For this edition of The Urbanist, Monocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team investigate politics in global "power cities." Visiting Brussels, capital of Belgium and administrative capital of the European Union, they explore how politics have changed the city over the last four decades. Further south, they travel to Vienna which, "diplomatically remains very important and wields power." Yet even though the UN have an outpost there, is the Austrian capital still a stage for international diplomacy? The episode also makes a quick stop at Embassy Row in Washington D.C. to examine the architecture of diplomatic design.
The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has awarded Frank Gehry's controversial Eisenhower Memorial final approval during a meeting held on July 9. This means all agencies overseeing the project has (finally) agreed on the design, which has taken 15 years and many design revisions to achieve. The project, now a joint venture between Gehry and AECOM, was initially granted preliminary approval last October.
"The resulting Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial design satisfies the goals of the seven design principles established for this site in 2006 by the NCPC to preserve and enhance the unique character of this site and establish a new green space within the context of L’Enfant’s plan for Washington D.C.," said the NCPC in their final report. You can read the report in full, here.
Despite harsh criticism for being too large and costly, Tokyo's 2020 Zaha Hadid-designed National Stadium will be realized. As USA Today reports, the Japanese government has announced its decision to move forward with the design, saying any major modifications would lead to construction delays.
The 80,000-seat stadium has already undergone some design changes, due to backlash led by Pritzker laureates Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki; it's most recent design is said to be more "efficient, user-focussed, adaptable and sustainable." However controversy continues as the city and central government must now decide how to split the stadium's estimated $2 billion bill.
With a special interest in exploring the malleability of space, New York City-based Korean artist Do-Ho Suh has become known for his site-specific installations that question the boundaries of identity. In a recent exhibition at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan, filmmaker Nils Clauss captured some of Suh's most notable works, including a full-size fabric model of Suh's apartment - the "Perfect Home." The hand-sewn replica was shown alongside a suspended model of a 19th-century home made for a Korean emperor, depicting Suh's depart from his homeland, and other contemporary works, all of which explore the relation between individuality, collectivity and anonymity within the built world.
Shocking allegations have surfaced in two new books that claim Le Corbusier was a “militant fascist.” Although the architect’s connections with a collaborationist regime in France have been known for some time, the authors claim new evidence reveals the depths of his sympathy toward Nazi activity.
China's rapid growth has led to some unusual situations; shocking images of so-called "nail houses" continue to circle the internet, depicting defiant homeowners refusing to give up their homes for low compensation in the name of "progress." Standalone homes, and even some graves, are being surrounded by high-rise development and roadways, as land disputes play out in court. The Atlantic has just published a fascinating round-up of these peculiar situations. You can view them all, here.
The poor quality and laying of stone flooring in Milan's newly completed Museum of Culture has led its architect, David Chipperfield to dissociate himself with the building. Blasting officials for skimping on materials, the British architect is demanding his name be removed from the project, claiming the building is now a "museum of horrors" and a "pathetic end to 15 years of work" due to the low quality flooring.
On the contrary, Milan's council says the material decision was made in the "interests of the taxpayers," further claiming that, according to councillor Filippo del Corno, Chipperfield has been "unreasonable and impossible to please."
Stockholm’s City Museum (Stadsmuseet) has spoke out against David Chipperfield’s competition-winning Nobel Center, saying the design is good but not at its proposed location. The museum, whose mission is to “preserve the city’s cultural heritage,” does not believe the new center should be build along the city’s Blasieholmen, as its site is “one of the few parts of the city that still allows close interaction with the old port.”
Furthermore, the City Museum strongly urged against the Nobel Foundation's plans to demolish the site’s three historic structures - an 1876 Axel Fredrik Nystrom-designed Customs House and the city’s last two remaining wooden harbor warehouses built in the early 1900s. Agreeing, the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) has also spoke up, saying the proposal is “too big” and does not take “sufficient” consideration of the cultural environment and cultural heritage.
This past October Alejandro Zaera-Polo abruptly resigned from his position as Dean of Princeton’s School of Architecture amidst plagiarism rumors. The resignation, requested by University President Christopher Eisgruber, was the result of Zaera-Polo's removal of citations from his contribution to the “Facade” section of the Elements of Architecture exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale.
In an effort to combat the economic conditions that have plunged one-fourth of its population into poverty, Egypt's ambitious development plan for a massive new capital city is soon to be underway. Roughly the size of New Cairo, the privately-funded city hopes to become the new administrative center, as well as a bustling metropolis of shopping, housing, and tourist destinations to generate economic activity. Plans were solidified at a foreign investment conference where the official project details were unveiled on March 13 in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Read on after the break for more on the $45 billion plan.
Tomorrow legislators are due to decided the fate of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center. The midcentury icon, listed on the World Monuments Fund’s global watch list, has been the center of a prolonged debate challenging its right to be preserved.
"Twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall’s demise, it is as though a large part of the twentieth century never happened," writes OMA principle Reinier de Graaf in his article for Metropolis Magazine "The Other Truth". "An entire period has been erased from public consciousness, almost like a blank frame in a film." Through the course of the article, de Graaf outlines how the West has rewritten the history of the cold war, erasing the "other truth" that existed for nearly half a century in East Berlin, the USSR, and other soviet-aligned states - a truth that we forget to our peril. It may not be immediately architectural, but the essay provides an interesting look into the political thoughts of de Graaf who, as the principle of one of architecture's most prominent research organizations in AMO, has an important influence on the profession's understanding of the wider world. Read the article in full here.
Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung has temporarily “pulled the plug” on Sou Fujimoto’s ambitious Taiwan Tower, saying he would rather pay a penalty for breaking the contract than spend an estimated NT$15 billion to realize the “problematic” project.
The Banyan tree-inspired tower was hoped to become the “Taiwanese version of the Eiffel Tower,” as well as a model for sustainable architecture by achieving LEED Gold with its energy producing features. Its steel superstructure, which proposed to hoist a triangular section of the Taichung Gateway Park’s greenbelt 300-meters into the air, intentionally had “no obvious form” and was to be perceived as a natural phenomenon.
Following the highly anticipated world premiere of Archiculture (watch here!), Arbuckle Industries is now releasing over 30 never-before-seen full length interviews with some of the industry’s leading influencers, all discussing the profession and how we are or should be training the next generation of designers. The first of the series featured Columbia’s Kenneth Frampton on whether or not architecture should be considered a luxury. Now, this most recent installation delves into just how policy makers can affect the built environment, interviewing politician and former Governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis.
A tri-national agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico will now allow architects to work across borders in North America. As reported by the US National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), in conjunction with the Canadian Architectural Licensing Authorities (CALA) and the Federacion de Colegios de Arquitectos de la Republica Mexicana (FCARM), representatives from the architectural regulatory authorities in all three countries have agreed to mutually recognize architect credentials.
Santiago Calatrava’s head-turning World Trade Center Transportation Hub has assumed its full form, nearly a decade after its design was revealed. In light of this, the New York Times has taken a critical look at just how the winged station’s budget soared. “Its colossal avian presence may yet guarantee the hub a place in the pantheon of civic design in New York. But it cannot escape another, more ignominious distinction as one of the most expensive and most delayed train stations ever built.” The complete report, here.
With criticism forcing progress on MAD’s “mountainous” Lucas Museum to come to a standstill, Frank Gehry has released a statement on the Chicago Tribune urging critics to “take the proper time to review” the museum before dismissing it.
“Chicago is a great city for architecture and has historically supported innovative, forward-looking work. There is a natural impulse to deride a project in the early stages of design, particularly one that has a new shape or expression. This is not a new concept,” says Gehry, citing that both the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall were shrouded in criticism before becoming “great assets to their mutual cities.”
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.