The Design Implications of President Obama’s Commitment to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy

January 21, 2013, Inaugural Speech; Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

This past Monday, President Obama made and sustainable energy the focal points of his Inaugural Address when he declared that choosing to ignore these key environmental issues “would betray our children and future generations.” This is the first time in the last few months that the President has taken a firm stand for the future of our Earth, a direct result of Super Storm Sandy and a smart choice to reveal controversial policies only after re-election. Although Monday morning was not the time to outline a specific political strategy, President Obama made it very clear that this time around, denial of scientific judgment and Congressional opposition would not be reasons for failure to act.

Since this is a sentiment easier said than done, there is doubtlessly a long and difficult road ahead for the President and his administration. The White House has revealed that it plans to focus on what it can do to capitalize on natural gas production as an alternative to coal, on “reducing emissions from power plants, [increasing] the efficiency of home appliances and [on having] the federal government itself produce less carbon pollution” (NYTimes). According to the Times, they aim to adopt new energy efficiency standards for not only home appliances but for buildings as well, something that should spark the interests of architects and urban planners already committed to designing with climate change and sustainable energy in mind.

More after the break…

Chicago’s Cook County Aims to Eradicate Demolition Waste

Image via Cook County

Cook County, Illinois, recently brought the elimination of construction waste to a new level by creating the first demolition debris ordinance in the Midwest. This groundbreaking ordinance requires most of the debris created from demolition to be recycled and reused instead of being sent to the landfill. The ordinance helps contribute to Cook County’s zero waste goal, part of the Update.

The new law states that at least 7 percent of suburban construction and demolition debris must be recycled, and an additional 5 percent must be reused on residential properties. This new legislation will have a great impact as it affects about 2.5 million suburban Cook County residents.

More after the break…

Massive Waterfront Redevelopment Receives Green Light in Washington D.C.

Master Plan © Perkins Eastman

Hoffman‐Madison Waterfront, the master developer of the 3.2 million square foot Southwest Waterfront project - “The Wharf” - that stretches across 27 acres of land along the historic Washington Channel, has announced the approval of its Phase1 Planned Unit Development (PUD) by the District of Columbia Zoning Commission. The Zoning Commission’s action approves all of the architectural designs and specific plans for each parcel of the project’s first phase encompassing 1.5 million square feet of residential, hotel, office and retail uses along with three piers, numerous open spaces, gathering places and a 3‐acre waterfront park. 

“The unanimous approval last night by the commissioners participating in the hearings is exhilarating. It creates momentum for ground breaking later this year,” said Monty Hoffman, Managing Member of Hoffman‐Madison Waterfront. “After more than six years of planning and substantial investment, we are preparing to launch one of the highest profile redevelopments in the country. We are ready to put shovels in the ground for this $2 billion of the Southwest Waterfront.”

More on Washington D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront project after the break.

Brookfield’s Manhattan West Breaks Ground

Manhattan West; Courtesy of Brookfield Development

’s Midtown West will be experiencing a large makeover over the coming years.  Shortly after Hudson Yards broke ground in late 2012, Brookfield Properties initiated the first phase of its 5.4 million-square-foot master plan for Manhattan West on the corner of 33rd Street and 9th Ave.  Hovering over Penn Station’s Railroad tracks, an engineering feat will support two 60-story towers that will encompass residential and commercial functions, as well as public and community space.

2013 AIA Institute Honor Awards for Interior Architecture

Lamar Advertising Corporate Headquarters; Baton Rouge
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple © Timothy Hursley

Earlier this week, we presented the American Institute of Architects’ (top selection of architecture that best exemplifies excellence in the United States for the year of 2013. Now, we bring you this year’s recipients of the . Continue after the break to see who will be honored with this prestigious award at the AIA 2013 National Convention and Design Exposition in Denver.

The Menil Collection selected to receive AIA Twenty-five Year Award

© Paul Hester

The Menil Collection Houston, designed by architect Renzo Piano, has been selected for the 2013 Twenty-five Year Award. Recognizing architectural design of enduring significance, the Twenty-five Year Award is conferred on a building that has stood the test of time for 25 to 35 years as an embodiment of architectural excellence. Projects must demonstrate excellence in function, in the distinguished execution of its original program, and in the creative aspects of its statement by today’s standards. The award will be presented this June at the National Convention in Denver.

More on The Menil Collection after the break.

Brooks + Scarpa designs Interfaith Chapel in Florida

© Courtesy of Architects

The highly acclaimed Los Angeles-based practice Brooks + Scarpa Architects, along with KZF Design Studio, have released plans for a new Interfaith Chapel at the University of North . Drawing inspiration from a free-flowing wedding gown, its informally shaped footprint - reminiscent of an allegorical figure such as Justice, Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence and Fortitude – flows upward and culminates at the top with a large skylight whose light is diffused by a wooden lattice spire that is derived from the symbol of infinity.

The symbolic, 7000 square-foot structure will provide students with an intimate, spiritual space that may be used daily while also supporting a variety of diverse religious services, such as student ceremonies, weddings, lectures, meditative practices, musical performances and more.

Learn more about Brooks + Scarpa’s wooden chapel after the break.

Our Ideal City? Seen through the eyes of the Pacific West Coast.

View of Silicon Valley via Flickr user Shootyoureyeout

As most New Yorkers know, people are willing to shell out a hefty sum to live in a place where work and play are right around the corner from each other.  But as the article by Ken Layne in The Awl points out, the west coast is a somewhat different place.  UNLIKE City, which is crowded with restaurants, bars, and entertainment, as well as offices, design firms and businesses; Silicon Valley, which caters to programmers and tech companies that hire at $100k a year, offers few of the amenities that a nearby town like does.  So, Layne concludes, residents are willing to spend hours of their day  making their way into the fortressed office parks of Silicon Valley, flanked by parking lots and boulevards, just to have a cultural reprieve to call home.

2013 AIA Institute Honor Awards for Architecture

Centra Metropark; Iselin, / Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) © Michael Moran

The American Institute of Architects () has selected the 2013 recipients of the Institute Honor Awards, the profession’s highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design. Selected from over 700 total submissions, 28 recipients located throughout the world will be honored at the 2013 National Convention and Design Exposition in Denver.

Top honors in architecture were awarded to the following:

Northwestern University confirms the demise of Prentice Women’s Hospital

© C. William Brubaker via Flickr user UIC Digital Collections

The new year is off to a rough start for the of modern architecture, as Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital appears to be joining Richard Neutra’s Cyclorama Center on the demolition list for 2013. Northwestern University senior vice president for business and finance, Eugene S. Sunshine has confirmed that, despite strong opposition from architects and preservationists worldwide, the university will be replacing the historic, Chicago icon with a new biomedical research facility.

“The new building on the Prentice site will be connected on a floor-by-floor basis with the existing University research building just to the west of the site,” announced Sunshine in a press release. “Doing so will bring researchers together and thereby enhance the chances of finding breakthroughs in cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders, among others. The site is the linchpin for what will be a major new medical research hub.”

More on this controversial decision after the break…

AIA Announces Legislative Agenda for 113th Congress

United States Capitol Building © Karissa Rosenfield

The American Institute of Architects () today announced a five-point legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, targeting job creation for small businesses as a top priority. The agenda is the product of months of collaboration and dialogue with AIA members and leaders. More than 3,400 AIA members offered their views about what policies the AIA should advance through the annual Call for Issues last fall.

According to Mickey Jacob, FAIA, 2013 AIA President, the AIA’s agenda “reflects the interests of our members, which not so coincidentally reflects the priorities of the American people. These five priorities for the next two years have the creation of jobs as their centerpiece while also seeking to shore up our aging infrastructure, make our communities more resilient and assure we invest in the next generation of architects.”

The five priorities are:

Situ Studio to Construct Valentine’s Day Installation with Salvaged Sandy Debris

©

Situ Studio has been selected from eight competitors as winner of the fifth annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design, cosponsored by Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, along with Design Trust for Public Space. The young, Brooklyn-based practice won the jury over with their Heartwalk proposal made of New York and New Jersey boardwalk boards that were salvaged from the aftermath of .

The installation will be unveiled on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, and remain on view until March 8, 2013.

Learn more about Situ Studio’s winning proposal after the break.

Farewell to Richard Neutra’s Cyclorama Center in Gettysburg

’s Cyclorama Center at Gettysburg National Military Park. Photo via Artinfo

After a intensive, 14-year preservation battle, the fate of Richard Neutra‘s mid-century Cyclorama Center in Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg National Military Park has been sealed. Yesterday, the National Park Service confirmed their plans to demolish the modernist structure and restore the site to its original 1863 appearance just in time for the 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle. It is a victory for Civil War purists and a loss for 20th century architecture advocates.

As we announced last September, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia directed the park service to conduct an environmental analysis on the and to consider “non- alternatives” such as moving the structure or leaving part of it intact. Following the release of a 200-page analysis, the park confirmed that the service had “no need for the continued use of the building” and that it “conflicted with the overall goals of the park.”

More after the break…

Urban Fabric: Building New York’s Garment District

URBAN FABRIC: Building ’s Garment District; Courtesy of the Skyscraper Museum © 2012

New York’s Garment District, consisting of 18 blocks in the west side of midtown, was the city’s most well known industries in the boom of the 1920s through the early 50s.  The influx of immigrants and the geography of New York City made it a natural hub for manufacturing and trading activity.  The work began in small workshops and at home in crowded tenements and eventually grew out of these crammed space into factories and warehouses.  The industry inadvertently transformed Seventh Avenue into rows of skyscraper factories that faithfully abided to New York City’s zoning regulations.  The 125 loft buildings all shared the pyramidal forms due to step-back laws governing design.

Now, The Skyscraper Museum in New York City is celebrating this neighborhood and its influential development of business, industry and architecture and the mark that it left on the city with an exhibition called URBAN FABRIC.  It is curated by Andrew S Dolkart, the Director of the Historic Program, and will be running through February 17th.

Learn more and watch the curator’s lecture after the break.

AIA and NIBS Launch Building Research Information Knowledgebase

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) have developed the Building Research Information Knowledgebase (), an interactive portal offering free online access to peer-reviewed research projects and case studies in all facets of the built environment, from pre-design through occupancy and reuse.

“By providing a portal to comprehensive research and data, this initiative is intended to help better educate the entire real estate marketplace on how design strategies and innovations can have a profound impact on building performance,” said AIA Chief Executive Officer, Robert Ivy, FAIA. “The BRIK offering is an entry-way to show quantifiable proof of evidence-based design approaches.”

AIA President Mickey Jacob Urges Congress to Aid Sandy Relief

Photography: The Rockaways, Post-Sandy © Amanda Kirkpatrick

In response an outrage that broke out amongst Democrats and Republicans, after House Speaker John Boehner failed to vote for Sandy relief before the end of the Congressional session two days ago, the House of Representatives have approved a $9.7 billion relief measure to aid flood victims of . This is good news, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) recently warned that it would soon run out of funding if no measures were taken. Senate approval is likely to come later in the day and a second congressional vote is scheduled to take place on January 15 for a larger $51 billion request.

Understanding the importance of issuing this federal support,  President Mickey Jacob has offer Congress three key objects for helping these communities recover.

Read AIA President Jacob’s letter to congress and his three objectives after the break…

The Biggest Complaint of 2012: Insufficient Pay

© Tulane Public Relations

For many young architects the biggest complaint of 2012 has been insufficient pay in exchange for hard work and long hours under the guise of an . As if graduating with a degree in architecture is not grueling enough, NCARB, the US architectural licensing board also requires three years (amounting to thousands of hours) of training under a licensed architect, followed by a seven-part exam.  Becoming an architect takes an exceptional amount of commitment, time and money.  College graduates are already shaking under the weight of student loans and a stunted economy and job market; but what makes matters worse is that architecture as a profession has gained a reputation for exploiting recent graduates by hiring them as interns with little or no compensation.

2013 can be the year to turn this trend around.  Is the architectural profession willing to make this resolution?

Follow us after the break for more.

AIA Comments on “Fiscal Cliff” Vote

The American Institute of Architects () today issued the following statement in reaction to the House and Senate votes approving the “Fiscal Cliff” deal negotiated by Congressional leaders earlier this week. The statement should be attributed to President Mickey Jacob, FAIA:

“On the plus side, the agreement prevents a tax increase on millions of Americans and small businesses. It also extends several business tax incentives that help create jobs and promote design and construction, including for schools and efficient homes.”

More after the break…