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Why the Future of Civic Architecture Lies in Small-Scale Structures

09:30 - 19 August, 2016
Why the Future of Civic Architecture Lies in Small-Scale Structures, Richärd + Bauer’s Arabian Library in Scottsdale, Arizona, won an IIDA Metropolis Smart Environments Award in 2009 for its groundbreaking approach to both sustainability and community needs. The building’s form and rusted-steel cladding were inspired by slot canyons in the Arizona desert. Image Courtesy of Richärd + Bauer
Richärd + Bauer’s Arabian Library in Scottsdale, Arizona, won an IIDA Metropolis Smart Environments Award in 2009 for its groundbreaking approach to both sustainability and community needs. The building’s form and rusted-steel cladding were inspired by slot canyons in the Arizona desert. Image Courtesy of Richärd + Bauer

This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Good-bye Grand Structures: The Small-Scale Civic Architecture of Today."

The city hall of my current hometown, Scottsdale, Arizona, gives no hint of any sort of civic function to the boulevard on which it sits. You enter it from the parking lot in back. The only reason I have been there was as part of a team presenting our credentials in a design selection process. My other dealings with government have been online, via mail, or at suburban locations where I have gone to handle such matters as smog tests. I vote by mail.

The big push in American local, state, and federal government is to take everything possible online and off-site and to make whatever remains as minimal and anonymous as possible. The actual operations of government have long taken place in back rooms where politicians and bureaucrats have done the real work. Yet they were often encased in grand structures that gave us a sense of identity and pride in our government while also serving as open sites where we could encounter our civic agents and one another. As a result, we live with a heritage of civic monuments that proclaim our investment in deliberation and democracy, but we build very few, if any, such structures today. Instead, we are looking to get rid of whatever relics of such a history of civic architecture we can—the governor of Illinois would like to sell the James R. Thompson Center, designed by Helmut Jahn in 1982–85, and only the specificity of the grand classical edifices that predate that Postmodern monument prevents other politicians from trying the same. Civic buildings cost money to build and maintain, and their formal spaces sit empty most of the time.

9 Lessons For Post-Architecture-School Survival

08:00 - 19 August, 2016

We’ve already talked about this. You’re preparing your final project (or thesis project). You’ve gone over everything in your head a thousand times; the presentation to the panel, your project, your model, your memory, your words. You go ahead with it, but think you'll be lousy. Then you think just the opposite, you will be successful and it will all be worth it. Then everything repeats itself and you want to call it quits.  You don’t know when this roller coaster is going to end. 

Until the day arrives. You present your project. Explain your ideas. The committee asks you questions. You answer. You realize you know more than you thought you did and that none of the scenarios you imaged over the past year got even close to what really happened in the exam. The committee whisper amongst themselves. The presentation ends and they ask you to leave for a while. Outside you wait an eternity, the minutes crawling slowly. Come in, please. The commission recites a brief introduction and you can’t tell whether you were right or wrong. The commission gets to the point.

You passed! Congratulations, you are now their new colleague and they all congratulate you on your achievement. The joy washes over you despite the fatigue that you’ve dragging around with you. The adrenaline stops pumping. You spend weeks or months taking a much-deserved break. You begin to wonder: Now what?

The university, the institution that molded you into a professional (perhaps even more so than you would have liked), hands you the diploma and now you face the job market for the first time (that is if you haven’t worked before). Before leaving and defining your own markers for personal success (success is no longer measured with grades or academic evaluations), we share 9 lessons to face the world now that you're an architect.

Studying the "Manual of Section": Architecture's Most Intriguing Drawing

09:30 - 18 August, 2016
Studying the "Manual of Section": Architecture's Most Intriguing Drawing, Phillips Exeter Academy Library by Louis I. Kahn (1972). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects
Phillips Exeter Academy Library by Louis I. Kahn (1972). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects

For Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki and David J. Lewis, the section “is often understood as a reductive drawing type, produced at the end of the design process to depict structural and material conditions in service of the construction contract.” A definition that will be familiar to most of those who have studied or worked in architecture at some point. We often think primarily of the plan, for it allows us to embrace the programmatic expectations of a project and provide a summary of the various functions required. In the modern age, digital modelling software programs offer ever more possibilities when it comes to creating complex three dimensional objects, making the section even more of an afterthought.

With their Manual of Section, the three founding partners of LTL architects engage with section as an essential tool of architectural design, and let’s admit it, this reading might change your mind on the topic. For the co-authors, “thinking and designing through section requires the building of a discourse about section, recognizing it as a site of intervention.” Perhaps, indeed, we need to understand the capabilities of section drawings both to use them more efficiently and to enjoy doing so.

Bagsværd Church by Jørn Utzon (1976). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects Notre Dame du Haut by Le Corbusier (1954). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects United States Pavilion at Expo '67 by Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao (1967). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright (1959). Published in Manual of Section by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis published by Princeton Architectural Press (2016). Image © LTL Architects +15

Forensic Architecture Digitally Reconstruct Secret Syrian Torture Prison from the Memories of Survivors

20:02 - 17 August, 2016

Forensic Architecture, a research agency based at the University of London, in collaboration with Amnesty International, has created a 3D model of Saydnaya, a Syrian torture prison, using architectural and acoustic modeling. The project, which was commissioned in 2016, reconstructs the architecture of the secret detention center from the memory of several survivors, who are now refugees in Turkey.

Since the beginnings of the Syrian crisis in 2011, tens of thousands of Syrians have been taken into a secret network of prisons and detention centers run by the Assad government for a variety of alleged crimes opposing the regime. After passing through a series of interrogations and centers, many prisoners are taken to Saydnaya, a notoriously brutal “final destination,” where torture is used not to obtain information, but rather only to terrorize and often kill detainees.

Located about 25 kilometers north of Damascus, Saydnaya stands in a German-designed building dating from the 1970s. In recent years, no meaningful visits from independent journalists or monitoring groups have been permitted, so no recent photographs or other accounts exist of its interior space, except for the memories of Saydnaya survivors.

“Beyond the City”: A Captivating Look at the Design of the Hinterland

09:30 - 17 August, 2016
Courtesy of University of Texas Press
Courtesy of University of Texas Press

Felipe Correa’s latest book “Beyond the City: Resource Extraction Urbanism in South America” takes us to a region that architects and urban designers typically have neglected—the hinterland. The South American hinterland provides a unique subject of analysis as it has typically been urbanized for its natural resources, which are tethered back to the coastal cities where these resources are either consumed or distributed to global markets. Within this context, the hinterland is viewed as a frontier whose wilderness is to be tamed, put to work, and territorialized through infrastructure and urban design. Beyond the City provides an insightful look into these processes and the unique urban experiments that emerged in South America. Organized by five case studies, Beyond the City is tied together by what Correa has termed “resource extraction urbanism,” which he links to “new and experimental urban identities in the context of government-sponsored resource extraction frontiers.” Written as a lucid historical account that anchors the discussion within the political, economic, and social context, as well as within global design discourse, the book is also projective—setting the table for a series of questions on how design can act in these landscapes.

The Top Architecture Résumé/CV Designs

06:00 - 17 August, 2016
The Top Architecture Résumé/CV Designs

A few months ago we put out a call for the best architecture résumé/CV designs. Between ArchDaily and ArchDaily Brasil we received over 450 CVs from nearly every continent. We witnessed the overwhelming variety and cultural customs of the résumé: some include portraits, others do not; some include personal information about gender and marital status; others do not. In the end, however, we based our selection on the CVs that stood out from the hundreds of submissions. We looked for CVs that transmitted the personality of the designer, their ability to communicate visually and verbally, and perhaps, the most intangible criteria for evaluation—the "creativity" of the CV. The documents below represent the diversity of styles and formats that just might land you a job at your dream firm.

Why Wolf Prix Is Pushing For New Methods of Robotic Construction

09:30 - 16 August, 2016
Why Wolf Prix Is Pushing For New Methods of Robotic Construction, View of "The Cloud" inside the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition in Shenzhen, China. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au
View of "The Cloud" inside the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition in Shenzhen, China. Image Courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au

This article was originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "Wolf Prix on Robotic Construction and the Safe Side of Adventurous Architecture."

In response to a conservative and sometimes fragmented building industry, some architects believe that improving and automating the construction process calls for a two-front war: first, using experimental materials and components, and second, assembling them in experimental ways. Extra-innovative examples include self-directed insect-like robots that huddle together to form the shape of a building and materials that snap into place in response to temperature or kinetic energy.

The automation battle has already been fought (and won) in other industries. With whirring gears and hissing pneumatics, rows and rows of Ford-ist mechanical robot arms make cars, aircraft, and submarines in a cascade of soldering sparks. So why shouldn’t robotic construction become commonplace for buildings, too?

How to Ensure that Your Online Architecture Portfolio is On Point

09:30 - 15 August, 2016
How to Ensure that Your Online Architecture Portfolio is On Point

Why should I even have an online portfolio?

A portion of working in architecture includes having to market yourself and your skills. "One minute networking" is a skill that many architects learn in order to be successful in the creative field, but having the gift of gab requires you to put your money where your mouth is. If you have an online portfolio which is accessible with just an internet internet connection and a digital device capable of viewing it, your work is always conveniently available during your networking conversations. It's also helpful for sharing your work in online conversations: while a pdf of your print portfolio can really only be sent by email, practically every messaging app or direct messaging service built into social networks will allow you to send a link, allowing you to take advantage of an opportunity even when you weren't expecting one to arise. Finally, if you make it right your website can even do some of the advertising and networking for you.

The most important thing to remember is that like your resume or print portfolio, an online portfolio is a tool to help you advance your career, so it must be useful towards your goals. Therefore instead of asking yourself why you should have an online portfolio, you should ask yourself what those goals are, and how your online portfolio can be optimized to help you achieve them.

Now that we've gotten that question out of the way, here are 8 other questions to ask yourself:

AD Classics: Proposal for a Hospital in Venice / Le Corbusier

04:30 - 15 August, 2016
AD Classics: Proposal for a Hospital in Venice / Le Corbusier, Model. Image © Fondation Le Corbusier (FLC/ADAGP)
Model. Image © Fondation Le Corbusier (FLC/ADAGP)

Le Corbusier made an indelible mark on Modernist architecture when he declared “une maison est une machine-à-habiter” (“a house is a machine for living”). His belief that architecture should be as efficient as machinery resulted in such proposals such as the Plan Voisin, a proposal to transform the Second Empire boulevards of Paris into a series of cruciform skyscrapers rising from a grid of freeways and open parks.[1] Not all of Le Corbusier’s concepts, however, were geared toward such radical urban transformation. His 1965 proposal for a hospital in Venice, Italy, was notable in its attempt at seeking aesthetic harmony with its unique surroundings: an attempt not to eradicate history, but to translate it.

Model. Image © Fondation Le Corbusier (FLC/ADAGP) Plan Plan Situation Plan +7

MMK+ & Taehyung Park Transform Abandoned Island in Seoul Into New Cultural Hub

16:00 - 13 August, 2016
MMK+ & Taehyung Park Transform Abandoned Island in Seoul Into New Cultural Hub, Courtesy of MMK+
Courtesy of MMK+

Within the sprawling metropolis of Seoul lies an island "forgotten by time." Sitting beneath the Hangang Bridge on the River Han, the floating lot is now nothing but a relic of a bygone era. Formerly a popular man-made beach and recreational area, the past forty years have seen the site erased from the collective consciousness of the city. To breathe new life into the island, the Nodeul Island Dream competition was opened, and Seoul-based MMK+ and Taehyung Park's proposal 'Reconfigured Ground' took first prize. 

The proposal looks at the evolution of the island from constructed paradise to overgrown void. Throughout this evolution, an ecosystem has developed and gradual formal changes have taken place. The remote character of the island - currently accentuated by its abandonment - is to be transformed into a positive condition, as it becomes a cultural haven within the bustling city. The architects' design aims to "restore the wild nature of the island while re-programming its natural features as a cultural venue," once again making it a destination point for inhabitants of the city. 

Courtesy of MMK+ Courtesy of MMK+ Courtesy of MMK+ Courtesy of MMK+ +16

Pezo von Ellrichshausen Discuss Their Philosophy of Human-Scaled Architecture

09:30 - 13 August, 2016
Pezo von Ellrichshausen Discuss Their Philosophy of Human-Scaled Architecture, Vara Pavilion / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
Vara Pavilion / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

For Mauricio Pezo and Sofía Von Ellrichshausen, the architect's job is about much more than dealing with functional issues, as well as social issues, sustainability, and safety. “Of course architecture from its very essence is solving problems, and the problems constantly change,” says von Ellrichshausen in this interview with The Architectural Review outside their Vara Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. “But probably the life span of architecture is many times larger than the problem that it addresses initially. Therefore we think of architecture more in terms of this larger span and hopefully it might embody a set of values and not necessarily propose a solution.”

Project Meganom's Yuri Grigoryan: “Freedom is When You Realize that Anything is Possible”

09:30 - 12 August, 2016
Project Meganom's Yuri Grigoryan: “Freedom is When You Realize that Anything is Possible”, Barn, Nikolo-Lenivets, Kaluga District, Russia, 2006. Image © Yuri Grigoryan
Barn, Nikolo-Lenivets, Kaluga District, Russia, 2006. Image © Yuri Grigoryan

Yuri Grigoryan founded Project Meganom in 1999 in Moscow with his partners Alexandra Pavlova, Iliya Kuleshov, and Pavel Ivanchikov. Together, the group all graduated from Moscow’s Architectural Institute, MArchI in 1991, the year of the Soviet Union’s collapse, and then practiced at the studio of Moscow architect Alexander Larin. Today Project Meganom is headed by Grigoryan, Iliya Kuleshov, Artem Staborovsky, and Elena Uglovskaya, and keeps in close contact with the theoretical side of architecture: Grigoryan teaches at his alma mater and until recently he was the Director of Education at Strelka Institute, founded in 2009 under the creative leadership of Rem Koolhaas, while in 2008 the practice was involved in the Venice Architecture Biennale with their San Stae project for curator Yuri Avvakumov's “BornHouse” exhibition. All of this gives Grigoryan an interesting overview of Russia's unique architectural context. In this interview from his “City of Ideas” column, Vladimir Belogolovsky speaks with Grigoryan about the issues facing Russian architecture and how Project Meganom has responded to those challenges.

Vladimir Belogolovsky: You travel often and participate in student critiques in the West and in Russia. Do you notice any particular difference in approaches?

Yuri Grigoryan: First, the West is not homogeneous. For example, in the late 1980s, during what was then a very rare trip to the USA I had a chance to visit some of the leading studios and schools. I remember how during our visit to the IIT in Chicago the students would sit and methodically place four pieces of paper, forming laconic spaces precisely following Mies van der Rohe’s principles. That was very strange and I did not see any influences coming from outside of that particular school of thought. I could say the same about Russia. At the height of the Constructivist movement, the teachings of our great educators Nikolai Ladovsky and his students Ivan Lamtsov and Mikhail Turkus at Vkhutemas lead to the situation where the figure of a teacher lost its meaning; it was replaced with methodology that was to be obeyed as if it were a sort of religion.

Barn, Nikolo-Lenivets, Kaluga District, Russia, 2006. Image © Yuri Grigoryan Theater Mercury, Moscow, 2006. Image © Marco Zanta Molochny Lane residential building, Moscow, 2003. Image © Yuri Palmin Theater Mercury, Moscow, 2006. Image Courtesy of Project Meganom +15

See Oscar Niemeyer's Unfinished Architecture for Lebanon's International Fair Grounds

08:00 - 12 August, 2016
See Oscar Niemeyer's Unfinished Architecture for Lebanon's International Fair Grounds, Theater. International Fairgrounds of Tripoli / Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Anthony Saroufim
Theater. International Fairgrounds of Tripoli / Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Anthony Saroufim

On the grounds of the Tripoli International Fair (Rashid Karameh International Exhibition Center) in Lebanon, one finds one of the five largest exhibition centers in the world [1]. The 15 structures, designed by legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1963, remain unfinished due to the project's abandonment during the country's civil war in 1975. 

Arch. International Fairgrounds of Tripoli / Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Anthony Saroufim Theater. International Fairgrounds of Tripoli / Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Anthony Saroufim Enclosed Theater. International Fairgrounds of Tripoli / Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Anthony Saroufim Theater interior. International Fairgrounds of Tripoli / Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Anthony Saroufim +24

Gallery: David Adjaye's National Museum of African American History and Culture Photographed by Paul Clemence

14:00 - 11 August, 2016
Gallery: David Adjaye's National Museum of African American History and Culture Photographed by Paul Clemence, © Paul Clemence
© Paul Clemence

Photographer Paul Clemence of ARCHI-PHOTO has shared with us images of Adjaye Associates' nearly-completed Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The building draws inspiration from the nearby Washington Monument, mirroring the 17-degree angle of its capstone in the museum’s tiered corona. Adjaye has described the building’s ornamental bronze lattice as “a historical reference to African American craftsmanship.” The skin can also be modulated to control the transparency and amount of sunlight reaching the interior spaces. The building will open to the public on September 24, 2016.

Continue on for Clemence’s full photoset.

© Paul Clemence © Paul Clemence © Paul Clemence © Paul Clemence +34

Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

10:45 - 11 August, 2016
Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

“Utopia”: the word was coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516 when he started questioning the possibility of a perfect world where society would suffer no wars or insecurities, a place where everyone would prosper and fulfill both individual and collective ambitions. Yet such a perfect society can only exist with the creation of perfect built infrastructure, which possibly explains why architects have often fantasized on megastructures and how to “order” this dreamed society.

Megastructures, as imagined after World War 2 by the CIAM international congress and Team 10, are now regularly revived with the intent to solve social issues on a mass scale. Notably, architecture students have shown a renewed interest for walking cities as first conceived by Ron Herron of Archigram in the 1960s, assuming that megastructures could solve major crises in remote areas. Just as ETSA Madrid student Manuel Dominguez developed a nomadic city to encourage reforestation in Spain for his 2013 thesis project, Woodbury University graduate Rana Ahmadi has recently designed a walking city that would destroy land mines on its way. But these utopian projects also involve a considerable amount of technology, raising the question of how megastructures and technology can work together to give societies a new beginning.

Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark +25

Miami’s Porsche Design Tower: A Bland Monument of Hubris in the Face of Climate Catastrophe

10:40 - 10 August, 2016

Florida is a state in denial. Miami is in the midst of one of the largest building booms in the region's history. Dense crane canopies pepper the city's skyline as they soar over forthcoming white, gold, and aqua clad "high end" residential and hotel towers. This massive stream of investment dollars is downright paradoxical considering the impending calamity that surrounds Southern Florida: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the sea level could likely increase almost 35 inches (0.89 meters) by mid-century. If current trends continue, that number is anticipated to rise to up to 80 inches (2.0 meters) by the year 2100, threatening the habitability of the entire metro area.

Given that harrowing scenario, Miami is either refusing to acknowledge the inevitable, or desperately trying to become relevant enough to be saved—not that saving the city is actually feasible. The region sits on extremely porous limestone which pretty much rules out the option of a Netherlands style sea wall. If the Atlantic couldn’t make any horizontal inroads, the rising tide would simply bubble up from below. Miami’s pancake topography doesn’t stand a chance.

MAD Architects Design Veiled Xinhee Design Center in Xiamen

09:00 - 10 August, 2016
MAD Architects Design Veiled Xinhee Design Center in Xiamen, Courtesy of MAD Architects
Courtesy of MAD Architects

MAD Architects has conceived a new design center for international fashion group Xinhee in the coastal Chinese city of Xiamen. Designed as six petals growing from a central atrium, the 61,000 square meter building will sit on a 15,000 square meter site, and will serve as the home of Xinhee and its six subsidiary brands.  

“We envision it as a building with skin-and-bones,” reveals MAD founding principal Ma Yansong, “the correspondence of clothing and architecture is they both explore the relationship between the interior and the exterior.”

Courtesy of MAD Architects Courtesy of MAD Architects Courtesy of MAD Architects Courtesy of MAD Architects +19

Stanley Tigerman on Learning from Mies, The Younger Generation and "Designing Bridges to Burn"

11:30 - 9 August, 2016
Stanley Tigerman on Learning from Mies, The Younger Generation and "Designing Bridges to Burn", Instant City project model, 1966. Image Courtesy of Tigerman McCurry Architects
Instant City project model, 1966. Image Courtesy of Tigerman McCurry Architects

This article was originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "Inside My Design Mind: Salt-of-the-Earth Lessons From Architect Stanley Tigerman."

It’s no secret Stanley Tigerman has made a few enemies in his career. Chicago’s pugnacious 85-year-old architecture star and elder statesman, who received a lifetime achievement award from the American Institute of Architects in October, is known perhaps as much for his brand of gloves-off honesty as his buildings. In a 2013 interview with Chicago magazine, he summed up the redesign of the city’s Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed IBM tower as “shit.”

But there’s a socially minded, nurturing side of Tigerman—designer of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Pacific Garden Mission—that is sometimes lost in the offhand bravado of his public-facing comments. As a member of the Chicago Seven (which protested the predominance of modernism) and a provocateur who has organized seminal forums about architecture’s future, Tigerman is more than just tough talk.

Here, the architect, educator, and curator reveals a generous and expansive mind, praising the uncompromising will of his role model Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and explaining where he finds and nourishes inspiration. He speaks fondly of architecture’s next generation, to whom he offers this advice: Go slow. Don’t copy. Stand firm. Work hard.