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."
● 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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Sydney Franklin: A new group of experts wants to eradicate modern slavery in the built environment: ...initial activism that stemmed from controversial megaprojects in the Gulf States..."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"...Grace Farms Foundation Architecture + Construction Working Group...efforts are moving forward quickly thanks to the diligence of its members... -- Luis C.deBaca; Sharon Prince; Bill Menking; Brad Guy; Nat Oppenheimer/Silman; Deborah Berke; Hayes Slade; Benjamin Prosky- The Architect's Newspaper
Elian Peltier: ‘Indecent’ and ‘Absurd’: Project for Gare du Nord Divides Paris: Jean Nouvel and others have warned that a €600-million renovation will turn Europe’s largest train station into a giant shopping center: Among the 19 signatories of the letter were...renowned architects, historians and urban planners from Britain, France and the United States...“StatioNord” was “a serious urban error"...to increase to about 1.2 million square feet, from 388,000 square feet...the nature and scale of the project appears to have touched a nerve...permit was initially denied...final verdict is expected in the fall...dispute...has been long-running, dividing urban planners and architects for years over what a modern train station should be.- New York Times
Belmont Freeman: Havana on my Mind: Despite restored and new architecture, the outlook for the Cuban capital is grim: Renovation activity in the historic core has been in overdrive...skyline bristles with construction cranes at the sites of new ground-up hotel projects...but the quality of the architecture is mixed at best...Cuban architects...lament that their government doesn't set higher design standards, or sponsor competitions open to Cuban architects, who have been largely left out of the reshaping of their city...Havana will put on a good face for its 500th anniversary celebration, but it can’t mask the city’s current state of crisis. Gleaming new structures rise amid an urban fabric that is collapsing and with a national economy in precipitous decline, exacerbated by an administration in Washington that seems intent on its destruction.- Architectural Record
Eleanor Gibson: Experimental Mexican community contains social housing by Tatiana Bilbao and Frida Escobedo: ...among 32 architects and studios that have created low-cost housing designs as part of an innovative community development in Apan, Hidalgo...Housing Research and Practical Experimentation Laboratory is the result of a project led by Mexico's National Workers' Housing Fund Institute [Infonavit]...can be rolled out nationwide...MOS chose the 32 houses to feature in the experimental community..."ingenuity of the projects...retain their individual identities." -- MOS; Ambrosi Etchegaray ; Fernanda Canales; Taller Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carillo; Zago Architecture; Cano Vera Arquitectura; Esrawe Studio- Dezeen
DnA: Frances Anderton: Kunle´ Adeyemi on lessons from Lagos: He says his work in Lagos offers clues for tackling climate change - and affordable housing...his spirited native city offers experiences “more contemporary cities seem to have forgotten, that are so valuable&hellip things as simple as just walking.” -- NLÉ [audio]- KCRW (Los Angeles)
Architecture firm contracted to lead design of Old Sacramento waterfront revitalization: Stantec...to revitalize Old Sacramento with a series of additions, including shopping centers and performance venues...has already begun feasibility studies and expects to present the City Council with preliminary ideas for the Front Street Experience, the History Museum Event Deck and the River Terrace later this year...may start drawing up designs early next year. -- Atlas Design; WET Design; Hettema Group- Sacramento Bee (California)
Three international teams in running for $700m LA civic centre: City of Los Angeles has announced its shortlist for...public-private partnership scheme to build a civic centre on the site of the city’s former police headquarters [Welton Becket, 1955]...part of a programme of works to revamp LA’s historic city centre. -- IBI Group; Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM)/DTLA Civic Partners; Morphosis Architects/LAC3 Partners; SmithGroup/Renzo Piano Building Workshop/Plenary Collaborative Los Angeles- Global Construction / Chartered Institute of Building
Steven Litt: Bridge debate to nowhere: Lakefront pedestrian connection stuck: Cleveland has a serious lakefront planning problem, but it doesn’t look like a solution is coming any time soon...vexing and immediate problem is how to better connect downtown to North Coast Harbor and surrounding attractions...The city just never figured out how to gracefully get people from one place to the other...nonprofit Green Ribbon Coalition...is trying to stoke public awareness...For now, the downtown lakefront is a half-finished project...Other cities are figuring out how to improve such eyesores. It shouldn’t be too much to expect Cleveland to do the same... -- Steve Rugare; Chris Lynn/AECOM; Miguel Rosales; Peter B. Lewis; Frank Gehry; Scott Dimit- Cleveland Plain Dealer
Sakshi Lakhotia: China: This illusionary store looks like the inside of a kaleidoscope [but with books]: WARNING: Watch your step or you might bump your head into the myriad of mirrors at the Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore while you dive into paperbacks and escape reality: Shanghai based studio X+Living was the brains behind the design of this larger than-life-project for bibliophiles...- Architectural Digest India
Will Jennings: Should architects design provocatively ugly architecture that does not conform to Instagram's aesthetic conventions? Instagram has had a huge impact on the architecture of our cities and perhaps it is time that this changed: From nowhere, this app seems to have become a critical element of urban design...creating nu-iconic architecture [not] designed for skyline or city branding but to work within digital swipes of the smartphone and as a site for a new form of urban occupation....The Instagram aesthetic craves pop-up urbanism, shabby chic and paint-on patina...might it also be creating an urbanity that damages social cohesiveness and being in place? Can an un-Instagrammable architecture exist? -- BIG; Heatherwick Studio; MVRDV- Dezeen
Nikil Saval: Utopia, Abandoned: The Italian town Ivrea was once a model for workers’ rights and progressive design. Now, it’s both a cautionary tale and evidence of a grand experiment in making labor humane: In the 1950s, [it] became the site of an unheralded experiment in living and working. Olivetti...decided to provide for its employees through retirement...Italy’s best Modernist architects would be hired...representing a new and short-lived kind of corporate idealism...In 2018, UNESCO declared Ivrea a World Heritage site...An eerie spellbound nothingness prevails...the desolation of an idea...gone to seed...glorious, light-filled spaces, unsung monuments to the rationalist, functionalist architecture...the most strange and wonderful buildings in any city. -- Iginio Cappai and Pietro Mainardis (1976); Marcello Nizzoli; Eduardo Vittoria; Herbert Bayer; Ezio Sgrelli- New York Times Style Magazine
Graham Foundation Awards over $580,000 in Grants to Organizations in 2019: 54 new grants to organizations that support projects internationally...include exhibitions, publications, films, and public programs that tackle urgent contemporary questions, illuminate historic work with new perspective, promote experimental research, and support critical conversations in and around architecture.- Graham Foundation (Chicago)
2019 New York Architects' Regatta, Thursday, September 12: Spectators will be able to view the racing on the Hudson River from the Pier 66, north of Chelsea Piers.- New York Architects' Regatta
Experience a New Hidden Art Space Underneath Chelsea Market: ...first permanent space in New York City devoted to showing new media artworks...in the historic boiler room [of] the former Meatpacking District headquarters of the National Biscuit Company. ARTECHOUSE will take over the...6,000-square-foot space...first show to open..."Machine Hallucinations," a mind-bending immersive experience by acclaimed digital artist Refik Anadol...utilizes a dataset of tens of millions of architectural images of the city's iconic buildings and public spaces...- Untapped Cities
"How to Build a House: Architectural Research in the Digital Age": ...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...reveals the genesis of a three-story experimental building in Switzerland. Cooper Union, NYC, September 12 - October 13 -- Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture; swissnex; ETH Zurich- Cooper Union (New York City)
Kriston Capps: A Small City Famous for Architecture Rolls Out the Welcome Mat: Columbus, Indiana - known for its modern architecture - makes it feel fresh and lived-in during a biennial festival: ......in one vital way, this Smallville is unlike any other place in the country. It is a mecca for Modernism...boasts buildings by a murderer’s row of notable architects..."Exhibit Columbus"...invites up-and-coming architects to respond to high-Modernist buildings...looked to architects who focus on community - and designs that would 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. thru December 1 -- Frida Escobedo; Bryony Roberts Studio; Agency Landscape + Planning; MASS Design Group; SO-IL; LA Más; Marshall Prado; Sean Ahlquist- CityLab (formerly The Atlantic Cities)
ANN feature: Nicholas Boys Smith & Roger Scruton: Lesson Plan #3: Beauty and Sustainability in Architectural Education: We were greatly heartened to see architecture students call for a curriculum change to address the social, political, and ecological challenges of our time, and we want to say something about how their proposals intersect with the work of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.- ArchNewsNow.com
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