Today’s News - Wednesday, March 31, 2021
EDITOR'S NOTE: Apologies. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the newsletter has been posting a bit erratically of late. We hope to post tomorrow, but if not, we'll be back Tuesday, April 6.
● Sarah Holder reports on a new - free! - tool that "can help companies measure workplace carbon emissions, and figure out if going remote is easier on the planet - transitioning to a fully remote or hybrid workspace could reduce overall carbon emissions - but at the expense of increasing their employees' own footprints."
● Kriston Capps parses California's "backyard apartment boom" with new laws easing restrictions on accessory dwelling units, including L.A.'s program to fast-track approvals, and with templates designed by "prominent and promising architecture firms" - ADUs may not solve the housing shortage, but they could "encourage low-cost, low-outrage affordable housing."
● Jacob Sweet profiles urban designer Stephen Gray and how he's pioneering equitable urban design - "he wants to establish a signature process - one that incorporates community leaders and residents into discussions long before they're typically allowed - letting community leaders participate in allocating funds is worth the effort."
● William Morgan bemoans that a "new hotel in Providence's ironically named "Innovation & Design District" is a real dud. Good design costs no more than mediocre design, but the true cost of bad design is cumulatively corrosive" ("aggressive blandness" included).
● Michael Henry Adams offers a very different - and thoughtful - take on calls for MoMA "to cancel Philip Johnson - many who knew him do not. A fellow gay Ohioan, I hold his youthful outrages forgivable - at least I'm invested in hoping his youthful outrages are forgivable, that his recompense and reconciliation, and mine, are a possibility."
● Meanwhile, the newly formed International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF) coalition is planning a strike against MoMA - it is "against the 'liberal governance' of task forces - arguing that offers to talk or hold forums only stall direct action and lend legitimacy to the museum's regime" + Leon Black, MoMA's chairman, steps down.
● Duo Dickinson & Martin C. Pedersen in a "dueling dialogue" re: "Architecture and the Age of Creative Disruption": MCP: If architects continue to fix their economic worth on design hours or drawings, they will quickly become obsolete." DD: "All this job-killing change is happening so fast that it leaves talented people with the tools of a design education and no traditional career path."
● Alexandra Lange cheers an Atlanta architect who bought - and plans to restore - the House of Seven Levels, Paul Rudolph's "favorite and the last house of nearly 60 he would build in Florida. The road ahead is full of potential pitfalls."
● Martin C. Pedersen's great(!) Q&A "with multi-hyphenate architect, designer, artist, and author" (and TED creator) Richard Saul Wurman: "There's a Louis Kahn Cult, and I'm a Member!" - a "lively" chat re: his time with Kahn as a student and employee, the making of the 1962 "The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn," and plans to reissue "this historically important tome."
● Two good-news notes from the National Building Museum! It's going to reopen April 9, Fridays through Sundays! NMB has named Aileen Fuchs as its new President and Executive Director; she'll be leaving her role as President and CEO of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, on Staten Island.
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Sarah Holder: The Environmental Implications of the Return to the Office: Telecommuting can save energy and reduce emissions - unless it doesn’t. A new tool can help companies measure workplace carbon emissions, and figure out if going remote is easier on the planet: A calculator developed by Watershed Technology shows how transitioning to a fully remote or hybrid workspace could reduce a company’s overall carbon emissions - but at the expense of increasing their employees’ own footprints...Telecommuting can be a green choice, but it requires buy-in and climate consciousness from both the employer and the worker...“every company is making decisions about what the new steady state is...should be using this calculator and having carbon be one of the considerations.”- Bloomberg CityLab
Kriston Capps: How California Set Off a Backyard Apartment Boom: With a state law easing restrictions on accessory dwelling units, granny flats are proliferating in L.A. and other cities - and pre-fab options may make these tiny houses even more common: ...numbers for new permits for ADUs are rising...in part to efforts by local governments to help them go up quickly. In some cases, very quickly...Los Angeles...launched a new ADU Standard Plan Program...to fast-track approvals for more than a dozen designs...tapped prominent and promising architecture firms to supply the templates...Christopher Hawthorne: “to turn it into an approval that is over-the counter"...Can a backyard revolution serve as a backdoor solution to state’s housing shortage? Not exactly...primary goal...is to encourage low-cost, low-outrage affordable housing. -- Christopher Hawthorne; SO-IL, wHY, LA Más, Sekou Cooke Studio and Design, Bitches; Koto; David Baker; Eve Reynolds/Arcolution- Bloomberg CityLab
Jacob Sweet: Shaping Cities: Stephen Gray pioneers equitable urban design: An urban designer at Sasaki Associates...his firm was chosen in 2013 to help prepare Uptown Cincinnati for the new interchange...He was there to ensure that the “Innovation Corridor"...made sense for all stakeholders...he had an opportunity to test his thesis in real life...at his own firm, Grayscale Collaborative, he wants to establish a signature process - one that incorporates community leaders and residents into discussions long before they’re typically allowed...when budgets are being decided...“Once a project is funded…you’ve already made it exclusive”...letting community leaders participate in allocating funds is worth the effort, and doesn’t mean relinquishing power.- Harvard Magazine
William Morgan: Are We Designing Better Looking Parking Garages Than Hotels: The new hotel in Providence's ironically named "Innovation & Design District" is a real dud...the soon-to-be-completed Aloft Hotel...is a major architectural disappointment...little more than any other airport hotel in any other city, but here, plunked down in an urban core...aggressive blandness...suggests that the city is once again settling for less than it deserves....Good design costs no more than mediocre design, but the true cost of bad design is cumulatively corrosive. -- Elkus Manfredi Architects- GoLocalProv.com (Providence, Rhode Island)
Michael Henry Adams: MoMA wants to cancel Philip Johnson - many who knew him do not: A gallery bearing his name also seeks to obliterate it. A fellow gay Ohioan, I hold his youthful outrages forgivable: ...had he really repented? His Jewish friends and Black employees thought so. So do I. A fellow gay Ohioan, at least I’m invested in hoping [his] youthful outrages are forgivable, that his recompense and reconciliation, and mine, are a possibility. None of us only amounts to our worst mistake. Today, we all need what [he] died imagining he’d found: the opportunity to evolve - a chance to become better people.- Guardian (UK)
Leon Black steps down as MoMA chairman as artists and activists plan to strike: ...newly formed International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF) coalition announced that it would be striking for 10 weeks...will call stakeholders to imagine a post-MoMA future where the museum’s resources could be redistributed...comes out against the “liberal governance” of task forces...arguing that offers to talk or hold forums only stall direct action and lend legitimacy to the museum’s regime...Strike MoMA manifesto is not open to signatories.- The Architect's Newspaper
Duo Dickinson & Martin C. Pedersen: Architecture and the Age of Creative Disruption: How does the profession navigate an era dominated by the internet and AI? The pandemic ushered in a season of jarring change...it seemed a good idea to turn the dueling perspectives into a dialogue: MCP: If architects continue to fix their economic worth on design hours or drawings, they will quickly become obsolete...But if they figure out what value they bring - as shapers of space, as problem solvers, as builders of beauty and consensus...they can actually thrive in this new reality...we’re going to need all of the tools at our disposal, including AI, to help stave off ecological catastrophe. If robots can save the world, please, let them have at it! DD: All this job-killing change is happening so fast that it leaves talented people with the tools of a design education and no traditional career path.- Common Edge
Alexandra Lange: How to Save (and Live in) a Masterpiece of Modern Design: Restoring - and living in - a 60-year-old beach house designed by...Paul Rudolph: The House of Seven Levels was a shining example of “the new freedom” of his work...there was very little need for doors, or walls, or even furniture...Sheila Lee Davies, an Atlanta architect and the new owner...couldn’t let it go...Milam house was his favorite [and] the last house of nearly 60 he would build in Florida...The road ahead...is full of potential pitfalls. -- Craig Bassam/Scott Fellows/BassamFellows- Town & Country
Martin C. Pedersen: Richard Saul Wurman: “There’s a Louis Kahn Cult, and I’m a Member!”: A lively talk with multi-hyphenate architect, designer, artist, and author: ...has written, designed, and published more than 100 books...very first was "The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn," a 1962 release...Designers & Books launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finance the reissue of this historically important tome. Q&A about his time with Kahn, the making of the original book, and the plans for the reissue: "...he was the first person I ever heard talk to people and tell the complete truth...That was a different way of being."- Common Edge
National Building Museum Announces April 9 Reopening: Three New Exhibitions, a Welcoming Visitor Center, and the Museum Shop Available to All, Fridays Through Sundays: ...will reopen after a 16-month closure...has announced the appointment of Aileen Fuchs as its new President and Executive Director. Currently the President and CEO of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, on Staten Island, New York...Exhibitions: "Justice is Beauty: The Work of MASS Design Group"; " Gun Violence Memorial Project" (free); "Alan Karchmer: The Architects’ Photographer "- National Building Museum / NBM (Washington, DC)
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