At a time when Muslims find themselves at the center of the nation’s political stage, the topic of Islamic architecture in the United States is more relevant than ever. The American mosque has become a prominent symbol, within which identities, practices, and cultures converge. More often than not, this convergence results in conflicting goals, further resulting in mosques that fail to identify and serve the needs of their diverse constituents.
In a nondescript building in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, the global headquarters of WeWork buzzes with creative energy. In just a little over six years, the start-up at the forefront of the coworking-space rental boom has created a $16 billion operation with 50,000 members in 28 cities, with 96 locations announced for this year.
Spread across two and a half floors, the 50,000-square-foot headquarters is the home base for WeWork’s almost-700-strong New York–based staff and serves as a laboratory for its designers.
The result is a compelling report. It reveals that these high-performing projects skew small. That performance gains and metrics, particularly real-time performance metrics, are improving each year. That the leading projects tend to be expensive. On average, they come in at $537 per square foot. “The cost data shows us that we need more compelling examples of lower-cost, higher performance projects,” Hosey says. Clearly, more exemplars at greater scale, type, and cost variation would be beneficial to both the profession and the market.
Governors Island is a small, pedestrian-only island to the south of Manhattan and to the west of Brooklyn. It’s just across from Red Hook, the Brooklyn neighborhood known to many a Manhattanite as the home of New York’s only Ikea. To get there, you have to take the East River Ferry—that’s the only option. No subway, no bus, no rail. But it wasn’t always that way.
Nancy Nowacek is a Red Hook-based artist whose vision, since 2012, has been to create an alternative way to reach this backyard of New York City. She has always had a close relationship with the waterfront, but many, she suggests, do not. “It’s really hard to get to the water’s edge from most points inland,” she says. “It’s not a part of the New York that the kids in my building...live in, nor many others who live a few miles away geographically, but experientially are a world away.”
At this year's Biennale, "Reporting from the Front," MIT will have an unusually widespread presence. Ten full-time and visiting faculty, six alumni, and a handful of other MIT-affiliates (many invited by curator Alejandro Aravena himself) will contribute to over 15 installations, including "Rwanda Droneport," a full-scale earthen masonry shell designed by Norman Foster, which will serve as a small airport for drones delivering supplies to inaccessible areas of Rwanda, and "Courtyard House Plug-In," a prefabricated building system designed to be inserted into Beijing's dilapidated courtyard houses. To discuss MIT's significance on the architectural stage today, we spoke with the Dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, Hashim Sarkis, who, it was recently announced, will also serve on the Biennale jury.
Gillespie, Kidd & Coia's celebrated St Peter's Seminary—once voted Scotland's best modern building—has for too long been a victim of fate, left to decay after it was abandoned just 20 years after its completion. Fortunately, plans are well underway to restore the building. This article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Ruin Revived," explains how even in its ruined state, the dramatic brutalist structure is already showing its value as a cultural destination.
Modernist architecture, it used to be said, was inadequate because the machined materials of modern buildings wouldn’t lend themselves well to picturesque ruination. What, minus the taut skins of glass and plaster, could these stark, boxlike carcasses possibly communicate to future generations?
St. Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, Scotland, is a forceful rejoinder to that jibe. Built in 1966 and abandoned 20 years later, the seminary has settled into a state of pleasing decrepitude. Glass and plaster are long gone. The concrete remains largely intact but stained, spalled, and spoiled. Entire roofs and staircases have caved in. The only fresh signs of life are the aprons of graffiti draped all over the “interiors.” Yet, the sense of the place lingers, its noble forms still remarkably assertive—jutting forth from the dense surrounding forest—and optimistic.
For the architecture-obsessed reader, it can sometimes be tough to keep up with the publishing world. With architecture-related interests spanning from photography to philosophy, new books are released at an alarming rate and it can be difficult to spot the good from the bad. Fortunately, the good folks at Metropolis Magazine are here to help. In this article, excerpted from their list of 50 Architecture and Design Books to Read This Spring, Metropolis editors select the top architecture titles to come out this year to give you a helping hand in rounding out your reading list.
Through the work of his firm Elemental, Aravena is known for his interest in incremental, participatory housing design: a common-sense way of working within financial restraints and a cornerstone of Elemental’s studio work. The motto—focus first on what is most difficult to achieve, what cannot be done individually, and what will guarantee the common good in the future—resulted in a “half a house.” First introduced over a decade ago, the model consists of an expandable 40 square-meter (431 square-feet) container with basic infrastructure (partitions, structural and firewalls, bathroom, kitchen, stairs, a roof) built-in and added to over time. It is not only an achievement from a conceptual and project management standpoint, but also an aesthetically open and diverse project. From this one idea stemmed 100 variations.
At the end of 2015, OMA’s first major commission, the Netherlands Dance Theater (NDT) was swiftly demolished. The once-praised building was reduced to dust and debris within a few months, without drawing much attention from the architecture world. Koolhaas had heard rumors about the demolition of the NDT over the last decade, but did not expect the lack of public outcry. “There was almost nothing, almost zero,” he said.
Using the NDT as a case study, Metropolis Magazine takes a look at how the early works of our most lauded architects are treated when they are no longer fit for purpose, and asks how we decide on the role preservation plays in the architectural profession. Is the demolition of the NDT a sign of lack of respect for OMA? Or is it a more general sign of our current era of rapidly changing styles and a need for larger buildings? Read the full story by Metropolis Magazine, here.
"Part of war and conflict has always been the collateral damage. Buildings have fallen in the path of military objectives, but, [...] in this war, buildings aren't destroyed because they're in the way of a target. The buildings are the target." As the narrator of The Destruction of Memory so eloquently explains, the destruction of culture—of buildings, books, and art—is often not an accidental consequence of conflict. As we can see by the actions of ISIS in Iraq and Syria today, the destruction of cultural artifacts is part and parcel of a conscientious strategy to target and destroy the collective memory, history, and identity of a people.
In recent years, it's been no secret that Dubai has been attempting to diversify its industries, as the city moves on from being an oil-based economy. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Dubai: Making a Creative Capital from Scratch," Ali Morris investigates how the city is building its own design district to rival London or New York - and doing so despite starting from almost nothing.
In cities where a faded industrial area exists, a creative community often follows. It’s a well-established cycle of urban regeneration that has played out in Berlin, London, and New York. Attracted by cheap rent and large, empty spaces, the creatives come, building up areas with independent cafés and stores before inevitably being priced out of the market by the very gentrification they helped to bring about.
So what happens in a city so young that it doesn’t have a dilapidated area for the creatives to occupy? When the city in question is Dubai, which was still just a desert fishing settlement until around the 1960s, you build it from scratch, of course. With the second part of a three-phase build unveiled last year, Dubai Design District (known as d3) is a sprawling 15.5-million-square-foot (1.4 million square meter) development located in a desert plot on the eastern edge of the city. Circled by multilane highways and located between downtown Dubai and a wildlife reserve, d3 has been masterminded as a framework from which to grow and sustain a new design ecosystem.
In May last year, the Rolex Mentors & Protégés initiative announced a surprising partnership in its name: Paraguayan architect Gloria Gabral was to spend a year working alongside the famously elusive Swiss master Peter Zumthor. The differences between the two architects - from the languages they spoke to the age of their respective careers - were obvious from the outset. But as explored in this article by Paul Clemence, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Intuitive Connection," over the past year they've been discovering that the things that they have in common run far deeper.
It was an unlikely pair. He is a well-established architect with a long career, working out of a small town tucked deep in the mountainous Graubünden canton in Switzerland; she is at the beginning of a promising career in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital and largest city. They did not even share a common language, yet they connected through something more binding than the spoken word: an intuitive sense of space—and their work ethic.
After he achieved celebrity status at the turn of the millennium, in recent years the conversation around Frank Gehry has switched tones, going from near-universal admiration to widespread controversy. Yet according to Paul Goldberger, whose biography of Gehry was released in September, both adoration and critique of the architect might engender an overly simplistic interpretation of his long and storied career. In this interview originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Q&A: Paul Goldberger on Frank Gehry's Life and Work," Goldberger delves into the many ways Gehry has been misunderstood over the years, and how his work, his psyche, and the interplay between the two have made him one of the most conversation-worthy architects of a generation.
Frank Gehry isn’t just the world’s foremost architect; he is, by all public standards, also one of our greatest living artists. Paul Goldberger’s new biography (his first), Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, acknowledges the architect’s celebrity status but doesn’t acquiesce in it. Rather, Goldberger interrogates the peculiar psyche and restless contradictions of the man to shed light on the motivations behind the architecture. Metropolis editor Samuel Medina speaks to the newly minted biographer about defying genre conventions, unpacking the ambiguities of Gehry’s work, and giving reporters the finger.
How do you compare cities? It's difficult to collapse millions of individual subjective experiences into a single method of comparison, but one popular technique used in recent years has been to judge a city's "livability." But what does this word actually mean? In their 2015 ranking of the world's most livable cities, Metropolis Magazine has gathered together a group of experts on city planning, urban life, tourism and architecture to break down "livability" into the categories they think matter and draw upon Metropolis' considerable urban coverage to produce one of the most thorough attempts to rank world series yet attempted. Find out the results after the break.
Mikki Brammer: You're often associated with the idea of making cities "healthier." What do you mean by the term?
Jan Gehl: I’m neither the first, nor the only one, to point out that in the past 50 years we have practiced city planning that invites people to be inactive in their lives. You can spend your entire life behind steering wheels, or computers, or on sofas, and in many cases you don’t have to move a muscle from morning to night. This, of course, has been identified as something that is very dangerous for mankind.
In many western countries, the demographic pyramid is beginning to look inverted, as elderly populations grow and increasingly few children are born at the other end of the scale. How, asks Metropolis Magazine, does society provide for the growing ranks of the retired and newly elderly? Elderly care scandals and and discomfort with the idea of retirement communities has led to a search for ways to care for senior citizens in their own homes. Urban planning expert Deane Simpson, however, warns against accepting the idea of what he calls "aging in place" entirely uncritically: his exploration of the way current retirement communities function goes into the social motivations behind care homes and the United States' elderly communities, and discusses the future of retirement for the emerging baby-boomer generation of retirees. Read the full story over at Metropolis Magazine here.