An unconventional man with radical ideas, Buckminster Fuller was an "affable weirdo" and "counterculture icon" who, as Gizmodo reports, often caught the attention of the FBI. For the first time ever, his (heavily redacted) FBI files have been released, revealing some of the reasons why the FBI felt the need to keep tabs on the world famous architect and designer, including speculations regarding Fuller and the Soviet Union. Though it seems nothing ever went beyond speculation, the files are fascinating. You can read them in full, here.
Los Angeles River: The Latest Architecture and News
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Africa Union of Architects (AUA) has signed a cooperative agreement to "share practice tools and resources, creating a framework for American and African architects to work collaboratively in achieving development and infrastructure goals in Africa." The agreement articulates their mutual interests to advance the “Africa Sustainability Campaign” in spirit of the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC.
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to reinvigorate and formalize the AIA's relationship with our colleagues in Africa,” said AIA 2015 President, Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA. “We look forward to increased knowledge sharing on topics such as health and resilience which are critical to the sustainable future of our planet."
The US World War I Centennial Commission has launched a design competition for the National World War I Memorial in Washington DC. The competition will be a two-stage design competition, and is open internationally to any professionals, university-level students, and all other interested participants. "The objective is to transform Pershing Park from a park that happens to contain a memorial to a site that is primarily a national World War I memorial, within a revitalized urban park setting with a distinct sense of place that complements the memorial purpose while attracting visitors, workers, and residents of the District of Columbia," says the Commission.
For the second month this year, the US Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has revealed a decrease in design serves. As the American Institute of Architects (AIA) report, the April ABI score was 48.8, down sharply from a mark of 51.7 in March. The new projects inquiry index was 60.1, up from a reading of 58.2 the previous month.
“The fundamentals in the design and construction industry remain very healthy,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The fact that both inquires for new projects and new design contracts continued to accelerate at a healthy pace in April points to strong underlying demand for design activity. However, April would typically be a month where these projects would be in full swing, but a severe winter in many parts of the Northeast and Midwest has apparently delayed progress on projects.”
A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break.
Thomas V. Vonier, FAIA, has been elected as the 2016 First Vice President and 2017 President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Currently serving as 2014–2015 AIA Vice President, Vonier is the founder and past president of AIA Continental Europe from 1994 to 1995. He served on the AIA Board of Directors representing the AIA International Region from 2010 to 2012. Vonier received an M.Arch. and a B.Arch. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee after attending the school of architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. He is also currently Secretary General of the International Union of Architects, after previously serving as its Vice President. To see all other newly elected officials, follow this link.
The College of Charleston is now accepting abstracts for its upcoming symposium Suffragette City: Gender, Politics, and the Built Environment. Exploring the convergence of these topics throughout history, the interdisciplinary event aims to inspire new research that examines how both past and present efforts have challenged customary gender roles and impacted the physical, social, and conceptual identities of cities. The deadline for paper proposals, which must be 300 words or fewer, is July 1, 2015. For more information or to submit a topic, visit arthistory.cofc.edu.
SecondMedia has been selected as the winner of Storefront for Art and Architecture's 2015 Street Architecture Prize Competition. Now in its third year, the biennial international competition seeks to implement temporary outdoor installations that facilitate "new forms of collective public gathering." Participants in the 2015 competition were asked to respond to the theme of New York's IDEAS City Festival, "The Invisible City." SecondMedia's winning proposal 'Foamspace' -- which envisions creating an "urban lounge" with Geofoam blocks -- beat out over 70 submissions from teams of artists, engineers, and architects across the globe.
Learn more about the project and view selected images after the break.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro has released the first images of their design for the US Olympic Museum in Colorado Springs, close to the United States Olympic Committee headquarters. The firm was selected last October, collaborating with Denver practice Anderson Mason Dale Architects to design the $60 million museum which will host a hall of fame, a theater, and a 20,000-square-foot exhibit hall and retail space to showcase the history of the Olympic and Paralympic games.
Urban waterfronts have historically been the center of activity for many cities. They began as economic, transportation and manufacturing hubs, but as most industries changed their shipping patterns and consolidated port facilities, many industrial waterfronts became obsolete. In Europe, smaller historic ports were easily converted to be reused for leisure activities. However, in North America, where the ports were larger, it was more difficult to convert the waterfronts due to logistical and contamination issues.
Over the past 40 years or so, architects and urban planners have started to recognize the redevelopment potential for waterfronts across the United States and Canada, and the impact they can have on the financial and social success of cities. Though cold-climate cities pose a unique challenge for waterfront development, with effective planning waterfront cities with freezing winter months can still take advantage of the spaces year-round.
The Architectural League of New York has announced the winners of its 2015 Prize for Young Architects + Designers. Launched in 1981 and organized by a committee comprising League Programs Director Anne Rieselbach and a selection of winners from last year, the Architectural League Prize is one of the United States' most prestigious awards for young architects, recognizing provocative work and offering a platform for the winners to disseminate their ideas. This year's theme, "Authenticity," asked designers how technological changes in computation, visualization, material intelligence, and fabrication technologies are altering our perception of design and the role of the architect.
The jury for the prize consisted of Keller Easterling, Sanford Kwinter, Michael Meredith, Lyn Rice, and Billie Tsien, as well as previous winners Carrie Norman, John Rhett Russo, and Jenny Sabin. As part of their prize, in June the six winning practices will present a series of lectures, and their work will be on display in an exhibition during the summer.
Read on for the complete list of winners.
The Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation (Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation">PCCF) is sponsoring a two-stage, national design competition to select an artistically exceptional design concept for a permanent commemorative work in the heart of Washington DC. This competition will provide designers from all across the United States an opportunity to create a compelling work of public art that will be bold and inspirational. The design should focus on and express American ideals and values that are the essence of the Peace Corps and Peace Corps service. It should be about America and our aspirations as a people, and about the Peace Corps as a manifestation of those aspirations. Submissions are due June 12, 2015. More information can be found here.
According to the New York Post, Renzo Piano has been commissioned by Michael Shvo and Bizzi & Partners to design his first US residential tower. Planned to rise in the southern Manhattan district of Soho at 100 Varick Street, the Piano-designed tower will include up to 280,000 square-feet of housing and reach nearly 300 feet. Featured amenities include a "gated private driveway" and "automated parking." Stay tuned for more details.
Janet Echelman's latest aerial sculpture has been suspended 365 feet above Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway. On view through October 2015, the monumental installation spans 600 feet, occupying a void where an elevated highway once divided the city's downtown from its waterfront.
"The sculpture’s form echoes the history of its location," describes Echelman. "The three voids recall the 'Tri-Mountain' which was razed in the 18th-century to create land from the harbor. The colored banding is a nod to the six traffic lanes that once overwhelmed the neighborhood, before the Big Dig buried them and enabled the space to be reclaimed for urban pedestrian life."
According to Forbes, the University of Chicago has been selected to be the official home of the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum. The proposal, selected over sites at Columbia University, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, will be built in the city's South Side Hyde Park, near a home owned by the Obamas.
Eleven buildings have been announced as winners of Docomomo US' 2015 Modernism in America Awards (#ModernismAwards), of which includes the Frederick Dunn-designed Lewis and Clark Branch Library that is currently scheduled to be demolished. Each awarded project is "emblematic of the work going on all over the country and represent buildings and building typologies of postwar society in the United States." It is hoped that these awards will shed light on the importance of preserving modern architecture. Take a look at the winners, after the break.
Three students from Diploma Studio 10 (DS10) at the University of Westminster have received grants to see their designs realized at this year’s Burning Man festival. The projects - The Infinity Tree, Reflection, and Bismuth Bivouac - are temporary pavilions that will provide respite for festival-goers, each with a unique experiential quality to captivate the masses.
Drawing upon the 2015 Burning Man theme "Carnival of Mirrors," the three pavilions will explore the illusory and enchanting qualities of old-fashioned carnival culture while serving as functional spaces of rest and shelter from the Black Rock Desert sun. These and other installations will make up a “temporary metropolis” from August 30 to September 7.
More on the designs and their Kickstarter campaign, after the break.
Prisons are often seen as problematic for their local communities. After centuries of correctional facilities discouraging economic growth and occupying valuable real estate as a necessary component of towns and cities, many of these institutions have been relocated away from city centers and their abandoned vestiges are left as unpleasant reminders of their former use. In fact, the majority of prisons built in the United States since 1980 have been placed in non-metropolitan areas and once served as a substantial economic development strategy in depressed rural communities.  However, a new pressure is about to emerge on the US prison systems: beginning in 2010, America's prison population declined for the first time in decades, suggesting that in the near future repurposing these structures will become a particularly relevant endeavor for both community development and economic sustainability. These abandoned shells offer architects valuable opportunities to reimagine programmatic functions and transform an otherwise problematic location into an integral neighborhood space.
Why repurpose prisons rather than starting fresh? The answer to this question lies in the inherent architectural features of the prison typology, namely the fact that these structures are built to last. People also often forget that prison buildings are not limited to low-rise secure housing units - in fact, prisons feature an array of spaces that have great potential for reuse including buildings for light industrial activity, training or office buildings, low-security housing, and large outdoor spaces. These elements offer a wide variety of real estate for new programmatic uses, and cities around the world have begun to discover their potential. What could the US learn from these examples, at home and overseas?
Ten projects have been named the top examples of sustainable and ecological design by the AIA and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) for the year 2015. Now in its 19th edition, the COTE Top Ten Awards program recognizes projects that adhere to the highest integration of natural systems and technology to produce spaces that positively impact their surroundings and minimize their environmental footprints.