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Critical Round Up: The Latest Architecture and News

Critical Round-Up: The 2018 Venice Biennale

09:30 - 15 June, 2018
Critical Round-Up: The 2018 Venice Biennale, Vatican Chapel by Javier Corvalán. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
Vatican Chapel by Javier Corvalán. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

The Venice Biennale, one of the most talked about events on the architectural calendar, has opened its doors to architects, designers, and visitors from all around the globe to witness the pavilions and installations that tackle this year’s theme: "Freespace." The curators, Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects, described the theme as “a focus on architecture’s ability to provide free and additional spatial gifts to those who use it and on its ability to address the unspoken wishes of strangers, providing the opportunity to emphasize nature’s free gifts of light—sunlight and moonlight, air, gravity, materials—natural and man-made resources.” As the exhibition launched at the end of May, the architecture world rushed to Venice to be immersed in what the Biennale has to offer. But while the 2018 Biennale undoubtedly had its admirers, not everyone was impressed.

Read on to find out what the critics had to say on this year’s Venice Biennale.

German Pavilion . Image © Jan Bitter Australia Pavilion. Image © Rory Gardiner Vatican Chapel by Teronobu Fujimori. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu Philip Yuan's "Cloud Village" installation at the Chinese Pavilion. Image © Lim Zhang + 14

Critical Round-Up: The Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel

09:30 - 21 November, 2017
Critical Round-Up: The Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel, © Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu

Earlier this month, Abu Dhabi’s much-awaited “universal museum,” the Louvre Abu Dhabi designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Jean Nouvel, was opened to the public. After several years of delays and problems including accusations of worker rights violations, revisions in economic strategies, and regional turmoil, the completion of the museum is a feat in itself. Critics, supporters, naysayers, artists, economists, and human rights agencies, have all closely followed its shaky progress, but now that it’s finally open, reviews of the building are steadily pouring in.

Read on to find out how critics have responded to Nouvel’s work so far.

© Marc Domage © Roland Halbe © Roland Halbe © Roland Halbe + 9

2017 Stirling Prize Shortlist Leaves Critics Divided and Underwhelmed

07:00 - 28 July, 2017
2017 Stirling Prize Shortlist Leaves Critics Divided and Underwhelmed

The 2017 winner of the UK’s most prestigious architecture award, the Stirling Prize, will be announced on October 31. Leading up to the main event, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released its list of the six shortlisted buildings, a collection that has left many critics scratching their heads. What the list left out seems to be as noteworthy as what was included, and while critics’ opinions on individual buildings differ, they seem mostly united in finding the overall list uninspiring and underwhelming. Read on to find out what they had to say.

Critics Laud Francis Kéré’s 2017 Serpentine Pavilion for Its Simplicity and Authenticity

09:30 - 4 July, 2017
Critics Laud Francis Kéré’s 2017 Serpentine Pavilion for Its Simplicity and Authenticity, © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

London’s annual temporary architecture pavilion spectacular has returned. Each summer the Serpentine Pavilion program selects an accomplished architect who has yet to create work in the United Kingdom, and asks them to build a temporary shelter on the gallery's lawn. The resulting structure is erected in June and dismantled in October.

This year’s offering is designed by Francis Kéré—the first pavilion designed by an African Architect to grace Kensington Gardens. Kéré’s project is composed of a series of curving blue walls shaded by an elliptical cantilevering wood and steel canopy. Thus far the design has been universally lauded by critics; read on to find out why they thought the project was so appealing.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Iwan Baan © Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu + 6

Critical Round-Up: The 2017 Pritzker Prize

11:00 - 4 March, 2017
Courtesy of Pritzker Prize. Image © Hisao Suzuki
Courtesy of Pritzker Prize. Image © Hisao Suzuki

The 2017 Pritzker Prize was a surprise to many, awarded to the three founders of RCR Arquitectes, a modest Spanish firm located in the small town of Olot in Catalonia. Many people and critics shared their astonishment at the prize being awarded to three individuals for the first time since the Pritzker Prize began in 1979, including the third female winner, and at the relatively low profile of RCR Arquitectes before March 1st.

Whether this surprise was pleasant or shocking differs from critic to critic, but there nevertheless seems to be a consensus on the jury’s decision to venture further into politics and away from their traditional interest in celebrity architects. As clearly stated in the jury’s citation: “In this day and age, there is an important question that people all over the world are asking, and it is not just about architecture; it is about law, politics, and government as well.” Are they steering the prize in the right, or wrong, direction?

Courtesy of Pritzker Prize. Image © Hisao Suzuki Courtesy of Pritzker Prize. Image © Hisao Suzuki Courtesy of Pritzker Prize. Image © Hisao Suzuki © Eugeni Pons + 21

Critical Round-Up: Snøhetta's SFMOMA Extension

09:30 - 5 May, 2016
Critical Round-Up: Snøhetta's SFMOMA Extension, © Jon McNeal
© Jon McNeal

Shoehorned into the narrow space behind Mario Botta’s 1995 building, the Snøhetta-designed new wing of the SFMOMA was forced to go where few museums have gone before: up. Rising 10 stories into the San Francisco skyline, the new building nearly triples the amount of existing gallery space and adds a new entrance into what is now one of the world’s largest buildings dedicated to modern art. As the museum is set to reopen to the public May 14th, the critics' takes are rolling in. Did the restrictive site inspire a unique design solution or limit the creative possibilities of the project? Read on to find out.

© Henrik Kam © Jason Chinn (Flickr: jasonchinn) © Henrik Kam © Iwan Baan + 7

Critical Round-Up: The Most Important Buildings and Events of 2015

09:30 - 27 December, 2015
Critical Round-Up: The Most Important Buildings and Events of 2015

The past 12 months have given us plenty to talk about: 2015 saw the opening of several marquee new museums, and the field took an introspective turn with the “State of the Art of Architecture” at the Chicago Biennial. Now it’s December, and that means it’s time for many critics to look back at the triumphs and failures of the year past and make predictions for the year to come.

To add to our own list of the most inspiring leaders, projects and people from 2015, we found what some of our favorite critics had to say, including Oliver Wainwright of The Guardian, Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange for Curbed, the Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Hawthorne, and Julie V Iovine for The Wall Street Journal. Continue reading for a selection of just some of the buildings and topics which the critics highlighted as having the greatest impact on the architecture world this year.

Critics Take On "The State of the Art of Architecture" in Chicago

09:30 - 9 October, 2015
An image from Iwan Baan's Chicago photo essay. Image © Iwan Baan
An image from Iwan Baan's Chicago photo essay. Image © Iwan Baan

Last week, the Chicago Architecture Biennial opened to over 31,000 visitors and much fanfare, and for good reason - it is the largest architecture event on the continent since the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, featuring over one hundred exhibitors from over thirty countries. With a theme as ambiguous as "The State of the Art of Architecture," and with the hope of making the biennial, according to directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, "a space for debate, dialog and the production of new ideas," the event was sure to generate equally wide-ranging opinions. Read on to find out what the critics had to say about the Biennial.

Critical Round-Up: Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Broad Museum

09:30 - 24 September, 2015
Critical Round-Up: Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Broad Museum, © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

After teasing the general public by offering the press and 3,000 lucky local citizens with a preview day six months ago, the Broad Museum has finally opened its doors. Designed by Highline architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, the museum took four years and $140 million to build, adding its presence to LA’s architectural Broadway, Grand Avenue. With its visually striking facade given the tough task of responding to its enigmatic neighbor, Frank Gehry’s perennially polarizing Walt Disney Concert Hall, the building was sure to attract the attention of the critics, and they rose to the challenge in their droves. Read on to find out what five critics thought of the building dubbed “the veil over the vault.”

© Jeff Duran - Warren Air © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan + 6