Today’s News - Wednesday, January 3, 2018
EDITOR'S NOTE #1: Happy New Year, everyone! We're back - with lots of catching up to do (which is why we're a bit late today)!
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● A sad way to start the New Year: Hawthorne's take on John Portman's legacy: "his hotels became glittering symbols of urban renewal - emblematic of an approach to planning that argued that the most crowded sections of American downtowns had to be destroyed before they could be saved" (Muschamp: "architecture at happy hour"; Trillin: "boffo lobby design as entertainment").
● Gallagher offers a most thoughtful take on the "troubled legacy" Portman's 1970s Renaissance Center left on Detroit's skyline and streetscape: it "created as many problems as it solved," but thanks to an SOM 1990s makeover, it "is a much better building. But it remains a cautionary tale."
● Moore tackles plans to make-over of Johnson's AT&T building on Madison Avenue (designed by "a terrible man and a mostly terrible architect") and why it should be landmarked: "Cities are made of stuff like this - provocation and ambition...redeemed by the passage of time, come to reveal unexpected nobility. Or at least distinctiveness."
● Wainwright is rather taken by the Dubai Frame, a "surreal landmark" framed in controversy: the architect of the 50-story portal "wants to add another title to the stats: for him, it is the biggest stolen building of all time."
● Hawthorne visits the Trump border wall prototypes (one, "a Zumthor façade after a trip through the federal bureaucracy"; others "pragmatism à la HGTV"): "The slabs in front of me seemed at once the most and least architectural objects I'd ever seen - banal and startling, full and empty of meaning" (a great read; no Trump tweet response - yet; comments are somewhat disturbing;).
● Kamin puts the brouhaha surrounding the "dangling icicles" at Foster's Chicago Apple store in perspective: it is "not the company's worst problem": "If your flagship store is a marvel of transparency, it makes a statement about your brand. But if the reality of action fails to match the rhetoric of architecture, your company looks deceptive and its buildings should be regarded as a sham" (ouch!)
● Archer, on a brighter note, explains why Rotterdam "is like Disneyland for architecture geeks - the architectural test kitchen of Europe," and "the most architecturally serious, intense, playful, jubilant city in the world."
● The massive Queens Wharf Brisbane casino resort gets the green light, despite being "heavily criticized by peak built environment groups."
● A look inside Australia's "eye-catching" 99-domed mosque in a Sydney suburb that is "attracting attention for its bold, brutalist design" that "challenges preconceptions about how a mosque should look" (like Murcutt's new mosque in Melbourne).
● Vinsel offers a deadly serious (and seriously amusing!) take-down of Design Thinking, "a tool for hucksterism, turf-grabbing, and bullshit-peddling" (STEM/STEAM doesn't fare all that well, either).
● Wouters explains how "digital media are changing the face of buildings, and urban policy needs to change with them. We should prevent media architecture that results in decorated sheds or mere window dressing."
● Wachs & Lubell parse plans that "could threaten one of Manhattan's finest postmodern parks" in Battery Park in the name of coastal resilience ("It's very banal," said original architect Rodolfo Machado).
● Heathcote sits down with Holl at his new Maggie's Centre in London that "cleverly straddles the 12th and the 21st centuries": "he is an architect known for his mega-structures. It's easy, then, to forget that his beginnings were in much more delicate, intimate buildings - this is, by Holl's standards, a quiet building" (if behind paywall, try googling the headline).
● Kéré's Serpentine Pavilion finds a new home in Malaysia (and where some other pavilions ended up).
● King calls out 11 designs ("baroque boho decadence" included) that present "a common theme to San Francisco architecture in 2017 - don't look at what follows as a best-of list. It's not."
● Metropolis Magazine does offer a (fab) "best-of" list of Top 10 of 2017 in everything, from buildings to interiors to "lightning rods and controversies."
● Nine architects "share their dream projects to improve (or save) New York City" ranging from "from whimsical to apocalyptic" ("ewok village" or "parasite parks," anyone?).
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Obituary by Christopher Hawthorne: Westin Bonaventure architect John Portman, who aimed to soothe the anxiety of the postwar city, 93: ...brought a new level of drama to hotel architecture...aspired to be a city within a city...Herbert Muschamp summed up as “architecture at happy hour”...his hotels became glittering symbols of urban renewal...emblematic of an approach to planning that argued...the most crowded sections of American downtowns had to be destroyed before they could be saved...Calvin Trillin [said] Portman “more or less invented the concept of using boffo lobby design as entertainment.”- Los Angeles Times
John Gallagher: Architect of Detroit's Renaissance Center left troubled legacy for skyline gem: Probably no architect ever made a bigger impact with a single building on Detroit's skyline than John Portman...became Detroit's postcard image...[RenCen] created as many problems as it solved...stood aloof from the rest of the city rather than integrating itself into the streetscape...squatted on the riverside but ignored it, blocking access to the waterfront...Thanks to GM's repairs, [it] is a much better building that the one Portman gave us. But it remains a cautionary tale. -- Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)- Detroit Free Press
Rowan Moore: AT&T building: the threat to New York’s ‘tablet of stone’: Philip Johnson’s 1980s AT&T skyscraper on Madison Avenue is a Manhattan landmark. Now plans are afoot to turn it into a glass-fronted shopping arcade: Johnson...was a terrible man and a mostly terrible architect...The big question now is to what extent the lower levels, already mucked around, should be protected...The answer is, as much as possible. Cities are made of stuff like this...provocation and ambition transmuted into masonry and space, which, redeemed by the passage of time, come to reveal unexpected nobility. Or at least distinctiveness. -- Snøhetta [images]- Observer (UK)
Oliver Wainwright: Dubai Frame: UAE's latest surreal landmark frames a controversy: Architect’s ‘stolen building’ accusation overshadows opening of 50-storey portal almost a decade after it was first designed: ...encrusted with swirling golden motifs that glisten in the desert sunshine...[It] may be the tallest picture frame in the world, but its architect wants to add another title to the stats: for him, it is the biggest stolen building of all time. -- Fernando Donis [video]- Guardian (UK)
Christopher Hawthorne: Trump’s border wall through the eyes of an architecture critic: ...my critical instincts seemed divided against themselves. The slabs in front of me seemed at once the most and least architectural objects I’d ever seen. They were banal and startling, full and empty of meaning. Here were the techniques of Land Art, medieval construction, marketing and promotion, architectural exhibition and the new nativism rolled uncomfortably if somehow inevitably into one. [images]- Los Angeles Times
Blair Kamin: Dangling icicles at Apple store not company's worst problem: ...let's put this in perspective. Winter happens. And architects often aren't prepared for it...Not that getting conked on the head with the icicle is acceptable...If your flagship store is a marvel of transparency, it makes a statement about your brand...equivalent of rhetoric. But if the reality of action fails to match the rhetoric of architecture, your company looks deceptive and its buildings should be regarded as a sham. That, in the end, is a much greater problem than a few dangling icicles. -- Foster + Partners- Chicago Tribune
Bert Archer: The Dutch city that's more like Dubai: Rotterdam is like Disneyland for architecture geeks...you’ll likely go home and wonder why our cities can’t be a little more like this: This is a city of wild experimentation, the architectural test kitchen of Europe, a post-war Dubai or Doha, but done better...the most architecturally serious, intense, playful, jubilant city in the world... -- Piet Blom; MVRDV; Group A architects; WZMH; KCAP Architects&Planners; Willem Dudok; Hugh Maaskant- BBC Designed
Green light for Queens Wharf Brisbane casino resort: In total, the approved development area will cover 27.3 hectares, making it the largest private development in Queensland, equivalent to 20% of the city centre...However, the development has been heavily criticized by peak built environment groups, including the Australian Institute of Architects, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects and the Urban Design Alliance... -- Jerde Partnership; Cottee Parker; ML Design; Grimshaw; Urbis; Cusp landscape architects [images]- ArchitectureAU (Australia)
Inside Australia's stunning 99-domed mosque: ...attracting attention for its bold, brutalist design. But the architect...Angelo Candalepas is hoping that his creation can do more than win plaudits - he wants it to help improve interfaith relations in the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl...[His] eye-catching concrete design also challenges preconceptions about how a mosque should look...By eroding fear and suspicion through design, he follows in the footsteps of Glenn Murcutt, the architect behind another new mosque in Melbourne. -- Candalepas Associates [images]- CNN Style
Lee Vinsel: Design Thinking is Kind of Like Syphilis - It’s Contagious and Rots Your Brains: What is Design Thinking...a “movement” that’s little more than floating balloons of jargon, full of hot air...While [it] is mostly just vapid, I will argue that, via illicit connections, this fad could spread through the nation...it’s our duty to protect our fellow citizens - especially the innocent and impressionable young - from its ravages.- Medium
Niels Wouters: Digital media are changing the face of buildings, and urban policy needs to change with them: There is an initial opportunity to align policy on digital media with policy on public open space...media architecture can engage people and improve the appeal of public space...needs to fit in nicely and maximise its social capabilities. We should prevent media architecture that results in decorated sheds or mere window dressing. Policy that better addresses [its] functional and social qualities is essential.- The Conversation
Audrey Wachs & Sam Lubell: Coastal resilience project could threaten one of Manhattan’s finest postmodern parks: ...set to replace Battery Park City’s Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park - Machado Silvetti and OLIN’s  3.5-acre wedge near the south tip of Manhattan...with a new topography filled with deployable barriers and flood-proof landscapes..."It’s very banal,” said Rodolfo Machado...one of a chorus of designers railing against the conceptual plans. -- Perkins Eastman; W Architecture and Landscape Architecture- The Architect's Newspaper
Edwin Heathcote: Steven Holl: ‘We’re trying to breathe life into space’: The American’s first London building cleverly straddles the 12th and the 21st centuries: We’re sitting at the top of his new Maggie’s Centre...carefully inserted into the pale, ancient stone fabric of St Bartholomew’s Hospital...It feels curious to be interviewing Holl in this tiny building; he is an architect known for his megastructures...that seem to have arrived from some time in the future...part frighteningly ugly, part magically visionary. It’s easy, then, to forget that the architect’s beginnings were in much more delicate, intimate buildings...this is, by Holl’s standards, a quiet building.- Financial Times (UK)
Diébédo Francis Kéré's Serpentine Pavilion will relocate to Malaysia: ...has been sold to Kuala Lumpur-based Ilham Gallery....now seeking a location for the pavilion in Malaysia's Klang Valley...Kéré's pavilion won't be the first to find a new home. [images]- Dezeen
John King: 11 designs build on S.F. architecture: If there was a common theme to San Francisco architecture in 2017...it’s that with money, all things are possible and that the city’s ills can be tackled in part by thoughtful design. So don’t look at what follows as a best-of list. It’s not. -- Jerome Buttrick/Buttrick Projects Architecture+Design; Marta Fry Landscape Associates/MFLA; Heller Manus Architects; Kelly Wearstler; MWA Architects; Andre Rothblatt Architecture; Leavitt Architecture; David Fletcher [images]- San Francisco Chronicle
Top 10 of 2017: Buildings; Interiors; Lightning Rods and Controversies; Exhibitions; Products; etc.- Metropolis Magazine
9 Top Architects Share Their Dream Projects to Improve (or Save) New York City: The suggested city renovations that came back ranged from whimsical to apocalyptic, minor touch-ups to epic engineering undertakings, depending on the temperament of the particular designer. -- Mark Foster Gage Architects; Charles Renfro/Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture; Norman Foster/Foster + Parters; David Rockwell/Rockwell Group; Rafael de Cárdenas/Architecture at Large; Oana Stanescu/Dong-Ping Wong/Family New York; Rafael Viñoly; Ferda Kolatan/SU11 Architecture+Design [images]- New York Magazine
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