All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions

Martin Pedersen

BROWSE ALL FROM THIS AUTHOR HERE

Paul Goldberger on Ballpark: Baseball in the American City

08:00 - 19 May, 2019
Paul Goldberger on Ballpark: Baseball in the American City, Orioles Park at Camden Yards by Bob Busser
Orioles Park at Camden Yards by Bob Busser

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Paul Goldberger has a new book out, released just this week, entitled Ballpark: Baseball in the American City. Taking a page from the Ken Burns playbook, the book looks at a particularly American building type as a lens for looking at the broader culture of cities. Goldberger’s premise is a good one: Ballparks do parallel, to a remarkable degree, trends in American urbanism. They start as an escape from the city, then the city builds up around them. Post–World War II, they escape to the suburbs, then decades later return to the city. Today, privatization of the public realm and real estate development are driving the agenda. Recently I talked with Goldberger about the new book and a whole slew of magical ballparks, both living and long gone.

When the Best Laid Plans Go Awry: What Went Wrong with New Orleans' Make It Right Homes?

07:00 - 12 March, 2019
When the Best Laid Plans Go Awry: What Went Wrong with New Orleans' Make It Right Homes?, Make It Right homes in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans. Used under Creative Commons. Image © Flickr user drewzhrodague licensed under CC BY 2.0
Make It Right homes in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans. Used under Creative Commons. Image © Flickr user drewzhrodague licensed under CC BY 2.0

This article was originally published on CommonEdge as "Rob Walker on the Mistakes of Brad Pitt's Make it Right."

I will start with a confession: I was part of the fawning media swarm that lauded and applauded the accomplishments of Make It Right, Brad Pitt’s bold attempt to rebuild a portion of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. The project was, it seemed once, one of the few post-Katrina success stories coming out of that flood-ravaged community.

Philip Johnson: A Complicated, Reprehensible History

07:00 - 8 November, 2018
Philip Johnson: A Complicated, Reprehensible History, © Richard Barnes
© Richard Barnes

This interview was originally published on Common Edge as "Mark Lamster on His New Biography of Philip Johnson."

Philip Johnson lived a long and extraordinarily eventful life. He was an architect, a museum curator, a tastemaker, a kingmaker, a schemer, an exceptionally vivid cultural presence. Mark Lamster, architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and Harvard Loeb Fellowship recipient, has now written a thoroughly engaging biography of him entitled, Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century: The Man in the Glass House. I talked to Lamster two weeks ago about the book and the bundle of contradictions that was Philip Johnson.

© Flickr user Amir Nejad © David Shankbone Courtesy of American Seating .jpg Cross Section of the Crystal Cathedral + 11

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer: "To Understand a Building, Go There, Open your Eyes, and Look!"

09:30 - 8 August, 2018
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer: "To Understand a Building, Go There, Open your Eyes, and Look!" , © Nina Vidic, via ELEMENTAL. ImageUC Innovation Center / ELEMENTAL
© Nina Vidic, via ELEMENTAL. ImageUC Innovation Center / ELEMENTAL

Six years ago Susan Szenasy and I had the honor of interviewing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer for Metropolis magazine. While he was a federal appeals judge in Boston, Breyer played a key role in shepherding the design and construction of the John Joseph Moakley United State Courthouse, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. In 2011 Justice Breyer joined the jury of the Pritzker Prize. Given his long involvement with architecture, I thought it would be fun to catch up with him. So, on the final day of court before breaking for the summer recess, I talked to Justice Breyer about his experience as a design client, how to create good government buildings, and why public architecture matters.

From Affordable Housing to Climate Change, San Francisco Is a Microcosm of Global Urban Challenges

09:30 - 23 January, 2018
From Affordable Housing to Climate Change, San Francisco Is a Microcosm of Global Urban Challenges,  © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/sagesolar/11909989624/'>Flickr user sagesolar</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
© Flickr user sagesolar licensed under CC BY 2.0

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "John King on San Francisco, Oakland, and the Challenge of Affordable Housing."

John King has covered the urban design beat for the San Francisco Chronicle for 17 years now. That’s long enough, in other words, to have written about a handful of economic booms and subsequent busts. But the Bay Area is a unique beast. No other region in the country has been as thoroughly transformed by the digital revolution. And it’s a transformation that continues to this day. Shortly before the New Year, I spoke to King about the fate of San Francisco, the Oakland renaissance, and his 4-month long fellowship in Washington, DC.

A Close Look at the Gehl Institute's Free Toolkit for City Planning

09:30 - 19 December, 2017
A Close Look at the Gehl Institute's Free Toolkit for City Planning

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "The Gehl Institute’s Toolkit for the Creation of Great Urban Spaces."

Jane Jacobs was arguably the most important “citizen” planner in the 20th century. If we were setting up a related category for credentialed planners, then the great Danish urbanist Jan Gehl might just top that list; inspired by the ideas of Jacobs, the architect and urban designer has spent nearly a half-century studying and writing about public space. He helped his home city of Copenhagen become a kind of model for walkable urbanism and has consulted for cities all over the world.

Two and a half years ago his firm, Gehl, launched a nonprofit arm, Gehl Institute, dedicated to public engagement, and the use and creation of public urban space as a tool of both economic development and political equity. Recently the institute published what it describes as “tools for measuring public space and public life, in the form of free, downloadable worksheets.” The toolkit is beautifully executed. Last week I talked to Shin-pei Tsay, executive director of the Gehl Institute, about the tools and what her group hopes to accomplish with them.

This World-Leading Building Researcher Believes That Architecture Is Afraid of Science

09:30 - 5 October, 2017
Steven J Orfield in his anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs, which has been certified by Guinness World Records as the quietest place on earth. Image via screenshot from <a href='http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/06/26/finding-minnesota-orfield-laboratories/'>a WCCO video</a> about the chamber
Steven J Orfield in his anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs, which has been certified by Guinness World Records as the quietest place on earth. Image via screenshot from a WCCO video about the chamber

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "A Top Building Researcher Asks: Why is Architecture Afraid of Science?"

Recently we’ve written a fair amount about the state of architectural research. The general consensus appears to be that it lacks rigor and, even more importantly, is not grounded in good science. Steven J Orfield has some strong opinions about architectural research. He’s been conducting it—for architecture and design firms, as well as Fortune 500 companies—at his Minneapolis-based Orfield Laboratories for more than three decades now. Late last week I talked to him about why architects are afraid of science, how he would introduce it into the schools, and his work in the field of universal design.

Why Jan Gehl, the Champion of People-Oriented Cities, Doesn't Necessarily Dislike Skyscrapers

09:30 - 14 September, 2017
Why Jan Gehl, the Champion of People-Oriented Cities, Doesn't Necessarily Dislike Skyscrapers, © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/gruban/288465746/'>Flickr user gruban</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>
© Flickr user gruban licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Jan Gehl on Why Tall Buildings Aren’t Necessarily Bad for Street Life."

Jan Gehl, the great Danish urbanist, has much in common with Jane Jacobs. For the better part of a half-century now, his focus has been on the development of people-oriented cities. The author of a number of books, including Life Between Buildings, Cities for People, Public Spaces—Public Life, and most recently, How to Study Public Life, Gehl and his colleagues have also served as consultants for the cities of Copenhagen, London, Melbourne, Sydney, New York and Moscow. Gehl Architects currently has offices in Copenhagen, New York and San Francisco. I spoke to Gehl about Jacobs, the folly of modernist city planning, and New York City’s durable urban form.

Rereading Jane Jacobs: 10 Lessons for the 21st Century from "The Death and Life of Great American Cities"

09:30 - 23 August, 2017
Rereading Jane Jacobs: 10 Lessons for the 21st Century from "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" , Image <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jane_Jacobs.jpg'>via Wikimedia</a>, photograph by Phil Stanziola (Public Domain)
Image via Wikimedia, photograph by Phil Stanziola (Public Domain)

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "10 Lessons Learned by Rereading Jane Jacobs."

Last week I was in the middle of packing and came across a well-thumbed copy of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. I don’t remember when I read the book, but it was way more than twenty years ago (and predates my professional involvement with cities). As a very belated tribute to the anniversary of her 100th birthday, I decided to dip back into that remarkable book. Here’s ten takeaways from the godmother of the American city.

How Architecture Affects Your Brain: The Link Between Neuroscience and the Built Environment

09:30 - 25 July, 2017
How Architecture Affects Your Brain: The Link Between Neuroscience and the Built Environment, <a href='http://www.archdaily.com/533664/ad-classics-thorncrown-chapel-e-fay-jones'>Thorncrown Chapel / E. Fay Jones</a>. Image © Randall Connaughton
Thorncrown Chapel / E. Fay Jones. Image © Randall Connaughton

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Sarah Williams Goldhagen on How the Brain Works and What It Means for Architecture."

Sarah Williams Goldhagen has taken a big swing. Her new book, Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives, is nothing less than a meticulously constructed argument for completely rethinking our way of looking at architecture. A longtime critic for The New Republic and a former lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Goldhagen has taken a deep dive into the rapidly advancing field of cognitive science, in an attempt to link it to a new human-centered approach to the built world. The book is both an examination of the science behind cognition (and its relevance to architecture), and a polemic against the stultifying status quo. Recently I talked to the author, who was busy preparing for a year-long trip around the world, about the book, the science, and the state of architectural education.

The One Big Problem That Advocates of Copenhagen-Style Urbanism Often Overlook

09:30 - 12 July, 2017
© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/15325678721/'>Flickr user diversey</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
© Flickr user diversey licensed under CC BY 2.0

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "What We Can (and Can’t) Learn from Copenhagen."

I spent four glorious days in Copenhagen recently and left with an acute case of urban envy. (I kept thinking: It’s like... an American Portland—except better.) Why can’t we do cities like this in the US? That’s the question an urban nerd like me asks while strolling the famously pedestrian-friendly streets, as hordes of impossibly blond and fit Danes bicycle briskly past.

Copenhagen is one of the most civilized cities on the planet. The world’s “most livable,” it’s often called, with some justification. (Although a Danish relative did caution me, “Spend a few weeks here in January before you make that pronouncement.”) But the seemingly effortless civility, Copenhagen’s amazing level of grace, is not an accident of place or happenstance. It’s the product of a shared belief that transcends urban design, even though the city is a veritable laboratory for pretty much all of the best practices in the field.

Techstyle Haus: An 800 Square Foot Fabric House That Uses 90% Less Energy

00:00 - 23 July, 2014
Techstyle Haus: An 800 Square Foot Fabric House That Uses 90% Less Energy, The planters filter rainwater, which is then reused to grow edible plants. Photovoltaic panels are arrayed along the curved roof. Image © Kristen Pelou
The planters filter rainwater, which is then reused to grow edible plants. Photovoltaic panels are arrayed along the curved roof. Image © Kristen Pelou

The Rhode Island School Of Design, Brown University and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany collaborated on a passive "fabric" house for the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe (which just wrapped up this month - see the winners here). In the following article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine, Martin Pedersen reviews the remarkable house.

This summer’s 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe is well underway in France, where a solar-powered village of twenty sustainable homes designed and built by college students from all over the country, has emerged on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Brown University, and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany, have teamed up for Techstyle Haus, an 800-square-foot house that’s not only a model of energy efficiency but an elegant piece of design as well.

Hadid's Response to Worker Deaths: Tone-Deaf But True

00:00 - 4 March, 2014
Hadid's Response to Worker Deaths: Tone-Deaf But True, Courtesy of ZHA
Courtesy of ZHA

This article, by Martin Pedersen, originally appeared on Metropolis Magazine as "Governments, Not Architects, Should Shoulder Responsibility for Worker Deaths, Says Hadid."

Zaha Hadid set off a mini-shitstorm [the other day] when she declared that architects have “nothing to do with the workers” who have died on construction sites in Qatar, site of the World Cup in 2022. The Guardian had reported that nearly 900 workers had died in the past two years building the infrastructure required for the massive event. One of the projects under construction is Hadid’s Al-Wakrah stadium (above), a swoopy, curvilinear 40,000 seat facility that some critics likened to a vagina when the scheme was unveiled to the public. “It’s not my duty as an architect to look at it,” Hadid said, on the worker deaths. “I cannot do anything about it because I have no power to do anything about it. I think it’s a problem anywhere in the world. But, as I said, I think there are discrepancies all over the world.”

Her tone-deaf comments elicited a firestorm of predictable outrage, but I’d contend they had a near-truth about them. As I see it, Hadid had four possible courses of action, all of them limited in scope. 

Robert A.M. Stern on His Latest Publication: The "Definitive Text" on Suburbia

10:30 - 21 February, 2014
Robert A.M. Stern on His Latest Publication: The "Definitive Text" on Suburbia, Jardim América, 1911–29, Brazil. Developed on 260 acres of land on São Paulo’s southern and western outskirts, the neighborhood remains highly desirable. Image Courtesy of Monacelli Press/Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Jardim América, 1911–29, Brazil. Developed on 260 acres of land on São Paulo’s southern and western outskirts, the neighborhood remains highly desirable. Image Courtesy of Monacelli Press/Robert A.M. Stern Architects

In this interview, originally published in Metropolis Magazine as "The Charms of Suburbia", Martin Pedersen interviews Robert A.M. Stern about his new book, "Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City". Pedersen's interview delves into the history behind the Garden Suburb - a typology that is distinct from the stereotype of suburban sprawl.

Robert A.M. Stern is nothing if not counterintuitive. How else do you explain—in an increasingly digital and urban-centric world—his recently released book, a 1,072-page tome, containing more than 3,000 images, on the history of the garden suburb? Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City (the Monacelli Press, 2013) was written with longtime, in-house collaborators David Fishman and Jacob Tilove, who also worked with Stern on the fifth volume of the architect’s epic New York series.

Paradise Planned is similarly expansive. “The book grew like Topsy,” Stern says. “We’d think we had all the examples down, and a new one would pop up. So it just got bigger and bigger. And I thought: if we’re going to do this book, we really ought to do it as the definitive text. Now, it’s not forever text. People will always be adding things. But this is a pretty comprehensive view.” I recently talked to Stern about his new book, the folly of “landscape urbanism,” and the lessons learned from the garden suburb.

Read on for the rest of the interview

OPINION: DS+R Should Have Resigned from the MoMA Commission

00:00 - 10 February, 2014
OPINION: DS+R Should Have Resigned from the MoMA Commission, © Flickr CC User Dan Nguyen
© Flickr CC User Dan Nguyen

With all the controversy surrounding Diller Scofidio +Renfro (DSR) and MoMA's decision to demolish the American Folk Art Museum to make way for expansion, DS+R has increasingly come under fire (indeed, even DS+R's democratizing move to make the MoMA's sculpture garden accessible to the public has provoked considerable ire). In the following article, which originally appeared on Metropolis as "Damage Control," critic and author Martin Pedersen questions: why didn't DS+R just walk away?

A few weeks ago, in the wake of MoMA’s decision to raze the Folk Art Museum, the estimable Christopher Hawthorne of the Los Angeles Times asked ; why Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DSR) didn’t simply resign the commission, rather than recommend the demolition of a building designed by their (former?) friends. At the time, I was skeptical of the suggestion. But with the onslaught of negative publicity—which will continue up until the demolition of the building and perhaps well beyond—I’m beginning to think Hawthorne was right. And right not just from a moral, ethical and historic perspective.

Does China's Urbanization Spell Doom or Salvation? Peter Calthorpe Weighs In...

01:00 - 2 August, 2013
Does China's Urbanization Spell Doom or Salvation? Peter Calthorpe Weighs In..., Peter Calthorpe. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Mag
Peter Calthorpe. Image Courtesy of Metropolis Mag

This article originally appeared on Metropolis Magazine's Point of View Blog as "Q&A: Peter Calthorpe."

The titles of Peter Calthorpe’s books trace the recent history of urban design in its most vital and prescient manifestations, starting in 1986 with Sustainable Communities (with Sim Van der Ryn) and followed by The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl (with Bill Fulton), The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community and the American Dream, and Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change.

A founding member of the Congress for the New Urbanism and a past winner of the Urban Land Institute’s prestigious J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development, the Berkeley-based architect and planner has been at the forefront of urban design for more than three decades. In recent years, in addition to his firm’s continuing work in the United States, Calthorpe Associates has increasingly turned his attention to a country urbanizing at a pace unprecedented in world history: China.

Here Calthorpe talks about China’s unique planning process, the future of high-speed rail in California, and Architecture 2030’s new 2030 Palette, after the break...