Richard Rogers Donates His Parents’ Home To Harvard GSD

Richard Roger’s parents’ house in Wimbledon, . Image © Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners LLP

Richard Rogers has announced that the home he built for his parents in Wimbledon, London, will be gifted to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) for the training of doctorates in the field of architecture. The home, which will be donated by his charity, the Richard Rogers Charitable Settlement, was completed between 1967 and 1968 by Richard and his then wife Su Rogers. Originally designed for his parents, Dr. William Nino and Dada Rogers, the Grade II* listed pre-fabrictated single storey dwelling was later adapted for Rogers’ son Ab and his family, before being put on the market in 2013 for £3.2million ($4.8million).

Harvard’s Material Processes and Systems Group Investigates Structural Ceramics

© Martin Bechthold

With “Protoceramics,” the Material Processes and Systems Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (MaP+S) sought to investigate the architectural possibilities of a material that might often be overlooked: thin, large-format ceramic tiles designed to act as interior finishes or exterior cladding. Instead of accepting the tiles’ designation as a surface finish, the team investigated three ways to use them as a self-supporting structural component as part of their ongoing experiment to produce “novel material formations with a special interest in tectonic performance.” The three techniques employed focused on the acts of cutting, folding and bending.

Harvard GSD To Host Exhibition Exploring ‘Dualisms’ In Architecture

© Justin Knight

A new at the Harvard Graduate School of Design by Iñaki Ábalos and  (Ábalos+Sentkiewicz) will explore Dualisms in architecture: the notion that most historic architecture takes its “composite tension from two theoretically incompatible morphological organisations that correspond to different disciplines or languages.” Suggesting that these organisations can possess elements of “compatibility and incompatibility” simultaneously, the appearance of “a kind of hybrid ‘Frankenstein’s monster’” is characterized by dualism in architecture. For the curators, Dualisms act not only performatively, but also in a creative and composite way. “They are, at once, constraints and formative opportunities.”

Harvard GSD To Host Exhibition Exploring The Architecture And Symbolism Of National Libraries

National libraries, often monumental in scale and “dominated by nationalistic ambitions and overwhelming architectural details,” will be the subject of a new exhibition opening later this month at the Graduate School of Design (GSD). Icons of Knowledge: Architecture and Symbolism in National Libraries seeks to examine why national libraries are amongst the most symbolic icons of modern day countries. Amidst the global milieu of the “rapid digitisation of print,” this exhibition aims to shed light on why nations are “vehemently investing resources in the construction of buildings that will project their cultural legacy and house the most precious treasures of their written history.”

Salvaged Stadium: Harvard GSD Student Yaohua Wang’s Proposal for Post-Olympic Adaptation

© Yaohua Wang

Olympic host cities around the world are increasingly facing issues of post-event sustainability, with many stadiums and arenas falling into disuse and dilapidation mere months after the games. The soaring costs associated with constructing Olympic facilities have plagued organizers for decades, resulting in an all-time low number of bids from host cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to the International Olympic Committee. Yaohua Wang is a recent architecture graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a native of China - where facilities constructed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics are slowly being converted to new post-Olympic uses, typified by the transformation of the Watercube into the city’s newest waterpark. Wang’s thesis project, Salvaged Stadium, delves into the afterlife of Olympic facilities, providing a solution for arena reuse with potential for application worldwide.

Find out how Wang re-evaluated the Olympic development problem after the break

Reflections on the 2014 Venice Biennale

Fundamentals (Central Pavilion): Ceiling. Image © David Levene

Fundamentals, the title of the 2014 Venice Biennale, will close its doors in a matter of days (on the 23rd November). From the moment revealed the title for this year’s Biennale in January 2013, asking national curators to respond directly to the theme of ‘Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014’, there was an inkling that this Biennale would be in some way special. Having rejected offers to direct the Biennale in the past, the fact that Koolhaas chose to act not only as curator but also thematic co-ordinator of the complete international effort, was significant. This announcement led Peter Eisenman (one of Koolhaas’ earliest tutors and advocates) to state in one interview that “[Rem is] stating his end: the end of [his] career, the end of [his] hegemony, the end of [his] mythology, the end of everything, the end of architecture.”

And the Best US Architecture Schools for 2015 Are…

The Trays at . Image © Kris Snibbe/ University News Office

DesignIntelligence has released their 2015 rankings of the Best US Architecture Schools for both undergraduate and graduate programs. Over 1,400 professional practice organizations were surveyed and asked to respond to the question: “In your firm’s hiring experience in the past five years, which of the following schools are best preparing students for success in the profession?” In addition, more than 3,800 architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and industrial design students were also surveyed about their education, in data presented separately from the rankings.

However, perhaps more enlightening than the ranking itself are the firms’ responses to several additional issues raised in the report.  For example, 54.6% of the firms surveyed selected sustainability and climate change as the professions’ biggest concern, while maintaining design quality was a close second.  Firms also provided insights on the most important qualities of new graduates entering the workplace, with an overwhelming 70.1% selecting attitude/personality as the most important attribute.

Read on after the break for the Top 10 undergraduate and graduate programs.

Rem Koolhaas’ Current Fascinations: On Identity, Asia, the Biennale, & More

Courtesy of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design, via Flickr

In this interview, originally published in The Architectural Review, Andrew Mackenzie sits down with founder Rem Koolhaas to discuss the Venice Biennale, the extinction of national identities, his fascination with Asia, the link between De Rotterdam and Delirious New York, and the future of the profession.

Your proposition for this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale asks whether national identity has been, as you say, ‘sacrificed to modernity’. Some might view this as a project of reclamation, not unlike Frampton’s regionalism. How would you differentiate your proposition from Frampton’s?

Well, Kenneth Frampton is a smart guy, but the problem is that he looked at regionalism as an antidote to cosmopolitan development. In so doing he perverted the cause of regionalism, because suddenly regionalism was mobilised as a private cause that it couldn’t sustain. However, the question of national identity is an open one. For instance, at first sight the Netherlands is a very internationalist country, but looking closely you can see an enormous return of, not vernacular, but quasi-vernacular architecture and quasi-old fortresses that are newly built with a national flavour. Look at Zaandam, and that huge assemblage of so-called vernacular buildings.

Open Letters / Harvard Graduate School of Design

Courtesy of Open Letters

Launched in September 2013 by students at the Graduate School of Design, Open Letters is a print experiment that tests the epistolary form as a device for generating conversations about architecture and design. The project stems from an earnest curiosity about what people have to say to each other about architecture, landscapes, cities, ideas, history, practice, experience and learning. 

New issues are released every other Friday, each presenting one open letter, i.e. a letter addressed to a particular party, but intended for publication, about any topic relating to the design disciplines. Past correspondents have written to mentors, chairs, trees, mystical creatures, those in need of advice and to NCARB. All issues can be read online.

A Radical New Approach to Prison Design

© Glen Santayana

A recent topic that has been receiving attention among architects is the issue of designing prisons. The increased awareness of the problem has been spearheaded by Raphael Sperry, founder of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, who has been campaigning to have the AIA forbid members from designing execution chambers or solitary confinement units. At the other end of the scale, Deanna VanBuren, a principle of FOURM Design Studio and a member of ADPSR herself, has championed ‘restorative justice’, an approach to the justice system which emphasizes rehabilitation and reconciliation in order to prevent people from re-offending.

Now Glen Santayana, a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, has used his thesis project to add to this debate, designing PriSchool – a prison which both integrates with a school of criminology and is embedded within the community. Could this radical approach to prison design really be an answer to the stretched prison system in the US (and elsewhere)? Read on after the break to find out more.

AD Interviews: Ben van Berkel, UNStudio on London’s Canaletto Tower

Ben van Berkel. Image © Inga Powilleit

ArchDaily recently spoke to Ben van Berkel, co-founder and principal architect at UNStudio, an international network of specialists in architecture, urban development and infrastructure based in the Netherlands. The office, which was founded in 1988, has completed projects around the world ranging from ’s Erasmus Bridge to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. With over 81 built projects, and 54 currently in progress (including Raffles City in Hangzhou and Scotts Tower in Singapore), London’s Canaletto Tower (which is due to be completed in 2015) marks the practice’s first major project in the UK.

Are Ivy League Schools Really Offering the Best Architectural Education?

University’s Gund Hall. Image Courtesy of University

In Design Intelligence‘s annual rankings of US Architecture Schools, released earlier this month, there is certainly a lot to talk about. Of course, plenty will be said about what is shown immediately by the statistics, and rightly so – but just as interesting is what is revealed between the lines of this report, about the schools themselves and the culture they exist within. By taking the opinions of professional architects, teachers and students, the Design Intelligence report exposes a complex network which, when examined closely enough, reveals what some might see as a worrying trend within architectural education.

For Architects Only? How Kanye Exposed Architecture’s Bias

© Noam Dvir, Instagram User dvirnm

When Kanye West spoke with students at my alma mater on Sunday evening, he said “I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be ‘architected.’” In the social media frenzy that followed, a recurring response that I saw on architecture-centric sites was to snicker at West’s use of the word “architect” as a verb. For many, this was symbolic of West’s ignorance and hubris as he presumed to talk about something without knowing anything.

Except, of course, that “architect” is well recognized as a verb. Dictionaries say so, architects say so, and academics say so. If you’re architect Doug Patt and call yourself howtoarchitect on YouTube, you get a contract from MIT Press to write a book—called How to Architect. If you are the French philosopher Louis Marin, you can suggest that “the castle and gardens of Versailles ‘architect’ the Prince to make him not only the absolute of political power, but the center of the cosmos in its entirety,” and you will be counted among the most eminent semioticians of the twentieth century. If you are architecture theorist K. Michael Hays, you might stand up at an academic conference and say, “There are only certain things that can be done at this moment. Not just anything can be architected at this moment, right? There are limits.” When you do, people will nod and applaud.

But if you are and you suggest that “everything needs to actually be ‘architected,’” it disqualifies you to speak about architecture.

Kanye West Drops In on Harvard’s GSD

© Noam Dvir, Instagram User dvirnm

UPDATE: The AASU has released a statement on ’s invitation and visit, which you can find at the end of the post. Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the GSD, has also commented on the visit.

Kanye West surprised students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) last night by dropping in un-announced before his Sunday night concert at the TD Garden in Boston. He gave a short motivational speech to the crowd that quickly formed in the GSD’s signature “trays.” West told the students:

I just wanted to tell you guys: I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be “architected.” [...] I believe that utopia is actually possible—but we’re led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political. So in no way am I a politician—I’m usually at my best politically incorrect and very direct. I really appreciate you guys’ willingness to learn and hone your craft, and not be lazy about creation.

GSD student Sekou Cooke, writer of “Keep Talking Kanye: An Architect’s Defense of Kanye West,” confirmed to an ArchDaily editor that West had in fact seen his post defending West’s right to speak-up about architectural issues and act as a role model for young potential architects of color. Although his visit with the student body was unexpected, West had been invited by Harvard GSD’s African American Student Union (AASU). Following a meeting with the AASU’s core group of leaders—during which West led a conversation regarding under-represented minorities in the design disciplines—the star was inspired to briefly address the rest of the students. West also gifted 300 tickets to his show to the GSD. In fact, in an uncharacteristic moment of insecurity, West told the crowd of students:

Tonight, this show, if you come see it—um, I’m a bit self conscious because I’m showing it to architects. So the stage does have flaws in it. It’s an expression of emotion so give me a pass on that.

See images and video of West’s GSD visit, after the break…

SOHO China’s Zhang Xin on Balancing Design and Commercial Viability

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The list of architects that have collaborated with Zhang Xin’s development company, SOHO China, reads like the roster of an architectural dream team (which includes Zaha Hadid, Yung Ho Chang, Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima, Herzog & de Meuron, Thom Mayne, David Adjaye, Toyo Ito and others). So it’s no surprise that the self-made billionaire lectured to a packed house at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design last Thursday. Xin spoke about her commitment to and love of design, explaining that her company’s mission is to bring a variety of architectural languages to China. And though SOHO’s projects are certainly experimental, Xin contends that her developer mindset actually helps meliorate the architect’s propensity to take the experiment too far—all without sacrificing the impressive and iconic forms of SOHO’s building portfolio.

Watch Zhang Xin link her practice in real estate to larger global issues and catch a glimpse of two Zaha Hadid-designs currently under construction: Wangjing SOHO and Sky SOHO.

AD Interviews Eduardo Souto de Moura On His Latest Prize

Prtizker laureate Eduardo Souto de Moura accepts the at a ceremony held at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in September. Image © Yusuke Suzuki for Harvard GSD Events

ArchDaily got the chance to briefly speak with Pritzker-prize winning Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura when he (along with the Porto Metro Authority) received the Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design earlier this month. His design for the Metro system in Porto, Portugal garnered high praise from the jury, with member Rahul Mehrotra explaining that the project “shows generosity to the public realm unusual for contemporary infrastructure projects.” Upon receipt of the award, the head of the Porto Metro, João Velez Carvalho, thanked Souto de Moura for his efforts in this “urban revolution” and touted Porto as a destination in which people actively and enthusiastically seek out the architecture of Souto de Moura and fellow Portuguese architect

Souto de Moura spent a few moments with us to describe both the challenges and rewards of working on a project that saw the completion of 60 new stations constructed in 10 years within the sensitive fabric of the city of Porto—a UNESCO World Heritage site.

ArchDaily: What is your opinion of architecture prizes?

Eduardo Souto de Moura: I won’t be modest, I like describing my opinion about them because the profession is so tough and difficult that is it complicated to achieve a high level of quality. So when you’re awarded a prize it’s like a confirmation of your effort. But the other thing is that a project is not the act of an individual, it’s a collective act. When there’s a prize, the press and the people, the “anonymous people,” go see the project and talk about it, critique it. That’s what gives me the motivation to continue in the profession. And every time it gets more difficult.

AD Interviews: Iñaki Abalos

Yesterday, Iñaki Abalos was announced as the new Chair of the Department of Architecture at GSD; he will begin on July 1st, 2013.

Abalos is a renowned Spanish architect, with much experience in both the academy and the professional field. He started his career together with Juan Herreros at the highly acclaimed firm Abalos + Herreros (1984-2006), and has been working since 2006 with Renata Sentkiewicz at Abalos+Sentkiewicz.

Highspeed Train Station in Logroño / Abalos+Sentkiewicz © Jose Hevia

His work always tries to find a balance between technical precision and the integration with the environment and landscape. This has evolved into the concept of “Thermodynamic Beauty”, a concept embodied in his buildings and constantly evolving throughout his academic efforts, which have included the authorship of several books and professorships at the ESTA Madrid, Harvard, Columbia, EPF Laussane, Princeton, Cornell and the BIArch Barcelona. At the GSD he was acting as Professor in Residence, leading studios, lectures, and seminars related to his focus on technology and history, the thermal properties of architecture and the integration of natural elements.

Abalos will soon lead one of the most influential architecture schools in the world, a tremendous responsibility given the challenges of , which we discuss in this interview. He also talks about how architects lost their authority after post-modernism, and suggests that we could get it back by cultivating a problem solving expertise on the world’s greatest challenges: climate change, the high density of the cities, and more.

AD Interviews: Preston Scott Cohen

I first learned about Preston Scott Cohen’s work when I read about the Goodman House, a simple and elegant operation of a concrete shell housing an ancient Dutch barn frame. But after further investigation, I was surprised to see a constant spatial and formal research of his work, that we have witnessed in the latest three public buildings from his office and featured on ArchDaily.

On one side we have the Nanjing Performing Arts Center, a curved roof related to the surroundings with a tower that anchors the project on the extended landscape. Also in China, the Taiyuan Museum (under construction) continues the geometric explorations with a tessellated surface that wraps a series of different spaces which alternate with courtyards that maintain a relation with the exterior.

When we visited Preston in Boston for this interview we had the chance to see a preview of his latest work, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (also shown during construction at AD),  recently completed and now in final preparations to receive the art pieces and finally be open to the public.  The exterior geometry of the building has a dynamic look, due to the changing shadows, while the interior features a careful use of natural light in the exhibitions spaces thanks to a lightfall that crosses the building.

Preston is also the Chair of the Department of Architecture of GSD, a role that allowed us to talk about the challenges of architectural education.