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Atelier 2B's "Soft in the Middle" Rethinks Modernism for An Age of Collaboration and Sharing

In his book We Have Never Been Modern, philosopher Bruno Latour concludes that an inability to make humanity and nature inherently separate is one of Modernism’s most misguided tropes. Thus, contemporary designers that hope to riff on or have continuity with modernism must understand that architecture, even at its most aestheticized, is not hermetically sealed off from the outside world - and that therefore modernism is not a plateau of design, but another base camp on the road to further refinement.

In Chicago, the city where Modernism reached both its metaphoric and physical peak, Atelier 2B, a team of Yewon Ji, Nicolas Lee, Ryan Otterson, recently shared the top-five prize of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's ChiDesign Competition (part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial) for their project Soft in the Middle: The Collaborative Core. Indebted to the legacy of Mies and the International Style, Atelier 2B proposed a Modernist-tower-redux that (externally at least) is composed of three stacked rectangular volumes bisected with terraces, set back from the street by a large public plaza. The project brief called for “a new center for architecture, design and education,” in a competition judged by critics including Stanley Tigerman, David Adjaye, Ned Cramer, Monica Ponce de Leon, and Billie Tsien.

Courtesy of Atelier 2B Courtesy of Atelier 2B Design and Allied Arts High School. Image Courtesy of Atelier 2B Out-of-School-Time Youth Program. Image Courtesy of Atelier 2B

Video: Bird's Eye View of Brasília's Tesourinhas

Drone Brasília has shared with us a brief video filmed by a drone that gives a bird’s eye view of a signature feature of Brasília --  the “tesourinhas,” the so-called cloverleaf interchange that the city’s highways form. 

In just thirty seconds the video shows the scale of the space, marked by cars traveling through the wide avenues, which themselves are projected onto an expansive green plane.

Build Your Own Paper Models of Polish Modernist Buildings

© Zupagrafika
© Zupagrafika

After the successes of their London and Warsaw series, Zupagrafika has released another collection of paper cutouts called Blokowice based on the city of Katowice in Poland.

Inspired by the architecture of the Upper Silesian Industrial Region, Blokowice features modernist and brutalist buildings from the 1960-80s. The collection includes the Spodek and Superjednostka, two iconic buildings from the city center, Osiedle Gwiazdy, a characteristic star-shaped estate, Osiedle Odrodzenia, prefabricated panel blocks from the outskirts of the city, and the controversial Katowice railway station building that was demolished in 2011.

© Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika

What Can Piketty Teach Us About Architecture?

Last year, Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century took the world of economics by storm. His historical analysis and critique of the capitalist system fed perfectly into the wider narrative being constructed in the wake of the global financial crisis. But what lessons does Piketty hold for architects? In an article for The Architect's Newspaper, OMA partner Reinier de Graaf examines the way that the development of architecture in the 21st century mirrored that of economics, as the design of buildings became simultaneously a symptom and a cause of trends in capital. Read the full article - including de Graaf's question for the architects of the 21st century - here.

Spotlight: Le Corbusier

Born in the small Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris - better known by his pseudonym Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887 - August 27, 1965) - is widely regarded as the most important architect of the 20th century. As a gifted architect, provocative writer, divisive urban planner, talented painter, and unparalleled polemicist, Le Corbusier was able to influence some of the world’s most powerful figures, leaving an indelible mark on architecture that can be seen in almost any city worldwide.

Modernism Memorial: A Funerary Monument for the Death of Modernism

Courtesy of
Courtesy of and DeCorbuziers, in partnership with the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens, have announced their international student competition to design a conceptual funerary monument for the death of Modernism.

With this year marking the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier’s death, the team of organizations is seeking “contemporary interpretations concerning multidisciplinary approaches over Modernism and specifically over Le Corbusier’s work, while [exploring] possible themes and directions of the memorial representation” in present day. Designs should emphasize commentary, rather than a tribute to Le Corbusier.

Symposium: "Modernism" / Dallas Architecture Forum

Leo Marmol is one of the world’s leading authorities in the restoration of iconic Mid-Century Modern and International style residences, including the Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra in Palm Springs, considered one of the most important residences of the 20th Century. His firm also incorporates those timeless concepts into new architecture, including product design exemplifying these design elements. Marmol will overview his firm’s landmark restoration projects, and discuss how the firm integrates Mid-Century design elements into their new construction and pre-fab projects, producing award-winning residences.

Lamenting the Loss of Hotel Okura, One of Tokyo's Modernist Gems

The news last year that the Hotel Okura, often described as one of Tokyo´s "Modernist gems," was to be demolished was met with widespread disappointment across the board. Built in 1962 under the design direction of Yoshiro Taniguchi, Hideo Kosaka, Shiko Munakata, and Kenkichi Tomimoto, the hotel has long been considered a significant architectural landmark in the Japanese capital. With only a week to go until the hotel checks out its last guest, Monocle—having been granted exclusive access—have shared with us a film to capture "the gracious ways of this much-loved building."

What Will the Future Hold for SOM's Modernist Arena in Portland?

Built in 1960 and designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland—a modernist gem on the National Register of Historic Places—could soon face destruction, as the city council prepares to take a vote deciding between restoration or demolition.

Since the Moda Center, better known as the Rose Garden, was built next door and became the new host of the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team, the Memorial Coliseum has been in a state of decline. Currently, the building generally only hosts infrequent concerts, as well as minor league hockey. However, Friends of Memorial Coliseum see it as much more than just an outdated venue, which is why since the building was first threatened with demolition in 2009 they've been campaigning for its preservation.

© Flickr CC User The West End © Flickr CC User Tony Webster © Flickr CC User The West End © Flickr CC User A.F. Litt

NYT Style Magazine Explores the Cultural Reasons Behind the Demolition of Japan's Hotel Okura

About a year ago, it was announced that Hotel Okura, one of Tokyo’s best-known modernist landmarks, was headed for demolition. With the impending demolition date of the hotel, deemed a “beautiful orphan child,” set for this September, an article from T: The New York Times Style Magazine’s upcoming Women’s Fashion issue looks at Japan's "ambivalent — and unsentimental — relationship with its Modernist architecture."

Open Call: Chandigarh Unbuilt Competition to Complete Le Corbusier's Capitol

Online international competition organizer archasm has launched its “Chandigarh Unbuilt: Completing the Capitol” ideas competition, which seeks designs to finalize and complement Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex in ChandigarhIndia.

Three buildings at the complex have been built according to Le Corbusier’s plans—the Secretariat, Assembly Hall, and High Court—but the fourth and final building, called the Museum of Knowledge, has yet to be conceptualized.

Calvin Seibert Sculpts Impressive Modernist Sandcastles

“I always had an affinity for architecture which I attribute to growing up in a neighborhood and town that was constantly under construction. Our house was the first on the block. I think that in a way I was more interested in the abstractness of the foundations and the initial framing then in the completed structures themselves. Things I made back then had that incompleteness about them. As I became more aware of architecture in the wider world Brutalism was one of the styles of the moment. Looking at architecture magazines as a child and seeing hotels in French ski resorts (Marcel Breuer at Flaine) made of concrete suited my sensibility, I was hooked.”

For New York-based Calvin Seibert, sandcastles are more than just a fun summer hobby. Using a paint bucket, homemade plastic trowels, and up to about 150 gallons of water he creates spectacular modernist sandcastles. Read on after the break for an interview with Seibert and to see more photos of his work. 

© Calvin Seibert © Calvin Seibert © Calvin Seibert © Calvin Seibert

Monocle 24 Visit Richard Neutra's Residences in Los Angeles

In the latest episode of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, the team visit Richard Neutra's iconic modernist Neutra VDL Studio residential complex and Residences in Los Angeles. Though Modernism has often been criticised for imposing universal rules on people and areas, it was Neutra's intense client focus that won him acclaim.

25 Architects You Should Know

As an unavoidable art form, “architecture is one of humanity’s most visible and long-lasting forms of expression,” writes Complex Media. Within the past 150 years—the period of modern architecture—a distinct form of artistry has developed, significantly changing the way we look at the urban environments around us. To highlight some of the key figures in architecture over the past 150 years, Complex Media has created a list of “25 Architects You Should Know,” covering a range of icons including Zaha HadidIeoh Ming PeiPhilip JohnsonOscar NeimeyerSOMDaniel Libeskind, and more. Read the full list to learn more about each iconic architect, here.

AD Essentials: Modernism

This article is part of ArchDaily Essentials, a series of articles which give you an overview of architecture's most important topics by connecting together some of our best articles from the past. To find out more about ArchDaily Essentials, click here; or discover all of our articles in the series here.

“City of Light”: The Story of Willem Dudok’s De Bijenkorf Rotterdam

Produced by Dutch journalist Peter Veenendaal, City of Light is a documentary that covers the design, construction, and social effects of Willem Marinus Dudok’s De Bijenkorf in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. De Bijenkorf opened in Rotterdam in 1930, and after barely surviving the Second World War, it was destroyed in 1960 to make way for a Metro Station and a new store designed by Marcel Breuer and largely forgotten. City of Light presents Dudok’s shopping center as an important model for retail architecture that came about during the formative years of the shopping mall, and includes interviews with historians, former employees, and local enthusiasts to bring the building back to life.

Despite being relatively unknown today, Dudok’s De Bijenkorf was important not only for the architectural community, but also for the city of Rotterdam. In Veenendaal’s documentary, architectural historian Herman van Bergeijk remarks that at the time of its construction, De Bijenkorf was the “largest and most modern department store in Europe." The store was immensely popular with locals; according to the video over 70,000 people visited on opening day to explore the building, and over time, it became an icon of Rotterdam's growing commercial success.

Spotlight: Emilio Ambasz

As early as the 1970s, Emilio Ambasz (born 13 June 1943) initiated a discussion on sustainability through his work with green spaces and buildings which is arguably more important today than ever, and contributed to theoretical and design discourse outside of architecture through his wide variety of interest and career pursuits. Ambasz’s work has crossed several disciplines; he has been a curator, a professor, an industrial designer, and an architect, and is highly regarded in all of these varied pursuits.

Spotlight: Charles Rennie Mackintosh

As one of the leading minds of art-nouveau in the UK, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (7 June 1868 – 10 December 1928) left a lasting impression in art and architecture. With a surprisingly brief architectural career, Mackintosh managed to stand out at the international level in art and design with his personal style coined known as the "Mackintosh Rose" motif. Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1868, Mackintosh is known for his play between hard angles and soft curves, heavy material and sculpted light. Though he was most well-known for the Mackintosh Building at the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh left a legacy of architecture-as-art that transcends the Glasgow school and exemplifies trans-disciplinary architecture.

"The Fort" by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Image © Wikimedia CC user "The Wassail" by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Image © Flickr CC user Jean-Pierre Dalbéra Glasgow School of Art. Image © Flickr CC user Steve Cadman Windy Hill, perspective drawing in ink, 1900, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Image © Glasgow School of Art