Contemporary Chinese architects can be divided into two main categories. One is a huge network of government and university-owned design institutes and the other –independent, privately-run architects’ studios, a phenomenon that was started by Beijing-based architect Yung Ho Chang when he opened the very first such practice in 1993. While it is these independent architects that succeeded in producing many, mostly small-scale original works that collectively established a new architectural identity that is unmistakably Chinese, it is the design institutes that produce the greatest bulk of the built environment in the country. For this reason, I wanted to talk to Weiping Shao, the Chief Executive Architect of the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, BIAD. In a way, Mr. Shao is the chief architect of the Chinese capital. He also serves as the Executive Director of the Architectural Society of China. Shao graduated from Tongji University in Shanghai in 1984 with a master’s degree. Apart from heading BIAD’s design efforts, the architect is the head and leading designer of his 30-architect studio called UFo, which was founded in 2003. We met at Shao’s office, full of international magazines and with an expansive view over Downtown Beijing and spoke with the help of translator and architect Zewo Zhou who works at the studio.
Interviews: The Latest Architecture and News
“As Architects, We Should Be Confident in Our Work”: In Conversation with Weiping Shao of Beijing Institute of Architectural Design and UFo
The conversation with renowned architect and artist Zvi Hecker (born 1931) followed Crusaders Come and Go, his exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin (June-July 2017). In the first part, Hecker introduces his historical critique of the Modernist turn in architecture and its effect on city planning. He points out the tension between an urbanistic approach and approach which focuses on the impact of the single building. In the second part, Hecker tackles the notion of the architect’s style and positions his work against or in distance to the endeavor of cultivating a stylistic signature. In the last part, Hecker elaborates on a recurring motif in his work, the motive of the open book as a symbol, concept and formal dynamic reference.
"For Us, Every Project is About Moving Forward": In Conversation with Jason Forney, Jason Jewhurst, and Dana Kelly of Bruner/Cott Architects
Established in 1973 by Simeon Bruner and Leland (Lee) Cott, Bruner/Cott Architects is now led by three second-generation principals, Jason Forney, Jason Jewhurst, and Dana Kelly, who took over the practice in 2016. Architects of a broad spectrum of work regionally and nationally, the firm is widely recognized for adaptive reuse projects of historical, industrial, and mid-century buildings, including MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, as well as future-focused net zero design such as the R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.
“Architecture Making is Like the Unveiling of a Surprise": In Conversation with Leers Weinzapfel Associates
Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates was founded by two women, Andrea Leers and Jane Weinzapfel, in 1982, later joined by a next generation of partners, Josiah Stevenson, and Tom Chung. The majority of their work is done on university campuses across America, but this can hardly be identified as the firm’s focus, as campuses are actually cities in miniature, containing nearly every building type imaginable. The point of difference, however, is that campus buildings are generally designed with more idealism than projects in our chaotic cities and mundane suburbs.
James Stirling (1926-1992) was a British architect who is considered by many as the premier architect of his generation and an innovator in postwar architecture. Some of his most famous projects include the Sackler Museum, No 1 Poultry, and the Neue Staatsgalerie. Through the influence of his teacher Colin Rowe, Stirling had a deep understanding of architectural history, yet never adopted a singular doctrine. His career began with designs that were more aligned with what would later be labeled as the high-tech style, but evolved into buildings that were a series of dynamic and often colorful arrangements. Stirling’s aesthetic tropes ultimately gave the final push that broke architecture free from the clutch of post-war European Modernism as he turned the Modernist canon of “form follows function” into a hyperbole by celebrating the expression of a building’s program with his over-the-top details. Stirling’s work is still largely influential, and the recursive wave of history has shown that the underlying implications of his oeuvre remains somewhere in all architectural practice of the present day.
This article was originally published by The Architect's Guide.
So I won't make you wait for the answer. The best time to look for an architecture job is...
Louisiana Channel has released a new video interview with Ellen van Loon, the Dutch “design duchess” of OMA. In the interview, available to watch below, van Loon discusses the concept of “architectural contamination” behind OMA's new mixed-use "BLOX" scheme, home of the Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen.
Van Loon discusses the process of “re-invention” needed for the scheme’s realization, in terms of both function and location. Situated on an old brewery site, the scheme seeks to embed architects and visitors in their own field of study, “placing them in the center of the building, which meant they would contaminate all other functions.”
Guangzhou-based multidisciplinary firm O-office Architects specializes in refurbishment projects. Founders Jianxiang He and Ying Jiang are known for exploring what architecture can do within the contemporary Chinese context, including a recent project in which they transformed an abandoned Shenzhen factory into a dynamic cultural and community center.
In this interview with ArchDaily, the founders of O-office speak about their philosophies regarding refurbishments and the current state of architecture in China.
German magazine Der Spiegel has conducted an interview with Zhang Xin, billionaire real estate mogul and founder of SOHO China—the company behind such well-known buildings as Zaha Hadid Architects' Galaxy SOHO and Wangjing SOHO. In the interview, Xin discusses the Chinese economy, her changing business model, digitalization, the symbolic value of buildings, and more. Learn more about Xin’s take on success and change in China by reading the full interview here.
Zhang Ke is the founder and partner of standardarchitecture, an architecture firm based in China. Still relatively new, the firm has roughly 40 staff members, half of which are from China. Despite their status as a fledgling office, standardarchitecture has already completed a varied range of projects, including urban interventions in the iconic hutongs of Beijing and tourism infrastructure in the Nepal region. In 2015, Zhang Ke and his firm were the focus of an exhibition at the AEDES Gallery in Berlin, titled “Contemplating Basics.” In this interview, Zhang Ke talks about the importance of learning at different schools, as well as his own beliefs about the duty of an architect, the importance of context and his desire to tell stories in architecture.
The Louisiana Channel recently made a trip to the hometown of Peter Zumthor for an extensive and rare video interview on the Swiss architect's life journey, passion for learning, and how "different kinds of silence" help him reach his potential.
As part of our Architectural Photographers interview series, we spoke with Rodrigo Dávila, an architecture photographer based in Bogotá. When he was a teenager, Dávila inherited a Rolleiflex medium-format camera from his grandfather and never looked back. After working as an architect for two years and taking pictures of landscapes in his free time, Rodrigo moved to Melbourne, Australia to study photography at RMIT University. Back in Colombia, Dávila established a photography business through which he expresses his passion for design, Scandinavian architecture and contemporary buildings.
“Architectural photography works in the opposite way of designing a building. Instead of projecting in order to construct a building, a photographer analyzes the image in order to deconstruct the building and understand the architect’s intention," explained Dávila.
Read the complete interview after the break.
Participating in the What Can Design Do conference in Amsterdam, Ole Scheeren took time, along with several other creators, to discuss the impact of the working environment. Playfully dubbed, “Pod Sessions,” each talk takes place in De Vorm’s contemporary Pod chair, the PET plastic improving acoustics and signature Dutch felt providing comfort. In his Pod Session, Ole Scheeren, founder of Buro OS and lead designer on the CCTV Building in China, talks about the nature of a transitional workplace, the importance of collaboration, offices as a creative tool and the necessity of having a personal presence in a project. Having participated in projects across the world, Scheeren frequently moves to the site of his latest projects, as was the case with the CCTV Building.
Following the conclusion of a new radio series featuring in-depth interviews with inspirational names in global politics, business and the arts, we've picked out and compiled four of our favourites for you to listen to. Thirty minutes each, Monocle 24's collection of Big Interviews have heard from the likes of London-based designer Thomas Heatherwick, architectural critic, writer and broadcaster Jonathan Meades, plus developers and hoteliers Ian Schrager and André Balazs.
In 2007, when the late Mayor Thomas Menino announced his intentions to demolish Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles' iconic Boston City Hall, he gave voice to a tragic but all-too-common popular discomfort with midcentury concrete architecture. Concerned that this threat was only the latest symptom of a pervasive misunderstanding of the significance of the concrete tradition, three architects - Mark Pasnik, Chris Grimley, and Michael Kubo - joined forces shortly thereafter to launch "The Heroic Project" and share their appreciation for this unfairly maligned chapter of architectural history. In addition to creating an internet web archive, Pasnik, Grimley, and Kubo jointly authored a forthcoming historical survey, Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, scheduled to be released by The Monacelli Press in October 2015, which recasts the cultural and political story behind America's concrete heritage.
“Quality is an attitude of mind.” - Norman Foster
In honor of Norman Foster's 80th birthday, we bring to you this extensive video interview by Louisiana Channel that gives an in-depth look into the life and career of the prolific English architect. Throughout the 40-minute interview, Foster reflects on his childhood obsession with technology, the evolution of his work, and his constant "strive for simplicity."
In the midst of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) 2015 National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, we had the chance to sit down with Elizabeth Chu Richter, CEO of Richter Architects and the AIA President for 2015 to discuss some of the important issues facing the architecture profession today.
In Arbuckle Industries' latest Archiculture interview, Roger Hart, an environmental psychology professor at New York’s City University, discusses the relationship between people and their surroundings. He analyzes the effects of environmental factors on both behavior and health, and advocates that the physical environment and its occupants be regarded as symbiotic entities. Additionally, Hart discusses the shifting relationship between environmental psychology and architecture, and explains how a closer collaboration between these disciplines in the design process can produce a healthier and more humanized built environment.