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Today’s News - Thursday, November 19, 2015

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow will be a no-newsletter day. We'll be back Monday, November 23.

•   ANN Feature: Millard really floors it in a most thoughtful, in-depth review of Newman and Kenworthy's "The End of Automobile Dependence," a "tightly packed yet readable marvel of comprehensiveness" that comes up "with surprising grounds for optimism - provided planners get certain critical decisions right."

•   Kimmelman is more optimistic than he thought he'd be about Pei Cobb Freed's 7 Bryant Park in Manhattan "that makes the case for why architecture matters - too many mediocre commercial projects get a pass in this city, making developers money while shortchanging the rest of us. This one could have been another one of those buildings."

•   Shaw reports on a most lively debate between Speaks, Diaz Alonso, Andraos, and Steele re: Schumacher's blistering critique of the Chicago Architecture Biennial: "I don't know Patrik and I don't really care. The fact that he wrote this rant reassures me and confirms for me the fact that the Biennial is fantastic!" (and maybe he's just bummed he wasn't invited?).

•   Cramer has high hopes the Chicago Biennial will "reach audiences beyond the cultural cognoscenti. There's blessedly little blobmeistering or theoretical posturing. That's a plus."

•   Lang Ho cheers the Chicago Biennial: "The show isn't about big names or big projects - it's about big ideas."

•   Heathcote revisits "the gloriously absurd secular chapel" that is "A House for Essex," which "demonstrates how ornament can be assimilated into design" - and he ponders whether it can heal or confirms the "schism at the heart of modern architecture - ornament and morality."

•   MVRDV wins a competition to transform a 1983 "eyesore" of a mall in Taiwan into an urban lagoon - a swimming pool and elevated walkways included.

•   An impressive shortlist of six now vying for LSE's £100m Paul Marshall Building includes three women-led firms.

•   Brooks uses the WAF winners as examples of why "the future of architecture isn't as sci-fi as we might think - it's the problem-solving behind a design that blows our minds."

•   Cheers to the winners of the Kaplan Fund's inaugural J.M.K. Innovation Prize for Dynamic Social-Sector Visionaries!

•   Weekend diversions:

•   King cheers the "wickedly far-fetched notion" in the premise of "The Monster-Builder," a comedy that "pokes a hole in the ego of the modern 'starchitect' - a fun variation on a theme tackled ponderously of late by would-be starchitect slayers from both ends of the cultural spectrum."

•   Hatherley on the 2002 film "Children's Games, Heygate Estate": it "revisits the utopian spirit in which the estate was conceived, and questions the ongoing obsession with 'demonology and determinism' in architecture and town planning."

•   The "introspective" short film "Mixed Plate Hawaii" wins the AIA Look Up Film Challenge People's Choice Award (we can see why).

•   Hawthorne hails "Matter, Light and Form: Architectural Photographs of Wayne Thom" at the WUHO Gallery in Hollywood: it is "a lean and sneakily ambitious show. It has a good deal more to say about photography and design history than it lets on" (great pix!).

•   Madsen brings us eyefuls of the "Wonder" exhibition at the newly-opened Renwick Gallery in DC, and the "sensitive installations" that acknowledge that "the most valuable object in our collection is the building itself."

•   LeFevre cheers Brownell and Swackhamer's "Hypernatural," which presents "a seemingly otherworldly future radically outside of today's status quo. There may be hope for us after all."

•   Newman tackles "Thomas Heatherwick: Making" that is "equal parts show stopper and doorstop. The book, like the rest of Heatherwick's output, is ambitious and memorable, though thoroughly overwhelming and imperfect. Perhaps that's the point."

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