"Cities face a choice of building up or building out," says Renzo Piano, according to a recent article on the Daily Mail. Responding to backlash led by the Skyline Campaign, a campaign spearheaded by architect Barbara Weiss that "aims to stop the devastation of London by badly designed and poorly placed tall buildings," Piano is defending London's controversial skyscraper boom by saying it's giving the one thing the city needs most: "space on the ground."
Politics: The Latest Architecture and News
Frustrated with the congestion of panhandlers, Mayor Bill de Blasio has shocked New York City dwellers by threatening to remove their beloved Times Square. As New York Times' architecture critic Michael Kimmelman reports, this comes at a time when dwellers fear that quality of life is declining in the city: "Entertaining the demolition of the plazas, the mayor sends a message that New York can’t support the sort of great pedestrian hubs that thrive in competing cities around the globe." Blasio said he will look into the "pros and cons" of returning Times Square to traffic. Read Kimmelman's full report on Blasio's threats, here.
In a recent article for The New York Times Antanas Mockus, the former Mayor of Bogotá who served two terms in office between 1995 and 2003, discusses what he learnt to be "the art of changing a city." Mockus, a professor of philosophy by vocation, was at times pressured to wear a bullet-proof vest — which he wore with a heart-shaped hole cut over his chest as a "symbol of confidence, or defiance, for nine months." His article discusses how his government tackled Bogotá's "chaotic and dangerous" traffic through a thumbs-up, thumbs-down card system performed by mimes, how they dealt with water shortages, and how they persuaded 63,000 households to voluntarily pay 10% more tax.
For the latest edition of The Urbanist, Monocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team travel to Moscow, Portugal and Hong Kong to examine how "architecture has always been the unfortunate sidekick of any dictatorial regime." In the process they ask what these buildings actually stand for, and explore the legacy of the architecture of Fascist, Imperial and Brutalist regimes from around the world today. From the Seven Sisters in Moscow to António de Oliveira Salazar's Ministry of Internal Affairs in Lisbon, this episode asks how colonial, dictatorial and power-obsessed architecture has shaped our cities.
Last month, Japan officially scrapped plans for the controversial Zaha Hadid Architects-designed National Stadium that was intended to be the centerpiece of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Since the decision, ZHA released a statement that denied responsibility for the project's ballooning costs, saying the Japan Sport Council (JSC) has been approving the project's design and budget "at every stage."
Now, British architect Richard Rogers, who served on the jury that selected ZHA's stadium design, has joined the conversation claiming Japan has "lost their nerve" and warning that their decision to "start over from zero" will harm Japan's "reputation as a promoter of world-class architectural design."
Read on for Roger's full statement:
For this edition of The Urbanist, Monocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team investigate politics in global "power cities." Visiting Brussels, capital of Belgium and administrative capital of the European Union, they explore how politics have changed the city over the last four decades. Further south, they travel to Vienna which, "diplomatically remains very important and wields power." Yet even though the UN have an outpost there, is the Austrian capital still a stage for international diplomacy? The episode also makes a quick stop at Embassy Row in Washington D.C. to examine the architecture of diplomatic design.
The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has awarded Frank Gehry's controversial Eisenhower Memorial final approval during a meeting held on July 9. This means all agencies overseeing the project has (finally) agreed on the design, which has taken 15 years and many design revisions to achieve. The project, now a joint venture between Gehry and AECOM, was initially granted preliminary approval last October.
"The resulting Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial design satisfies the goals of the seven design principles established for this site in 2006 by the NCPC to preserve and enhance the unique character of this site and establish a new green space within the context of L’Enfant’s plan for Washington D.C.," said the NCPC in their final report. You can read the report in full, here.
Despite harsh criticism for being too large and costly, Tokyo's 2020 Zaha Hadid-designed National Stadium will be realized. As USA Today reports, the Japanese government has announced its decision to move forward with the design, saying any major modifications would lead to construction delays.
The 80,000-seat stadium has already undergone some design changes, due to backlash led by Pritzker laureates Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki; it's most recent design is said to be more "efficient, user-focussed, adaptable and sustainable." However controversy continues as the city and central government must now decide how to split the stadium's estimated $2 billion bill.
Shocking allegations have surfaced in two new books that claim Le Corbusier was a “militant fascist.” Although the architect’s connections with a collaborationist regime in France have been known for some time, the authors claim new evidence reveals the depths of his sympathy toward Nazi activity.
China's rapid growth has led to some unusual situations; shocking images of so-called "nail houses" continue to circle the internet, depicting defiant homeowners refusing to give up their homes for low compensation in the name of "progress." Standalone homes, and even some graves, are being surrounded by high-rise development and roadways, as land disputes play out in court. The Atlantic has just published a fascinating round-up of these peculiar situations. You can view them all, here.
The poor quality and laying of stone flooring in Milan's newly completed Museum of Culture has led its architect, David Chipperfield to dissociate himself with the building. Blasting officials for skimping on materials, the British architect is demanding his name be removed from the project, claiming the building is now a "museum of horrors" and a "pathetic end to 15 years of work" due to the low quality flooring.
On the contrary, Milan's council says the material decision was made in the "interests of the taxpayers," further claiming that, according to councillor Filippo del Corno, Chipperfield has been "unreasonable and impossible to please."
Stockholm’s City Museum (Stadsmuseet) has spoke out against David Chipperfield’s competition-winning Nobel Center, saying the design is good but not at its proposed location. The museum, whose mission is to “preserve the city’s cultural heritage,” does not believe the new center should be build along the city’s Blasieholmen, as its site is “one of the few parts of the city that still allows close interaction with the old port.”
Furthermore, the City Museum strongly urged against the Nobel Foundation's plans to demolish the site’s three historic structures - an 1876 Axel Fredrik Nystrom-designed Customs House and the city’s last two remaining wooden harbor warehouses built in the early 1900s. Agreeing, the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) has also spoke up, saying the proposal is “too big” and does not take “sufficient” consideration of the cultural environment and cultural heritage.
This past October Alejandro Zaera-Polo abruptly resigned from his position as Dean of Princeton’s School of Architecture amidst plagiarism rumors. The resignation, requested by University President Christopher Eisgruber, was the result of Zaera-Polo's removal of citations from his contribution to the “Facade” section of the Elements of Architecture exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale.
Claiming the rumors to be “demonstrably false,” Zaera-Polo has issued a “clarifying statement” outlining the purpose of his Biennale text to be polemic, and nonacademic, therefore it did not breach “any moral, ethical, or other applicable standards.” An email in support of Zaera-Polo sent by Rem Koolhaas to Eisgruber three days before the resignation has also released, denouncing any wrongdoing from Koolhaas’ perspective as the Biennale’s director.
Read Koolhaas' email, Zaera-Polo's clarification statement and a response from Princeton in full, after the break.
In an effort to combat the economic conditions that have plunged one-fourth of its population into poverty, Egypt's ambitious development plan for a massive new capital city is soon to be underway. Roughly the size of New Cairo, the privately-funded city hopes to become the new administrative center, as well as a bustling metropolis of shopping, housing, and tourist destinations to generate economic activity. Plans were solidified at a foreign investment conference where the official project details were unveiled on March 13 in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Read on after the break for more on the $45 billion plan.
Tomorrow legislators are due to decided the fate of Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center. The midcentury icon, listed on the World Monuments Fund’s global watch list, has been the center of a prolonged debate challenging its right to be preserved.
"Twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall’s demise, it is as though a large part of the twentieth century never happened," writes OMA principle Reinier de Graaf in his article for Metropolis Magazine "The Other Truth". "An entire period has been erased from public consciousness, almost like a blank frame in a film." Through the course of the article, de Graaf outlines how the West has rewritten the history of the cold war, erasing the "other truth" that existed for nearly half a century in East Berlin, the USSR, and other soviet-aligned states - a truth that we forget to our peril. It may not be immediately architectural, but the essay provides an interesting look into the political thoughts of de Graaf who, as the principle of one of architecture's most prominent research organizations in AMO, has an important influence on the profession's understanding of the wider world. Read the article in full here.
Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung has temporarily “pulled the plug” on Sou Fujimoto’s ambitious Taiwan Tower, saying he would rather pay a penalty for breaking the contract than spend an estimated NT$15 billion to realize the “problematic” project.
The Banyan tree-inspired tower was hoped to become the “Taiwanese version of the Eiffel Tower,” as well as a model for sustainable architecture by achieving LEED Gold with its energy producing features. Its steel superstructure, which proposed to hoist a triangular section of the Taichung Gateway Park’s greenbelt 300-meters into the air, intentionally had “no obvious form” and was to be perceived as a natural phenomenon.
Following the highly anticipated world premiere of Archiculture (watch here!), Arbuckle Industries is now releasing over 30 never-before-seen full length interviews with some of the industry’s leading influencers, all discussing the profession and how we are or should be training the next generation of designers. The first of the series featured Columbia’s Kenneth Frampton on whether or not architecture should be considered a luxury. Now, this most recent installation delves into just how policy makers can affect the built environment, interviewing politician and former Governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis.