The 35-year career of Elizabeth Diller, a founding partner of the New York–based architecture studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is a study of contrasts: conceptual and pragmatic, temporary and permanent, iconoclastic and institutional. After graduating from Cooper Union in 1979, Diller started her practice mounting temporary installations with her partner and future husband, Ricardo Scofidio, their interests leaning closer to art and theory than conventional buildings and construction. Today the duo—along with Charles Renfro, who became a partner in 2004—is responsible for some of the most important architectural projects in the country. DS+R counts Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (completed in 2006) and a makeover of New York’s Lincoln Center (finalized in 2012) among its highest-profile works. Especially influential, at least among architects and academics, has been the firm’s unbuilt Slow House (1991), a proposal for a residence on Long Island, New York, renowned for its examination of how we see in a media-saturated world.
Surface recently met with Diller at her office in Manhattan to speak about the ensuing controversy, as well as early career experiences that have influenced her firm’s recent commissions for cultural institutions, including the current exhibition “Musings on a Glass Box” at the Cartier Foundation in Paris (through Feb. 25, 2015), a collaboration with composer David Lang and sound designer Jody Elff. Diller, 60, is pensive and surprisingly relaxed for someone whose aides are constantly interrupting her to remind her of meetings she has to attend. She speaks with an erudite inflection befitting her academic credentials and professional accolades (she is, after all, a professor at Princeton and a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient), though she smiles with the ease of an affable neighbor.
“The Vertical Forest is an expression of the human need for contact with nature,” stated jury president Christoph Ingenhoven. “It is a radical and daring idea for the cities of tomorrow, and without a doubt represents a model for the development of densely populated urban areas in other European countries.”
OMA is set to realize their first commercial residential project in the US: Park Grove. Planned to rise alongside the Biscayne Bay in Miami’s Coconut Grove, in close proximity to BIG’s “Grove” residences at Grand Bay, the three-tower luxury residential project will be the last building allotted for the “walkable” Floridan neighborhood.
The Science Secondary School in Kinkplatz, Vienna is the work of late Modernist architect Helmut Richter. Considered to be his most iconic and enduring work, Richter’s school is now faced with partial demolition to make way for a conversion of the building’s use and architects from around the world are making an effort to prevent that demolition from happening. Influential individuals, from Zaha Hadid to Bernard Tschumi, have signed a petition voicing their dissent and demanding that Richter’s legacy be protected. See the details, and sign the petition, after the break.
Architects, students and designers worldwide are being summoned to propose innovative design solutions centered around bamboo that explores the material's future potential. The competition, organized by World Bamboo and Damyang-Gun, hopes to “discover fresh ideas related to domestic and foreign industrialization of bamboo.” Architecture is one of three divisions in the competition. Winners will receive up to $10,000 in awards. Submissions are due November 30, 2014. You can learn more about the 2014 World Bamboo Design Competition, here.
The question of whether the traditional museum survive in the digital age has been bounced around since the dawn of digital art and archiving. In an article for The Independent, Christopher Beanland examines the issue of a global "museum boom" (especially in China where a new one opens every day), and how this is having an undoubtedly positive impact on people's quality of life. For Beanland, it's curious that "we don't splash out on council houses or universities or hospitals any more – but we do build museums and galleries." Perhaps it's because they are "a reliquary for our collective memories" and "a triumph of our collective will" or, in most cases, because they employ excellent PR and branding strategies. He notes that "despite being swamped by possessions, we've changed our views towards those things. In the second half of the 20th century, people defined themselves by what they had. But today people increasingly define themselves by what they do."
A team of California-based designers have invented an earthquake-proof column built of 3D printed sand, assembled without bricks and mortar to withstand the harshest seismic activity. The 'Quake Column' is comprised of a pre-determined formation of stackable hollow bricks which combine to create a twisting structure, optimized for intense vibrations in zones of earthquake activity. Created by design firm Emerging Objects, the column's sand-based composition is one of many in a series of experimental structures devised by the team using new materials for 3D Printing, including salt, nylon, and chocolate. The column can be easily assembled and disassembled for use in temporary and permanent structures, and was designed purposefully with a simple assembly procedure for novice builders.
Find out how the Quake Column works after the break
Demand for design services in the US has slowed. According to the latest Architecture Billings Index (ABI) reported by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the October ABI score was 53.7, down from a mark of 55.2 in September, and the new projects inquiry index fell to 62.7. Despite this, the demand is still considered “healthy” with the South showing the strongest regional conditions.
“Though it has been slow in emerging, we’re finally seeing some momentum develop in design activity for nonprofits and municipal governments, and as such we’re seeing a new round of activity in the institutional sector,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “It will be interesting to see if and how the results of the mid-term Congressional and gubernatorial elections impact this developing momentum.”
A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break.