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Charles Jencks

This Week in Architecture: Being Recognized

06:30 - 15 September, 2018

Try as we might to inure ourselves to the opinions of others, recognition is a powerful thing. It brings with it a captive (and expectant) audience, not just of admirers but of kingmakers - or, cynically, those who see an opportunity to capitalize. For architects, this can be both a blessing and a curse. Many practices start with the motivation to pursue an idea or concept; as recognition becomes diluted to labels it becomes harder to understand what was distinguishing in the first place. This week saw the announcements of a numerous significant awards - and an interview with a practice determined to shake off the labels that come with recognition. Read on for this week’s review.

Alejandro Aravena to Receive 2018 RIBA Charles Jencks Award

07:45 - 13 September, 2018
Alejandro Aravena to Receive 2018 RIBA Charles Jencks Award, © Nina Vidic
© Nina Vidic

Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena and founder of ELEMENTAL has been named the 2018 laureate of Royal Institute of British Architect's (RIBA) Charles Jencks Award. The prize is given in recognition of an individual's exceptional contributions to the field of architecture, both in built and theoretical works. Aravena will receive the prize and give a lecture at RIBA's London headquarters on 15 October.

© Iwan Baan Alejandro Aravena to Receive 2018 RIBA Charles Jencks Award © Laurian Ghintiou © Suyin Chia + 10

Caroline Bos, David Adjaye, Li Xiaodong and Many Others to Speak at 2018 World Architecture Festival

16:00 - 26 July, 2018
Caroline Bos, David Adjaye, Li Xiaodong and Many Others to Speak at 2018 World Architecture Festival, The 2018 edition of WAF will be held in Amsterdam, 28-30 November.. Image Courtesy of WAF
The 2018 edition of WAF will be held in Amsterdam, 28-30 November.. Image Courtesy of WAF

After two years in Berlin, the World Architecture Festival will move their 2018 edition to Amsterdam for three days of talks, design presentations, and award ceremonies featuring cutting-edge contemporary works and some of the most prominent figures in architecture today.

Rafael Viñoly, Charles Jencks, and Kim Cook Among Lead Speakers for WAF 2017

06:00 - 26 September, 2017
Rafael Viñoly, Charles Jencks, and Kim Cook Among Lead Speakers for WAF 2017, Courtesy of World Architecture Festival
Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

The World Architecture Festival (WAF) has announced their program for the 2017 edition focusing on the theme of “Performance.” An incredible list of speakers including Alison Brooks, Charles Jencks, Pierre de Meuron and France Kéré will feature across 3 days from November 15th to 17th at the Arena Berlin, Germany. Conferences, city tours, lectures and critiques of the shortlisted projects from the 2017 WAF awards are among the events scheduled for the festival.

The seminars, speeches, debates and discussions will examine “the topic of performance from the perspectives of housing, public spaces, festivals, cultural institutions and new technologies.”

Global Architectural Political Event London

14:43 - 29 May, 2017
Global Architectural Political Event London, Global Architectural Political Event London_AA
Global Architectural Political Event London_AA

‘Global Architectural Political Events’ are a series of public debates organised by Alejandro Zaera-Polo & Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal that continue the investigation about the political re-engagement of the discipline, as analysed in the essay ‘Well into the 21st Century’ and the ‘Global Architectural Compass’.

AD Classics: Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project / Minoru Yamasaki

04:00 - 15 May, 2017
AD Classics: Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project / Minoru Yamasaki, An aerial photo by the US Geological Survey compares the narrow, monolithic blocks of Pruitt-Igoe with the neighboring pre-Modernist buildings of St. Louis. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user Junkyardsparkle (Public Domain)
An aerial photo by the US Geological Survey compares the narrow, monolithic blocks of Pruitt-Igoe with the neighboring pre-Modernist buildings of St. Louis. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user Junkyardsparkle (Public Domain)

Few buildings in history can claim as infamous a legacy as that of the Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project of St. Louis, Missouri. Built during the height of Modernism this nominally innovative collection of residential towers was meant to stand as a triumph of rational architectural design over the ills of poverty and urban blight; instead, two decades of turmoil preceded the final, unceremonious destruction of the entire complex in 1973. The fall of Pruitt-Igoe ultimately came to signify not only the failure of one public housing project, but arguably the death knell of the entire Modernist era of design.

After two decades of crime and increasing maintenance issues, Pruitt-Igoe was ultimately demolished between 1972 and 1977. ImageVia pruitt-igoe.com The gleaming towers of Pruitt-Igoe were to have been a “Manhattan on the Mississippi.” . ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user Cadastral (Public Domain) Courtesy of "The Pruitt Igoe Myth" Much of the landscaping and community amenities Minoru Yamasaki originally proposed were never built, contributing to Pruitt-Igoe’s eventual downward spiral. ImageVia pruitt-igoe.com + 8

Understanding British Postmodernism (Hint: It’s Not What You Thought)

04:00 - 29 March, 2017
Understanding British Postmodernism (Hint: It’s Not What You Thought), Staff Accommodation block at St Paul’s Girl’s School, by John Melvin (1985), photographed by Martin Charles. Image © John Melvin
Staff Accommodation block at St Paul’s Girl’s School, by John Melvin (1985), photographed by Martin Charles. Image © John Melvin

In this essay by the British architect and academic Dr. Timothy Brittain-Catlin, the very notion of British postmodernism—today often referred to as intimately tied to the work of James Stirling and the the thinking of Charles Jencks—is held to the light. Its true origins, he argues, are more historically rooted.

I grew up in a beautiful late Victorian terrace with ornamental brickwork, shaped ‘Dutch’ gables and pretty arts and crafts stained glass windows – and so I didn’t think then, and I don’t think now, that I had much to learn from Las Vegas. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one. Of British architects who made their names as postmodernists in the 1980s, not a single one would say now that they owed much to Robert Venturi, the American architect widely considered to be a grandfather of movement.

Mercers’ House, Essex Road, Highbury, London, by John Melvin (1992), photographed by Martin Charles. Doctors’ Surgery frontage to Mitchison Road. Image © John Melvin Mercers’ House, Essex Road, Highbury, London, by John Melvin (1992), photographed by Martin Charles. Image © John Melvin Epping Forest Civic Offices, by Richard Reid (1984-90). Axonometric by Richard Reid. Image © Richard Reid & Associates Mercers’ House, Essex Road, Highbury, London, by John Melvin (1992), photographed by Martin Charles. Image © John Melvin + 6

Níall McLaughlin Wins 2016 RIBA Charles Jencks Award for Architecture

16:00 - 21 September, 2016
Níall McLaughlin Wins 2016 RIBA Charles Jencks Award for Architecture, Bishop Edward King Chapel / Niall McLaughlin Architects. Image © Niall McLaughlin Architects
Bishop Edward King Chapel / Niall McLaughlin Architects. Image © Niall McLaughlin Architects

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced Níall McLaughlin, founder of Níall McLaughlin Architects, as winner of the 2016 RIBA Charles Jencks Award. The award is given annually to an outstanding architect or practice "that has recently made a major contribution internationally to both the theory and practice of architecture."

“Niall McLaughlin is a great inspiration for architects today, especially the young, because of his masterful skill in drawing from all traditions – classicism, modernism, postmodernism,” said jury member and award namesake Charles Jencks. “All the “isms” are under his belt, not on his back, and he extends them all through the commitment to architecture as an art and professional practice.”

Previous winners of the award include Herzog & de Meuron (2015), Benedetta Tagliabue (2013), Rem Koolhaas (2012), Eric Owen Moss (2011), Steven Holl (2010), Charles Correa (2009), Wolf Prix (2008), Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos (2007), Zaha Hadid (2006), Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Farshid Moussavi (2005), Peter Eisenman (2004) and Cecil Balmond (2003).

Herzog & de Meuron Win 2015 RIBA Jencks Award

09:12 - 19 August, 2015
Herzog & de Meuron Win 2015 RIBA Jencks Award, Herzog & de Meuron's recently approved Canary Wharf development in London. Image © Canary Wharf Group plc
Herzog & de Meuron's recently approved Canary Wharf development in London. Image © Canary Wharf Group plc

The RIBA annually bestows the Jencks Award to an outstanding architect or practice "that has made a recent significant, simultaneous contribution to the theory and practice of architecture." This year the honors go to Herzog & de Meuron.

Selected by a panel of judges chaired by David Gloster (RIBA Director of Education) and which included Charles Jencks, Stephen Hodder (RIBA President and Chairman of Hodder and Partners), Julia Peyton-Jones (Director of the Serpentine Galleries) and Brett Steele (Director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture), Herzog & de Meuron will receive the award on Thursday 29 October at the RIBA in London. In addition, the Swiss architects will receive an honorarium of £1,000 and a certificate.

Herzog & de Meuron have already received The Pritzker Architecture Prize (2001), an RIBA Royal Gold Medal (2007), a Praemium Imperiale (2007) and the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) (2014).

Read on to see the judges statements. 

WAF Announces 2015 Festival Theme

16:00 - 22 July, 2015
WAF Announces 2015 Festival Theme

The World Architecture Festival (WAF), the world’s largest architectural festival and awards event held annually in Singapore, has announced the theme of this year's program: 50:50. The theme is inspired by Singapore’s upcoming 50th anniversary as an independent country, and will look back on how architecture and urbanism have changed during the last 50 years, as well as forward on what may change or stay the same in the next 50 years to come.

AR Issues: Architecture That Goes Beyond Style Wars

09:30 - 16 April, 2015
AR Issues: Architecture That Goes Beyond Style Wars, Courtesy of The Architectural Review
Courtesy of The Architectural Review

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this editorial from AR’s March 2015 issue, AR Editor Catherine Slessor discusses the phenomenon of "architects and magazines pursuing content rather than style," arguing both that architects should be raising the bar and also that the media, by nurturing their critical stance, should be a part of the solution, not the problem.

In what style shall we – or indeed, should we – build? Historically, architecture’s relationship with "style" is complicated and vexed. We can easily identify the formal attributes and origins of specific styles that attest to why Gothic cathedrals or Victorian train sheds look the way they do. But beyond the constraints of such historical determinism, Postmodernist and Parametricist multiplicities have allowed a hundred flowers to bloom, and their aroma began to stink the place out long ago.

Call For Entries: World Architecture Festival 2015

04:00 - 13 March, 2015
Call For Entries: World Architecture Festival 2015, WAF 2015: Suntec Singapore Convention Centre, Singapore
WAF 2015: Suntec Singapore Convention Centre, Singapore

Now in its eighth year, the forthcoming 2015 World Architecture Festival Awards (WAF) will take place in Suntec in central Singapore following three days of intensive live presentations and judging. Following a $180 million modernisation programme, the redesigned space will host WAF’s soundproofed crit rooms, auditorium and Festival Hall Stage. Entries are now invited from architects and designers for the 2015 edition of what is described as "the biggest architectural awards programme in the world." The awards are expected to attract more than 750 entries, around half of which will be shortlisted into thirty categories. The closing date for entries is the end of May, and shortlisting will take place in early June.

This year’s 'superjurors' include Royal Gold Medallist Sir Peter Cook (UK), Sou Fujimoto (Japan), Benedetta Tagliabue (Spain), Charles Jencks (UK/US), Kerry Hill (Singapore) and Manuelle Gautrand (France).

Video: Charles Jencks on the 2014 Venice Biennale

00:00 - 7 July, 2014

In this extended interview by the Architectural Review, Charles Jencks provides an in-depth description of the 2014 Venice Biennale and critiques his former student Rem Koolhaas' overall curation and theme: Fundamentals.

Arguing that the previous thirteen Biennales have, "more or less, tried to predict what is going to happen over the next five years," "Rem Koolhaas has changed the paradigm:" Rem's Biennale is about "the past of the present". Jencks, who describes Koolhaas as "the Corbusier of our time", suggests that his Biennale is about analysis rather than total synthesis. He has, however, "shown that research can be creative."

The Story of Maggie's Centres: How 17 Architects Came to Tackle Cancer Care

01:00 - 27 April, 2014
The Story of Maggie's Centres: How 17 Architects Came to Tackle Cancer Care, Dundee, Scotland, 2003 by Frank Gehry / Courtesy of Maggie's Centres. ImageThe third center was designed by Frank Gehry, a close friend of Maggie's. “Frank gave us so much publicity, and allowed us to raise the money,” Jencks says. Each center is self-financed through donations.
Dundee, Scotland, 2003 by Frank Gehry / Courtesy of Maggie's Centres. ImageThe third center was designed by Frank Gehry, a close friend of Maggie's. “Frank gave us so much publicity, and allowed us to raise the money,” Jencks says. Each center is self-financed through donations.

Maggie's Centres are the legacy of Margaret Keswick Jencks, a terminally ill woman who had the notion that cancer treatment environments and their results could be drastically improved through good design. Her vision was realized and continues to be realized today by numerous architects, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Snøhetta - just to name a few. Originally appearing in Metropolis Magazine as Living with Cancer,” this article by Samuel Medina features images of Maggie's Centres around the world, taking a closer look at the organization's roots and its continued success through the aid of architects.

It was May 1993, and writer and designer Margaret Keswick Jencks sat in a windowless corridor of a small Scottish hospital, dreading what would come next. The prognosis was bad—her cancer had returned—but the waiting, and the waiting room, were draining. Over the next two years until her death, she returned several times for chemo drips. In such neglected, thoughtless spaces, she wrote, patients like herself were left to “wilt” under the desiccating glare of fluorescent lights.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a private, light-filled space in which to await the results of the next bout of tests, or from which to contemplate, in silence, the findings? If architecture could demoralize patients—could “contribute to extreme and mental enervation,” as Keswick Jencks observed—could it not also prove restorative?

Highlands, Scotland, 2005 by Page\Park Architects / Courtesy of Page\Park Architects. ImageA collaboration between Page\Park and Charles Jencks, Maggie's Centre Inverness at Highlands weaves together building and landscape in a unified composition. The design invokes the formal properties of mitosis or cell division; scaled up, they are manifested in the swirling landscape mounds and the center's spiraling form. "The cell is the unit of life: dynamic, really exciting, a factory of life itself, and I thought it was time to celebrate the cell," Jencks has said in the past. Fife, Scotland, 2006 by Zaha Hadid Architects / © Werner Huthmacher. ImageAll sharp angles and painted a sinister black, Zaha Hadid's Fife center isn't the first thing you'd expect from a Maggie's Centre. The exterior invited comparisons to a bunker, despite the airy, humane spaces within. "Zaha got a lot of criticism and her building is bloody good," Jencks says of his former student's design. The building was the architect's first in the UK. Manchester, England, 2016 by Fosters + Partners / Courtesy of Fosters + Partners. ImageThe next center is set to open in Manchester, where Norman Foster was born and raised. “Norman came to us, and I was waiting because he is an old friend of mine,” Jencks says. “He had cancer, and because of his own experiences, he was really interested in doing this. He’s got everything he’s ever wanted in this building.” Aberdeen, Scotland, 2013 by Snøhetta / © Philip Vile . ImageThe center's cocoon-like shell packs a big, Niemeyer-esque punch despite its modest proportions. The interiors, however, reveal a Scandinavian influence, with extensive timber coverings and exquisite stone accents. The building has been nicknamed "the Pebble" by locals. + 11

No More Play / Michael Maltzan

20:00 - 19 May, 2011

In this book Michael Maltzan holds conversations with a photographer, architects, a landscape architect, a futurists, and a urban planner about Los Angeles’s recent past and its near and distant future. For Maltzan, Los Angeles is currently in a delicate moment of transformation “where past vocabularies of the city and of urbanism are no longer adequate, and at this moment, the very word no longer applies.” In order to guide this transformation in a positive direction Maltzan asserts that “architects, urban theorists, architects, designers, planners, and city leaders requires keen investigation to produce forms that represent this city and and its culture, as opposed to importing other urban models.” The conversations along with the photographs by Iwan Baan presented in this book are part of the keen investigation Maltzan advocates for. This makes for a very engaging book for anyone interested in Los Angeles and shaping the future of cities in general.