Walk into the cafeteria at the Googleplex and you are nudged into the “right” choice. Sweets? Color-coded red and placed on the bottom shelf to make them just a bit harder to reach. “Instead of that chocolate bar, sir, wouldn’t you much rather consume this oh-so-conveniently-located apple? It’s good for you! Look, we labelled it green!” 
Like the Google cafeteria guides you to take responsibility of your health, Google wants to transform the construction industry to take responsibility of the “health” of its buildings. They have been leveraging for transparency in the content of building materials, so that, like consumers who read what’s in a Snickers bar before eating it, they’ll know the “ingredients” of materials to choose the greenest, what they call “healthiest,” options.
These examples illustrate the trend of “medicalization” in our increasingly health-obsessed society: when ordinary problems (such as construction, productivity, etc.) are defined and understood in medical terms. In their book Imperfect Health, Borasi and Zardini argue that through this process, architecture and design has been mistakenly burdened with the normalizing, moralistic function of “curing” the human body. 
While I find the idea that design should “force” healthiness somewhat paternalistic and ultimately limited, I don’t think this “medicalized” language is all bad – especially if we can use it in new and revitalizing ways. Allow me to prescribe two examples: the most popular and the (potentially) most ambitious urban renewal projects in New York City today, the High Line and the Delancey Underground (or the Low Line).
More on “curative” spaces after the break. (Trust me, it’s good for you.)
Last month, our reporting of the Architecture Billings Index was a little pessimistic, as the slight upward movement was no sure sign of a stable recovery. Yet, February marks the fourth month the Billings Index has remained in positive territory (a score of 50 or more indicates as such), and while we are cautious to mark the volatile index’s movement as a trend, we sure hope it is! February reported a score of 51.0 and a significant jump was reached in the new project inquiry index (up from 61.2 to 63.4). In fact, the 63.4 score is the highest inquires for new projects since July of 2007. “This is more good news for the design and construction industry that continues to see improving business conditions,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The factors that are preventing a more accelerated recovery are persistent caution from clients to move ahead with new projects, and a continued difficulty in accessing financing for projects that developers have decided to pursue.” Breaking the index down regionally, the Midwest leads with 56.0, followed by the South, Northeast and finally the West with scores of 51.3, 51.0, 45.6, respectively.
Architects: Studio Stratum – Polona Filipič, Peter Šenk, Marko Pretnar, Grega Tramte
Location: Postojna, Slovenia
Collaborators: Marko Šenk, Peter Emil Grošelj
Client: Postojnska jama, d.d.
Structure: Spit d.o.o.
Services: Winky d.o.o., Arctur d.o.o.
Biological Treatment Plant: Cid d.o.o.
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Miran Kambič
Being held at the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä, Finland, the exhibition for the latest works by artist Ola Kolehmainen is currently on display until July 29th. A contemporary artist of international importance, Kolehmainen is known for his large abstract…
WOHA…‘s ‘Breathing Architecture’ exhibition, which will be up until April 29th has been very successful at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) in Frankfurt, Germany. Some of their structures remind us of bold visions of the future, in which plants reclaim
Architects: Rudy Uytenhaak
Location: Amman, Jordan
Client: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Design team: Fumi Hoshino Frank Langhorst, Felix Reiter, Jaap Hikke, Sebastian Sterniak
Area: 1,000 sqm
Contractor: Consolidated Consultants, Amman
Installations: Royal Haskoning
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Pieter Kers
Grenade, the proposal for the CityVision Inflatable Pavilion competition, by SITBON Architectes… aims to create a relation with its environment. The theme of the pavilion is to think of the city as an immense architecture in constant mobility, by the
Architect: PAZ Arquitectura – Alejandro Paz
Location: Santa Rosalía, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Collaborators: Axel Mendoza, Gabriel Rodriguez, Alex Titus, Mario Roberto Paz, Claudia Pezarozzi, Wolfgang Schoenbeck
Landscape Design: Pokorny y Valencia, Arquitectura de Paisaje
Construction: Conarq / Paz Arquitectura
Structure Design: Consultores Estructurales
Built Area: 747.50 sqm
Photographs: Andres Asturias
Premiering tomorrow on WTTW – one of Chicago’s PBS television stations – will be the new 30-minute documentary Architect Michael Graves: A Grand Tour. Popular Chicago TV tour host Geoffrey Baer profiles the life and work of the internationally acclaimed architect and winner of the 2012 Driehaus Prize for Classical and Traditional Architecture. The documentary will air Thursday, March 22 at 8PM.
Continue reading for more information on the documentary and view updated images of the Wounded Warrior Project.
Architects: Mamen Domingo & Ernest Ferré
Location: Balaguer, Lleida, Spain
Completion: March 2011
Area: 2,078.80 sqm
Architectural Collaborator: Malena Padawer, Isabel Cotchà,ReljaFerusic, Nagore Linares, UxíaCarballeira, Ola Otwinowska
Photographs: Courtesy of Mamen Domingo y Ernest Ferré
Architect: José Ramón Garitaonaindía de Vera
Location: Avenida de Arsenio Iglesias, Arteixo, A Coruña, Spain
Project Team: Montserrat Neira, Omar Curros.
Clients: Concello de Arteixo (Arteixo City Council)
Project Square Footage: 1,527 sqm
Site Area: 3,150 sqm
Structural Engineers: Jorge Aragón Fitera.
Contractor: Construcciones Riotorto S.L.
Budget: 2,293,128 million Euro.
Photographs: Hector Santos-Díez