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The Apple and the Leaf: On How in Architecture There Are No Indisputable Truths

For many centuries, the demands of gravity appeared to give architecture one requirement that was largely unquestionable: that structures must rise vertically. However, with the advent of steel it was revealed that this limit had not been provided by gravity but by our own limited technologies. In this text, originally published by Domus Magazine in Italian and shared with ArchDaily by the author, Alberto Campo Baeza reflects on the architectural freedom offered by steel structures and the arbitrariness they bring to architectural space.

Isaac Newton was resting under an apple-tree in his garden when an apple fell on his head. Being endowed with such a privileged head and thoughts faster than lightning, he rose forthwith from his afternoon nap and set about calculating the acceleration of gravity.

Had Sir Isaac Newton had a little more patience and had he taken his time in getting to his feet, he might have noticed how, following the apple, a few leaves also fell from that same apple-tree, and while they fell, they did so in quite a different manner to the apple.

"I am writing this text in honor of the architect Valerio Olgiati, after seeing his very beautiful house in Portugal". Image © Archive Olgiati Leutschenbach School / Christian Kerez. Image Courtesy of Christian Kerez Rufo House / Alberto Campo Baeza. "But I, who have always defended orthogonal structures, also argue that structures do not always necessarily have to be orthogonal". Image © Javier Callejas Apartment Building on Forsterstrasse / Christian Kerez. From the architect's description: "The concrete wall slices are placed one above the other, suspended under each other or cantilevered. They form the loadbearing structure... their structurally essential organization remains hidden behind the appearance of a free, open-ended design". Image © Walter Mair

aarhus Designs Revolutionary Proton Therapy Center for Denmark

Danish practice aarhus architects has won a competition to design the new Proton Therapy Centre for advanced cancer treatment in Aarhus, Denmark. As “the most advanced radiation center to date and the only one of its kind in Denmark,” as well as one of only a few in the world, the Centre will undoubtedly become a pioneer in cancer treatment.

Designed from the inside out, the building’s façades are meant to convey the function of the interior, “and tell the story of precision, which is they key component of proton therapy as a form of treatment,” according to the architects. Thus, the atrium of the building becomes central to its orientation, providing not only an axis, but also a source of natural lighting.

ARO and Heery Design Nippert Stadium Expansion for University of Cincinnati

Architecture Research Office (ARO) and Heery International have designed the West Pavilion, a 115,000 square-foot extension to the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. Set at one of America’s most historic college football venues, the new expansion will stretch 450 feet in length —about half of the stadium—and “will introduce the program’s first true premium seating, club spaces, and high-end press facilities.”

In addition to being a part of university-wide expansions, the project is the centerpiece of the $86 million renovation of Nippert Stadium itself, which includes adding more restrooms and concessions, and better pedestrian circulation.

Courtesy of The University of Cincinnati Courtesy of The University of Cincinnati Courtesy of The University of Cincinnati Courtesy of The University of Cincinnati

Bortolotto Unveils Design for Rosalie Sharp Pavilion in Toronto

The Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U) has commissioned Toronto firm Bortolotto to transform the university’s main office building into the Rosalie Sharp Pavilion. The office will be wrapped in a technologically-responsive layer, transforming it into a multi-use, student work and exhibition space and transforming the corner of Dundas and McCaul streets into an interactive gateway for the campus.

Competition Entry: AECOM Proposes Transport Center for Solana Beach

AECOM has designed a preliminary study for a mixed-use transportation development in Solana Beach, California, as part of a response for a RFP (Request for Proposal). Located near major roads and connected to railroads, the project proposal consists of a combination of retail stores and restaurants, providing transit users with leisure spaces on their travels, in addition to parking for the nearby AMTRAK train station. 

Courtesy of AECOM LA Design Studio Courtesy of AECOM LA Design Studio Courtesy of AECOM LA Design Studio Courtesy of AECOM LA Design Studio

MX3D to 3D Print a Bridge in Mid-Air over Amsterdam Canal

Amsterdam already has over 1,200 bridges throughout its canals, with some dating as far back as the 17th century, but the city is about to add one more in correspondence with its growing 3D printing industry. Dutch start-up MX3D has partnered with Joris Laarman Lab, Heijmans, Autodesk, and several other supporters, in a collaboration that will create an intricate steel pedestrian bridge made by 3D printers.

Richard Serra's East-West/West-East Rises in the Qatari Desert

A new sculpture has risen in the desert of Qatar: “East-West/West-East,” Richard Serra's second public commission by the Gulf nation. Sited in a barren landscape that was suggested by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the former Emir, the installation is comprised of four steel plates incrementally placed and standing perpendicular to the ground.

Much like Serra's first Qatari sculpture - "7" in Doha - the German rolled steel structure will oxidize, changing from gray to orange and eventually a dark amber, much like the Seagram Building in midtown, said Serra in an interview with The New Yorker. The artist hopes it will become a landmark within the country. 

A selection of images from architecture photographer Nelson Garrido, after the break. 

“East-West/West-East” / Richard Serra. Image © Nelson Garrido “East-West/West-East” / Richard Serra. Image © Nelson Garrido “East-West/West-East” / Richard Serra. Image © Nelson Garrido “East-West/West-East” / Richard Serra. Image © Nelson Garrido

Santiago Calatrava's Florida Polytechnic Building Awarded "Best in Steel Construction" by AISC

Last week, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) presented its Innovation Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel Awards program. Recognizing exemplary work in steel for both its architectural and structural merits, the AISC awarded Santiago Calatrava's Innovation, Science, and Technology (IST) building at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida with the national award in the $15 million to $75 million category.

Winners Named for 2013-2014 Steel Design Student Competition: Border Crossing

In Borders: A Very Short Introduction, Hagan Diener writes, "…every border has a story. Every line on a map, every maker in the landscape, was derived from some complex negation of power and culture." It is this potency of meaning that makes the physical and conceptual border such a fascinating site. The 2013-2014 ACSA administered and AISC sponsored Steel Design Student Competition challenged students to design a border crossing station addressing the complex factors of cross-border relationships, using structural steel as the primary material. Learn more about the competition and the winning projects after the break.

Donovan Dunkley, Vail Nuguid & Alexia Sanchezm, City College of New York. Image Courtesy of Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Kyle Marren, Ryerson University. Image Courtesy of Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Jorge Cornet, Adam Schroth & Thomas Soldiviero, Catholic University of America. Image Courtesy of Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Donovan Dunkley, Vail Nuguid & Alexia Sanchezm, City College of New York. Image Courtesy of Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture

Bamboo: A Viable Alternative to Steel Reinforcement?

Developing countries have the highest demand for steel-reinforced concrete, but often do not have the means to produce the steel to meet that demand.  Rather than put themselves at the mercy of a global market dominated by developed countries, Singapore’s Future Cities Laboratory suggests an alternative to this manufactured rarity: bamboo.  Abundant, sustainable, and extremely resilient, bamboo has potential in the future to become an ideal replacement in places where steel cannot easily be produced.

Arup Develops 3D Printing Technique for Structural Steel

A team lead by Arup has developed a method of designing and 3D Printing steel joints which will significantly reduce the time and cost needed to make complex nodes in tensile structures. Their research is being touted as "a whole new direction for the use of additive manufacturing" which provides a way of taking 3D printing "firmly into the realm of real-world, hard hat construction."

Aside from creating more elegant components which express the forces within each individual joint - as you can see in the above photo - the innovation could potentially reduce costs, cut waste and slash the carbon footprint of the construction sector.

Read on for more on this breakthrough

The Steel Age Is Over. Has The Next Age Begun?

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Aim for the highest.” He followed his own advice. The powerful 19th century steel magnate had the foresight to build a bridge spanning the Mississippi river, a total of 6442 feet. In 1874, the primary structural material was iron — steel was the new kid on the block. People were wary of steel, scared of it even. It was an unproven alloy.

Nevertheless, after the completion of Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Andrew Carnegie generated a publicity stunt to prove steel was in fact a viable building material. A popular superstition of the day stated that an elephant would not cross an unstable bridge. On opening day, a confident Carnegie, the people of St. Louis and a four-ton elephant proceeded to cross the bridge. The elephant was met on the other side with pompous fanfare. What ensued was the greatest vertical building boom in American history, with Chicago and New York pioneering the cause. That’s right people; you can thank an adrenaline-junkie elephant for changing American opinion on the safety of steel construction.

So if steel replaced iron - as iron replaced bronze and bronze, copper -  what will replace steel? Carbon Fiber.

Top 10 Apps for Architects

Following our readers poll last year, here's an updated list of what we think are the best ten apps for architects. From condensed versions of large scale programmes architects and designers use every day, to blank canvases to scratch ideas down onto, you might just find an app that could improve the way you work. 

In Progress: Lotte World Tower / KPF

image by dbox branding & creative for KPF
image by dbox branding & creative for KPF

Construction of the Lotte World Tower in Seoul, South Korea designed by high-rise architectural firm KPF is well underway. Won via an international design competition, this new tower will rise up to a pinnacle height of 555 meters. Organized around a mixed-use program including retail, office, hotel and an observation deck at the peak, the tower pulls inspiration from historical Korean arts of ceramics, porcelain, and calligraphy. More details after the break.

image by dbox branding & creative for KPF © KPF image by dbox branding & creative for KPF © KPF

Ping An Finance Center / KPF


Soon to be Shenzhen’s tallest tower at 660 meters, the Ping An Finance Center by KPF will anchor the city’s new Central Business District. Positioned at the southwest corner of the intersection of Yi Tian Road and Fu Hua Road in the Futian District, the tower will connect with neighboring properties in addition to Shenzhen Line 1 Gou Wu Gong Yuan metro station. More details after the break.

MyZeil Shopping Mall / Studio Fuksas

© Karsten Monnerjahn
© Karsten Monnerjahn

Architects: Studio Fuksas - Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas Interior Design: Fuksas Design Location: Frankfurt, Germany Address: Grosse Eschenheimer Strasse 10-14 Period: 2002-2009  Client: PalaisQuartier GmBH & CO., KG Surface:  Built Surface – 77,000 sq.m., Facade – 8,500 sq.m., Cover – 13,000 sq.m. Engineering:  Structures – Knippers-Helbig Beratende Ingenieure, Stuttgart; Krebs und Kiefer Beratende Ingenieure für das Bauwesen GmbH, Darmstadt | Realization of the façade and covering – Waagner Biro Stahlbau AG, Wien

© Karsten Monnerjahn
© Karsten Monnerjahn
© Karsten Monnerjahn
© Karsten Monnerjahn
© Karsten Monnerjahn
© Karsten Monnerjahn
© Karsten Monnerjahn
© Karsten Monnerjahn

Arganzuela Footbridge / Dominique Perrault Architecture

© Georges Fessy / DPA / Adagp
© Georges Fessy / DPA / Adagp

Architects: Dominique Perrault Architecture Location: Parque de la Arganzuela, Madrid, Spain Engineering: MC2 – Julio Martínez Calzón (stucture) /  TYPSA (mechanical engineering) Built area: Footbridge 150 m (section 1) 128 m (section 2) length, 5 to 12 m width Completion: 2010 Photographs: Georges Fessy, Ayuntamiento de Madrid 

ASM International World Headquarters Renovation / The Chesler Group and Dimit Architects

© Jeff Goldberg ESTO
© Jeff Goldberg ESTO

The ASM International World Headquarters, originally constructed in 1959, is an architectural composition by two influential designers during the mid-twentieth century: John Terence Kelly, who studied under Bauhaus-founder Walter Gropius, and R. Buckminster Fuller, well known for his geodesic domes, environmentally-conscious designs and the dymaxion car.  The complex includes the building, dome and garden on the 45-acre site known as Materials Park.  The renovation, led by The Chesler Group and Dimit Architectsbrings new life to Kelly’s building.  According to Architectural Record, (Snapshot, Laura Raskin), Michael Chesler of The Chesler Group, campaigned to salvage the architectural marvel, giving it a place in the National Register of Historic Places and using tax credits to fund the renovation.

Pictures and details of the renovation after the break.