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Reconstructing Space, Reconstructing Community in Japan

Still rebuilding after the catastrophic tsunami of 2011, Toyo Ito, Kazuyo Sejima, and other notable Japanese architects, have teamed up on the "Home for All" project to provide community-focused housing to disaster-stricken communities. While the architect-driven initiative seems to be a success, Edwin Heathcote of the Financial Times asks in this exquisitely well-written article: are a set of "starchitects" the right team for the job? (Spoiler: Yes)

ALGODeQ: ALGOrithmic Design Quest Competition

This competition is a call for methods and forms that inspire hope and dreams through new technology, creative logic, and aesthetic intuition. Its purpose is to encourage the development of new design methods for better architecture and better cities (and, broadly, better design in general), and to recognize groups and individuals who have taken up this challenge.

Latin America's Top 8 Smart Cities

In this article for Fast Company, Boyd Cohen counts down the top 8 smart cities in Latin America. Using publicly available data and his own comprehensive framework to evaluate how smart a city is, he has generated a list which even he admits features a couple of surprises in the top spots. To see the list and discover what each city has achieved to deserve its ranking, you can read the full article here.

Frank Gehry: "I'm Not a Starchitect"

For Peter Aspden's first encounter with the architect of the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LAFrank Gehry did not "exude sweetness." "You are not going to call me a [...] ‘star-chitect’? I hate that." In a candid interview with the Financial Times, Gehry discusses the problem of being branded for beginning the Bilbao Effect in spite of the fact that he insists that "you can’t escape your signature." Gehry talks at length about Facebook's latest headquarters and, in particular, his relationship with his client, Mark Zuckerberg. Read the full interview here.

Modernism in America Awards

DOCOMOMO US invites submissions for the first annual Modernism in America Awards. The awards celebrate the documentation, preservation and re-use of modern buildings, structures and landscapes built in the United States or on U.S. territory. The Awards recognize those building owners, design teams, advocacy and preservation organizations that have made significant efforts to retain, restore and advocate for the aesthetic and cultural value of such places.

Call for Expression of Interest: Connecting Divided Places

The Institute without Boundaries (IwB) is seeking curriculum partners for Connecting Divided Places, a project that investigates social, economic, environmental, and cultural divisions in cities. They are calling out to municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, and companies interested in working with them to address the wicked problems dividing their cities and regions. They are looking for organizations interested in collaborating on design solutions that make for more balanced, healthier, and resilient city-regions of the future. They want to know what challenges your city is facing.

DawnTown Announces 2nd Design/Build Competition

DawnTown, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting architecture in Miami, is announcing an open call for portfolios to their new competition: DAWNTOWN DESIGN/BUILD 2.

The Bank of Canada to Receive Controversial Renovation

In this interesting report in the Ottawa Citizen, Maria Cook exposes the plan to renovate the Arthur Erickson-designed Bank of Canada Building in Ottawa. The existing building, which features a public atrium complete with a tropical garden, is being extensively remodeled to improve security and building performance, although arguably at great cost to the design. Cook exposes how the bank turned down a prestigious design award in 2011 as it was already at that point privately considering the changes, and explains how its privileged position - related to the government but not controlled by it - effectively means that the bank has nobody it has to answer to who might stop these plans. You can read the full article here.

Rockefeller Foundation Selects 33 Cities for Resiliency Challenge

The Rockefeller Foundation has named the first group of cities selected in the “100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge.” Each city has been chosen for demonstrating “a commitment to building their own capacities to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses.” More than 1,000 registrations and nearly 400 formal applications from cities around the world were submitted. After careful review of each city's challenges, these 33 where chosen: 

Competition Entry: Monument to Foot Soldiers / Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects

In honor of Alabama’s 50th Anniversary of the Birmingham Civil Rights Campaign, a national design competition was launched to envision a “Monument to Foot Soldiers.” New York City-based Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects was one of many entrants who responded, hoping to design a monument that would honor the sacrifices made by the unnamed activists who fought for civil rights and celebrate the power of the human spirit. 

Detroit Considering Converting Freeway to Pedestrian Street

According to John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press, Detroit may soon be removing one of its downtown freeways, the I-375, and converting the trench-like road into a more pedestrian friendly surface level street. The change could be a boon to residents of nearby areas such as Lafayette Park and Eastern Market, which were cut off when the road was built in 1964, and follows a wider trend of cities removing freeways in order to regenerate downtown areas. The city government is currently working with major stakeholders to investigate the potential effects of the change, with a proposal due for summer 2014. You can read the full article here.

AIANYS announces The Excelsior Awards

The American Institute of Architects New York State (AIANYS) has announced a new competition celebrating design and professional excellence in publicly funded buildings in New York State. The Excelsior Awards will provide a model for future state-funded building design and professional practice and advocacy.

Moved to Care Design Competition

Building Trust International is very pleased to announce their 5th Design Competition. The challenge is to design a health facility that can easily be relocated. This could be in response to a natural disaster, or to inoculate and educate in areas with specific medical emergencies or outbreaks, it will also help aid agencies that don't have the funds or means to purchase land, offering short term leasing opportunities. 

HOK Selected to Refurbish Palace of Westminster

Correction: The HOK-team has been appointed to appraise the options for refurbishment and has not yet been commissioned for the work itself. 

The Challenges of Post-Disaster Design

In the wake of the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan, architects were asking: "couldn't we have avoided this?" Technically, yes. But while the opportunity to build better exists, such measures are often expensive - and in poverty-stricken areas like the Philippines - cost-prohibitive. A recently published article by Carey Dunne on Co.Design breaks down why disaster-proof construction is such a complex challenge. 

Floating Solar Array Makes Statement in Japan

Solar panels are often an added bonus in design, becoming a means to an end. But why shouldn't they be the star of the show? A recent article in Metropolis Magazine shows off the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant, the largest solar facility in Japan. A symbolic response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the power plant is but one project in Japan's transition into one of the fastest growing solar markets in the world. Check out the full story here

Tunnels Under London: the Largest Infrastructure Project in Europe

Crossrail, "the largest infrastructure project in Europe, costing more, for example, than the London Olympics", has been slowly winding it's way beneath London for years. Getting access to the labyrinthine collection of underground tunnels and volumes, Rowan Moore of The Observer says that - despite the superficial furore surrounding it - this £5 billion undertaking will eventually be worth it: alongside the tunnels and tracks will be three million square feet ("or about six Gherkins") of commercial development, and one million square feet of 'public realm'. 

Tips: How to Archive Projects

Archiving documents is serious business, though it often becomes a headache for those involved. When a project is finished, where do the specifications, drawings, and the rest of the data go? Luckily, Shaun Bryant, in his article for Lineshapespace, has tips for designers and architects on how to effectively go about the archiving process - giving insight on everything from the security of storage spaces to the legal demands of archiving. Check out his archiving tips here.