Though design details haven’t been released yet, the upcoming 450-foot tower is slated to contain 750,000-square-feet of office space with room for a conference center, a childcare facility, retail space, and an underground garage. Initial concepts for the project lightly reference the surrounding city buildings in the Civic Center District, including Los Angeles City Hall, a structure of similar height. Plans also call for a landscape that links pedestrians to Little Tokyo nearby, according to Urbanize L.A. After issuing a request for qualifications this spring, the Bureau of Engineering reduced the five submissions it received down to a shortlist of three. Below are those finalists: DTLA Civic Partners, LLC This local team is led by SOM and Clark Construction, funded by Meridiam and Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, and managed by ENGIE Services. LAC 3 Partners L.A.-based firm Morphosis is at the helm of LAC 3, which includes Hensel Phelps Construction, Macquarie Financial Holdings, and JLC Infrastructure, as well as Honeywell International in operations management. Plenary Collaborative Los Angeles Smith Group and Renzo Piano Building Workshop are working together on the design for the project, while Webcor Construction, Plenary Group, and Johnson Controls will serve as the building, equity, and operations experts respectively. Once this shortlist is approved by the L.A. Board of Public Works, an RFP will be presented to the City Council ahead of any further announcements. Construction is expected to start next year and end in 2023.
As we say goodbye to what served as the LAPD’s Headquarters for many decades, Parker Center, we are reminded that our past is full of memories and life lessons that shape our present and our future — we are excited to see what this historic site will hold. pic.twitter.com/96hacwDJah— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 15, 2019
Search results for "Morphosis"
Less than three months after the controversial demolition of the Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles, a shortlist of high-profile architects has been released to head up the design of a new, 27-story municipal office tower in its place. The $700 million “Los Angeles Street Civic Building Project” as it’s temporarily called, is being spearheaded by L.A. Bureau of Engineering and has been in the works for quite some time. The agency, which oversees the planning, design, and construction of all public buildings, infrastructure, and public spaces, first introduced the idea to raze the Parker Center, previously home to the city’s police department for 55 years, and build atop it in 2016. At the same time, the Cultural Heritage Commission was trying to get the aging building landmarked but failed to meet the deadline. The L.A. City Council ultimately approved the overall proposal in 2017 on the belief that a new tower would be less expensive than preserving and revamping the Parker Center’s 319,000-square-foot exterior envelope.
ACADIA announces keynote speakers and awardees for 2019 conference
The Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), an organization that connects architects and design professionals working with digital technology, has announced the awardees and recipients for its 2019 conference, which will be held this October at the University of Texas at Austin. Titled “Ubiquity and Autonomy,” ACADIA says this year’s conference will investigate “the blurred divide between analog and digital processes,” a division (or non-division) of increasing importance to both architecture and daily life. Through various presentations of papers and projects, participants will question how emerging technology might change both how architecture is done, and what architecture is. Keynotes will be given by Morphosis's founding principal Thom Mayne, Jakob + MacFarlane founding partner Dominique Jakob, and UNStudio senior associate Harlen Miller. Mayne will also be receiving the ACADIA 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. Awards will also be given to Dana Cupkova, Roland Snooks, Jose Sanchez, and Chris Yessios, and the Master of Science in Digital and Material Technologies at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning will be recognized as well. Leading up to the conference, which takes place from October 24 to 26, there will be three days of workshops with titles such as: Digital Tailoring: Form-Fitting Bizarre and Provocative Typologies, an investigation of the meeting of architecture, fashion, and the body, and Freeform Fabrication: Hand-bending timber structures with intelligent holographic guides, which will look at mixed-reality solutions for timber construction.
Helsinki-based architects at JKMM are designing this year's Burning Man pavilion. In true Finnish style, the installation will be a full-fledged sauna. Each year, the organizers of Burning Man, the festival-slash-anarcho-communist gathering in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, ask designers to envision and execute singular works of art. For the festival's 2019 edition, organizers tapped JKMM and Sauna on Fire to design Steam of Life, a usable installation that's intended to energize participants with a good schvitz and introduce people to Finnish sauna culture. The circular Steam of Life will be built from timber, and its spiraling program is meant to gradually transition visitors from the harsh and arid conditions outside into the moist spa bliss within. According to JKMM, a curving passage will beckon the sauna-ready through a darkened area as a soft transition from the desert's brightness. The interior, meanwhile, is furnished with wooden benches and a stove. After the session, visitors will file into the shaded atrium at the center of the pavilion for a final cool down and relaxation. JKMM CEO Samppa Lappalainen selected architects Marcus Kujala, Hannu Rytky, and Päivi Aaltio from his firm to design the project, which will be built by Burners (Burning Man attendees) at the end of this month. JKMM's collaborators at Sauna on Fire are sponsoring a camp at Black Rock City—Burning Man attendees sort themselves out into camps—districts—organized around the burning effigy for which the gathering is named. Following this year's theme of "metamorphosis," Steam of Life's core values, according to its designers, are " [co-creation], volunteerism and inclusion of diverse participant backgrounds. Through self-organizing as an organization model, we aim to empower participants to learn new skills and foster a positive spirit for learning via decentralized decision-making via the build of a sauna installation to Black Rock City. Moreover, in the long run, this way of organizing could foster new types of civic engagement and even address social problems such as marginalization in society. Ultimately, we wish to distribute our learnt [sic] knowledge about the co-created content to a wider audience." But there will be no funny business along the road to a better society. A concept packet released by Sauna on Fire maintains it is not a "party camp" or "XXX," and notes that there should be no "wild sex orgy in the sauna." Keep it clean, y'all. The earnest design of Steam of Life will complement this year's Burning Man central temple. Designed by San Francisco architect Geordie Van Der Bosch, the temple references the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan. For those who have tickets, Burning Man begins next Sunday, August 25 and runs through September 2.
Morphosis Architects has unveiled its vision for the upcoming Korean American National Museum in Los Angeles. Slated for a small site in L.A.’s Koreatown district, the two-story cultural space will embody the past, present, and future of the Korean-American experience through the integration of a distinct multi-cultural landscape. Led by Thom Mayne and Morphosis partner Eui-Saung Yi, the project will be the first permanent home for the institution, which was established in 1991 in order to preserve and interpret the history and achievements of Americans with Korean heritage. According to the architects, the design of the museum’s future building was inspired by Eulho Suh, a Morphosis alum and founder of Suh Architects in Seoul, South Korea. His work is heavily influenced by the concept of “displaced memory” and its embodiment in the physical space. Several elements within Morphosis’ proposal attempt to pay tribute to this idea. For example, the museum’s plan is structured around the traditional Korean Hanok, or home with a classic courtyard in the middle. The building’s core features a central open space through which everything else—from the fluid ring of galleries to the offices and meeting rooms—is centered around. Even its sweeping concrete facade, which forms an abstract shape that rises from a thin, landscaped podium, isn’t able to give away the surprising scale of the sculptural interior. The bottom of the structure, which dually serves as a welcoming public space, will feature an embossed pattern typically found outside Korean palaces. With the landscape as the main focus of the architecture, Morphosis set out to create what they call an “allegorical migration” of the Korean-American experience, full of traditional Korean plants mixed with local California flora. This is most easily seen in a rendering of the rooftop sculpture garden which will contain maple, pine, and bamboo trees. By combining these plantings, the museum acknowledges the impact of Korean immigrants in the United States, and the continuing duality of both countries’ existence today. Morphosis also notes that the museum’s external configuration is meaningful. Located at the corner of 6th Street and Vermont Avenue, guests will enter the museum at the corner of the intersection and be greeted with a triple-height gallery with two intersecting volumes. “By disengaging from the Cartesian direction of the city blocks,” writes Morphosis on its website, “the new orientation signifies the autonomy of the displaced landscape and begins a more dynamic centrifugal experience.” The Korean American National Museum is scheduled to break ground next year, with an estimated completion planned for 2020.
I Qiddiya not
Arquitectonica, Morphosis, HOK, Snøhetta, and more in running for massive Qiddiya giga-project in Saudi Arabia
Saudia Arabia is thinking big. A $500 billion project unveiled last year known as "NEOM" was dubbed a megacity and now, increasing by a factor of 1,000, Qiddiya, a new entertainment, sports, and arts venue, is being marketed as a "giga-project." Twenty-one architects have been tapped to work on the project so far, including nine US firms: H.O.K., Populous, Arquitectonica, Morphosis, Asymptote, 5+, CallisonRTKL, Rossetti Architects and Rockwell Group. The London office of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is master planning the site, meanwhile, other practices will contribute to projects within the 130 square mile site, a third of which will be developed on. WilkinsonEyre, Mangera Yvars Architects, Steve Chilton Architects, from London; Coop Himmelb(l)au from Germany; 10 Design from Hong Kong and local studios Dar Al Omran and X Architects comprise the remaining architects involved. Securing that many architects of reputable caliber will be considered a scoop considering the news last year that Sir Norman Foster, Carlo Ratti, and other leading design professionals withdrew their support for the NEOM project in the wake alleged killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Qiddiya Investment Company is backing the project, which will be located 28 miles outside of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital. In a press release, the firm said BIG's plans were "constructed with careful consideration to the natural patterns that have been etched on the site throughout history, giving rise to a green-belt network carrying visitors throughout the property on roads, bike paths, and walkways built within an enhanced landscape environment."
Speaking to AN, Qiddiya's chief executive Michael Reininger said the area "will become Saudi’s capital for entertainment, sports, and the arts." The average summer daytime temperature is 113 degrees Fahrenheit. “The climate in Riyadh remains quite hot for four to five months, and our master plan was designed accordingly," Reininger said in response. "Buildings and spaces will be created ensuring there are sufficient shaded areas for the comfort of our visitors. We will introduce water and air movement to create micro-climates where temperatures can be controlled." Within BIG's proposals, five "zones" have been planned: The "resort core" will boast a car racing circuit, a Six Flags amusement park, an ice arena, and retail and dining facilities; A golf residential and community zone will offer two golf courses, equestrian facilities, a hotel, and 20 villas; An "eco zone" will offer luxury tents, the chance to spot wildlife and go hiking, and zip-lining among other outdoor activities (of which golf is included again); a "motion zone" will basically let visitors drive cars very fast, as the area will supply another racing track, this time part of a private racing resort, along with a high-speed loop for cars where "customers can discover their own cars’ max speeds," and an off-road area. Finally, Qiddiya's "City Center" will boast an aquatic center, multiplex cinema, two stadiums a bicycle velodrome, sports school, mosque, and performing arts center. All the aforementioned amenities and more will be designed by the architects involved, though who will design what has yet to be finalized. It is hoped that by 2030, the resort will attract 17 million visitors annually. According to the Architects' Journal, $30 million is spent every year by Saudis outside Saudi Arabia, something Qiddiya aims to cash in on.
OMA and KOO Architecture have won the competition to design a new Center for the Arts building for the University of Illinois at Chicago. The duo bested 35 other teams and two other finalist entries from Morphosis and STL Architects, and Johnston Marklee and UrbanWorks. The new complex is intended by the school to have both public and academic functions. It will house the School of Theatre and Music along with two theaters, a café-jazz club, and an exhibition space in a new 88,000-square-foot building. Sitting at the northwestern corner of the east side of UIC Chicago's campus, the university wants the building to link the school to the surrounding community. OMA and KOO Architecture's design features several volumes collected under a translucent roof dotted with embedded photovoltaic panels. The two main theaters are clad in reddish-orange and green materials so that they will distinctly visible through the curtain-like skin. Two mid-rise "towers" seem to hold the roof aloft—one tower faces the campus and is dedicated to student use while the other is dedicated to public programming and faces the city. According to Shohei Shigematsu, the partner in charge of OMA's New York office, the building is inspired by Walter Netsch's late modernist designs for UIC Chicago's campus, a mix of mat buildings and brutalist forms, not all of which have survived to the present day. The University of Illinois at Chicago has not announced a target completion date for the project and is currently raising the $94.5 million expected to be needed to complete construction. The project will not be OMA's first academic project in the Second City—the firm's IIT building was finished in 2003. KOO Architecture has completed a variety of projects around the region.
The Site of Memory
Heidi Bucher's latex casts of spaces are coming to New York
What if instead of photographing your home to remember its significance in your life, you recreated its walls, windows, and doors by casting them in liquid latex? That’s quite the committed way of capturing the space of life, but one that could also produce a more tangible record of space. The seminal Swiss sculptor and performance artist Heidi Bucher did just that in the mid-1970s and '80s. Late in her career, she discovered a new, experimental artform of “skinning” spaces by pressing gauze against the surface of a building or object, spreading latex on top of it, and then peeling off the cast with all her might. A survey of these monumental pieces, which have been pristinely kept by her family, will be on view in the new exhibition, Heidi Bucher: The Site of Memory, at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York from April 29 to June 15. Viewers will be able to see up-close and personal the details and textures that Bucher was able to capture. Featuring Bucher’s most iconic sculptures, like Borg from 1976, a piece molded on the entire cellar of her studio, the exhibition will provide insights into the artist’s intensive latex casting method and the lengths that she would go to record spaces. Also included will be works shown for the first time in the United States like Untitled (Door to the Herrenzimmer) from 1978, a sculpture that, like much of Bucher’s work, takes on an ethereal quality thanks to the mother-of-pearl she pasted over her pieces to create an iridescent sheen. Though her projects have naturally browned over time, such touches gave helped them maintain an aura of elusive depth. “I don’t think she was trying to be super precious with these materials,” said Anna Stothart, curatorial director of Lehmann Maupin. “For her, these skins had certain layers of beauty but were also meant to express the specific personal, social, and historic memories held in these architectural spaces. You can even see the residue of the paint pulled from the surface of whatever she was casting.” Bucher’s work was clearly indicative of a literal place and time in her own life, but it also had a larger, cultural meaning. According to Stothart, she was investigating the physical boundaries between the human body and the domestic environments in which women, in particular, were often confined to. The pieces shown in the exhibition center around the period when Bucher returned to a politically-charged Zurich after living in more progressive cities within the U.S. and Canada with her husband, who was a more traditional sculptor. After divorcing him, she began exploring more abstract forms of sculpture as well as feminist ideas like what it means to “take up space,” both in public and in private, as a Swiss woman. She primarily molded women’s clothing at first, which according to the exhibition description “both signified her interest in metamorphosis and served as a critical response to the rigid gender restrictions she experienced growing up.” By the time she started casting large-scale architectural structures, such as entire rooms, the concept turned into a personal and cultural commentary on removing oneself from the patriarchal past. “She would literally pull the molds off the wall using her whole body,” said Stothart. “The material is strong and she wasn’t worried about the end result being perfect, or even conserving it. I’d say she didn’t want a piece to be an exact replica of space, but the memory of it, a ghost of it.” Heidi Bucher: The Site of Memory opens at Lehmann Maupin at 501 West 24th Street, New York on April 29. A series of videos filmed by Bucher and her sons, Mayo and Indigo Bucher, will accompany the work, unveiling the poetic ways in which the artist spoke about her process and works.
Missed some of this week’s architecture news, or our tweets and Facebook posts from the last few days? Don’t sweat it—we’ve gathered the week’s must-read stories right here. Enjoy! Review: Jean Nouvel gives Qatar a museum that matches its context perfectly Review: The Jean Nouvel–designed National Museum of Qatar fits perfectly into the uncanny desert menagerie where it lives. Zumthor’s LACMA proposal is an affront to L.A.’s architectural and cultural heritage Peter Zumthor’s oil slick-inspired redevelopment proposal for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus is just plain bad, says our West Coast editor. Bruce Goff’s imaginative teaching lives on in Oklahoma A comprehensive exhibition unveils the mid-century architect's legacy on the University of Oklahoma, the state, and the world of architectural education. Four standout installations from Milan Design Week 2019 We rounded up our favorite installations from Milan Design Week 2019, including work from Adam Nathaniel Furman, Morphosis, and more. Neighbors and preservationists sue N.Y.C. Parks Department to save a rare brutalist landscape The lawsuit challenges the department's decision to remove a set of rare brutalist landscape features and a number of trees from Fort Greene Park. Enjoy the young spring, and see you next week!
Early this year, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) announced a three-firm shortlist to design a new “Center for the Arts” for the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts (CADA). Chosen from an international pool of 36 teams that responded to a request for qualifications, the shortlist includes OMA (New York) with KOO Architects (Chicago), Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles) with UrbanWorks Architects (Chicago), and Morphosis Architects (Culver City) with STL Architects (Chicago). UIC is both the largest university and the only public research university in the Chicago area with a student body among the five most diverse in the country, 40 percent of whom are first-generation college students. Initiated in 2017, the new Center for the Arts is part of UIC’s 10-year master plan, which calls for major physical development of the campus. The Center for the Arts will be the new public face of UIC’s East Campus. The project aims to provide “radically accessible spaces for all users.” At approximately 88,000 square feet it will be the new home of the School of Theatre and Music (STM) with two primary performance spaces, including a vineyard style concert hall for 500 people and a flexible main stage theater for 270 people. Additional program includes a large lobby, box office, donor lounge, shop, and café. Morphosis and STL Architects have proposed a project shaped by site conditions. Cues from the site inform the form of the building’s facets made of terra-cotta, concrete, and glass, a signal to the existing materiality of UIC’s campus. The building has a clear front and back as service entries sit tightly along the highway at the north edge of the site, leaving the south and corner edges to reveal the belly of the building and main points of public entry. A generous drop-off zone leads into the interior lobby featuring Netsch-like cascading stairs with views toward the nearby West Loop neighborhood and downtown. In the theater, a continuous surface ramp runs the perimeter of the room to provide radical accessibility to students learning stage technology. OMA and KOO Architects have proposed a stackable program with a central concert hall flanked by two towers (one for students, one for the public) with neighboring performance spaces. The towers imitate the many Chicago bridges that link the city while the performance spaces act like bookends to anchor the project. A second-floor plinth accommodates dual entries, each with a continuous surface monumental ramp considered “radically accessible” with physical openness and flexibility. The theater has a rooftop terrace and a large mechanical facade that opens onto the existing Harrison Field, bringing performances outside with the city as a backdrop. The entire design is blanketed by a doubly-curved, semi-translucent roof that resembles the swinging of a conductor’s baton. Johnston Marklee and UrbanWorks have proposed two ziggurat-shaped buildings, which Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee described as both archaic and modern. Framed by a greenbelt that reflects attention back towards the campus, two brightly-colored volumes are housed within a glass and perforated metal veil. The formal strategy is a nod to Chicago architect Walter Netsch’s ideas of “stacking” while the material aims to visually open the campus, ostensibly creating a new approach to density. Connecting the two large volumes is a central core featuring an airy winter garden that expands programmatic possibilities for adjacent rehearsal rooms, café, store, and gallery. The University and CADA officials are currently in the process of securing the expected $94.5 million construction budget through private and public funds. It is unknown when the winner will be announced. The public may view and provide feedback on the proposals.
A strange thing has been happening at some public architecture talks lately, perhaps you’ve noticed. Over the course of otherwise hopeful and positive discussions covering amazing new projects from around the globe, at some point, usually toward the end of a talk, conversation turns to the current state of American building and infrastructure. And, it's safe to say, people are not happy. Sometimes, the presenter will rip off the bandaid, as Thom Mayne of Morphosis did at a recent Facades+ talk in Los Angeles, when he said, “I hate to be negative, but there’s not much going on in this country architecturally,” before adding, “[But] if you look at architecture around the world, it’s startling…It’s unbelievable, the research [taking place]—I just came back from Shenzhen [China] and I’m looking around [at the skyline] there wondering ‘is there anything left for me to do?’” Other times, a perplexed-sounding audience member will ask what it seems many in attendance had been pondering privately: “Why can’t we build like this here?” It’s a debilitating question that really only has one answer. And although, even when speaking bluntly, everyone tries their best to truth-tell without offending, but the writing is right on the projection screen—building big in America simply isn’t what it used to be, and we don’t know what to do about it. “The United States is falling behind,” architect Moshe Safdie explained to a packed room during a recent keynote talk at Palm Springs Modernism Week when asked why the inventive array of projects he had just presented are mostly located outside the United States. “Around the world, the competition [for bold infrastructure] doesn’t stop,” he said, half-jokingly, “until you land at Kennedy or LAX.” To prove his point, Safdie pointed out further that although the Hudson Yards development in New York City is the largest privately-led construction project in the country by square footage, it is easily dwarfed in terms of vision by countless projects around the globe of a similar or larger size. He’s right. Hudson Yards is a dime a dozen as far as global mega-projects are concerned. Safdie’s own Raffles City development in Chongqing, China, for example, might be roughly two-thirds the size of Hudson Yards, but it is going up in less than one-third the time and is almost entirely designed by a single architecture firm—Safdie Architects—with P&T Group International Ltd. serving as architect of record. Safdie’s own portfolio of recent work shows that while New York occasionally will build an elevated billionaire citadel, Chongqing, Singapore, and other cities have tasked his office with erecting bold new structures designed for working people and the public at large, all without sacrificing design quality. Safdie explained that one possible reason why American projects no longer lead the world in terms of size or scale might be due to a “lack of urban initiative,” the type of sustained and calculated political and managerial energy necessary for bringing to life the types of large-scale and lasting projects that have transformed other countries around the world in recent decades. It’s a sentiment echoed by Rem Koolhaas, who, when recently asked about the prevalence of NIMBYism in America, explained, “I think you can divide the world into one part that is eager to change and doesn’t have hesitations about things changing, and another part that is totally nervous about change and actually aspires to a kind of stability.” Koolhaas added, “As an architect, every one of your efforts is impacted by this. In the end, however, architecture is always controversial because it proposes to make things different than they are.” Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in the realm of high-speed rail (HSR), where American decision makers across all levels of government have persisted in remaining tethered to auto-centric planning, condemning the nation to antiquated transportation for at least another generation. A recent article in The New York Times covering the ongoing debacle with California’s tragic HSR project, for example, brings this condition into sharp relief with the following line: “California’s High-Speed Rail Authority…was established 23 years ago. During that time China has built 16,000 miles of high-speed rail.” America has built none. But America’s last-place finish doesn’t end with rail or with deteriorating airports; it includes city-building, too, as Safdie pointed out. Much of America is suffering from some form of housing crisis, whether it’s so-called Rust Belt cities struggling to retain residents or coastal cities that can’t figure out how and where to build new housing fast enough. While American cities have doubled-down on onerous building restrictions and lengthy bureaucratic reviews, politically polarized state and federal governments have worked at cross purposes, too, failing to enact bold plans and avoiding future-oriented thinking at almost all costs. The overarching legacy of redlining, racial segregation, and income inequality has placed a stranglehold over American cities, as well, contributing to intense gentrification when development does occur and debilitating displacement when it doesn’t. Over the last decade, it has become clear that America's public health, land-use, and transportation policies are all woefully out of whack, and the result is stifling the abilities of a generation of well-trained architects and engineers eager to build a better nation. Meanwhile, the world’s urbanizing areas have embraced building vertically, have expanded transit of all sorts, and have worked to enact bold planning initiatives that over a generation have remade the face of global urbanism in the name of interconnectedness, density, and place-making. In Europe, for example, France is currently enacting its “Le Grand Paris” plan, a vision that will stitch together the Paris city center with its inner and outer ring suburbs to bring together an urban region of 10 million inhabitants. The plan includes a €30 billion public transit expansion initiative that will create a network of regional transit routes connecting suburbs with one another as well as sizable new investments in social housing, parks, and other equity-minded initiatives. But it’s not just Europe. Cairo, Egypt, is building a new $45 billion capital city that, when completed, will become the largest purpose-built capital city by population in the world. In India, the country’s largest infrastructure project, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, aims to connect the nation’s political and economic capitals with a 900-mile long conurbation made up of 24 urban “nodes.” The plan aims to urbanize 14 percent of India’s population—180 million people—over the next 30 years and will take $100 billion in investment to realize. In South America, Argentina’s so-called Belgrano Plan will bring $16 billion in rail expansion to 10 of the country’s neglected northern provinces and will create up to 250,000 new housing units and 1,100 childhood education centers. Saudi Arabia is building new mega cities from scratch, as are China, Singapore, Nigeria, Mauritius, and countless others. None of these projects are perfect socially or environmentally-speaking, to be sure, but one thing they do not lack is vision. If it feels like the most impressive work is taking place in other countries, that’s because in many ways, it is, and international architects know perhaps better than anyone else the truth of that reality. Even more, the hesitation, hedging, and hand-wringing that accompanies talk of the current state of American infrastructure and urban vision indicate that the problem runs deeper than a mere lack of funding or risk-averse clients. Whether it’s California’s flailing HSR project, the nation’s intractable housing crises, or even, the sad, dispirited political discourse surrounding the Green New Deal—a potentially transformative plan that is barely supported by the party that conceived it—it is clear that America has a crisis of vision, a failure of political will, and perhaps most alarmingly, no real interest in solving its own problems. Look at the Salesforce Transit Center debacle in San Francisco, Elon Musk’s substandard and retrograde transit ideas in Los Angeles and Chicago, and the steady stream of failing bridges and tunnels across the country for further proof. Even Amazon’s HQ2 extravaganza, a year-long publicity stunt by the world’s richest company that wrung billions in incentives from some of the most desperate cities around the country, rightfully withered on the vine. What’s going on here? As Safdie quipped, “We were promised infrastructure!” But the truth is that it’s just not happening in America anymore.
East Village Rising
Davies Toews uses a DIY mind-set to punch above its weight
Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too. Davies Toews will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 7, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series. The storefront office of Davies Toews Architecture is tucked behind a corner of 13th Street in Manhattan’s East Village, and like so many of the firm’s projects is defined by constraints. Common elements like outdoor tile and plywood create a homey atmosphere, and models and materials are tightly arranged throughout the space, inviting passersby to peer in on the studio’s creative process. Partners Trattie Davies and Jonathan Toews are no strangers to working around tight spatial and financial limitations. Whether it’s a linear park that rises between a descending set of switchback staircases in Hudson, New York; a perspective-defying, split-level park and art gallery in Memphis, Tennessee; or a three-story townhouse in Brooklyn, their projects are united by the common thread of extreme site-specificity. “Our strategy has been: Do first, analyze second,” said Davies. “It’s really important for us to build work, to learn about how things get done—what works and what doesn’t work, so we could get good at it. Most of what we do is built. We do very few competitions.” Fittingly, materiality plays a large role in these completed projects. For the 72,000-square-foot University of Chicago Charter School: Woodlawn Campus, a school for grades 6 through 12 with a 100 percent college acceptance rate, the studio had to balance a modest budget with lofty design ambitions. Using only locally produced Chicago brick, the studio designed a variegated, kinetic facade by patterning the building with darker, extruded brick. The school’s ﬂared parapets and step-gap massing reference missing buildings in the surrounding neighborhood, breaks in a uniform street wall. “We realized that, project after project, the design came from the constraint,” said Toews. “Lately we’ve been thinking a lot about how to design with Sheetrock.” Even Sheetrock, a ubiquitous and uniform material, can provide inspiration; Davies compared the alternating bands of color in stacked, wrapped Sheetrock to a tapestry. “Every project gets modeled,” said Toews. “There’s the idea of the model sitting there; you can’t avoid it. We just try to keep making stuff around the project until it gets better and better.”
Emerging Voices 2019
FreelandBuck draws on representation for spatial effects
Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today’s lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year’s crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too. FreelandBuck will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 14, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series. FreelandBuck builds drawings. Not in the traditional sense of constructing what’s represented by a drawing set, but in the sense that its architecture directly evokes carefully constructed perspectives and painstakingly hand-drawn renderings. “We think about drawing at the scale of architectural space,” says partner Brennan Buck, “as an end product, not a means to build.” Buck, based in New York City, and David Freeland, who is based in Los Angeles, met in grad school at UCLA and started working together in 2009. Of their bicoastal practice, Freeland says, “There are more opportunities than challenges. It exposes us to different groups of potential clients, but also to different environments. I think the practice is richer for that.” Working at a variety of scales also makes the practice richer, giving the firm the chance to explore its ideas in different ways. Parallax Gap, a colorful canopy of layered screens installed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., feels like a drawing come to life. The intricate trompe-l’oeil representations of historic American ceilings are like perspective drawings—each constructed with a unique vanishing point—that reveal themselves as visitors walk through the space. FreelandBuck borrowed rendering techniques to enliven the riff on office cubicles the firm designed for a film production company in L.A. To accommodate the company’s variable spatial needs and match its lighthearted style, the architects defined flexible work areas with a series of “tumbling” cubes whose milled surfaces, evoking a poché or hatch, suggest another set of cubes overlaid onto the first. Furniture that looks torn from a Roy Lichtenstein canvas adds to the effect of stepping into a drawing. Although there are nods to linework in the exterior finishes used on two of the firm's residential projects, Stack House and Second House, these connections to representation are more complex. In both buildings, distinctive exterior volumes articulate dedicated programs, and in both buildings, this distinction is broken down by unexpected interior elements. Stack House’s curved walls blend its spaces together, while Second House achieves a sense of continuity through materials, transparency, and interior courtyards. The perspectival shifts of Parallax Gap appear here in more subtle ways, concealing and revealing spaces, views, and experiences; it’s not about adding lines, it’s about erasing them. FreelandBuck may draw on the techniques of representation but, unlike a conventional drawing, its work can’t be understood through a single image. Like the best architecture, the spaces, places, and objects the firm creates are challenging and engaging and must be experienced to be fully appreciated.