2014: A Great Year for Landscape Architecture

East 70th Street Garden at The Frick Collection designed by Russell Page. Image © 2014 Navid Baraty, courtesy

By all accounts 2014 has been a great year for architecture, and not just because of the completion of the final phase of the High Line by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations. Previously published by the Huffington Post as “2014′s Notable Developments in Landscape Architecture,” this roundup of the year by the President of The Cultural Landscape Foundation Charles A Birnbaum finds plenty of promising developments, marred only slightly by some more backward-looking descisions.

This year there was a cultural shift that saw landscape architecture and its practitioners achieve an unprecedented level of visibility and influence.

This year the single most notable development came courtesy of the New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman who wrote: “Great public places and works of landscape architecture deserve to be treated like great buildings.”

Landscape architecture and architecture on equal footing. Let that sink in.

Vice President Joe Biden to Break Ground on Steven Holl’s Kennedy Center Expansion Today

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Almost 50 years to the day after President Lyndon B Johnson broke ground on Edward Durell Stone‘s design for the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, today Vice President Joe Biden will do the same for Steven Holl Architects‘ design of the Kennedy Center Expansion, a largely below-ground addition that will add an extra 60,000 square feet to the Center.

Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Clears Final Design Hurdle

Courtesy of Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

The US Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) has approved Frank Gehry‘s revised design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington DC, meaning that after a fifteen-year process, all the involved parties have finally agreed on a design. Gehry’s most recent design – a slightly scaled-down version of the one he produced in 2011, with the two smaller woven steel tapestries removed to open up the view to the Capitol – was approved by the National Capitol Planning Commission (NCPC) earlier this month, allowing the CFA to give their final verdict on the new design.

OMA + OLIN Selected to Design D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park

© OMA & Luxigon

The competition jury for Washington D.C.‘s 11th Street Bridge Park has unanimously selected OMA + OLIN‘s design to turn the ageing freeway structure over the Anacostia River into an elevated park and new civic space for the city. With their dynamic intersecting structure, OMA + OLIN saw off competition from three other teams composed of: Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT), NEXT Architects and Magnusson Klemencic AssociatesStoss Landscape Urbanism and Höweler + Yoon Architecture; and Balmori Associates and Cooper, Robertson & Partners.

Read on after the break for more on the design and a complete set of images.

Lincoln Memorial and Flatiron to Join LEGO® Architecture Series

© LEGO®

LEGO® has unveiled the latest buildings to join their architecture series: the Lincoln Memorial and the City Flatiron Building. Both will be released in 2015. 

The Lincoln Memorial, a national monument honoring the 16th President of the United States, was designed by Henry Bacon and features a sculpture of Lincoln by Daniel Chester French. The Flatiron Building, originally known as the Fuller Building, is a landmark Manhattan skyscraper designed by Daniel Burnham Frederick Dinkelberg.

The news was released following the grand opening of a new LEGO® Brand Store adjacent to the Flatiron. 

More images of the new LEGO® sets, after the break. 

Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Gets a Break

Courtesy of Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

The National Capital Planning Commission has granted preliminary approval to a modified version of ’s controversial Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial design, which removed two of the stainless steel tapestries to clear views towards the Capitol. The project, which has remained stagnant since 2011, has been shawled in turmoil largely due to criticism regarding its “grandiose” design and focus on Eisenhower as a boy. The vote will now advance Gehry’s design to the Commission of Fine Arts for approval.

More images of the revised design, after the break.

Are You a Card-Carrying Member of the Urban Elite? Find Out With “Cards Against Urbanity”

Courtesy of Cards Against Urbanity

Architects have been known to dabble in product design, but what about board game design? A team of Washington, D.C.-based architects, urban planners, and designers have come together to create a game with a comedic (yet somewhat serious) take on the nuances of city living. Cards Against Urbanity, a parody on the wildly successful Cards Against Humanity, is simultaneously a critical and satirical game designed to open a dialogue about the development of among those who influence them.

4 Visions Released for D.C.’s First Elevated Park

© OLIN /

OMA, Höweler + Yoon, NEXT Architects, and Cooper,  are amongst four interdisciplinary teams competing to design Washington D.C.’s first elevated public park. As part of a six month nationwide competition, the shortlisted teams have just released their preliminary design proposals for what will be known as the 11th Street Bridge Park.

Suspended over the Anacostia River, the multi-use park aims to re-connect two disparate city districts and re-engage residents with the riverfront by offering a 21st century civic “playscape.” Education and performance spaces, as well as a cafe and water sport areas will all be included in the masterplan.

A preview of the four shortlisted schemes, after the break…

The Power of Paint: Three Case Studies on Colour in Architecture

Based at the Architectural Association school of Architecture and linked to the Phd research program at UIAV, Saturated Space takes a comprehensive look at the “grammar” and history of colour in architecture, the perceptual and phenomenological principles of colour in relation to the human subject, and the socio-political aspects of colour as a culturally active agent. This article, written by architect and CLOG editor Jacob Reidel, originally appeared as “Powerful Colours” on Saturated Space‘s website, a forum for the sharing, exploration, and celebration of colour in Architecture.

Let’s admit it, architects are suspicious—if not a little scared—of colour. How else to explain the default contemporary architect’s preference for exposed finishes such as concrete, brick, , stone, and wood? Perhaps this is because an architect’s choice of applied colour may often seem one of the most subjective—and hence least defensible—decisions to be made over the course of a project.* Indeed, applied colour seldom performs from a technical standpoint, and it is the architect’s taste, pure and simple, which is often on the line whenever a specific colour is proposed to the client. Or perhaps architects’ mistrust of applied colour owes something to the profession’s well-known controlling tendencies and the fact that colour is one of the most mutable aspects of a building; better, we architects are instructed, to focus on “important” and “architectural” decisions such as form, space, materials, program, and organization. Indeed, it is far easier for a future owner to repaint a wall than it is to move it.

Washington D.C. – The Most Walkable City in the US?

Chicago is the fifth most walkable city. Image © Vincent Desjardins via Flickr

new report from Christopher Leinberger and Patrick Lynch at The George Washington University School of Business has unexpectedly named Washington D.C. the most walkable city in the U.S., trumping expected favorites like New York, which ranked second.

Respectively rounding out the top five were Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. Although a mere 2.8 percent of the population is estimated to walk to work, the report’s authors believe the results are indicative of urban development moving away from automobile dependency and sprawl - an event they consider as significant as Frederick Jackson Turner declaring the “closing of the frontier” in 1893.

Four Teams to Envision Proposals for D.C. “Bridge Park”

Artist Rendering. Image Courtesy of THEARC

The four teams moving on to stage three of Washington D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park competition has been announced. Selected from over 80 qualified design firms from across the U.S., the following multidisciplinary teams will receive $25000 stipends to envision a new civic space spanning the Anacostia River by early September:

Exhibition: TALL DC / New Monumentalism

Since it was enacted by Congress, the Height of Buildings Act of 1910 has restricted how tall buildings can be designed in the District of Columbia.

TALL DC: New Monumentalism features student work from the Catholic University of America’s School of Architecture and Planning (CUA) that provocatively explores what Washington could look like in the absence of this law.

Working within CUA’s Emerging Technologies and Media graduate concentration, students analyzed two of Washington’s most recognizable structures, the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument, and questioned the definition of “monument” in the contemporary context of global commercial markets, residential migration, and iconic skylines.

Three distinct proposals for a mixed-use ‘skyscraper’ were created for the Department of Commerce site located near the National Mall. Using radically different design strategies, each concept offers a creative and controversial idea for building a TALL DC.

More information can be found here.

Title: Exhibition: TALL DC / New Monumentalism
Website: http://aiadac.com/sigal-gallery/tall-dc
Organizers: Catholic University of America School of Architecture and Planning
From: Thu, 22 May 2014 
Until: Tue, 10 Jun 2014 
Venue: District Architecture Center
Address: 421 7th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20004,

Shortlist Released for D.C. “Bridge Park”

East River Blueway Plan – a recent project by shortlisted contestant WXY Studio (Click to learn more).

Six teams have been invited to form interdisciplinary teams in Washington D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park competition. Envisioned as a “21st century play space,” the project intends to unify two disconnected parts of the city with a single, multi-use parkscape that will span the width of the Anacostia River. If approved, the Bridge Park will host array of programs, from an education center and performance space, to a cafe and water sport activity areas. Review the complete list of shortlisted teams, after the break…

Competition Seeks Architects to Design Massive “Bridge Park” in D.C.

Artist Rendering. Image Courtesy of THEARC

A nonprofit (THEARC) has launched a nation-wide competition soliciting designs for the proposed 11th Street Bridge Park from architects and architects. With the culmination of the competition, the committee hopes to select a design that connects and re-engages residents from both sides of the river with the each other and the water, while establishing a new civic space that serves as stimulator for economic development.

Designated as a “21st century play space,” the new park will occupy a space spanning the length of three football fields across the Anacostia River. If approved, it would host a performance space, education center, cafe, water sport and activity areas, as well as integrate public art throughout landscape.

You can learn more and register for the 11th Street Bridge Park competition here. A video providing insight on the location can be found after the break…

Mecanoo, Martinez + Johnson Selected to Redesign Mies’ MLK Memorial Library

© Mecanoo with Martinez + Johnson Architecture

Mayor Vincent Gray has named Mecanoo architecten and Martinez + Johnson Architecture winners of a competition to reinvent Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library – the only library and D.C. building ever designed by the legendary architect. The Netherlands- and D.C.-based team aims to resurrect the neglected building by improving “Mies in a contemporary Miesian way.” This includes opening up the boxy interiors to enhance flow and increase natural light and, most dramatically, sculpting two rooftop terraces by topping the historic landmark structure with a four-story, mixed-use addition.

We will keep you posted with more details as they come available. In the meantime, scroll through the renderings and presentation that landed Mecanoo and Martinez + Johnson the commission, after the break.

Shortlisted Concepts Unveiled for MLK Jr. Memorial Library Renovation

© STUDIOS Architecture with The Freelon Group

Preliminary designs have been released by three shortlisted teams competing to renovate ’s historic Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in – the only library and D.C. building ever designed by the legendary architect. Preview each proposal and learn how you can submit your feedback to the D.C. Public Library before they make their decision, after the break.

Congress Aids the Impending Doom of Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial

©

Congress budget cuts have officially stalled ’s controversial Eisenhower Memorial, according to a recent report, rejecting $49 million in construction funds and cutting the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s annual budget in half. Unless the commission is able to raise a substantial amount of private funds, as well as win support from the Eisenhower family (which is doubtful), Gehry’s “grandiose” memorial is unlikely to ever break ground. Despite this, the commission’s director is optimistic, stating that the FDR Memorial took nearly 45 years to get built. You can read more about the controversy here.

Washington DC Metro Awarded AIA 25 Year Award

© Flickr CC User Sergio Feria

The AIA has given the 25 year award - for architectural projects which have stood the test of time – to the Washington DC Metro System. Designed by Harry Weese and opened in 1976, the metro system has been praised for its application of a sense of civic dignity to the function of , as well as the consistency of the design across its 86 stations. You can read an accompanying article about the design of the Metro System here.