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David Adjaye’s Aishti Foundation in Beirut Nears Completion

The David Adjaye-designed Aishti Foundation in Beirut, Lebanon is nearing completion. Located in central Beirut, the building replaces former warehouses, housing both an art gallery and retail space. This unique “juxtaposition of art and shopping” inspired Adjaye and Associates “to create a design for an entirely new typology that would integrate two, often conflicting, worlds,” write the architects in a press release.

© Guillaume Ziccarelli © Guillaume Ziccarelli © Guillaume Ziccarelli © Guillaume Ziccarelli

Can Anyone Win in Architecture Criticism? An Appeal for a "New Sincerity"

In the mid-1980s, after literature had long been held hostage by postmodernist irony and cynicism, a new wave of authors called for an end to negativity, promoting a "new sincerity" for fiction. Gaining momentum into the 1990s, the movement reached a pinnacle in 1993 when, in his essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, pop-culture seer David Foster Wallace, a proponent of this "new sincerity," made the following call to action: “The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles... These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.'"

Architecture, ever in debt to the styles and ideas of other art forms, could learn a thing or two now from the resuscitation of American fiction at the turn of the millennium. It too is enduring an identity crisis, mired by pessimism and uncertainty - a reality made painfully clear this past January when a New York Times Op-Ed by Steven Bingler and Martin C. Pedersen, How to Rebuild Architecture, divided camps and made the design world fume. In the editorial, the authors spoke vehemently of an architectural profession that has become mired by egos and been disconnected from public needs. Things quickly got ugly, critics wrestled with critics and subsequently the public got involved. What no one seemed to take into account is that this type of hounding is at the core of the problem. In its current landscape the discipline has struggled with its past, been deferential to its present, and wrestled with the uncertainty of its future. In a moment when we have become addicted to despondency, can anyone win?

Adjaye Associates' Sugar Hill Development Offers a Different Model for Public Housing

In discussion with Calvin Tomkins for a 2013 profile in The New Yorker, David Adjaye spoke intensely on the significance of his Sugar Hill Development. “Context,” said Adjaye, “is so important, not to mimic but to become part of the place. I wanted a building that acknowledges its surroundings.” The recently-completed project is the brainchild of Ellen Baxter, leader of Broadway Housing Communities (BHC), a non-profit that has made strides to create innovative housing schemes in Upper Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. In an era where mixed-used developments are routine, Sugar Hill adds new dimensions to the typology by uniting affordable apartments, an early childhood education center, offices for the BHC, and the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling.

In conjunction with their full building review written by Rob Bevan, The Architectural Review has produced this video which introduces the broader public to the tenants, allowing us to better understand the building’s use, intentions, and the design philosophy.

The Barack Obama Presidential Center: Adjaye or Not Adjaye?

There has been much debate, speculation and excitement among architectural enthusiasts about who is on the shortlist to design the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. After spending an afternoon viewing “Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye,” now on at the Art Institute of Chicago, I’m more convinced than ever that Adjaye is the right person for the job.

LOBBY #3: Meaningful Defiance in a Disengaged Culture

© Anna Andersen / Regner Ramos
© Anna Andersen / Regner Ramos

'Defiance' manifests itself in many forms: riots in Baltimore, makeshift housing in Rwanda, Pink Floyd in Venice and plants growing where they ought not sprout. To defy the norm is an act of rebellion and in architecture, doubly so. In the third issue of LOBBY, the burgeoning magazine from London's Bartlett School of Architecture, the notion of defiance and its incarnations are investigated in a collection of essays, interviews and discussions with leading and emerging thinkers in urbanism and architecture. From Swiss master Mario Botta to Carme Pinós, former partner to Enric Miralles, this latest LOBBY investigates the act of defiance as a core tenet of architectural practice.

© Anna Andersen / Regner Ramos © Anna Andersen / Regner Ramos © Anna Andersen / Regner Ramos © Anna Andersen / Regner Ramos

Bringing Design to a Broad Audience: The 7th New York Architecture and Design Film Festival

October has become a busy month in the design world. If you’re living in the United States, New York specifically, it means Archtober: a portmanteau that means the city is flooded with architecture activities, programs and exhibitions, piled onto an already rich design calendar. One of these events is the New York Architecture & Design Film Festival, which started on Tuesday night and runs through Sunday October 18th, and will screen 30 films from around the world in 15 curated, themed programs.

This week, I was able to visit the festival to absorb the atmosphere and speak to the festival's director Kyle Bergman, to learn the ins and outs of this year’s festival, how things got started, and where it will go in the future.

Chicago Tribune Says 11 "High Caliber" Architects Asked to Submit Qualifications for Obama Library

The University of Chicago's two proposed sites. Image ©
The University of Chicago's two proposed sites. Image ©

Update: The Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin has now reported that 140 architects from 60 cities have expressed their interest in designing the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago by submitting qualifications. Of these, 99 are based in the United States, although names have not been released. The below article, originally published on September 1st, lists 11 architects that Kamin was able to confirm had been invited to submit qualifications by the Barack Obama Foundation.

Last week, it was reported that the Barack Obama Foundation was searching globally for an architect to design Obama's Presidential Library and Museum (officially known as the Barack Obama Presidential Center). With the list of invited candidates for Obama's Presidential Center still a closely-guarded secret, though, the Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin has turned investigator, uncovering a list of 11 firms among the "fifty or more" which are believed to have been invited. Kamin states that the 11 firms he has confirmed to be in the running are "A) Of high caliber; B) Represent a broad geographic and aesthetic spectrum; and C) Include the established firms one would expect to be invited."

David Adjaye Designs "Ruby City" for Linda Pace Foundation in San Antonio

The Linda Pace Foundation has unveiled plans for a new building designed by Adjaye Associates. Planned to open in San Antonio, Texas in 2018, "Ruby City" will house the Foundation's growing collection of contemporary art. The two-story structure, clad in "crimson-hued panels of precast concrete with glass aggregate," will be distinct with its "dramatic rooftop of sloping angles and skylights that rise to varying heights and echo cut-away spaces at the building’s base."

David Adjaye Awarded the 2016 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT

David Adjaye has been selected as the winner of MIT's 2016 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts, which honors “individuals whose artistic trajectory reveals that they will achieve the highest distinction in their fields and continue to produce inspiring work for many years to come.” The award consists of $100,000 prize in addition to an artist residency at MIT in the spring of 2016. During the residency, Adjaye will participate in four different public events, including panels and symposia.

Rivington Place / Adjaye Assocates. Image © Lyndon Douglas Museum of Contemporary Art / Adjaye Associates. Image Courtesy of Adjaye Associates Francis Gregory Library / Adjaye Associates. Image © Edmund Sumner Sugar Hill Development / Adjaye Associates. Image Courtesy of Adjaye Associates

David Adjaye: "Architecture Cannot be Autonomous"

"I believe that for architecture to be emotionally relevant to people, that there has to be a connection, [that] there has to be a relationship, that architecture cannot be autonomous. If it's not connected to the lives of people, the histories of people, I think there's a problem." In a recent interview with Aljazeera's Lisa Fletcher, British architect David Adjaye discusses his recent work and how the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History will serve as a "negotiator" on racial tension in the US. Read the full interview, here

Exhibition: Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye

With over 50 built projects across the world, David Adjaye is rapidly emerging as a major international figure in architecture and design. Rather than advancing a signature architectural style, Adjaye’s structures address local concerns and conditions through both a historical understanding of context and a global understanding of modernism. The first comprehensive museum survey devoted to Adjaye, this exhibition offers an in-depth overview of the architect’s distinct approach and visual language with a dynamic installation design conceived by Adjaye Associates.

David Adjaye Unveils Design for Cancer Centre in Rwanda

Full Building Exterior. Image Courtesy of Adjaye Associates
Full Building Exterior. Image Courtesy of Adjaye Associates

Adjaye Associates have unveiled their design for the Eugene Gasana Jr. Foundation Paediatric Cancer Centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Located on a four-hectare site, the centre will include a 100-bed hospital, lodging for outpatients and residential housing for hospital staff. The design is inspired by the region’s vernacular architecture, and by the local Imigongo art form, which often includes black, white and red geometric patterns.

Read on to learn more about the project.

David Adjaye’s Temporary Museum Hosts "All the World's Future's" at Venice's 56th International Art Exhibition

A temporary pavilion designed by London-based firm Adjaye Associates is housing a selection of works for the 56th International Art Exhibition, "All the World's Futures," in Venice. Curated by Okwui Enwezor, the exhibition explores the numerous ways in which art can be experienced in "an unfolding of typologies." Adjaye Associate's temporary museum seeks to parallel Enwezor's curatorial vision, and is nestled within a 316-meter-long, 16th-century ship-building warehouse in the Arsenale district.

Courtesy of Adjaye Associates Courtesy of Adjaye Associates Courtesy of Adjaye Associates Courtesy of Adjaye Associates

The 17 Top Architect-Designed Products at Milan Design Week 2015

The 54th edition of Milan Design Week (also known as Salone del Mobile) recently came to a close. In celebration of its success, we have compiled a list of the most talked about architect-designed products showcased this year. Take a look after the break to see new products from Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, and more. 

Soft / Nendo. Image Courtesy of Nendo Blur / Ron Arad. Image © Moroso via Dezeen Langley / David Chipperfield. Image © e15 Open / Rem Koolhaas. Image © Olivari via Domus

7 Architects Designing a Diverse Future in Africa

As the legacy of the Cold War fades and Western preeminence gradually becomes a thing of the past, population booms in Asia followed by the growth of a vast non-western middle class have seriously challenged the Western perception of the world. The East has become the focal point of the world’s development.

If East Asia is the present focal point of this development, the future indisputably lies in Africa. Long featuring in the Western consciousness only as a land of unending suffering, it is now a place of rapidly falling poverty, increasing investment, and young populations. It seems only fair that Africa’s rich cultures and growing population (predicted to reach 1.4 billion by 2025) finally take the stage, but it’s crucially important that Africa’s future development is done right. Subject to colonialism for centuries, development in the past was characterized by systems that were designed for the benefit of the colonists. Even recently, resource and energy heavy concrete buildings, clothes donations that damage native textile industries, and reforestation programs that plant water hungry and overly flammable trees have all been seen, leaving NGOs open to accusations of well-meaning ignorance.

Fortunately, a growth in native practices and a more sensible, sensitive approach from foreign organizations has led to the rise of architectural groups creating buildings which learn from and improve Africa. Combining local solutions with the most appropriate Western ideas, for the first time these new developments break down the perception of monolithic Africa and have begun engaging with individual cultures; using elements of non-local architecture when they improve a development rather than creating a pastiche of an imagined pan-African culture. The visions these groups articulate are by no means the same - sustainable rural development, high end luxury residences and dignified civic constructions all feature - but they have in common their argument for a bright future across Africa. We’ve collected seven pioneers of Africa’s architectural awakening - read on after the break for the full article and infographic.

Pretoria's Freedom Park, designed by MMA Design Studio with GAPP Architects and MRA Architects. Image Courtesy of MMA Design Studio, GAPP Architects and MRA Architects The Makoko Floating School in Lagos, Nigeria. Image © NLÉ Architects Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. Image © Iwan Baan Red Pepper House in Lamu, Kenya. Image © Alberto Heras

"Narratives of History, Climate, Culture and Place" Abound in David Adjaye Retrospective

Starting January 29th, Munich's Haus der Kunst will host "Form, Heft, Material," a major retrospective of the work of British architect David Adjaye. Co-curated by Okwui Enwezor and Zoe Ryan, the exhibition's broad catalogue reflects Adjaye's diverse career and portfolio, including architectural projects alongside material experiments, research, and furniture design. Through sketches, models, prints, drawings, 1:1 building fragments, film, and text, "Form, Heft, Material" foregrounds Adjaye's work against the rich geographical and social context that frames his design approach.

6 of Russia's Best 21st Century Projects

Given the country's rich architectural history spanning almost the entirety of the 20th century, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the fall of Russian Communism in the early 1990s might have sparked an exciting new era in design. That promise hasn't exactly been fulfilled, but as The Calvert Journal reports, a few promising recent projects are hinting at a Russian Renaissance.

The last twenty years of architecture has added little but bog-standard steel-and-glass office blocks to the limited palate of the Russian cityscape — the usual glinting onion domes, pompous Stalinist neoclassicism and crumbling tower blocks. But lately some architects have dared to differ and turned bold blueprints into bricks and mortar. Read on after the break for our pick of the best Russian buildings of the last decade.

Courtesy of Totan Kuzembaev © Ostozhenka Bureau © Fotikdepo © The Calvert Journal

The Z Axis International Conference to Explore "Great City, Terrible Place" in India

Curated by the Charles Correa Foundation, the Z Axis is an annual conference bringing together pioneers, thought leaders, influencers, professionals, and students in the fields of architecture and urban design to create an intellectual community focused on issues related to the context of India and the developing world. Fifteen speakers will gather from across the globe to explore the theme of Great City…Terrible Place, including Charles CorreaDavid Adjaye, Alfredo Brillembourg of Urban Think Tank, Spain's "guerrilla architect" Santiago Cirugeda, Simone Sfriso of Studio TAM Associati and more.