Today’s News - Tuesday, March 31, 2020
EDITOR'S NOTE: A sad news day as the coronavirus hits close to home. Michael Sorkin, a friend and one of our heroes (right, comrade?), left this world last Thursday. On Friday, we lost Michael McKinnell, co-designer of Boston City Hall, which Robert Campbell calls "an ugly/wonderful work of architecture." Alas, we fear they will not be the last to leave us…sigh - stay safe, stay in.
● Giovannini's tribute to Michael Sorkin, who inspired so many "to use architecture to change lives, resist the status quo, and help achieve social equity," and "helped reset the field's moral compass - speaking truth to power."
● Weizman pays tribute to Sorkin, his "architectural god-father": "Only a few weeks ago he took the time to campaign for me when I was not allowed to travel to the U.S., just as he often did for others less privileged" with "his sense of urban justice, and feisty activism - we all need to continue the fight."
● Michael Murphy of MASS Design Group: "To me, he was an elder - a visionary, a teacher, but also a mensch" who wanted "to make architecture 'less evil, more kind' - we have lost an oracle and a soothsayer."
● "The voice of architecture with a purpose" is remembered by Ivy, Mayne, Murphy, Giovannini, Suckle, Tehrani, Gutman, Hodgetts, Weiss, and Manfredi.
● Gibson gathers an "outpouring of warm tributes" for the "fierce and brilliant" Sorkin from Kimmelman, Kamin, Heathcote, Beirut, Manaugh, and McGuirk.
● Sorkin in his own words, from 2018 - a must-read! "250 Things an Architect Should Know: 47. What the brick really wants. 130. How to escape a maze. 168. How to patch leaks. 172. The way to Santa Fe. 198. Why you think architecture does any good. 200. What rusts."
● Bernstein honors Michael McKinnell, 84: "The beginning of his career as an architect was almost like a fairy tale"; Barker calls him "a generous mentor" + A tribute by Robert Campbell.
● "On what turned out to be the final full day of his life McKinnell spoke with his wife [Stephanie Mallis] about his plans for one final design - his final resting place - a garden as small as City Hall is large covered with white roses."
● In other news: Hopkirk reports that Alan Jones, RIBA president, has temporarily stepped down, citing "a personal matter. Staff is still in the dark about the reasons but has been told he will be uncontactable for four to six weeks."
● Pingel delves into accessible design 30 years after ADA: "The concept has evolved from a practical matter to a complex idea about beauty, equity, and what it means to live well," but "architects and designers who are disabled themselves" say "the furnishings market lacks enough well-made, well-designed options."
● Russell: parses Perkins and Will's Rush University Medical Center in Chicago "planned for a pandemic. Conceived after the 9/11 attacks and subsequent anthrax terrorism," it "could be a model for hospitals that have not added surge capacity."
● Joyner parses Seneca College's Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship, by Perkins and Will Toronto, that "facilitates storytelling with Indigenous cultural elements and inspiration" by working "with the First Peoples@Seneca Office to ensure that the Indigenous communities the building represents would be conveyed in the design."
● The CBC reaches into its archive for the 1960 broadcast of "Front Page Challenge" with Viljo Revell as the mystery guest: What did he think of FLW calling his Toronto City Hall "a grave marker for a cemetery" - "I hope he was wrong."
COVID-19 news continues - the last item a much-needed lift for our spirits:
● Fairs reports on American architects and institutions that have teamed up as part of an open-source project using their own 3D printers (a link to "Operation PPE" open-source 3D files in the first comment).
● A new American Institute of Architects task force report, to be released in early April, "will offer insights for adapting buildings into temporary healthcare facilities" to deal with COVID-19 "in an effort to help inform decisions to address the pandemic."
● The Australian Institute of Architects pens an open letter to the prime minister outlining "initiatives that would help to keep the industries in action during these uncertain times."
● Massengale calls for "a network of 'quiet streets.' COVID-19 demonstrates the need for more space for people. We should use this time when traffic is light to work on ideas for safer, quieter, and more pleasant streets for pedestrians and cyclists now and in the future."
● Chakrabarti looks ahead to "a new New York. As this virus eventually fades - let's not just rebuild our old economy and old city, but a new city resilient to the shocks we know are coming, like the biggest shock of them all, climate change."
● Hernandez ponders "the meaning of public spaces amid social distancing" after L.A. closes down its beaches: "One of the last remaining channels of social cohesion and mental well-being is access to public lands," while Hawthorne says the "crisis is forcing all of us to make sacrifices - 'this is about keeping that common good in mind.'"
● One we couldn't resist: "Getty Museum challenges people in self-quarantine to recreate favorite works of art with objects at home - the museum's direct messages have been 'flooded' ever since with hilarious re-creations" (dogs and hockey sticks included!).
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Obituary by Joseph Giovannini: Michael Sorkin, 71; Saw Architecture as a Vehicle for Change: one of architecture’s most outspoken public intellectuals, a polymath whose prodigious output of essays, lectures and designs, all promoting social justice, established him as the political conscience in the field...[he] inspired audiences and students to use architecture to change lives, resist the status quo and help achieve social equity. His motivational writings and projects helped reset the field’s moral compass...specialized in compressing biting wit and intellectual scope in irresistible sentences that buoyed serious arguments...speaking truth to power... -- Terreform Center for Advanced Urban Research- New York Times
Eyal Weizman: For Michael Sorkin: The contemporary prophet of public space and urban conviviality died in a hospital - one of the last places where physical proximity is still possible, indeed, unavoidable...Michael was also my architectural god-father...Only a few weeks ago he took the time to campaign for me when I was not allowed to travel to the U.S., just as he often did for others less privileged...he expanded the spectrum of architectural and urban action...he brought his sense of urban justice, and feisty activism to Palestine, Northern-Ireland, and the US Mexico border...we all need to...continue the fight. -- Terreform; UR (Urban Research); Suad Amiry; Rashid Khalidi; Omar Yusuf; Ariella Azoulay- e-flux Architecture
Michael Murphy/MASS Design Group: COVID Takes Our Sage: Michael Sorkin Rest In Peace: He was many things to many people...To me, he was an elder, a beacon for what I hoped to one day practice and understand...a visionary, a teacher, but also a mensch. He often said that he’d love to make architecture “less evil, more kind.” He was able to hold both anger and compassion together like only a true elder can do...one of the elders who would have guided our industry through its forthcoming restructuring. It is only too clear that we have lost an oracle and a soothsayer...Right on, comrade.- Architect Magazine
Friends and Colleagues Remember Michael Sorkin: ...an architect, author, teacher, and one of the most distinctive voices for social justice and sustainability... -- Robert Ivy/AIA; Thom Mayne/Morphosis; Michael Murphy/MASS Design Group; Joseph Giovannini; Abby Suckle/cultureNOW; Nader Tehrani/Cooper Union/NADAAA; Marta Gutman/CCNY/CUNY; Craig Hodgetts/Mithun | Hodgetts + Fung; Marion Weiss/Michael Manfredi/Weiss/Manfredi- Architectural Record
Eleanor Gibson: "Fierce and brilliant" architect and critic Michael Sorkin dies of COVID-19: Based in New York, Sorkin headed architecture firm Michael Sorkin Studio and was president of non-profit research group Terreform. His death triggered shock and an outpouring of warm tributes from architects, critics and writers around the world. -- Michael Kimmelman; Blair Kamin; Edwin Heathcote; Michael Beirut; Geoff Manaugh; Justin McGuirk- Dezeen
Michael Sorkin, 2018: 250 Things an Architect Should Know: 47. What the brick really wants. 130. How to escape a maze. 147. The idea of too far. 148. The idea of too close. 168. How to patch leaks. 172. The way to Santa Fe. 198. Why you think architecture does any good. 200. What rusts. 215. How close is too close.- Reading Design.org
Obituary by Fred A. Bernstein: Michael McKinnell, 1935-2020: The beginning of [his] career as an architect was almost like a fairy tale: In 1962 [with Gerhard Kallmann and Edward Knowles] entered an open competition to design a city hall for Boston...selected out of 256 entries....was felled by COVID-19...Boston City Hall was a critical success...Robert Campbell: "Good art isn't necessarily beautiful. Boston City Hall is probably best understood as an ugly/wonderful work of architecture." -- Stephanie Mallis; Kallmann, McKinnell & Knowles; Kallman McKinnell & Wood/KMW Architecture; Ada Louise Huxtable; Paul Goldberger; Alexandra Barker- Architectural Record
Last design: Dying of coronavirus, a famous architect planned his final resting place: Last Thursday, on what turned out to be the final full day of his life as one of the nation’s most eminent architects, Michael McKinnell spoke with his wife [Stephanie Mallis] by phone about his plans for one final design. Diagnosed with COVID-19, he knew little time remained. He had declined the offer of a respirator...What to do with those last hours? He chose to design his final resting place...he described his idea for a garden as small as City Hall is large - an intimate square of ground covered with white roses.- Boston Globe
Elizabeth Hopkirk: RIBA president Alan Jones steps down: Reasons behind shock ‘temporary’ decision unknown: He emailed colleagues on RIBA’s governing council this morning saying he needed to take some time out and asking for privacy...cited a personal matter...Staff are still in the dark about the reasons but have been told he will be uncontactable for four to six weeks...Kerr Robertson will oversee presidential responsibilities on an interim basis.- BD/Building Design (UK)
Maile Pingel: Accessible design is growing. But can it be beautiful? The concept has evolved from a practical matter to a complex idea about beauty, equity and what it means to live well: It was nearly 30 years ago that the Americans With Disabilities Act [ADA] established its accessibility guidelines...Architects and designers who are disabled themselves have brought attention to the need for a more holistic approach...a more homey feel than hospital chic...designers still say the furnishings market...lacks enough well-made, well-designed options. -- Melinda Sechrist/Louanne Low; Karen Nichols/Michael Graves Architecture & Design; Lise Bornstein/KFA; Chad Dorsey; Drew Lage; Nicole Fuller; Ed Warner/James Taylor/Motionspot/Fine & Able; ThisAbles; Christian MayTaylor/Motionspot/Fine & Able; ThisAbles; Christian May- Washington Post Magazine
James S. Russell: Planned for a Pandemic: Rush University Medical Center Tower by Perkins and Will: The explosive growth of coronavirus cases is putting the Robert R. McCormick Foundation Center for Advanced Emergency Response in Chicago to the test. Conceived after the 9/11 attacks and subsequent anthrax terrorism...[and] to handle the surge of patients that could come from a large-scale industrial accident, bio-terror attack, or pandemic disease...could be a model for hospitals that have not added surge capacity...- Architectural Record
Sean Joyner: Seneca College's Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) facilitates storytelling with Indigenous cultural elements and inspiration: Perkins and Will Toronto worked in collaboration with the First Peoples@Seneca Office to ensure that the Indigenous communities the building represents would be conveyed in the design and artwork throughout..."you encounter overlapping Indigenous and technological stories...over time our hope is that they merge together as one," said Andrew Frontini, Principal and Design Director... -- Bruce Mau Design- Archinect
The architect who designed a city hall that Frank Lloyd Wright hated: Finnish architect Viljo Revell's design for Toronto's new  city hall was chosen as the best of more than 500 entries, but it didn't work for [FLW]..."he called [it] a grave marker for a cemetery...What do you think of the criticism"..."I hope he was wrong"...Revell had been the third mystery guest featured on that "Front Page Challenge"  broadcast... didn't live to see his design for Toronto City Hall completed...- CBC (Canada)
Marcus Fairs: American architects mobilise to make coronavirus face shields for hospital workers: ...have teamed up as part of an open-source project...using their own 3D printers and laser cutters...effort is being coordinated by Cornell University Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) faculty...Since the school's workshops have been closed...the faculty decided to call on fellow architects to help out...BIG expects to be able to produce 5,000 visors per week after adapting Erik Cederberg's open-source file... Eric Höweler/Meejin Yoon/Höweler + Yoon; Handel Architects; BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group; Grimshaw; Terreform One; Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF); Weiss Manfredi; Brooks + Scarpa; Jenny Sabin Studio- Dezeen
Architects taking action to support COVID-19 response: New AIA task force will offer insights for adapting buildings into temporary healthcare facilities: COVID-19 Rapid Response Safety Space Assessment...will include considerations for the suitability of buildings, spaces, and other sites for patient care...The task force - Dr. Molly Scanlon, FAIA, FACHA - plans to release its report in early April in an effort to help inform decisions to address the pandemic.- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Australian Institute of Architects calls for more stimulus for design and construction industries in light of the COVID-19 outbreak: In an open letter to the prime minister, the Institute outlined initiatives that would help to keep the...industries in action during these uncertain times, including keeping construction running where possible...national president Helen Lochhead and CEO Julia Cambage, commended the government’s existing stimulus program...However, they argue...“Given that this sector makes up 13% of the Australian GDP in normal times, we see the following as key actions for Australia to weather this storm.”- ArchitectureAU (Australia)
John Massengale: Let’s Build a Network of "Quiet Streets": As COVID19 demonstrates the need for more space for people, now is the time to plan for a "Slow New York": We should use this time when traffic is light to work on ideas for safer, quieter, and more pleasant streets for pedestrians and cyclists now and in the future...can act on ideas that are great for the long-term health of the city...even before we had ever heard of COVID-19, several city official...were talking about “breaking the car culture”...European cities have many good models on how to make better streets for people.- Streetsblog.org
Vishaan Chakrabarti: Looking Ahead to a New New York: ...global coronavirus pandemic...has taken a particular toll on vibrant, dense cities like New York, I am skeptical that we will experience much gentrification or displacement in the months and years ahead due to a drop in demand...As this virus eventually fades...We must revive our commerce and our culture, and we must do it together...It will be a psychological reconstruction, a doubling down on density that will not be easy...let’s not just rebuild our old economy and old city, but a new city resilient to the shocks we know are coming, like...the biggest shock of them all, climate change. -- Practice for Architecture and Urbanism/PAU- Gotham Gazette (NYC)
Daniel Hernandez: Why L.A.'s beach ban hurts: The meaning of public spaces amid social distancing: The afternoon I heard that Los Angeles was shutting down...I did what my gut always tells me to do in times of crisis. I headed straight to the beach...the ocean is a salve...I really needed the air and the sight of other Angelenos sharing the collective emotions of grief and fear...I haven’t been alone. And that’s a problem...One of the last remaining channels of social cohesion and mental well-being...is access to public lands, and the public right-of-way...Christopher Hawthorne [said] crisis is forcing all of us to make sacrifices..."this is about keeping that common good in mind"...- Los Angeles Times
Getty Museum challenges people in self-quarantine to recreate favorite works of art with objects at home: ... posted the challenge prompt to its Twitter account...urging people to get creative...museum’s direct messages have been “flooded” ever since with hilarious re-creations.- Yahoo News
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