Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne has completed a three-semester–long study of Houston’s future, given its current sprawling urban conditions and rapid growth. The project, conducted alongside 21 University of Houston students and faculty members Matt Johnson, Peter Zweig, and Jason Logan, focused on ways of addressing the problems that arise from Houston’s historical lack of zoning in conjunction with the largely unregulated growth of industry and capitalism. These approaches include reinventing the current energy infrastructure, changing real estate and density, and leveraging the lack of zoning to generate new ideas.
One of modernism’s most iconic houses, Case Study House 21 (Bailey House) by Pierre Koenig, is now on sale. The two-bed/two-bath Hollywood Hills landmark has been touted as among the finest of Arts & Architecture Magazine’s Case Study Houses, and one of the program’s few truly experimental projects to explore groundbreaking design and materials.
Neoliberal post-fordism poses a dramatic challenge to urbanism as we have come to know it since the early 20th century. The public planning process has become more and more an embarrassment and obstacle to urban and economic flourishing. It’s a relic of a bygone era. The high point of urban planning was the post-war era of socialist planning and re-construction of the built environment. With respect to this period we can speak about physical or perhaps ‘positive planning’, in the sense of governments formulating concrete plans and designs about what to build. This era has long gone as society evolved beyond the simple fordist society of mechanical mass production to our current post-fordist networked society. When a few basic standards were functionally separate, optimized and endlessly repeated, central planning could still cope with the pace of societal progress. The world we live in today is far too multi-faceted, complex and dynamic to be entrusted to a central planning agency. The old model broke apart as it could not handle the level of complexity we live with and our cities should accommodate. The decentralized information processing mechanism of the market was indeed capable of managing such levels of complexity and, for this reason, has effectively taken over all positive decision-making processes.
LocationQingdao, Shandong, China
Design TeamDi Shaohua, Huo Junlong, Liu Xing, Feng Shuxian
ClientGold Concord Investment
PhotographsJin Fengzhe, Courtesy of Praxis d'Studio
Association Bureau A2M, Jaspers-Eyers Architects and Bureau d’Architecture Greish's (BAG) proposal for an “eco-neighborhood” in Liège, Belgium, has been unanimously selected by a jury in a competition to design a mixed-use real-estate project. Dubbed “Paradis Express,” the design incorporates offices, housing and local shops and will occupy a 35,000m2 site located along a future esplanade across from Guillemins station, and next to the new Finance Tower. The competition was held by Fedimmo, in consultation with the city of Liège and the Walloon Region.
What is the true value of architecture in today's society? According to this article by Anna Katz, rare pieces of architectural history have recently soared in value. Katz discusses the booming world of architecture at auction, featuring pieces by Mies Van Der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright among others. The article gracefully compares some of the most important architecture of our time against current real estate prices, exploring the catalyst of rising values in architecture of the recent past, while deliberating on the pitfalls of owning a delicate piece of architecture history. Read the story in full on Blouin Art Info.
London is the world’s most expensive city to build in, but the reasons may surprise you. The city is well known for its high cost of living despite being far less crowded than cities such as Tokyo and New York. In fact, commercial real estate in London’s West End costs nearly twice as much as similarly sized spaces on New York’s Madison Avenue.
New York City’s notoriously space-hungry real estate market is converting the cantilever – perhaps made most famous in Frank Lloyd Wright’s floating Fallingwater residence of 1935 – from a mere move of architectural acrobatics to a profit-generating design feature. Driven by a “more is more” mantra, developers and architects are using cantilevers to extend the reach of a building, creating unique vistas and extended floor space in a market in which both are priced at sky-high premiums.
The list of architects that have collaborated with Zhang Xin’s development company, SOHO China, reads like the roster of an architectural dream team (which includes Zaha Hadid, Yung Ho Chang, Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima, Herzog & de Meuron, Thom Mayne, David Adjaye, Toyo Ito and others). So it’s no surprise that the self-made billionaire lectured to a packed house at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design last Thursday. Xin spoke about her commitment to and love of design, explaining that her company’s mission is to bring a variety of architectural languages to China. And though SOHO’s projects are certainly experimental, Xin contends that her developer mindset actually helps meliorate the architect’s propensity to take the experiment too far—all without sacrificing the impressive and iconic forms of SOHO’s building portfolio.
A recent study by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) concluded that by preserving 27.7% of buildings in Manhattan, “the city is landmarking away its economic future.” REBNY is challenging the Landmarks Preservation Commission, arguing it has too much power when it comes to planning decisions, and that by making business so difficult for developers it is stifling the growth of the city.
Yet not three days before releasing this study, president of REBNY Steve Spinola said in an interview with WNYC that “if you ask my members, they will tell you [the twelve years of Mayor Bloomberg's tenure] has been a great period of time for them”. The conclusion of WNYC is that the past decade has actually been a period of increased growth for developers, rather than a period of stagnation.
It would be easy to echo the opinion of Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, who believes the actions of REBNY come down to greed, even comparing its members to Gordon Gekko, the anti-hero of the film Wall Street. But is greed really what’s behind this attack on the Landmarks Preservation Commission? Find out after the break.
An interesting phenomenon is taking place in London: the priciest tiers of its housing market are increasingly being driven by overseas investment, primarily from the Far East. The most interesting - and perhaps most concerning - aspect of these investments is that at least 37% those who buy property in the most expensive neighborhoods of central London do not intend to use that property as a primary residence. This results in upscale neighborhoods and residential properties that are largely abandoned and contribute almost nothing to the local economy of the city. Parts of Manhattan are experiencing similar behavior, leading us to ask the question "what is happening to our cities as they become more and more globalized and how will this trend affect city economies around the world?"
Read more after the break...
Let’s dump the word “zoning,” as in zoning ordinances that govern how land is developed and how buildings often are designed. Land-use regulation is still needed, but zoning increasingly has become a conceptually inappropriate term, an obsolete characterization of how we plan and shape growth. - Roger K. Lewis
Zoning, just over a century old concept, is already becoming an outdated system by which the government regulates development and growth. Exceptions and loopholes within current zoning legislation prove that city planning is pushing a zoning transformation to reflect the goals and needs of city building today and in the future. To determine how zoning and land use need to change we must first assess the intentions of future city building. Planners and architects, legislators and community activists have already begun establishing guidelines and ordinances that approach the goals of sustainability and liveability. The AIA has established Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design and has made a commitment to the Decade of Design: Global Solutions Challenge. NYC has come up with Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design and its Zone Green initiative in regards to updating its zoning resolution. Philadelphia has augmented its zoning to include urban farms and community gardens. It is safe to assume that many other cities will follow this precedent.