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In Defense of Rewarding Vanity Height

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 other's best construction efforts (jokes about the Freudian nature 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.

Bernard Tschumi On His Education, Work and Writings

In this extended interview between Bernard Tschumi and The Architectural Review's Paul Finch, the pre-eminent Swiss-born architect discusses his education, writing, design and wider critical position. Speaking candidly, Tschumi explains how a visit to Chicago when he was seventeen years old sparked a life-long passion for architectural design - something that had been somewhat repressed due to his father who was, at that time, one of the world's most highly respected architects. His friendship with British architect and theorist Cedric Price led to the start of a career that saw his proposals for Paris's Parc de la Villette foreshadow the age of Deconstructivism. Ending with his take on the future of the profession, Tschumi also offers advice to students and young practices looking to make their mark.

Spotlight: Louis Sullivan

Louis Sullivan, Chicago's "Father of Skyscrapers" who foreshadowed modernism with his famous phrase "form follows function," would have turned 158 today. Sullivan was an architectural prodigy even as a young man, graduating high school and beginning his studies at MIT when he was just 16. After just a year of study he dropped out of MIT, and by the time he was just 24 he had joined forces with Dankmar Adler as a full partner of Adler and Sullivan.

Engine Company 16 FireHouse / DLR Group

  • Architects: DLR Group
  • Location: 3901 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60653, USA
  • Area: 20000.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 2012
  • Photographs: Courtesy of DLR Group

Courtesy of DLR Group Courtesy of DLR Group Courtesy of DLR Group Courtesy of DLR Group

Godfrey Hotel / Valerio Dewalt Train Associates

  • Architects: Valerio Dewalt Train Associates
  • Location: Chicago, IL, USA
  • Architects Personnel: Joseph Valerio, FAIA; David Jennerjahn, AIA; Louis Ray, AIA; Steve Droll, AIA; Brad Pausha, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; Kurt Volkman, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; Robert Webber, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; Kathryn Soven, LEED AP BD+C; Lauren Shelton, AIA, LEED AP
  • Area: 53839.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Steve Hall - Hedrich Blessing

© Steve Hall - Hedrich Blessing © Steve Hall - Hedrich Blessing © Steve Hall - Hedrich Blessing © Steve Hall - Hedrich Blessing

MAD Architects + Studio Gang Selected for Chicago's George Lucas Museum

After the controversy surrounding their rejection by San Francisco and subsequent relocation to Chicago, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts has today announced a team of MAD Architects and Studio Gang as the designers of their new building in Chicago's museum district near Northerly Island.

The building itself will be designed by MAD Architects, chosen "because of its innovative approach to design and the firm’s philosophy of connecting urban spaces to natural landscapes." In this case, that landscape will be designed by Studio Gang, who will also add a bridge to Northerly Island, an area which they have worked on turning into an ecologically diverse urban park.

Video: A 3-Minute History of Chicago's Millenium Park

Did you know Millenium Park in ChicagoIllinois was actually a desolate industrial wasteland until the turn of the century? The 24.5 acre public park, host to a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design, and art, is now a popular destination for residents and tourists alike -- all thanks to an unprecedented public-private partnership pioneered by former Mayor Richard Daley. To learn more about how Daley made Millenium Park a reality, with the help of famous designers like Frank Gehry, check out the video above.

VIDEO: Chicago's Three Tallest Buildings Simultaneously Struck by Lightning

Lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place - or so goes the saying. But if you've ever watched a skyscraper in a storm, you probably know that this saying isn't exactly true. What might be a little more rare is lightning striking three places at once, but thanks to this amazing timelapse video by Craig Shimala we now know that this too is possible, as the lightning rods on Chicago's Willis Tower, Trump Tower and John Hancock Center are all hit simultaneously (keep an eye out at the 36-second mark, and see the still image after the break). Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that this is the second time Shimala has recorded this exact occurrence - you can also see his video from 2010 after the break.

Chicago Unveils Plans for Its Own Architecture Biennial

Today, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will announce plans for a new international architecture exhibition in his city which hopes to rival the reach and influence of the Venice Architecture Biennale. The first Chicago Architecture Biennial is planned to be held in late 2015, and will be co-curated by Director of the Graham Foundation Sarah Herda, and Joseph Grima, former editor-in-chief of Domus Magazine and co-curator of the 2012 Istanbul Design Biennial.

They will develop the program with help from David Adjaye, Elizabeth Diller, Jeanne Gang, Frank GehryStanley Tigerman, Sylvia Lavin, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Pritzker Prize Jury Chair Peter Palumbo. 

More on the plans for the Chicago Architecture Biennial after the break

How Safe Are Glass Skyscrapers Really?

Imagine standing on a glass platform with Chicago 1300 feet directly below. Suddenly, the glass holding you begins to crack. This actually happened to Alejandro Garibay at the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) just last week. Luckily, Garibay wasn't hurt, but the occurrence begs the question: how safe is glass - the most common material used in skyscrapers nowadays - really? Karrie Jacobs At Fast Company - Design, asked materials experts to find out "The Truth Behind Building With Glass."  

10 Fires That Changed Architecture Forever

With no casualties, last week's fire at the Glasgow School of Art, which caused significant damage to parts of the building and gutted Charles Rennie Mackintosh's canonical library room, will be remembered as a tragic event that robbed us of one of the best examples of Art Nouveau of its time. The intention of the Glasgow School of Art is to restore the building in the hope that in generations to come, the fire will be all but forgotten, a strategy which has been largely well received by the profession. 

However, in the case of other fires things have not gone so smoothly: for millennia, fire has played a big role in determining the course of architectural history - by destroying precious artifacts, but often also by allowing something new to rise from the ashes. Read on after the break as we count down the top 10 fires that changed the course of architectural history.

10 Fires That Changed Architecture Forever The Hagia Sophia. Image © Flickr CC User Collin Key The Reichstag. Image © Flickr CC User Sebastian Niedlich Chicago. Image © Flickr CC User Brad Wilke

Pezo Von Ellrichshausen's Poli House Wins Inaugural MCHAP for Emerging Architecture

Yesterday at the Illinois Institute of Technology's (IIT), Pezo Von Ellrichshausen was awarded the prestigious Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) for Emerging Architecture. Selected for their finely crafted, concrete Poli House, which serves as both a summer residence and cultural center on the Coliumo Peninsula, the Chilean firm was the first practice ever to receive the prize. 

VIDEO: Jeanne Gang on Resurrecting a Chicago Landmark

Shoreland, once a prominent destination built for the stars in 1926, stood derelict for years at risk of being erased from Chicago’s built history. This all changed the moment Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects seized an opportunity to restore the monumental building into a highly sought after residential tower.

Provided by our friends at Spirit of Space, the video above takes you through the meticulous process and unique transformation of this historic landmark, highlighting insight by Gang herself and David Gwinn of Silliman Group.

For more on Gang's design philosophy, watch our recent ArchDaily interview with her after the break...

Luftwerk Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Transform Mies’ Farnsworth House into Visual Spectacular

The creative minds behind Luftwerk have turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund a project that would transform Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House into an immersive light show. Similar to their installation at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater residence in 2011, artistic duo Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero plan to illuminate the “structural minimalism and transparency” of the house in a way that would offer a new perspective of the modern masterpiece. 

Check out a video of the proposed light show and Luftwerk’s work at Fallingwater, after the break...

Four Architects Shortlisted for Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize for Emerging Architecture

Four projects have been shortlisted for the inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) for Emerging Architecture. Announced by the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and its Dean Wiel Arets, the prestigious prize aims to recognize an emerging practice with the most outstanding built work in the Americas. The winner, which will be announced in May, will be awarded a $25,000 prize and an IIT research professorship that will focus on rethinking the metropolis.

Spanning the Americas from Chile to Canada, the shortlisted projects are... 

George Lucas Looks to Chicago

After being rejected, alongside two other shortlisted proposals, by San Francisco’s Presidio Trust to build a self-tiled cultural arts museum at Crissy Field, George Lucas has turned his attention to the windy city of Chicago. According to a report by the SunTimes, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has challenged civic leaders to find an “accessible” site for the proposed 95,000-square-foot Lucas Cultural Arts Museum by mid-May. 

Infographic: The Bauhaus, Where Form Follows Function

UPDATE: In honor of the 81st anniversary of the day the Bauhaus closed in 1933, we’re re-publishing this popular infographic, which was originally published April 16th, 2012.

From the “starchitect” to “architecture for the 99%,” we are witnessing a shift of focus in the field of architecture. However, it’s in the education system where these ideas really take root and grow. This sea change inspired us to explore past movements, influenced by economic shifts, war and the introduction of new technologies, and take a closer look at the bauhaus movement.

Often associated with being anti-industrial, the Arts and Crafts Movement had dominated the field before the start of the Bauhaus in 1919. The Bauhaus’ focus was to merge design with industry, providing well designed products for the many.

The Bauhaus not only impacted design and architecture on an international level, but also revolutionized the way design schools conceptualize education as a means of imparting an integrated design approach where form follows function.

Lecture: 'What Mammals Want', by Jeanne Gang

Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang, will be hosting a public lecture at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on Monday, April 28, 2014. The lecture, named 'What Mammals Want', will start at 5:15pm and seating is first-come, first-served.