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Editor's Choice

6 Extraordinary Public-Interest Design Projects Honored with SEED Awards

00:00 - 13 November, 2012
The Maa-Bara Project, a 2013 SEED Award Winner, empowers students in Kenya to use kitchen scraps and low-cost technology to grow their own food. Photo courtesy of Maa-Bara.
The Maa-Bara Project, a 2013 SEED Award Winner, empowers students in Kenya to use kitchen scraps and low-cost technology to grow their own food. Photo courtesy of Maa-Bara.

Out of 65 submissions from 32 countries, six public-interest design projects have just been announced as this year's winners of the International SEED Awards. The SEED Network and Design Corps have singled out these projects as those which best incorporated social consciousness, community outreach, and sustainability into their designs.

The 6 projects represent the diffusiveness of public-interest design today, and how, by looking through the lens of design, many diverse (and yet often re-occurring) social problems can be addressed. 

The Winning Projects, which you can see on display at the 13th annual Structures for Inclusion conference at the University of Minnesota College of Design March 22-23, 2013, are: SAGE: Affordable Green Modular Classrooms, Gervais, Oregon; Puyallup Tribal Longhouse, Tacoma, Washington (Puyallup Tribal Reservation); Rosa F. Keller Building, New Orleans, Louisiana; Firm Foundation, Banjarmasin, Kalimantan, Indonesia; Sudan Jalle School, Jalle Payam, Jonglei State, South Sudan; Maa-Bara: Catalyzing Economic Change & Food Security, Lenya (Bondo District), Nyanza, Kenya.

More info on these extraordinary public-interest designs, after the break...

The Rosa F. Keller Building, a 2013 SEED Award Winner, is a housing complex in New Orleans which integrates formerly homeless and low-income residents in a safe environment. Photo courtesy of the Rosa F. Keller Building. Firm Foundation, a 2013 SEED Award Winners, proposes a re-design of the waterfront for a poor community in Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Firm Foundation. Puyallup Longhouse, a 2013 SEED Award Winner, is a sustainable community center for the Puyallup Tribe, a vulnerable community. Photo courtesy of Puyallup Longhouse.  Sudan Jalle School, a 2013 SEED Award Winner, designed to aid in disaster recovery in war-torn Southern Sudan. Photo courtesy of Rebuild Sudan. + 7

The 7 Things You Need To Know Before Going Abroad

00:00 - 12 November, 2012
3 of the top 9 countries to find work, according to our reader-led survey: Norway, Panama, and Thailand. Upper left: Oslo by Flickr User CC Peter Guthrie. Bottom left: 'Hanoi Traffic' by Flickr User pheochromocytoma. Right: 'Revolution Tower, Panamá City, Panamá' by Flickr User CC Chodaboy. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
3 of the top 9 countries to find work, according to our reader-led survey: Norway, Panama, and Thailand. Upper left: Oslo by Flickr User CC Peter Guthrie. Bottom left: 'Hanoi Traffic' by Flickr User pheochromocytoma. Right: 'Revolution Tower, Panamá City, Panamá' by Flickr User CC Chodaboy. Used under Creative Commons

“The word ‘Crisis,’ etymologically speaking, comes from Greek, and means a change of direction, or a new opportunity. That’s the semantic meaning. A change of direction, new opportunities. For me, that’s what crisis means.” 

For Xavier Rodriguez, the Crisis wasn’t a stopping point - it was the beginning.

At the first sight of economic trouble, the Catalonian architect decided to pursue a long-time dream and expand abroad. Markets in Europe and the United States were (and remain) decidedly sluggish; by now, almost all architecture firms in Spain have cut down their staff, and about half have closed their doors. Meanwhile, the developing world has seen a surge of growth - and an increasing need for experienced, knowledgeable workers.

Rodriguez, like many architects today, has taken advantage of that need - to considerable success. However, the road hasn’t been easy. While many entertain the idea of pursuing opportunities abroad, there are a few things Rodriguez told us that every architect should know before taking the leap.

Find out what you need to know to be successful abroad, after the break...

How to Improve Architectural Education (In 12 Steps)

00:00 - 8 November, 2012
Adolfo Ibañez University / José Cruz Ovalle y Asociados. Image © Roland Halbe.
Adolfo Ibañez University / José Cruz Ovalle y Asociados. Image © Roland Halbe.

By James P. Cramer. Reprinted, with permission, from DesignIntelligence. If you like this article, you may also enjoy In Defense of an Architecture Education, which claims that, despite economic stagnation, the profession is still worth pursuing, and Thoughts on Architectural Education, a collection of observations and frustrations from an Architecture student.

You could argue that architectural education is pretty good the way it is. In fact, it is most likely the best that it has ever been. But it’s not good enough. Just as architects and designers need to deliver more value in the future, the education that supports and gives birth to the future of the profession needs to prove its relevance.

It is the profession’s responsibility to support the evolution of higher education. Human capital is in jeopardy. We have a talent supply problem as we look to the horizon.

There is a changing nature in the work of design. In this context many educators acknowledge that higher education has not kept up with the big changes taking place in the design professions. Who has? Change and uncertainty face all of us. Finger pointing is not going to advance us to a higher place. It is time for architects and educators to adopt a learning, non-blaming approach to change.

Find out the 12 steps that will help provide design students, educators and professionals the best opportunities for success today, after the break...

Iwan Baan vs. Sandy: The Story Behind That Iconic NYC Shot

00:00 - 6 November, 2012
Photo: Iwan Baan for New York Magazine
Photo: Iwan Baan for New York Magazine

We got in touch with Iwan Baan to ask him how on earth he got that incredible aerial shot of a Sandy-struck New York City for New York Magazine; he told us what it was like to face the frenzy and fly into the storm itself. Read his incredible story, after the break...

Beyond the "Made In China" Mentality: Why China's Innovation Revolution Must Embrace Pre-Fab Architecture

00:00 - 1 November, 2012
Chinese construction company Broad Group's rendering for Sky City One, soon to be the world's tallest skyscraper. (© Image: Broad Group via Gizmag)
Chinese construction company Broad Group's rendering for Sky City One, soon to be the world's tallest skyscraper. (© Image: Broad Group via Gizmag)

When Wired correspondent Lauren Hilgers arrived to Broad Town, the headquarters of the Broad Sustainability Group in Changsha, China, she soon realized that this was not your typical workplace environment. At Broad Town, employees must be able to run 7.5 miles over the course of 2 days; recite company “policy” - covering everything from how to save energy to how to brush your teeth - at a moment’s notice; and refer to their boss as “my chairman.”

It may sound strict, but the workers at Broad are on a higher mission. The CEO and founder of the company, Zhang Yue, a.k.a the chairman, doesn’t just consider himself the head of a construction company, but of a “structural revolution.”

In a few years, Zhang has turned the world of skyscraper design on its head, pushing the technical and structural capabilities of pre-fabrication to its utmost (perhaps you’ve heard of the 30-story hotel he built in just 15 days). Not only do Broad’s techniques save time and money, they represent a potentially game-changing opportunity for China to maintain its unfathomable rate of growth in a way that’s both safe and sustainable.

But where does innovation enter in this revolution? China, for years an intellectual playground for Western architects, has become increasingly concerned with nurturing its own latent intellectual capital. However, if Broad’s paradigm takes hold (which, pragmatically-speaking, it should), what will that mean for architectural innovation? In a world of pre-fab structures, can architecture exist?

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Interview: Michael Rotondi on Architecture Education

00:00 - 1 November, 2012
Interview: Michael Rotondi on Architecture Education, Michael Rotondi
Michael Rotondi

Given the state of the economy around the world, many people are returning to school in the hopes of acquiring new skills while riding out the worst of the effects of the global recession. Toward that end, ArchDaily has begun a College Guide to help people explore different educational options. There are many issues to consider beyond a school’s “name” such as the types of programs architecture schools offer. The Guide has highlighted schools with programs in Building Ecology, Forensic Architecture, and Human Rights, to name a few, while some of the practical issues have included cost analysis, financial aid, and access to cross-disciplinary training.

What has not been explored in the Guide because of its scope is a more theoretical examination of pedagogical strategies. What direction has architecture academics taken and where should it go in order to remain socially relevant, practically agile, and economically competitive? To discuss these issues, we interviewed Michael Rotondi, a founding student and current Distinguished faculty member of SCI-Arc and principle at RoTo Architecture. Throughout the conversation, Mr. Rotondi’s insight combine with a constant and voracious intellectual curiosity to provide visions that are important to both students and educators.

Read our interview with Michael Rotondi after the break

Lebbeus Woods, the Experimental Architect, Dies

00:00 - 31 October, 2012
The Light Pavilion by Lebbeus Woods in collaboration with Christoph a. Kumpusch, in the Raffles City complex in Chengdu, China, by Steven Holl Architects.
The Light Pavilion by Lebbeus Woods in collaboration with Christoph a. Kumpusch, in the Raffles City complex in Chengdu, China, by Steven Holl Architects.

Lebbeus Woods, the American architect, artist, and theorist, has died today at the age of 72.

Woods may be best known for his radical re-imaginings and re-constructions of cities in crisis. While most of Woods' politically-charged, fantastical sketches were too fantastical to be built, many have been displayed in Art Museums across the globe; the last exhibit occurred just this March at the Friedman Benda Gallery in New York City. His only built project, the Light Pavilion of the "Sliced Porosity Block," commissioned by his longtime friend Steven Holl, was completed and opened this year.

In his blog, Woods described the Pavilion as a space "designed to expand the scope and depth of our experiences. That is its sole purpose, its only function. If one needed to give a reason to skeptics for creating such experimental spaces in the context of this large urban development project, it would be this: our rapidly changing world constantly confronts us with new challenges to our abilities to understand and to act, encouraging us to encounter new dimensions of experience."

Indeed, it is this quality that characterizes all of Woods' works. As Geoff Manaugh, the author behind BLDGBLOG , puts it: "Woods's work is the exclamation point at the end of a sentence proclaiming that the architectural imagination, freed from constraints of finance and buildability, should be uncompromising, always. One should imagine entirely new structures, spaces without walls, radically reconstructing the outermost possibilities of the built environment. If need be, we should re-think the very planet we stand on."

More on Woods' life and career, after the break...

Will Sandy Finally Convince New York to Re-Design Its Waterfront?

00:00 - 30 October, 2012
On Avenue C and 14th. Instagram User megetz: "The water came up to my knees when I joined my neighbors on the front stoop."
On Avenue C and 14th. Instagram User megetz: "The water came up to my knees when I joined my neighbors on the front stoop."

Maybe Sandy, the colossal hurricane that has barreled across the East Coast this week, will finally get the message across: "We are all from New Orleans Now."

Thanks to climate change, America's coastal cities, and particularly New York, have become increasingly vulnerable to nature's wrath. Over two years ago, MOMA asked five architects to come up with a redesign of lower Manhattan that would prevent damage in the event of major flooding. Barry Bergdoll, the Curator of the "Rising Currents" exhibit, put it to the architects this way: “Your mission is to come up with images that are so compelling they can’t be forgotten and so realistic that they can’t be dismissed.”

Unfortunately, they were. As the many images from traditional news sources and social media users reveal, Sandy's damage has been extensive - and perhaps, in many ways, preventable. 

It often takes tragedy to instigate change. Let's hope that Sandy will finally get the conversation of New York's vulnerable urban landscape on to the table.

More images of Sandy's damage, as well as plans from MOMA's "Rising Currents" Exhibit, after the break...

Which Grand Central Vision Is the Best for New York?

00:00 - 26 October, 2012
Which Grand Central Vision Is the Best for New York?, Courtesy of 2012 SOM
Courtesy of 2012 SOM

The New York Time’s Michael Kimmelman described it as an “ennobling experience, a gift,” a lesson on what architecture, at it’s best, can be.

Indeed, entering the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal is a pleasure that rivals few others. For me, it took me by surprise: walking, as New Yorkers do, in a determined beeline through an undistinguished tunnel, I was suddenly struck by light. I stopped, as New Yorkers never do, to observe a vaulted, starry ceiling, the changing light, and multitudes of people whipping by.

Grand Central is one of New York’s most beloved icons, one of the few which tourists and natives share alike. Which is not to say, of course, that it isn’t in need of a face-lift.

The Terminal’s upcoming centennial, which corresponds with proposed re-zoning laws that would completely change the face of Midtown, makes now the perfect moment to consider how Grand Central’s grandeur can be preserved and its neighborhood reinvigorated. Last week, the Metropolitan Art Society (MAS) invited three firms to share their visions - and while SOM’s gravity-defying “halo” may have stolen the show, only one truly captured the spirit of Grand Central, and explored the full potential of what it could - and should - one day be.

© Foster + Partners Courtesy of WXY Architecture + Urban Design Courtesy of WXY Architecture + Urban Design Courtesy of 2012 SOM + 14

The Latest in the Wright House Demolition Saga: The Developers Tell Their Side

00:00 - 26 October, 2012
The Latest in the Wright House Demolition Saga: The Developers Tell Their Side, Courtesy of Curbd LA
Courtesy of Curbd LA

The David Wright House, a hidden gem that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his son, still stands, but its fate remains precarious.

On October 9th, the Arizona Planning Commission met to discuss the proposed landmark designation for the house, an event which attracted over 100 people. According to The New York Times, only 3 people voted against the designation, including the house's current owners, the developers of 8081 Meridian, John Hoffman and Steve Sells.

When the pair bought the house back in June for only $1.8 million (from the pair the Wright's granddaughters had sold the house to for $2.8 million), they thought it was "too good to be true." The property alone could make up to $1.4 million; the pair hoped that by splitting the lot they could make even more.

Unfortunately however, Mr. Sells had no idea of the house's architectural significance. As he told The New York Times, he didn't know the difference “between Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wright brothers.

More on the Developers' side of this demolition tale, after the break...

The Latest SEEDoc: Escuela Ecológica in Lima, Peru

00:00 - 25 October, 2012

SEEDocs: Escuela Ecologica from Design Corps on Vimeo.

The latest installment of SEEDocs, the series of fascinating mini-documentaries on award-winning public interest design projects was revealed today. While the first spotlighted an incredible SEEDocs: Mini-Documentaries on the Power of Public-Interest Design" href="http://www.archdaily.com/245235/the-grow-dat-youth-farm-seedocs-mini-documentaries-on-the-power-of-public-interest-design/" target="_blank" data-mce-href="http://www.archdaily.com/245235/the-grow-dat-youth-farm-seedocs-mini-documentaries-on-the-power-of-public-interest-design/">community garden in New Orleans, designed/built with help from the Tulane City Center, and the last on the revitalization of an abandoned, abestos-ridden school in Kansas City, this month's doc takes us out of the U.S., to a school in a poor neighborhood in the desert city of Lima, Peru.

More info on this incredible project, after the break...

Final Vision for Grand Central Station, by WXY Architecture + Urban Design

00:00 - 24 October, 2012
Courtesy of WXY Architecture + Urban Design
Courtesy of WXY Architecture + Urban Design

We showed you grand central plan" href="http://www.archdaily.com/284451/foster-partners-re-imagines-grand-central/" target="_blank" data-mce-href="http://www.archdaily.com/284451/foster-partners-re-imagines-grand-central/" style="font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Bitstream Charter', Times, serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 19px; ">Foster + Partners' vision, then SOM's - now we bring you the third and final re-imagining of New York's iconic Grand Central Station, by WXY Architecture + Urban Design.

All three architects, asked by MAS to present at their 2012 summit in honor of Grand Central's approaching centennial, considered not only how to improve and renovate the aging station (suffering from acute overcrowding) but also how to best adjust the surrounding neighborhood for upcoming changes in New York's zoning laws (which will increase Midtown's population density).

Much like the other two plans, WXY's vision expands access points and public space, making the terminal far more pedestrian-friendly. However, the plan differs in that it focuses on harnessing the "untapped potential" of a few key locations along the station's edge and proposes a tower with "sky parks" (to symbolize New York City's commitment to green and healthy spaces). As Claire Weisz, Principal at WXY, said of the project, it would “make the Grand Central neighborhood a place people enjoy being in [and] not just running through.”

Check out WXY's description of their plan for Grand Central Station, after the break...

2012 Curry Stone Design Prize Winners Announced!

00:00 - 23 October, 2012
Butaro Hospital, Rwanda / MASS Design Group
Butaro Hospital, Rwanda / MASS Design Group

The Winners for this year's coveted Curry Stone Design Prize, which awards talented designers who "harness their ingenuity and craft for social good," have just been announced!

A big congratulations go out to The Center for Urban Pedagogy, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Liter of Light, MASS Design, and the Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation! More info on these incredible organizations, after the break...

SOM's vision for New York's Iconic Grand Central Station

00:00 - 23 October, 2012
Courtesy of 2012 SoM
Courtesy of 2012 SoM

In honor of Grand Central Station's upcoming centennial, three architects were asked to present how they would re-imagine the iconic New York terminal at the MAS 2012 Summit earlier this week.

While Foster + Partners' plan emphasized the need to alleviate the Terminal's acute overcrowding ("designed to support 75,000 people a day, Grand Central, one of the world’s busiest transport hubs, routinely handles about ten times that much "), SOM's contemplates the potential for new zoning laws to increase population density, and thus sees itself as an answer to the future demand for public space.

The plan highlights three solutions: pedestrian corridors to alleviate circulation; additional levels of public space; and, most provocative of all, a circular pedestrian observation deck, which rises/lowers above Grand Central for a 360-degree panorama of the city.

More images and info from SOM, after the break...

UPDATE: World’s Tallest Skyscraper To Be Built…In 210 Days

00:00 - 17 October, 2012
Chinese construction company Broad Group has announced ambitious plans to construct the world's tallest skyscraper in an implausibly swift 90 days (© Image: Broad Group via Gizmag)
Chinese construction company Broad Group has announced ambitious plans to construct the world's tallest skyscraper in an implausibly swift 90 days (© Image: Broad Group via Gizmag)

When we brought you this story back in June, the title read "World's Tallest Skyscraper To Be Built....in 90 Days! "

Well, as any architect knows, first estimates are never accurate. Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), the design firm behind Sky City, soon to be the world's tallest skyscraper, has professed that the building will now be built at the positively glacial pace of 210 days (7 months instead of 3).

As we explained last time, Sky City will shoot up to its 838-meter (2,750-ft/220-story) height thanks to its pre-fabricated assembly (up to 95% of the materials will be assembled in modular form before on-site construction even begins). BSB also claims that it will be sustainable and earthquake proof.

According to a fascinating Wired interview with BSB's founder and Chairman, Zhang Yue (check it out), the foundation is scheduled to be laid in November and should be complete by March 2013.

Read on after the break for more of Sky City's impressive record-breaking stats and sustainability chops...

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