If ever architects needed a little vindication in their work, this might just be it: a team of neuroscientists have found evidence that good architecture can positively affect the human brain. Testing a highly susceptible group of subjects (i.e. architects), the team demonstrated that so-called "contemplative architecture" can have similar effects to meditation - except with much less effort on the part of the person experiencing it. This article in the Atlantic discusses the team's work at length, delving into the science behind the discovery, but also uncovering an interesting oddity in the world of architectural neuroscience: it seems not much is being done because "it’s difficult to suggest that people are dying from it." In the case of the current study, the team "totally loaded the deck" by only selecting architects as their subjects, apparently not aiming to prove anything but simply to secure further funding. Read the full article here for more on the latest in architectural neuroscience.
The Observer's Rowan Moore "accidentally got swept into a tide of humanity at the weekend, or to put it another way, couldn’t move for crowds." In memorial of the start of the centenary of World War One, of which today marks the anniversary of the armistice (11.11.1918), the Tower of London have installed a sea of 888,246 ceramic poppies in the former moat. The artwork, created by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, and entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, "has caught the national imagination." For Moore, however, "it is deeply disturbing that a hundred years on from 1914, [the UK] can only mark this terrible war as a national tragedy." He argues that "the spectacle of all these red poppies is emptier than that. [...] It is a deeply aestheticised, prettified and toothless war memorial." Read the article in full here.
After serving as dean at the Yale School of Architecture for nearly two decades, Robert A.M. Stern is reportedly stepping down. According to Yale Daily News, faculty and administrative staff members have indicated that Stern will be retiring when his term as dean concludes in Spring 2016. “[Stern] took [the school] from a place where people were not paying attention to it many years ago — he has brought incredible international attention to the school,” Professor Michelle Addington stated in regards to Stern's widespread influence as dean. “He has given me the opportunity to rethink my subject, and that doesn’t happen at too many places.” More information, here.
One of the most important Islamic architectural monuments, the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq is one of many priceless monuments that has been “lost in conflict.” Paying homage to the architectural masterpieces that have been victims of war, CNN has put together a list of 19 of the world’s “greatest buildings you’ll never see.” View them all, here.
In an article for The Walrus, Adele Weder examines Antoine Predock's (who was recently made a National Academy Academician) Canadian Museum for Human Rights: a "colossal, twelve-storey mountain of concrete and stone, 120,000 square feet of tempered glass, and 260,000 square feet of floor space." Early advocates of the museum "felt that Winnipeg was ripe for such a statement piece," just as Bilbao had been for the Guggenheim. Welder's explorations are clear and concise, finding all sorts "of paradoxes swirling around the Museum for Human Rights." Noting that "it’s definitely a kick-ass building, with its aggressive outer form, jagged paths inside, big black slabs of basalt, thick sheets of glass, and the huge metal girders that hold it all together," Weder argues that it's position as a "failed memorial and white elephant" may be it's eventual undoing.
The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has awarded Parsons The New School for Design and Clemson University the 2014 NCARB Award to aid the development of innovative programs that merge practice and education.
Architect and scholar Troy Conrad Therrien has been appointed as the Guggenheim's new Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives. Therrien will now contribute to the development of the museum’s engagement with architecture, design, technology, and urban studies, in addition to providing leadership on select new projects under the direction of the Chief Curator and the Director’s Office.
What makes a city successful? Miami-based Knight Foundation aims to answer this question with their latest contest, the Knight Cities Challenge. Innovators across all disciplines are invited to propose their idea to improve one of 26 Knight communities, cities across the United States with an established network of support for the foundation's initiatives. Proposals should focus on three key levers of city success: attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of robust civic engagement in the chosen community. “No project is too small — so long as your idea is big,” says Carol Coletta, Vice-President of community and national initiatives for Knight Foundation.
BSA Space, home to the Boston Society of Architects and the BSA Foundation, is currently accepting proposals from all designers interested in becoming a guest curator. The selected curator would be responsible for conceiving, fabricating, executing, and installing all aspects of a major exhibit within the BSA's 5,000 square foot gallery space. Proposals should take into consideration a diverse audience and seek to capture the imagination of the public by conveying the power of design as an instrument of change within Boston. All major exhibitions will run four to six months and guest curators will receive a budget of $30-70K. The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 14 at 4:00PM. More details can be found, here.
The Boston Harbor Association, City of Boston, Boston Redevelopment Authority, and Boston Society of Architects have teamed up to launch Boston Living with Water, “an international call for design solutions envisioning a more resilient, more sustainable, and more beautiful Boston adapted for end-of-the-century climate conditions and rising sea levels.” The two-phase competition, open to all leading planners, designers and thinkers, will award the best overall proposal $20,000; the second and third best will each receive $10,000. Submissions for the first phase are due December 2, 2014. Learn more, here.
With just over two weeks left in the 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture, Paolo Baratta, President of La Biennale, is hosting a one day conference on the intersection between archives, exhibitions and digital integration. Focusing on the themes of the "dissipation of memory" and the "vulnerability of digital data" in an age of ever-changing technological platforms, the conference is the third in a series of archive-themed events hosted at the Giardini in the Biennale Library, and will feature a screening of Digital Amnesia, a documentary on the lifespan of archival technology, along with a round table discussion with leading archivists and curators from around the world. Panelists include the Mirko Zardini, Director and Chief Curator from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, archive superintendents from three Italian provinces, professors from three Italian universities, and Debora Rossi, the chief archivist for the Venice Biennale.
Yesterday, during the opening of a new photography gallery, Centre Pompidou president Alain Seban announced the contemporary art museum will soon open a new design and architecture gallery inside the famed Renzo Piano- and Richard Rogers-designed building. “Eventually, there should be almost no offices in the building, and we'll keep only the technical facilities that are strictly indispensable," said Seban. “When allocating the spaces, the works and the visitors have to take precedence."
The British city of Manchester, often seen as the UK's second city alongside Birmingham, will become the first metropolis outside of London to be given greater local autonomy over budgets and city planning. The devolution deal, which will also see the city receive the right to directly elect a Mayor (in line with large cities in the US, for example), will furnish the city with "a new housing investment fund worth up to £300million." As it is understood that the first Mayor of Greater Manchester will be elected in 2017, there's time to discuss how this new political environment in the UK might help boost building in what has described as a "Northern Powerhouse."
Each year, a select group of prominent artists and architects is elected into the National Academy. As a National Academy Academician, distinguished practitioners are recognized for their “exceptional creative work and contribution to the arts.” This year’s inductees include: Ida Applebroog, Peter Bohlin, Jane Dickson, Preston Scott Cohen, Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss, Eric Owen Moss, Antoine Predock, Martin Puryear, Charles Renfro, Edward Ruscha, and Joan Semmel.
The Architectural League and Socrates Sculpture Park invite emerging architects and designers to submit proposals for Folly, an annual design/build studio program during March and April 2015 leading to a public exhibition at Socrates opening in early May 2015.
By the end of 2015, one in three of the world’s tallest buildings will be in China. With its government planned cities, the Chinese policy often favors high-density development, and some of the most radical and experimental urban design ideas can be applied in China - take for example the recent joint winner of the Shenzhen Bay Super City competition, Cloud Citizen, which takes on a more integrated and interconnected approach to vertical cities. In this article on The Guardian, Nicola Davison investigates how at this critical time in the country’s development, architects and urban planners may choose to move away from previous urban models of isolated skyscrapers, towards a more humane environment that seeks to emulate nature and create diverse public spaces. Read the article in full here.
The relationship between immortality and architecture is ancient one. Writing in The New Yorker, Alexandra Lange discusses the past and future of cemetery design in relation to a new exhibition on display in New York. Featuring a selection of 1300 individual mausoleum designs stored in Columbia University's archives, Lange notes how "patrons weren’t picky about originality. In the late nineteenth century, memorial companies might just bring back a shipment of angels from Carrara to be distributed among future clients." These "rural estates in miniature" eventually gave way to more contemporary designs which dabbled in Realism and Cubism. What will the people of today house their remains in? For Lange, "the design we take personal pleasure from everyday is now less likely to be architecture and more likely to be an interface." Read the article in full here.
The French government has cancelled its £8 million contribution towards the £43 million Musée des Beaux-arts by David Chipperfield Architects, causing the Reims’ mayor to “shelve” the museum for being too costly. As reported by the Architects’ Journal, the funds will be reallocated towards the redevelopment of a recently closed sports complex. The museum, originally awarded to Chipperfield following an international competition, was intended to be built on an excavation area and display mediaeval relics. You can review the design, here.