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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Rima Abousleiman: Why the Best Response to the Grenfell Tower Fire Isn’t a Memorial: ...what if memorials sought to preserve the memory of those affected by offering a solution that addressed how the tragedy occurred...not just a plaque...Rather than investing money and time into a memorial, those resources can be put towards studying and prototyping social housing...where tragedy unfolds around us in a constant series of news cycles, we cannot succumb by simply building memorials...We must build better societies. Safe buildings - for students and residents, for people - aren’t optional. -- Svigals + Partners- Common Edge
Approval body defends decision not to downgrade Grenfell cladding: BBA says it was given no reason to alter fire rating - unlike its French counterpart: 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...had the French ratings been used in the UK, the cladding would not have been allowed.- BD/Building Design (UK)
Alan Morris: Mission nearly impossible: the City of Sydney's efforts to increase the affordable housing supply: Our research includes in-depth analysis of the experiences of local governments...Despite the city council’s best intentions...housing stock has hardly grown over the last decade. The social housing stock has increased from 9,397 in 2007 to 9,561 dwellings in June 2017. Affordable rental housing has gone from 447 to 835 dwellings...it is vital that the state and federal governments play a major role. Local governments...cannot do it by themselves. -- University of Technology Sydney- The Conversation (Australia)
Alastair Bonnett: Beyond the Map: Spikescapes and Wild Strawberries: The maps of human and physical geography can seem overwhelming...That’s why we need to attend to the hidden places, like the overlooked zone of anti-pedestrian cobbles...And why odd little places...have come to feel so important...it's the modern city... -- Steven Flusty/"Building Paranoia" [adapted from "Beyond the Map: Unruly Enclaves, Ghostly Places, Emerging Lands and Our Search for New Utopias"]- Places Journal
Rowan Moore: Centre Point and the Hoover building - from beasts to beauties: Denounced as vulgar when they were built, these newly desirable London landmarks have been reborn as luxury flats boasting distinctive dimensions as well as chequered pasts: These two white edifices, the temple and the tower, have something in common. Both were deplored by Nikolaus Pevsner...Spun around in the great washing machine of taste, both are now listed as buildings of architectural interest. -- Richard Seifert; George Marsh; Wilem Frischmann (1966); Conran and Partners; MICA Architects; Wallis Gilbert and Partners (1933); Interrobang [images]- Observer (UK)
Studio Libeskind’s first New York City building: ...geometric Sumner Houses Senior Building, set to rise in Bed-Stuy [Bedford-Stuyvesant], Brooklyn...part of the broader Housing New York 2.0’s “Seniors First” program...The 10-story, 129,928-square-foot apartment building will hold 197 permanently affordable units...design is a definite break from the boxy brick buildings commonly seen in affordable housing...twisting and cutting away at the typical rectangular form to create an almost crystalline structure. [images]- The Architect's Newspaper
Adele Weder: Big Pond: An ambitious mixed-use project creates a microcosm of urbanism within a sprawling campus: The University of British Columbia’s new Ponderosa Commons complex - designed for teaching, research, art-making, lounging, eating, living and sleeping - is conceived as something of a full-service community. The multi-phase project...is in many ways a test case for the myths and realities about creating a vibrant community...a varied massing that evokes the jogged silhouette of an organically evolved cityscape. -- Shirley Blumberg/KPMB Architects; Karen Marler/HCMA Architecture + Design; Hapa Collaborative [images]- Canadian Architect
Danish architects designing Chinese experience: Dissing+Weitling, known in Denmark for designing the Great Belt Connection and the Cykelslangen cycling bridge in Copenhagen, will design seven bridges and 20 km worth of footpaths ["Xiamen Footpaths"] that will lead cyclists and pedestrians across the city and away from car traffic.- The Copenhagen Post (Denmark)
Simon Willis: The wall of sound: Acoustics can make the difference between a good building and a bad one...the architects and engineers finding new ways to control the cacophony...the science of architectural acoustics...was invented in 1895 by a young Harvard physicist...Wallace Sabine...Contemporary architects are fond of everything acoustic engineers despise...The challenge is to dampen sound without ruining style. -- Brad Cloepfil/Allied Works Architecture; Jaffe Holden; John Meyer; Kvadrat [images]- The Economist / 1843 (UK)
Preservation-minded renovation of Lawrence Halprin’s Freeway Park moves forward: Even as SOM bulldozes [his] Los Angeles atrium...officials 1,000 miles to the north are gearing up to preserve [the] landscape architect’s highway-capping park in Seattle. Designed by Halprin and Angela Danadjieva and built in 1976, the Brutalist park had fallen into severe disrepair... -- The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF); SiteWorkshop Landscape Architects- The Architect's Newspaper
Julia Vitullo-Martin: A Look at Saarinen’s Modernist U.S. Embassy in London, Now Becoming a Hotel: ...opened in 1960 at a high point in US-Anglo relations...journeyed from promising symbol of a cooperative future in the Kennedy-Macmillan era to an often unloved, heavily armed citadel of iron and concrete barriers after 9/11...Paul Goldberger commented: ...“of all the things that could have happened to the building, a hotel is not so bad, and may end up being more open to the public than the embassy had been in its last few years.” [images]- Untapped Cities
The Six Winners of the 2018 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards: ...winners located in Oklahoma, Texas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Maryland, and California. -- American Library Association; Lake|Flato/Shepley Bulfinch; Oudens Ello Architecture; The Clark Enersen Partners; Grimm+Parker Architects; Koning Eizenberg Architecture; MSR Design [images]- Architect Magazine
Society of Architectural Historians 71st Annual International Conference, April 18–22, Saint Paul, Minnesota: Architectural historians, art historians, architects, museum professionals, and preservationists from around the world will convene to present new research on the history of the built environment and explore the architecture of the Twin Cities.- Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)
Dear Chicago: Houston's bean is better. And so is Houston: An email fight between Chicago Tribune columnist Kim Janssen and the Houston Chronicle's Lisa Gray: Dear Kim: ...you wrote a column with the headline "Unoriginal Houston gets its own bean sculpture ... whatever." You grumbled that...Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Column" is basically a rip-off of Chicago's "Cloud Gate," better known as "The Bean"...Is Chicago feeling defensive? To: Lisa Gray: It's a leftover bean, a second-rate bean...Your bean is inferior.- Houston Chronicle
ANN feature: Vladimir Belogolovsky: One-on-One: Architecture is an Endless Process for Learning: Interview with Fumihiko Maki: The multi-award-winning architect talks about why he avoids using exposed concrete outside of Japan, why the Metabolist movement didn't quite catch on, and Yoshio Taniguchi's buildings: "He is our Mies van der Rohe." [images]- ArchNewsNow.com
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