A Mini Marble Manhattan

Courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery

You’ve never seen Manhattan quite like this: Metropolis Magazine‘s Komal Sharma takes a look at “Little Manhattan“, a by Yutaka Sone which renders the famous island in 2.5 tons of solid marble. The power of the artwork lies in the play with scale: the initial impression of a huge marble block contrasts with the tiny, intricately detailed skyline forming a mere skin on top; the subsequent realization that this skin corresponds to the familiar vertical city brings you to a more complete understanding of ’s scale. You can read the full article here.

Deborah Sussman: Breaking the Boundaries Between Architecture & Graphic Design

© Flickr CC User David Cobb

In this delightful article on Metropolis Magazine, Christopher Hawthorne recounts his meeting with Deborah Sussman, the one-time protégé of Charles and Ray Eames whose work breaks the boundaries between graphic and architecture. From her collaboration with Frank Gehry to her iconic designs for the 1984 LA Olympics, Sussman has come to define a curiously Californian style. You can read the full article here.

INTERIORS: The Monthly Zine Mapping Film’s Fascinating Spaces

Up, Issue 15. Image Courtesy of Interiors Journal

Originally appearing on Metropolis as A Pair of Artists Use Architecture to Study Film, Colin Warren-Hicks profiles “Interiors“, a monthly zine that analyzes important spaces in Films and TV through reconstructed architectural plans – and whose creators also contribute to Archdaily on a monthly basis

Can a good film director be a good architect? That’s the premise behind Interiors, a monthly online zine that critically investigates the link between film and architecture. Each issue breaks down, in architectural notation, a memorable set or scene from a movie or television series. (Lately, the subjects have expanded to include a Justin Timberlake music video and even a stage from Kanye West’s Yeezus tour.) The diagrams are accompanied by a lengthy essay that supplements the spatial analysis.

Read more about “Interiors” – and see a collection of plans produced for the journal – after the break

The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock on the set of Rope, with actors Jimmy Steward, John Dall, and Farley Granger. Image Courtesy of nai010 publishers

Originally appearing in Metropolis Magazine as “Hitchcock and the Architecture of Suspense,” this article by Samuel Medina reviews Steven Jacobs’ book The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock, which uses expert analysis and reconstructed floor plans to examine how the master created suspense with his sets.

In the films of Alfred Hitchcock, things happen, but the events that gave rise to them are easily forgotten. You quickly forget how A leads to B or, say, by what elaborate means Roger Thornhill ends up at Mt. Rushmore in North by Northwest. But as the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard observed, the Hitchcockian cinema compels not with story, but with images—the open-palmed hand reaching for the door, the simulated fall down the staircase, the whorling retreat of the camera from a dead woman’s face. These stark snippets imbue the films with their uncanny allure and imprint themselves in the mind of the spectator much more effectively than any of the master’s convoluted plots.

Read on for more on the role architecture plays in Hitchcock’s films

Photos of Eero Saarinen’s Abandoned Bell Labs

© Rob Dobi

This article by Samuel Medina originally appeared in , titled “Eero Saarinen’s Bell Labs, Now Devoid of Life” and features stunning photos of the abandoned leviathan by Rob Dobi.

At its peak, thousands passed through its massive, light-filled atrium. Today, Bell Labs Holmdel stands empty, all of its 1.9-million-square-feet utterly without life. An iconic example of the now-disparaged office park, the campus in central Jersey, was shuttered in 2007 and vacated soon after. Years later, it remains in an abandoned, if not unkept state. The grounds are cared for, the floors swept clean, and the interior plantings trimmed, however haphazardly. (That’s saying something; in the laboratory’s heyday, plastic shrubbery filled its glorious central hall.)

More about the building’s future, and more photos by Rob Dobi, after the break

Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp, Vandalized

AD Classics: / Le Corbusier. Image © Cara Hyde-Basso

Originally posted in Metropolis Magazine, Samuel Medina reports on the irreparable damage caused by vandalism at Le Corbusier’s Chapel of Ronchamp.  

On Friday, a nun gave warning that the Chapel of Ronchamp, considered by many to be one of the key architectural works of the last century, had been vandalized. When police arrived on the scene, they found signs of forced entry: a stained-glass window, one of many executed by Le Corbusier, was broken and a concrete trunk was missing. As Le Monde reports, the intruders had also attempted to gain entry via a door. The overall damage was, according to some, “priceless” because the stained-glass had borne an original illustration by Le Corbusier. An initial assessment from the department of historical monuments found the window to be irreparable.

Norman Foster Talks Meeting Niemeyer

and Lord Norman Foster in 2011. “He was in wonderful spirits—charming and, notwithstanding his 104 years, his youthful energy and creativity were inspirational.”. Image Courtesy of Foster + Partners

In this interview, originally published by as “Q&A: Norman Foster on Niemeyer, Nature and Cities“, Paul Clemence talks with Lord Foster about his respect for Niemeyer, their meeting shortly before the great master’s death, and how Niemeyer’s work has influenced his own.

Last December, in the midst of a hectic schedule of events that have come to define Art Basel/Design Miami, I found myself attending a luncheon presentation of the plans for the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, by Foster + Partners. While chatting with Lord Foster, I mentioned my Brazilian background and quickly the conversation turned to Oscar Niemeyer. Foster mentioned the talk he and Niemeyer had shortly before the Brazilian’s passing (coincidentally that same week in December marked the first anniversary of Niemeyer’s death). Curious to know more about the meeting and their chat, I asked Foster about that legendary encounter and some of the guiding ideas behind his design for the Norton.

Read on for the interview

Game Changer: Alistair Parvin

Parvin’s WikiHouse team shares a floor in London with 00:/ studio, operating in a space pro- vided by Hub Westminster, a collaborative of creative and social enterprises. Image © Kate Peters via Metropolis Magazine

Metropolis Magazine has unveiled its 4th annual Game Changers – including architects Eric Owen Moss and Alistair Parvin, the co-founder of WikiHouse, an open-sourced platform for architecture. In the following article, Jonathan Glancey profiles Parvin and asks: is WikiHouse a threat to architects? Or “a glimpse into our digital design future”?

I first met WikiHouse cofounder Alastair Parvin—not in the flesh, of course, much less in print—courtesy of YouTube. You can do the same by watching his lecture, “Architecture for the People by the People.” In the video, Parvin explains the WikiHouse concept to the 2013 annual conference in Long Beach, California. Looking young and trim in a white shirt and blue jeans, Parvin’s voice is chipper and confident as he delivers his provocative idea to the world.

Given that the 1,600 TED lectures that are currently available online have been viewed more than a billion times, you may have already heard a little about the WikiHouse by now. In case you haven’t, it’s “an open- source construction set,” according to the WikiHouse online collaborative. “The aim is to allow anyone to design, download, and ‘print’ CNC-milled houses and components, which can be assembled with minimal skill or training.”

A-KAMP47 / Stephane Malka

Courtesy of Lauren Garbit, via

In an industrial section of Marseille, climb up a factory wall like a canvas creeper, housing urban campers and the local homeless alike. A-KAMP47Stephane Malka’s newest installation, subtly critiques the French state’s promise for universal housing as well as makes an architectural commentary – Malka cites Le Corbusier‘s Unite D’Habitation as inspiration. Metropolis Magazine’s Samuel Medina takes an in-depth look at the project in “Hiding in Plain Sight.

Raphael Sperry Speaks About His Quest for Humane Prison Design

Deanna Van Buren’s ‘Mediation Womb’ could form part of an alternative to inhumane prison design. Image Courtesy of FOURM Design Studio

In this interview in Metropolis Magazine, Raphael Sperry elaborates on the goal of his organization Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility to ban members of the AIA from designing execution chambers and certain forms of prisons. He explains why the AIA’s existing charter should make this ban a no-brainer as well as highlights the success and support the campaign has received, even in unexpected places. You can read the full article here.

Famous Museums Recreated in Candy

The Guggenheim Museum, realized in icing, gingerbread, cotton candy, candy wrappers, licorice, and sugar. Image Courtesy of Henry Hargreaves

Originally posted in as “Iconic Museums, Rendered In Gingerbread“, Samuel Medina looks into a fun project to realize world-famous buildings in various types of candy.

Had Hansel and Gretel stumbled across one of these sugary structures, they may have taken off in the opposite direction. Dark, gloomy, and foreboding, the confectionary architecture would have made quite the impression on Jack Skellington, however. The project, by food artist Caitlin Levin and photographer Henry Hargreaves, is clearly indebted to the gothic mise-en-scène of the latter’s expressionistic underworld, a dreary, but whimsical land where one might half expect to find a twisted (gumball) doppelganger of the Tate Modern or Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI.

Find out more about the process behind this sweet project after the break

The Fountainhead: Everything That’s Wrong with Architecture

Gary Cooper as Howard Roark in a film adaptation of The Fountainhead. Via Courtesy King Vidor, The Fountainhead (Warner Brothers, 1949).. Image Courtesy of

Howard Roark, the fictional architect envisioned by in The Fountainhead, has possibly done more for the profession in the past century than any real architect at all – inspiring hundreds to enter architecture and greatly shaping the public’s perception. And, according to Lance Hosey, Chief Sustainability Officer at RTKL, that couldn’t be more damaging. In his recent article “The Fountainhead All Over Again,” for Metropolis Magazine, he details why it’s such a problem, going so far as to accuse Ayn Rand’s dictatorial protagonist of committing architectural terrorism.

It came out in 1943, exactly 70 years ago this summer. In the movie version a few years later, Gary Cooper played Howard Roark, the character famously modeled after Frank Lloyd Wright. Since then, Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, her “hymn in praise of the individual” (New York Times), has made legions of young people want to become architects. The late Lebbeus Woods wrote that the story “has had an immense impact on the public perception of architects and architecture, and also on architects themselves, for better and for worse.” I’d say worse. In fact, the Fountainhead remains the perfect representation of everything that’s wrong with the profession.

The Dean of Parsons: Design Education Must Change

via Josh Barndt, Alexandra Castillo Kesper, Braden Crooks, Aubrey Murdock, Joel Stein, and Charles Wirene. This year formed a partnership with New York City’s Center for Social Innovation to incubate -led social innovation projects by Parsons students and alumni. One of the projects in development is Citysteading, a community-driven process for empowering and engaging marginal-ized communities. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Magazine

Although university is meant to be a place of educational exploration, paths, particularly for architects and designers, tend to be extremely prescribed. In “Notes from the Dean,” originally published in Metropolis Magazine, Executive Dean Joel Towers describes how the Parsons New School for Design is pioneering a new design program that is more reflective of modern design approaches: “The world has changed; the role of design has changed. And the way that designers are taught to engage with the world must change, too.”

Every generation is presented with challenges specific to its time and place. We live in a world changing in ways that were unimaginable at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when design education first began to take shape. Technology (aided and abetted by design), advances in scientific knowledge, and shifts in social and cultural norms shaped design in the twentieth century. Our problems today involve more complex and interconnected systems—climate, cities, resources, networks, flows—and call for a new paradigm. Design in the twenty-first century is of critical importance in both addressing these challenges and transforming them into opportunities to remake the world around us. To do so, design education must change.

Design schools have traditionally adhered to a model that builds programs based on a foundation year, a well-defined and contained introduction to the basics of material, form, and color. And while that foundation is an important cornerstone of design education, it leaves little room for the more exploratory methods of cross-disciplinary and technology-based learning, and for understanding and applying design in the context of the larger world. That old model needs to evolve to reflect design’s enhanced role as a catalyst for innovation and creativity.

Why Iwan Baan’s TED Talk Was Right

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’s recent TED talk on ingenious informal settlement ‘architecture’ became instantly popular, clearly striking a chord with people across the globe. The lecture has been called everything from heartwarming to condescending, but for graduate students Meagan Durlak and James Frankis it was reaffirming. Durlak and Frankis have spent time working in Sao Paolo’s favelas and understand that finding a balance between the good and the bad is key to the revitalization of these settlements. This article, originally published in Metropolis Magazine as “Response to Iwan Baan’s TED Talk,” journals some of their experiences working in South American slums, and why we need to stop treating those slums as a blight. 

Meagan Durlak and I were excited to see the TED talk by architectural photographer Iwan Baan on the ingenuity found within informal settlements. In his presentation he walks us through a range of communities across the world, capturing many such settlements, including houses above a lagoon and a repurposed office block.

Baan’s view of informal settlements resonates with our own work; it’s an under-told story that we very much applaud. He shows an overview of people’s lives and their unique methods for adapting to difficult conditions. Perhaps as interesting as his film are the reactions to it from TED viewers. Many found the innovation in informal settlements to be inspiring and heartwarming; others claimed that this talk is just a life affirming story for the rich 1% of the world, perpetuating inaction for areas which need immediate aid. The two sides of the argument reminded us of our own work and the battles we have gone through in trying to wrap our heads around the systems of informal settlements, as well as the difficulties we have had in explaining their hidden properties to others.

Talking With Thom

Four Towers In One (Competition). Image Courtesy of Morphosis

Despite what you may think, isn’t the “bad boy” of architecture – at least, not according to . He sees himself more as a skilled negotiator than a starchitect (a phrase he hates) – after all, he reasons, how else would he have completed so many buildings? In this interview, originally published on Metropolis Magazine‘s Point of View blog as “Q&A: Thom Mayne,” Andrew Caruso and Mayne discuss Morphosis, SCI-ARC, the early days of his career, and his architectural ethos.  

Andrew Caruso: Your professional career began in the discipline of planning. What led to the shift toward architecture and your eventual partnership with Jim Stafford?

Thom Mayne: I started working at the Pasadena redevelopment agency doing low cost housing, and that’s where I met Jim [Stafford]. Coming out of USC, I had no background about Mies, Khan or Corbusier, for example. USC was very strong in being anti-historical, looking forward instead of backward. I was essentially naive.

Jim was a year ahead of me at USC and had part of the older regime at the school. When I met him at the planning agency, he started introducing me to history. I got fascinated by [Paul] Rudolph; and then it just took off. Jim guided me through this thought process, reestablishing me in the tradition of architecture.

The 10 Best Emerging Designers Right Now

Pernilla Ohrstedt worked on Coca-Cola’s ‘Beat Box’ Pavilion at the London 2012 Olympics. Image via Flickr CC. Image © Roger Meyer

In their quest to find the best emerging young designers in the world, Metropolis Magazine reached out to critics, curators and other industry leaders to get their picks for the most promising young professionals in the worlds of architecture, art, graphic design and product design. The results feature a trend towards interdisciplinary and collaborative work. Particular highlights are Pernilla Ohrstedt, selected by John Cary of Public Interest Design; Elliott Hedman, selected by President of IDEO Tim Brown and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg selected by Paola Antonelli of MoMA. You can view all the selections here.

Could a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Revolutionize Healthcare Design?

A render from Aditazz’s entry to the Small Hospital, Big Idea competition. Image Courtesy of Aditazz

This article, originally posted in Metropolis Magazine as “Derek Parker’s Third Act,” tells the story of Aditazz, a design startup founded by Deepak Aatresh, an entrepreneur with a background in silicon chip manufacturing. Now in collaboration with Derek Parker, a renowned veteran with six decades of experience in healthcare design, the pair could be set to revolutionize the way that hospitals are designed and built.

In June 2011, Derek Parker boarded a plane at San Francisco International Airport. The veteran health-care architect was headed to San Diego to deliver the most improbable presentation of his illustrious, six-decade-long career. For six months, he had worked as a consultant with a Silicon Valley design start-up called Aditazz. Shortly after Parker signed on, the new company had entered Small Hospital, Big Idea—a design competition launched by Kaiser Permanente. The first round, in which the firms remained anonymous, drew more than 400 entries. Eight of the nine shortlisted firms invited to San Diego were industry heavyweights. The ninth, to everyone’s surprise, was the unknown Aditazz.

Could Ho Chi Minh City’s Architecture Be Saved by Its Economic Rut?

Ho Chi Minh City by night. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In this article, originally published in Metropolis Magazine as “A Time-Out,” Carl Robinson reminisces about the architecture of the Ho Chi Minh City he remembers from the 1960s and discusses how the urban landscape has changed in subsequent years. As grapples with economic downturn, he asks, how might the city to develop? 

Over the past 15 years, as Vietnam finally left its long years of war behind, the former capital of South Vietnam—Saigon—became the country’s economic powerhouse. Until fairly recently, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) was a boomtown. Even before touching down at its busy international airport, I see new buildings rising up through the sprawling and tightly packed suburbs, splayed across the city’s surrounding delta landscape and muddy meandering rivers.

Off in the distance along the wide Saigon River, where the spires of the city’s French Colonial Roman Catholic cathedral once dominated downtown, an impressive silhouette of high-rises reach to the tropical sky. The city’s twenty-first-century feel continues through its sweeping new terminal (designed by GWA) and then down a wide boulevard past contemporary office buildings and shops. Eventually I reach the intimate tree-lined streets of old Saigon, the residential quarter created by the French more than 150 years ago.