Originally posted in Metropolis Magazine 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
Howard Roark, the fictional architect envisioned by Ayn Rand 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.
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.
Iwan Baan’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 Parsons 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.
Despite what you may think, Thom Mayne isn’t the “bad boy” of architecture – at least, not according to Thom Mayne. 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.
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.
This article, originally posted in Metropolis Magazine as “Derek Parker’s Third Act,” tells the story of Aditazz, a Silicon Valley 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.
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 Vietnam 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.
Many would consider Greg Lynn the leader of computer-aided design in architecture – but Lynn himself begs to differ. He and the Canadian Centre for Architecture recently collaborated on “Archaeology of the Digital,” the first in a series of exhibitions that will showcase the work of the earliest adopters of digital techniques in architecture. The exhibit, which opened on May 7, focuses on work by Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman, Chuck Hoberman, and Shoei Yoh. In this interview, originally published in Metropolis Magazine as “Computer Control,” Avinash Rajagopal speaks with Greg Lynn about some of the projects and the inspiration behind the exhibit itself.
With 90 offices in 60 countries, Arup Engineering, the firm behind many of the world’s best known buildings, seems to be everywhere. But it isn’t just their immense range that makes Arup so popular with architects – it’s their audacious, adventurous attitude towards their work. Ian Volner’s profile “The Sky’s the Limit,” originally published in Metropolis Magazine, explores the firm and what makes them tick.
One of the vexations that comes with attempting to explain the operations of Arup—the 67-year-old, 10,000-plus employee global engineering giant—is trying to find another, similar company to compare it to. “Certainly there are other firms in the same space,” says Arup Americas chairman Mahadev Raman, name-checking a few full-service design- engineering practices like AECOM and Büro Happold. But as far as true peer companies go, Arup is almost in a class of its own: When it partners with architects on open competitions, the firm frequently ends up vying against itself, and has to resort to intra-office firewalls to separate the various teams at work on different contending proposals.
What sets Arup apart isn’t so much the range of things it can do; other firms, like British builders WSP Group, offer more in the way of construction management, and can see a project through to completion in a way that Arup can’t. But if Arup has seemingly become the go-to office for the most structurally and logistically complex projects of our time, it may be simply because the firm is prepared to take risks that other companies—some of them more commercially minded and arguably more disciplined—won’t.
In this article, which originally appeared in Metropolis Magazine’s Point of View Blog as “Q&A: Edwin Chan,” Iman Ansari interviews Edwin Chan, a design partner at Frank Gehry architects for 25 years, about Gehry and the many significant cultural and institutional projects he worked on before starting his own practice, EC3.
Iman Ansari: When we look at the work of Frank Gehry or Thom Mayne, as LA architects, there is a certain symbolic relationship to the city evident in the work: the industrial character of these buildings and elements of the highway or automobile culture that tie the architecture to the larger urban infrastructure, the scale of the projects, as well as the conscious use of materials such as metal, glass or concrete. But as freestanding machine-like objects sitting at the heart of the city these buildings also embody certain ideals and values that are uniquely American, such as individualism, and freedom of expression. In your opinion how is Frank Gehry’s work tied to Los Angeles or the American culture?
Edwin Chan: Absolutely. I think Frank’s work definitely has DNA of LA as a city. We talk about the idea of a democratic city a lot, and coincidentally Hillary Clinton mentioned that in her speech recently saying: “We need a new architecture for this new world, more Frank Gehry than formal Greek,” because it’s the expression of democracy. In that sense you could think about the building embodying certain type of values that are manifested architecturally.
In this article, originally published in Metropolis Magazine’s Point of View blog as “The Real Problem with China’s Ghost Towns” , author Peter Calthorpe explains the problems of these cities, predicts their grim future, and explores how the thoughtful planning behind the city of Chenggong could provide a more sustainable alternative.
We’ve all seen the reports on “ghost town” developments in China, showing acres of empty high-rise apartments and vacant shopping malls. These barren towns seem particularly ironic in a country planning to move 250 million people from the countryside to cities in the next 20 years. But this massive, unprecedented demand has been distorted by a number of factors unique to China. Flawed financial incentives for cities and developers, along with the poor phasing of services, amenities, and jobs create most of the problems. In addition, China’s emerging middle class is very comfortable (perhaps too comfortable) investing in real estate, so people often buy apartments in incomplete communities but don’t move in, expecting that values will rise, or that they will live there someday. The result is a string of large, empty developments that remain speculative investments rather than real homes and communities. [See-through buildings are the worry now, but the real problems may come when they are full.]
While it’s hard to get data on vacancy levels in China, there are certainly many anecdotal examples across the country. An all-too-typical example is Chenggong, the new town planned for 1.5 million just outside of Kunming in the west. This freshly minted city boasts the growing Yunnan University, currently with 170,000 students and faculty; a new government center; and an emerging light industrial area. Under construction are the city’s new high-speed rail station and two metro lines connecting the historic city center.
Los Angeles-based P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S is among the most intriguing and progressive firms working in architecture today. They seem relentless in pushing boundaries in areas like ultra-light-weight high-tech materials and immersive media. They are also very thoughtful and patient in the way they approach design.
This is good because what they are engaged in and the way they work takes time. By collaborating with engineers and innovators in different industries they are slowly changing the way architecture is carried out and conceived on material and ontological levels. They don’t do spec homes, they do what’s new, and sometimes try to do what hasn’t been done yet.
Founder and co-principal Marcelo Spina and co-principal Georgina Huljich both teach, he at SCI-ARC and she at UCLA, where they pursue research interests with students and then reflect that back into their small but energetic practice tucked away in one of Los Angeles’ rustic urban edges, Atwater Village.
One thing to recently emerge from this office is the experimental carbon fiber pavilion they call Textile Room.