Today’s News - Tuesday, January 5, 2021
EDITOR'S NOTE: We're b-a-a-a-c-k - and so a new year begins. We wish everyone happiness, good health, prosperity - and peace. Now, to some serious catch-up and new news...
EDITOR'S NOTE #2: Apologies!!! The December 17 newsletter was sent out in error - this is the right one!!!
Click here to see Today's News. Feature stories below the news note.
"Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again" - or not:
● Kriston Capps: The "executive order might be more than just symbolic - all 7 members of the Commission on Fine Arts are now white men - deeply steeped in yesteryear's European art forms."
● Jeff Speck's open letter to Justin Shubow, president of National Civic Art Society: "I used to support NCAS when it was effectively a voice for diversity" - now the "goal is no longer diversity, but domination. Far from improving the prospects for traditional architecture - you have doomed it, and the NCAS, to permanent association with a would-be tyrant."
● Betsky parses Americans preferring Classical architecture: "There is nothing magical about the preference" - it conveys "a message of importance and elegance" but can be "just a default manner of puffing up a building" that "can hide shoddy construction" and "easily succumbs to mediocrity."
● Brussat "applauds modernist critic Betsky's kind words for classical architecture" (and a thumbs-up for Capps' article above): "Betsky lets his classist cat out of the bag" by acknowledging "that it makes sense for the public to prefer classical to modern architecture."
● Meanwhile, the AIA "condemns" the executive order that "inappropriately elevates the design tastes of a few federal appointees over the communities in which the buildings will be placed."
● Docomomo US "is disturbed and appalled by the announcement promoting beautiful federal civic architecture - we are incredibly frustrated by this attempt to suggest to the American people what is and what is not beautiful civic architecture."
On the preservation and housing fronts:
● Marcus Fairs reports that, "following an international outcry," plans to demolish Louis Kahn's dormitories at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad "have been withdrawn" - with links to board of governors' letter, and Architectural Review's petition that has garnered over 16,000 signatures as of this posting.
● Davidson steps inside Penn Station's new, $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall that "seems like one more hallucinatory experience at the end of an implausible year" (it only took 27 years) - "there's a lot of Grand Central envy going on," but "New York finally - or once again - has a camera-ready set that proclaims the city's long-term faith in rail."
● Gunts cheers the preservation board of Brookline, Massachusetts, voting to give H. H. Richardson and John Charles Olmsted homes "a temporary reprieve from the wrecking ball - for 18 months" - though the "votes do not prevent changes to the landscape - preservation staff has more work to do if it wants to save the houses."
● Ravenscroft reports on Italian architect Franco Stella's reconstruction a baroque German royal palace to become the Humboldt Forum on Berlin's Museum Island - with 3 reconstructed facades and one modern.
● SPUR's Karlinsky & Aecom's Bevington parse their report on international delivery systems for affordable housing, and ponder: "Why don't we treat housing as infrastructure" and "a human right? Many cities and countries have found ways - we can look to these examples to create our own solutions."
● KFA's Lise Bornstein considers ways to "rewrite the narrative to reframe density as the hero. Density does not have to be a dirty word. Fear of density is the fault of bad design. If we get density right, Los Angeles can be a role model to other postwar car cities as they navigate change."
That was the year that was - and what's next:
● Michael Geller takes "a look back at the past year and trends to watch for in 2021. COVID-19 will have lasting effects on the design of our housing, neighborhoods and cities. I do not expect to see an end to higher density developments. I do expect a much greater interest in 'the 15-minute city.'"
● Wainwright & O'Hagan look back at "the best photography and architecture of 2020: high camp to Dungeness."
● Wainwright and others offer their take on "2021's best art, architecture and photography: Frank Gehry unleashes a tornado."
● Moore picks his five fave projects of 2020: "Reasons to cheer include a sociable new university building, a Taiwanese shopping mall lagoon, and a house extension with mountain attached."
● Brussat offers his pick of the "best trad buildings of 2020 - is it possible that 2020's crop of traditional and classical buildings should be even smaller than last year's? It is depressing. It is embarrassing."
● One we couldn't resist: Lamster & Lange's 2020 Architecture and Design Awards (11th annual!): "It has been a year, people - here's what we'll remember from this year to forget: Design of the Year: The mask; Building(s) of the Year Award: streateries; Annual What Are You Thinking, LACMA? Award: To LACMA; Posthumous Lump of Clay: Philip Johnson" - and more!.
ICYMI x 3 ANN features:
● Peter Gisolfi: Consider the Place.
● Trahan Architects & Spackman Mossop Michaels' design for the renewal of Luther George Park in Springdale, Arkansas.
● Duda & Paine: Predicting the Unpredictable - 2021 Workplace Trends.
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Kriston Capps: Why Trump's ‘Beautiful’ Federal Building Order May Be Here to Stay: A White House executive order on civic architecture denounces modernism and promotes classical design for federal buildings. It might be more than just symbolic: ...has taken action to determine who gets to decide what federal buildings look...new commissioners...are deeply steeped in yesteryear’s European art forms...all 7 members of the Commission on Fine Arts are now white men...team of neoclassicists has a warrant to pursue their agenda after Trump himself departs...For as long as it lasts, it will open up federal procurement possibilities for stylistically conservative architects who might not win bids on their own merits otherwise. -- Perry Guillot; Steven W. Spandle; R. Steven Lewis; National Organization of Minority Architects/NOMA; Brian Goldstein; Casey Jones; Carol Ross Barney; Moody Nolan; Huff + Gooden Architects- Bloomberg CityLab
Jeff Speck: Justin Shubow’s Insane Push for a State Sanctioned Architectural Style: ...response to the...executive order mandating traditional architecture for federal buildings: ...a letter by urban planner and author [to] president of National Civic Art Society: I am saddened by what the organization has become under your leadership. I used to support NCAS when it was effectively a voice for diversity...you and your organization have shown that your goal is no longer diversity, but domination...You have gone from wanting a seat at the table to trying to pull out everyone else’s chair...Far from improving the prospects for traditional architecture...you have doomed it, and [NCAS], to permanent association with a would-be tyrant.- Common Edge
Aaron Betsky: Back to the Classics: Americans prefer Classical architecture: ... at least according to the National Civic Art Society [poll]...There is nothing magical about the preference for Classicism...compose your plan according to its system, and you have made any structure convey a message of importance and elegance...[also] the easiest way to hide a building’s faults...Like any language...[it] has been used in many ways that were indifferent to any moral, ethical, or political message...just a default manner of puffing up a building...engineered to give a quick message and can hide shoddy construction...easily succumbs to mediocrity... -- Justin Shubow- Architect Magazine
David Brussat: Betsky on classical popularity: Before I applaud modernist critic Aaron Betsky’s kind words for classical architecture in the wake of the Harris Poll confirming its popularity, let me note, also with approval, the...recent article by critic Kriston Capps, entitled “Why Trump’s ‘Beautiful’ Federal Building Order May Be Here to Stay"...Betsky's “Back to the Classics,” in AIA’s Architect magazine...lets his classist cat out of the bag...[he] has acknowledged that it makes sense for the public to prefer classical to modern architecture...- Architecture Here and There
AIA condemns executive order mandating design preference for federal architecture: ...to work with President-Elect Biden to reverse the executive order...EO attempts to promote “classical” and “traditional” architecture above other design styles...also incorrectly vilifies the General Service Administration’s (GSA) Design Excellence Program...AIA does not, and never will, prioritize any type of architectural design over another...EO...inappropriately elevates the design tastes of a few federal appointees over the communities in which the buildings will be placed.- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Docomomo US Response to President Trump’s Executive Order on Promoting Beautiful Civic Architecture: ...is disturbed and appalled by the December 21, 2020 announcement of the Executive Order on Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture...we are incredibly frustrated by this attempt to suggest to the American people what is and what is not beautiful civic architecture... we look forward to working with our colleagues at the American Institute of Architects and the incoming Biden/Harris administration to reverse the Executive Order.- Docomomo US
Marcus Fairs: Louis Kahn dormitories in Ahmedabad saved from demolition after global protests: Plans to demolish part of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad...have been withdrawn following an international outcry...board of governors acknowledged the impact of global protests against the proposed destruction of 14 of the 18 dormitory buildings. "You have sought to remind us that the dormitories...are a cultural legacy...We are therefore withdrawing the Expression of Interest [EOI] [and] re-evaluate the options"...- Dezeen
Justin Davidson: Penn Station’s New Moynihan Train Hall Is Only a Start : A grand entrance to a rail system that needs much more: We’ve been talking about [it] for...27 years...setting foot [inside]...seems like one more hallucinatory experience at the end of an implausible year...And yet this long-delayed mash-up of spectacle and missed opportunity doesn’t make the heart go clickety-clack...there’s a lot of Grand Central envy going on...self-consciously tries to reconcile old-timey graciousness and contemporary cool...New York finally - or once again - has a camera-ready set that proclaims the city’s long-term faith in rail. -- McKim, Mead & White; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM); Peter Pennoyer; Rockwell Group- Curbed / New York Magazine
Edward Gunts: H. H. Richardson and John Charles Olmsted homes get temporary reprieve from the wrecking ball: ...the preservation board of Brookline, Massachusetts, voted to postpone demolition for 18 months...commission’s votes do not prevent changes to the landscape during the 18-month “demolition delay” period...preservation staff has more work to do if it wants to save the houses.- The Architect's Newspaper
Tom Ravenscroft: German royal palace reconstructed to become Humboldt Forum on Berlin's Museum Island: Italian architect Franco Stella has completed his reconstruction of the baroque Berlin Palace...40,000-square-metre museum stands on the site of the demolished East German parliament building alongside Berlin Cathedral....a largely 18th-century palace designed by Andreas Schlüter...three of the museum's facades are replicas of the original palace, while the fourth is a modern stone facade...To reconstruct the quince-coloured facades, sculptors and plaster moulders recreated 2,800 figures and approximately 22,000 different sandstone elements including windows, cornices and columns.- Dezeen
Sarah Karlinsky/SPUR & Cristian Bevington/Aecom: Why don’t we treat housing as infrastructure? High-cost cities tend to deem housing a financial asset rather than a human right. A new report suggests it may be time for a different approach: In many other countries...Homelessness is not tolerated...a violation of the social contract...recent report..."From Copenhagen to Tokyo: Learning From International Delivery Systems"...it is encouraging to learn that many cities and countries...have found ways to provide...a range of housing options that are affordable and meet the needs of many...we can look to these examples to create our own solutions...- City Monitor
Lise Bornstein/KFA: Op-Ed: How density can be the hero in L.A.’s story: Building is one of the biggest tools in our arsenal to fight to provide affordable housing...efforts to build affordable housing...usually meet...NIMBYism...When did density become the villain in our story, and how do we rewrite the narrative to reframe density as the hero? Density does not have to be a dirty word...Thoughtful design can help create a net density increase without destroying the urban fabric and...can improve the urban fabric...Fear of density is the fault of bad design. Fear of density is unwarranted...If we get density right, we can be a role model to other postwar car cities as they navigate change...- The Architect's Newspaper
Michael Geller: Home thoughts for the new year: A look back at the past year and trends to watch for in 2021: Geller examines past predictions...and offers some new ones for 2021: ...regardless of when life returns to ‘normal'...COVID-19 will have lasting effects on the design of our housing, neighbourhoods and cities...I predicted that in 2020, we would start to see balconies [made] more useable year-round...expect to see even more...will impact other aspects of residential design...create more parks, plazas, and public open spaces...expect an increasing number of people to move away to smaller, more affordable communities...I do not expect to see an end to higher density developments...I do expect a much greater interest in...‘the 15-minute city’...- Vancouver Sun
Oliver Wainwright & Sean O’Hagan: The best photography and architecture of 2020: high camp to Dungeness: Space Popular; "Stealing from the Saracens" by Diana Darke; 100 Day Studio, by the Architecture Foundation (now free on YouTube); Derek Jarman exhibition at the Garden Museum, London; Yvonne Farrell & Shelley McNamara/Grafton Architects- Guardian (UK)
Oliver Wainwright, Jonathan Jones, Adrian Searle & Sean O’Hagan: 2021's best art, architecture and photography: Frank Gehry unleashes a tornado: M+ Museum by Herzog & de Meuron; Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen by MVRDV; Cosmic House Museum by Charles Jencks and others; Luma Arles by Gehry; Greenwich Design District by SelgasCano, 6a, Barozzi Veiga, Architecture 00 and David Kohn; Academy Museum of Motion Pictures by Renzo Piano; Taipei Performing Arts Centre by OMA- Guardian (UK)
Rowan Moore: Architecture: Five best of 2020: Reasons to cheer include a sociable new university building, a Taiwanese shopping mall lagoon and a house extension with mountain attached: Town House, Kingston University by Grafton Architect; Z33, Hasselt, Belgium by Francesca Torzo Architetto; Tainan Spring, Taiwan by MVRDV; Mountain View, Sydenham by CAN Architects; " Zoe Zenghelis: Do you remember how perfect everything was?" at Betts Project, London- Observer (UK)
David Brussat: Best trad buildings of 2020: ...is it possible that this year’s crop of traditional and classical buildings should be even smaller than last year’s? It is depressing. It is embarrassing. -- Steven Spandle; Robert A.M. Stern; David A. Swartz Architects; Michael G. Imber Architects; McCrery Architects- Architecture Here and There
Mark Lamster & Alexandra Lange: It’s the 2020 Architecture and Design Awards: It has been a year, people. COVID-19. Economic collapse. Political madness...Through it all, we’ve been keeping tabs...here’s what we’ll remember from this year to forget: Design of the Year: The mask; Building(s) of the Year Award: To the streateries; Your Moment of Zen Award: To the Rothko Chapel; Annual What Are You Thinking, LACMA? Award: To LACMA; Neologism of the Year: "Coronagrifting" by McMansion Hell; Posthumous Lump of Clay: Philip Johnson; Making Lemonade Prize: To Victoria & Albert Museum /V&A's "Pandemic Objects" + Tributes to influential figures we lost. -- Howeler and Yoon; Milton Glaser; Michael Sorkin; Virginia McAlester; Jack Lenor Larsen; Henry N. Cobb- Medium
ANN feature: Peter Gisolfi: Consider the Place: The idea of place is a much freer, more far reaching, and potentially more inspiring understanding of setting than one that simply extols the virtues of contextual design.- ArchNewsNow.com
ANN feature: Trahan Architects and Spackman Mossop Michaels reveal their design for the renewal of Luther George Park in downtown Springdale, Arkansas: The project is made possible by a generous grant from the Walton Family Foundation'sDesign Excellence Program.- ArchNewsNow.com
ANN feature: Turan Duda, FAIA & Jeffrey Paine, FAIA: Predicting the Unpredictable - 2021 Workplace Trends: Several emerging trends will improve our ability to navigate the future with employee health and wellness in mind.- ArchNewsNow.com
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