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Knight Foundation Announces $5M Open Call for Ideas to Improve American Cities

What makes a city successful? Miami-based Knight Foundation aims to answer this question with their latest contest, the Knight Cities Challenge. Innovators across all disciplines are invited to propose their idea to improve one of 26 Knight communities, cities across the United States with an established network of support for the foundation's initiatives. Proposals should focus on three key levers of city success: attracting and retaining talent, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of robust civic engagement in the chosen community. “No project is too small — so long as your idea is big,” says Carol Coletta, Vice-President of community and national initiatives for Knight Foundation.

And the Best US Architecture Schools for 2015 Are…

DesignIntelligence has released their 2015 rankings of the Best US Architecture Schools for both undergraduate and graduate programs. Over 1,400 professional practice organizations were surveyed and asked to respond to the question: “In your firm’s hiring experience in the past five years, which of the following schools are best preparing students for success in the profession?” In addition, more than 3,800 architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and industrial design students were also surveyed about their education, in data presented separately from the rankings.

However, perhaps more enlightening than the ranking itself are the firms' responses to several additional issues raised in the report.  For example, 54.6% of the firms surveyed selected sustainability and climate change as the professions’ biggest concern, while maintaining design quality was a close second.  Firms also provided insights on the most important qualities of new graduates entering the workplace, with an overwhelming 70.1% selecting attitude/personality as the most important attribute. 

Read on after the break for the Top 10 undergraduate and graduate programs.

Studio Gang Breaks Ground on Chicago Writers’ Theatre

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

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 California and the nation.

Get Swinging in Boston on these Glowing LED Hoops

© Höweler + Yoon Architecture
© Höweler + 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 community with its expanding technology sector while playfully engaging residents. 

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

© Höweler + Yoon Architecture © Höweler + Yoon Architecture © Höweler + Yoon Architecture © Höweler + Yoon Architecture

BLOCK: Envisioning Future Cities in a Video Game

BLOCK is a video game 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.

Architect Magazine’s Top 50 US Architecture Firms

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

It's "Time For Strategic Architecture"

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

The 6th Annual Architecture and Design Film Festival is set to return to New York City 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.

"Cathedrals of Culture: Centre Pompidou". Image Courtesy of Architecture & Design Film Festival "Dior & I". Image Courtesy of Architecture & Design Film Festival "Why a Film About Michele De Lucchi". Image Courtesy of Architecture & Design Film Festival "Christiana - 40 Years of Occupation". Image Courtesy of Architecture & Design Film Festival

BIG Designs Rejected Again for Kimball Art Center

Revised design for the Kimball Art Center. Image © BIG
Revised design for the Kimball Art Center. Image © 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

Zaha Hadid, The World (89 Degrees), 1984. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum
Zaha Hadid, 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 Architectural Association from September 12th to January 4th, 2015. 

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

Bernard Tschumi, #4 K Series, 1985. Study for La Case Vide: La Villette, Folio VIII, 1985. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum Lebbeus Woods, Center for New Technology, Montage 1, 1985. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum Alex Wall, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), The Pleasure of Architecture, 1983. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum Coop Himmelblau, Super Spaces, c. 1969. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum

In Discussion With David Adjaye

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.

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

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. 

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

We sat down with Leong Leong Architecture, designers of the US Pavilion 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.

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

New York-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, California. 

Exhibition: Total Reset

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