Widening the debate on whether or not Paris should preserve its 19-century skyline or “embrace innovation,” Parisian city council members have rejected the controversial, 180-meter “Triangle Tower” designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Despite the 83-78 vote, the fight carries on; Mayor Anne Hidalgo has declared the veto to be invalid and hopes a new round of balloting will rule in favor of the tower. Though, in a city that fears of loosing its “existing urban fabric to skyscrapers,” it seems unlikely that the tower will be built.
The French government has cancelled its £8 million contribution towards the £43 million Musée des Beaux-arts by David Chipperfield Architects, causing the Reims’ mayor to “shelve” the museum for being too costly. As reported by the Architects’ Journal, the funds will be reallocated towards the redevelopment of a recently closed sports complex. The museum, originally awarded to Chipperfield following an international competition, was intended to be built on an excavation area and display mediaeval relics. You can review the design, here.
The National Capital Planning Commission has granted preliminary approval to a modified version of Frank Gehry’s controversial Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial design, which removed two of the stainless steel tapestries to clear views towards the Capitol. The project, which has remained stagnant since 2011, has been shawled in turmoil largely due to criticism regarding its “grandiose” design and focus on Eisenhower as a boy. The vote will now advance Gehry’s design to the Commission of Fine Arts for approval.
More images of the revised design, after the break.
The UK‘s Shadow Culture Minister Helen Goodman has outlined a number of ideas that she would like to put into practice should her party win the next general election, reports the Architects’ Journal. The proposals, made at last week’s Labour Party Conference in Manchester, include increasing the number of open architecture competitions held in the UK and holding a major UK-wide annual festival of architecture. Read on after the break for more on Goodman’s proposals.
This weekend, the first planning session of the Global Parliament of Mayors took place in Amsterdam: a platform for mayors from across the world, triggered by Benjamin Barber’s book: If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.
In this book the current political system and its leaders is dismissed as dysfunctional. Defined by borders and with an inevitable focus on national interests, they are not an effective vehicle to govern a world defined by interdependence. Mayors, presiding over cities with their more open, networked structure and cosmopolitan demographics, so the book argues, could do it better.
It is of no surprise that this book has been welcomed by the same political class as the one it praises: mayors. As was apparent during the first planning session of the GPM: a conference about mayors, for mayors, attended by mayors, moderated by mayors and hosted by a mayor, all triggered by a book about mayors.
I recognize many of the book’s observations. Many mayors are impressive figures and time appears to be on their side. Nation states (particularly the large ones) have an increasingly hard time and, in the context of a process of globalization, cities, and particularly small city-states, increasingly emerge victorious. Cities have first-hand experience with many of the things that occur in globalization’s wake, such as immigration and cultural and religious diversity, and are generally less dogmatic and more practical in dealing with them.
So far so good.
Helicopter landing pads will no longer be required atop new buildings in Los Angeles, California. The rule’s elimination, which was announced yesterday by the city’s mayor and fire chief, allows architects the freedom to break away from LA’s “boxy” skyline. “I want to see innovative design,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “I want to see good design, but we’re going to take the handcuffs off of you when we ask you to do that. I want neighborhoods to look good, and I want our buildings to look iconic.” You can read more about the change, here.
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 United States, 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.”
Though it seemed a compromise was met last October, when Japan’s minister of education, Hakubun Shimomura announced plans to reduce the cost and scale of the Zaha Hadid-designed Tokyo Olympic Stadium, the debate rages on.
Pritzker laureates Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki have launched an online petition to “defend the ginko tree-lined landscape of blue sky and Jingu Outer Gardens” from the construction of Hadid’s “oversized” stadium.
The petition (now with more than 13,000 signatures) urges the Japan Sports Council, who hand selected Hadid’s winning design alongside Tadao Ando, to reconsider upgrading the existing Meiji Jingo Gaien Stadium and the gardens surrounding it. This solution, they believe, is a more affordable and sustainable alternative that would prevent the relocation of nearby residents.
Take a tour though Zaha Hadid’s 2020 Olympic Stadium and share your thoughts about the design (and petition), after the break…
A court approved ruling has sealed the fate of Foster + Partners’ half-built Harmon Hotel in Las Vegas. Unfinished due to structural defects, the 27-story glass tower was once envisioned to be the staple of the $8.5 billion CityCenter entertainment complex. However, since problems arose in 2008, the stunted hotel and casino has instead served as a glorified billboard.
Though it has yet to be determined who will be blamed for the faulty construction, owner MGM Resorts International has been granted permission to dismantle the blue glass building floor-by-floor at a cost of $11.5 million.
Within days of David Chipperfield being appointed to design the Nobel Foundation’s new home in Stockholm, heritage protesters began to assemble a campaign to prevent the project from fruition.
Declaring they are “opposed to star-architects constructing their angular spectacles of glass and steel right in the middle of the protected historic environment, as monuments to themselves, at our expense and the city’s,” as stated in an online petition, the protesters are particularly upset that the project would require the demolition of multiple historic structures. Thousands have even joined a Facebook group to voice disapproval.
However, despite the backlash, the Nobel Foundation refuses to bow down and believes the protest will not succeed.
More on the protest, and structures slated for demolition, after the break…
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) have committed themselves to pushing a bill that would provide U.S. architecture graduates student loan relief in exchange for community service, an offer already granted to lawyers and doctors. The bipartisan legislation, known as the National Design Services Act (NDSA), was introduced today in an effort to free young professionals from the crushing cost of education (architecture being one of the disciplines with the highest loan balances) and aspire them to contribute their design service to the betterment of their communities. Learn more, here, and sign the petition in support of NDSA.
Originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Big Data, Big Questions“, this article by Alex Marshall examines what is arguably the most important aspect of smart city design: not how they will be created, but who will create them. He finds that, though an apparently new phenomenon, smart cities are just like their forebears in that they are built primarily by political will, not microprocessors.
Not long ago, I bought a beetle-shaped piece of silicone and metal that slips into my pocket and keeps track of how much I walk. Called a Fitbit One, it’s essentially a gloriﬁed pedometer. The device’s shell is jammed with hard- and software that lets it talk to my computer and iPhone. It sends me attaboys! on its tiny screen and, most importantly, the gadget talks with my spouse’s Fitbit, which allows us to compete with each other.
The Fitbit is not on anyone’s list of smart-city phenomena, but I would argue for including it, because it’s changing my relationship with the streets I walk in New York City. It also illustrates the pervasiveness of smart technology, and its limitations. For all its coolness—and it is cool—my device is doing something digitally that had already been done well mechanically, and at a lower price. A lot of the smart-cities technology is like this—it’s changing how we do things, but often not what we do.
Read on for more about the changes brought about – or not brought about – by smart cities after the break
A public petition that the design of new Federal building projects be awarded by open architectural competition has been submitted to the White House’s “We The People” website for consideration by the Obama Administration. The appeal proposes to give young architects greater access to the building market and needs 100,000 votes by March 24th to qualify for a response from the Oval Office. Sign the petition here!
In this tongue-in-cheek “Dictator’s Guide to Urban Planning“, the Atlantic explores the various ways that public spaces, and cities as a whole, have been used to suppress uprisings and bolster the control of authoritarian governments. Covering everything from Baron Haussmann‘s 19th Century Paris to the recent revolution in the Ukraine, the article reveals the fundamental relationship between public space and democracy. You can read the full article here.
Congress budget cuts have officially stalled Frank Gehry’s controversial Eisenhower Memorial, according to a recent report, rejecting $49 million in construction funds and cutting the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s annual budget in half. Unless the commission is able to raise a substantial amount of private funds, as well as win support from the Eisenhower family (which is doubtful), Gehry’s “grandiose” memorial is unlikely to ever break ground. Despite this, the commission’s director is optimistic, stating that the FDR Memorial took nearly 45 years to get built. You can read more about the controversy here.
In response to the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week, Eyal Weizman has written an interesting investigation into how the controversial politician used architecture and urban planning as a tool in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, deploying settlements like military tactics rather than simply as housing strategy. The piece is an insightful examination of how power and even violence can be manifest in design, as evidenced by Sharon’s “architecture of occupation”. You can read the full article here.
In June we covered some of the anti-government protests that were taking Turkey by storm – but the Turks are still making headlines! Last week, one Istanbul resident decided to paint a derelict public stair only to find it hastily covered up by government workers. In an act of “guerilla beautification” and silent protest, people across Turkey have once again taken to the streets to paint their stairs and public walkways in rainbow colors. For the full story, check out this article on The Lede by Robert Mackey.