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Reviewing 'Urban Hopes': A Look at Steven Holl's Latest in China

In this article originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Urban Hopes, Urban Dreams", Samuel Medina reviews a new book on the work of Steven Holl in China. Focusing on five major projects, the book places Holl's work in the wider context of his urbanistic influences - including ideas from his own early paper architecture that are just now resurfacing.

Steven Holl is the rare architect whose concepts are equally known as his buildings. Chalk that up to Holl’s prolific output, in both buildings and monographs, and his knack for branding his ideas. Urban Hopes: Made in China (Lars Müller, 2014), a condensed reader on Holl's latest work in China, is the latest in a stream of small books that have continually repackaged the architect's growing body of work. 

Anchoring and Intertwining appeared in 1996 and expounded on architectural themes and spatial notions only partially evinced by his work up until that time. In both, the buildings were few and far between, scattered between pages imprinted with “paper architecture,” the primary outlet for Holl’s creative energies in the prior decades since his move to New York in 1976. These and more titles were followed up by Parallax in 2000, a blend of philosophical, scientific, and poetic references that invest the architecture with the aura of the Gesamtkunstwerk. Holl’s idea of “porosity” made its debut here, if prematurely, where it was applied rather literally to Simmons Hall at MIT and its sponge-like facade. It wasn’t until a few years later, when the architect first got his feet wet in China, that the concept would be baptised as a core tenet of 21st-century urban design. 2009’s Urbanisms advances as much, while further recapitulating the big ideas of the previous book installments.

Read on after the break for the review of Urban Hopes

What is Architecture? Steven Holl Describes It In Four words

"While artists work from the real to the abstract, architects must work from the abstract to the real.

Video: Steven Holl on Columbia University's Campbell Sports Center

Legendary American architect Steven Holl has collaborated again with Spirit of Space to produce two short videos on the recently completed Campbell Sports Center in New York City. While always compelling to hear an architect discuss a project, these videos integrate the architect's narration with different dynamic shots of the building's detail and context, thus truly immersing the viewer in the project. 

The first video (above) features Steven Holl and senior partner Chris McVoy explaining the project's inspiration, design concept and program; simultaneously, the filmmakers take us into the space and show how the new athletic facility is being used by the student athletes. The second, shorter, video (after the break) shows the building in the city, revealing the fascinatingly complex relationship between the passing subway cars, the field hockey players, the movement of shadows and the building itself.

See the second video, after the break...

Two Short Films Capture the Essence of Steven Holl Architects’ Sliced Porosity Block

Lebbeus Woods Tribute by Steven Holl and Sanford Kwinter // 32BNY Videopolemic Re-launch

32BNY is collaborating with Spirit of Space is relaunching a website in a corner of the internet structured as a videopolemic to explore architectural discourse in a revolutionary way.  The first video in the series is a tribute to Lebbeus Woods  who passed away late last year.  Woods was an aggressive philosophical thinker of architecture and space.  He launched worldy ideas into his architecture through imaginative leaps - exploring politics, society, ethics and the human condition as it pertained to architectural space in the form of vivid and dynamic drawings.  His work has inspired his contemporaries to think outside of the physical space of architecture.  Steven Holl and Sanford Kwinter discuss some of his ideas and philosophies through his quotes and inspirations.  The video serves as a reminder, and to some a guide, as to how to build upon the philosophy of architecture beyond the physical.

More on the video after the break.

'Time Light' Steven Holl Lecture at the Cooper Union

Hosted by the Architectural League and co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union, Steven Holl will lecture in the Great Hall at The Cooper Union on November 28 at 7:00pm. Holl’s architecture and writing has undergone a shift in emphasis, from his earlier concern with typology to his current interest in phenomenology. This “Time Light” lecture is dedicated to Lebbeus Woods and will show both early and recent works by Steven Holl Architects. Following the lecture, Steven Holl will be joined in conversation by Sanford Kwinter. For more information on the event, please visit here.

Steven Holl: 'Scale' Lecture

Taking place at Cooper Union in New York, the Steven Holl: ‘Scale’ lecture focuses on the firm’s current work in exploring new ways of integrating an organizing idea with the programmatic and functional essence of a building, “always using the unique character of a program and a site as the starting point for an architectural idea.” Steven Holl was the recipient of the 2012 AIA Gold Medal. His firm has been honored with many awards, publications, and exhibitions for excellence in design, most recently, their Cité de l’Océan et du Surf Museum (pictured in the slideshow above) won the Emirates Glass Leaf Award, the Annual Design Review, and the American Architecture Award. In 2001, Holl was named America’s Best Architect by Time. The event is co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union as part of the program put on by the Architectural League, and takes place Wednesday, November 28th at 7:00pm. For more information, please visit here.

Steven Holl Interview: Not a 'Signature Architect' / Andrew Caruso

Steven Holl © Mark Heithoff
Steven Holl © Mark Heithoff

National Building Museum and Metropolis Magazine contributor Andrew Caruso takes you “inside the design mind” of architect Steven Holl.  This year, the American Institute of Architects conferred its highest honor – the AIA Gold Medal – upon Steven Holl. I had the opportunity to talk with Steven about his sources of inspiration, a mid-career enlightenment, and his recent recognition as one of the most celebrated “American” architects. Andrew Caruso: Balancing your practice with teaching and art is clearly a part of the designer we know you to be. How do these explorations shape your design point of view? Steven Holl: Every project is unique: a site and a circumstance, a culture, a climate, a program. All of these forces are unique and you need a concept to hold the manifold pieces together, an idea that makes the project significant in its place and for its purpose. That is always the way I begin projects.

Venice Biennale 2012: “Lars Müller Publishers - Book Fever”

Courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers
Courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers

Join the authors and editors of Lars Müller Publishers for a rare book signing opportunity with architects Wang Shu, Sou Fujimoto, and Steven Holl on August 28th at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale! This event will kick off the exhibition Lars Müller Publishers – Book Fever, which will feature sixty publications – new releases, bestsellers, milestones from the past, and rare treasures – for the public to explore. Founded thirty years ago, Lars Müller Publishers’ carefully edited and designed publications on architecture, design, and contemporary art has lead them to become a renowned international publisher. One milestone you may remember was their release of Peter Zumthor’s Works (1998), which was the first survey of the oeuvre of the architect now known worldwide that set new standards for the monograph as a book genre. Continue after the break for more details on the book signing and exhibition.

Steven Holl reveals Design Concept for Maggie’s Barts

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects
Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

As we announced earlier, Steven Holl Architects has been selected to design the Maggie’s Center at St. Bartholomew’s (Barts) Hospital in London. Situated at the periphery of the square, Maggie’s Barts will replace an existing 1960s block that was once used for offices. An average of 3,100 new cancer patients is expected to use the facility each year. Steven Holl said: “It is a great honor to design a Maggie’s Centre and a very special challenge to be given such an important central site in London. The hospital has been at the forefront of medical understanding for centuries. We are inspired by the deep history of the area, and particularly the nearby St. Bartholomew the Great church which has been in continuous use with marvelous music since 1143. Our proposal is like a vessel within a vessel within a vessel. In the spirit of music, architecture can be a vessel of transcendence.” Continue after the break to learn more.

Giveaway Winners: Color Light Time + Scale / Steven Holl

Last week, thanks to the courtesy of Lars Müller Publishers, we gave you the chance to win a copy of two of Steven Holl’s latest publications: Color Light Time and Scale. To participate, we asked you to answer the following question:

Foster and Holl selected for next Maggie’s Centers

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects
Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Steven Holl and Norman Foster have been chosen to design the next two Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centers in the United Kingdom. As reported by bdonline, Foster will design in his hometown of south Manchester at the Christie hospital, while Holl will design at the St. Bartholomew’s (Barts) hospital in London. This will be Holl’s second UK project, following the Glasgow School of Art. Continue reading for more information.

AIA2012: An Optimistic Future

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan © ArchDaily
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan © ArchDaily

AIA President Jeff Potter welcomed everyone this morning by restating his promise that the 2012 convention would inspire all who attend. With a consistent theme focusing on the architects commitment to service, President Potter welcomed Shaun Donovan – the 15th United States Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – as today’s keynote speaker. However, before Secretary Donovan took the stage, the 2012 AIA Vice President and 2013 President-elect Mickey Jacob invited the crowd to come, stay and explore the mile-high city of Denver for the 2013 National Convention.

Five North American Architects / Kenneth Frampton

Color Light Time + Scale / Steven Holl

Last week, we received copies of two of Steven Holl’s newest publications, Scale and Color Light Time.  Published by Lars Müller, the books examine Holl’s preoccupation with light and color as ways to inform the shaping of space.  Holl’s architecture has consistently defined itself with formal gestures grounded in light and meaningful applications of textures and colors.  While accurate to associate Holl with water color, the books shows the range such a medium has had over Holl’s career, as it has afforded the flexibility to serve as both an exploratory and explanatory tool.

More about the books after the break.