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Open International Competition: White Gardens Arcade

ProjectNext communications agency and White Gardens business center announce an open international competition for architecture, structural-engineering, and design firms with the aim of finding the best concept for White Gardens Arcade.

Arcade is a public space between the two blocks of the White Gardens business center, which is located in the well-known White District business district. The glass-roofed space of the Arcade contains restaurants, cafes, and bars. During the warm months of the year visitors may sit out on open verandahs and listen to concerts. Arcade has a floor area of more than 800 square meters and is intended as a place where both people working at the business center and the general public may come to relax.

HENN Designs Clover-Shaped Innovation Center for Merck Headquarters in Germany

HENN has broken ground on the Innovation Center at pharmaceutical company Merck's corporate headquarters and factory in Darmstadt, Germany

The new Center follows the site’s pre-established master plan, also designed by HENN, placing the new building complex between two existing company buildings and at the end of what is to become a spacious public square.

Courtesy of HENN Courtesy of HENN Courtesy of HENN Courtesy of HENN

10 Compete to Revitalize Los Angeles’ Oldest Park

Ten practices from around the world have been shortlisted in a competition that aims to transform Los Angeles' Pershing Square one of Southern California's top destinations. Located on a five-acre plot in the city's downtown, Pershing Square is Los Angeles' oldest park. Each semi-finalist has been challenged to develop proposals based off of experiences. A small selection of finalists will be selected in December to move on to the competition's final phase.  

The 10 semifinalists are:

New Seattle Proposal Caps I-5 Freeway With a Two Mile Park

Courtesy of Patano Studio Architecture
Courtesy of Patano Studio Architecture

Patano Studio Architecture has created a proposal for a 45-acre, two-mile park spanning over the top of the Interstate-5 freeway in Seattle. Called C.A.P., the plan “proposes a city-wide architectural infrastructure solution to multiple issues facing the fast growing city.”

Macau Architecture Promenade

This coming October, the international month of architecture, BABEL is launching a new project: Macau Architecture Promenade. MAP opening is schedule for 10/10 at 6.30 at the Creative Albergue and it will last until 1/11. MAP is a month long celebration of Architecture, and its relations to other arts in the public space. MAP celebrates urban culture, experimentation and innovative practices in order to inspire new ways of thinking about the city.

Thomas Phifer and Partners Unveil Design for Warsaw Art Museum and Theatre

Thomas Phifer and Partners has unveiled their design for The Museum of Modern Art and TR Warszawa Theater in Warsaw, Poland. Together, the 15,000 square meter museum, 10,000 square meter theater, infrastructure, and outdoor forum, will compose the largest cultural project in Poland’s recent history.

Inspired by abstract works of art, “the building facades manifest creative life in the city and emphasize the Museum of Modern Art and TR Warszawa’s integral role in the formation of Warsaw’s new cultural center.”

Competition Launched to Revitalize LA’s Pershing Square

Pershing Square Renew, a public/private partnership formed by Los Angeles City Council member José Huizar, has launched an international design competition to re-imagine the five-acre urban park at the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

Why Ecosystem Services Will be the Next Frontier in Livable Cities

Land Sparing of Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC user spektrograf
Land Sparing of Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC user spektrograf

While the term “ecosystem services” may sound like a corporate antithesis to the course of natural order, it is actually an umbrella term for the ways in which the human experience is favorably altered and enhanced by the environment. Ecosystem services are therefore an important factor in creating cities which provide the maximum benefit to their residents with the minimal harm to their environment.

Aiming to find out how city planning can affect the provision of these ecosystem services, a new study published in Frontiers in Ecology and Environment by researchers at the University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute and Hokkaido University's Division of Environmental Resources evaluates the repercussions of rapid and fragmented urbanization and the possible detriment to ecosystem services and human well-being. In particular, the study is concerned with approaches to land-use and the outcomes they yield on the environment. Studied are two opposing tactics: a “land-sharing,” sprawl model (think Atlanta or Houston), or “land-sparing,” tight-knit urbanism (think New York or Tokyo).

Jan Gehl: "Civic Culture Needs Cultivating and Curating"

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.

Before & After: 30 Photos that Prove the Power of Designing with Pedestrians in Mind

Providing more public space for pedestrians is one of the main goals of urban renewal projects taking place in cities around the world. 

By planting more trees, implementing more sidewalks and bike paths and establishing new seating areas, it is possible to design more welcoming places with less traffic congestion and that promote sustainable methods of transportation, such as walking or biking. 

With the aim of publicizing urban renewal projects that have made cities more pedestrian friendly, Brazilian group Urb-I launched the “Before/After” project, which compiles before and after photos that show how cities have redistributed their public space. 

The project is collaborative so that anyone can use Google Street View, or another similar tool, to raise awareness of the changes taking place in their cities. 

Read on to see the transformed spaces. 

New York City Mayor Threatens to Remove Times Square

Frustrated with the congestion of panhandlers, Mayor Bill de Blasio has shocked New York City dwellers by threatening to remove their beloved Times Square. As New York Times' architecture critic Michael Kimmelman reports, this comes at a time when dwellers fear that quality of life is declining in the city: "Entertaining the demolition of the plazas, the mayor sends a message that New York can’t support the sort of great pedestrian hubs that thrive in competing cities around the globe." Blasio said he will look into the "pros and cons" of returning Times Square to traffic. Read Kimmelman's full report on Blasio's threats, here

A Bold Proposal for Revitalization Wins Third Place in Milan's Piazza della Scala Competition

The City of Milan has announced the winners of a competition to redesign the Piazza della Scala, with a bold idea to reconfigure the Piazza similarly to its arrangement in the 19th Century taking third place. Designed by Chilean architect Cristian Undurraga in collaboration with Laura Signorelli, Stefano Rolla, Sebastián Mallea, Soledad Fernandez, Michele Zambetti, Max Daiber and Leonardo Valdés, the proposal begins with the demolition of the medieval block separating the Teatro alla Scala and the Palacio Marino, developing visual continuity to catalyze construction and improve existing spaces. Read more about the proposal after the break.

7 Rules for Designing Safer Cities

As a part of its EMBARQ Sustainable Urban Mobility initiative, the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities has created a global reference guide called Cities Safer by Design “to help cities save lives from traffic fatalities through improved street design and smart urban development."

Causing over 1.24 million deaths annually, traffic fatalities are currently estimated to be the eighth leading cause of death worldwide, a ranking that is expected to rise to the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.

With these staggering numbers in mind, the Cities Safer by Design guide discusses ways to make cities less dangerous, particularly with its section entitled, “7 Proven Principles for Designing a Safer City.”  Learn what the 7 concepts are, after the break. 

Why Landscape Designers Will Be Key to the Future of Our Cities

For most people, spending time outdoors in well-designed public spaces is one of the highlights to city life. Why, then, do we spend comparatively little time and money on designing them? In this article, originally posted on Metropolis magazine as "Designing Outdoor Public Spaces is Vital to the Future of our Cities" Kirt Martin, the vice-president of design and marketing at outdoor furniture designer Landscape Forms, makes the case that landscape architects and industrial designers working in the public realm are key for our cities' health and happiness.

All of us treasure our time in outdoor spaces. So why do we devote so little of our attention to their design?

As a designer in the site-furniture industry, I am always curious about the value people place on the outdoors. I like to ask people I meet to describe a great city like New York, Chicago, or Paris and what they most remember about being there. Or I ask them, if they won $25,000 to spend on a dream vacation, where they would go and what they would do. Their fond memories of a celebrated city or an escape into the wild often have little in common, except for one thing: Their most memorable and meaningful experiences almost always revolve around the outdoors.

The House Opera Project: Help Fund a New Public Space in Detroit

A new project in Detroit aims to repurpose a vacant house into a public performance space – but it needs your help. House Opera is the result of a collaboration between V. Mitch McEwen and her partner at A(n) Office, Marcelo Lopez-Dinardi. After McEwen purchased a vacant, stripped down house from the city of Detroit two and a half years ago, the two began removing elements of the “house” in order to transform it into an open theater space, meant to showcase Detroit storytelling.

Joined by Detroit curators and community organizers, as well as design and art collaborators from around the country, the project has received a $10,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant to fund half of the project. But support is needed to fund the other half. They have launched a fundraiser, which ends on July 2, 2015 12:59 AM, and donations can be made here. Learn more about the project after the break.

How EPM Group Is Reclaiming Medellín's Infrastructure as Public Space

With a high-density population and a history of internal armed conflict, the city of Medellín in Colombia lacked substantial public space, but had an overwhelming amount of industrial infrastructure in place. But as profiled by The Architectural Review, recently architects and urban planners of the EPM group saw this imbalance as an opportunity, and so in the uninhabited patches of land surrounding over one hundred fenced industrial lots, the UVA or Unidades de Vida Articulada (Units of Articulated Life) program was born. Including initiatives to build public classrooms, launderettes and cafés, the UVA projects were conceived together with the local population through a series of workshops, where every resident was invited to express their vision for the new public square through writing and drawing. Medellín, existing at the convergence of several hills, provides a wide variety of unique landscapes for architects to experiment on - and through the UVA projects, EPM Group demonstrates how architecture can empower a community from the first day of design. Read more about how this project will continue to instigate positive change at The Architectural Review.

Renzo Piano on the Whitney Museum and the Value of Public Space

Throughout his career, Renzo Piano has designed dozens of museum buildings becoming the most prolific museum designer of our time. Yet, it has been some time since one of his designs has been as widely discussed and analyzed as his latest, the Whitney Museum in New York. In this interview, originally published on The Value of Architecture as "A House for Freedom: an Interview with Renzo Piano," David Plick speaks with Piano about the many inspirations of the Whitney Museum, from the previous Whitney Museum by Marcel Breuer to the neighboring High Line, the city on one side and the river on the other.

Renzo Piano is the great champion of public space. Whether the visitors and citizens of the city are aware of it or not, he improves their quality of life by sharing with them a living space designed specifically for the cultivation and dispersion of ideas and the enrichment of civic life. He’s the architect who cares about the individual’s experience of a building, who cares about how people interact with the space, and how the space then interacts with the world. At the Whitney Museum of American Art, much like the Centre Pompidou, or Beaubourg as he would say, he showed this by including a large area in front—a “piazza” he calls it—for people to meet, congregate, chat, and even loiter. He’s somehow simultaneously innovative and selfless. And because of this, he can masterfully fuse form and function, creating beauty for himself because he loves it and thinks it will save people, yet it all means nothing to him if he can’t share in this emotion with others.

The Relationship between the Whitney Museum and the Southern End of the High Line. Image © Nic Lehoux © Nic Lehoux © Nic Lehoux © Nic Lehoux

6 Finalists Announced for ULI’s 2015 Urban Open Space Award

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has selected six finalists for the 2015 Urban Open Space Award competition, which recognizes public spaces that benefit and revitalize their surrounding communities. This was the first year that ULI expanded the program to include global submissions.

“The submissions from this year are representative of how quality urban open space has become more than just an amenity for cities,” said jury chair Michael Covarrubias. “The international diversity of the projects is reflective of how developers continually work to meet global demand by the public for the inclusion of healthy places in cities.” See all of the finalists after the break.