Today’s News - Wednesday, April 11, 2018

●  Abousleiman eloquently explains why the best response to tragedies like the Grenfell Tower fire shouldn't begin with a memorial: "Rather than investing money and time into a memorial, those resources can be put towards studying and prototyping social housing" - Newtown, Connecticut, following the Sandy Hook shooting, got it right.

●  On a more glum (and incomprehensible) note: The "construction products approval body has defended its decision not to follow the example of its French equivalent and downgrade the fire performance of the cladding used on Grenfell Tower" (huh?!!?).

●  UT Sydney's Morris parses research into why, despite Sydney's "best intentions" to increase its affordable housing supply, it is a "mission nearly impossible - it is vital that the state and federal governments play a major role. Local governments cannot do it by themselves" (not only in Sydney).

●  Geographer Bonnett explores some of the hidden spaces and overlooked zones of the modern city, from urban spikescapes (started as an art installation) to guerrilla gardening, and "why these odd little places have come to feel so important."

●  Moore cheers London's Centre Point and the Hoover building, once "deplored" by Pevsner, being transformed "from beasts to beauties," after being "spun around in the great washing machine of taste."

●  Veteran New Yorker Libeskind (finally!) gets to actually build a project in his home town: affordable housing for seniors - the "design is a definite break from the boxy brick buildings" used for the building type - "twisting and cutting away at the typical rectangular form to create an almost crystalline structure" ("crystalline structure" - where have we heard that before?).

●  Weder cheers KPMB /HCMA's Ponderosa Commons complex for the University of British Columbia, "an ambitious mixed-use project" that "creates a microcosm of urbanism," and is "a test case for the myths and realities about creating a vibrant community" (though "the landscaping underwhelms").

●  Denmark's Dissing+Weitling heads to China to design "Xiamen Footpaths" - seven bridges and about 12 miles of footpaths to carry cyclists and pedestrians "across the city and away from car traffic."

●  Willis wades into how "acoustics can make the difference between a good building and a bad one. Contemporary architects are fond of everything acoustic engineers despise [including "the Gandalf of acoustic engineering"]. The challenge is to dampen sound without ruining style" (with a dab of interesting history, too).

●  While SOM may be demolishing Halprin's L.A. atrium, his 1976 highway-capping Freeway Park in Seattle is heading towards a "preservation-minded renovation."

●  Vitullo-Martin offers a look at Saarinen's 1960 U.S. Embassy in London, soon to be a hotel, and its journey "from promising symbol of a cooperative future in the Kennedy-Macmillan era to an often unloved, heavily armed citadel of iron and concrete barriers" - Goldberger thinks its not such a bad idea (not mentioned: David Chipperfield is designing the hotel).

●  Eyefuls of the six winners of the 2018 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards (great presentation).

●  A good reason to head to Saint Paul, Minnesota next week: Society of Architectural Historians 71st Annual International Conference kicks off Wednesday (hopefully no blizzards on the horizon!).

●  One we couldn't resist: A most amusing catty e-mail spat between Chicago and Houston columnists re: Kapoor's newly-installed "Cloud Column" outside Houston's new Glassell School of Art building: "Dear Chicago: Houston's bean is better. Dear Houston: "It's a leftover bean, a second-rate bean. Your bean is inferior."


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