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Spotlight: César Pelli

Petronas Towers. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/einalem/1390833018'>Flickr user einalem</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>
Petronas Towers. Image © Flickr user einalem licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A diversity of approaches and locales is the calling card of Argentina-born, America-based architect César Pelli (October 12, 1926-July 19,2019). The common thread of Pelli’s work is a strong sensitivity to place and environment. Beginning his solo career with the Pacific Design Center (1975) in Los Angeles and shifting through the World Financial Center (1988) (now Brookfield Place) in New York, to the Petronas Towers (1996) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the now-under-construction, Transbay Transit Center and Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, each project is a unique response to context.

Red Building. Image Courtesy of StudioAMD National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan, 2004. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NMAO01s3200.jpg'>Wikipedia user 663highland</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> São Paulo Corporate Towers / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects + aflalo/gasperini arquitetos. Image © Ana Mello Hancher Auditorium / Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. Image © Jeff Goldberg/Esto + 14

Spotlight: Richard Meier

"When I am asked what I believe in, I say that I believe in architecture. Architecture is the mother of the arts. I like to believe that architecture connects the present with the past and the tangible with the intangible."

Richard Meier, the Pritzker Prize and AIA Gold Medal-winning architect, is well known for his abstracted, often white, buildings and unrelenting personal design philosophy. Citing Bernini and Borromini as influences as well as Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn, Meier received his Bachelor in Architecture from Cornell University in 1957 and took jobs with Skidmore Owings & Merrill and Marcel Breuer soon after his graduation. He began his own private practice in New York in 1963 and rocketed to architectural fame in the early 1970s, after being named as one of the "New York Five."

The Atheneum, New Harmony, Indiana. Image © Scott Frances, Courtesy of Richard Meier & Partners The Getty Center, Los Angeles, California. Image © Scott Frances, Courtesy of Richard Meier & Partners Church of 2000, Tor Tre Treste, Rome, Italy. Image © Andrea Giannotti, Gabriele Rossetti Douglas House, Harbor Springs, Michigan. Image © James Haefner courtesy of Michigan State Historic Preservation Office + 31

AD Classics: Berlin Philharmonic / Hans Scharoun

Berlin, Germany
  • Architects: Hans Scharoun
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year: 1963

AD Classics: Pennsylvania Station / McKim, Mead & White

This article was originally published on February 11, 2014. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.

New York City’s original Pennsylvania Station was a monument to movement and an expression of American economic power. In 1902, the noted firm McKim, Mead and White was selected by the President of the Pennsylvania Railroad to design its Manhattan terminal. Completed in 1910, the gigantic steel and stone building covered four city blocks until its demolition in 1963, when it ceded to economic strains hardly fifty years after opening.

© wikimedia commons Track level and concourses. Image © Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection Concourse from South, 1962. Image © Cervin Robinson - Historic American Buildings Survey Facade from Northeast. Image © Cervin Robinson - Historic American Buildings Survey + 40

Architecture Must Recognize the Debate Around Race and Gender in Addition to its Social Role

This article was submitted by one of our readers Stephanie Ribeiro, architecture and urban planning student at the Catholic University of Campinas. She is a black feminist activist, who has had her writings posted on Marie Claire magazine’s website, as well as on blogs Negras, Geledés, Capitolina, Think Olga, Folha de São Paulo and The Huffington Post. She currently writes for HuffPost and other portals. She has been voted one of the most influential black women on the internet by Black bloggers and is one of the Inspiring Women by Ong Think Olga. In 2015, she received the Theodosina Ribeiro Medal given by the Legislative Assembly of São Paulo, which honored her activism on behalf of black women. She is currently writing her first book, with Companhia das Letras.

My decision to study architecture was a naive one, made after having taken several vocational tests I found on Google. When I found out it was one of the toughest courses in Brazilian public universities, I thought about giving up. But I was already hooked by the history of architecture and its social role.

The Architectural Lab: A History Of World Expos

The Universal Exposition of 1889. Image © Wikimedia Commons
The Universal Exposition of 1889. Image © Wikimedia Commons

World Expos have long been important in advancing architectural innovation and discourse. Many of our most beloved monuments were designed and constructed specifically for world’s fairs, only to remain as iconic fixtures in the cities that host them. But what is it about Expos that seem to create such lasting architectural landmarks, and is this still the case today? Throughout history, each new Expo offered architects an opportunity to present radical ideas and use these events as a creative laboratory for testing bold innovations in design and building technology. World’s fairs inevitably encourage competition, with every country striving to put their best foot forward at almost any cost. This carte blanche of sorts allows architects to eschew many of the programmatic constraints of everyday commissions and concentrate on expressing ideas in their purest form. Many masterworks such as Mies van der Rohe’s German Pavilion (better known as the Barcelona Pavilion) for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition are so wholeheartedly devoted to their conceptual approach that they could only be possible in the context of an Exposition pavilion.

To celebrate the opening of Expo Milano 2015 tomorrow, we’ve rounded up a few of history’s most noteworthy World Expositions to take a closer look at their impact on architectural development.

1964 New York World’s Fair . Image via People for the Pavillion website Buckminster Fuller's Dome. Image © Flickr user abdallahh Barcelona Pavilion. Image © Gili Merin Kiyonari Kikutake's Landmark Tower + 19

Frei Otto Posthumously Named 2015 Pritzker Laureate

Frei Otto has just been named the 40th recipient of the Pritzker Prize - two weeks prior to the expected official announcement. The abrupt news has been released early due the unfortunate passing of the German architect and structural engineer, who was best known for the 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium. The pioneering tensile structure, which stood in considerable contrast to the strict, authoritarian stadium that was its predecessor, was meant to present a different, more compassionate face for Germany.

"Throughout his life, Frei Otto has produced imaginative, fresh, unprecedented spaces and constructions. He has also created knowledge. Herein resides his deep influence: not in forms to be copied, but through the paths that have been opened by his research and discoveries," says the Jury.

"His contributions to the field of architecture are not only skilled and talented, but also generous. For his visionary ideas, inquiring mind, belief in freely sharing knowledge and inventions, his collaborative spirit and concern for the careful use of resources, the 2015 Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded to Frei Otto."

Though he sadly passed away before the award ceremony, Otto was informed of his win by the Pritzker Prize's Executive Director Martha Thorne, who traveled to his home in Warmbronn to inform him of his prize. Speaking shortly after her visit, he said: "I am now so happy to receive this Pritzker Prize and I thank the jury and the Pritzker family very much. I have never done anything to gain this prize. My architectural drive was to design new types of buildings to help poor people especially following natural disasters and catastrophes... You have here a happy man."

Read the Jury’s full citation after the break… 

Diplomatic Club Heart Tent, 1980, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia . Image © Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn The 1967 International and Universal Exposition or Expo 67, 1967, Montreal, Canada . Image © Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn Hall at the International Garden Exhibition, 1963, Hamburg, Germany . Image © Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn Roofing for main sports facilities in the Munich Olympic Park for the 1972 Summer Olympics, 1968–1972, Munich, Germany . Image © Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn + 13

North America's Radiant City: Le Corbusier's Impact on New York

Despite his status, Le Corbusier never had the opportunity to build in New York - in fact he only had one chance to build in the United States at all, completing Harvard's Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts in Cambridge in 1963. But this doesn't mean his influence isn't visible all over the Big Apple. Originally published on 6sqft as "Towers in the Park: Le Corbusier's Influence in NYC," this article takes a look at three examples where Le Corbusier's "Radiant City" ideals were transplanted to New York.

Even before taking his first trip to New York in 1935, Le Corbusier described the city as “utterly devoid of harmony.” After seeing it in person, his feelings didn’t soften. He wasn’t impressed by the tall towers, rather stating that they were the product of an inferiority complex, and he thought the city’s leaders were too timid to hire him. He wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times saying that “American skyscrapers have not attained the rank of architecture; rather, they are merely small objects such as statuettes or knick-knacks, magnified to titanic proportions.” He thought the city would benefit from buildings that “don’t try to outdo each other but are all identical.”

Competition Seeks Ideas to Transform Preston Bus Station into Youth Center

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has launched an international design competition in search of ideas to transform Lancashire’s iconic Preston Bus Station into a new public hub and youth center. The anticipated £13 million plan hopes to not only provide a home for the new Preston Youth Zone Plus, but preserve the historic structure's brutalist appearance.

Preston Bus Station, designed by BDP and completed in 1969, was previously slated for demolition. However, last year the success of an international preservation campaign saved it from destruction and helped the building achieve Grade-II listing.

The proposed program and competition details, after the break. 

Celebrate Presidents Day with Five Presidential Libraries

President’s day marks a moment of reflection in the United States, where citizens acknowledge the contributions of US presidents to the politics and culture of the nation. While some of these men are still with us, the majority are represented only by the monuments and buildings they left to posterity. Indeed, the legacy of a United States President has come to be embodied in a very specific type of building—a library. The last 13 presidents have commissioned national libraries to be built in their name, marking the end of their service. Libraries have also been posthumously dedicated to presidents who did not erect such monuments during their own lifetimes. In either case, recording the lives and legacies of these great men has made for some fantastic architecture. See some of our favorites, after the break!

AD Round Up: Classics in Brick

As one of the most ubiquitous forms of construction, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the humble brick. However, this prosaic building method can also be one of the most versatile materials available to architects, thanks to the experimentation of countless architects who, for centuries, have worked to create new forms of expression with the simple material. In this round up, we celebrate architects who, with their architectural classics, have expanded the possibilities of brick craft: Antoni Gaudí's fantastical vaulting at Colònia Güell and Alvar Aalto's experimental brick patterning at his house in Muuratsalo; the powerful brick piers of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo's Knights of Columbus Building and the Catalan vaults of Porro, Garatti and Gattardi's National Arts School of Cuba; and finally, what brick round up would be complete without the brick-whisperer himself - Louis Kahn and his all-brick fortress for the Indian Institute of Management.

Muuratsalo Experimental House / Alvar Aalto. Image © Nico Saieh Knights of Columbus Building / Kevin Roche & John Dinkeloo. Image © Flickr: username- sftrajan The National Art Schools of Cuba / Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti, Roberto Gottardi. Image © Norma Barbacci/World Monuments Fund Indian Institute of Management / Louis Kahn. Image © Wikimedia Commons + 7

London Calling: On Fondness

In the UK, the commissioning of buildings is in crisis. The government and the industry as a whole is short-sighted, putting too much emphasis on function and too little thought into what makes for a long-lasting, and in that respect sustainable, building.

What is it that prompts a person to own a classic car or a family to continue to use old silver when both involve so much hard work? Why not buy a new car or use stainless steel cutlery? By convention these possessions have reached the end of their natural life, they require careful maintenance and in many cases they don’t function as well they might - they are obsolete. Their continued use requires a conscious commitment - time and money - on the part of their owner. But then, in time, this responsibility stops being a burden and instead becomes a cause for satisfaction and enjoyment.

It is a question that could be asked of those who commission and use buildings.

Material Masters: Glass is More with Mies van der Rohe

To celebrate the first anniversary of our US Materials Catalog, this week ArchDaily is presenting a three-part series on "Material Masters," showing how certain materials have helped to inspire some of the world's greatest architects.

Mies van der Rohe, famous for his saying “less is more,” was one of the preeminent modernist architects, well known for pioneering the extensive use of glass in buildings. His works introduced a new level of simplicity and transparency, and his buildings were often referred to as "skin-and-bones" architecture for their emphasis on steel structure and glass enclosure. In addition to Mies van der Rohe, glass was a major influence for many architects of the modernist movement and reshaped the way we think about and define space. Today, glass has become one of the most used building materials, but its early architectural expression is perhaps best exemplified in the works of Mies.

Preston Bus Station to Become a Youth Centre Under New Proposal

A proposal to ensure the future of Preston Bus Station could see part of the structure converted into a youth centre, as part of a £23 million renovation. The proposal by the building's owners, Lancashire County Council, involves halving the number of bus bays used by the structure to 40, freeing up the western end of the building for other uses, including a sports hall, climbing wall, art centre and outdoor sports pitches.

In addition to the youth centre, the £23 million budget covers renovation to the existing structure and improvements to the surrounding highway. Funding for the proposal will come partly from the council and partly from Preston Youth Zone.

More on the proposal after the break

Beyond Ruin Porn: What's Behind Our Obsession with Decay?

Lately, architects are sharing an increasing captivation with ruins. As our technologies for envisioning the buildings of the future become ever-more accurate – enabling us not only to walk through, hover over, and inhabit walls, but also to calculate exact quantities of materials, structural load capacities and costs – our fascination for ruin, a process that is governed by laws of nature and time in a manner that is spatially unpredictable and rarely uniform, has also seen a rise in popularity.

Blogs such as Ruin Porn, Abandoned America and Architecture of Doom draw from a recent sub-genre of photography, identified as ‘ruins photography’ or ‘ruin porn’. While buildings can go into decay for many reasons, these images tend to focus on urban decay, especially in cities such as Detroit, Chicago and Berlin, which saw a surge of industrialization in the last century that has since dwindled.

Light Matters: Sacred Spaces

The use of light can lead to very diverse feelings: a ray of sunlight calls attention; glare overpowers; the nocturnal sky fascinates, while a dense dark forest arouses fear. Religions have made use of these experiences to convey the mystic aspects of their respective deities — accordingly, so too do their erected buildings.

After the break, an exploration of the different approaches for using light as a vehicle of symbolic meaning and spiritual experience in religious spaces.

Al-Irsyad Mosque, Indonesia. Architects: PT. Urbane Indonesia. Image © Emilio Photoimagination Cathedral of Brasilia, Brazil. Architect: Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Wikimedia Commons Crystal Cathedral, USA. Architect: Philip Johnson. Image Courtesy of American Seating Church of Light, Japan. Architect: Tadao Ando. Image © Buou + 9

Bloomberg's Next Move: Leading an 'Urban SWAT Team'

After a 12 year mayoral run, many have been wondering what Michael Bloomberg's next move will be. The answer: be mayor of every city (kind of). Bloomberg, along with most of his New York City Hall team (including transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan), has shifted his focus to Bloomberg Associates, a consultancy group that - like an 'urban SWAT team' - offers advice to cities that call for it. For free. To learn more about Bloomberg's newest initiative, read the full article here on The New York Times.