This past Monday brought with it not just a new week, but the start of the lunar new year. The start of the lunar new year brings with it another chance to review what's past and start afresh - a welcome opportunity for those of us already suffering a bit of new year blues.
Looking back to move forward seemed to be a bit of a theme this week, with the announcement of a number of memorials and renovations on historic sites. While the spate of new projects this week is certainly a coincidence, the recent proliferation of reuse and memorial projects, in general, shouldn't come as a surprise. As the age of the icon-producing starchitect stutters to a close, the long-gestating movements in reuse and preservation will likely come to the fore as a major movement in contemporary architecture. While major works such as the LocHal Library and the Battersea Arts Centre are banner examples, this is a movement that will celebrate the small-scale and local.
These are the types of projects often tackled by young and small practices, some of whom were recognized this week as the Architectural League of New York and Royal Academy both announced their respective emerging architect awards. The week of 04 February 2019 in review, after the break:
New Additions to Meaningful Sites
17 years after recovery efforts at the site of the World Trade Center officially ended, the 9//11 Musem and Memorial are planning to open a memorial dedicated to those who have suffered/are suffering from ‘9/11-related illnesses’. Those involved in recovery efforts have shown significantly elevated incidences of cancers and respiratory illness, stemming largely from the mass of hazardous asbestos fibers released into the air as the towers collapsed. News of this memorial comes just months after President Trump eased regulations on the hazardous construction material.
Just up the road in Midtown, MoMA has shared imagery of their ongoing Diller Scofidio Renfro-led expansion. The project is a controversial one: the expansion required the demolition of Tod Williams’ and Billie Tsien’s American Folk Art Museum, a subtle and moody masterwork that has attained cult-classic status among architects. The addition will add approximately 25% public space to the existing structure and comprises galleries, lounges, and a cafe. Work is expected to conclude in October; the museum will close for four months during the summer to accommodate construction.
Pioneering Achievements Recognized
Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, founding partners of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the minds behind the MoMA expansion, were awarded the Royal Academy’s Architecture Prize this week, an award given to designers “instrumental in shaping the discussion, collection, or production of architecture in the broadest sense.” The jury cited the office’s variety of projects, from installations such as Traffic (1981) and the Mile-Long Opera (2018) to architectural works such as the Highline (2014) and the London Centre for Music (current), to those in between such as the Blur building (2002.)
The Royal Academy also announced the shortlist for the Dorfman Award, an award given annually to recognize emerging international talent in the field. This year's shortlisted designers are Mariam Kamara of Atelier Masomi (Niger), Alice Casey and Cian Deegan of TAKA Architects (Ireland), Fernanda Canales (Mexico), and Boonserm Premthada of Bangkok Project Studio (Thailand.)
The emerging voices of North American architecture were also recognized this week, with the Architectural League of New York announcing the winners of their annual ‘Emerging Voices’ program. Each of the winning practices will present their work in a lecture series hosted by the Architectural League of New York at Scholastic's Big Red Auditorium in March of this year.
Ones not to Miss:
Mexican-architect Michel Rojkind is perhaps as known for his 'rock-n-roll' personality as he is for his architecture. Rojkind's practice produces unfailing vibrant and lively works that are as much living beings as the people who occupy them. In his words: "My role is to find, connect, and interconnect loose ends. If I say – I am an architect, all I want to do is to create a building. That only creates boundaries. As architects, we must blend in and dissolve; we must find ways to work with others. I call it co-responsibility. We need to find and bring together all potential stakeholders. There is a disconnect between formalities and informalities."
British architect Farshid Moussavi has been tapped to design the first Ismaili Muslim Center in the United States. The project, which is to be located in Houston, was also pursued by a star-studded shortlist including David Chipperfield, OMA, and Studio Gang. Moussavi has worked in the US before, completing the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland in 2012.
Writing on Norman Foster's architecture typically revolves around its place in the 'high-tech' movement, often ignoring the essential - and calculated - emotional and physical responses the architecture is meant to elicit. In the words of lighting expert Thomas Schielke: "What is fascinating about the difference between Foster's early and more recent projects is that one can now quantify cognitive aspects that were previously more qualitative. The physiological response to visually stimulating environments with natural light can be measured; increased patterns of blood flow would reach distinct zones of the brain. The ability to prove long-term performance increases has allowed the practice to justify higher investment costs for a wide range of high-end projects."