Today’s News - Thursday, April 26, 2018
EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days. We'll be back Tuesday, May 1 (is it Spring yet?!!?).
● Litman has some serious issues with Demographia's International Housing Affordability Survey that argues "housing unaffordability can be solved by allowing more urban sprawl - it's is propaganda, intended to support a political agenda rather than provide objective guidance - anyone using IHAS data: be warned, the analysis is sloppy, the recommendations unjustified and the authors lack credibility" (ouch!).
● The "Kool Aid effect" surrounding housing economics and "alternative facts" when it comes to the Reserve Bank of Australia's report The Effect of Zoning on Housing - "it was more than a bit disappointing to see the highly regarded RBA wading into such a complex area and getting it wrong."
● Brockhoff, of the Planning Institute of Australia, explains why, without good planning, more housing won't fix "Australia's affordability crisis. Good planning is part of the solution to improving affordability of housing - it improves a communities' capacity to embrace growth and change."
● At the other end of the economic scale, France and Saudi Arabia have a $20-billion development deal "to turn Mada'in Saleh and the Al-Ula region into a cultural tourism destination - a 'new Petra'" (a massive, "world class museum" to be included, of course).
● Saffron isn't feeling much love for Philly's LOVE Park makeover that is now "a featureless plateau" - a park "designed by committee and it shows. How sad that something that was once so special could be reduced to something so ordinary."
● Barry Diller talks to the Hollywood Reporter(!) about his 5-year (very expensive) battle for NYC's Pier 55 Park by Heatherwick and Mathews Nielsen, and the travails "that almost derailed the Hudson River greenspace, aka 'Diller Island,' now under construction": "We want to build it right...We have the resources and we're gonna do it."
● Allen, formerly with the Addison Gallery and the Clark Art Institute, cheers the Frick's "sensitive, elegant" expansion plan by Selldorf that "achieves its goals with a sure, light touch" - though its "expensive acrobatics" to keep Russell Page's "nice, postage stamp of a garden might buy the quiescence of its privileged neighbors."
● TCLF's Birnbaum, not surprisingly, takes issue with Allen's take on the Frick's Page-designed garden: "it was unfortunate to read 'It's a nice, postage stamp of a garden.' This is exactly the sort of dismissiveness and condescension that a) got the Frick in trouble in the first place and b) treats landscape architecture as 'parsley around the roast.'"
● Lange's thoughtful (and amusing) chronicle of her visit to Adjaye's Spyscape museum in NYC with her 10-year-old son, "one of the most thoroughly designed experiences I have encountered. What I didn't expect was that I, personally, would have fun" (it's "more Breuer than Barnum" - fun photos, too!).
● Van Houten Maldonado's round-up of museums that "that make us think. Their architectural forms help tell their stories."
● A good reason to head to Pretoria, South Africa, next week: Architecture ZA 2018 (#AZA18): "WeTheCity: Memory & Resilience" - "some of architecture's key thinkers and practitioners will engage around the often contentious topics of Heritage and Memory."
● Kimmelman "never thought much about smelling Einstein" before visiting the Cooper Hewitt's "The Senses: Design Beyond Vision": "Sure, bring the kids. They will bliss out. But fun and games aside, there's a serious, timely and big idea here - we have taken leave of our non-visual senses - and need to get back in touch, literally."
● Capps tells us how the National Building Museum's "Evicted" became an exhibit, spending $586 on particleboard at Home Depot: the show "makes elegant points with simple strokes. What we know about evictions in America is terrifying, but what we don't know is even worse."
● With "50 Years After Whitney Young Jr." opening at the Octagon Museum in Washington, DC, today, it's well worth taking the time to read his landmark 1968 AIA Convention speech that "came at a time of unprecedented turmoil. He had an important message for a profession he believed had the potential to make a positive difference - if its architects chose to do so."
● Doskow's photos in "Lost Utopias" at NYC's Front Room Gallery "capture the architecture that remains of the world's fairs across North American and Europe": "I have always been interested in architecture that had outlived its original purpose" (show heads to Asheville, NC, on June 1).
● Hatherley ponders "Superstructures: The New Architecture 1960-1990" at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich, UK: High-tech is the only "important architectural ideology of the last few decades has never returned. It never went away - the buildings feel neither retro nor nostalgic" (and "the most thrilling and enduring high-tech buildings are not tasteful").
● Meyer parses "Kengo Kuma: a LAB for materials" on view in Tokyo that "reveals the goals and failures of contemporary Japanese avant-garde architecture. Some of his bigger projects seem to contradict the very virtues that the smaller ones aim for," and "not all solutions presented are workable or even beautiful," but Kuma "is certainly a great asset for contemporary Japanese architecture."
● Hopkins, of Sir John Soane's Museum, uses Langlands & Bell's "Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe," on view in Birmingham, UK, to thoughtfully consider the impact of tech giants' buildings: "We won't know for several decades if these buildings represent new global citadels of power, or will soon become like the ruined monuments of antiquity."
● Eyefuls of Langlands & Bell's "Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe": "Either they engage timeless and universal typologies -or they are futuristic anecdotes with a kind of extra-terrestrial Sci-fi approach."
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Todd Litman: Urban Sprawl Is Not More Affordable: Influential housing report supporting suburban expansion is little more than propaganda: ...the International Housing Affordability Survey (IHAS) by Demographia...argues that housing unaffordability is caused by urban containment policies...and can be solved by allowing more urban sprawl...My conclusion: the Survey is propaganda, intended to support a political agenda rather than provide objective guidance...To anyone using IHAS data: be warned, the analysis is sloppy, the recommendations unjustified and the authors lack credibility. -- Victoria Transport Policy Institute; Wendell Cox; Hugh Pavletich- The Tyee (Vancouver)
On the RBA, housing economics and “alternative facts”: The Kool Aid effect. In March the Reserve Bank of Australia fell into the trap. It published a report The Effect of Zoning on Housing Prices linking less restrictive zoning and higher supply with more affordable housing. The Grattan Institute spins a similar story. As does the Productivity Commission...it was more than a bit disappointing to see the highly regarded RBA wading into such a complex area and getting it wrong.- The Fifth Estate (Australia)
John Brockhoff/Planning Institute of Australia: More housing hasn’t fixed Australia’s affordability crisis: Sydney’s adding more housing stock than London and there’s more cranes in the sky along the east coast than in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles combined. What’s clear is that adding even more housing supply alone is not going to cause prices to drop. We need a national settlement strategy and demand-side reform...Good planning is part of the solution to improving affordability of housing...improves a communities’ capacity to embrace growth and change...- The Fifth Estate (Australia)
France to help build a 'new Petra' in Saudi Arabia with estimated $20-billion development deal: The country is due to sign a massive contract with the kingdom to turn Mada’in Saleh and the Al-Ula region into a cultural tourism destination: This vast undertaking will include a “world class museum”...might become “two to three times bigger than the Louvre Abu Dhabi”...agreement stresses the need to respect the environment, the ancient monuments, and the local population, as well as criteria like gender equality and freedom of speech in scientific research...- The Art Newspaper (UK)
Inga Saffron: LOVE Park was supposed to be the People's Park. How did it end up as a granite Sahara? ...a missed opportunity to create a welcoming and distinctive refuge in the heart of Philadelphia’s downtown...a featureless plateau...the architects gave people exactly what they asked for...LOVE Park was designed by committee and it shows...a sanded-down version of the old...reduced to a generic, two-dimensional drawing...How sad that something that was once so special could be reduced to something so ordinary. -- Hargreaves Associates; KieranTimberlake [images]- Philadelphia Inquirer
Barry Diller Talks About His 5-Year Battle for NYC's Pier 55 Park: "You shouldn't be such a wuss," says the IAC chair of lawsuits that almost derailed the Hudson River greenspace, aka "Diller Island," now under construction..."Good stuff's tough to do...And maybe it should be.": ...hasn’t stopped critics from accusing Pier 55 of being another playground for the city's one-percenters. Diller isn't having it...budget grew from $35 million to more than $250 million..."We want to build it right...We have the resources and we’re gonna do it -- Thomas Heatherwick; Mathews Nielsen- Hollywood Reporter
Brian Allen: The Frick’s expansion is a sensitive, elegant plan: The New York museum has shown it is a responsive listener and found ways to add much needed space and public amenities with surgical precision: Its new renovation and addition plan...achieves its goals with a sure, light touch...The project touches lots of things lurking behind the walls but...no one will notice...will open the home’s second floor, that mysterious but - I assure you - sumptuous space “beyond the ropes”...has performed expensive acrobatics to preserve its small “viewing garden”...dates only from 1977. It’s a nice, postage stamp of a garden...keeping it might buy the quiescence of its privileged neighbours. -- Russell Page; Selldorf Architects- The Art Newspaper
Charles A. Birnbaum: ...the Frick's viewing garden is worth preserving: Brian Allen...starts off on a high note...The garden is one of [Russell Page's] rare extant commissions in the US, the only one in New York City and, according to a 1977 Frick press release, it was intended to be permanent...it was unfortunate to read..."It’s a nice, postage stamp of a garden"...This is exactly the sort of dismissiveness and condescension that a) got the Frick in trouble in the first place and b) treats landscape architecture as “parsley around the roast”...Michael Kimmelman...observed "Great public places and works of landscape architecture deserve to be treated like great buildings." -- The Cultural Landscape Foundation/TCLF- The Art Newspaper
Alexandra Lange: Inside Spyscape, NYC’s first spy museum: Playacting espionage in a total design environment: ...one of the most thoroughly designed experiences I have encountered...rendered in a materials palette that’s more Breuer than Barnum...I’m interested in the future of museum experiences, which too often feel either like stuff in a room or rooms made for selfies...What I didn’t expect was that I, personally, would have fun...challenges...require close attention, and are beautifully designed...this is a one-and-done experience; a repeat visit with my now very jealous 7-year-old would be boring...I ask 10-year-old for his rating: four and a half stars. A half star docked for the places where the design mask slips... -- Adjaye Associates [images]- Curbed
Devon Van Houten Maldonado: The buildings that make us think: These museums are more than archives of important work. Their architectural forms help tell their stories: A few museums are going above and beyond by filling their buildings with not only objects but also visions and questions that keep the arts they house alive... -- David Adjaye/Philip Freelon/Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup; Peter Zumthor; Renzo Piano; Tadao Ando- BBC Designed
Architecture ZA 2018 (#AZA18): "WeTheCity: Memory & Resilience" - Pretoria, South Africa, May 3-5; focusing on issues of design and practice concerning environmental potential, cultural heritage and human settlement...some of architecture's key thinkers and practitioners will engage around the often contentious topics of Heritage and Memory- South African Institute of Architects (SAIA)
Michael Kimmelman: At This Museum Show, You’re Encouraged to Follow Your Nose: ...the Cooper Hewitt asks visitors to consider sound, taste and smell: I had never thought much about smelling Einstein before...“The Senses: Design Beyond Vision"...features other adventures in First World consumerism...Sure, bring the kids. They will bliss out stroking a wavy, fur-lined installation that makes music as you rub it. But fun and games aside, there’s a serious, timely and big idea here...Numb to other senses, ocularcentric architecture cultivates alienation. What does designing more sensitively for nonvisual experience mean? In general, we have taken leave of our nonvisual senses - and need to get back in touch, literally. Cooper Hewitt, New York City, thru October 8- New York Times
Kriston Capps: How "Evicted" Became an Exhibit: The National Building Museum [in Washington, D.C.] brings Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" - and the American housing crisis itself - to life: To build out its exhibit, the NBM spent $586 on particleboard at Home Depot...roughly the same as what one of [the book's] subjects makes in a month...In places, [it] makes elegant points with simple strokes...Better still are the photos from evictions in Milwaukee by Michael Kienitz...This gap in our national understanding of the affordable housing crisis is a crisis itself...What we know about evictions in America is terrifying, but what we don’t know is even worse.- CityLab (formerly The Atlantic Cities)
Commemorating 50 years: Whitney M. Young Jr.’s 1968 AIA Convention speech: ...came at a time of unprecedented turmoil...Intended to improve the conditions of the urban poor, [urban renewal projects] often uprooting entire neighborhoods and had the opposite effect. With a few exceptions, the architectural profession and AIA were silent in the face of the damage being done...He had an important message for a profession he believed had the potential to make a positive difference - if its architects chose to do so. "50 Years After Whitney Young Jr." recognizes architects and organizations who tirelessly advocate and champion social issues. Octagon Museum, Washington, DC, thru November 24- AIArchitect / American Institute of Architects
Jade Doskow's "Lost Utopias" at the Front Room Gallery in New York: The photographs capture the architecture that remains of the world's fairs across North American and Europe: Using long exposure photography techniques with her large-format 4"x5" Arca-Swiss film camera, she has created contrasting images of stillness, projected by the built environment, juxtaposing smears of motion attributed to people, transportation, and the natural environment..."I have always been interested in architecture that had outlived its original purpose"... thru May 20 [images]- Architect Magazine
Owen Hatherley: High-tech never went away, though many wish it had: Every era comes back as a revival eventually...But what if there are architectures that are revival-proof? Only one important architectural ideology of the last few decades has never returned - high-tech. It never went away..."Superstructures: The New Architecture 1960-1990" on now at one of Norman Foster's finest early buildings, the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich. There, the peculiar fact that these 1970s and 1980s buildings feel neither retro nor nostalgic can be explored more fully...the most thrilling and enduring high-tech buildings are not tasteful.- Dezeen
Ulf Meyer: Losing Architecture: "Kengo Kuma: a LAB for materials" in Tokyo reveals the goals and failures of contemporary Japanese avant-garde architecture: ...does a good job of explaining his approach that "materials and humans should relate" by showing models, mock-ups, videos and material samples...Some of Kuma’s bigger projects seem to contradict the very virtues that the smaller ones aim for...Not all solutions presented...are workable or even beautiful, but to have such an experimental and productive office as Kengo Kuma & Associates is certainly a great asset for contemporary Japanese architecture. Tokyo Station Gallery thru May 6 [images]- World-Architects.com
Owen Hopkins: Buildings are the most concrete clue to how tech giants are reshaping the world: The buildings of Facebook, Google, and Amazon reveal a lot about how these tech giants see themselves: ...what clues do we have? The biggest and most concrete are found not in any online platform, but in their buildings...This is the contention of a timely exhibition "Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe" by Langlands & Bell...tech giants' vast complexes are transformed into minutely handcrafted models...Stripped of open-plan work spaces, meeting pods...and the like, the buildings become icons - all eerily similar...We won't know for several decades if these buildings represent new global citadels of power, or will soon become like the ruined monuments of antiquity. Ikon gallery, Birmingham, UK, thru June 10- Dezeen
Artists create relief sculptures of Google and Apple headquarters by artists Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell: The artworks are based on the offices of some of the world's largest technology companies. Each is made by hand..."Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe" also includes four buildings in China..."Either they engage timeless and universal typologies...or they are futuristic anecdotes with a kind of extra-terrestrial Sci-fi approach." Ikon gallery, Birmingham, UK, thru June 10 -- Foster + Partners; Bjarke ingles Group - BIG/Thomas Heatherwick;Frank Gehry; NBBJ; HOK; Gensler; Hassel; NEXT Architects; ZNA Architects [images]- Dezeen
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