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Alternative Realities: 7 Radical Buildings That Could-Have-Been

In It’s A Wonderful Life the film’s protagonist George Bailey, facing a crisis of faith, is visited by his guardian angel, and shown an alternate reality where he doesn’t exist. The experience gives meaning to George’s life, showing him his own importance to others. With the increasing scale of design competitions these days, architectural “could-have-beens” are piling up in record numbers, and just as George Bailey's sense of self was restored by seeing his alternate reality, hypothesizing about alternative outcomes in architecture is a chance to reflect on our current architectural moment.

Today marks the one-year-anniversary of the opening of Phase 3 of the High Line. While New Yorkers and urbanists the world over have lauded the success of this industrial-utility-turned-urban-oasis, the park and the slew of other urban improvements it has inspired almost happened very differently. Although we have come to know and love the High Line of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations, in the original ideas competition four finalists were chosen and the alternatives show stark contrasts in how things might have shaped up.

On this key date for one of the most crucial designs of this generation, we decided to look back at some of the most important competitions of the last century to see how things might have been different.

Joseph Marzella's second-place design for the Sydney Opera House. Image via The Daily Mail Designs for the Chicago Tribune Tower by Adolf Loos (left) and Bruno Taut, Walter Gunther, and Kurz Schutz (right). Image via Design for the High Line by Zaha Hadid Architects with Balmori Associates, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and studio MDA. Image via University of Adelaide on Cargo Collective Moshe Safdie's design for the Centre Pompidou. Image Courtesy of Safdie Architects

Images Released of Moshe Safdie's First New York Project

Images of Moshe Safdie's first New York project has been released. Planned to rise on a Manhattan site at West 30th Street, between Broadway and 5th Avenue, the 64-story mixed-use tower will feature a limestone base that compliments and serves its historic neighbor: the Marble Collegiate Church, one of the Collegiate Churches’ five ministries.

The building "will be distinguished by its vertical massing, which breaks down the scale of the tower into a series of three-story-high, offset projections," says Safdie Architects. "The offset projections also provide energy efficiency by self-shading the tower’s facade, further enhanced by additional sun shading at the south facade."

On Architecture: Moshe Safdie in Conversation with Nicolai Ouroussoff

On September 24, the National Academy Museum will present a conversation on architecture between 2015 AIA Gold Medal Recipient Moshe Safdie and acclaimed architectural writer and critic Nicolai Ouroussoff. This public event—presented in conjunction with the National Academy Museum’s exhibition Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie (September 10, 2015 – January 10, 2016)—invites audiences to enjoy a spirited discussion on art, architecture, culture and context with two leaders in the field of architecture and architectural criticism. 

Spotlight: Moshe Safdie

Theorist, architect and educator, Moshe Safdie (July 14, 1938), made his first mark on architecture with his masters thesis, where the idea for Habitat 67 originated. Catapulted to attention, Safdie has used his ground-breaking first project to develop a reputation as a prolific creator of cultural buildings, translating his radicalism into a dramatic yet sensitive style that has become popular across the world. Increasingly working in Asia and the Middle East, Safdie puts an emphasis on integrating green and public spaces into his modernist designs.

Apply Now: Safdie Architects Announces 2015 Research Fellowship

Safdie Architects’ 2015 Research Fellowship will center on the theme of “dense urbanism,” and the ways in which the field of architecture can rethink its approach to vital issues such as materiality, construction, environmental conditions, and the demographic realities of rapidly growing populations. This year, Moshe Safdie and his team invite exceptional individuals to attack the challenges of the contemporary urban landscape head-on by proposing new tools and solutions to create a better functioning and humane city. Accepted candidates will spend one year in residence at Safdie Architects’ Boston office, during which they will receive support from the practice and have access to the firm’s resources and consultants. 

AD Interviews: Moshe Safdie / Safdie Architects

During this year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF) held in Singapore, we had the chance to talk with keynote speaker Moshe Safdie. Standing inside the Marina Bay Sands, a massive mixed-use project by Safdie Architects and an example of the firm’s ongoing research on density, Safdie talked to us about Asia's urban environment and the challenges of working there. As the world's growth is happening in dense areas, this subject is utterly important, and Safdie has proven that these kind of mega-urbanism projects can be functionally integrated into the city. “Working in Asia at the intensity and scale that we do has been a paradigm shift for our practice because much of our work in the United States and Israel and elsewhere in recent years has been focused on institutions - on libraries, museums, airports - here we are involved with urban place, mixed-use mostly, extremely dense, working for the private sector, and having to reconcile the market forces with the architectural environmental demands, which is no mean task,” he said. 

AD Interviews: Moshe Safdie / Safdie Architects AD Interviews: Moshe Safdie / Safdie Architects AD Interviews: Moshe Safdie / Safdie Architects AD Interviews: Moshe Safdie / Safdie Architects

Moshe Safdie Wins 2015 AIA Gold Medal

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has just announced that Moshe Safdie, FAIA, will be the 2015 AIA Gold Medal recipient. Honoring him for his “comprehensive and humane approach to designing public and cultural spaces across the world has touched millions of people and influenced generations of younger architects,” the AIA believes that Safdie's work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.

“Moshe Safdie has continued to practice architecture in the purest and most complete sense of the word, without regard for fashion, with a hunger to follow ideals and ideas across the globe in his teaching, writing, practice and research,” stated Boston Society of Architects president Mike Davis in his nomination letter. 

TED Talk: How to Reinvent the Apartment Building / Moshe Safdie

Nearly 50 years after realizing Habitat ’67, when the need for high quality affordable housing is at an all time high, Moshe Safdie is expanding on his ideas first explored in the stacked Montreal utopia to discover just how natural light and the feeling openness can be achieved in today’s megalopolises. Watch as Safdie makes a case to do away with the high-rise in the short TED Talk above. 

Moshe Safdie, Richard Rogers & Rocco Yim to Deliver Keynotes at WAF

Held annually in Singapore, the WAF annually recognizes the world's most amazing architecture projects (you can learn more here). They have announced an impressive line-up of prominent architects who will speak at the World Architecture Festival in October, including: 

The 20 Most Inspiring TED Talks for Architects

Are you feeling short on inspiration today? For a jump-start, try watching one of these twenty TED Talks – a follow-up to last year's post "The 10 Most Inspirational TED Talks for Architects." Wherever your interests lie, the passionate people featured in these videos - from WikiHouse founder Alastair Parvin to famed photographer Iwan Baan and architectural great Moshe Safdie - will get your creative juices flowing. See them all, after the break.

Cool Spaces! Premiers Tomorrow, Puts Architecture in the Spotlight

Stephen Chung's new PBS show Cool Spaces! hopes to engage the general public’s perception of design by "demystifying" contemporary architectural practice. You can tune in to the hour-long premier tomorrow (April 1) as Chung investigates the sports and performing arts spaces of Moshe Safdie (Kauffman Center for Performing Arts), HKS (Dallas Cowboys Stadium), and SHoP (Barclays Center).

Five Fantastic Façades

In case you missed it, we're re-publishing this popular post for your material pleasure. Enjoy!

To celebrate the recent launch of ArchDaily Materials we've brought together five projects with fantastic façades, from Viñoly's Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building in San Francisco to Holzer Kobler's PALÄON in Schöningen, Germany. A building's envelope is often people's first impression and, in recent years, have been one of the focuses of innovation in the design and construction industry. The projects we've collated show a glimpse at what's possible with façades and wall finishings.

Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie

Journey through a three-dimensional landscape of striking architecture in this career-spanning exhibition of Moshe Safdie’s work. Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie surveys the renowned architect’s career from his formative period in the 1960s and early 1970s to his recent projects around the world, exploring his aesthetic language of transcendent light, powerful geometry, and iconic forms. 

Finalists for the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Foster + Partners and URS
Foster + Partners and URS

The Smithsonian Institute has announced the finalists for the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. The museum will be located at the end of the Washington Mall, being the latest addition to this location. The design concepts will be on show at the castle building until April 6. The, a jury will select a winner. The museum will open in 2015, at a cost of 500 million dollars.

Finalists are: Foster + Partners and URS Diller Scofidio + Renfro in association with Klingstubbins The Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates and Davis Brody Bond Devrouax & Purnell and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Moody Nolan in association with Antoine Predock Architects Moshe Safdie and Associates in association with Sulton Campbell Britt & Associates

Seen at designboom. More images after the break.