Today’s News - Thursday, April 15, 2021

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days. We hope to back Tuesday, April 20; if not, then Wednesday and/or Thursday...

●  Timothy A. Schuler introduces us to architecture and design students' "concepts for more permeable urban futures in the wake of the pressures of the pandemic and a crisis of social cohesion. They may not use the word, but the future they imagine is nothing less than revolutionary" + Link to Future 100: more groundbreaking student work.

●  Betsky gives (mostly) thumbs-up to "how Los Angeles is confronting its housing crisis: a new city program that offers pre-approved designs for accessory dwelling units (ADUs)" - whatever his issues are, it "is an improvement on the status quo."

●  D'Angelo parses two micro-home developments in Texas that aim to combat homelessness with communities for 560 residents - they may have "many of the hallmarks of your average suburban development, but there's nothing conventional" about them.

●  John King is pleased that "stocky modular buildings popping up" in San Francisco's East Bay "look surprisingly good" (though one is "a cautionary tale"). "What's promising is that pre-fab," which "could spawn a landscape of overbearing boxes at multistory scale - hasn't been the case so far - newcomers aren't great architecture. But they're good urbanism, and that counts too."

●  On an even grander scale in San Fran, the $2.5B Mission Rock mixed-use development, with the help of firms like Henning Larsen, MVRDV, Studio Gang, and WORKac, "shows that factory-built structures can meet lofty design standards. Using prefab on such high-profile projects should help debunk the misperception that prefab elements are always utilitarian."

●  Brussat offers a translation of an op-ed in Le Figaro by Mary Campbell Gallagher, "a leader in the crusade to save Paris from skyscrapers": "Lovers of Paris the World Over Are Alarmed as it Descends into Ugliness."

●  Bridget Cogley reports that Safdie Architects is returning to Bentonville, Arkansas, with the design for the expansion of his 2011 Crystal Bridges Museum that "will increase in size both inside and out."

●  William Morgan parses Brown University's new Wellness Center and Residence Hall: William Rawn Associates probably gave "its best effort - given the demands of the program and sustainability issues. Yet, we expect such a prominent architectural statement to be more visually aspirational than something that could pass for a suburban office block" (and who knew Stonewood is "the scrapple of wall cladding"?).

●  Ravenscroft, meanwhile, gives thumbs-up to 4a Architekten's revamp of Stuttgart's oldest mineral baths, "originally established in 1856 but largely built in the 1950s. 'It was up to us to find the right balance between preservation, renovation and addition,'" sayeth 4a's Matthias Burkart.

●  Aric Chen is named general and artistic director of the Het Nieuwe Instituut, a cultural center focusing on architecture, design, and digital culture in Rotterdam (he'll be heading back to our side of the planet - yay!).

●  AIA releases two new guides to help K-12 school students and school counselors and educators explore careers in the architecture profession.

●  Call for entries: the Society of Architectural Historians puts out its Call for Papers for its 2022 Annual International Conference opening next April.

Weekend diversions:

●  The U.S. Department of Energy hosts a "Virtual Village" for the 2020 Solar Decathlon showcasing nine zero-energy homes designed and constructed as permanent structures by collegiate teams from around the world (looks like "local builds" will continue through the 2023 competition and beyond).

●  In "Border Wall-Landscape-Architecture-Human Crisis," a virtual exhibition at the University of Colorado, Denver, College of Architecture and Planning, Laurie Smith pairs her "evocative" black and white photographs with digital projections of architectural renderings by Rael San Fratello's Ronald Rael that showcase alternative notions to the border wall.

●  Saffron cheers Michael J. Lewis's "Philadelphia Builds": He "is a natural-born storyteller who treats buildings as characters in the ongoing drama of Philadelphia - from the establishment of the street grid in 1682 to Robert A.M. Stern's Museum of the American Revolution in 2017," and "how the choices we made early on as a city still inform our behavior today."

●  Despina Stratigakos "considered 'bro' culture to be mainly a postwar phenomenon" - until she "turned up a disturbing precedent - three obscure travelogues by architects who worked for Albert Speer - when we recognize bro culture thriving in a context that reeks of evil, the sense of familiarity lands with a sickening thud" (let's have no more "just 'bros being bros'" culture!).


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