Today’s News - Tuesday, September 5, 2017
For swaths of Texas and Louisiana, the last lazy, hazy days of summer have been anything but. The blame game and finger pointing seemed to start before Harvey's rains had stopped. We sifted through dozens of articles and selected a few that offer thoughtful, sometimes contradictory, commentary on the post-Harvey state of affairs. (Today's News does end with few non-Harvey bright notes, including the Gehry/Krens Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum.)
● The AIA has a Hurricane Harvey website with updates from AIA's Disaster Assistance Program as many members affected by Harvey have begun the initial stages of recovery.
● The Texas architectural community takes stock of the hurricane's impact on cultural projects that are historic, new, or still under construction (the now-soggy Architecture Center Houston was just about ready for its close-up).
● Disaster expert Kelman explains why "Houston's poor urban planning, not climate change, is to blame for the catastrophic flooding."
● Coy and Flavelle join the "bad city planning" bandwagon: Houston is a "can-do city whose attitude is grow first, ask questions later. Attitude is partly to blame."
● Bogost says "the combination of climate change and aggressive development made an event like Harvey almost inevitable" - but "there's reason for optimism."
● Grabar, on the other hand, explains why we really can't "blame Houston's lax zoning for Harvey's destruction. Cities with stringent zoning would have been just as vulnerable. What makes Houston different is that the 100-year floods are happening every year."
● Peters proffers that "the area needs a better approach to land use planning and green infrastructure - and an acknowledgement that the water is coming, no matter what efforts Houston undertakes."
● Budds talks to architects and sustainability experts, who "speak out against Trump's executive order that could "make infrastructure weaker, not stronger" - his "blind 'need for speed' policy robs tomorrow for today" (and "architects are the first line of defense").
● P+W's Penndorf explains why "events like Harvey are the true definition of climate change" that "will change the flood maps for large parts of the country and may (hopefully) change zoning and building codes."
● Hume sees Harvey as a warning for Toronto: "city officials believe climate change measures can always be put off for another day. Toronto's unspoken policy remains the same as always - it won't happen here. If only."
In other, not waterlogged, news:
● Bliss, on a brighter note, talks to Douglass, Tulsa's Chief Resilience Officer, who "defines the murky term in her own words," and her "multi-pronged resilience strategy for the Oklahoma metro, zeroing in equity gaps."
● On a greener note, Washington, D.C. is named the world's first LEED Platinum city, and has the Climate Ready DC plan "to adapt to and prepare for the effects of climate change."
● Four companies are selected to build Trump's border wall prototypes "based on their aesthetics, impenetrability, resistance to tampering, scaling and anti-breach properties" (oh joy).
● Diaz Montemayor sees "a better vision for the US-Mexico border: Make the Rio Grande grand again - building a wall is a dubious goal."
● Now we know what the next Gehry/Krens adventure is! The Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum (though Gehry "confessed to not being a train enthusiast").
● Voien considers "what should be done with America's abandoned malls - they leave behind decaying real estate that must be repurposed, reimagined or, sometimes, simply put down."
● Petrunia (who leads with "every city needs a crank") has a great Q&A with Saffron re: meeting Henry Wilcots, architecture criticism pre- and post-internet, Philadelphia, and more (Inga a crank? Never!).
● The Carbuncle Cup 2017 shortlist of six "demonstrates that buildings don't have to be big to be bad" (winner announced tomorrow!).
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Hurricane Harvey: Updates from AIA's Disaster Assistance Program: Many of our members affected by Hurricane Harvey have begun the initial stages of recovery. Why is architects’ volunteerism so important to a city’s disaster recovery? -- Texas Society of Architects- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Texas Architectural Community Takes Stock of Hurricane Harvey's Impact on Cultural Projects: ...damage to historic and contemporary structures, as well as projects still under construction...Though flooding is not a new problem for Houston, the city’s future resiliency demands new solutions. -- Murphy Mears Architects; Lake|Flato Architects; WORKac; Renzo Piano; Johnston Marklee; Steven Holl Architects; Thomas Phifer Architects; Michael Maltzan Architects; KieranTimberlake; James Turrell [images]- Architectural Record
Ilan Kelman: Urban design caused the Hurricane Harvey disaster: Houston's poor urban planning, not climate change, is to blame for the catastrophic flooding following Hurricane Harvey: The disaster was caused by human decisions to live in a hurricane zone without taking measures: Every location has hazards, so it is impossible to avoid the threat of damage. Instead, it is important balance the hazards while designing and building for them.- Dezeen
Peter Coy and Christopher Flavelle: Harvey Wasn’t Just Bad Weather. It Was Bad City Planning: Houston exulted in sprawling, hands-off growth. That’s no way to prepare for natural catastrophes: ...a can-do city whose attitude is grow first, ask questions later...[it] is suffering now from the lack of an effective plan to deal with chronic flooding. Attitude is partly to blame...The fight in Texas is a microcosm of a national battle.- Bloomberg/BusinessWeek
Ian Bogost: Houston's Flood Is a Design Problem: It’s not because the water comes in. It’s because it is forced to leave again: In most of the U.S...less than 1% of the land is hardscape. In cities, up to 40% is impervious...The combination of climate change and aggressive development made an event like Harvey almost inevitable...Even so, there’s reason for optimism.- The Atlantic
Henry Grabar: Don’t Blame Houston’s Lax Zoning for Harvey’s Destruction: Cities with stringent zoning would have been just as vulnerable to the flood: ...the truth is more complicated. The most important thing is this: No city is or should be designed to accommodate a one-in-a-million-year flood...What makes Houston different is just that the 100-year floods are happening every year.- Slate
Adele Peters: How Houston Can Become More Resilient To Future Floods: All coastal cities need to understand that water is going to be coming more frequently than ever, and design systems that absorb and store flood waters safely: ...the area also needs a better approach to land use planning and green infrastructure - and an acknowledgement that the water is coming, no matter what efforts the city undertakes.- Fast Company
Diana Budds: Architects Speak Out Against Trump’s Latest Executive Order: “Climate change is here, no matter what any administration does to hide the facts": If municipalities - and the stakeholders footing the bill - agree that climate-resilient design is a priority, changes at the federal level won’t matter...we spoke to members of two groups that it will directly impact: architects and sustainability experts...As it is now, Trump’s blind “need for speed” policy robs tomorrow for today. -- Margaret Montgomery/NBBJ; Mike Cavanaugh/CannonDesign; Phil Harrison/Perkins+Will- Fast Company / Co.Design
Jon Penndorf/Perkins+Will: Hurricane Harvey reinforces need for cities to plan for disaster resiliency: ...communities need to understand that events like Hurricane Harvey are the true definition of climate change...will change the flood maps for large parts of the country and may (hopefully) change zoning and building codes.- Washington Post
Christopher Hume: Hurricane Harvey shows that if disaster strikes, we’ll be stuck: A disaster...can leave residents with a choice: to be stuck in their homes or stuck in their vehicles: Whether it’s even possible to prepare for catastrophe is doubtful, but some cities seem better at it than others...city officials believe climate change measures can always be put off for another day...Toronto’s unspoken policy remains the same as always - it won’t happen here. If only.- Toronto Star
Laura Bliss: What Makes a 'Resilient' City? For Tulsa's Chief Resilience Officer, It's People: DeVon Douglass defines the murky term in her own words: ...funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network, she brings experience as a lawyer and policy analyst to the task of developing a multi-pronged resilience strategy for the Oklahoma metro, zeroing in equity gaps...- CityLab (formerly The Atlantic Cities)
Washington, D.C. Named World’s First LEED Platinum City: The city has more LEED-certified projects per capita than any state...D.C. would stick to the targets of the Paris Climate Accord, after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. The city has also adopted a plan, called Climate Ready DC, to adapt to and prepare for the effects of climate change.- WAMU.org - American University Radio
Trump's border wall moves forward with prototypes: ...four companies were chosen...will be built out of concrete...four additional prototypes made of "alternative materials" will be announced..."you'll need anywhere from 700 to 900 miles"...prototypes were chosen based on their aesthetics, impenetrability, resistance to tampering, scaling and anti-breach properties...- The Hill (Washington, DC)
Gabriel Diaz Montemayor: Here’s a better vision for the US-Mexico border: Make the Rio Grande grand again: I have worked with communities in both countries to restore deteriorated urban and natural environments...A green vision for the border region would expand...into a large-scale urban ecology and planning effort...building a wall...is a dubious goal...restoring river habitat could improve border security...- The Conversation
Frank Gehry to Design Museum for Architectural Gems (and Model Trains): ...new museum in North Adams, Mass...will feature models of trains running around famous buildings...including six of his own...Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum...a few blocks away from Mass MoCA...[he] confessed to not being a train enthusiast...“I don’t know what a model railroad museum should look like"... -- Thomas Krens- New York Times
Guelda Voien: What Should Be Done with America’s Abandoned Malls? As the number of vacant retail centers around the U.S. continues to swell, the question of what to do with the spaces grows more acute: ...they leave behind decaying real estate that must be repurposed, reimagined or, sometimes, simply put down...what will actually become of the spaces? There are a few options.- Architectural Digest
Paul Petrunia: Every City Needs a Crank: A conversation with architecture critic Inga Saffron: We talk about her experience meeting with Henry Wilcots, architecture criticism pre- and post-internet, Philadelphia and more.- Archinect
Carbuncle Cup 2017 shortlist unveiled: Six of Britain’s worst buildings in the running for architecture’s wooden spoon: ...demonstrates that buildings don’t have to be big to be bad and that poor quality architecture touches all building types. -- PLP Architecture; AHR; Cooley Architects; Vivid Architects; Simpson Haugh; ESA Architecture [images]- BD/Building Design (UK)
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