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Today’s News - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

•   Kimmelman explains (most eloquently!) our "craving for public squares," from Washington Square Park to, most touchingly, a West Bank Palestinian refugee camp: "The perfect square, it turns out, is also a state of mind."

•   Bingler compares Havana of today to his first visit 17 years ago: "Cuban design is now experiencing a resurgence, albeit with a sober but refreshing sense of designing within often severe limitations in materials and economic resources" (there are lessons for us all).

•   Two takes on the controversial Building the Border Wall? competition: Hong explores the "fierce debate among architects and border communities," and "the ethics of participating in a competition that seemed to promote xenophobia" - "Why improve on a bad idea?"

•   Quirk takes a very different - and provocative - tack: "The important questions that this competition provokes - ironically, questions all parties in this controversy are deeply invested in - have been largely forgotten in the furor."

•   Heaton looks at Australia's efforts to integrate architecture and urban design to combat terrorism: "considerations regarding the layout and design of the built environment are critical," but "efforts to raise awareness amongst planners and designers has thus far been limited" (but improving).

•   Miller parses why the economic value of design is so often underestimated, and "why design presents such a challenge to statisticians."

•   Budds delves into how the National Building Museum is making "people give a crap about architecture - it started with a few games of minigolf. The experiment worked."

•   Capps, meanwhile, reports that all those gazillion plastic balls from NBM's "The Beach" will end up in "Raise/Raze," the inaugural exhibition for the Dupont Underground.

•   Rice Design Alliance's West pens a most thoughtful report from TCLF's recent conference in Houston: while the city is being praised for its public spaces and parks, there are some some "uncomfortable but perhaps unavoidable truths about the character of Houston's green transformation - that access to green space is growing but remains highly inequitable."

•   As part of his "Building on Burnham" initiative, Chicago's mayor considers the river the "next great recreational park," but "skeptics say he's prioritizing flashier projects over basic needs."

•   Speaking of the Windy City - and the gigantic hole left by the Calatrava's never-built Chicago Spire, now wallowing in "its weeds and its dirt": "there's some movement - though don't get your hopes up" (some neighbors will be a bit happier).

•   It's back to the drawing board (again) as Melbourne gives thumbs-down to SHoP/Woods Bagot's "pantscraper."

•   Meanwhile, a French-Australian consortium wins the competition to design a crystal palace as "an iconic 'hero' for Parramatta Square."

•   The Crystal Bridges Museum has big plans to expand with a new art venue carved out of a defunct Kraft cheese plant in Bentonville, Arkansas.

•   Slipek says Shepley Bulfinch's new "bold and welcome" library for Virginia Commonwealth University is "not just another make-do wedgy, but a significant architectural unifier."

•   Q&A with Gottesdiener, Duffy, and Haney, who reflect on SOM's origins, its 80 years of architectural evolution, and its big ambitions for the future."

•   One we couldn't resist: Schiller considers the "insane" winner of the eVolo Skyscraper competition: "Digging up Central Park and surrounding it with a massive glass-covered building might be a step too far. But this building design should be built somewhere" (and where would that be, exactly?!!?).



  


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