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Ricardo Porro, Architect of Cuba’s National Art Schools, Dies at 89

Ricardo Porro, the leading architect behind Cuba’s National Art Schools - one of the largest architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution - has died of heart failure in Paris at the age of 89. After spending nearly a half a century in exile, Porro lived long enough to see his two arts schools reemerged on the world stage as “crown jewels of modern Cuban architecture.” 

NBBJ to Design $85 Million Livingston Ambulatory Center in Columbus

Nationwide Children’s Hospital has selected NBBJ to design their $85 million Livingston Ambulatory Center in Columbus, Ohio. The six-story, 200,000-square-foot center will serve more than 100,000 patients annually. It will feature modular and flexible units centered around shared employee workspaces. Construction will begin in February. 

Haus-Rucker-Co: Architectural Utopia Reloaded

When fears regarding environmental pollution and potential catastrophe were at a high in the 1970s, Haus-Rucker-Co set out to develop a “new concept of architecture.” Based in Vienna, the group was known for their interactive exhibitions and their development of utopian architectural ideas, which showed how people could affect their own environment. Now, their work between 1967 and 1977 is the theme of “Architectural Utopia Reloaded,” the latest exhibition on display at the Haus am Waldsee in Berlin.

World’s First Solar Bicycle Lane Opens in Amsterdam

A popular bicycle lane and public road that connects the Amsterdam suburbs of Krommenie and Wormerveer has been impregnated with solar panels, making it the world’s first. The 70-meter stretch, serving 2,000 daily cyclists, was embedded with crystalline silicon solar cells encased within concrete and covered with a translucent layer of tempered glass. It is expected to be extended an additional 100-meters in 2016, providing enough energy to power three households. More information, here

Kimmelman on MASS Design Group's Open-Air Clinics in Haiti

“Architecture and health are inseparable,” says Haitian doctor and founder of Gheskio in Michael Kimmelman’s latest New York Times piece In Haiti, Battling Disease With Open-Air Clinics. Recounting the devastating images of medical dysfunction that have circulated the internet since the Ebola epidemic, Kimmelman presents MASS Design Group’s nearly complete Port-au-Prince health clinics as a potential model for healthcare architecture worldwide. Combating cholera and tuberculosis with a modest, practical layout and open-air design, the new clinics will serve one of the city’s largest slums. Learn why Kimmelman declares them “handsome” and believes they will help eradicate disease in Haiti, here

New York's Storefront Launches "Street Architecture" Competition

On the occasion of Ideas City 2015, the biennial Festival created to explore the future city and to effect change, Storefront for Art and Architecture, along with the New Museum and the New York City Department of Transportation, is launching a competition for the design and construction of an outdoor structure—a work of "Street Architecture" that facilitates new forms of collective gathering and engagement with the city.

Progetto Flaminio Announces Competition for Rome's New City of Science District

The Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Investimenti Sgr has recently acquired the former Precision Electrical Components Factory in Flaminio, located between Via Guido Reni and Viale del Vignola, that will now be transformed into the new City of Science district.

Registration Open: European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention AADIPA

The Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention AADIPA, arises from the belief that heritage, as a vehicle for social integration and an economic vitalizing resource for the community, deserves to be appreciated and encouraged. In the current context, in which architectural heritage is considered not only to be a fundamental instrument of knowledge but also a first rate socioeconomic resource for the sustainable development of the territory, the disclosure, distinction and recognition of works and quality projects contributing to the preservation of the collective memory is imperative.

Christmas Wars: The Fight to Hold the World Record for the Most Christmas Lights

In the ongoing battle to hold the Guinness World Record for the Most Lights on a Residential Property (aka the house-with-the-most-Christmas lights), the Gay family in LaGrangeville, New York has once again reclaimed their title. This year the family used 601,736 lights, spanning two acres and set to more than 200 songs. RITZ Crackers, part of Mondelēz International, helped the family top the record, providing 200,000 lights. The Gay family and the Richards family in Canberra, Australia, have been fighting for the title over the past three years. But not to be outdone, the Richards family took home the Guinness World Record for the Largest Image Made of LED lights for their Christmas light installation this year. The installation in Canberra used 1,194,380 lights to make a 3D image of three Christmas gifts spanning 3,865 square meters and raised money for the charity SIDS and Kids ACT.  See more pictures and read more about the ongoing lights competition at City Lab and Guinness World Records

Frank Gehry Tells the Story Behind Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

In just three short years, Frank Gehry’s 450,000-square-foot Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will open. More than 12 times the size of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim New York, the expansive $800 million museum will showcase 1960s art from around the world within an asymmetrical mountain of plaster blocks and self-cooling translucent cones. Anticipating its completion, the New York Times sat down with Gehry to hear the story behind the building’s design. Watch the full interview with Gehry, here

UK Housing Review Panel "Needs To Be More Balanced," Admits Terry Farrell

Last week the UK Government appointed a new housing design panel, intended to "ensure that new homes are not only lower-cost but also high-quality and well-designed." The panel will be led by Terry Farrell, classical architect Quinlan Terry and aesthetics philosopher Roger Scruton, as well as representatives from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the UK Design Council and lobby group Create Streets. However, the profession was quick to criticize the selection of the three lead members of the panel.

Samsung Commissions Choon-Soo Ryu to Design Vietnamese Community Center

Samsung Electronics is spearheading a village development project in ThuyHoa, Vietnam, as part of a new social contribution program named “the Nanum Village.” The Nanum Village is a project where the local government cooperates with residents of a village who are willing to develop their neighborhood, improving the public infrastructure and supporting local people’s initiatives for sustainable development of the village. This new community center by Korean architect Choon-Soo Ryu will be built in 2015 as a result of that initiative.

RIBA To Open Chapter In India

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have announced that they will open a chapter in India in 2015 in order to offer "enhanced membership support, networking opportunities and a forum for local activities and CPD." It will also allow the RIBA to work "collaboratively with the Indian Institute for Architects (IIA) for the enhancement of the profession." The launch of this branch of the institute follows the opening of chapters in the USA, Hong Kong and the Gulf in recent years. According to Chloe Sadler, RIBA Head of International Chapters, the RIBA currently has "just under 100 members in India who are working tirelessly to uphold the principles of the [institute] and share the importance of good design." "This new Chapter will cement the RIBA’s commitment to support our members in India through knowledge exchange and the celebration of architecture."

In Defense of Santiago Calatrava

In recent years, few architects have had a tougher time in the media than Santiago Calatrava. Whether it's his repeated legal battles over leaking roofs and peeling facades, the unceremonious death of his Chicago Spire project, or the media firestorm over his New York Transportation Hub that is $2 billion over budget, Calatrava has become a poster boy for those who criticize the supposed arrogance of today's architects. However, in an engaging article for FastCo Design, Karrie Jacobs responds to what seems to be "a concerted effort to shore up his reputation," coming to the defense of this "unreconstructed aesthete." Read the article in full here.

BAG Transforms Wooden Pallets into Temporary Space Observatory

Rome-based firm Beyond Architecture Group (BAG) has designed “experimental furniture” - dubbed Looking (C)up - for the Frammenti Music Festival at the Archaeological Park in Tusculum, Italy. The firm, known for building houses with bales of straw, chose to craft an astronomical observatory with wooden pallets. 

Could Smart Cities Slowly Destroy Democracy?

Has the concept of the smart city "crystallised into an image of the city as a vast, efficient robot?" In the age of the "Internet of Things," where does the citizen fit in? In this article from The Guardian, journalist Steven Poole takes a critical stance against the purported utopian ideals of smart cities. Poole delves into the nuances of who the smart city is truly meant to serve, questions the debate over whether it should develop along a top-down or bottom-up approach, and poses the provocative thought: "a vast network of sensors amounting to millions of electronic ears, eyes and noses - also potentially enable(s) the future city to be a vast arena of perfect and permanent surveillance by whomever has access to the data feeds." Questions of control, virtual reality, free-will, and hierarchies of power, Poole asserts are critical to the discussion of technology's powerful role in the future. Read the full article to learn more about the possible potential of the smart city to "destroy democracy," here.

BIG Returns to the National Building Museum with “HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation”

On the heels of its summer blockbuster indoor maze, which attracted more than 50,000 visitors, the international design firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) returns to the National Building Museum this January with a behind-the-scenes look at its creative process. The exhibition, HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation, takes visitors from the hottest to the coldest parts of our planet and explores how BIG´s design solutions are shaped by their cultural and climatic contexts. More than 60 three-dimensional models will be suspended at the second-floor balconies of the Museum’s historic Great Hall in an unprecedented use of this public space. 

RIBA Future Trends Survey Reveals A Dip In UK Workloads

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for November showed that confidence in workload among UK architects fell back slightly with the workload index returning back to +29. This is compared to +37 in October, which was the second highest ever balance figure. The highest balance figures were in Northern Ireland (+50) and the North of England (+46), areas with the RIBA state "were initially the slowest to indicate a return to growth." In addition, the percentage of respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed remained at 12% for the second month running – the lowest figure since the survey began in January 2009. Practices report that they are currently employing 6% more year-out and post Part II students than they were twelve months ago.