In Defense of Rewarding Vanity Height

One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the United States… arguably. Image © Joe Mabel via Wikipedia

Recently, ArchDaily editors received an interesting request from an anonymous Communications Director of an unnamed New York firm, asking us “In your reporting, please do not repeat as fact, or as “official,” the opinion that One World Trade Center in New York will be the tallest building in the United States.” He or she goes on to explain that the decision maker who ‘announced’ the building as the tallest in the US, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), is not officially endorsed by the AIA or the US Government, and that while their work is beneficial for architecture and cities as a whole, their criteria for height evaluation are flawed and have been criticized by many in the industry.

The desire to have the tallest building in a city, country or even the world goes back to at least the medieval period, when competing noble families of Italian hill towns such as San Gimignano would try to out-do each ’s best construction efforts (jokes about the Freudian of such contests are, I imagine, not much younger). Perhaps the greatest symbol of this desire is the decorative crown of the Chrysler Building, which was developed in secret and enabled the building to briefly take the prize as the world’s tallest, much to the surprise and ire of its competitors at the time.

With this competitive spirit apparently still very much alive, I thought it might be worthwhile to address the issue raised by our anonymous friend.

Mt. Hood Community College Early Childhood Center / Mahlum

© Lincoln Barbour

Architects: Mahlum
Location: 26000 Southeast Stark Street, , OR 97030, USA
Architect In Charge: Diane Shiner AIA LEED AP
Area: 22751.0 ft2
Year: 2011
Photographs: Lincoln Barbour

One possible activity for the workshop includes guided tours of London from the Thames. Image © Flickr CC User Donna Rutherford
One possible activity for the workshop includes guided tours of London from the Thames. Image © Flickr CC User Donna Rutherford

UK Politicians Invited to Workshop to Learn About Architecture

Oliver Colvile, chairman of the UK‘s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Excellence in the Built Environment, has proposed that UK Members of Parliament should be invited to an architecture workshop to improve their understanding of the built environment. The workshop would be jointly run by the APPG and the Farrell Review, and could include activities such as designing a virtual town or an architectural sightseeing tour along the Thames. More on the proposal after the break.

London Official Confirms that “The Pinnacle” Has Been Scrapped

© via wikipedia

The Pinnacle, the 63-storey tower that would have been the tallest in the City of London‘s central cluster, has finally been abandoned, according to Gwyn Richards, the City’s new head of design. Originally granted planning permission in 2006, the “helter-skelter” design by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF) was put on hold in 2011 due to financial issues. Now a replacement scheme is in the works which could be revealed in a matter of weeks.

More on the Pinnacle, and its replacement, after the break

Dorset Road / Sam Tisdall Architects

© Richard Chivers

Architects: Sam Tisdall Architects
Location: Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, Wood Green, London N22 7AY,
Area: 76.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Richard Chivers

Combo Competitions: Emphasis On The Idea

Courtesy of

Combo Competitions, an organisation founded by Swedish, based architect Per Linde, organises international idea competitions for architects, designers and students. With a gentle emphasis on the ideas presented in proposals, rather than aesthetics alone, their main driver is to promote design concepts ”where everything comes together to form a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts.”

With the increasing ease in producing “amazing renderings and images,” underling concepts can often be lost – or hidden by – a seductive final image. Combo Competitions seeks to reverse this trend by rewarding an emphasis on “well advised concepts” alongside appearance and presentation. Their latest competition, entitled Hello Nature, invites participants to explore a way of re-introducing nature into people’s consciousness.

Find out more about the competition and hear from Per Linde after the break…

Special Education Centre in Dornbirn / Marte Marte Architekten

Courtesy of Marte Marte Architekten

Architects: Marte Marte Architekten
Location: Schulgasse 40, 6850 ,
Architect In Charge: Bernhard Marte, Stefan Marte
Area: 997.0 sqm
Year: 2011
Photographs: Courtesy of Marte Marte Architekten

Geneva Flat / FREAKS freearchitects

© David Foessel

Architects: FREAKS freearchitects
Location: , Switzerland
Area: 35.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: David Foessel

Time Stacking House / JOHO Architecture

© Sun Namgoong

Architects: JOHO Architecture
Location: 78-3 Gugi-dong, Jongno-gu, , South Korea
Architect In Charge: Jeonghoon LEE
Area: 98.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Sun Namgoong

Dear Jingumae Building / amano design office

© Nacasa & Partners Inc.

Architects: amano design office
Location: 3 Chome Jingumae, , Tokyo,
Architect In Charge: Yoshihiro Amano
Area: 573.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Nacasa & Partners Inc.

Dwell on Design Heads to NY, October 9-11!

Dwell on Design NY, curated by the editors of Dwell magazine, debuts at 82 Mercer in SoHo, NY. Join 5,000 design elite as Dwell upends the standard ‘trade show’ format and creates a unique forum to engage, learn, inspire and connect. ArchDaily readers can receive $10 off show passes for the inaugural event with code DODNY registering here

At this groundbreaking event, influential designers, architects, industry thought leaders and you, will discuss, collaborate and address today’s most pressing design challenges in the contract design industry and beyond. Over three days, attend 20+ Dwell-curated presentations, panel discussions and dialogues on ‘hot button’ issues across hospitality, travel, office, academia, public spaces, urban infrastructure and more. Be sure not to miss program highlights Reimagining New York City’s Terra Firma, The Future of Transit, Building for ResiliencyThe New Malleable Office and more.

The Maintenance-Free House / Arkitema Architects

© Jesper Ray

Architects: Arkitema Architects
Location: 5800 ,
Area: 156.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Jesper Ray, Helene Høyer Mikkelsen

© East River Skyway via New York Daily News
© East River Skyway via New York Daily News

High-Speed “Skyway” Aims to Shorten Commutes from Brooklyn to Manhattan

New York real estate executive Daniel Levy of CityRealty has unveiled a proposal to connect Brooklyn’s waterfront to Manhattan with a $75 million “East River Skyway.” According to Levy, the high-speed gondola could shorten commutes to just four minutes and move more than 5,000 people per hour, while relieving congestion on ferries, subways and bridges. “[The Skyway] would be a relatively inexpensive and quickly deployable solution,” said Levy. “It is essential to adapt New York City’s transportation system to serve residents in these booming areas.” Levy will present the project in an effort to harness support at the Brooklyn real estate summit on Tuesday. 

Lausanne House / Hatem+D Architecture

© Alexandre Guilbeault

Architects: Hatem+D Architecture
Location: Quebec,
Architect In Charge: Étienne Bernier architecte
Area: 170.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Alexandre Guilbeault

Richard Rogers Honored with Lifetime Achievement Medal

© 2013 Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners LLP

Richard Rogers has been honored with the Coutts Lifetime Achievement Medal for his “significant and fundamental contributions to the design industry,” an announcement made as part of the in Rogers’ newly completed Leadenhall Building.

“He has played a leading role in designing buildings that made us think again about how we use them and how they function,” stated London Design Festival director Ben Evans. :His eminence is global, and he is part of a golden era of leading British architects who not only reshaped our city but also reshaped the world to some capacity.”

Obama Shortlists Four Potential Sites for Presidential Library

A proposal for ’s South Side from earlier in the competition by Michael Sorkin (click image for more details). Image © Michael Sorkin Studio

The Foundation has listed four potential sites for Obama’s presidential library and museum: Columbia University, the University of Hawaii, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the Universities considered were selected for demonstrating the ability to develop a strong vision and design a library that could enhance the local economy. Each institution will now work towards refining their ideas and will submit formal proposals by December.

Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture: Episode 5, “Working on Water”

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The latest episode of Al Jazeera’s Rebel Architecture takes us to Nigeria, where architect Kunlé Adeyemi has designed floating buildings to help solve overcrowding and flooding in the country’s waterside slums. “I am constantly inspired by solutions we discover in everyday life in the world’s developing cities,” he says. Yet, despite his studio NLÉ’s easy-to-build, low-cost, sustainable prototype for a floating building, Adeyemi still struggles to get approval for their construction from the local authorities. This 25-minute episode follows Adeyemi as he seeks to implement his floating buildings.

Watch the full episode above and read on after the break for a full episode synopsis and a preview of upcoming episodes…

Go House / Agustin Landa Ruiloba

© Onnis Luque

Architects: Agustin Landa Ruiloba
Location: , Nuevo Leon,
Project Area: 270.0 m2
Project Year: 2014
Photographs: Onnis Luque