyout program, an initiative to help address the damaged homes and coastline.  The program is two-fold; in part it will help reimburse the property damage caused by the storm, but the initiative has a larger goal, which is to address the nature of coastal flooding and create a barrier that would mitigate the damage created to the coast by storm surges in the future.  Since the storm, there have been many suggestions as to how to prepare for the type of damage brought on by of 2012 and Hurricane Irene of 2011.  These suggestions range from flood gates to barrier reefs. Cuomo’s buyout program, as reported by the Architect’s Newspaper Blog, hopes to encourage residents along vulnerable flood zones to sell their land to the city for the development of a natural coast that would absorb the impact of strong winds and storm surges.

More after the break…

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George Square Controversy

George Square Competition Entry / John McAslan + Partners

There has been some controversy over the past few months for the George Square redesign in , , since we last announced the six shortlisted architecture firms in December.  Following the submission and assessment by a jury in January, the project went through an upheaval when Labour leader of the Glasgow City Council, Gordon Matheson announced that the submitted designs would be scrapped in favor of a “facelift” for the square.  Numerous reports on the Herald Scotland present conflicting arguments for the turn of events and the abrupt change in plans have left the council, jury, design firms and the public in discontent.  It is unclear what the status of the project is today, but for the moment it is on hold as the council discusses ways in which to proceed.

Follow us after the break for more.

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Calatrava Criticized for Valencia Complex

© Flickr user FromtheNorth

Praised for his masterful blends of architecture and engineering, yet criticized for rarely sticking to a budget, Valencia-native Santiago Calatrava is no stranger to controversy. His latest project making headlines is the largest landmark in Valencia and the second most-visited cultural complex in : the City of Arts and Sciences. 

The controversy after the break… (more…)

AIA Announces Legislative Agenda for 113th Congress

Capitol Building © Karissa Rosenfield

The American Institute of Architects () today announced a five-point legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, targeting job creation for small businesses as a top priority. The agenda is the product of months of collaboration and dialogue with AIA members and leaders. More than 3,400 AIA members offered their views about what policies the AIA should advance through the annual Call for Issues last fall.

According to Mickey Jacob, FAIA, 2013 AIA President, the AIA’s agenda “reflects the interests of our members, which not so coincidentally reflects the priorities of the American people. These five priorities for the next two years have the creation of jobs as their centerpiece while also seeking to shore up our aging infrastructure, make our communities more resilient and assure we invest in the next generation of architects.”

The five priorities are: (more…)

AIA President Mickey Jacob Urges Congress to Aid Sandy Relief

Photography: The Rockaways, Post-Sandy © Amanda Kirkpatrick

In response an outrage that broke out amongst Democrats and Republicans, after House Speaker John Boehner failed to vote for Sandy relief before the end of the Congressional session two days ago, the House of Representatives have approved a $9.7 billion relief measure to aid flood victims of . This is good news, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) recently warned that it would soon run out of funding if no measures were taken. Senate approval is likely to come later in the day and a second congressional vote is scheduled to take place on January 15 for a larger $51 billion request.

Understanding the importance of issuing this federal support,  President Mickey Jacob has offer Congress three key objects for helping these communities recover.

Read AIA President Jacob’s letter to congress and his three objectives after the break…

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The Biggest Complaint of 2012: Insufficient Pay

© Tulane Public Relations

For many young architects the biggest complaint of 2012 has been insufficient pay in exchange for hard work and long hours under the guise of an . As if graduating with a degree in architecture is not grueling enough, NCARB, the US architectural licensing board also requires three years (amounting to thousands of hours) of training under a licensed architect, followed by a seven-part exam.  Becoming an architect takes an exceptional amount of commitment, time and money.  College graduates are already shaking under the weight of student loans and a stunted economy and job market; but what makes matters worse is that architecture as a profession has gained a reputation for exploiting recent graduates by hiring them as interns with little or no .

2013 can be the year to turn this trend around.  Is the architectural profession willing to make this resolution?

Follow us after the break for more. (more…)

AIA Comments on “Fiscal Cliff” Vote

The American Institute of Architects () today issued the following statement in reaction to the House and Senate votes approving the “Fiscal Cliff” deal negotiated by Congressional leaders earlier this week. The statement should be attributed to President Mickey Jacob, FAIA:

“On the plus side, the agreement prevents a tax increase on millions of Americans and small businesses. It also extends several business tax incentives that help create jobs and promote design and construction, including for schools and energy efficient homes.”

More after the break…

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Zaha Hadid Seeing Double in China

Wangjing SOHO: East © ZHA

Eleven  projects are currently being constructed in , however one of them has the international architecture mogul seeing double. Unfortunately, Hadid has found herself in a race to finish the Wangjing SOHO office and retail complex in Beijing before pirates complete their doppelgänger version in Chongqing, a megacity near the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau.

As reported on Spiegel Online, the Dame claimed that the pirates are currently in the lead and building faster than SOHO. The original, which is set for completion in 2014, features three curved towers whose “shimmering”, metallic skin unifies the complex as each volume appears to “dance” around each other.

Hadid is not the first to be mimicked in China. Last year, a small UNESCO-protected village in Austria, Hallstatt, was recreated, brick for brick, in the subtropical district of Guangdong, China. You can find the complete story here. (more…)

Update: Nasher Sculpture Center Controversy

© Tim Hursley

As an update to the article we posted several months ago regarding the disputed ‘hot spot’ in between Renzo Piano‘s Nasher Sculpture Center and the adjacent residential tower, the controversy is still a hot issue. The reflection caused by the sculpture center is still something they have not been able to solve. Any solution will be costly and difficult. The Nasher people have recommended louvers covering the tower’s south face. The tower people say that this will require a computer-generated engine for every window, about two years to study, even more time to install. And it may not work. More information after the break. (more…)

Winners of the Future Prentice Competition Announced

First Prize: “The Buildings are sleeping, you should go and wake them up, she says.”

Amidst the longstanding, heated battled to save ’s iconic Prentice Woman’s Hospital, the results of the 2012 Chicago Prize Competition: Future Prentice have been announced! Presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, in collaboration with and the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the international competition intended to act as a platform for public debate about the future of the controversial Chicago landmark.

More information and the winning proposals after the break… (more…)

Prentice Granted Temporary Landmark Status as Preservationists Sue

Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Estate of / Strawn.Sierralta with Plural Design via Architecture Foundation

Cook County Judge Neil Cohen has granted Bertand Goldberg’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital a temporary reprieve after preservationist filed a lawsuit against the city and the Chicago Commission on Public Landmarks yesterday afternoon. Plaintiffs, Landmarks Illinois and the National Trust for Historic Preservation claim that the commission “acted arbitrarily and exceeded its authority,” after granting and subsequently revoking Prentice landmark status in just a short afternoon on November 1. These proceedings, which typically takes months, followed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to publicly support Northwestern University’s plan to demolish the vacant icon.

More after the break… (more…)

The Threat of Coastal Flooding

Twitter User: @c_heller “Another photo out of Breezy Point. The damage is stupefying. (Frank Franklin II, AP) http://twitpic.com/b8sg51″

In light of the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, as politicians quabble over the existence of , we cannot escape the reality that our cities are vulnerable to natural disasters.   Coastal cities face the threat of flooding as sea levels rise and storms, as we’ve seem over the past few years, have had more severe impacts on our cities.  The duty of architects, planners, and leaders is to build resilient cities with infrastructure that can stand up to the forces of natural disasters.

Join us after the break for a list of some of the largest port cities vulnerable to coastal flooding… (more…)

Mayor Emanuel supports Prentice Hospital Demolition

© C. William Brubaker via Flickr user UIC Digital Collections

Despite strong opposition from preservationists and architects world-wide, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced his decision to support the demolition of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital. In a op-ed piece released by the Tribune, Emanuel supported his stance by arguing that Northwestern’s new biomedical research facility would “bring 2,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment” to . Emanuel believes Goldberg’s “vision is alive in beyond one building” and allowing Northwestern to build the new medical center is crucial in keeping at the forefront of scientific innovation.

Emanuel stated, “Chicago’s architectural legacy is part of a larger story of a city that has been a trailblazer from the beginning and remains on the forefront of design and dance, medicine and manufacturing. To honor that legacy and build on it for the next generation of Chicagoans, we cannot simply preserve the past: we must promote opportunity for the future.”

In return, Northwestern has committed to “include a Chicago architect in its design process, adhere to the city’s minority hiring requirements, preserve other historic buildings and ensure public safety around the new building.”

via Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times

Urban Development in the Bloomberg Years

High Line Aerial View, from West 30th Street, looking West toward the Empire State Building. © Iwan Baan

Urban planning is delicately intertwined with government.  As much as architects and designers try to avoid the overwrought laws and codes and prescriptive government policies that guide the construction and development of the urban , they are very much a shaping force in cities such as New York.  Ask any architect working in a such as NYC and they will likely describe the bureaucratic hassles of working with outdated zoning regulations and restrictive building codes.  In this NPR segment Leonard Lopate interviews New York Magazine’s architecture critic Justin Davidson to discusses the impact of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s planning policies on ’s urban development.

Join us after the break for the link. (more…)

Renzo Piano is not an architect

© Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Well, according to the UK’s Architects Registration Board (ARB) he isn’t.

Last week, received an email from the ARB asking them to refrain from calling Renzo Piano and Daniel Libeskind an architect, since “they are not registered with the ARB they are not entitled to be described as such”.

The statement said: “BD referred to two eminent individuals as architects – neither of whom are on the UK register. This is one of a number of peripheral areas, and architects often contact us when they are concerned about the use of the title ‘architect’ in the press although no breach of the legislation in fact occurs.” (more…)

Two Architects investigate the Evolution of #OWS

Liberty Plaza © Jonathan Massey and Brett Snyder

Our friends at Design Observer’s Places Journal have shared with us two fascinating articles, written by architects Jonathan Massey and Brett Snyder, that explore the physical and virtual evolution of Occupy Wall Street (#) as it transformed from the privately owned of Zuccotti Park into the bustling micro-city of Liberty Plaza sustained by online media.

To learn how OWS has influenced architecture and urbanism, Massey and Snyder asks the following questions: What’s the layout of this place? What are its rules, and who owns it? How does its design shape possibilities for individual and collective action?

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Naples Event: An Architectural and Political Response to the Crisis

In the context of the ongoing financial crisis, cities and citizens are going through profound and as yet uncharted transformations. Tomorrow in Naples, , UN-Habitat’s World Urban Forum will bring together mayors, international organizations, governments and civil- society organizations to discuss the Urban Future.

This debate aims to blur the boundaries between designers and politicians; researchers and eco- nomists, to highlight new policies and practices which do not require funding from strained public coffers. Can new forms of city development be thought about without the contribution of private enterprise? Can the political and design worlds find “Common ground” in the face of urban decay and austerity? How can policy making and come together to bring about appropriate norms for improving urbanites’ lives? This will be one of the focus areas for the ANMA Architects’ new foundation ANMA-F. (more…)