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Metropolis: The Latest Architecture and News

Is the Future of Furniture Flat-packed?

Design for assembly (DFA) is hardly new. Thonet’s 1859 No. 14 chair, when disassembled, could be shipped in batches of 36 per 40-square-inch box.

Those cost savings tied to DFA are still valuable. And as it helped revolutionize shipping in the industrial era, it now carries prestige as a powerful carbon-reduction tool. In fact, DFA is currently the distinguishing feature of at least six highly visible product launches among commercial furniture manufacturers in just the past year.

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Surveying 100 Years of the Regional Plan Association

The Constant Future: A Century of the Regional Plan, an October exhibit at Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal is a succinct yet gripping display of civic dreams selected from the imagination of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), an independent non-profit that conducts research on the environment, land use, and good governance with the intention of promoting ideas that improve economic health, environmental resiliency, and quality of life in the New York metropolitan area. The occasion is the organization’s centennial, and the show is a testament to its powerful role in developing the tri-state region. Not all of its ideas have been good, but the city owes a debt to the group’s long-term view.

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Can Local Architecture Help Cure the Ills of Globalism?

The global pause of the COVID pandemic has provided an opportunity to assess present-day globalism and the architecture that has emerged alongside it. Stemming back to the broad expansion of free trade in the 90s at the end of the Cold War, globalism’s cultural promise was simple and aspirational: integrating markets globally would increase the interaction between and learning of different cultures. By normalizing such experiences in our daily lives, we would become global citizens liberated from our previous prejudices–all well-intentioned objectives.

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3 Doctors Who Design Share What’s Energizing Health Care Architecture

Public health and the built environment have a long-intertwined history—one that was catapulted into the limelight amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The global crisis made us all acutely aware of how design, whether for dedicated medical buildings or other building types, can affect our ability to respond to health emergencies as well as our daily well-being. Those most attuned to this connection are a niche group of architecture and design practitioners who also have medical experience.

Gregor Sailer’s Photographs Explore Architecture’s Political, Military, and Economic Implications

In a new show at Kunst Haus Wien in Vienna, the Austrian artist continues his investigation of architecture where few civilians tread.

Gregor Sailer’s quest for unusual structures and buildings takes him to some of the most extreme reaches of human civilization — from military field exercise centers in the USA and Europe to a mining center near Chuquicamata in the Atacama Desert to Arctic snow fields.

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Who Was Günther Domenig, the Unknown Deconstructivist?

Domenig was one of Austria’s most radical architects and a major influence on many of architecture’s leading lights but remains widely unknown. A new exhibition aims to change that.

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A New Book Chronicles the Turbulent History of Architectural Complexity

The marquee-busting title says it all: Joseph Giovannini’s Architecture Unbound is an ambitious attempt to explore the wilder shores of design and explain how and why maverick architects have dared greatly. It’s also a wide-ranging introduction to artists who laid the groundwork for architectural innovation a century ago; to the philosophers and theorists who mapped new ways of thinking, and to the complexities of chaos theory, parametric and software programs that have shaped exceptional buildings over the past few decades.

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Crystal Bridges Imagines the Future of Housing

­­­Housing is a mess in Northwest Arkansas. The metropolitan area between the college town of Fayetteville, the buzzing art hub of Bentonville, and the bedroom communities of Rogers and Springdale are expected to double in size over the next two decades, and like many quickly growing urban areas across the country, there aren’t enough places to live.

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The Future of American Design Is Reinvention, Reuse, and Renewal

Reinvention is one of the founding myths of the United States of America. For those lucky enough to come here on the decks of ships rather than chained in the hold, this country offered a chance to be someone else, somewhere else. For them and generations of immigrants who followed, America seemed to put a safe distance between their pasts and a boundless future.

But the illusion was eventually flipped on its head. Around the turn of the millennium, reinvention was a prevailing theme for movie characters intent on getting out of small-town America; in architecture, that sentiment took the form of building dream cities anywhere but here. In Dubai and Shanghai our brightest design minds conjured up hermetically sealed towers, malls, and museums largely disconnected from history, community, and climate.

Working Remotely, Ukrainian Designers Get a Lifeline From U.S. Firms

Since the beginning of the war on Ukraine, over 7.1 million people have been internally displaced within the country, with over 139 sites affected by the ongoing hostilities, including 62 religious sites, 12 museums, 26 historic buildings, 17 buildings dedicated to cultural activities, 15 museums, and seven libraries. Two new programs; Support by Design and Hireukrainiandesigners.org have joined forces to help provide remote jobs for designers in the war-torn country.

Following Years of Revitalization, Detroit Still Has a Long Way to Go

Detroit is different.

We say that with confidence knowing the city’s demographics (nearly 80 percent African-American and with one of the highest poverty rates in the United States) present unique challenges to providing economic opportunity. And we say that with certainty knowing that a pernicious history of redlining, loan discrimination, and other inequities has denied Detroit’s Black majority the kind of power and say-so in design and economic development that would produce more favorable outcomes.

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Steven Holl’s Architectural Archive Preserves His Firm’s Designs and the Landscape

Steven Holl can often be found reading poetry and painting watercolors in a tiny cabin overlooking lotus flowers on the edge of a lake in Rhinebeck, New York. The cabin sits on a 28-acre reserve that Holl purchased in 2014 that now hosts Holl’s full-time office, and ‘T’ Space, a nonprofit arts organization offering creative exhibitions, environmental installations, and architectural residencies. Wrapping around several large trees and linking through a passageway to another existing 1959 cabin, the Steven Myron Holl Foundation’s Architectural Archive and Research Library, built in 2019, is the latest building to be carefully situated in the lush landscape.

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Spirits in the Material World: A Trip to the Eames Institute

Metropolis Magazine's Kenneth Caldwell visits the Eames Ranch in Petaluma, California to unpack the goals and secrets of the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity. He explains that he may not be the best person to write objectively about the recent public launch of the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity, a non-profit formed in 2019 to help us explore Charles and Ray Eames’ legacy; particularly their timeless, iterative design process; the chair he sits in every day was designed by the Eameses the year he was born, and their work has been part of his life since he was a young boy looking for the future in architecture magazines at the local public library.

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Manhattan’s Japan Society Explores Artist Kazuko Miyamoto’s Relationship with her Studio Architecture

Recreating the artist studio in an exhibition has always been a challenge for curators and exhibition designers––bringing in the right amount of “mess,” intricately revealing the workings of artistry, and maintaining the visual coherence are all boxes to be checked while letting the audience behind the curtain. Kazuko Miyamoto: To perform a line, Japan Society’s survey of the artist’s five-decade career in sculpture, drawing, and performance solves this challenge in ways that are both practical and poetic.

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Mariam Kamara Could Profoundly Change Design Pedagogy Everywhere

Architect Mariam Kamara—founder of Niamey, Niger-based firm Atelier Masōmī—is a contrarian of design pedagogy as it is largely practiced today. To Kamara, modern is not synonymous with European forms, architecture is not only for Westerners to define, and the so-called canon of great buildings actually ignores most of the built world. The Niger-based architect's rapidly growing practice informs a series of lectures she has delivered recently at MIT, Columbia University GSAPP, the African Futures Institute in Ghana, and Harvard GSD.

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Manhattan’s Center for Architecture Imagines the Future of Universal Design

How can Universal Design bridge the divides that have left many Americans stranded in their own communities? In its latest exhibition, Manhattan’s Center for Architecture calls for a “reset.” On view until September 3, Reset: Towards a New Commons, displays projects that “encourage new modes of living collaboratively” and “more holistic approaches to inclusion.”

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In San Francisco, the 5M Development Envisions Public and Private Space for the Future

The chance to reimagine a four-and-a-half-acre site containing both historic buildings to be preserved and lots slated for development in a major American city is rare. For the team behind 5M, a project on a nodal site in downtown San Francisco, this prospect came with exciting potential to engage with all aspects of community building and place making. Completed by SITELAB, KPF, and a host of other firms, 5M reveals a transformed, multi-use downtown site following a decade-long process.

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Esch 2022 Celebrates One of Europe’s Most Stunning Industrial Turnarounds

For quaint riverfront views, historical fortifications, and castles, head to Luxembourg. For sky-high remnants of the steel industry, there’s the country’s second largest city, Esch-sur-Alzette. Suffering, until recently, from the 1970’s steel manufacturing exodus, Esch, 10 miles to the northeast of the border of France, is emerging as an unexpected cultural mecca, where industrial infrastructure is being converted en masse into cultural and learning space. This rebirth is being celebrated thanks to a generous flow of cash via its designation as Esch2022: Esch-sur-Alzette European Capital of Culture 2022 (Kaunas, Lithuania and Novi Sad, Serbia, also named European Capital of Cultures this year, share the designation for 2022). For Esch, the title comes with $54.8 million in funds from EU, national, local, and private sources.

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