1. ArchDaily
  2. Metropolis Mag

Metropolis Mag: The Latest Architecture and News

Karen Braitmayer, Founder of Studio Pacifica, Weighs in on Accessible Design

Karen Braitmayer, a disabled architect, consultant, and volunteer, brings her unique life experiences to Studio Pacifica, the Seattle‐based practice she founded in 1993. With deep expertise in code compliance and regulations, Braitmayer and her team work with architectural firms like Olson Kundig and Perkins and Will to help create barrier‐free civic, residential, and commercial buildings. Studio Pacifica has served as consultants on notable projects ranging from the Space Needle renovation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center and student housing at Smith College. Braitmayer was appointed by President Barack Obama to the United States Access Board, a position she still holds today.

As we mark the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this month, we spoke to her about how far we’ve come, and how we can continue to advance accessible design in the built environment.

A ramp at Deep Dive is an elegant and integrated part of the restaurant's design. Courtesy Studio PacificaAxle Apartments. Courtesy Studio PacificaStudio Pacifica consulted on Modera Ballard, a residential project in Seattle by Tiscareno Associates. Courtesy Studio PacificaStudio Pacifica also worked on Axle Apartments in Seattle's Interbay neighborhood. The apartments were designed by Encore Architects. Courtesy Studio Pacifica+ 6

From a Complicated Present, Urban Reuse Parks Look to the Future

Metropolis catches up with the High Line Network, a consortium of North American reuse projects that has been sharing notes and best practices through the pandemic.

Since the pandemic began, the High Line Network—a group of North American infrastructure reuse projects founded in 2017—has been conducting regular teleconference calls among its members, comparing notes on operations and sharing best practices and advice with fellow members. With many open or planning to reopen soon, and as the pandemic continues, many observers expect these projects will become even more popular among the public, since they provide outdoor space where visitors can walk, bicycle, and safely enjoy themselves—usually at an appropriate distance from one another. Especially now, the network believes its constituent projects can deliver tremendous and much-needed social, health, environmental, and economic benefits.

Eastside Trail and Ponce City Market along the Atlanta BeltLine. Courtesy The SintosesArt along the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. Courtesy The SintosesDequindre Cut. Courtesy Detroit Riverfront ConservancyMurals along Dequindre Cut. Courtesy Detroit Riverfront Conservancy+ 13

Can Quarantine Propel Us Toward Planetary Sanctuary?

I can’t stop thinking about refugia. In the years, months, and days before the COVID-19 pandemic, the term was confined to the literature and philosophy of climate crisis, referring to pockets of life that through geographic isolation or species resilience manage to hang on in spite of the environmental forces against them. Think of clusters of Pacific Northwest barnacles nestled high on coastal outcroppings to avoid falling prey to sea snails. Or old-growth forests insulated from rising temperatures in cool mountain valleys.

As self-quarantine set in earlier this spring, the word refugia, at least for me, expanded in definition from specific ecological condition to conceptual touchstone—a necessary leap to metaphor when faced with planetary crisis. The magnitude of this pandemic falls outside human comprehension, but for the luckiest of us, refuge is manageable: a place of relative safety, of sourdough starters and online Jazzercise classes.

Paola Antonelli and Alice Rawsthorn’s Instagram Live Series Examines COVID-19 Designs

The design.emergency initiative has unpacked everything from collaborative PPE production to object hacking and the power of symbolic imagery.

In the era of the pandemic, the design world’s museums, galleries, manufacturers, organizations, and independent talents have all gone virtual. An endless list of COVID-19-induced cancellations has driven most to find clever ways in which to present their work and engage their audiences. Many have opted for viewing room and interactive exhibition formats, while social media and video communication services have also played a vital role.

Measuring the Fallout of COVID-19 for the Design Industry

At ThinkLab, our passion lies at the intersection of specification and design, where we use research to improve communications between designers and manufacturers. Today, that research is helping companies within the interiors industry make critical business decisions as we face economic uncertainty. Here, we share some recent data and insights from our Industry Impact Survey—an ongoing research initiative that we invite you to participate in.

This 125-year-old Swedish Town Has Relocated, Buildings and All

Kiruna Forever, an exhibition at ArkDes, traces the town's relocation due to geological instability.

“Kiruna is on the move,” says Carlos Mínguez Carrasco, curator of the new exhibition Kiruna Forever. Kiruna, a 125-year-old Swedish town that sprouted around the iron mine of the same name, started an official relocation process in 2018 after decades of discussion with the state-owned mining company LKAB. Today, as the expansion of the mine destabilizes the ground surrounding it, nearby buildings are being demolished or loaded onto flatbed trucks and moved to the new city center nearly two miles east.

Architecture Visions at a Global Scale

For more than a century, architects have been addressing the world as a project through speculative designs in an attempt to imagine the future and reframe global issues. Globalisation, the ever-increasing interconnectedness demands action on a worldwide scale and invites a reflection on the profession's responsibilities. The latter is precisely what the book The World as an Architectural Project achieves, through a compilation of world-scale speculative projects of the past century, making a compelling case for the agency of architecture.

Architects and Designers Join the Fight Against the Pandemic

As the global health crisis continues, architects and designers are putting their expertise, technical capabilities and research skills in the service of the fight against the coronavirus. Metropolis Magazine has gathered together a list of several companies and their different initiatives for helping out in this novel situation. From 3d-printing personal protection equipment for medical staff, to designing modular intensive care units, and researching steps for converting buildings into hospitals, the creative community is bringing its own contribution to the efforts of tackling the pandemic.

The American-Inspired Russian Architecture

Boris Iofan’s winning proposal for Palace of the Soviets. Image Courtesy of Arkadi Mordvinov, Vyacheslav K. Oltarzhevsky/Tchoban Foundation
Boris Iofan’s winning proposal for Palace of the Soviets. Image Courtesy of Arkadi Mordvinov, Vyacheslav K. Oltarzhevsky/Tchoban Foundation

From the famous Kitchen Debate between Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon to the popularity of Henry Ford within the USSR, the hundreds of factories designed by Detroit engineer Albert Kahn for Soviet Russia, and skyscrapers erected in Moscow, the Cold War had a peculiar side to it, that is the Russian fascination with American culture and technology.

A Great Carbon Reckoning Comes to Architecture

Practitioners have finally begun taking a more nuanced approach to the carbon emitted by new buildings. Are they too late?

I’ve started calling them come-to-carbon moments—the inner alarm bells that sound as you begin to register the devastating ecological costs of every man-made surface around you. Every sidewalk you’ve ever walked on, every building you’ve ever walked into, and every material inside those buildings, too. It’s the kind of thing you can’t un-see once you’ve started looking, the kind of knowledge that can transform a worldview, or a practice.

Mass plywood panels at the Freres Lumber Co. plant in Lyons, Oregon. Courtesy George BarberisRammed earth is used for the house’s walls, which are built using formwork and pneumatic tamping techniques. “The earth is the wall, but also the skin, veneer, and insulation. It’s the entire package inside and out,” says Harris. Courtesy Kyle Melgaard/Pilgrim Building CompanyRammed earth appealed to Lake|Flato principal Bob Harris because it suited the conditions of the site: “There’s a lot of adobe in the area. The labor force there is not great with steel frame....It’s really all about cement block and the masonry trades there.” Courtesy Kyle Melgaard/Pilgrim Building CompanyThe architecture community is beginning to take account of embodied carbon, which denotes the expenditure of the element in the manufacturing of a building’s materials. In response, firms are looking to source alternatives to carbon-intensive steel and concrete, including mass plywood. Pictured: a display of CNC-milled mass plywood panels designed by LEVER Architecture. Courtesy George Barberis+ 13

Architecture Became Increasingly Obsessed with the Health of Bodies

© Creative Commons
© Creative Commons

In some theoretical books, architecture and the human body are more or less the same, each depending on one another. Oftentimes, however, it is the body that undergoes detrimental adjustments to adapt to the architecture, not the other way around. 

In the newly released book X-Ray Architecture, architectural historian Beatriz Colomina argues that health facilities inspired modern architecture's most dominant formal signatures. 

A New Landscape in Montreal Weaves Together Icons of the City’s Expo 67

Encompassing a Buckminster Fuller–designed geodesic dome and an Alexander Calder sculpture, the intervention shows how the city is rethinking its world’s fair treasures.

The contemporary urban fabric of Montreal, perhaps more than any other Canadian city, was shaped by a single event in its modern history: the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, popularly known as Expo 67. With its record-breaking number of visitors, it was the most successful world’s fair of the 20th century and fueled a construction boom in the city that stretched into the late 1970s.

© Lemay© Marc Cramer© Marc Cramer© Lemay+ 18

Why Landing on Mars Has Become a Design Project

Mars has been notable for capturing humans' interest, intriguing business moguls such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to go on a "billionaire space race" and settle on the planet. But does humanity have the right to colonize another planet? If so, who does this sky-high ambition serve?