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The Indicator: When Architects Attack

When Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, gives a bad review there is the sense that he is essentially dismantling a building, chipping its façade apart, like breaking down some charade in defense of the public’s honor. Like a hired killer he disappears the architecture, but at the same time heightens its visibility in the culture.

This ability, to provoke in such ways, is precisely why Thom Mayne would like to bar Mr. Hawthorne from taking a crack at reviewing the new building he and his firm, Morphosis designed for the firm’s new offices.

On a recent tour of the new digs, Mayne, as reported in The Architect’s Newspaper, was overheard saying, “There are no good writers in Los Angeles” and “All local writers are horrible.” To add further insult, he wants a science writer to cover it. That should be a short review.

UC Davis Art Museum Proposal / Henning Larsen Architects

Last year the University of California, Davis invited three architects to compete for the chance to design their new $30 million art museum, slated to open in 2016. The competition was a design-build affair, with each entrant being asked to pair up with a contractor and submit a holistic design. For those who missed it, SO - IL were announced as the winners of the competition.

Here we present one of the two runner-up submissions from Henning Larsen Architects. Given the name 'The Leaf', the design it spatially and materially expresses its overlapping functions. Its name comes from the lightweight leaf-like steel and aluminum roof, which filters sunlight and offers shade. The leaf sits on a heavy concrete base, providing accommodation for the museum's exhibits.

Read the architects description after the break...

One World Trade Center Will Soon Top Out at 1,776 Feet

After weather conditions refused to cooperate on Monday, the final two sections of Freedom Tower have been lifted to the summit of the One World Trade CenterConstruction of the gargantuan 758-ton, 408-foot spire - a joint Canadian-U.S. venture - began in December 2012, when 18 separate pieces were shipped to Manhattan from Canada and New JerseyThis final addition, including a steel beacon, means that the height of the building will soon rise from 1,368 feet to a more patriotic 1,776 feet once the segments are permanently installed within the next few weeks. However, it's not yet certain that the building will officially be the tallest in the U.S.

Read more after the break...

Groups Urge Congress: Keep Energy Conservation Requirements for Government Buildings

The American Institute of Architects today released a letter from more than 350 different associations and companies expressing opposition to efforts by special interests to gut energy conservation requirements for federal buildings.

The letter, which is addressed to Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, was released one week ahead of the scheduled mark-up of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee May 8.

That legislation, introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would promote greater use of energy efficiency technology in commercial and residential buildings and by manufacturers.

More information after the break...

Dwell on Design 2013

Dwell on Design, America’s largest modern design event, returns to the Los Angeles Convention Center, June 21-23, 2013. DOD reimagines the trade show experience by transforming 200,000 square feet of concrete into a design incubator where prefab comes to life and design luminaires debate the issues of today. With more than 400 exhibitors, 200 speakers, 2000 products and an expected 30,000 attendees, DOD has become the largest design event in the US, showing how influential design is in every aspect of our modern world. Dwell is proud to announce The Lincoln Motor Company as the Presenting Auto sponsor, Design Partner jcpenney and Industry Partner The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). The event is produced by Dwell Media.

More information, including keynote speakers, the 2013 highlights and a special promo code for ArchDaily readers after the break.

The Indicator: Sheltering in Place

Last Sunday James S. Russell, architecture critic for Bloomberg News and a former editor for Architectural Record, mused on his personal blog about the possible influence Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist University of Massachusetts campus in Dartmouth may have had on Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two Boston Marathon bombers who was also a student there.

Mr. Russell describes the campus as “a gigantic eerie, dozen-building concoction of grim ribbed-concrete hubris….” This is the sort of description that drives right to the heart of urban alienation. It’s Edvard Munch’s The Scream. This ability to sum up and drive the nail home is one reason he is the architecture critic for Bloomberg News. No side-stepping here.

Positive Signs of Growth Reflected in Steady ABI and Higher Intern Employment Rates

For the eight consecutive month, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is reflecting a steady upturn in design activity. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. Although the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI score was 51.9, down from a mark of 54.9 in February, this score still reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). In addition, the new projects inquiry index was 60.1, down from the reading of 64.8 the previous month.

“Business conditions in the construction industry have generally been improving over the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “But as we have continued to report, the recovery has been uneven across the major construction sectors so it’s not a big surprise that there was some easing in the pace of growth in March compared to previous months.”

Key ABI highlights and details indicating higher employment rates for intern architects after the break...

Plan Envisages Reusing Pittsburghs Industrial Past to Bring The City Closer Together

With the advent of the High Line and the recent announcement about Chicago's Bloomingdale Trail, it's becoming clear that the 'parkway' is a powerful new force in urban planning, which has the potential to change the way cities around the world function. A new project in Pittsburgh seeks to harness these possibilities, as the city's history of industry has left its stamp upon the city in the form of a rusting industrial riverfront. A plan by Saski Associates envisages re-using this space to create a green belt, tying the city closer together. By adding pedestrian, cycling and light-rail transport routes, and creating plenty of green spaces, they hope to tap Pittsburgh's unrealized potential to be a river-front city, while encouraging geographical and social closeness amongst its communities.

More images and the architect’s description after the break…

AD College Guide: InSB, Integrated School of Building

The ongoing struggles in the world’s economies has produced several innovations in the field of Architecture. One important change has been for professionals and students to seek more interdisciplinary skills that better prepare them for these inevitable economic shifts. Schools have responded in kind, defining those skills in either intellectual, analytical terms (i.e. teaching students how to better critically analyze situations while eschewing superficial “theoretical” approaches) while other schools have emphasized a more practical approach.

InSB exemplifies the latter: a program that combines all aspects of AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) into a single curriculum for both undergraduates and graduates. Founded by Tabitha Ponte and co-founder Arturo Vasquez, the school has an ambitious mission: to offer a truly integrated AEC education that is tuition-free.

Celebrate National Architecture Week with the AIA

From April 7th through the 13th, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) will be hosting National Architecture Week in an effort to increase public awareness on the role architects play as a force for positive change in our communities and to elevate the public’s appreciation of design. 

Similar to previous years’ observances, National Architecture Week will be virtual and composed of daily pinboards on the social networking site, Pinterest, and an Architecture Is Awesome contest on Instagram. The intent is to use the two social networking platforms to showcase architects’ good designs and encourage architecture fans to share their thoughts and engage with like-minded professionals during the week.

Five Ways You can Take Part in National Architecture Week:

Whole Foods Set to Build First Commercial-Scale Greenhouse on Brooklyn Rooftop

Whole Foods has teamed up with New York’s local organic grower, Gotham Greens, to build the first commercial-scale greenhouse attached to a supermarket in Brooklyn. The 20,000-square-foot greenhouse, expected to open this Fall, will provide locally grown produce year-round to nine Whole Foods stores in New York City area. 

Chicago On-Track To Break Ground On Elevated Parkway

Chicago is set to be the next U.S. city to park-ify on one of its abandoned rail-lines. First proposed back in 1997, the 2.7 mile, 13-acre Bloomingdale Trail and Park is proposed for a stretch of abandoned railway trestle dating from 1910, which has been lying unused since the turn of the century. And, even though it is already being compared to New-York's High Line, the planners are adamant that the park will be an entirely different animal to its New York cousin.

Read more about Chicago's unique proposal after the break...

Four Architects Enlisted to Reimagine Penn Station

In an effort to “unlock people’s imaginations” about Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has challenged Santiago CalatravaDiller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects and SOM to propose four new visions that exemplify the potential of the highly disregarded area. 

The challenge comes amidst a heated debate on whether or not the city should restrict Madison Square’s recently expired special permit to 10 years, rather than in perpetuity as the arena’s owners - the Dolan family - has requested. This would allow time for the city to “get it right” and come up with a viable solution for the arena and station that would not only “improve the safety and quality of life for millions of people but also benefit the economy”. Think Kings Cross in London. With a thoughtful mix of public and private investments, the crime-ridden transfor station was transformed into a thriving cultural destination. 

More after the break...

WEISS / MANFREDI to Design Kent State's New, $40 Million Architecture Building

© WEISS/MANFREDI  Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
© WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism

WEISS / MANFREDI has been announced as winner of the international competition to design a new College of Architecture and Environmental Design for Kent State University in Ohio. The New York-based practice, in collaboration with the local architect of record Richard L. Bowen & Associates, was one of four national finalists selected from a competitive list of 37 applicants. The winning proposal, dubbed the Kent State Design Loft, transforms the notion of a continuous studio loft into a three-tiered structure that opens to the city, connects to the public esplanade and surrounding landscape, and provides an abundance of creatively designed, flexible learning spaces that can be easily transformed to accommodate design crits, exhibitions and events. “We are captivated by the potential for this project to become an innovative incubator for the arts and an internationally legible destination for the University,” said Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi. The architect’s project description after the break…

Redesigning Detroit: A New Vision for an Iconic Site

In an effort to generate innovative ideas for the re-use of one of the most important building sites in Detroit’s redeveloping downtown, Rock Ventures LLC has collaborated with Opportunity Detroit to launch the open ideas competition Redesigning Detroit: A New Vision for an Iconic Site. Entrants are challenged to create compelling visions for a new urban development on the famous 92,421 square foot Hudson's site that would play a significant role in the regeneration of downtown Detroit. 

UCLA’s cityLAB at the School of Architecture and Urban Design

Backyard Homes Conceptual Rendering, image courtesy Daly Genik Architects
Backyard Homes Conceptual Rendering, image courtesy Daly Genik Architects

What makes an architecture school worth consideration are its special programs and initiatives. These programs, often run by a few faculty members, vary from addressing human rights and legal issues to working with local communities to remedy social and economic issues.

UCLA's Architecture and Urban Design (AUD) school has just such a program. Called cityLAB (not to be confused with the student-run, science-based UCLA CityLab), it is in many ways unique to a university setting. Run by founder/director Professor Dana Cuff and co-directed by Professor Roger Sherman. It’s name is well-suited: a laboratory to test ideas and address issues arising from city conditions in ways that cannot be done by profit-driven firms. These issues include housing, commercial revitalization, and community and municipal collaboration. These projects have operated successfully on grants that support not just the work being done by the professors, but by staff and Graduate Student Researchers who are paid to work in all aspects of the projects.

Five Firms Shortlisted to Rehabilitate U.S. Embassies Worldwide

US Embassy in Beijing, by SOM. SOM is one of the 11 firms shortlisted by the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings (BOB). Photo © SOM
US Embassy in Beijing, by SOM. SOM is one of the 11 firms shortlisted by the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings (BOB). Photo © SOM

The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has selected five design teams in a worldwide Architecture/Engineering Design Services solicitation to rehabilitate/renovate facilities that "represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, maintainability, art, culture, and construction execution."

ABI Continues to Steadily Climb for Seventh Straight Month

via Calculated Risk
via Calculated Risk

An increasing demand for design services in the United States continues to strengthen the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has reported the February ABI score as 54.9, up slightly from a mark of 54.2 in January. This score reflects a strong increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). In addition, the new projects inquiry index was 64.8, higher than the reading of 63.2 the previous month and its highest mark since January 2007.

“Conditions have been strengthening in all regions and construction sectors for the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “Still, we also continue to hear a mix of business conditions in the marketplace as this hesitant recovery continues to unfold.”

Key February ABI highlights: