Through his campus work, Sert left an incredible built legacy on the Boston area. But his buildings have taken some getting used to.
In hindsight, it seems a bit odd that a Catalan architect with a penchant for concrete buildings and jaunty accents of color—he liked to say, “It’s good to see a parrot against an elephant”—ever held sway over Brahmin Boston and nearby Cambridge. It was midcentury, and he was Josep Lluís Sert, Barcelona-born, a great devotee of Le Corbusier, and dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) from 1953 to 1969.
The city of Amsterdam is popular for its compelling architecture, interlaced water canals, bridges, and docks. However, alongside these water canals lay old guard cabins that have been left to defunct. A restoration project by Dutch architecture firm space&matter promises to bring together the historic city's tourists and water canals through a unique architecture project.
Women are imperative members of the design community, creating innovative and inspiring work in the fields of architecture, design, and urban planning. However, even with the rise of the women's movement, their contributions are still being questioned, compared, or taken for granted.
Metropolis Magazine looked back at the history of feminism in architecture, shedding the light on the times when the advocates witnessed unprecedented progress, and times when they lost their advantage.
Anna Saint Pierre's Granito project is harvesting the ingredients for new architectural building blocks from demolished structures.
Rapid urban change comes and goes without many even noticing it. Entire slices of a city’s history disappear overnight: What was once a wall of hewn stone is now fritted glass and buffed metal. The building site is always, first, a demolition site.
This is the thread that runs through Granito, a project by the young French designer and doctoral researcher Anna Saint Pierre. Developed in response to a late-20th-century Paris office block due for a major retrofit, one involving disassembly, it hinges on a method of material preservation Saint Pierre calls “in situ recycling.” Her proposal posits that harvesting the individual granite panels of the building’s somber gray facade could form the basis of a circular economy. “No longer in fashion,” this glum stone—all 182 tons of it—would be dislodged, pulverized, and sorted on-site, then incorporated into terrazzo flooring in the building update.
Griffin founded the consultancy Urban Planning for the American City, which she complements with her pedagogical work at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Since its emergence with the cultural turn in the 1970s and ’80s, spatial justice has become a rallying cry among activists, planners, and plugged-in architects. But as with many concepts with academic origins, its precepts often remain elusive and uninterrogated. Though some of this has changed with the advent of city- and place-making discourse, few are doing as much to lend articulation, nuance, and malleability to spatial justice as Toni Griffin. A Chicago native, Griffin practiced architecture at SOM for nearly a decade before leaving the city to work as a planner in Newark and Washington, D.C., among other municipalities. In 2009, she founded the consultancy Urban Planning for the American City, which she complements with her pedagogical work at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. There, she runs the Just City Lab, which, through research and a host of programs, aims to develop, disseminate, and evaluate tools for enhancing justice—and remediating chronic, systematized injustice—in America’s cities. But what form could justice take in the U.S. context, and how can architects and designers help? Metropolis spoke with Griffin about how focusing on inclusivity and embracing interdependence and complexity are parts of the answer.
The Southbank Centre's famous Undercroft was a global destination for skateboarders, though it was threatened by closure and decay.
On the morning of Saturday, July 20, a wall of temporary construction fencing on the south bank of the River Thames was torn down, unveiling a 4,300-square-foot landscape of virgin concrete flooring. The space slopes in sections, culminating in L-shaped barriers and a white plywood wall, which, by the end of the 20th century, was covered in triumphant graffiti. This is the Undercroft, the open-ended subterranean space of the Brutalist Southbank Centre. It’s also the oldest, and among the most famous, consistently skateboarded space in the world.
Though born in Tehran and remaining deeply inspired by her native Iran, architect Yasaman Esmaili has worked on projects all around the world. These primarily include humanitarian and crisis intervention works that deeply engage the local communities in which they are situated. A recent article by Metropolis Magazine discusses these projects in depth, as well as Esmaili’s story and inspirations.
Olson Kundig is one of the quintessential Seattle-based architectural practices, with a focus on creativity, experimentation, and craftsmanship that has allowed them to expand on a global scale over the past few decades. This expansion has necessitated office improvements and renovations throughout the years, the most recent of which occurred in 2018. As explored in a recent article by Metropolis Magazine, this 2018 expansion reflected key values of collaboration and flexibility, expressed through the firm's unique visual and kinetic language.
Fifty years have passed since the publication of influential landscape architect Ian McHarg’s book, Design With Nature in 1969. Throughout the United States, an environmental movement was taking place, into the center of which McHarg’s book was thrust. The 1970s and ‘80s were a time of much landmark legislation surrounding ecological concerns, and McHarg argued that landscape architecture alone was able to integrate all the disparate fields involved.
As a firm which has already won major awards, worked on culturally significant projects on a large scale, and generally achieved substantial success and recognition in just over 10 years, SO-IL seem to straddle a line between being an “emerging” and an “established” practice. Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu founded SO-IL (Solid Objectives-Idenburg Liu) in 2008 and have since gained a reputation for modern, clean-lined designs, but often with a unique material twist.
The story of architectural Modernism in New York City goes beyond the familiar touchstones of Lever House and the Seagram Building.
Eighty-five years on, the little white town house on East 48th Street by William Lescaze still startles. With its bright stucco and Purist volumes, it pulls the eye away from the do-nothing brownstones on one side and the noirish sub-Miesian tower on the other. The machined rectitude of its upper floors, telegraphed by two clumsily large spans of glass block, is offset by the freer plastic arrangement of the bottom levels. Le Corbusier’s five points are in evidence (minus the roof garden), suggesting an architecture ready to do battle. Built in 1934 from the shell of a Civil War–era town house, this was the first Modernist house in New York City, and its pioneering feeling for futurity extended to its domestic conveniences. (A skeptical Lewis Mumford noted its central air-conditioning.)
Designed by EAA–Emre Arolat Architecture, the 199-room hotel in Antakya, Turkey, features prefab modules slotted into a massive network of steel columns.
The urban surfaces we walk on, planed sidewalks cleared of debris or asphalt streets kept in good repair, are simply the topmost layers of human-churned earth extending sometimes hundreds of feet belowground. In some cities, digging downward exposes dense infrastructure networks, while in others—Antakya, Turkey, for one—construction workers can’t turn over a rock without uncovering priceless relics. The newly opened Antakya Museum Hotel, designed by the firm EAA–Emre Arolat Architecture, has turned one such discovery into a bold new strategy for historic preservation.
Innovation and technology are often presented as inextricably linked ideas. Yet, when it comes to solving today’s urban problems, technology does not always represent the best way forward.
Innovation instead should come from a thorough understanding of the city’s functions and processes, including its municipal government and other local organizations. Technology can help, yes, but cannot be used as a panacea.
Los Angeles-based P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S is among the most intriguing and progressive firms working in architecture today. They seem relentless in pushing boundaries in areas like ultra-light-weight high-tech materials and immersive media. They are also very thoughtful and patient in the way they approach design.
This is good because what they are engaged in and the way they work takes time. By collaborating with engineers and innovators in different industries they are slowly changing the way architecture is carried out and conceived on material and ontological levels. They don’t do spec homes, they do what’s new, and sometimes try to do what hasn’t been done yet.
Founder and co-principal Marcelo Spina and co-principal Georgina Huljich both teach, he at SCI-ARC and she at UCLA, where they pursue research interests with students and then reflect that back into their small but energetic practice tucked away in one of Los Angeles’ rustic urban edges, Atwater Village.
One thing to recently emerge from this office is the experimental carbon fiber pavilion they call Textile Room.