Mediating Mies: Dirk Lohan’s Langham Hotel Lobby at the IBM Building

The former IBM Building in . Image Courtesy of DesignCurial

In 2013 the former IBM Building in Chicago, ’s last completed skyscraper, underwent a significant renovation as a part of the tower was converted into a hotel. In this article, originally published in Blueprint issue #338 as “Lobbying for Mies van der Rohe,” Anthea Gerrie catches up with Dirk Lohan – the Chicago architect who helped his grandfather design the building nearly 50 years ago, and who was called back in to design the new hotel’s entrance lobby.

“It’s not very Mies,” says Dirk Lohan dubiously, in one of the great understatements of the year. We are standing in the double-height reception hall of the Langham Chicago hotel with what looks like dozens of multicoloured glass balloons swimming above us and a mirror-glass frieze adding to a cacophony of glitz and dazzle.

It is indeed the very antithesis of the aesthetic of the architect known for the phrase “less is more”. But then the audacious idea of converting an office building by the most functionalist of architects into a five-star hotel was always going to be problematic.

Municipal Indoor Pool in Constantina / Suárez Corchete

© Fernando Alda

Architects: Suárez Corchete
Location: Avenida Andalucía, S/N, 41450 , Sevilla, España
Architect In Charge: Fernando , Lorenzo Muro Álvarez
Project Area: 727.0 m2
Project Year: 2014
Photographs: Fernando Alda

HHF Architects Transform Existing Parking Structure into Public Destination

Courtesy of HHF

Swiss firm HHF Architects have released images and drawings for “Parking & More,” a mixed-use structure and public facility for Basel’s Dreispitz quarter.

An addition to an existing steel parking complex, “Parking & More” combines a parking lot with eateries, sport facilities, and shops, “creating a vibrant and lively street and a partially covered urban plaza.” The project is adjacent to BIG’s Transitlager ad Herzog & de Meuron’s 312 Helsinki Dreispitz, forming a triumvirate of new developments that reflect the area’s rapid rates of densification and urbanisation. Read more about “Parking & More” and view selected images after the break.

Kinematix / LIKEarchitects

© Dinis Sottomayor Photography

Architects: LIKEarchitects
Location: , Portugal
Design Team: Diogo Aguiar, Teresa Otto, João Jesus and Tània Costa Coll, Álvaro Vila Iturbe
Client: Kinematix
Year: 2014
Photographs: Dinis Sottomayor Photography

Montmatre Mixed Use / Babin+Renaud

© Cecile Septet

Architects: Babin+Renaud
Location: 24 Avenue de la Porte de Montmartre, 75018 Paris,
Area: 10296.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Cecile Septet

Flat Renovation for a Photographer / Alia Bengana

© V.Vincenzo

Architects: Alia Bengana
Location: 75002 Paris,
Area: 86.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: V.Vincenzo

Senteurs d’Orient Headquarters / Atelier130

© Ieva Saudargaité

Architects: Atelier130
Location: Mkalles,
Architects In Charge: Nathalie Habr, Halim Khoriaty
Area: 1111.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Ieva Saudargaité

Empty Nester Residence / Studio Twenty Seven Architecture

© Hoachlander Davis Photography / Anice Hoachlander

Architects: Studio Twenty Seven Architecture
Location: , VA, USA
Area: 222.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Hoachlander Davis Photography / Anice Hoachlander

Satellite Records World’s Largest Urban Art GIF in Rio de Janeiro

The Flamengo landfill in Rio de Janeiro was recently host the world’s largest GIF. Created by anonymous artist INSA, the mural underwent minor changes recorded by the satellite 430 miles above the earth. 

Sponsored by Scotch whiskey brand Ballantine, the painting – 619,000-square-feet of yellow and pink hearts – was produced by a 20-person team over the course of four days. With each new picture, the team altered the illustration so that by the end of the process the recorded images created an animated GIF (as seen above).

3X1 House / Romera y Ruiz Arquitectos

Courtesy of

Architects: Romera y Ruiz Arquitectos
Location: 18514 , Granada, Spain
Project Architects: Pedro Romera García, Ángela Ruiz Martínez
Project Area: 614.0 m2
Project Year: 2013
Photographs: Courtesy of Romera y Ruiz Arquitectos

Win a BIG Trip to Copenhagen

YouTube Preview Image

Daydreaming about a trip to Copenhagen? Now is your chance to go. As part of BIG’s HOT TO COLD exhibition on view at the National Building Museum, Visit Denmark is hosting a sweepstakes for two to see the architectural and cultural sights of Denmark’s capital. All you need to do is watch the video above, find out which seaside museum Bjarke Ingels believes to be one of the world’s greatest (hint: take a look after the break), and enter your answer here (click “Win a trip to !”). Only US residents are eligible.

"Anti-homeless" spikes installed in Manchester. Image © Christopher Thomond via the Guardian
"Anti-homeless" spikes installed in Manchester. Image © Christopher Thomond via the Guardian

Defensive Architecture Creates Unlivable Cities

To many, the harsh turns the modern city has taken are not apparent. We see benches and bus stops that masquerade as shelters, but Guardian writer Alex Andreou’s sudden plunge into homelessness opened his eyes to the hostile realities of these and other structures. In “Anti-Homeless spikes: ‘Sleeping rough opened my eyes to the city’s barbed cruelty’,” he sheds some light on misconceptions about homelessness and explains the unfortunate trend of designing unlivable architecture to deter those affected.

From pavement sprinklers to concrete sidewalk spikes, the modern city is littered with defensive techniques, discouraging the homeless from habitation and encouraging instead an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality to make spaces more comfortable for others. However Andreou argues that the dehumanizing effects of these harsh gestures affect everyone, acting as physical manifestations of society’s intolerance and making public spaces that bit less welcoming for us all – homeless or not. Read the full article, here.

Nouvel, Gehry and Elemental Among 15 Shortlisted for “Design of the Year 2015”

One Central Park / Ateliers Jean Nouvel © Murray Fredericks

London’s Design Museum has released 15 shortlisted projects that are being considered for the prestigious “Design of the Year” award. From Wendell Burnette’s Desert Courtyard House to Jean Nouvel’s One Central Park skyscraper, the wide-ranging list spans all scales, showcasing some of the best newly completed projects from across the globe.

The award, now in its eighth year, “celebrates design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year.” 76 nominees over six categories have been selected. The jury, chaired by artist Anish Kapoor and includes architect Farshid Moussavi, will choose category winners on May 4. An overall winner will be revealed June 4.

Last year, Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre in Azerbaijan was the first building in the award’s history to win the overall prize.

View all the shortlisted buildings, after the break. 

AA Visiting School Athens: Symmetry Sentience

This year the AA Visiting School aims to challenge the phenomenon of perceptual constancy through the design of architectural prototypical families. In line with the basic Gestalt principles, a variety of models of different shapes and sizes will be designed through means of digital computation. Various morphologies will be derived through a bottom-up approach via various coding techniques. To bridge the gap between the digital and physical aspect of the design iterations, AA will make use of digital fabricating machines to produce architectural prototypes and add mechanics to amplify their communicative characteristics. A complete 1:1 scale structure will be constructed, enabling interaction via sight, hearing and touch as a result of a series of initial testing models. These proposals will be formulated through the combination of different design software.

L-House / CCM2 Architectes

© Stéphane Groleau

Architects: CCM2 Architectes
Location: , QC,
Project Manager: Mathieu Morel
Conception Team: Mathieu Morel, Dave Tremblay, Lydia Perron, Yan Grégoire
Area: 140.0 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Stéphane Groleau , Stephanie de la Ronde

Salk Institute. Image © Flickr CC User dreamsjung
Salk Institute. Image © Flickr CC User dreamsjung

Spotlight: Louis Kahn

Louis Kahn, (February 20th 1901 – March 17th 1974) was born Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky in Pärnu, in what is now Estonia. His family emigrated to Philadelphia when he was just a child, where Kahn would remain for the rest of his life, completing many of his later works there. Though he did not arrive at his distinctive style until his early 50s, and despite his death at the age of just 73, Kahn became known for combining Modernism with the weight and dignity of ancient monuments, and in a span of just two decades came to be considered by many as part of the pantheon of modernist architects which included Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe.

Living Under a Rock: Setenil de las Bodegas

© Flickr CC user Feli García

The Andalucian town of Setenil de las Bodegas looks like something from the set of a culturally adventurous fantasy film, but dwelling is actually common in Andalucia; being so close to the African continental plate, geological forces threw up mountain ranges and volcanoes that are perfectly suited for habitation. The rocks and caves make for surprisingly easy settlement, and the nearby Cueva de la Pileta shows evidence of a human presence up to 25,000 years ago. After that, though, the inhabitants of the caves here are mostly ignored up until the 12th century, when Setenil’s  castle appears on the historical record.

Office in Son Bugadelles / RipollTizon

© José Hevia

Architects: RipollTizon
Location: Polígon Industrial de , Carrer Alacant, 30, 07183 , Illes Balears, España
Architect In Charge: Pep Ripoll – Juan Miguel Tizón
Area: 1019.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: José Hevia