Today’s News - Tuesday, February 18, 2020
EDITOR'S NOTE: Happy 18th ANNiversary! ArchNewsNow.com launched this day - in 2002 (and we don't feel a day over 97!). Interestingly, in reviewing early newsletters, it seems that these 18 years are book-ended by "style wars." 2002: debates re: what to do at Ground Zero. 2020: debates re: "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again" (which continue below).
● Bennes explains why, even though Shanghai's West Bund Museum "isn't a lamentable building, it certainly doesn't speak of Chipperfield at his restrained, luxurious best" - blame the Centre Pompidou's "exacting specifications - the architects had to reconfigure their own structure post-completion."
● Holmes delves into "how the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures went $100 million over budget. Renzo Piano's design is certainly elaborate, but he can't be blamed for all of the mounting costs."
● Mazumder, a Canadian therapist in community mental health, talks about "how urban design affects mental health, what makes a happy city, and how to build people-centered cities."
● Koziarz reports on The 78, a $7 billion, 62-acre mega-development on a long-vacant stretch of riverfront in Chicago, master planned by SOM.
● Massengale & Norquist make the case for not replacing a stretch of the collapsing Brooklyn-Queens Expressway: NYC "would own several new blocks of land for affordable housing" and traffic would decrease (and, while we're at it, pedestrianize the Brooklyn Bridge).
● Morgan makes the case that, instead of demolishing a dilapidated railroad bridge in Providence, an international design competition could transform the superstructure "into an urban design success story" (think High Line).
● As Kamin's "Amherst College" hits bookstores today, he delves into some stories that "lurk beneath the gloss of many campus buildings" (including Mies's Crown Hall). "Buildings are repositories of tales - some innocently forgotten, others willfully ignored - that have the capacity to illuminate our past, inform our present and shape our future."
● Brown brings us ARO's $30 million renovation of Houston's Rothko Chapel and campus intended "to better reflect the artist's [and Philip Johnson's] original design for it."
● Architect and historic preservationist Krishna cheers old, empty churches being repurposed in up-and-coming neighborhoods, but is particularly taken by two Buffalo churches transformed into an Islamic mosque and a Buddhist temple - "this phenomenon can preserve historic architecture and strengthen burgeoning communities."
● The Architecture & Design Film Festival kicks off at the United Nations in New York today, and puts out its 2020 tour dates.
● ICYMI: ANN feature: Design Workshop's MacRae & Ficht consider three trends they see shaping landscape architecture.
Giovannini's 3-part lament for LACMA (we ran Part 1 last week, but included here so they're all together):
● LACMA, Part I: "It's much worse than you think - the county and the museum, both evidently co-conspirators to keep hidden the galloping cost escalation [and] the deception about size" (and is "a major architectural let-down" to boot ).
● LACMA, Part II: Spamming the Public: "In a slow-motion but breathtaking campaign of spin, cover-ups, disinformation, and fabrications, the museum has gaslighted Angelenos" (Govan is "a camera-ready, charismatic Elmer Gantry on a mission").
● LACMA, Part III: The Way Forward: "One deceptive pronouncement about the Zumthor project followed another - there are three corrective measures that can be undertaken now, and each would prove a better solution" (including reviving Renzo Piano's 2003 master plan).
More thumbs-up than thumbs-down meditations on the "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again" draft executive order:
● Pedersen: The mandate is "a recipe for really bad buildings" and "for most architects under 40, these aesthetic battles are an old man's game - they've got bigger fish to fry, like survival of the species. Classical architecture deserves a better fate."
● Curry, dean, USC School of Architecture: "Within each genre of architecture there are examples of mediocre and exceptional works. Elevating the quality of architecture should be our common goal, not singling out a particular style to represent the nation."
● Kunstler: "The mandarin uber-class among the elite, especially the Pooh-Bahs in the architecture schools, can't bear the thought that things are tending this way. Modernism doesn't care about truth and beauty; it cares about power, especially the power to coerce - to separate us from nature."
● Semes: "There was little or no consultation with those most directly affected: classical architects - hold off on any further official moves pending a more comprehensive conversation. On the plus side, architecture is now a subject of public interest and debate for the first time in decades. Let's seize the opportunity to get this right."
● Mehaffy, Salingaros & Sussman each weigh in: "Architectural bullies protest restricting their ability to terrorize everyone else," sayeth Salingaros.
● Dalrymple explains that it's the Modernists who are totalitarian: "There is no reason why good, classical buildings cannot be built, except for the arrogance, tastelessness, inhumanity, egotism, incompetence, persistence in crime and megalomania of the architects who want to show off to each other."
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Crystal Bennes: With the Opening of the West Bund Museum, Reflecting on Shanghai’s Cultural Mega-Developments: The Chipperfield-designed, Pompidou-affiliated arts space fits into a unique but precarious spatial and development context: ...because of the Pompidou’s exacting specifications...the architects had to reconfigure their own structure post-completion...it’s little wonder that the most engaging aspects...are those with no direct relationship to the exhibition spaces...While [it] isn’t a lamentable building, it certainly doesn’t speak of Chipperfield at his restrained, luxurious best. Even [he] described the structure as having a “generic feeling"... -- Alexander Schwarz/David Chipperfield Architects Berlin; Open Architecture; Sou Fujimoto; Atelier Deshaus- Metropolis Magazine
Helen Holmes: How the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Went $100 Million Over Budget: ...previously projected to open in 2016, would finally open to the public on December 14...has faced frequent development woes associated with cost and its elaborate design...projected costs...have leapt from $388 million to $482 million...How exactly did this happen? Renzo Piano’s design is certainly elaborate, but he can’t be blamed for all of the mounting costs...only time will tell whether the [museum] is a runaway hit or a total flop.- Observer.com (U.S.)
How urban design affects mental health: When working with people with schizophrenia at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, [occupational therapist in community mental health] Robin Mazumder noticed that there were some neighbourhoods where they felt more distress, and other parts of the city that seemed to make them happier...He [speaks] about how to build people-centred cities, the psychological experience of navigating Canadian cities as a pedestrian and why he considers sidewalk snow clearance a human rights and accessibility issue.- CBC Radio (Canada)
Jay Koziarz: The 78 megadevelopment prepares to break ground, starting with U of I innovation center: The massive project essentially creates a new neighborhood on Chicago’s Near South Side: The 62-acre riverfront megadevelopment...will be anchored by a University of Illinois-affiliated research facility...the Discovery Partners Institute...Phase one calls for 3 million square feet of buildings and includes a mix of apartments, student housing, and commercial space. Masterplanned by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)...$7 billion development is zoned for a whopping 13 million square feet... -- STL Architect- Curbed Chicago
John Massengale & John Norquist: Buck the BQE: The city should not replace a key stretch of the cantilevered Brooklyn-Queens Expressway: Studies show that when city highways disappear, a lot of traffic disappears with them...cities all over the world removed expressways, and in every instance, traffic distribution improved...If we removed the ramps and reduced the number of cars, New York City would own several new blocks of land for affordable housing...The pending collapse of the BQE is an opportunity to go in a better direction for all.- New York Daily News
William Morgan: Saving the Bascule Bridge: The reaffirming but not so surprising success of the new pedestrian bridge over the Providence River should give encouragement to finally doing something about saving the bascule bridge over the Seekonk River...let's stop asking how we can hold off its demolition. We should be asking is how can we NOT rescue the bascule...what it represents is a glorious opportunity for Providence to show just how innovative we are...renovation should offer more - something larger, bolder, and more fun, something as dramatic as New York's High Line...[it] offers a superstructure waiting to be transformed into an urban design success story...- GoLocalProv.com (Providence, Rhode Island)
Blair Kamin: How buildings tell a story: [He] returns to the New England college that launched him on a journey to Chicago: "Amherst College"...a storybook slice of New England...a private liberal arts institution...stories lurk beneath the gloss of many campus buildings, including some in Chicago...IIT tore down [Mecca Flats] in 1951...for Crown Hall doesn’t compromise Mies’ achievement, but it does complicate the building’s back story...Buildings are repositories of tales - some innocently forgotten, others willfully ignored - that have the capacity to illuminate our past, inform our present and shape our future. -- Joel Upton; McKim, Mead & White; Mies van der Rohe- Chicago Tribune
Evan Nicole Brown: See the $30 million renovation of Houston’s multifaith Rothko Chapel: The sanctuary has updated its campus to better reflect the artist’s original design for it: ...commissioned by...John and Dominique de Menil in 1964 and dedicated in 1971..."Opening Spaces" seeks to return the structure and the surrounding grounds to its earliest iteration, as intended by Mark Rothko and Philip Johnson. -- Architecture Research Office (ARO) George Sexton Associates; Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects- Fast Company / Co.Design
Ashima Krishna: A new solution for America's empty churches: A change of faith: In up-and-coming neighborhoods, old churches are often converted to apartments or offices. But what about the vacant or underused churches in areas that aren't attractive to developers? In Buffalo, NY, two empty Roman Catholic churches were recently converted...into other places of worship...an Islamic mosque [and] a Buddhist temple. As an architect and historic preservation planner, I was drawn to this phenomenon...the conversion of vacant Christian churches into new places of worship can preserve historic architecture and strengthen burgeoning communities. -- Enjoli Hall- CNN Style
Architecture & Design Film Festival Announces 2020 Tour Dates: New this year will be collaborations with UN-Habitat and NYCxDesign and talks that discuss societal issues, such as homelessness, affordable housing, and social inclusion: ...kicks off at the United Nations, in New York today.- Architect Magazine
Joseph Giovannini: LACMA, Part I: Going Rogue: It's much worse than you think over at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art...the smoking email...the county and the museum, both evidently co-conspirators...to keep,,,hidden the galloping cost escalation, thus perpetuating the near total lack of transparency that has characterized the project since its inception - even though the public is ultimately the client...There’s also the deception about size...the loss of 54% of linear wall space...spendthrift plan is amateurish enough...enshrines dysfunction as a daily operational fact...a major architectural let-down. -- William Pereira; Norman Pfeiffer; Michael Govan; Peter Zumthor; Museum Associates- Los Angeles Review of Books
Joseph Giovannini: LACMA, Part II: Spamming the Public: Michael Govan was overheard speaking with Peter Zumthor...“There was some dissent by minor people who don’t matter"...perhaps the single most honest comment...during the entire 12-year march of deceptions...In a slow-motion but breathtaking campaign of spin, cover-ups, disinformation, and fabrications (some verging on outright fraud), the museum has gaslighted Angelenos...into thinking, well, yes, I guess, it’s a good idea to unravel the County Museum of Art as we know it...[His] snide comment best explains his indifference toward, and even contempt for, the public, an arrogant attitude that has led to the fiasco that has now engulfed LACMA- Los Angeles Review of Books
Joseph Giovannini: LACMA, Part III: The Way Forward: ...calling black white is no longer just a D.C. disease...One deceptive pronouncement about the Peter Zumthor project followed another...that became the Ponzi scheme on which this failed project is founded...Perhaps the most flagrant deception...is Michael Govan’s claim that the museum has gained lots of square footage on his watch...there are three corrective measures that can be undertaken now, and each would prove a better solution...Renzo Piano’s 2003 master plan...could be resurrected...There is no reason to go forward with what we already know will be a failure, a building that will be hated - the building that killed LACMA.- Los Angeles Review of Books
Martin C. Pedersen: Why classical architecture would actually suffer under Trump’s executive order: The proposed mandate is nothing but a turnoff for many architects: ...given the president’s penchant for thuggish rhetoric, there was something chilling about the proposed edict...Mandating a state-sanctioned style [is] a recipe for really bad buildings...saner heads in the classical architecture community have distanced themselves...For most architects and designers under 40, these aesthetic battles are...an old man’s game...with little or no relevance to them or their futures...they’ve got bigger fish to fry, like survival of the species...Classical architecture deserves a better fate. -- Justin Shubow; National Civic Art Society- Fast Company
Dean Milton S. F. Curry Response to draft White House Executive Order, “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again”: At USC Architecture, we teach our students to become ‘Citizen Architects,’ to move fluidly between theory and practice to inclusively design for broad constituencies and contexts...Within each genre of architecture - classical, brutalist, modern, postmodern, deconstructivist - there are examples of mediocre and exceptional works. Elevating the quality of architecture should be our common goal, not singling out a particular style to represent the nation. The nation is not one person or one style.- USC School of Architecture / University of Southern California
James Howard Kunstler: Executive Order: ...the mandarin uber-class among the elite, especially the poohbahs in the architecture schools, can’t bear the thought that things are tending this way. Their theology of...“the cutting edge,” is all about fashion. That things go out of fashion has given them the opportunity to create and cash-in on ever more new fashions...We’re going to need buildings that don’t go out of style...classicism links us to nature and to our own humanity...Modernism doesn’t care about truth and beauty; it cares about power, especially the power to coerce...to separate us from nature- Kunstler.com
Steven W. Semes: Let’s Talk About Federal Patronage and Classical Architecture: Instead of knee-jerk screeds...let’s take this moment to foster a more thoughtful discussion: My problem is not with the document but the strategy. There was little or no consultation with those most directly affected: classical architects...How might this have been handled differently? The U.K. offers a useful model...Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission..."Living with Beauty"...product of a transparent and public consultative process...We can turn this crisis into a teaching opportunity...hold off on any further official moves pending a more comprehensive conversation...On the plus side, architecture is now a subject of public interest and debate for the first time in decades. Let’s seize the opportunity to get this right. -- Justin Shubow; National Civic Art Society; Roger Scruton- Common Edge
Michael W. Mehaffy, Nikos A. Salingaros & Ann Sussman: Three comments on the Executive Order “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again”: 1) It is interesting to hear some architects howling over this proposed action, at the same time that they have often sought to impose their own preferred style; 2) Architectural Bullies Protest Restricting Their Ability to Terrorize Everyone Else; 3) Classical and Traditional Buildings Fit Human Biology: Modern Architecture Doesn’t, and that Matters for Building a Healthy Future- Architexturez Imprints
Theodore Dalrymple: Is Trump’s Classical-Architecture Policy Authoritarian? Far from being dictatorial, the order is profoundly liberating for clients, architects, and public alike: The squeals of outrage by the architectural profession...were entirely predictable...But they're mistaken...The order will give renewed courage to patrons of architecture, who...have been cowed by the architects’ mastery of high-sounding verbiage and gobbledygook to promote their inhuman work...There is no reason why good, humanistic classical buildings cannot be built: except...for the arrogance, tastelessness, inhumanity, egotism, incompetence, persistence in crime and megalomania of the architects who want to show off to each other.- The American Conservative
ANN feature: INSIGHT: Jim MacRae & Jason Ficht: 2020 Trends in Landscape Architecture: Three trends we anticipate growing this year: addressing air quality as part of climate change; cultural and ecological inequities; and converting antiquated roadways into green infrastructure systems.- ArchNewsNow.com
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