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Rodrigo Nino: In Defense of Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding

The 17John Building in New York. Image Courtesy of Prodigy Network
The 17John Building in New York. Image Courtesy of Prodigy Network

As both crowdsourcing and crowdfunding gather momentum in the architecture world, they also gather criticism. The crowdsourcing design website Arcbazar, for example, has recently attracted critics who label it as “the worst thing to happen to architecture since the internet started.” A few months ago, I myself strongly criticized the 17John apartment-hotel in New York for stretching the definition of "crowdfunding" to the point where it lost validity, essentially becoming a meaningless buzzword.

In response to this criticism, I spoke to Rodrigo Nino, the founder of Prodigy Network, the company behind 17 John, who offered to counter my argument. Read on after the break for his take on the benefits of tapping into the 'wisdom of crowds.'

McMansions: The Ultimate Symbol of American Inequality

In this fascinating post for Salon, Thomas Frank holds nothing back on the topic of so-called "McMansions". Charting their history from the 1980s to today, he reveals the economics and government policies which made them possible, concluding that they are not just a symptom of the inequality in modern US society, but the very cause of it: "Everything we do seems designed to make this thing possible... This stupendous, staring banality is the final outcome for which we have sacrificed everything else." You can read the full article here.

City-County Building Plaza Design Competition

The City-County Building Plaza Design Competition is seeking a final conceptual design that would be implemented on an existing 1.94 acre open space on the City-County Building Property also known as the City-County Building Plaza (CCB Plaza). 

Conference: Cities for Tomorrow

Building resilient and sustainable urban centers. That's going to be the main issue that over 30 speakers will be addressing at the Cities for Tomorrow Conference next Tuesday, April 22 at TheTimesCenter, NY. The event, hosted by NY Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, will feature Shigeru Ban's first public appearance since winning the Pritzker Architecture Prize. His presentation will be on the eve of the conference, on Monday, April 21. Although the reception is invitation-only, we will be live-tweeting the presentation.

Christoph Gielen's "Ciphers": Aerial Views of American Sprawl

From the Publisher. Christoph Gielen’s aerial views offer a look at America’s most aberrant and unusual sprawl forms in ways we usually don’t get to see them: from far above the ground—a vantage point that reveals both the intricate geometry as well as the idiosyncratic allure of these developments. Here, encountering sprawl becomes an aesthetic experience that at the same time leaves us with a sense of foreboding, of seeing the “writing on the wall”. At once fascinating and profoundly unsettling, these photographs detail the potential ramifications of unchecked urbanization. When these settlements were developed, neither distance from work place nor gasoline prices much mattered in determining the locations of new constructions. These places are relics from an era that was entirely defined by a belief in unlimited growth, of bigger is better. The startling extent of those practices, and their inherent wastefulness, come to light in Gielen’s pictures—as if looking at a microcosm of non-sustainability through a giant magnifier.

Contributing essays by Johann Frederik Hartle, Galina Tachieva, Srdjan Jovanic Weiss, Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris contextualize Gielen’s work by focusing on a range of aspects, from aesthetics to climate change and futurology. They also examine why taking a closer look at these places is particularly crucial at this juncture, when we are faced with a new wave of building booms in developing nations such as in China.

Infographic: The Bauhaus, Where Form Follows Function

UPDATE: In honor of the 81st anniversary of the day the Bauhaus closed in 1933, we’re re-publishing this popular infographic, which was originally published April 16th, 2012.

From the “starchitect” to “architecture for the 99%,” we are witnessing a shift of focus in the field of architecture. However, it’s in the education system where these ideas really take root and grow. This sea change inspired us to explore past movements, influenced by economic shifts, war and the introduction of new technologies, and take a closer look at the bauhaus movement.

Often associated with being anti-industrial, the Arts and Crafts Movement had dominated the field before the start of the Bauhaus in 1919. The Bauhaus’ focus was to merge design with industry, providing well designed products for the many.

The Bauhaus not only impacted design and architecture on an international level, but also revolutionized the way design schools conceptualize education as a means of imparting an integrated design approach where form follows function.

Lecture: 'What Mammals Want', by Jeanne Gang

Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang, will be hosting a public lecture at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on Monday, April 28, 2014. The lecture, named 'What Mammals Want', will start at 5:15pm and seating is first-come, first-served.  

Exhibition: Bowlarama: California Bowling Architecture, 1954-1964

Patrons of the A+D Architecture and Design Museum Los Angeles may want to consider wearing comfortable socks to view the new exhibit Bowlarama: California Bowling Architecture 1954-1964, on display from April 11, 2014, through May 11, 2014. Providing a deeper appreciation for the family heirloom bowling trophy on the fire mantle, the exhibit showcases the architecture of bowling in the 1950s. The retro design style and obsession with the sport of bowling at this time generated a desire for architecturally intriguing bowling centers. 

Launch: PROJECT's Latest Issue

The editors of PROJECT invite you to celebrate the release of Issue Three at common room, 465 Grand St., New York, NY, this Wednesday, April 9 from 7pm to 9pm. PROJECT investigates the possibilities for developing a a critical position in contemporary architecture. Publishing both visual and written work, the goal of PROJECT is to provide a platform for disseminating ideas. 

Exhibition: Urban Enactments, the Work of Andrés Jaque

Starting this week,The Princeton University School of Architecture will hold until May 14 a retrospective exhibition on the work of Andrés Jaque and his architectural practice Office for Poitical Innovation. It includes their production since 2000, including several projects we've published in the past like the Plasencia Clergy House, Sweet Parliament Home, Escaravox and the Never Never Land House.

In the last 10 years the Office for Political Innovation has explored the question: ‘What happens to architectural practices when common notions of the urban (as something confined in cities) are replaced by others in which the urban is contained in urban enactments (ordinary interactions in which politics are produced)?’

More after the break.

Definitions Series: Risk, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

Thom Mayne, Eric Owen Moss, Stephen Phillips and Eva Franch i Gilabert will be discussing on the “institutionalization” of “experimentation” and cultural politics and power of taking risks.

ACADIA 2014 Call for Submissions

UPDATE: Deadline for submissions extended to April 14, 2014!

Submissions are invited for the 2014 ACADIA 'DESIGN AGENCY' conference at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California on October 20-25, 2014. Architects, designers, fabricators, engineers, media artists, technologists, software developers, hackers, researchers, students and educators and others in related fields of inquiry are invited to submit proposals.

Symposium: Interpretations / Critical Shifts

Critical Shifts is a one-day, student-organized symposium dedicated to exploring the ongoing transformations of critical practice in architecture. The event brings together a diverse group of practitioners in order to investigate how their work (which often combines the activities and approaches of curation, editing, writing, design, teaching, and research) can begin to trace a nuanced map of the fieldʼs current critical terrain.

Construction Begins on the Vast Platform for New York's Hudson Yards

The construction of Hudson Yards, the biggest private real estate development in the history of the United States and currently the largest development in New York City since the Rockefeller Center, is gaining momentum. The vast infrastructural project in the heart of the city is set to enclose an active rail yard with an expansive platform, paving the way for 28 acres (and 17 million square feet) of commercial and residential space. Housing over 100 commercial units, 5000 residences, 14 acres of open public space, an enormous school and luxury hotel all on top of a working train depot, the project will directly connect to a new subway station and meet with the High Line.

Visualisation from Central Park © VH. Image Courtesy of Hudson Yards Visualisation © VH. Image Courtesy of Hudson Yards Phase One Visualisation © VH. Image Courtesy of Hudson Yards Phase One Visualisation © Nelson Byrd Woltz. Image Courtesy of Hudson Yards

Earthquakes - How Well Are We Prepared?

In a symposium at the AIA New York Chapter, seismologists, earthquake engineers, seismic code experts, emergency response managers, and architects conversant in seismic design will assemble for a conversation on available technologies and testing capabilities that, surprisingly, are located in New York State. They will "clarify the evolving role of design professionals, the building industry, and municipal and federal agencies in safeguarding our local communities", as well as "educate the audience about the earthquakes, subsurface conditions, and construction approaches."

Richard Meier Model Museum Opens at Mana Contemporary

Mana Contemporary is the new home to the museum of one of the most celebrated architects of our time. The Richard Meier Model Museum opened to the public on Sunday, January 12.

AA Visiting School Los Angeles

The AA Visiting School is a satellite programme of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, and will be taking place in Los Angeles for the first time, from June 16 to June 27. The programme is broken up into research clusters that will be led by individual tutors based on the theme of “Machining Adaptive Living.”

Exhibition / Maggie's Centres: A Blueprint for Cancer Care

Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres are for anyone affected by cancer. Built on the grounds of cancer hospitals, they are designed to be warm, welcoming places that provide practical, emotional, and social support. Conceived by the late Maggie Keswick Jencks, along with her husband Charles Jencks, as a direct response to her own experience with cancer, the first Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh opened its doors to the public in 1996. Since then, Maggie’s has grown to 17 centers across the United Kingdom and beyond, with many more to follow.