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Forgotten Futures and Abandoned Ambitions: How the "Never Built" Franchise Took New York

09:30 - 3 February, 2017
Paul Rudolph's City Corridor design, commissioned in 1967 in response to Robert Moses' failed Lower Manhattan Expressway. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Books
Paul Rudolph's City Corridor design, commissioned in 1967 in response to Robert Moses' failed Lower Manhattan Expressway. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Books

In 2013 former Los Angeles Magazine architecture critic Greg Goldin and journalist Sam Lubell co-wrote and co-curated Never Built Los Angeles. The acclaimed book and accompanying exhibit at the Architecture and Design Museum of LA celebrated hundreds of projects that never quite reached fruition. Following its success, the duo published a second installment: Never Built New York. Having just sold out of its first pressing, the book has garnered similar praise as its predecessor. Goldin and Lubell are currently planning an accompanying exhibit at New York’s Queens Museum that will debut this fall. Fresh off their NYC book tour, I sat down with Mr. Goldin to discuss his latest book and the future of Never Built.

Thomas Musca: You’ve been able to snag two high-profile architects to write the foreword for each book: Thom Mayne for Never Built LA and Daniel Libeskind for Never Built NY. Why do you think they’re so willing to help? Why are they so interested in the unbuilt?

Greg Goldin: I think architects feel that a lot of the work they do is the stuff that we would describe as "on paper." It’s not something that got realized. So, I think that there’s a natural sympathy for this subject matter in general. We didn’t have to convince anyone: "Oh, overcome your worst fears, you’re going to be included in this book that is consigning you to the dung heap of history." I don’t think anybody ever felt that way. I think that they feel like these are things that they don’t want to see just disappear into the archives. There’s a sympathy that already exists. Sam and I knew Thom Mayne and we thought Thom would be good for this and he just said yes. The same is true with Daniel Libeskind. Our editor, Diana Murphy, is friends with him. We felt fortunate because he has an amazingly positive attitude for a guy who’s been batted about by how things work in the real world of trying to get stuff built. You can have the dream project, Freedom Tower, and get ground down by it. But Daniel, bless his heart, is kind of upbeat about the whole thing, and that comes across in what he had to say in the foreword.

Victor Gruen’s Welfare Island proposal for Roosevelt Island, designed in 1961. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Books Norman Bel Geddes + R. Buckminster Fuller’s proposal for the Dodger Dome, designed in 1955. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Books Santiago Calatrava's 2003 proposal for the 80 South Street Tower. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Books Frank Lloyd Wright’s Key Project for Ellis Island, proposed in 1959. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Books +14

How a Retired 88-Year-Old Solar Design Pioneer Became one of 2017's "Game Changers"

09:30 - 2 February, 2017
How a Retired 88-Year-Old Solar Design Pioneer Became one of 2017's "Game Changers", Knowles’ research into environmental conditions and theories about solar envelope zoning prefigured the parametric tools architects and planners use today. This scheme for an L.A. row-housing project demonstrates how dense developments—both low- and high-rise—could still provide equity in terms of natural sunlight. Image Courtesy of Ralph Knowles
Knowles’ research into environmental conditions and theories about solar envelope zoning prefigured the parametric tools architects and planners use today. This scheme for an L.A. row-housing project demonstrates how dense developments—both low- and high-rise—could still provide equity in terms of natural sunlight. Image Courtesy of Ralph Knowles

This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as part of their 2017 Game Changers issue. You can read about all of their 2017 Game Changers here.

I meet architect and educator Ralph Knowles on an unseasonably warm autumn day, even for Southern California. He greets me in shirtsleeves (his shirt is a tropical pattern of vines and branches) and leads me to a seat on the balcony of his condo. The building—a retirement community—is fairly new, but mature oak trees line the quiet street. As we talk about his career, the California oaks form a poignant backdrop. For more than five decades, Knowles, 88, has argued for an architecture that hews closely to nature’s forces and rhythms.

RIBA Awards 2017 Royal Gold Medal to Paulo Mendes da Rocha

15:00 - 1 February, 2017
RIBA Awards 2017 Royal Gold Medal to Paulo Mendes da Rocha, © Morley von Sternberg
© Morley von Sternberg

Update: Paulo Mendes da Rocha was today awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal at a ceremony at the RIBA headquarters in London. The article below was originally published when the award was announced on September 29, 2016.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has awarded its 2017 Royal Gold Medal to Paulo Mendes da Rocha. The 87-year-old is among Brazil's most celebrated architects, known for his special brand of Brazilian Brutalism which has had a dramatic effect in his home country, particularly in the city of São Paulo. The award continues a spectacularly successful year for Mendes da Rocha, who won the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale in May, and was announced the 2016 Premium Imperiale Laureate just weeks ago. Mendes da Rocha has also previously received the Pritzker Prize in 2006 and the Mies van der Rohe Prize for his Pinacoteca de São Paulo project in 2000.

Mendes da Rocha becomes the second Brazilian to win the RIBA's Gold Medal, after Oscar Niemeyer received the award in 1998. He joins other luminaries such as Zaha Hadid (2016), Frank Gehry (2000), Norman Foster (1983), and Frank Lloyd Wright (1941).

Layers and Lighting: How Top Architects Design Fashion Stores to Turn Heads by Day and Night

09:30 - 1 February, 2017

Flagship stores excite both fashion shoppers and designers alike due to their role as visionary laboratories for the latest trends and stimulating retail experiences. Architects have developed various ways to dress haute couture stores, from distinctive icons in the day to seductive night-time images. The images accompanying this article, created by the Portuguese architect and illustrator André Chiote, help to explore the graphic potential of famous brands like Dior, Prada and Tod's. The illustrations clearly reveal the various techniques of playing with diaphanous layers, intimate views inside or the contrast of light and shadow.

2017 ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards: The Finalists

11:19 - 31 January, 2017
2017 ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards: The Finalists

Following an exciting week of nominations, ArchDaily’s readers have evaluated over 3,000 projects and selected 5 finalists in each category of the Building of the Year Award.

Over 30,000 architects and enthusiasts participated in the nomination process, choosing projects that exemplify what it means to push architecture forward. These finalists are the buildings that have most inspired ArchDaily readers.

This diverse group of projects hail from all corners of the globe and from firms of different sizes and style. This year's selection includes some Building of the Year stalwarts alongside a healthy selection of lesser-known and emerging practices - but most importantly, they all capture architecture's capacity to spark positive change in the environment.

4 Chinese Vernacular Dwellings You Should Know About (Before They Disappear)

09:30 - 31 January, 2017
4 Chinese Vernacular Dwellings You Should Know About (Before They Disappear), © <a href=‘https://www.flickr.com/photos/justaslice/3051644043'>Flickr user Slices of Light</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en'>CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</a>
© Flickr user Slices of Light licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Vernacular architecture refers to designs which find their primary influence in local conditions: in climate, in materials, and in tradition. In a country as diverse as China, with 55 state-recognized ethnic minority groups and widely varying climates and topographies, many different vernacular dwelling styles have evolved as pragmatic solutions that accommodate the unique needs and limitations of their sites.

Rapid urbanization in China has favored high-rise apartment towers over traditional housing because of their ease of construction and the population density they enable, making vernacular dwellings increasingly rare throughout the country. Some firms, like MVRDV and Ben Wood’s Studio Shanghai, have taken note of the many benefits that vernacular dwellings provide, and have created projects that attempt to reconcile tradition with urbanization. Even if you aren't planning on building in China any time soon, the following housing styles have much to teach about what it means to live in a particular time and place. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does encompass the main types of vernacular dwellings seen throughout China.

A Tilting Horizon: Reflecting on 50 Issues of VOLUME and What's Yet to Come

04:00 - 31 January, 2017

A photo posted by Volume (@archisvolume) on

In this editorial from VOLUME's milestone 50th issue, Arjen Oosterman—the magazine's Editor-in-Chief—reflects on over ten years of cultural production and discourse and outlines what is to come. ArchDaily will be sharing a selection of the articles from this issue over the coming weeks.

Moving forward implies looking back. When we started this research engine called VOLUME in 2005, economic, political, and social conditions were very different to how they are today. The intention to rethink the agency of ‘beyond’ as driver for change inevitably means historicizing the trajectory of the VOLUME project so far. That said, we really didn’t want to turn VOLUME itself into the subject of reflection. So we’ll instead talk about the present and, in so doing, find history creeping its way in whether we like it or not.

The Architectural Stories Behind 7 Famous Album Covers

09:30 - 30 January, 2017
Image <a href='https://www.amazon.com/Physical-Graffiti-Led-Zeppelin/dp/B000002JSN/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=8831718525&linkCode=as2&tag=arch05-20&linkId=QFBKEXFXIXX7CVQT'>via amazon.com</a>
Image via amazon.com

The production of creative work often requires a very particular type of space—a temple, if you will, to the work being done. Architects and artists are open about how their living and working areas affect their practice, and musicians, of course, are no different. Perhaps this is why places and spaces are often featured on album covers. The art on an album cover is partially advertising, but it is also often a visual symbol of an entire period in the life of a musician. An album's cover artwork may depict the view a band saw coming into the studio every day, the building the album was recorded in, the city the musician grew up in, or myriad other more abstract connections. We will leave it to you to make sense of the connection between the 7 architectural landmarks featured on the following albums and the music their images envelop, but the stories behind the constructions themselves may help you make a more educated guess.

40 Projects Shortlisted for the 2017 EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies Van Der Rohe Award

07:40 - 30 January, 2017
40 Projects Shortlisted for the 2017 EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies Van Der Rohe Award, Courtesy of EUmiesAward17
Courtesy of EUmiesAward17

The European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation have announced the 40 shortlisted works that will compete for the 2017 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award. The jury has chosen from 355 nominated works and the shortlist highlights the opportunities and the trends of today’s European territory: cities, housing, heritage, and memory. The five finalists will be announced in mid-February and the winner and the Emerging Architect in mid-May. 

A third of the works tackle the challenge of contemporary architecture in relation with built heritage and a third of the work tackles the contemporary challenges of housing. The management of the historic urban landscape will be among the priorities highlighted by the ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage' in 2018.

"I would want the shortlisted schemes to demonstrate an interest in making places, in exploring convention and known typologies, in celebrating the pleasures of everyday use by a consideration of detail and an unspoken resistance to the current global tendency towards a self-referential architecture, one that belies context and the act of inhabitation." - Stephen Bates, Chairman of the Jury.

Seen the shortlist after the break.

4 Virtual Spaces in "Second Life" that Explore Alternatives in Religious Architecture

11:00 - 29 January, 2017
4 Virtual Spaces in "Second Life" that Explore Alternatives in Religious Architecture, Screenshots via Second Life
Screenshots via Second Life

If you’ve heard of Second Life, the 2000s-era web-based online world with millions of loyal “residents” who populated it with personal avatars, you’re likely to think it has become irrelevant or obsolete. But at the peak of its popularity, the site received a lot of attention for providing users with a potentially dangerous escape from reality—one so powerful that it was not unheard of to leave real jobs, friends, and families for those found within the site.

Second Life is the ultimate democratizer in space making. The vast web of locations in the site's virtual world, called sims, are almost completely user-generated. For as little as $75 a month, anyone with an internet connection and basic CAD skills can create, upload, and maintain whatever place they dream up. Sure, sometimes this “great equalizer” spits out such venues as SeDucTions and Sinners Burlesque, but more often than not, builders have responded to the complex opportunities and challenges presented by their unique situation with innovative design solutions.

One place to observe this is in the site’s many spiritual sims, in which religious architecture often responds to the displacement of religious authority in the digital world, since a lack of official (sanctioned) ties to tradition offers a designer more agency than in the real world. Read on to discover four cases that carve out a space for spirituality in Second Life and reveal some of what works—and doesn’t—in today's virtual sacred architecture.

The Record Company Headquarters that Revived 1950s Hollywood with Iconic Architecture

09:30 - 28 January, 2017
Courtesy of TASCHEN
Courtesy of TASCHEN

This essay by Alan Hess about the iconic Capitol Records building in Los Angeles was originally published as "The Architecture of the Capitol Records Tower." It is part of the book 75 Years of Capitol Records, published by TASCHEN, which is scheduled for release in February.

The president of Capitol Records was certain that a serious company could not operate out of a building that looked like the stack of records in a jukebox. So when Welton Becket, the new headquarters’ architect, showed him a model of the multistoried circular tower, Wallichs was annoyed. It would look like an advertising gimmick, Wallichs said, in a city where hot dogs were sold out of buildings shaped like hot dogs. Becket countered that the circular floor plan was more cost-efficient for the amount of usable space than a standard rectangular office building. Unimpressed, Wallichs told Becket to go back and design a conventional building.

The myth that a stack of records inspired the Tower has never died, though. As soon as the building opened, Hollywood columnist Bob Thomas wrote about it as “a monstrous stack of records.” Wallichs went on a public offensive from the start: “There was no intentional relationship between the shape of phonograph records and the circular design of the Tower” he insisted to the Chicago Tribune.

AD Classics: Park Hill Estate / Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith

04:00 - 27 January, 2017
AD Classics: Park Hill Estate / Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith, © Wikimedia user/Flickr user Paolo Margari (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)
© Wikimedia user/Flickr user Paolo Margari (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

From its hilltop vantage point in the east end of Sheffield, UK, the Park Hill Estate surveys the post-industrial city which sprawls westwards. Its prominent location makes the estate highly visible and it has, over time, become engrained in the popular consciousness – a part of the fabric of the city. Although today it divides opinion, following its completion in 1961 it was hailed as an exemplary model for social housing. Designed by architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith under the supervision of Sheffield’s visionary City Architect John Lewis Womersley, the estate now stands as testament to an era when young British architects were revolutionizing the field of residential architecture with radical housing programs.

The Park Hill Estate was part of Womersley’s strategy to introduce more high-density housing to Sheffield, which he believed would foster a stronger sense of community than the ubiquitous back-to-back terraces.[1] This policy went hand in hand with an urgent need for slum clearance; The Park, a slum so notorious for its high crime rate that it was known locally as ‘Little Chicago,’ was demolished to make way for the estate.

After renovation. Image © Paul Dobraszczyk © Paul Dobraszczyk © Paul Dobraszczyk © Paul Dobraszczyk +17

9 Unusual and Interesting Small Churches and Chapels, As Selected by Sketchfab

09:30 - 26 January, 2017
9 Unusual and Interesting Small Churches and Chapels, As Selected by Sketchfab

Once again, thanks to our collaboration with Sketchfab, here we have a selection of 9 virtual experiences through churches and chapels from Europe, Africa and the Americas. Each small building has its own special story, either geographical, political or structural—from one building that has experienced its own mini tour of Europe, to another which contains some rather unusual building materials. The diverse sites each seem to hold secrets, all of which can now be explored through 3D scanning technology. The fascinating variation in structural forms is also apparent, showcasing how even humble architecture has the potential to create a rich list of virtual spaces. 

For a more immersive experience, all of these models can be viewed on a virtual reality headset such as Google Cardboard.

William McDonough on Sustainability: "Carbon Is Not the Enemy"

09:30 - 25 January, 2017
William McDonough on Sustainability: "Carbon Is Not the Enemy", William McDonough + Partners and Aecom's <a href='http://www.archdaily.com/231211/nasa-sustainability-base-william-mcdonough-partners-and-aecom'>NASA Sustainability Base</a> in California. Image © William McDonough + Partners
William McDonough + Partners and Aecom's NASA Sustainability Base in California. Image © William McDonough + Partners

This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Why Architects Must Rethink Carbon (It's Not the Enemy We Face)."

Metropolis editor in chief Susan Szenasy sits down with William McDonough—the designer, author, and developer of Cradle to Cradle design—to understand why we must begin to employ a new language regarding carbon and sustainable design.

Susan Szenasy: Your article in Nature, “Carbon is Not the Enemy,” really caught my attention. You're redefining how we think about carbon, what it is, and what we should be looking for. It seems like a new phase that you're leading us to. How did you come up with this idea, that there needs to be a new language on carbon? Can you trace back your thought process?

William McDonough: [With the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015,] everybody kept saying, "Oh, we have to do this, to reduce our carbon 20% by 2020." Well, when you think about that Susan, it's absurd. What you're telling us is what you're not going to do. You’re going to reduce your badness by 20% by 2020? That would be like getting in a taxi and saying to the driver, "Quick, I'm not going to the airport." It doesn't tell us what you're going to do.

The Importance of Human Scale When Sketching

08:00 - 25 January, 2017

I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies. (Le Corbusier)

Even with the evolution of technology and the popularization of advanced computer programs, most architecture projects still begin with a blank sheet of paper and the casual strokes of a pen. Rather than simply representing a project, the sketch allows us to examine the project, understand the landscape or topography, or communicate an idea to another team member or even the client. Its main purpose, however, is to stimulate the creative process and overcome the fear of blank paper. Sketches are usually made with imprecise, overlapping, ambiguous strokes, accompanied by annotations, arrows, and lack great technical accuracy and graphic refinement.

AD Classics: The Parthenon / Ictinus and Callicrates

04:00 - 25 January, 2017
AD Classics: The Parthenon / Ictinus and Callicrates, The Acropolis, the plateau on which the Parthenon stands, served as a fortified citadel in Athens’ Mycenaean past. ImageCourtesy of Flickr user Konstantinos Dafalias (licensed under CC BY 2.0)
The Acropolis, the plateau on which the Parthenon stands, served as a fortified citadel in Athens’ Mycenaean past. ImageCourtesy of Flickr user Konstantinos Dafalias (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

It is unsurprising that Athens, the city widely considered to be the cradle of Western civilization, would have made as celebrated a contribution to architecture as it has to countless other human pursuits. Built on a hilltop above the contemporary city, the weathered marble complex known as the Acropolis stands as a faded remnant from the former city-state’s ancient glory years, surrounded by the products of the centuries that followed. The greatest of these landmarks, the Parthenon, captures an age long past when Athens was the wealthiest and most powerful city-state in Greece and beyond.

Courtesy of Flickr user Kristof Verslype (licensed under CC BY 2.0) The west pediment of the reconstruction of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee depicts Athena and Poseidon fighting for the rule of Attica while the other gods look on. ImageCourtesy of Flickr user damian entwistle (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0) After almost 2,500 years, the Parthenon still stands tall above the city of Athens. ImageCourtesy of Flickr user Aris Gionis (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0) The Parthenon’s columns, being narrower than typical Doric proportions dictated, served to reduce the bulk of the temple and make it appear more airy and graceful. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user Jebulon (licensed under CC0 1.0) +11

Emilio Ambasz: “I Detest Writing Theories, I Prefer Writing Fables”

09:30 - 24 January, 2017
Casa de Retiro Espiritual. Image Courtesy of Emilio Ambasz
Casa de Retiro Espiritual. Image Courtesy of Emilio Ambasz

While many of the pioneers of green architecture could arguably be criticized as technocratic and dry, this has never applied to Emilio Ambasz. His concept of “green over gray” has been pushing the debate around sustainability forwards since the 1970s, but alongside this concept he has developed a critical approach to architectural meaning and form-making which competes with many of architecture's more poetic practitioners. Ahead Vladimir Belogolovsky's upcoming exhibition of Ambasz's work, “Emilio Ambasz: Architecture Toward Nature,” which is on show at the Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Center from February 6th – 28th, here Belogolovsky shares his interview with the architect – the latest interview in his “City of Ideas” column.

Vladimir Belogolovsky: I read that you knew you wanted to be an architect at an early age and when you were 11, you even dared to propose an exhibition on American architecture in Buenos Aires. What was it that prompted your initial interest in architecture?

Emilio Ambasz: I was interested in architecture since I was nine, I think. I am a person of steady ideas. Once I have an idea that’s it, I persist. I wanted to become an architect and that led to my applying to Princeton. I sent my application with a wax seal telling them that I went to bed every night with the idea of wanting to be an architect and woke up every morning with this idea…

Banca degli Occhi in Venice-Mestre. Image Courtesy of Emilio Ambasz Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall. Image Courtesy of Emilio Ambasz Casa de Retiro Espiritual. Image Courtesy of Emilio Ambasz Ospedale dell’Angelo in Venice-Mestre. Image Courtesy of Emilio Ambasz +36

The Unexpected Stories Behind 10 Skyscrapers That Were Actually Built

04:00 - 24 January, 2017
The Unexpected Stories Behind 10 Skyscrapers That Were Actually Built, Torre Velasca. Image © José Tomás Franco
Torre Velasca. Image © José Tomás Franco

As long as there have been buildings mankind has sought to construct its way to the heavens. From stone pyramids to steel skyscrapers, successive generations of designers have devised ever more innovative ways to push the vertical boundaries of architecture. Whether stone or steel, however, each attempt to reach unprecedented heights has represented a vast undertaking in terms of both materials and labor – and the more complex the project, the greater the chance for things to go awry.

Ryugyong Hotel. Image © José Tomás Franco Robot Building. Image © José Tomás Franco CCTV Headquarters. Image © José Tomás Franco Cayan Tower. Image © José Tomás Franco +21