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Irina Vinnitskaya

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A Clearer Definition for Smarter Smart Growth

00:00 - 9 May, 2013
A Clearer Definition for Smarter Smart Growth, Suterbrook Village; © Flickr User adrimcm; Licensed via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
Suterbrook Village; © Flickr User adrimcm; Licensed via Creative Commons

As cities become more conscious of their environmental and social impact, smart growth has become a ubiquitous umbrella term for a slew of principles to which designers and planners are encouraged to adhere. NewUrbanism.org has distributed 10 points that serve as guides to development that are similar to both AIA's Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design and New York City's Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design. Planners all appear to be on the same page in regards to the nature of future development. But as Brittany Leigh Foster of Renew Lehigh Valley points out, these points tend to be vague; they tell us "what" but they do not tell us "how". 10 Rules for Smarter Smart Growth by Bill Adams of UrbDeZine San Diego enumerates how to achieve the various design goals and principles that these various guides encourage.

Follow us after the break for more.

Landmark Preservation Versus Ownership

00:00 - 8 May, 2013
Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi; © Maria Buszek
Vanna Venturi House / Robert Venturi; © Maria Buszek

After years of disconcerting reports that the historic David and Gladys Wright House by Frank Lloyd Wright was under threat of demolition by developers, we announced that a generous benefactor saved it from its fate by providing funds to buy back the property. It seems that this particular story is not unique. An article on ArchRecord by Frank A. Bernstein lists several other modern architecture treasures that may soon fall under the same threat as they hit the real estate market.

Find out more after the break.

Video: Bianca Bosker Discusses Architectural Imitation in China

00:00 - 6 May, 2013

In China's effort to modernize its cities, it has used architectural mimicry - essentially "copy-cat architecture" as journalist and author Bianca Bosker puts it - to rapidly and substantially "adapt to the market" for urban development. Watch this video as Bosker describes the atmosphere of imitation that China has adapted to bring western architectural styles to its housing market. Bianca Bosker is the author of "Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China" in which she gives a tour of the various towns within major cities that have seen this rapid development. Cities like Hangzhou has its own imitation of Venice, which includes man-made canals, townhouses, and villas. Shanghai has its own version of Paris, Eiffel Tower included. And Beijing has an imitation of the London Bridge.

The Danger of the Zoning-Free Approach

00:00 - 5 May, 2013
The Danger of the Zoning-Free Approach, Houston, Texas; Flickr User JoeInSouthernCA; Licensed via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
Houston, Texas; Flickr User JoeInSouthernCA; Licensed via Creative Commons

Despite the romantic notion about cities that develop organically have a rich diversity of form and function, we cannot overlook the deadly side effects of negligent city planning. As Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star points out, last month's tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas is a grim reminder that planning has a time and place and its ultimate utility resides in the initiative to protect residents and make for healthier communities. The tangle of bureaucracy associated with planning, zoning and land use regulations can give any architect or developer a massive headache. In some cases, the laws are so restricting that diverging from bulk regulations becomes very limiting.

The Presidio Trust of San Francisco Announces 3 Finalists for Cultural Hub Competition

00:00 - 4 May, 2013
The Presidio Trust of San Francisco Announces 3 Finalists for Cultural Hub Competition, Fort Baker Golden Gate National Recreation Area; © The City Project via Flickr; Licensed via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
Fort Baker Golden Gate National Recreation Area; © The City Project via Flickr; Licensed via Creative Commons

San Francisco is planning a new cultural facility on the former commissary of the military base that has been turned into a national park and has announced three finalists in its competition held by the Presidio Trust, according to news outlet SFGate. The 92,000 square-foot building is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and has an ambitious future that will be developed on this unique location. The three finalists have diverse agendas that range from turning the future cultural center into a performance and exhibition space to an institute that focuses on sustainability issues. The Presidio Trust is currently laying out guidelines in the next step of the competition that will likely be due in the fall. The trust also plans to engage the public with a to-be-scheduled forum in June that will host presentations by the finalists.

Join us after the break for a look at the three finalists.

National Planning Awards 2013 Recipients

00:00 - 1 May, 2013
National Planning Awards 2013 Recipients, NYC Department of City Planning, Zone Green Courtesy of APA
NYC Department of City Planning, Zone Green Courtesy of APA

The American Planning Association has released its list of 2013 National Planning Awards winners that exhibit the best planning efforts that create communities of lasting value. Among the recipients are regional plans that seek to revitalize post-industrial cities, plans to preserve and rehabilitate native settlements, restore blighted communities, reassess planning and zoning in major cities, develop environmental conservation programs, regenerate access to our natural topography and develop guidelines and regulations for more sustainable approaches to building. The projects are diverse and span a significant realm of urban reclamation and development.

The Culture of Landmarks Preservation

00:00 - 30 April, 2013
The Culture of Landmarks Preservation, Courtesy of Time, Inc. via the Frank Lloyd Wright News Blog
Courtesy of Time, Inc. via the Frank Lloyd Wright News Blog

Ada Louise Huxtable was a renowned architecture critic who started at The New York Times in 1963. Her probing articles championed the preservation of buildings regarded as examples of historic design still imperative to the life of the city. Her arguments were leveraged by research and an in-depth understanding of architecture as an ever-relevant art form ("the art we cannot afford to ignore"). Alexandra Lange of The Nation points to the connection between Ada Louise Huxtable's writing and its influence on the culture of preservation that eventually resulted in the establishment of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965.

More after the break.

Bettery Magazine Q&A: Is Neighborhood Planning the New City Planning? A Conversation Between Peter Eisenman and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S

00:00 - 29 April, 2013
Bettery Magazine: Q&A Series. Is neighborhood planning the new city planning? Peter Eisenman asks P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S
Bettery Magazine: Q&A Series. Is neighborhood planning the new city planning? Peter Eisenman asks P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S

As part of its Question and Answer Series, Bettery Magazine, joined Peter Eisenman and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S to discuss the development of cities on an urban scale and the recent diversion of this development into the small scale of individual neighborhoods. What follows is a discussion that essentially describes the urban condition as a constant dialogue between scale and function.

There is an unstoppable element of spontaneous development that is a result of the city's imposing forces as the scale of the individual and the immediate community. Running concurrently with these developments are municipalities' own agendas that may start off as heavy-handed, but eventually become molded by the will of affected neighborhoods. This dynamic nature of cities and their functionality is what makes their nature unique and in constant flux. In response to Eisenman's question: "Is neighborhood planning the new city planning?", P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S addresses the balance of these two scales of development and discusses the four morphological states that city development could take.

Join us after the break for more.

Another Round of Human Rights Violations for the Sake of the Olympic Games: Sochi 2014

00:00 - 28 April, 2013

Imminent domain has a new justification and it's called the Olympic Games. Once again, the anticipation of the Olympics brings to light the slew of human rights violations that are permitted by countries as they prepare to host the games. So what is the real cost of hosting the Olympic Games? We posed this question on ArchDaily last year in regards to Rio de Janeiro's pick for hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Summer Games. http://www.archdaily.com/214726/rio-de-janeiros-favelas-the-cost-of-the-2016-olympic-games/ And here we are again, looking at the controversies that surround building the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia which has been preparing for the games for six years now since it won its bid in 2007. If Brazil's practices with the favelas struck a nerve with human rights groups, Sochi's is sure to spark more controversy. Every time the International Olympic Committee sits down to choose the next host city, cities all over the world jump at the opportunity to impress, hoping that they will be chosen for the global celebration of human feats and accomplishments. As spectators, we are assured that cities can only benefit from being chosen to host the events. They bring tourism, new architectural projects, and global recognition. They encourage city infrastructure to develop and upgrade. They inspire measures that clean up a city, make it "presentable"; and eventually they raise the standard of living for residents. However, they also have the capacity to infringe on the rights and dignity of the very people whose land is being leased to this global event. The massive buildings that host the events have to be built somewhere, and often they are built in the disadvantaged neighborhoods that haven't the political leverage to fight against imminent domain. We've seen this happen in different versions to varying degrees, and we're seeing it now in Sochi as neighborhoods are destroyed, homes are razed, and life becomes unbearable for those still living among the construction and pollution with no means to relocate. The global community looks on in horror as reports like Anna Nemtsova's for ForeignPolicy.com (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/11/russia_s_olympic_city) reveal the treatment of citizens to make room for the infrastructure that supports the Olympics. Nemtsova gives some insight into the status of these projects and their affects on communities: The rising concrete wall (set to be 12 feet high upon completion) is about to cut off Acacia Street's view of the mountains -- and, indeed, of the rest of the world. During rainstorms, bulldozers push mud into residential courtyards, where the dirty water floods residents' basements, destroying floors and furniture. Mold is creeping up the walls in homes, filling the air with a rotten-garbage smell. Last month, Sochi City Hall filed a lawsuit against Acacia Street inhabitants who haven't been willing to demolish their own outhouses, kitchens, and water pumps that happen to be in the way of the construction of a new federal highway. But what happens here is not just a human rights issue that leaves people disenfranchised. This otherwise idyllic get-away city has been transformed by the massive construction undertaking and in some cases has become an ecological disaster as well. Greenpeace an World Wildlife Fund have both expressed concern over the construction that is poisoning the lakes which are a crucial ecological site for migrating birds. And community protest and activism in regards to their own condition has gone unregistered by President Putin, according to Nemtsova. The Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/12/sochi-2014-an-olympic-preview/100422/) posted some progress photos from the construction late last year. These images are bittersweet. On the one hand they show growth, construction, progress and the majesty and grandiosity that we associate with this celebration. On the other hand, we see photos of demolished, scattered rubble, and construction sites where there once were neighborhoods. It's sad to think that this global celebration has so many casualties. Is this something that was always the case, the unmentionable part of the Olympic Games? Or has it become more acceptable to bulldoze neighborhoods for the sake of the games and declare imminent domain without regard for the people or the place? And what can we do differently next time? While the global community watches and comments, it largely turns a blind eye to these developments, permitting them to perpetuate year after year.

Peter Williams for Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE)

00:00 - 26 April, 2013
Peter Williams for Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE), Breathe House; Courtesy of ARCHIVE
Breathe House; Courtesy of ARCHIVE

Peter Williams is the founder and executive director of an organization whose goal is to improve global health, using design to create healthier environments as preventative measures for tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria. Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments, or ARCHIVE for short, has projects in countries all over the world, including Haiti, Cameroon, and Ethiopia. ARCHIVE identifies and addresses the causes of poor health in disadvantages communities and uses strategies related to housing design improvements to create environments that promote better health.

New York City Preserves Public Housing by Leasing Infill Land

00:00 - 24 April, 2013
New York City Preserves Public Housing by Leasing Infill Land, NYCHA, Public Housing.  Courtesy of Flickr User agentvladimir. Licensed via <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
NYCHA, Public Housing. Courtesy of Flickr User agentvladimir. Licensed via Creative Commons

For the past four decades, as cities faced financial pressures, high-rise public housing met its decline. Cities throughout the country demolished public housing that was failing financially and socially, like Chicago's Cabrini-Green Housing Project whose demolition was completed in 2011, to make way for mixed use developments that encouraged economic and social diversity by way of the HOPE VI Program. This strategy resulted in the uprooting and relocation of former residents who faced uncertainty throughout the process.

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) stands out among housing authorities in the United States due to its size - 179,000 units in 2,600 buildings across the city - and the fact that the buildings are relatively well maintained.  NYCHA has avoided resorting to demolitions to deal with its issues, instead resorting to special police services that costs NYCHA a purported $70 million a year.  Over the past decade NYCHA has been underfunded by approximately $750 million causing backlogs in necessary repairs.  

To address the mounting costs of public housing, New York City's Mayor Bloomberg has proposed an infill strategy that would attract developers onto NYCHA land and create a new layer of commercial space and residential units in public housing developments. The goal over the next five years is to develop methods of preservation for the housing development and promote mixed-use and mixed-income developments to generate income for NYCHA.

More on the plan after the break.

The Uncertain Future of Seoul, Korea's "Dream Hub"

01:00 - 23 April, 2013
Block H; Courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
Block H; Courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

According to Business Insider and a number of other real estate development outlets, the "Dream Hub" project in Seoul Korea that drew designs from internationally renowned architects including Daniel Libeskind -designer of the master plan - MVRDV, Dominique Perrault, BIG, REX, KPF and Tange Associates is on the verge of collapse. The Yongsan Development Corporation reportedly defaulted on a major loan repayment, citing difficulties in raising funds due to the real estate slump since the 2008 global financial crisis. The collapse of the project is still speculative, as it is unclear how the next round of loans that are to mature in June will fare.

The $28 billion real estate "Dream Hub" project was to develop 56-acres in central Seoul into a modern business hub. In its planning it included shopping malls, hotels, department store, apartment blocks, and mixed-use office towers. Follow us after the break for a recap of the projects that were planned for this development.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hoffman Auto Showroom Demolished

00:00 - 22 April, 2013
Frank Lloyd Wright's Hoffman Auto Showroom Demolished, Frank Lloyd Wright’s drawing for the Hoffman Show Room (courtesy the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation) via Hyperallergic.com
Frank Lloyd Wright’s drawing for the Hoffman Show Room (courtesy the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation) via Hyperallergic.com

In late March, one of the few Frank Lloyd Wright designs in New York City was demolished quietly at 430 Park Avenue. This seldom-noticed interior retail space was home to the Hoffman Auto Showroom for over five decades and just as it was considered for preservation by the Landmark Preservation Commission, the owners of the building applied for its demolition. For many people, this may seem like an act of corporate greed or "corporate vandalism" and it may be so, but the landmark designation for interior spaces applies strictly to public space only according to NYC's landmark laws.

So was this space ever anything more than private property?  And aside from having been designed by one of America's most famous architects, did the design have "special historical, architectural or cultural significance"?

More after the break.

"If you Build It, Will They Come?" - The Architecture Foundation Discusses Cultural Centers' Impact on Cities

01:00 - 21 April, 2013

BIG Wins Europa City Development in Paris

00:00 - 15 April, 2013
BIG Wins Europa City Development in Paris, Courtesy of BIG
Courtesy of BIG

Danish architecture firm, BIG - led by Bjarke Ingels - has been announced as the winner of an international invited competition for the design of Europa City, a 800,000 square meter cultural, recreational and retail development in Triangle de Gonesse, France. Combining city development with an open landscape, Europa City creates a dynamic center of activity for visitors and residents, appealing to the variety of functions of city life. Europa City is situated along the route from Charles de Gaule Airport to Paris and has a wide range of programs that is part of a larger initiative to attract international tourism into the northern parts of Paris.

More on the project after the break...

Resurgence in Employment Rates for Architects? AIA/NCARB Survey Indicates a Shift for the Better

00:00 - 15 April, 2013
Resurgence in Employment Rates for Architects?  AIA/NCARB Survey Indicates a Shift for the Better

We have already written about the dauntingly high rates of unemployment that are awaiting architecture-degree graduates in the profession these days. But a recent survey conducted by the AIA/NCARB Internship and Career Survey reveals an optimistic view of job growth and job placement in the two years since the "intense economic contraction" of 2010. The AIA writes, "emerging professionals have begun experiencing a rebound, with higher employment levels, more young designers getting licensed, and any remaining unemployment becoming, in most cases, mercifully short".

Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

01:00 - 13 April, 2013
Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Transbay Transit Center Aerial View; © Pelli Clarke Pelli / Transbay Joint Powers Authority
Transbay Transit Center Aerial View; © Pelli Clarke Pelli / Transbay Joint Powers Authority

The revamped Transbay Transit Center in downtown San Francisco broke ground earlier this week, a project that will introduce a 1.5 million square foot development that will be part transportation hub, part public park and urban space, and part offices and retail establishments. The massive undertaking, designed by renowned architecture firm Pelli Clarke Pelli will bring together 11 systems of local and national transportation, serving 45 million people per year. In addition to securing access to myriad transit lines, the project will also provide downtown San Francisco with a 5.4-acre rooftop park, designed by PWP Landscape Architecture, along with numerous cultural programs. The project is budgeted at 4.2 billion dollars and is projected for completion in 2017. It is funded in part by the construction of a 1,070-foot tower that is adjacent to the Transbay Transity Center. It is also designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli and is slated to be the tallest tower in San Francisco. The tower will secure 60 stories of office space and jobs and will contribute to the projected $87 billion of revenue through 2030.

Join us after the break for more details on this project.

AIA's 2013 Small Projects Awards Recipients

00:00 - 13 April, 2013
AIA's 2013 Small Projects Awards Recipients, Studio for a Composer; photo © John J. Macaulay
Studio for a Composer; photo © John J. Macaulay

Selections of the AIA's 2013 small project awards have been announced, revealing a broad range of projects, varying in scale, program and function that bring attention to the value of architectural practice no matter the size or scope of the project. The ten projects were selected on the basis of four categories: small project construction up to $150,000; small project construction up to $1,500,000; up to 5,000 SF project in which the architect played a significant role in construction and or fabrication; and an inbuilt workhorse up to 5,000 SF. Among the recipients are MIN | DAY, Kariouk Associates, Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Lawrence Architects, Cooper Joseph Studio, Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, WRNS Studio, and Edward Ogosta Architecture.