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Code of Context: The Uneasy Excitement of Global Practice

Global, the Winter 2014 issue of ArchitectureBoston magazine, out now, is an examination of the challenges and opportunities facing architects working abroad, from the Middle East to Africa to Asia. The topics explored in this issue include how to value resource-constrained approaches, honor local vernacular, and learn from the urbanization precedents set in other parts of the world. In this article, Jay Wickersham FAIA examines how in a globalized market, architecture firms can take steps to ensure that their designs act in the best interests of the foreign communities they affect.

The signs of architecture’s globalization are all around us. Foreign students flock to Boston to study architecture, prominent buildings are designed by foreign architects, American firms build practices around international projects. Globalization has allowed architects to work outside their own regions and cultures, at a scale and with a freedom of design they might never enjoy at home. But beneath the excitement and glamour of international practice, I sense an unease. Are we creating vital and original new architectures, or are we homogenizing cities and landscapes and obliterating regional differences? Are architects helping to strengthen and develop the economies of host communities, or are they acting as unwitting tools of inequality and repression?

Sasaki Associates. Technologico de Monterrey. Monterrey, Mexico Machado and Silvetti Associates. Vietnamese-German University. Binh Duong, Vietnam Kyu Sung Woo Architects KAIST IT Convergence Building Daejeon, Korea Höweler + Yoon Architecture. Sky Courts. Chengdu, China

Archiculture Interviews: Kenneth Frampton

Following the highly anticipated world premiere of Archiculture (watch here!), Arbuckle Industries has now shared with us the first of over 30 never-before-seen full length interviews with some of the industry’s leading practitioners, all discussing the profession and how we are or should be training the next generation of designers. 

Photos of Álvaro Siza's Fundação Iberê Camargo, by Fernando Guerra

 “A painter is a magician that immobilizes time.”  - Iberê Camargo

The Fundação Iberê Camargo, which received a Golden Lion at the 2002 Venice Biennale of Architecture, is Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza's first project in Brazil. It serves as an architectural exemplar not only for the city of Porto Alegre, but also for the entire country of Brazil. Defined by Siza as "quasi-arquitecture" -- with careful explorations of light, texture, movement and space--the building cultivates a direct relationship between the viewer and the artwork, and, in turn, allows visitors to richly come into contact with Iberê's (one of the great names of twentieth-century Brazilian art) work.

"Architects don't invent anything, they just transform reality." - Álvaro Siza

The first in Brazil to use white concrete--seen around the entire exterior-- the building does not use any bricks. The visitor is guided through a trajectory of descent throughout the building via ramps in the nine exhibition halls. The monolith is supported by massive slabs, pillars and beams. No detail escaped the hands of the architect; the furniture and signage were also designed by Siza. 

Last week, the project was nominated as one of seven finalists in the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP). Now in its first edition, and with a distinguished jury (Francisco Liernur, Sarah Whiting, Wiel Arets, Dominique Perrault, e Kenneth Frampton), the MCHAP recognizes exceptional architecture built in the first 13 years of the 21st century. 

With this news, we are presenting an extensive set of photos of this important project, realized and generously shared by one of the world's most important architecture photographers: Fernando Guerra of FG+SG - Últimas reportagens.

Story written by Joanna Helm for ArchDaily Brasil. Translated by Becky Quintal.

Scroll to see Guerra's beautiful images of the Fundação Iberê Camargo:

Kenneth Frampton: What is Architecture?

We caught up with Kenneth Frampton earlier this week at the event to announce the finalists of the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) in Santiago, Chile. Beyond asking him about the MCHAP jury's selection process, we took a moment to ask our classic ArchDaily question: what is architecture? Listen to his answer in the video above, or read the transcript of his answer after the break. 

MCHAP Recognizes OMA, Holl, HdM as Finalists for Most Outstanding Projects in the Americas

The  (MCHAP) has just announced the seven finalists - drawn from a shortlist of 36 projects - at an event in Santiago, Chile.

To determine the finalists, the five jury members - Francisco Liernur, Sarah Whiting, Wiel Arets, Dominique Perrault, and Kenneth Frampton - spent the last twelve days visiting projects, speaking with the architects, users and owners of the spaces, and entering into intense debate among each other. 

As jury member Dominique Perrault noted, “There’s a lot of means by which to evaluate projects - models, drawings, images - but we took all opportunities to test the quality of the architecture. In the end, only by visiting can you sense the ‘touch of god’ - the presence of the building itself in the context.”

The resulting finalists show tremendous variety - in terms of scale, place, typology, program, materials, etc. - making the task of choosing a winner all the more challenging. See all seven finalists, as well as a video of Kenneth Frampton discussing the selection process, after the break.

The Berlage Archive: Rem Koolhaas + Kenneth Frampton (1998)

Kenneth Frampton wins Lifetime Achievement Award at Lisbon Triennale

The academic and critic Kenneth Frampton, who in the 1980s was instrumental in disseminating Portuguese architecture, as well as the idea of "critical regionalism," around the world, has won the third ever Lisbon Triennale Millenium BCP Lifetime Achievement Award, which distinguishes a person or practice whose work and ideas have been influential and continue to have a profound effect on architectural thinking and practice today.

"It is an excellent ending to this year's triennale, to give the Career Award to someone who has devoted his life to thought and architectural culture, demonstrating once again that architecture does not live only as built works," says André Tavares, director of the Architect's Journal and coordinator of the publisher Dafne.

A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America

Last monday, Columbia University's Avery Hall was buzzing. 

The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) hosted a highly attended event that welcomed respected academics and professionals from architecture and real estate to what the dean, Mark Wigley, warned might take the form a a celebrity roast. Vishaan Chakrabarti, a partner at SHoP Architects and director of the Center for Urban Real Estate at Columbia, was on deck to deliver an abridged, more "urban version" of a longer lecture on his new book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America. Proceeding the twenty minute lecture, an "A-list" panel of architects and historians -  that included Kenneth Frampton, Gwendolyn Wright, Bernard Tschumi, Laurie Hawkinson and Reinhold Martin - lined up to discuss Chakrabarti's work.

The Glass House: "Conversations in Context"

The Glass House just concluded their second annual Conversations in Context, which presents visitors with the opportunity to join in a weekly evening tour and intimate conversation with industry leaders, including Robert A.M. Stern, Michael Graves, and more.

Since the 1940s, The Glass House has served as a place of inspiration, education and conversation across creative disciplines. Its 49-acre landscape, 14 architectural structures and world-class art collection continue to draw members of an international creative community to participate in its rich story. Conversations in Context continues Philip Johnson’s legacy of using the Glass House as a place to conduct ongoing seminars with architecture students and present emerging and established architects the opportunity to discuss the current state of the industry.

The video above features Architect, critic, and historian Kenneth Frampton, along with Dean Mark Wigley from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Follow us after the break for a few of our favorite conversations from this year’s series.

Kenneth Frampton wins 2012 Schelling Architecture Theory Prize

Kenneth Frampton selected publications.
Kenneth Frampton selected publications.

British-American architect and historian Kenneth Frampton has been confirmed as this year’s winner of the Theory Prize of the Schelling Architecture Foundation. The jury is honoring Frampton for his “fundamental studies on tectonics and the architectonic large-scale form as predominant elements of urban landscapes. His theoretical range encompasses a vastness that no other prominent thinker in architecture has yet achieved. In addition, he will be honored for his accurate studies in which he has been analyzing current construction processes as well as the history of modern architecture since the early 19th century”. As the winner of the 2012 Theory Prize, Frampton will now participate as a jury member in the selection of the Schelling Architecture Prize winner. Given that of the ten winners of the Schelling architecture prize four of them have already won the Pritzker Prize – most recently Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu – the nomination for the Schelling Architecture Prize is in itself a distinction. The three nominated practices for the €20,000 Schelling Architecture Prize are:

Venice Biennale 2012: Five North American Architects / Kenneth Frampton

© Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Almost two years ago, on November 13th 2010, I had the chance to attend to a very special seminar to celebrate the 80th birthday of Kenneth Frampton at Columbia’s GSAPP. During that intense day, five north american practices presented their work followed by an interesting debate: Rick Joy Architects, Stanley Saitowitz / Natoma Architects, Patkau Architects, Steven Holl, and Shim Sutcliffe Architects. For the 13th Venice Biennale, Kenneth Frampton was invited to have his exhibit at the Arsenale, where the works of these five practices was presented on a series of videos, on a simple installation designed by Steven Holl. While we don’t have the videos shown during the Biennale, we present you the full video of the seminar (almost 6 hours), made available online by the GSAPP.

Five North American Architects / Kenneth Frampton

A Peripheral Moment

This book is an account of the highly productive decade of architectural experimentation in Croatia lodged between the violent break-up of Yugoslavia and their slow integration into the EU. Ivan Rupnik guides the reader through the emergence of this bizarre and fascinating architectural scene on the very edge of united Europe, utilizing Ljubo Karaman’s theory of the periphery as a distinct space of artistic production from that of the center or province, Manfredo Tafuri’s concept of architectural experimentation, as well contemporary notions of agency.

Back in 2009 we went to Croatia to see this architecture scene first hand, and we featured many of the projects presented in this book, that you can check out on our list of Croatian projects before you buy this book. Further info and photos after the break.