Today’s News - Thursday, September 5, 2019

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days. We'll be back Tuesday, September 10.

●  ANN feature: Miguel Baltierra: Report from the 2019 North American Passive House Network Conference: Of particular value were presentations by Passive House practitioners, developers, and city agencies who have advanced PH implementation in their own practices and businesses - and in public policy.

●  Franklin reports on the Grace Farms Foundation Architecture + Construction Working Group and its expert members who want to "eradicate modern slavery in the built environment": "Zaha Hadid's tone-deaf response to the plight of those workers laboring on World Cup projects not only symbolizes the profession's abdication of responsibility - but is proof of an ivory-tower nihilism that undercuts architecture's claim to leadership in designing for community as opposed to wealth."

●  Nouvel and 18 other notable international architects, historians, and urban planners protest the €600-million renovation and expansion (388,000 to 1.2 million sq. ft.!) of the Gare du Nord in Paris as "indecent" and "absurd" - turning "Europe's largest train station into a giant shopping center - a serious urban error."

●  Freeman fears that "the outlook for Havana is grim. Renovation activity has been in overdrive" and "the skyline bristles with construction cranes" for new hotels, "but Cuban architects have been largely left out. Gleaming new structures rise amid an urban fabric that is collapsing" (and Washington "seems intent on its destruction").

●  Gibson, on a brighter note, brings us an experimental Mexican community of social housing designed by 32 architects studios with the aim to roll out the initiative nationwide ("ingenuity of the projects" indeed!).

●  Anderton talks to Kunle´ Adeyemi re: "lessons from Lagos. He says his work in Lagos offers clues for tackling climate change - and affordable housing."

●  An impressive team tapped to revitalize the Old Sacramento waterfront "with a series of additions, including shopping centers and performance venues."

●  Three teams that include SOM, Morphosis, and SmithGroup/Renzo Piano shortlisted in the $700 million public-private partnership plan for a new Los Angeles civic center, "part of a program of works to revamp L.A.'s historic city center."

●  Litt delves into Cleveland's "vexing" and "serious lakefront planning problem, but it doesn't look like a solution is coming any time soon. Other cities are figuring out how to improve such eyesores. It shouldn't be too much to expect Cleveland to do the same."

●  On a trippy note, the Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore "looks like the inside of a kaleidoscope (but with books). X+Living was the brains behind the design of this larger than-life-project for bibliophiles" (with pix to prove it!).

●  Jennings bemoans "the Instagram aesthetic" that "craves pop-up urbanism, shabby chic and paint-on patina - creating nu-iconic architecture [not] designed for skyline or city branding but a new form of urban occupation. Can an un-Instagrammable architecture exist?" (he calls out the "obvious proponents.")

●  Your must-read of the day: Saval spends some serious time in Ivrea, Italy, Olivetti's mid-century progressive company town designed by Italy's best "representing a new and short-lived kind of corporate idealism," but now, "an eerie spellbound nothingness prevails" (despite being a UNESCO World Heritage site).

●  Great presentation of the Graham Foundation's 2019 grants to 54 "organizations for exhibitions, publications, films, and public programs that tackle urgent contemporary questions - and support critical conversations in and around architecture."

Weekend diversions:

●  A good reason to be in NYC next week: the 2019 New York Architects' Regatta on the Hudson River (one of our all-time faves!).

●  Another reason: "How to Build a House: Architectural Research in the Digital Age" at the Cooper Union that "showcases the conception and making of the DFAB HOUSE, the world's first fully inhabited building to have been digitally planned and largely built with the help of robots and 3D printers."

●  ARTECHOUSE is a "new hidden art space" underneath NYC's Chelsea Market, opening tomorrow with "Machine Hallucinations," Refik Anadol's "mind-bending immersive experience" that "utilizes a dataset of tens of millions of architectural images of the city's iconic buildings and public spaces."

●  Capps at his most poetic re: "Exhibit Columbus" in America's "mecca for Modernism": The installations "provoke as much as they delight. Mostly missing is the high-strung academic bafflegab that attends events in New York or Paris or Dubai. The language of design is accessible here."


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