In a culture dominated by smartphones and Instagram, with estimates that over one trillion photographs will be taken this year alone, it might seem impossible for photographs to make and shape issues in the ways they once did. Despite this, images still steer debates with shocking resiliency and, with luck, become iconic in their own right. As architecture is synonymous with placemaking and cultural memory, it is only logical that images of the built environment can have lasting effects on the issues of architecture and urbanism. It's never been easier for photographs to gain exposure than they can today, and with social media and civilian journalism, debates have never started more quickly.
The SENSEable City Laboratory at MIT has developed a new tool with Ericsson to better understand human behavior. "ManyCities" is a new website that "explores the spatio-temporal patterns of mobile phone activity in cities across the world," including London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Taking complex data and organizing it in a intuitive way, the application allows users to quickly visualize patterns of human movement within the urban context down to the neighborhood scale. You can imagine how useful a tool like this can be for urban planners or even daily commuters, especially once real time analytics come into play. Take a look at ManyCities yourself, here.
Location400 W 155th St, New York, NY 10032, United States
Base Building Design Consultant
Museum Design Consultant
Just as the luxury condominium high rise opens for sales, Zaha Hadid Architects and Related Companies have released a new image of 520 West 28th - Zaha Hadid's first residential building in New York. Planned for a prime location in West Chelsea, alongside the High Line and nearby Renzo Piano's newly-opened Whitney Museum and Diller Scofidio + Renfro's future Culture Shed, the 11-story development is offering 39 distinct residences, some reaching up to 6,391-square-feet.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the High Line and its possibilities for the city. Decades ago, I used to visit the galleries in the area and consider how to build along the route. It's very exciting to be building there now,” said Zaha Hadid. “The design engages with the city while concepts of fluid spatial flow create a dynamic new living environment.”
PBS’ American Masters series and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES series have teamed up for the first time to delve into the life and work of Pedro E. Guerrero, a Mexican American photographer from Mesa, Arizona, who is known for his photography of the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, among other artists.
The film, Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey, explores Guerrero’s photography, showing his collaboration with Frank Lloyd Wright to “produce insightful portraits of important modernist architecture,” which launched him to become “one of the most sought-after photographers of the ‘Mad Men’ era.” While Guerrero was extremely popular at the time, his story today is still largely unknown.
Seasoned photographer Richard Silver has captured the beauty of New York's churches unlike any other. By seamlessly stitching together a series of composite images from each location, Silver has created a stunning set of vertical panoramas that reveal the interiors of New York's most impressive religious structures.
“Finding the perfect location in the center aisle then shooting vertically from the pew to the back of the church gives the perspective that only architecture of this style can portray,” Silver told Colossal.
Metals in Construction magazine has launched a competition for architects, engineers, students, designers, and others from all over the world to submit their vision for recladding 200 Park Avenue, built a half-century ago as the world’s largest corporate structure, the Pan Am Building (now the MetLife Building).
The mandate is to reimagine this New York City icon with a resource-conserving, eco-friendly enclosure—one that creates a highly efficient envelope with the lightness and transparency sought by today’s office workforce while preserving and enhancing the aesthetic of its heritage. Entrants may now register on the competition's official website. The deadline for final submission is February 1, 2016.
If Norman Foster were a household item, he would surely be a Swiss Army Knife. Foster, who turned 80 this year, is unrelenting in producing architectural solutions to problems that other architects can only theorize - just last Wednesday, for example, his firm released their design for a previously-unheard-of building typology, a droneport in Rwanda.
It is surprising then to find the man or his eponymous firm Foster + Partners absent from a list like Fast Company’s “The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Architecture,” organized into superlatives: MMA Architects, “for thinking outside the big box,” Heatherwick Studio, “for reimagining green space,” or C.F. Møller Architects, “for rethinking high-rise living.” This is not to say that Foster or his firm should be substituted for any of these deserved accolades, but rather that for five decades Foster and his firm have ceaselessly worked to enhance and expand on the human experience with architectural solutions that are both inventive and practical - a fact that is perhaps lost as a result of his position within the architectural establishment.
With that in mind, we thought it was worth highlighting the many occasions over the decades where Foster + Partners has shown themselves to be among the world's most innovative practices. Read on for more.
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.
“Students who enter schools of architecture today are entering it at a very young age, perhaps when their total world experience and awareness is relatively narrow, and they’re making the decision to become a practicing architect, and putting aside those studies—general ed., liberal arts studies—that might actually, in the end, make them more contributing architects. […] Fewer and fewer people are having that basic liberal arts, general ed. knowledge in the profession. And it’s a serious problem.”
LocationBrooklyn, NY, USA
One year after scrapping Norman Foster's controversial redesign, the New York Public Library has commissioned Mecanoo to oversee the planned $300 million overhaul of its Mid-Manhattan branch and flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue. The Dutch practice, who is also renovating Mies van der Rohe's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington DC, will work with the preservation experts of Beyer Blinder Belle - the project's architect of record.
"The building should be about the journey of learning," Mecanoo's founding partner and creative director Francine Houben told the New York Times. "Maybe you come in for a book but also take lessons in English."
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."
There is perhaps no better display of modern architecture’s historical victory than Jacque Tati’s film Playtime. In it, a futuristic Paris has left-for-dead the grand boulevards of Haussmann, in favor of endless grids of International Style offices. The old city is reduced to longing reflections of Sacré-Cœur and the Eiffel Tower in the glass of these shiny new monoliths. But the irony central to the film is that this construction is created through mere surface treatments, and as the narrative unfolds, cheap mass-production withers in a world where the veneer has triumphed over craftsmanship and polish. In short, Modernism hasn’t always been all it's cracked up to be.
In the Museum of Modern Art’s new exhibition, "Endless House: Intersections of Art and Architecture," the simplicities of mass-market modern homes are abolished by artists and architects who, in examples from the 1940s to the present, have chosen to use the dwelling as a platform for universal messages and as an arena for architectural experimentation. In the same way that photography freed painting from the terrestrial concerns of realism, the simplicity of modernism liberated artists and architects to subvert extant conventions of buildings.
BIG’s first foray into North America, the West 57th Street (W57) Building in New York is approaching completion. After initial releases of renderings, and photographs taken two months after topping out, a new video has surfaced, exhibiting the gradual realization of the firm’s vision. This 32-story tower with 709 apartment units combines a courtyard block and a skyscraper, affectionately dubbed a “courtscraper” by its designer. Reacting to an unorthodox, thin plot of land, the building generates its geometry from a combination of providing natural light, views to the Hudson River and maximizing living space for residents. From one angle, its almost pyramidal structure is clear, and from another, it appears to be glass spire. See the most recent developments in this new video.
Danish architect and urban planning expert Jan Gehl has weighed in on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's threat to remove Times Square as a"kneejerk reaction" to aggressive panhandling. Recounting beloved square's evolution, Gehl argues that public spaces need more than just to exist: "Civic culture needs cultivating and curating... Public spaces like Times Square are the great equalizer in cities: Improvements in the public realm benefit everyone. The city should view the challenge of Times Square’s pedestrian plaza not as a reason for retreat, but as a call to create a diverse, dense, intense experience of public life that we can all enjoy." Read Gehl's remarks, here.
Robert Moses, the planner-politician-architect who infamously built overpasses too low for buses to bring New York’s urban poor to his beaches, is the subject of a new graphic novel by Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez titled Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City. Admirable for its candid rawness, their profile of perhaps the most polarizing and important figure in American planning history is no lionizing eulogy. The impressive triumphs of Moses’ tenure are juxtaposed with unsparing accounts of his regrettable social policies and the often-shortsighted consequences of his public infrastructure. For each groundbreaking feat of structural engineering and political mobilization, there is another story told of his callous social engineering, the consequences of which reshaped the lives of New Yorkers as much as his architecture.
New York-based SO-IL has unveiled plans for a new Brooklyn art gallery, dubbed Artes Amant. The 1,320-square-meter building will house the production, display and storage of art in a four-story "concrete mass" that is "spatially marked by its industrial past."
"This arts’ building is an exploration in soft form, where a cluster of shells acts to diffuse an exterior presence and shape the building’s interior," says SO-IL.