Studio Gang Breaks Ground on Chicago Writers’ Theatre

Main Entrance . Image Courtesy of

Studio Gang has broke ground on the new home for Chicago’s beloved Writers’ Theatre. Situated on the sloped Tudor Court site of the Glencoe Woman’s Library Club, the glass encased timber structure will be a theatrical spectacle, as the main performance space’s second story catwalk is designed to peer through the transparent facade.

“Our process has been built around the creative team dialogue with Writers Theatre, its audiences, and the community, and we could not be more excited to celebrate this milestone today while looking forward to the ideas that will soon become a built reality in 2016,” said Jeanne Gang. “The design of Writers Theatre’s first purpose-built theatre reinforces their important mission and vision to maximize the feeling of intimacy between actors and audience within the park-like setting of downtown Glencoe.”

New renderings and more information from the architect, after the break.

Renzo Piano Comments on the Difficulties of Designing LA’s Motion Picture Academy

2013 Visualization. Image © , Studio Pali Fekete architects, AMPAS

In discussion with Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times, Renzo Piano has taken his comments of modesty – verging on “self-deprecation” – to a new level. In response to questions about the design of the proposed Motion Picture Academy in Los Angeles he has said: “I don’t think it will be that bad. [...] Actually, I’m struggling to do something good.” Although Piano’s design has previously been met with criticisms from Hawthorne, the Italian architect notes in this latest interview that ”everything we’ve made at LACMA has been extremely complicated.” The project, which has already seen a major alteration in the core design team, remains set to complete in 2015.

Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce

Breaking New Ground is an international design and ideas competition addressing the urgent affordable housing needs for farmworker and service worker families in the Coachella Valley, where efforts to improve living conditions suffers from a lack of funding and coordination. Going beyond design, the competition seeks to envision new precedents, mechanisms, and policies for affordable housing implementation and development, with implications for and the nation.

At the competition’s conclusion, The California Endowment and County of Riverside will work together to build an affordable housing project based on the winning entries. The winning team may also be selected to participate in the design and construction of the new project.

Get Swinging in Boston on these Glowing LED Hoops

Courtesy of Howeler + Yoon Architecture

In Boston, playgrounds are no longer just for kids. Twenty LED-lit circular swings have been installed outdoors as a part of “Swing Time,” Boston’s first interactive sculpture installation. The hanging, glowing orbs are a twist on traditional rubber-and-rope swings, dangling from a minimal steel structure similar to those used in conventional playgrounds. LED lights embedded in the swings activate and change color as each swing moves, returning to a dim white light when static. The piece is designed to blend Boston’s design with its expanding technology sector while playfully engaging residents.

Take a seat in “Swing Time” with more photos and info after the break.

Architect Magazine’s Top 50 US Architecture Firms

The Bertram and Judith Kohl Building / Westlake Reed Leskosky. Image © Nic Lehoux

Architect Magazine has released its list of the 50 best architecture firms in the US, with Westlake Reed Leskosky, William Rawn Associates and Gensler taking home the top three slots in the overall ranking. The ranking is based on three key factors: business, design and sustainability. Westlake Reed Leskosky also ranked number 1 in the Best in Business category, along with HDR and Spector Group in second and third place, respectively. NADAAA, Behnisch Architekten and Payette were the top three firms in the Best in Design category, while EYP Architecture & Engineering, William Rawn Associates and Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects were ranked as the top three in the Best in Sustainability category. For the full list visit Architect Magazine.

BLOCK: Envisioning Future Cities in a Video Game

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BLOCK is a video that “will breach the digital with the physical” and allow anyone to become an active participant in the future of Los Angeles. Described by FAST Co.Exist as “Minecraft for real life” the gameplay, which also bears similarity to The Sims, is founded on understanding the interdependencies of city entities such as housing, shops, parks and infrastructure. The objective of the game is to both educate people and to generate user data for design patterns for the Los Angeles of 2050, producing the first database of a future city. BLOCK allows the player to understand the ecology of the urban realm (focusing on resources such as money, waste, and social capital) ultimately encouraging entrepreneurship “through the design of an ecological urbanism.” Fundamentally, it allows for new opportunities to be conceived in the city.

It’s “Time For Strategic Architecture”

Bolling Municipal Center – Roxbury, (MA). Image Courtesy of Mecanoo / Sasaki Associates

In an article for the New York Times, Alexandra Lange discusses a number of US projects which are “transforming, but not disrupting,” their respective communities. In this vein, she cites Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates’ new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury, Boston, as a prime example of a new kind of architecture which “comes from understanding of past civic hopes, redesigning them to meet the future.” Examining some of the key concepts that make for successfully integrated community buildings, such as the creation of spaces that actively forge personal connections, Lange concludes that perhaps it is now “time for strategic architecture.”

The idea that urban planning could build upon citizen action, rather than consisting of imposed boulevards or housing blocks (as with the urban renewal that originally gutted Roxbury) is gaining traction.

Read the article in full here.

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VIDEO: In Boston, Reclaiming the Craft of Brick

The 6th Annual Architecture & Design Film Festival Returns to New York City

"Who Dares Wins: ". Image Courtesy of Architecture & Design Film Festival

The 6th Annual Architecture and Design Film Festival is set to return to on October 15th for five days of premieres and showings. With a special themed focus on Women in Architecture, the US’s largest architecture-related film festival will present over twenty five feature-length and short films in a programme curated by Kyle Bergman and Laura Cardello. Designed to provide “rare glimpses and intimate portrayals of seminal figures and growing movements in the fields of architecture, design, urbanism and fashion,” this year’s festival will also feature a 3D film series exploring six iconic structures from filmmakers such as Wim Wenders and Robert Redford.

Explore the highlights and find out more about the festival after the break.

BIG Designs Rejected Again for Kimball Art Center

Revised design for the . Image Courtesy of BIG

After producing major revisions on a previously rejected design, BIG have had their second design rejected for the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah. City Hall rejected the design on the basis of appearance, arguing that it did not relate to the historic city centre “aesthetically, visually or historically.” The second design by BIG marked a complete departure from the original that was selected as the winner of an architectural contest hosted by the Kimball Art Center.

Drawings from Famous Architects’ Formative Stages to be Exhibited in St. Louis

, The World (89 Degrees), 1984. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum

As a student of architecture, the formative years of study are a period of wild experimentation, bizarre use of materials, and most importantly, a time to make mistakes. Work from this period in the life of an architect rarely floats to the surface – unless you’re Zaha Hadid or Frank Gehry, that is. A treasure trove of early architectural drawings from the world’s leading architects has recently been unearthed from the private collection of former Architectural Association Chairman Alvin Boyarsky. The collection is slated to be shown at the Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis, as a part of the exhibition Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the  from September 12th to January 4th, 2015.

Take a look at the complete set of architects and drawings for the exhibition after the break.

Spatial Relations Take Centre Stage in MoMA’s Newest Architectural Exhibition

Herzog & de Meuron’s National Stadium, Beijing. 2008. Image © Iwan Baan

What influence do art and space have on the contemporary architectural design process? MoMA‘s most recent exhibition on architecture and design Conceptions of Space strives to answer this question. Themed under the umbrella of spatial relations, Curator Pedro Gadanho ruminates on the subject in a broad and philosophical sense. The exhibition delves into the topic using an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating research from French philosopher Michel Foucault on the subject of the expanded field. The exhibition aims to explore the relationship between the development of space and its deep-seated roots in the creative arts.

In Discussion With David Adjaye

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Image © Adjaye Associates

In an interview with Rowan Moore for The Observer, British born architect David Adjaye discusses his work, personality and ambitions as head of the one of the fastest growing internationally operating practices. With Moore’s immersive descriptions and expertly written narrative, the “breadth of Adjaye’s vision” becomes apparent. Featuring precise descriptions of some his upcoming projects, including the designs for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and a number of smaller buildings in London, Moore’s discussion ultimately explores Adjaye’s early (and successful) steps into the African architectural market. You can read the interview in full here.

AD Interviews: Leong Leong, designers of US Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

We sat down with Leong Leong Architecture, designers of the US at the 2014 Venice Biennale to discuss their concept for OfficeUS. Commissioned by Storefront for Art and Architecture, Leong Leong was tasked with designing a temporary and multi-functional space for architectural practice and exhibition. The minimal, airy US Pavilion features over 1000 projects designed by American architects abroad, set amongst a functional office space.

Seated in the work space of one of the “partners” and surrounded by a steady stream of visitors, Dominic Leong described the design process: “The mission of the project was to generally try to understand modernism in relationship to architectural office.” The firm strived to adapt the space in keeping with the Biennale theme of “Absorbing Modernity” set by Rem Koolhaas: ”A large part of our design was to reconfigure the perception of a very neoclassical building – the US Pavilion.” Leong added: “The project was boiled down into two main components: the repository and history of architecture researched by the curators, and an architectural office which was conceived as a prototype for a new mode of architectural production.”

Take a look at the full interview to find out more about Leong Leong Architecture and their concept for the US Pavilion. Make sure to check out our full coverage of the US Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale here.

Milan Expo 2015: Barn-Inspired Design Unveiled for US Pavilion

Courtesy of Biber Architects

-based firm Biber Architects has unveiled its design for the US pavilion – “American Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet” – at the Milan Expo 2015. An airy, barn-inspired structure, the design represents the pavilion’s food-centric theme, focusing on a farm-to-table food model and sustainable production.

2014 ANFA Conference

The Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) will have their 2nd international conference between September 18 and September 20 in La Jolla, .

The ANFA Conference will explore, from a scientific basis, the range of human experiences with elements of architecture, through collaboration between architects and neuroscientists.  The goal is to inspire ideas and new collaborations that will ignite change and unlock the potential of Neuroscience for Architecture.

Juhani Pallasmaa, Finnish architect and architectural theorist, author of The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, will be the keynote speaker. For more information, please visit the event’s official website.

Title: 2014 ANFA Conference
Website: http://www.anfarch.org/2014-conference/
From: Thu, 18 Sep 2014
Until: Sat, 20 Sep 2014
Venue: Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Address: 10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037,

Exhibition: Total Reset

Institute for Public Architecture exhibition on public and affordable housing in NYC, “Total Reset.” by IPA Fellow Quilian Riano: “Work with Me, Neighbor.”

Mayor de Blasio has declared a “total reset” for public housing in . At the same time, the decline of affordable housing options has become New Yorkers’ greatest concern.

In the spring, the IPA launched the “Total Reset” series with a Roundtable exploring ambitious, achievable ideas for public and affordable housing in New York. This summer, IPA Fellows respond to the roundtable discussion with housing proposals that connect design, policy, and community engagement.

The residency and installation are located in Broadway Housing Communities’ new affordable housing development in Sugar Hill, designed by architect David Adjaye. More information can be found here.

Title: Exhibition: Total Reset
Website: http://totalreset.tumblr.com/
Organizers: Institute for Public Architecture
From: Thu, 26 Jun 2014
Until: Sun, 10 Aug 2014
Venue: The Sugar Hill Project
Address: Saint Nicholas Avenue & West 155th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA

Lecture: Architecture as a Way of Life and Placemaking

Rafiq Azam is the principal of SHATOTTO architecture for green living, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He will introduce us to his work and city, which is also home to works by Louis Kahn. Azam’s “green” is not about global ratings or the current sustainability trend. It is his response to the sky, water, and vegetation that surround him and his city. There is an apparent simplicity in Azam’s work that disguises and belies a complex fabric revealing the wonders of the cosmos.

“Shatotto” in Bangla means “doing something continuously.” Azam creates spaces and structures for one’s senses and thoughts in the context of South Asia’s past and future. His presentation will coincide with the New York introduction of his monograph by SKIRA, the first ever published about a Bangladeshi architect.

Title: Lecture: Architecture as a Way of Life and Placemaking
Website: http://cfa.aiany.org/index.php?section=calendar&evtid=7182
Organizers: Asia Society New York
From: Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:30
Until: Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:00
Venue: Center For Architecture
Address: 536 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY 10012,

Gehry Unveils Designs to Extend the Philadelphia Art Museum Downwards

The heart of the Museum will be opened up, creating a clear sight line through the ground-floor and first-floor galleries that will greatly simplify wayfinding. Image © Gehry Partners, LLP

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has revealed Frank Gehry‘s designs for a 169,000 square foot expansion that will see the museum dig down to create a new set of galleries underneath its existing footprint. Already an unusual choice for a project whose brief called to preserve the architectural integrity of the existing building, Gehry’s design is an unexpectedly muted intervention, focusing on interior rearrangement and additions that are in keeping with the 86 year-old building’s aesthetic.

Perhaps the most dramatic alteration proposed by Gehry is a plan to punch a hole through the museum’s famous ‘Rocky steps’, the iconic training location from the Rocky film series, creating a window into the new subterranean galleries; however as the $350 million project will by necessity by undertaken in stages, this intervention is likely to be a subject of discussion for some time.

More on the design after the break