Today’s News - Wednesday, February 19, 2020

●  An odd news story to start the day: A 56-story luxury residential tower in NYC, designed by Elkus Manfredi, may have to remove 20 (or more) floors after judge rules it "exceeds the allowed zoning envelope for the site."

●  Meanwhile, in Toronto, Hariri Pontarini's 95-story SkyTower, "just yards away from CN Tower," is set to be Canada's tallest residential tower.

●  The French government is not mandating a "style" for public buildings, but is proposing that they "be built with 50% wood or other natural materials" - and plans to "invest €20 million to construct 100 urban farms in city suburbs - among "a number of other eco-friendly initiatives."

●  This cheered the science & environmental geek in us: A new green technology "creates electricity from moisture in the air" that is "non-polluting, renewable and low-cost" (all started by a microbe discovered in Potomac River mud more than 30 years ago!).

●  A new "video gives the first full, sweeping view" of the "massive $50M expansion" of Detroit's Motown Museum, designed by P+W's Freelon and Hamilton Anderson.

●  Sitz reports that NBBJ has acquired ESI Design - the "staff will be retained, and six of the studio's design leaders will become NBBJ principals" (including Edwin Schlossberg).

●  After three years flat-packed in storage ("along with buckets of bolts and screws") in Palm Springs, Albert Frey's 1931 Aluminaire House may finally find a permanent home at the Palm Springs Art Museum or on the College of the Desert campus.

●  A call for Mid-century Modern history to include more women architects - "while there's increasing parity for women, there are still fewer women being celebrated, compared to men, or rising into leadership roles - looking at raw numbers isn't enough to combat sexism in the field."

●  Black History Month x 2: Dorris highlights 10 pioneering African American architects - men and women who "were among the first in their field and, thanks to their increasingly recognized accomplishments, far from the last."

●  A profile of Donald White, Michigan's first licensed black architect, who "broke new ground" - even though many of his buildings "have been torn down - a byproduct of so-called urban renewal projects in the 1950s and 60s."

●  A good reason to head to Cape Town next week: Themed "A Better World Through Creativity," Design Indaba 2020 celebrates "a 25-year milestone" of being "crucial to the growth of the design and entrepreneurial industries in South Africa."

●  ICYMI: ANN feature: Design Workshop's MacRae & Ficht consider three trends they see shaping landscape architecture.


●  Call for entries: Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge international design competition: create unconventional designs for the iconic walkway that respect and enhance the bridge's landmark status (cash prizes).

●  Call for entries: CTBUH 2020 International Research Seed Funding; no fee; $20,000 prize.

●  Call for entries: CTBUH 2020 Student Research Competition (international); no fee; $20,000 prize.

●  Call for applications: Be Original Americas Student Design Fellowship, open to 2nd- or 3rd-year undergraduate students studying in the U.S. (must be U.S citizen or have legal resident alien status).

●  Call for entries: 3rd Q-City International Young Designer Competition: Quality City: Development Guided by New Technology (Handan City; China) - open to young designers & students; no fee; cash prizes.

And yet more thumbs-ups and -downs for the "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again" (just when you thought it was safe to go outside):

●  Volner: The "provocative" order is "a putative fatwa on modern design - reigniting a tiresome 1980s Style War, pitting pop historicists against high-minded modernists - it has tended to obscure some of the creepier implications of the incipient decree."

●  NYC-based architect Colette Arredondo, on the other hand: "Ignore the critics - the executive order is a great step toward restoring beauty in government buildings. Beauty calls us to something higher than ourselves."

●  Brussat: "Enough time has passed to declare modern architecture a failed experiment in federal placemaking. To need an 'official style' is surely regrettable," but "the draft order may have the effect of slowing down the atrophy of our civic life."

●  Blair gets feedback from both sides of the fence: National Civic Art Society's Marion Smith, AIA's Robert Ivy, and HBRA Architects' Aric Lasher (who calls it "preposterous").

●  Critics say "the government should simply not be deciding what is and isn't beautiful," including NOMA President Kimberly Dowdell classicism "carries a legacy of oppression"), HBRA's Lasher, and Carol Ross Barney - "the first woman to design a federal building."


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