Today’s News - Tuesday, May 12, 2020
● A sad way to start the day: Bernstein brings us the news that we've lost Cooper Robertson's Jaque Robertson, the architect and planner "known for his extreme erudition and wit - the ideology he best represented was common sense" + Link to a personal tribute by Robert A.M. Stern: "Jaque prevented New York from destroying itself."
● Hewitt's personal tribute to The Architect's Newspaper's Bill Menking: "AN could persist because it stayed focused on bread-and-butter issues, not on fleeting theories or glamorous color spreads. He won't be replaced. He won't be forgotten. His wide-eyed vision will remain in that little newspaper."
● Sidewalk Labs calls it quits (for now) on Quayside, its Toronto Waterfront mega-project - it "considered that the coronavirus crisis has made the smart city-within-a-city project financially unsustainable."
● Wainwright minces no words re: the "miserable mishmash" plans (and its "garbled platitudes") for Gateshead Quays on the River Tyne - the "local authority clearly has more urgent priorities. But that's no excuse to see the waterfront desecrated with such mediocre fare."
● Gaul calls into question the wisdom of walling off ("a big wall of distraction") Charleston, South Carolina's "historic downtown from rising seas and surging storms - just one of a growing number of extravagantly expensive barriers proposed to defend U.S. coastal cities."
● aLL Design's plans for student housing in Cambridge, U.K., is being "compared to a spaceship" by "an architect on steroids" (the spirit of Will Alsop lives!).
● China clamps down on "copies of foreign architecture - 'plagiarizing, imitating, and copycatting' designs is prohibited in new public facilities" (heights of new skyscrapers also limited).
● Dickinson considers "architecture's vernacular in a post-COVID-19 world. Right now, being International is to be endangered - and density has risk. This is not about 'traditional'" or "'style.' There is meaning in indigenous materials - the context of our time and our communities. Architecture should aspire to be of our lives, rather than reflect how we want our lives to be."
● Victoria Young, University of St. Thomas Chair of the College of Arts and Sciences, is named president of the Society of Architectural Historians (our heartiest congrats!).
● VJAA's Jennifer Yoos is appointed head of the University of Minnesota's School of Architecture - "the latest in a string of women rising to top spots at architecture schools in recent years."
● Heathcote (not behind a paywall!): "128 Things About the City: 1. Time wandering the streets is never wasted. 97. Ghost signs" (this should make you smile!).
● ICYMI: ANN feature: The New Norm: A Report by Peter Piven: The results of a survey of firm principals across the U.S. about the differences they envision in technology/working remotely, in markets and marketing, in work life and culture, and in society in our post-pandemic future.
COVID-19 news continues (last items - fun stuff for kids and creatives!):
● Crosbie's Q&A with educator and researcher Ashraf Salama re: "how might COVID-19 change architecture and urban design" and architectural education: Public health issues, biophilic design, environment-behavior studies, and building performance "will be brought from the margins" + Link to peer-reviewed paper on some of his findings.
● James Hamblin, M.D., makes the case for opening streets - to people: "The decision to crack down on parks rather than make more space available is a microcosm of America's default to punitive rather than restorative justice. We assume the worst in people. Dynamite the asphalt, sod the land, plant trees and flowers, and do not look back."
● Ockert delves into "what coronavirus can teach architecture schools about virtual learning - most institutions are not producing the creative thinkers the world urgently needs - how we currently teach today produces groupthink - the move to online learning is a fantastic opportunity to remove some of the inflexible bureaucracy that has built up over decades."
● Speaking of online learning, the Society of Architectural Historians' SAH Archipedia "offers teaching resources, including K-12 lesson plans and research and writing tools for university levels that emphasize the history of the built environment" - and "promote literacy skills and discussion."
● And now for the fun stuff: Ravenscroft rounds u[p "five of the most entertaining architecture, design, and engineering activities for children to ward off the boredom of coronavirus lockdown."
● A spotlight on AIANY's Center for Architecture #architectureathome "fun family activities to help kids develop new skill sets while instilling the importance of learning about the built environment - with downloadable PDF content that parents and educators can use."
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Fred A. Bernstein: Obituary: Jaquelin Robertson, 1933-2020: A renowned architect and planner, he started his career in New York City government, where his influence remains to this day...helped create...places like Celebration...and WaterColor [in Florida]...the ideology he best represented was common sense...known as a classicist...Yet he helped build...Cooper Robertson - that produced modernist buildings [and] master plans that were style-agnostic...known for his extreme erudition and wit...he and several other architects established the Urban Design Group [1960s] within the City Planning Commission...pushed developers to provide public amenities and shops at street level in return for extra floor area...was devoted to its multidisciplinary approach..."You can’t have architecture without urbanism.” -- Jeff Speck; Peter Eisenman; Eisenman/Robertson Architects; Steven Semes- Architectural Record
Mark Alan Hewitt: Mr. Menking and His Little Paper: New York lost one of its most unique cultural figures: Bill Menking...co-founder of The Architect’s Newspaper...[He] was a unifying force in a city that was often dazed and confused about its role in the world of design, urbanism, and art...In 2003 I called him up to congratulate him on the founding of a little online rag with a very unpretentious title...What was the big idea? Did he really expect to make a go of it with something so dumb, so obvious? He seemed to know that writers and architects would want to know the skinny behind what glossy magazines and academic journals were publishing...AN could persist because it stayed focused on bread-and-butter issues, not on fleeting theories or glamorous color spreads...He won’t be replaced. He won’t be forgotten. His wide-eyed vision will remain in that little newspaper...- Common Edge
Sidewalk Labs Abandons Toronto Waterfront Megaproject: More than two years into the Quayside project, the Google affiliate announced it will be pulling back, citing global economic uncertainty: ...considered that the crisis has made the smart city-within-a-city project financially unsustainable...Touted as the world’s first all-mass timber neighborhood, the [IDEA District] called for a focus on sustainability and modular building technologies...wasn’t controversy-free...concerns over privacy, intellectual property, the amount of control a private company should have over public land... -- Daniel Doctoroff- Commercial Property Executive
Oliver Wainwright: 'What's this, Dignitas north east?' Plans for Gateshead Quays are a miserable mishmash: Sneaked out under cover of Covid-19 and couched in empty jargon, plans for a £260m waterfront complex are a grim symptom of private-sector power: ...gargantuan new arena, conference centre and hotel complex on the banks of the River Tyne...Just as the future of conferences and other mass events is being called into question, the developers are pressing ahead...It looks like the compromised result of design-by-committee...Public reaction has been caustic...local authority clearly has more urgent priorities. But that’s no excuse to see the waterfront desecrated with such mediocre fare. -- HOK; AHR architects- Guardian (UK)
Gilbert M. Gaul: Fortress Charleston: Will Walling Off the City Hold Back the Waters? Officials in Charleston, South Carolina have endorsed a $2 billion plan to wall off the historic downtown from rising seas and surging storms: ...just one of a growing number of extravagantly expensive...barriers...proposed to defend...U.S. coastal cities...many...are continuing to grow...pit development and profits against...inevitable encroachment of water - with development winning in most cases...a seawall won’t stop flooding in Charleston and may give homeowners a false sense of security...“a big wall of distraction"...will only protect the downtown, which accounts for just 25% of [city's] population of 136,000.- Yale Environment 360 (E360)
St Matthew’s Centre plans: Student accommodation in Cambridge compared to a spaceship: Petersfield ward councillor ...said: “There’s been a long history of people trying to impose development on St Matthew’s Pieces which was originally an open space for local residents and it is under threat yet again....people have said it’s an architect on steroids"...spokesperson for the developers: “The building has been designed by RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architect, aLL Design. It will be a highly sustainable building, achieving a Breeam ‘excellent’ rating..."- Cambridge Independent (UK)
China 'copycat' buildings: Government clamps down on foreign imitations: From English towns, to Alpine villages, to the Eiffel Tower - copies of foreign architecture can be seen across China. ...in order to promote local design. A government statement says "plagiarising, imitating, and copycatting" designs is prohibited in new public facilities...guidelines also clamp down on new skyscrapers - limiting them, in general, to a maximum of 500 metres.- BBC (UK)
Duo Dickinson: Architecture's Vernacular In A Post-COVID-19 World: The Plague will deeply impact the world of aesthetics...The essential perspective of our present Canon is that vernacular realities are seen to trivialize a higher human spirit. But that was before COVID-19. Right now, being International is to be endangered...and density has risk. What was our highest value, our common humanity, may have become a baseline liability...How does architecture respond? This is not about “traditional” precedents, and this is not about “style.” There is meaning in indigenous materials...the context of our time and our communities. We may be rediscovering that...Without the lilt of vision, or an aesthetic, any attempt at beauty becomes artless commentary...Architecture should aspire to be of our lives, rather than reflect how we want our lives to be. -- George Ranalli; Antoine Predock; Dale Mulfinger; House + House Architects; Clay Chapman; Ross Chapin; Michael Imber- ArchDaily
Victoria Young, College of Arts and Sciences Art History Professor and Department Chair, has been named president of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH): Young has been a longtime member and leader in the global architectural historian field.- University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)
Jennifer Yoos Appointed Head of University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture: ...CEO and a principal of the Minneapolis-based firm VJAA, she is an alumna of UMN and the Architectural Association in London...has taught architecture at Cooper Union, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Arkansas, and UMN...received a Loeb Fellowship in Urban and Environmental Studies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design... the latest in a string of women rising to top spots at architecture schools in recent years, joining Lesley Lokko (CCNY Spitzer School of Architecture), Sarah Whiting (Harvard GSD), Michelle Addington (University of Texas at Austin Architecture School), and Deborah Berke (Yale School of Architecture).- Architectural Record
Edwin Heathcote: 128 Things About the City: 1. Time wandering the streets is never wasted. 71. Small old buildings next to skyscrapers. 97. Ghost signs. 103. Sitting alone in a café looking out of the window.- Reading Design.org
Michael J. Crosbie: How Might the COVID-19 Change Architecture and Urban Design? Researcher Ashraf M. Salama on possible outcomes in a post-coronavirus world: ...a professor at the Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland...has been following how these disciplines might be changing... I sat down with him to discuss some of the issues he raises, and what their implications might be for the built environment in the future. "...it’s likely that biophilic design...will become a greater part of the discourse in architecture, more mainstream...We cannot solve problems on our own...Transdisciplinary approaches...require hybrid modes of thinking and action."- Common Edge
James Hamblin, M.D.: Don’t Close Parks. Open Up Streets: Give people the public space they need right now: New York City [has] more than 6,000 miles of streets. Much of that is barely used by cars on a typical summer weekend...close them to cars and give people room...The decision to crack down on parks rather than make more space available is of tremendous consequence - and not just to New Yorkers. It is a microcosm of America’s default to punitive rather than restorative justice. We assume the worst in people...people are going outside because they have no other place to go...open [streets] semipermanently with concrete barriers. Open other streets permanently. Dynamite the asphalt, sod the land, plant trees and flowers, and do not look back.- The Atlantic
Darren Ockert/ArchiNEXT: What Coronavirus Can Teach Architecture Schools About Virtual Learning: This pandemic will cause us to re-think learning...most formal education institutions are not producing the creative thinkers the world urgently needs. Solutions to the pandemic require creative thinking, and how we currently teach in institutions today produces groupthink...move to online learning...will be a matter of adapting and inventing new methods and tools, and perhaps even changing out educators...successful, distributed learning platforms...can inspire and inform traditional learning institutions...There must be flexibility in degree paths...a fantastic opportunity to remove some of the inflexible bureaucracy that has built up over decades.- ArchDaily
SAH Archipedia: Resources for Remote Teaching: ...offers a collection of teaching resources, including K-12 lesson plans and research and writing tools for university levels that not only emphasize the history of the built environment but also promote literacy skills and discussion.- Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)
Tom Ravenscroft: Architecture, design and engineering activities for children in lockdown: ...to ward off the boredom of coronavirus lockdown. Here are five of the most entertaining. Arquitecture para colorear [coloring book] by Carmelina&Aaurelio Taller de Arquitectura; Challenge Cards by James Dyson Foundation; #Architecturefromhome by Foster + Partners; #LetsMakeWednesdays by V&A; Architecture at Home [#ArchitectureAtHome] by the Center for Architecture/AIANY- Dezeen
Center for Architecture creates #architectureathome activities for kids: Known for their K-12 public learning programs,[it] has found a way to help kids develop new skill sets while instilling the importance of learning about the built environment...partnered with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development...online resources provide fun family activities...with downloadable PDF content that parents and educators can use...- Archinect
ANN feature: The New Norm: A Report by Peter Piven, FAIA: The results of a survey of firm principals across the U.S. about the differences they envision in technology/working remotely, in markets and marketing, in work life and culture, and in society in our post-pandemic future.- ArchNewsNow.com
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