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Today’s News - Friday, July 20, 2012

•   Baillieu on the "real Olympic effect": the "real test, and the real work, is still to come."

•   Siegel offers an in-depth - and fascinating - history of a French town that has turned itself around by replacing modernist housing projects with neo-traditional development (perhaps Paris should stop "importing starchitects who design look-at-me buildings" and revive "the French tradition of designing great urban places").

•   A heritage advocate decries "hideous design is a byproduct of haste" to rebuild Christchurch: "Owners need to look closely at what stamp they intend to leave when entrusting architects with their rebuilds...or we will end up looking as soulless as Australia's Canberra."

•   Neustein has a lively Q&A with de Botton during his visit to Australia: Why is beauty so important to you? "Partly, I use it politically because it's a taboo word for architects - it makes them twitchy, and I quite enjoy that."

•   Brussat bristles over Bruno's take on Pingyao's "plight": what those "who hate historic beauty above all do not want to admit is that the best way to prevent places from becoming 'history museums' (a muted way to say Disneyesque) is to move into modern times...without sacrificing the old buildings, and without confronting them with new buildings that undermine the city's historic character."

•   He gives thumbs-up - and down - to the revamped Providence Performing Arts Center Square: the redesign "is undermined by its confused aesthetic," but at least "there are chairs and tables beckoning. This is progress. Yet the vital lesson of beauty remains to be learned."

•   Saffron is a bit disappointed in the plans to expand a Philly synagogue: "The designers, unfortunately, have concentrated so much energy on solving the knotty functional and historic problems that they seem to have forgotten about making memorable architecture."

•   High hopes soar for a long-empty historic post office with plans to make it the home of AIA Miami Center for Architecture & Design.

•   Hatherley looks at the history of the BBC as told by its buildings: "The route from the Ministry of Truth to MediaCityUK is a checkered and complex one."

•   As Sydney sees its tallest and thinnest tower about to rise, Moore ponders: "Are we aiming too high? When is 'tall' tall enough?"

•   RISD names Pradeep Sharma as Dean of Architecture and Design.

•   MASS Design Group and Atelier d'architecture autogérée garner the 2012 Zumtobel Group Award for Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment hail from the U.S. and France.

•   Weekend diversions:

•   Maes's "The Future of Yesterday" is "a clever curatorial scheme" at the Nelson-Atkins Museum: "Visitors must first acknowledge one legacy of World's Fairs - decaying, forgotten, and wholly lonesome architecture - before exploring their other legacy, as the birthplace of modern pop culture."

•   "The Harlem Edge" at NYC's Center for Architecture offers an eyeful of entries in ENYA's ideas competition to repurpose an abandoned waterfront garbage depot into a food, farm and ferry hub.

•   Filler offers a most thoughtful take on "modern architecture's dark side" found in the pages of Cohen's "Architecture in Uniform," and "The Future of Architecture: Since 1889" (the best comprehensive history of modernism to appear in a generation").

•   Webb cheers Anderton (who "may be a reincarnation of Reyner Banham) and her "Grand Illusion: A Story of Ambition, and Its Limits, on LA's Bunker Hill" - though the student proposals presented "seem as disconnected from the real world as the planners they are challenging. It's a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise informative and provocative urban study."

•   Zandberg cheers "Arcadia: The Gardens of Lipa Yahalom and Dan Zur" that "details the work of the top landscape architects of Israel's founding generation...a comprehensive and pioneering effort of unparalleled importance."

•   One we couldn't resist: a U.S. DJ launches a series of "tech-house" songs inspired by his favorite architects - first up: Zaha (not our musical taste, but hey...).


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