Today’s News - Wednesday, April 7, 2021
EDITOR'S NOTE: Some circumstances are still beyond our control. We hope to post tomorrow, but if not, we'll be back Tuesday, April 13 (or possibly Wednesday, April 14). One of these days, we'll be fully back on track!
● Elizabeth Pandolfi parses a Knight Foundation study, led by Gehl, that looked at different public spaces to assess their impact during COVID and found "if a public space has a strong community-led component, people use it more, trust it more, and they feel more like it is theirs" - presenting "huge" post-pandemic opportunities.
● Saffron parses two "notorious projects" in Philly that "help us understand the difference between density that enhances a neighborhood and projects that big-foot their surroundings - one is going about creating density the right way, and the other is doing it all wrong."
● Odile Hénault offers kudos to Saia Barbarese Topouzanov Architectes for, once again, using "smart urbanism" and a colorful palette in its makeover of a 1970s housing development in Montreal: "The festive mood is indicative of a radical change of attitude towards social housing - it is nothing to be ashamed of."
● Wainwright takes a deep dive into "the dirty secret of so-called 'fossil-fuel free' buildings. The 'embodied carbon' in the building of glass and steel blocks makes them anything but green" - no matter how many "hanging plants smother" the façades.
● Elsa Lam parses the perils faced by architects who also take on the as developer role - "caution is needed. Is it worthwhile?" She speaks to some who "have taken the leap, and haven't looked back."
● Glyn Robbins offers his gloom-and-doom take on "how the pandemic is creating new urban wastelands - turning city centers into ghost towns, full of shiny new buildings that no one needs"; the solution: "new development must be controlled by local communities, not absentee profit-seekers."
● Emily Pugh parses why the (sort of) rebuilt Humboldt Forum on Berlin's Museum Island "fails to inspire - the building is not an easily likable object" ("the sense of muddled purpose" is not all architect Franco Stella fault).
● Hickman brings us the convoluted tale of how the demolition Paul Rudolph's 1955 Bigg's House in Delray Beach, Florida, took city officials and two Rudolph foundations by surprise: "Everything was copasetic" - until it wasn't.
● Cheers to Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe for taking home the 2021 RAIC Gold Medal: "Their work expresses a deep concern for the cultural and spiritual significance of architecture, landscape, and design" (we couldn't agree more!).
● Book proposals wanted!!! Harvard GSD announces Harvard Design Press, a book-publishing imprint "in pursuit of new, original ideas on the research and practice of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design" + Link to proposal submission guidelines.
● In honor of April Fool's Day (one of the few years we've missed it!): See the "secret proposal for 'Even Higher Line' on top of New York's High Line" - it would allow developers to double the height of adjacent buildings "in exchange for backing the proposal."
A weekend diversion + Page-turners (in case we miss posting tomorrow):
● Welton cheers the National Building Museum reopening on Friday (yay!), and talks to Alan Karchmer re: the exhibition of his photos (many of "monumental heroic buildings worldwide") that "reflect his modus operandi. If it sounds like he approaches his subject matter as an architect, that's because he's trained as one - but he never practiced."
● Maya Orzechowska cheers "Pre-Fab Living" by Avi Friedman that offers "a timely overview of current pre-fabrication as an evolving and experimental set of processes with ample space for imagination, growth and cross-pollination" (but can also lead to "repetition, monotony, and quality reductions").
● Karrie Jacobs' great Q&A with Donald Friedman re: his "The Structure of Skyscrapers in America 1871-1900: Their History and Preservation" that "offers new insight into the earliest super-talls. It's weird that the history of skyscrapers is a lost history": "The Chicago Loop and Lower Manhattan have been heavily rebuilt. So most of those buildings are gone - people don't know about what buildings they don't know about."
● Ravenscroft cheers "Sub-Saharan Africa Architectural Guide," an "ambitious" seven-tome collection "covering the history and significant buildings of 49 countries" by nearly 350 authors + Link to Highlights!
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Elizabeth Pandolfi: Community-Responsive Public Spaces Were More Resilient During COVID, Knight Foundation Report Finds: “Adaptive Public Spaces: Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond” looked at 7 different public spaces...to assess their impact in...design and programming; community/resident focus; its impact on the broader community, town, or city; and its long-term financial and operational sustainability...Gehl...found...if a public space has a strong community-led component, people use it more, they trust it more, and they feel more like it is theirs...there is tremendous demand for these kinds of public spaces...coming post-pandemic moment [is] a huge opportunity.- Next City (formerly Next American City)
Inga Saffron: Housing advocates see denser buildings as an answer to affordability. But not all density is good density: Two notorious projects help us understand the difference between density that enhances a neighborhood and projects that big-foot their surroundings: ...I have now come to think of [them] as the poop building and the Scrooge building...They promise to add the kind of housing diversity that every American city needs. Yet one is going about creating density the right way, and the other is doing it all wrong...it’s worth examining these two midrise projects if we hope to win the hearts and minds of density...skeptics...we need the right density in the right place. -- JKRP Architects; KCA Design Associates- Philadelphia Inquirer
Odile Hénault: Goodbye tristesse! Habitations Saint-Michel Nord, Montreal, Quebec: Winner of an 2021 OAQ award, the renewal of this 1970s housing development brings a colourful palette and smart urbanism to Montreal’s social housing: The festive mood...is indicative of a radical change of attitude towards social housing...[it] is nothing to be ashamed of...demonstrates how in-depth rehabilitation can be - ecologically and economically - a more sustainable alternative to outright demolition...Kudos go to Saia Barbarese Topouzanov Architectes who...often for modest fees, have gradually changed the image of social housing... -- Bobrow Fieldma (1979); Vlan Paysages- Canadian Architect magazine
Oliver Wainwright: The dirty secret of so-called 'fossil-fuel free' buildings: The ‘embodied carbon’ in the building of glass and steel blocks makes them anything but green: Much is made of the proposed energy efficiency of buildings once they are occupied...very little attention has been paid to the carbon emitted in getting them built, and eventually dismantled...this “embodied carbon” accounts for up to 3/4 of a building’s total emissions over its lifespan...embodied carbon of building services equipment...has largely been ignored...In the absence of national policy...hard-nosed financial incentives are encouraging developers to act...has already resulted in a preference for refurbishment over demolition. -- Make Architects; Joe Giddings/Architects Climate Action Network (Acan); Simon Sturgis/Targeting Zero- Guardian (UK)
Elsa Lam: Developing Interests: Architects who work as developers - owning, financing, designing and sometimes even acting as the builder for projects - take calculated risks to deliver rewarding projects for their communities and themselves: Architects who enter the development arena are often aiming to make modest, but important improvements to a neighbourhood or city that they know well...caution is needed to navigate potential conflicts of interest...Is it worthwhile...? We spoke to a half dozen architects who’ve taken the leap, and haven’t looked back. -- Jonathan Segal; Shora Parvaresh/Noble Architecture; Gene Dub/Dub Architects; Tom Knezic/Solares Architecture; Bill Curran/Thier + Curran Architects; Jack Kobayashi/Kobayashi + Zedda; Aurèle Cardinal/Stéphanie Cardinal/Ludovic Cardinal/Humà Design + Architecture- Canadian Architect magazine
Glyn Robbins: How the Pandemic Is Creating New Urban Wastelands: For decades, ordinary residents have been pushed out of cities...to make room for offices and luxury apartments. But the pandemic [is] turning city centers into ghost towns, full of shiny new buildings that no one needs...escape to suburbs...could blow a massive hole in the business plans of big urban redevelopment projects...failures of the developer-led city should galvanize a debate about how cities after COVID-19 can be different - and more suited to their residents’ needs...new development must be controlled by local communities, not absentee profit-seekers.- Jacobin magazine
Emily Pugh: The Humboldt Forum in Berlin is finally open, but it fails to inspire: The ambivalence of its reception can be blamed, at least in part, on the fact that few people have been able to visit...However, when you look at images...it becomes clear that the tepid response...cannot be blamed on COVID-19 alone. Put simply, the building is not an easily likable object...The stark juxtaposition of zombie baroque with new contemporary designs raises the question, is [it] a historical reconstruction or a modern reinterpretation...[it] is both and neither...it is hard to fault Franco Stella alone for the sense of muddled purpose... -- David Chipperfield; Friedrich August Stüler- The Architect's Newspaper
Matt Hickman: Demolition of Paul Rudolph’s Delray Beach home takes city officials by surprise: So how did the restoration of the Biggs House result in only the structure’s frame being left intact when such a drastic move was never allegedly presented to the Foundation - or to the city - as part of the plan? Now...home is gone. But its current owners might argue otherwise...a real estate developer and designer...have long stressed their serious commitment to restoring [it]...traveled to New York...to discuss the project in detail. Everything was copasetic...Paul Rudolph Foundation: "...we consider the home to be demolished...historic designation should be revoked."- The Architect's Newspaper
Brigitte Shim and A. Howard Sutcliffe announced as the recipients of the 2021 RAIC Gold Medal: Their work expresses a deep concern for the cultural and spiritual significance of architecture, landscape, and design...projects have been recognized with 15 Governor General’s Medals for Architecture and an American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Honor Award, along with many other professional accolades...established Toronto-based Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, in 1994.- RAIC / Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
Harvard GSD announces Harvard Design Press: ...a book-publishing imprint based at Harvard GSD and distributed in collaboration with Harvard University Press...In pursuit of new, original ideas on the research and practice of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design, the Press seeks book proposals from researchers, practitioners, theorists, historians, and critics; Link to details.- Harvard Graduate School of Design/GSD News
Secret proposal for "Even Higher Line" on top of New York's High Line revealed: The plans, which were leaked to Dezeen, involve turning the former elevated railway into a multi-storey attraction, increasing visitor capacity while allowing for social distancing. The development would also allow real-estate owners to double the height of buildings adjacent to the High Line in exchange for backing the proposal.- Dezeen
J. Michael Welton: In D.C., an Exhibition of Alan Karchmer’s Photos: National Building Museum reopens on April 9...about 30 of his large, defining color works...along with 80 smaller, supporting images...reflects his modus operandi...If it sounds like he approaches his subject matter as an architect, that’s because he’s trained as one...but he never practiced...Much of the work...is monumental...heroic buildings worldwide...[He] has bequeathed his entire professional archives to the Museum’s permanent collection.- Architects + Artisans
Maya Orzechowska: "Pre-Fab Living" by Avi Friedman: ...a timely overview of current pre-fabrication technologies through a collection of projects that explores current design trends and construction approaches...from around the globe...presenting pre-fabrication as an evolving and experimental set of processes with ample space for imagination, growth and cross-pollination...opening up the possibility of producing quality outcomes at a range of price points...In reality, the optimization of production processes to achieve low-cost housing can result in repetition, monotony, and quality reductions. -- Assistant; Bere Architects; Tommy Carlsson Arkitektur; Gluck+; Yuko Shibata Office; Stefan Eberstadt; Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners; Moodbuilders; Davis Studio- Canadian Architect magazine
Tom Ravenscroft: Guide to sub-Saharan architecture aims to "spread the word about Africa's architectural wealth": ...ambitious "Sub-Saharan Africa Architectural Guide" covers the history and significant buildings of 49 countries...a seven-part collaboration...Edited by Philipp Meuser and Adil Dalbai, with contributions from nearly 350 authors...editors collaborated with a network of local experts to ensure that the guide covered the most important and interesting architecture in each country...- Dezeen
Karrie Jacobs: Q&A with Donald Friedman about his latest book, which offers new insight into the earliest supertalls: I remember being fascinated by his intimacy with the guts of historic buildings and the impression he gave that his work as a preservation engineer was an unending series of epiphanies..."The Structure of Skyscrapers in America 1871-1900: Their History and Preservation"...an extensive journey through 19th-century building technology, much of it obscure and forgotten...It’s weird that the history of skyscrapers is, to some extent, a lost history..."the two areas where early skyscrapers were concentrated, the Chicago Loop and Lower Manhattan, have been heavily rebuilt. So most of those buildings are gone...people don’t know about what buildings they don’t know about."- Architect Magazine
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