VIDEO: How The Living’s Mushroom Tower Was Built

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Our friends at The Creators Project have shared with us an awesome video of the latest MoMA PS1 installation: Hy-Fi. Designed by The Living, who have – in a fascinating move – recently been acquired by Autodesk, the tower’s many organic, biodegradable bricks are grown from a mushroom root in five days, with no energy required and no carbon emissions. In fact, the tower will be composted after MoMA PS1′s summer program is over. Learn more about this ingenious tower from the creator David Benjamin in the video above. And check out more images of the tower after the break.

Alcohol and Urbanism, a Case Study: Breaking New York City’s Open Container Law

Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Image © Rennie Jones

If there is one thing to be learned from the unsuccessful prohibition period of the 1920s, it is that we, the people, will go to great lengths to exercise our right to drink alcohol in the company of others. Our determined forefathers could have simply enjoyed a small-batch bathtub brew in the comfort of their own homes, but instead they established a system of secret places to congregate and consume collectively, even under threat of federal prosecution. Though it is no longer a felony to consume alcohol, New Yorkers are still pushing the legal limits of drinking with others, challenging the open container laws that prohibit public drinking.

Drinking is a recreational activity. It is a means of stepping beyond the realm of normal perception and seeing things differently, in the metaphorical sense (though sometimes a literal one). It is an act of recreation and repose, the parallel of peering at passerby from a park bench. In New York City, as in most of the , it is illegal for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage in any public place, “except at a block party, feast or similar function for which a permit has been obtained.” Rarely do individuals have the resources for a block party or occasion for a full-scale public feast. More likely, they simply seek to crack open a can with neighbors on their front steps or with friends in Central Park, thereby enjoying a beverage in one of the country’s most vibrant and diverse public spheres for a mere penance. Unfortunately, that is not a legal option. Even the outdoor space we own is not completely open to our discretionary use: a resident cannot drink on his own stoop because it is “a place to which the public or a substantial group of persons has access.”

Disaster Relief Housing For The Next “Superstorm”

Exterior Of The Prefabricated Relief Housing Units. Image Courtesy of GOTHAMIST / JAKE DOBKIN

With hurricanes Sandy and Katrina etched into recent memory, the need for post-disaster relief housing is now. New York City and Garrison Architects have developed a modular, prefabricated housing system to relieve displaced citizens during the next “superstorm.” At only 40′ by 100′ long, they can squeeze into the city’s smallest corners – all while having kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and storage spaces. The prototype is on display in Brooklyn – but you can see the entire design at the A/N Blog.

2014 MASterworks Awards for Design Excellence in NYC

BRIC Arts Media House & Urban Glass/ LEESER Architecture. Image Courtesy of MAS

The Municipal Art Society (MAS) of announced their list of honorees for the 2014 MASterworks Awards last week.  These annual awards are dedicated to buildings, completed the year previously in the city of New York, that exemplify a high standard of design, and make a significant contribution to the city’s urban environment.  This year, all of these projects are located outside of the city center and cover a wide range of programming, from an African-American heritage museum, to a pencil factory addition.

Vin Cipolla, president of MAS said that “the 2014 MASterworks winners strike a great balance between groundbreaking design and historic preservation. We are thrilled that all the winners this year are in the outer boroughs, proving that design excellence is happening throughout the city.”  See the full list of winners here, or take a look at the five major category winners after the break!

Tadao Ando Designs Luxury Residential Building in New York

Rendering of 152 Elizabeth Street, developed by Sumaida + Khurana. Image ©

Tadao Ando has unveiled designs of his latest project, a 7 story luxury residential project in Manhattan. The building at 152 Elizabeth Street is Ando’s first in New York, and includes his signature design features of simple cubic forms, polished in-situ concrete and curtain glass.

More on 152 Elizabeth Street after the break

Prodigy Network Announces Winners of 17John Crowdsourcing Competition

Public Space Winner: HUB / Pierre Levesque (Roof Terrace). Image Courtesy of

Prodigy Network have selected the winners of the crowdsourcing design competitions for their 17John ‘Cotel’ in New York, including winners for the design of the public interior spaces and the private rooms. The Cotel concept is intended to meet the changing needs of the modern business traveler; providing living spaces somewhere between a long-term apartment and a short term hotel, but also flexible spaces that can be used for work and meetings.

The crowdsourced competitions were run via Prodigy Network’s Design Lab website, and judging was conducted with a mixture of public voting and jury selection. “The winners of the 17John competition were intuitive to the needs of travelers, creative in the interactive spaces and understood the function of extended stay residences,” said Prodigy Network Founder Rodrigo Nino. Read on after the break to see the winning proposals.

Frick Collection to Expand With New 6 Story Gallery

Yesterday the Frick Collection announced its plans for a 6-story extension to its gallery in New York, designed by Davis Brody Bond. This article by Robin Pogrebin in the New York Times outlines the details of the extension, as the Frick adds itself to the list of post-recession cultural building projects – a list which includes the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Miami‘s Pérez Art Museum. The article also outlines the challenges the Frick will have in expanding its landmarked 1914 building. Read the article in full here.

OMA & BIG among 6 Winners in Rebuild By Design Competition

The proposed Hoboken Waterfront. Image Courtesy of

Yesterday, US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced OMA, BIG and four other teams as the winner of “Rebuild by Design“, a competition aimed at rebuilding areas affected by Hurricane Sandy focusing on resilience, sustainability and and livability.

In total, HUD have allocated $920 million to the six projects in New York, New Jersey and Long Island to enable the completion of this vision.

Read more about the winning schemes after the break

10 Fires That Changed Architecture Forever

After being destroyed by fire and laying in ruins for 60 years, the Reichstag became a symbol of the new democracy in the 1990s with Norman Foster’s renovation. Image © Flickr CC User Werner Kunz

With no casualties, last week’s fire at the Glasgow School of Art, which caused significant damage to parts of the building and gutted Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s canonical library room, will be remembered as a tragic event that robbed us of one of the best examples of Art Nouveau of its time. The intention of the School of Art is to restore the building in the hope that in generations to come, the fire will be all but forgotten, a strategy which has been largely well received by the profession.

However, in the case of other fires things have not gone so smoothly: for millennia, fire has played a big role in determining the course of architectural history - by destroying precious artifacts, but often also by allowing something new to rise from the ashes. Read on after the break as we count down the top 10 fires that changed the course of architectural .

Apple Taps Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to Revamp Historic NYC Building

© Museum of the City via ifoAppleStore

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Eckersley O’Callagha, both longstanding collaborators of Apple’s flagship stores, has been commissioned to transform a 93-year-old former United States Mortgage and Trust Company building on Madison Avenue into the chain’s next New York City store. Though little has been released about the design, the store’s grand opening is planned for 2015. More information can be found here

Crafting Urban Life in Three Dimensions: An Interview with Adam Snow Frampton by James Schrader

Footbridge in Central, Hong Kong. Image by Adam Frampton

The following are excerpts from one of 41 interviews that student researchers at the Strelka Institute are publishing as part of the Future Urbanism Project. In this interview, James Schrader speaks with Adam Snow Frampton, the co-author of Cities Without Ground and the Principal of Only If, a New York City-based practice for architecture and urbanism. They discuss his work with OMA, the difference between Western and Asian , his experiences opening a new firm in New York, and the future of design on an urban scale.

James Schrader: Before we get to future urbanism, I thought it would be interesting to look a bit into your past. Could you tell me about where your interest in cities came from? Were there any formative moments that led to your fascination with cities?

Adam Snow Frampton: I was always interested in cities, but not necessarily exposed to much planning at school. When I went to work at OMA Rotterdam, I was engaged in a lot of large-scale projects, mostly in the Middle East and increasingly in Asia, where there was an opportunity to plan cities at a bigger scale. In the Netherlands, there’s not necessarily more construction than in the US, but there is a tradition of thinking big and a tendency to plan. For instance, many Dutch design offices like OMA, West 8, and MVRDV have done master plans for the whole country.

The Hudson Yards – New Development, “Smart” Development

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s “Culture Shed” is awaiting approval, but other projects are already underway in the 28 Acre development. Image Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group

The largest private project New York City has seen in over 100 years may also be the smartest. In a recent article on Engadget, Joseph Volpe explores the resilience of high-tech ideas such as clean energy and power during Sandy-style storms. With construction on the platform started, the Culture Shed awaiting approval, and Thomas Heatherwick designing a 75-Million dollar art piece and park – the private project is making incredible headway. But with the technology rapidly evolving, how do investors know the technology won’t become obsolete before its even built?

National September 11 Memorial Museum Celebrates Opening

© Jeff Goldberg / ESTO

Today marked the ceremonially opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Set to officially open to the public next Wednesday (May 21), the subterranean museum has already made headlines for its emotional 70 foot decent to the bedrock of the World Trade Center Towers.

Prior to entering the museum’s interior, visitors must first walk past the footprints of the Twin Towers, commemorated by Handel Architects’ cascading granite voids, before entering a Snøhetta-designed stainless steel and glass pavilion that is the museum’s entrance.

As Snøhetta’s founding partner, Craig Dyker describes, the pavilion’s main purpose is to serve as the “threshold between the everyday life of the city and the uniquely spiritual quality of the Memorial.”

More about the pavilion from the architects, after the break…

New York Public Library Scraps Foster-Designed Renovation Plans

renovation scheme. Rendering by dbox. Image Courtesy of

The Public Library (NYPL) has abandoned Norman Foster’s controversial plans to transform part of its 20th century Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” into a circulating library. The news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the city’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio expressed skepticism towards the $150 million renovation earlier this year. 

According to a report by the New York Times, Blasio does not intend on reducing the NYPL funding, however the money will now be allocated to other purposes. 

Several library trustees have stated that in order to keep up with the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, they now intend on completing the renovation of the library’s mid-Manhattan branch on Fifth Avenue. 

A response from Norman Foster, after the break…

Jacobs and Moses’ Famous Feud to Be Dramatized in Opera

Courtesy of Fast Co-Design

Yes, you read right – the 1960s battle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses will be the central story line for a new opera. Although the premiere is a long way off, its creators promise to bring New York City and the drama to life through song and an elaborate, animated, three-dimensional set. To find out more about the developing project, head on over to Fast Co-Design.

De Blasio Sets 10-Year Affordable Housing Plan for NYC

ODA Chosen to Design Largest Project in New York. Image © ODA

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has addressed the “crisis of affordability” by implementing a five-borough, ten-year plan that will build and preserve 200,000 affordable units over the coming decade. Believing affordable housing to be part of “the bedrock of what makes New York City work,” Blasio hopes the plan will make New York, once again, “a place where our most vulnerable, our working people and our middle class can all thrive.” Review the plan in detail and check out one of the largest affordable housing projects planned for the city, here

The Fifth Pillar: A Case for Hip-Hop Architecture

- the father of Hip-Hop?. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia User AaronSw

The following article by Sekou Cooke was originally published in The Harvard Journal of African American Planning Policy.

Not DJ Kool Herc. Not The Sugarhill Gang. Not Crazy Legs. Not even Cornbread. The true father of hip-hop is Moses. The tyrannical, mercilessly efficient head of several New York City public works organizations, Robert Moses, did more in his fifty-year tenure to shape the physical and cultural conditions required for hip-hop’s birth than any other force of man or nature. His grand vision for the city indifferently bulldozed its way through private estates, middle-class neighborhoods, and slums. His legacy: 658 playgrounds, 28,000 apartment units, 2,600,000 acres of public parks, Flushing Meadows, Jones Beach, Lincoln Center, all interconnected by 416 miles of parkways and 13 bridges. Ville Radieuse made manifest, not by Le Corbusier, the visionary architect, but by “the best bill drafter in Albany.”  

This new urbanism deepened the rifts within class and culture already present in post-war New York, elevated the rich to midtown penthouses and weekend escapes to the Hamptons or the Hudson Valley, and relegated the poor to crowded subways and public towers—a perfect incubator for a fledgling counterculture.  One need not know all the lyrics to Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” or Melle Mel’s “White Lines” to appreciate the incendiary structures built by Moses and his policies. As the Bronx began to burn, hip-hop began to rise.

Light Matters: Richard Kelly, The Unsung Master Behind Modern Architecture’s Greatest Buildings

Seagram Building, New York.

Richard Kelly illuminated some of the twentieth century’s most iconic buildings: the House, Seagram Building and Kimbell Art Museum, to name a few. His design strategy was surprisingly simple, but extremely successful.

Lighting for architecture has been and still often is dominated by an engineering viewpoint, resigned to determining sufficient illuminance levels for a safe and efficient working environment. With a background in stage lighting, Kelly introduced a scenographic perspective for architectural lighting. His point of view might look self-evident to today’s architectural community, but it was revolutionary for his time and has strongly influenced modern architecture.

Read more about Richard Kelly’s remarkable, and unsung, contribution to architecutre, after the break.