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Must-See Not-TV

Here are fall's hottest architecture, sustainability, and social theory events on the East Coast
AN has assembled another collection of exhibitions, lectures, and conferences in the coming week that feature artists, architects, policymakers, and thinkers reflecting on aesthetic, social, ecological, and design strategies for the modern world. If you're in or around New York City, stop by and enrich yourself. Check out the events below: Rashid Johnson, The Hikers at Hauser + Wirth Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street Opening reception: November 12, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. November 12 through January 25, 2020 Rashid Johnson's The Hikers show includes ceramic tile mosaics, collaged paintings, a large-scale bronze sculpture sprouting plants, and an installation of his latest film shot in Colorado, using the combination of mountain landscapes and body movement to express the psychological consequences and challenges of the modern world and its injustices. Johnson asks: "What are the movements like when a black man is walking past a police officer? Or when a black man is suffering from agoraphobia?" Urban Thinkers Campus: Accelerating the SDGs in Cities Kellogg Center, Columbia University, SIPA 15th Floor November 13, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. GSAPP, Wood Auditorium, 1st Floor 420 West 118th Street, Room 1501 November 14, 10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The Urban Thinkers Campus is a UN Habitat framework for critical exchange between stakeholders and partners to promote sustainable urbanization. Columbia University's Center for Sustainable Urban Development is hosting Accelerating the SDGs in Cities, promoting the Paris Climate Agreement's Sustainable Development Goals as a tool to evaluate projects on the basis of the 193-nation agreement. Emphasizing the urgency of meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, it shepherds academics, professionals, and participants of civil society to generate ideas for action and methodologies to expedite action on the SDGs. The event will also include a complementary gallery of 100 local projects from more than 30 countries, considered according to how they meet the goals.

Creative Time Speaking Truth | Summit X

The Great Hall, Cooper Union November 14 through 16, various times Kickoff Event: November 14, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. LOLA, 169 Avenue A, New York The tenth Creative Time Summit, Speaking Truth, continues the public art organization's discussion of social, political, and aesthetic questions through keynote presentations, group discussions, workshops, and performances. Traveling to DC, Toronto, and Miami in recent years, it returns to New York City to the Great Hall at Cooper Union and sites around the East Village, asking whether the long-time activist cliche of "speaking truth to power" can rescue us from disillusionment. Maybe not, but some of the usual suspects of socially engaged art will be mixed with new faces to challenge whether art can be more than another sideshow of collapsing civic life, politics, and media culture. Francis Kéré: Work Report Yale Architecture Hastings Hall, 180 York Street, Basement Level, New Haven, CT November 14, 6:30 p.m. Kéré's lecture at Yale promises an update on his recent projects, with an emphasis on his communal approach to design and commitment to sustainable materials and modes of construction, drawing on the social and physical particularities of localities. Based in Berlin, Kéré Architecture's current work includes the Burkina Faso National Assembly, the Lycée Schorge Secondary School, the Léo Surgical Clinic & Health Centre, the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion, and Xylem, the recently opened pavilion for Tippet Rise Art Center. The Green New Deal: A Public Assembly Queens Museum New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens November 17, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Advocates, organizers, and elected officials—including a rumored appearance by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her district—will gather for this conference jointly organized by the Buell Center at Columbia GSAPP with the Queens Museum, AIA New York, the Architecture Lobby, Francisco J. Casablanca (¿Quién Nos Representa?), and Green New Deal organizer and architect Gabriel Hernández Solano. Following the drafting of a set of general principles for how to equitably redress climate crisis in House Resolution 109 and Senate Resolution 59, The Green New Deal: A Public Assembly includes morning workshops and an afternoon series of discussions to encourage invited guests and the public to think systemically and across scales. Alphonso Lingis, "Irrevocable" The New School GIDEST Lab at 63 Fifth Avenue, Room 411 November 22, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. The philosopher Alphonso Lingis lectures on the "irrevocable" at the GIDEST Seminar, the New School's weekly discussion at the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought. Author of a series of books on places of alterity and social cohesion, including The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Common, The Imperative, Dangerous Emotions, Trust, and Violence and Splendor, Lingis's work draws from continental philosophy, phenomenology, and engages in philosophical-ethnographic travel meditations, often focused on bodily experience.
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Landscapes of the Mind

AN rounds up the best landscape architecture lectures nationwide
America's top architecture and design schools are filling out their lecture series line-ups with leading thought leaders in landscape architecture and design. Coast-to-coast, AN has selected six of these can't-miss lectures that delve into issues such as climate change, urban beautification, the ecology of memory, and more. Check out the events below: PRODUCTIVE RESURGENCES: the Garden of the XXI Century Speaker: Teresa Galí-Izard Harvard GSD, Gund Hall 112 October 28, 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. Teresa Galí-Izard is an associate professor at Harvard GSD as well as a landscape architect. Previously, she was the chair of the landscape architecture department at the University of Virginia and is currently the principal of the firm Arquitectura Agronomia. Her work explores the “hidden potential of places” and she seeks to “find a contemporary answer that includes non-humans and their life forms through exploring climate, geology, natural processes, dynamics, and management.”  LAEP Lecture Series and Film Screening with Lynden B. Miller Speaker: Lynden B. Miller 112 Wurster Hall, University of California Berkeley October 30, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. In 1982, Lynden B. Miller rescued and restored The Conservatory Garden in Central Park. A public garden designer in New York City, she has contributed work to over 45 public projects in all five boroughs, such as Bryant Park, The New York Botanical Garden, and Madison Square Park. Her 2009 book, Parks, Plants, and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape won the Horticultural Society 2010 National Book Award. This lecture will feature a screening of the new documentary Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes, which follows Lynden B. Miller as she explores the life of Beatrix Farrand, America’s first female landscape architect. 

New York Botanical Garden’s 21st Annual Landscape Design Portfolios Lecture Series

Speakers: Kim Wilkie, Daniel Vasini, and Andrea Cochran Scandinavia House 58 Park Avenue, New York, NY October 7 and 21, November 4, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. While the first lecture in this series has already passed, the second and third are coming up. On October 21st, Daniel Vasini will give a talk titled Landscape Transformations, highlighting innovative projects such as Governor’s Island, for which his firm West 8 won an international design competition to complete the 87-acre master plan. On November 4, Andrea Cochran will take the stage with a talk titled Immersive Landscapes, in which she will discuss how she blurs the lines between the built and natural environment in her work.  Kate Orff: Unmaking the Landscape Speaker: Kate Orff Scholastic’s Big Red Auditorium 120 Mercer Street, New York, NY October 22, 7:00 p.m. Kate Orff is the founder of SCAPE, a landscape architecture and urban design practice based in New York City and now New Orleans. She is also the director of the MSAUD program at Columbia’s GSAPP. In this series of lectures, The Architectural League of New York invites leading practitioners and educators to outline new ways of thinking and acting in the professions of architecture and landscape architecture in the wake of the climate emergency.  Lewis J. Clarke Landscape Architecture Lecture: Sara Zewde Speaker: Sara Zewde Burns Auditorium, North Carolina State University Boney Dr, Raleigh, NC October 16, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Sara Zewde is the founding principal of Studio Zewde, a design studio operating at the intersection of landscape, urbanism, and public art. Zewde holds a master’s of landscape architecture from Harvard GSD and a master’s of city planning from MIT. She will discuss how narratives embedded in the ecologies of memory offer opportunities for landscape architecture in today’s context of changing climate and political tensions.  Green Infrastructure & Livable Cities Speaker: Jack Leonard Rutgers University Room 112, 93 Lipman Drive, New Brunswick, NJ October 16, 4:00 p.m. Jack Leonard is an assistant professor of landscape architecture and director of the Sustainable Urban Communities Program at Morgan State University’s School of Architecture + Planning. He is also a principal of JGL Design Associates. This lecture will raise questions such as how we define “livability” in urban communities, as well as how we can focus on green infrastructure as playing a role in the social, cultural, and economic revitalization of urban communities.
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Designing Space for Space in Space

Living in space is the answer, but what was the question?
In early September of this year, I was at a conference at an aviation museum in Seattle, to lend some architectural context to ideas about long-term living in space. The folks at the Space Studies Institute (SSI) had invited me to talk about some of the research on NASA’s 1970s proposals to build huge rotating cities in orbit from my book, Space Settlements, as part of a panel on habitat design. This conference was commemorating two anniversaries; it had been 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing, and 50 years since Gerard O’Neill, a Princeton physics professor—and the leader of the 1970s NASA work—had asked a question of his freshman intro students: “Is the surface of a planet really the right place for an expanding technological civilization?” The answer they arrived at, after much study, was “no,” and they started to imagine the technical details of living elsewhere. My interest in this question has as much to do with history and culture as it does with getting down to the details of execution. “Why do we make space and live in it?” is a question worth asking, whether on Earth or off of it. But, while the conference itself was a fascinating two days of discussion, I was surprised to find that almost everyone there considered O’Neill’s (and my) questions to have been settled long ago. Why, the other panelists seemed to wonder, would anyone even ask “why” humans should go and live in outer space, when we can instead talk about “how?” And so that was the subject of the next two day’s conversation. 50 years on from Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s historic flight—the culmination of almost a decade’s worth of work and about $150 billion in 2019 dollars—that “how?” seems easier than ever to answer. As of writing, it costs Elon Musk’s company SpaceX about $1,500 to launch 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). That’s down from about $43,000 for the same kilogram on the Space Shuttle in 1995. With new vehicles about to come online from SpaceX, NASA, and Jeff Bezos’s spaceflight company Blue Origin, these costs will only continue to go down. Two other factors are driving a new renaissance of plans for living and working in space: The discovery of new resources, and the confirmation, in the United States at least, that those resources can be put to use. The discovery of long-suspected ice in craters at the Moon’s poles was announced in 2018 by an international team of researchers using data from an Indian Lunar satellite. Water in space is useful, not least because living things require it to stay alive. But, once it’s been cracked apart with the cheap and plentiful solar electricity available there, it can become rocket fuel. “Water is the oil of space,” said one panelist at the SSI conference, George Sowers, formerly chief scientist with Lockheed Martin and the United Launch Alliance, now a professor of practice in space mining at the Colorado School of Mines. In 2015, the lobbying efforts of two asteroid mining startups were vindicated when Congress passed the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act into law. This new interpretation of the 1967 international Outer Space Treaty allowed private individuals and companies to engage in “exploration and exploitation” of water and other resources on the Moon, in the asteroids, and on other planets. These same two startups, Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, later failed and were acquired by other companies. But the former CEO and cofounder of Planetary Resources, Chris Lewicki, was onstage at the SSI conference to talk about future successes. “If we make money in space, space settlement will happen,” said Lewicki, “it’s just us continuing to do the things we’ve always done.” This trifecta: low launch costs, a supply chain of matter and energy that’s already there, and a legal framework that can guarantee ownership of those resources, is the backend behind a new wave of proposals for architecture in space. These forces will keep that space wave going long after this post-Apollo nostalgia dies down. Earlier this year NASA awarded $500,000 to AI SpaceFactory, “a multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency, building for Earth and space,” for their MARSHA project. MARSHA successfully demonstrated an ability to use in-situ resources—Martian soil (or regolith)—to 3D print the outer shell of a habitat for four humans. The European Space Agency (ESA) Moon Village concept has been in development for most of this decade. Norman Foster, who has also designed for Mars, contributed design work to the Moon Village project in 2016, and SOM released information about its own Moon Village work earlier this spring. And of course, Bjarke Ingels is in on it, too. His firm, BIG, is making plans for a Mars simulator complex outside Dubai, and Ingels told the online design journal SSENSE that this work is a case study for a future Mars city. There’s beginning to be a long history to the notion that designing space for humans in space is a task that requires not just engineering, but architecture as well. At the inception of the Soviet Soyuz project in 1957, chief designer Sergei Korolev was unhappy with the capsule interiors that his engineers were drawing. The only architect working for the Soviet space program at that time was a woman named Galina Balashova, who was designing their office spaces. Korolev hired Balashova to redesign the habitable spaces of Soyuz, and later the space stations Salyut and Mir. Her work is still orbiting today as part of the International Space Station. On the other side of the Space Race, the Americans hired industrial designer Raymond Loewy to do the interior fit-out for Skylab. Famously, he was the one who talked them into adding a window and suggested that the best place for it would be next to the zero-gee “dining table” on the station. Back on Earth, the Space Architecture Studio and Research Lab, founded by the late Yoshiko Sato at Columbia GSAPP, now continues at Pratt under the guidance of Michael Morris, Sato’s husband. For over 30 years, the University of Houston has hosted the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. The chief space architect for AI SpaceFactory’s award-winning MARSHA design was Jeffrey Montes, an alum of the GSAPP studio. And Suzana Bianco, a graduate of the Houston program, was a copanelist at the Space Studies Institute conference in Seattle, presenting her New Venice habitat design. In technical circles within space science, the design of a total system—with launch capability, flight modules, crew or cargo space, and recovery—is known as an “architecture.” But in most of the presentations about various technical architectures for space travel and space settlement in Seattle last month—Bianco’s presentation being a welcome exception—there was little talk about the value that architects bring to those systems. No one knows space like architects do, and these threads that connect the (still largely speculative) work taking place in outer space today with the history of architectural space on Earth are too often neglected by those working in the field. Alongside all of this talk about “how?” the other question haunting the space settlement work being discussed at this conference and elsewhere was “who?”—as in “who will pay for all of this?” Even as the costs and barriers to entry drop, there is still uncertainty about the ways in which value might be designed into the projects that will help people live in space. Whether the users of the systems under design by these space architects are tourists, miners, hotelkeepers, or simple explorers, the question of “who?” is intimately tied up in the “why?” The architect Cedric Price famously asked, “Technology is the answer, but what was the question?” Maybe architects are the designers best positioned to ask, and even answer, these questions about space.
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Double Dutch 2.0

Could jump roping robots change how we think about architectural drawing?

"Movement was always an underlying instigator to how I look at form," explains architect Amina Blacksher, who began ballet at age six. Her work crosses boundaries and unifies seemingly disparate practices, as she now, among many other things, uses the tools and methods of an architect to investigate the place of robots in our lives and the relationship between the analog and digital. Most recently, her explorations of movement and robotics have taken the form of two arms that join humans to play jump rope.

Two industrial robotic arms from ABB, jointed similarly to a human's, swing ropes in partnership with a human while people Double Dutch amid the ropes. Custom 3D-printed grips are attached to the robotic manipulators to hold on to the ropes but also to allow for human error, like stepping on a rope, without toppling over the robots.

The Double Dutch project began at Princeton University during the Black Imagination Matters incubator and Blacksher has continued to develop the project, exploring the cultural history of jumping—from children’s games to the Maasai jumping tradition, trying to evoke that “cleansing moment” when suspended in the air.

The Double Dutch robots reveal the intelligence inherent in our bodies: the fact that children’s games possess so much kinetic knowledge that we often overlook and that there is such a profound complexity to sensing and moving through our world. "Rhythm is something we often take for granted," said Blacksher, “but even a simple circle with a jump rope is not a continuous velocity. It’s weighted, it has a rhythmic bias.” It requires choreography, something that is seemingly so "simple" for humans, children even, but incredibly difficult for robots. And these ironies and oppositions are revealing.

The Double Dutch project is part of Blacksher’s mission to help us realize new relationships to robots and a more complicated relationship to the typically divided analog and digital. It's also about normalizing what is likely to become increasingly commonplace human-robot relationships.

As an architectural problem, robots could change how we make and understand space. "No arc is absolutely the same," Blacksher said of the swings made by the jump rope robot. “I’m compiling these micro-deviations to create a pseudospace that could be 3D printed or spun." In a way, the arcs these robots make are a form of architectural drawing, but a drawing through physical space in three dimensions. This is leading Blacksher to ask: “How do you make a drawing that has a duration?”

Architecture began with hand drawing and has obviously been radically impacted by 2D CAD software, then powerful 3D software suites, and more recent technologies like virtual reality. Robotics has the power of "redefining what a drawing is," said Blacksher, moving it into 3D space and “using the body again in the generation of a drawing in a way that makes the design process exponentially more intelligent.” By using digital and physical technology in real space and establishing a unique circuit of the relationships between code, movement, embodiment, image, and space, architects might find new tools and new ways of thinking through design problems. "It’s in the relationship between the analog and digital where I’m interested in finding form."

Blacksher’s research is ongoing. Some of it will be incorporated into future classes at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and updated Double Dutch robots will be exhibited in Los Angeles this fall. Blacksher hopes to "raise the stakes of holding robots to accountability in terms of rhythmic precision, and their relationship to  space and time." She hopes we can see a future where "robots are friends, not just something purely functional."

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Curatorial Platform

Architect creates app to change how exhibitions are designed
For all the advances in technology over the past decade, the experience of curating and viewing museum shows has remained relatively unchanged. Even though digital archive systems exist and have certainly helped bring old institutions into the present, they have relatively little influence over the ways museum shows are designed and shared. The normal practice is more or less “old school” and even borderline “dysfunctional,” said Bika Rebek, principal of the New York and Vienna–based firm Some Place Studio. In fact, a survey she conducted early on found that many of the different software suites that museum professionals were using were major time sinks for their jobs. Fifty percent said they felt they were “wasting time” trying to fill in data or prepare presentations for design teams. To Rebek, this is very much an architectural problem, or at least a problem architects can solve. She has been working over the past two years, supported by NEW INC and the Knight Foundation, to develop Tools for Show, an interactive web-based application for designing and exploring exhibitions at various scales—from the level of a vitrine to a multi-floor museum. Leveraging her experiences as an architect, 3D graphics expert, and exhibition designer (she’s worked on major shows for the Met and Met Breuer, including the OMA-led design for the 2016 Costume Institute exhibition Manus x Machina), Rebek began developing a web-based application to enable exhibition designers and curators to collaborate, and to empower new ways of engaging with cultural material for users anywhere. Currently, institutions use many different gallery tools, she explained, which don’t necessarily interact and don’t usually let curators think spatially in a straightforward way. Tools for Show allows users to import all sorts of information and metadata from existing collection management software (or enter it anew), which is attached to artworks stored in a library that can then be dragged and dropped into a 3D environment at scale. Paintings and simple 3D shapes are automatically generated, though, for more complex forms where the image projected onto a form of a similar footprint isn’t enough, users could create their own models.  For example, to produce the New Museum’s 2017 show Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, Rebek rendered the space and included many of the basic furnishings unique to the museum. For other projects, like a test case with the Louvre's sculptures, she found free-to-use models and 3D scans online. Users can drag these objects across the 3D environments and access in-depth information about them with just a click. With quick visual results and Google Docs-style automatic updates for collaboration, Tools for Show could help not just replace more cumbersome content management systems, but endless emails too. Rebek sees Tools for Show as having many potential uses. It can be used to produce shows, allowing curators to collaboratively and easily design and re-design their exhibitions, and, after the show comes down it can serve as an archive. It can also be its own presentation system—not only allowing “visitors” from across the globe to see shows they might otherwise be unable to see, but also creating new interactive exhibitions or even just vitrines, something she’s been testing out with Miami’s Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. More than just making work easier for curators and designers, Tools for Show could possibly give a degree of curatorial power and play over to a broader audience. “[Tools for Show] could give all people the ability to curate their own show without any technical knowledge,” she explained. And, after all, you can't move around archival materials IRL, so why not on an iPad? While some of the curator-focused features of Tools for Show are in the testing phase, institutions can already request the new display tools like those shown at Vizcaya. Rebek, as a faculty member at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, has also worked with students to use Tools for Show in conjunction with photogrammetry techniques in an effort to develop new display methods for otherwise inaccessible parts of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, a history and naval and aerospace museum located in a decommissioned aircraft carrier floating in the Hudson River. At a recent critique, museum curators were invited to see the students’ new proposals and explore the spatial visualizations of the museum through interactive 3D models, AR, VR, as well as in-browser and mobile tools that included all sorts of additional media and information.
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A Look Inside

Unmentionables Symposium promises a fresh look at the current state of interior architecture
This spring, the Woodbury School of Architecture in Los Angeles will once again present the Unmentionables Symposiuman experimental program made up of talks and interactive performances that aims to provide a fresh look at the current state of interior architecture. Presented by Woodbury’s Department of Interior Architecture, the symposium hopes to go further than past years by providing a “forum for rarely mentioned ideas in spatial practice and theory” that also interrogates the conventional format of the symposium itself. Last presented in 2017, the biennial gathering aims to bring to light some of the conveniently ignored elements of interior architecture. The 2017 symposium showcased wide-ranging lectures on the importance of curtains in architecture, for example, as well as panel discussions centered around air and atmosphere, labor issues, and gender, among other topics. Rather than engaging in the conventional lecture- and panel discussion-focused programming for the 2019 event, symposium coordinator Maria Kobalyan explained that the organizers instead hope to embrace new discursive formats and open-ended presentations in tandem with under-sung topics. Kobalyan added, “We just don’t want people to be sitting down all day.” This year’s symposium is set to take place at WUHO Gallery in Hollywood and will feature keynote presentations by Jane Rendell, Director of Architectural Research at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and Joel Sanders of Joel Sanders Architect. Rendell has written extensively on gendered urban spaces and on the blurred lines between art and architectural practice, among other topics, while Sanders practices architecture and has also published a book on inclusive bathroom design. Other speakers include Los Angeles architect Lauren Amador; Los Angeles-, Richmond-, and London-based Peter Culley of Spatial Affairs Bureau; and Deborah Schneiderman of DeSc: Architecture and Pratt University.

The full list of speakers:

  • Lauren Amador, Principal, Amador Architecture
  • Amy Campos, Associate Professor and Chair of Interior Design, California College of the Arts
  • Annie Coggan, Adjunct Associate Professor of Interior Design, Pratt Institute
  • Matthew Gillis, Principal, G!LL!S; Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Interior Architecture, Woodbury University
  • Parsa Rezaee, MArch 1 Candidate, Woodbury University
  • Jennifer Meakins, Adjunct Faculty Adjunct Professor of Interior Architecture, Woodbury University, California Polytechnic State University Pomona
  • Emily Pellicano, Assistant Professor, Marywood University School of Architecture
  • Bryony Roberts, Founder, Bryony Roberts Studio; Assistant Professor, Columbia GSAPP
  • Cathrine Veikos, Professor of Architecture, California College of the Arts
  • Deborah Schneiderman, Principal/Founder, deSc, Professor of Interior Design, Pratt Institute
  • Igor Siddiqui, Associate Professor and Program Director of Interior Design, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Rossen Ventzislavov, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Woodbury University
The symposium is set to take place on April 6. See the Unmentionables Symposium website for more information.
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Political Innovation

Andrés Jaque offers an approach to "intersectional architecture"

Andrés Jaque is the founder of the New York and Madrid–based Office for Political Innovation. By exploring the expanded potential of architecture through both speculative and realized designs, the firm has received numerous accolades, including the 2015 MoMA/PS1 Young Architects Program and the 2016 Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts. In 2014, Jaque’s SALES ODDITY: Milano 2 and the Politics of Direct-to-Home TV Urbanism garnered a 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale Silver Lion award. The 2011 IKEA Disobedients was the first “architectural performance” piece to enter the Museum of Modern Art’s collection. In this project, local residents were invited to hack IKEA furniture, and in doing so publicly perform their everyday private talents and determine their own lifestyles. The project suggests that not all people necessarily abide by the same normative principles or architectural dictates. Jaque is also the director of the Columbia University GSAPP postgraduate Advanced Architectural Design program.

As a member of this year’s AN Best of Design Awards jury, Jaque spoke to The Architect’s Newspaper contributor Adrian Madlener about the current state of architecture. 

The Architect’s Newspaper: What roles do architecture and urbanism play in addressing today’s global challenges?

Andrés Jaque: Architecture and urbanism have a responsibility to mediate some of the most pressing topics reshaping contemporary life: environmental degradation, mounting geopolitical tensions, and the articulation of physical and virtual worlds. There are three unavoidable facts facing society today: Climate change is forcing humanity to redefine how we engage with nature; technology is becoming increasingly autonomous, making it impossible for humanity to maintain control over its impact; and the evolving interaction society has with the offline and the online realms is blurring the distinction between what is real and what is virtual.

Attempting to set clear boundaries between these two realities requires a greater effort. Architecture plays an important role in all these issues. The field has a great capacity and responsibility in the making of facts catering to the collective sense of truth that all forces in society should now—more than ever—respect. Architecture is in the best disciplinary position it has ever been to shape the present and propose potential scenarios for the future.

AN: How can the discipline look to the past to inform the present?

AJ: As architects, we have to reflect on our practice, but also on our legacy. On one hand, we need to develop new ways to operate and respond to changing societal and environmental paradigms. On the other hand, we need to reconsider how we view our predecessors, how we understand and learn from architectural history. Just a few years ago, figures like Cedric Price, Lina Bo Bardi, the Ant Farm collective, and Frederick Kiesler were seen as marginal. Today, these unsung innovators are proving to be the best sources of information for tackling the field’s evolutionary challenges.

AN: You often say that architecture needs to incorporate knowledge from other disciplines. What are the benefits of this interdisciplinary approach?   

AJ: Architecture has the unique capacity to express different perspectives, materialities, temporalities, and scales in interventions charged with multiplicity. Whatever priorities we’re going to address, our response needs to be informed by different realities. Architecture is not an isolated practice. We have to consult other fields: science, art, technology, etcetera. In that way, the discourse around our discipline is becoming more intersectional. It’s important to understand that the design of a building or environment cannot just be accomplished with form and aesthetics alone. Different political, social, economic, and ecological implications need to be considered if a design is to be relevant. 

I defend the concept of intersectional architecture in my capacity as a practitioner and educator. My goal is to develop methodologies that can shift architecture’s interdependence on different realities into an opportunity to engage criticality and to intervene in many areas of contemporary life that are currently being disputed.

AN: Do any of your current projects exemplify the concept of intersectional architecture?

AJ: At Office for Political Innovation, we’re currently designing an experimental school. The project obliges us to simultaneously consider the daily life of its students, but also the larger context that they will occupy. On a larger scale, we’re actually structuring an ecosystem that addresses its own consumption. This aspect will also become an important resource when teaching the students about sustainability. 

We’re also currently designing a house on one of the outer islands near Corpus Christi, Texas. Our proposal offers solutions on different levels. On one hand, it’ll serve as a getaway for a Dallas-based family; on the other, it’ll collect fresh rainfall to irrigate the surrounding mangrove—an important line of defense that can combat erosion and rising sea levels. The house can accommodate the owner’s almost hedonistic desires while still ensuring the survival of its surroundings. What we’re realizing in our practice is that architecture needs to simultaneously cater to different realities within a single response. A design has the ability to address often disparate elements and perspectives.

AN: From your experience as a cocurator of 2018’s Manifesta 12 biennial in Palermo, Italy, how do you think art practice influences the way we imagine and/or create cities?

AJ: Palermo is not a city but rather a hub for the stratified relationships that tie it to distant places like sub-Saharan West Africa, Bangladesh, and the United States. These connections occur through the flow of capital and investment—that dispute the future of the city’s built environment—but also the nearby military base that foreign powers use to strike the Middle East and northern Africa. Palermo’s architecture, the dialectic between its role on a local and global level, has proved to be ineffectual in dealing with these transnational interactions.

In this scenario, architecture and art are the only disciplines that can bring heterogeneous situations together. Whether it’s the migration crisis or a personal struggle, these realities simultaneously develop on different scales. Architecture and art can mediate the evolution of these realities by introducing the values of urbanity, new forms of citizenship, and the aesthetics of inclusivity. This can only happen if such interventions take stock of what is already in place and grasp the full scope of complexity that the context might contain. To be truly impactful, the initiatives must cater to all parts rather than just the most powerful elements. An open cultural platform like the Manifesta art biennial offers architects and artists the space to test out independent action that the urgency of commercial commissions rarely provides. 

AN: How is architecture education changing?

AJ: Within the Advanced Architectural Design Program that I direct at Columbia University, students—who already have significant experience with design as a critical medium—explore new forms of practice in different contexts. They gain an analytical understanding that will allow them to intervene and apply architecture as a contemporary methodology. Various speculative exercises allow them to test out how the field could have a wider scope of influence in the future. They don’t learn a predetermined set of skills, but rather work together and with faculty to reinvent architecture as a discipline that can respond to the world’s greatest problems. 

It is crucial that they are able to translate this discursive approach when entering or reentering the profession. In our program, we’re trying to change architectural education by introducing an experimental pedagogy. Students are given the time and space to develop situated projects that address specific, real-world briefs. With its many firms, experts, advocacy agencies, and organizations, New York offers the perfect context for these investigations.

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Top Five

MoMA picks five finalists for the Young Architects Program 2019
The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 have announced the five finalists for next year’s 20th annual Young Architects Program (YAP). The finalists are each invited to propose an installation design for PS1’s outdoor courtyard in Long Island City, Queens. The winning proposal will be revealed in early 2019 and installed next summer. The selection below hints at MoMA’s commitment to showcasing forward-thinking architects who use eye-catching design, strategic planning, and social media to garner global influence. Not only do these teams create innovative spaces and experiences, but they incorporate imaginative materials and movement into every project they pursue.  Meet the finalists below: Pedro & Juana Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo and Mecky Reuss Mexico City This Mexican design duo has made major splashes in the architecture world since establishing their firm in 2012. Many of their projects feature furniture-driven designs, as seen in their interior public space installation, Dear Rudolph, for the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The pair met in 2005 while attending SCI-Arc and formed their practice years later. Not only do they design their own furnishings and fixtures for many of their projects, but they incorporate art and whimsy into every piece. For the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, Pedro & Juana created a festive and colorful ceiling full of lanterns and planters within the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Low Design Office (LOWDO) DK Osseo-Asare State College, Pennsylvania DK Osseo-Asare of the Austin, Texas-based firm LOWDO explores the links between sustainability, technology, and geopolitics. Together with his design partner, Ryan Bollom, the young practitioner designs eco-friendly family homes and living systems. In 2017, they created the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP), a transnational project that helps bolster maker ecosystems in Africa by teaching students and young professionals how to reuse recycled materials. One of the firm's biggest projects includes designing and planning the new towns of Koumbi City in Ghana and Anam City in Nigeria. Oana Stanescu & Akane Moriyama New York Romanian architect Oana Stanescu is a founding partner of the New York–based design firm, Family, and cofounder of the Friends of +Pool nonprofit. Her work in architecture features a multidisciplinary approach, which can be seen in the ambitious design of the world’s first floating pool and Family’s 2013 stage design for Kanye West’s Yeezus tour. Stanescu recently stepped out to start a practice under her own name, taking her extensive experience working on exhibition design, public housing, and commercial projects, as well as urban development, with her. She’s has held teaching positions at MIT and Columbia University GSAPP, and served as a critic at Yale and Harvard.  Stockholm-based artist and designer Akane Moriyama weaves the fields of architecture and textile together in her work. After studying at both the Kyoto University of Technology in Japan and the Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Sweden, she began incorporating the practices of dying, knitting, sewing, and printing into her projects. In 2013, she won the Center for American Architecture and Design's competition CURTAINS, installing a large-scale prism made of billowy, sheer drapes in a courtyard at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has been shown widely from Tokyo to Venice. Matter Design Brandon Clifford Boston Matter Design, led by director and cofounder Brandon Clifford, isn't afraid to experiment. The Boston-based design/research studio regularly publishes architectural research into new fabrication techniques but also combines the theoretical with the practical in using those same techniques to create products. This synthesis of research and practice is at the heart of Matter Design; for example, take The Cannibal's Cookbooka guidebook for constructing walls from interlocking pieces of scrap masonry, and Cyclopean Cannibalism, a real-world realization of a "recipe" from the book. Carving, stacking, and discovering new twists on ancient craft techniques have driven much of Matter Design's research. The studio was also recognized with an Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers in 2013. TO Carlos Facio and Jose G. Amozurrutia Mexico City To TO founders Carlos Facio and Jose G. Amozurrutia, the line between art and architecture was meant to be blurred. TO, a small, three-year-old Mexico City–based practice, regularly blends hand-crafting with architectural ideas. For their 2016 Hermés Pavilion in Milan, the studio collaborated with Taller Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo to abstract one element of a typical building—the colonnade—into a spiraling structure made solely of brick piers. The resultant interplay of light and shadow was just as important to the project as the columns themselves, demonstrating the studio's attention to architecture's more ethereal qualities. Past YAP winners include Dream the Combine (2018), Jenny Sabin (2017), and Escobedo Soliz Studio (2016).
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Best of the West

AIA | LA design awards highlight Southern California's best design
The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles chapter (AIA|LA) has announced its annual design awards winners for 2018, highlighting the work of many of the region's most creative and thoughtful architecture practices. Awarded across three categories—Design, Next LA, and Committee on the Environment (COTE) LA—the organization's award program is designed to recognize achievements in overall design, highlight the work by emerging designers, and bring attention to hallmark sustainability-focused projects. Within each category, awards are ranked into "honor," "merit," and "citation" rankings.

Design Awards

This year's design category awards acknowledge a wide array of project types, from an undulating transit station in Seattle by Brooks + Scarpa to a Modernist-inspired winery by Bestor Architecture. The highlighted projects feature simple geometries that come outfitted with performative architectural elements like screen walls and shading devices that not only lend formal interest to each project but also manipulate light in essential and evocative ways. A full list of the design winners is below:
HONOR AWARDS
Animo South Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Parallax Gap
Washington, DC
Camelot Kids Child Development Center
Los Angeles, CA
KeltnerCo Architecture + Design
Mariposa1038
Los Angeles, CA
Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects (LOHA)
Fenlon House
Los Angeles, CA
Martin Fenlon Architecture
Mayumi
Culver City, CA
ShubinDonaldson
MERIT AWARD
Ashes & Diamonds
Napa, CA
Stoneview Nature Center
Culver City, CA
Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects
UCSB San Joaquin Student Housing
Santa Barbara, CA
Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects
Studio Dental II
San Francisco, CA
Montalba Architects, Inc.
 
CITATION AWARDS
Angle Lake Station
Seattle/SeaTac, WA
Brooks + Scarpa
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
Chicago, Illinois
HDR | Gensler with Clive Wilkinson Architects
Advanced Stem & Design Institutes
Los Angeles, CA
 
G-Cubed
Los Angeles, CA
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
2018 AIA|LA Design awards jury:
Steve Dumez, FAIA – Principal and Director of Design, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple
Elaine Molinar, AIA, LEED AP – Partner and Managing Director – The Americas, Snøhetta
Brett Steele, AA DIPL, HON FRIBA, FRSA – Dean, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture
 

Next LA Awards

AIA|LA's Next LA Awards highlight unbuilt or in-the-works projects that push the envelope in terms of design or programmatic configuration. Synthesis Design + Architecture's Nansha Scholar's Tower in Guangzhou, China, for example, is formally inspired by smooth river rock cultural artifacts known as Gongshi and features a pair of pass-through elevated terraces that cycle air through the mid-rise tower's core. R&A Architecture and Design's Sunset Tower, on the other hand, proposes to use extended, undulating floor plates to create variable balcony and terrace spaces for a speculative development in West Hollywood. A full list of the Next LA winners:
HONOR
Boyle Tower
Los Angeles, CA
MUTUO
MERIT
Apertures
Mexico City, Mexico
Belzberg Architects
The New Center of Science & Technology in Suzhou
Shishan Park, Suzhou, China
Kevin Daly Architects
Pioneertown House
Pioneertown, CA
PARA-Project
Camp Lakota
Frazier Park, CA
Perkins+Will
Mercado El Alto
Puebla, Mexico
Rios Clementi Hale Studios
CITATION
MLK1101 Supportive Housing
Los Angeles, CA
Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects
Sunset Tower
West Hollywood, CA
R&A Architecture + Design
Nansha Scholar's Tower
Guangzhou, China
Synthesis Design + Architecture & SCUT Architectural Design & Research Institute
2018 AIA|LA Next LA awards jury: 
David Benjamin – Founding Principal, The Living, and Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP
Mario Cipresso, AIA – Associate Principal, Hawkins/Brown
Elizabeth Timme – Co-Founder, LA-Más

COTE LA Awards

The Committee on the Environment (COTE) LA awards focus on performance and sustainability. Gensler's CSUN Sustainability Center at the California State University, Northridge, campus in the San Fernando Valley utilizes recycled materials and furniture, makes efficient use of passive lighting, and features solar-powered electricity and hot water. The Arizona State University Biodesign Institute C complex by ZGF Architects, an Honor award winner, delivers energy savings of over 44 percent when compared to existing campus laboratories. The full list of COTE LA winners:
HONOR
Arizona State University Biodesign Institute C Tempe, AZ
ZGF Architects
CSUN Sustainability Center
Northridge, CA
Gensler
 
MERIT
Otis College of Art and Design Campus Expansion Los Angeles, CA Ehrlich | Fisher   UCSB BioEngineering Santa Barbara, CA Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners   West Hollywood Automated Parking Garage West Hollywood, CA LPA, Inc.   CITATION Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability, Pitzer College Claremont, CA Carrier Johnson + Culture  
2018 AIA|LA COTE LA awards jury: 
William Leddy, FAIA – Founding Principal, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
Douglas E. Noble, FAIA – Director, Master of Building Science USC School of Architecture
Anne Schopf, FAIA – Partner, Mahlum Architects
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The Circle of Life

GSAPP’s DeathLAB examines evolving attitudes towards mortality
The SANAA-designed 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art at Kanazawa, Japan, is hosting the exhibition DeathLAB: Democratizing Death, featuring works by the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP)-based, transdisciplinary lab, led by associate professor of architecture Karla Rothstein. The exhibition is free and runs through March 24, 2019. The exhibition covers DeathLAB's architectural and artistic proposals that address the changing nature of spaces of death in contemporary society, a topic with particular relevance to Japan. The Japanese urban landscape is stressed by over-population, declining birthrates, and an aging population. Due to a shortage of space, people have begun seeking affordable space-saving burial measures. For example, in Tokyo, CNN reported on the Ruriden, a repository of LED-lit Buddha statues, and Shinjuku Rurikoin Byakurengedo, a futuristic temple designed by Kiyoshi Sey Takeyama of Amorphe. It contains a “smart library for ashes” that transports people using a conveyor belt system to underground urns. Alternative practices such as online funerals are also on the rise. The exhibition showcases DeathLAB’s ongoing work in this area through a three-part film and architectural models. The films feature interviews with experts in areas ranging from philosophy to historic preservation.
An illuminated model of Constellation Park, a 2014 unbuilt project, has been assembled for the show. According to a statement by the museum’s curator, Yoshiko Takahashi, “the project proposed nesting thousands of light-emitting ‘memorial vessels’ underneath New Yorkʼs iconic Manhattan Bridge. Harnessing the human bodyʼs latent bio-energy, the memorial vessels would be populated with calibrated microbial colonies to gradually decompose corpses over the course of a year, generating methane that would, in turn, be used to illuminate the vessel network in a dazzling constellation of mourning lights.” The lab believes that death transcends differences of “ethnicity, religion, and political/economic constraints." Constellation Park is meant to be an example of how death can be “democratized” in the metropolis. The project reinterprets the process of biodegradation present in natural burials. It is inspired by the 1960s Japanese Metabolist movement that was enamored with the relationship between organic biological growth and architecture. Check out this link for more details.
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In Deep Water

Columbia professor Anthony Acciavatti on the technical engineering of India’s sacred river
Anthony Acciavatti, Columbia GSAPP Professor and award-winning author, delivered a lecture at Greenpoint creative space A/D/O earlier this week on his 2015 book titled Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River. The event is part of the company's #Waterfutures Research Program that challenges designers and researchers to rethink the global drinking water crisis. Acciavatti reflected on his decade-long fieldwork where he traveled by foot, boat, and car to document the Ganges River basin from its source in the Himalayas to the historic city of Patna nearly 1,000 kilometers downstream. During the lecture, Acciavatti explained the difficulties of obtaining satellite imagery at a time when web-mapping services such as Google Maps were not yet invented. Instead, he resorted to designing and building his own instruments to map and visualize the region’s data. As a founding partner at Somatic Collaborative, Acciavatti is now actively working with his partner Felipe Correa, who was recently named Chair of Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, as well as Indian authorities to realize his research and designs for the region. The Ganges is a trans-boundary river, which crosses India, Bangladesh, and other South Asian countries. According to various reports, the Ganges is highly polluted by human activity, but it still is the source of drinking water for over 400 million people. Acciavatti's book doesn't focus on the region’s pollution, but instead investigates the 19th century British engineering that made the network of irrigation canals and aqueducts possible. He was also interested in identifying the political implications of how water became a powerful political resource throughout the river’s historical evolution and what it means today.
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Starting June 1

Andrés Jaque to direct Columbia GSAPP's advanced architectural design program
This week Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) Dean Amale Andraos broke the news that Andrés Jaque will direct the school's Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design (AAD) program, starting June 1. The program is a three-semester professional degree for those who hold a B.Arch or M.Arch. Current Director and Associate Professor Enrique Walker will cede the reigns to Jaque after a decade of directing the AAD program (Walker will continue to teach at GSAPP).

"I am thrilled for Andrés Jaque to take on the directorship of GSAPP’s Advanced Architectural Design program. He has been an important member of our faculty who is greatly admired by faculty and students alike for his unique reframing of architecture and its ability to engage the urgent issues of our time, as well as his ability to re-shape design and contemporary practice through his influential pedagogical approach,” said Dean Amale Andraos, in prepared remarks. "I’m very thankful for the rigorous vision and dedication that Enrique Walker has brought to the program during his directorship. Enrique established a strong legacy of bringing experimental approaches to research and design, and built a program that is firmly grounded in forming positions through design."

Jaque has taught at GSAPP since 2015. He is the founder of the New York- and Madrid-based studio Office for Political Innovation, which explores architecutre through built work as well as performance.