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Wood You Imagine

Architects apply the latest in fabrication, design, and visualization to age-old timber
Every so often, the field of architecture is presented with what is hailed as the next “miracle building material.” Concrete enabled the expansion of the Roman Empire, steel densified cities to previously unthinkable heights, and plastic reconstituted the architectural interior and the building economy along with it.  But it would be reasonable to question why and how, in the 21st century, timber was accorded a miracle status on the tail-end of a timeline several millennia long. Though its rough-hewn surface and the puzzle-like assembly it engenders might seem antithetical to the current global demand for exponential building development, it is timber’s durability, renewability, and capacity for sequestering carbon—rather than release it—that inspires the building industry to heavily invest in its future.  Cross-laminated timber (CLT), a highly resilient form of engineered wood made by gluing layers of solid-sawn lumber together, was first developed in Europe in the early 1990s, yet the product was not commonly used until the 2000s and was only introduced into the International Building Code in 2015. While mid-to-large range firms around the world have been in competition to build the largest or the tallest timber structures to demonstrate its comparability to concrete and steel, a number of independent practitioners have been applying the latest methods of fabrication, computational design techniques, and visualization software to the primordial material. Here, AN exhibits a cross-section of the experimental work currently being pursued with the belief that timber can be for the future what concrete, steel, and plastic have been in the past. AnnaLisa Meyboom In the Fall of 2018, 15 of professor AnnaLisa Meyboom’s students at the University of British Columbia (UBC), along with David Correa at University of Waterloo, Oliver David Krieg of Intelligent City, and 22 industry participants designed and constructed the third annual Wander Wood Pavilion, a twisting, latticed timber structure made up entirely of non-identical components.  By taking advantage of the advanced fabrication resources available at the UBC Centre for Advanced Wood Processing, including a CNC mill and an multi-axis industrial robot, the project was both a learning opportunity for its design team and a demonstration to a broader public that timber is a more than viable material to which contemporary fabrication technologies can be applied. The pavilion forms a bench on one end that's large enough for two people, a public invitation test the structure's strength and durability for themselves. While the pavilion only required three days to fabricate and assemble on-site, a significant amount of time and energy was spent ensuring its quick assembly when the time came. A rigorous design workflow was established that balanced an iterative design process with rapid geometric output that accounted for logical assembly sequencing. Every piece of the pavilion was then milled to interlock into place and be further secured by metal rivets. The project was devised in part to teach students one strategy for narrowing the gap between digital design and physical fabrication while applying a novel material. In this vein, a standard industrial robot was used throughout the fabrication process that was then “set up with an integrator specifically to work on wood,” according to Meyboom. Gilles Retsin While Gilles Retsin, the London-based architect and professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, has long experimented with both computational design and novel methods of fabrication, a recent focus on timber has propelled his practice into a bold new direction. A giant wooden structure installed at London’s Royal Academy in early 2019, for instance, was the architect’s first attempt at applying augmented reality to modular timber construction through the use of Microsoft’s Hololens. “We used AR to send instructions directly from the digital model to the team working on-site,” Retsin explained. “AR therefore helps us understand what a fully-automated construction process would look like, where a digital model communicates directly with people and robots on site.” In a recent international competition set in Nuremberg, Germany, Retsin set his sights on a much larger scale for what would have been the world’s first robotically prefabricated timber concert hall. Designed in collaboration with architect Stephan Markus Albrecht, engineering consultancy Bollinger-Grohmann, and climate engineers Transsolar and acoustic specialists Theatre Projects, the proposal takes advantage of the site’s location in a region with an abundance of timber while envisioning the material’s application to a uniquely challenging building type. The building’s form exhibits the material’s lightness using 30-foot sawtooth CLT prefabricated modules over the main lobby spaces, which are exposed from the exterior thanks to a seamless glass envelope.  “Designing in timber not only means a more sustainable future, but also has architects profoundly redesigning buildings from the ground up,” said Retsin. “It’s a challenging creative task, we’re really questioning the fundamental parts, the building blocks of architecture again.”  Casey Rehm For SCI-Arc professor Casey Rehm, working with timber has meant challenging many issues in the field of architecture at once. Timber is a rarely-considered building material in Los Angeles given the high time and material costs associated with its transportation and manufacturing. “Right now,” Rehm said, “the industry is manually laying up two-by-sixes into industrial presses, pressing them into panels, and then manually cutting window openings.” But if timber waste itself was adopted as a building material, he argued, the material could be far more globally cost-efficient.  While timber has been used in the construction of increasingly large structures around the world, such as multistory housing developments and office buildings, Rehm believes the material can be reasonably adapted to a smaller scale for quick deployment. In this vein, Rehm has been researching strategies with his students for producing inexpensive CLT panels for the construction of homeless housing and accessory dwelling units in Los Angeles, a city with a particularly conspicuous housing shortage.  But aside from its potential as a cost and material-efficient material, the architect has applied timber to even his most exploratory design work. NN_House 1, a sprawling single-floor home Rehm proposed in 2018 for the desert plains of Joshua Tree, California, was designed in part using a 3D neural network to develop ambiguous divisions between rooms, as well as to blur the divide between interior and exterior. The AI was trained on the work of modernist architects—while producing idiosyncrasies of its own—to develop a living space with multiple spatial readings. Kivi Sotamaa As an architect practicing in Finland, Kivi Sotamaa is certainly not unique in his community for his admiration of the far-reaching possibilities of timber construction. He is, however, producing novel research into its application at a domestic scale to reimagine how wood can be used as a primary material for home construction. The Meteorite, a three-story home the architect has designed near Helsinki constructed entirely of locally-grown CLT, was designed using an organizational strategy the architect has nicknamed ‘the misfit.’ This system, as Sotamaa defines it, creates two distinct formal systems to generate room-sized interstitial spaces that simultaneously act as insulation, storage space, and housing for the building’s technical systems. “Aesthetically,” Sotamaa elaborated, “the misfit strategy allows for the creation of a large scale monolithic form on the outside, which addresses the scale of the forest, and an intricate human-scale spatial arrangement on the interior.” Altogether, the architect estimates, the home’s CLT slabs have sequestered 59,488 kilograms, or roughly 65 tons, of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Meteorite was developed and introduced to the client using virtual reality, and Sotamaa hopes to apply other visualization technologies to the design and production of timber architecture, including augmented reality that could allow builders to view assembly instructions in real-time on site. “When the pieces are in order on-site and [with clear] instructions,” Sotamaa explained, “the assembly of the three-dimensional puzzle can happen swiftly and efficiently, saving energy and resources when compared with conventional construction processes.” 
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ACADIA

ACADIA 2019 showcased the state of digital design
The presentations and activities at this year’s ACADIA (Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture) conference gave attendees a glimpse of potentially disruptive technologies and workflows for computational architectural production. The conference was held this year in Austin from October 24 through 26 and was organized by The University of Texas School of Architecture faculty members Kory Bieg, Danelle Briscoe, and Clay Odom. The organizers collected papers, workshops, and projects addressing the theme of “Ubiquity and Autonomy” in computation. Contributors reflected on the state of architectural production, in which digital tools and methodologies developed in the boutique, specialized settings at the fringes of the profession a generation ago have now become commonplace in architectural offices—while at the same time, new forms of specialist computational practices are emerging which may themselves soon become mainstream. While each participant grappled to position themselves in the cyclical and ever-advancing framework of technological inheritance and transference, the most encouraging efforts can be described in three categories: Expansions, subversions, and wholesale disruptions of the computational status quo. The expansionists claimed new technological territories, enlisting emerging and peripheral technologies to their purposes. The subvertors sampled the work and scrambled the workflows of their predecessors, configuring novel material applications in the process. Disruptors actively sought to break the techno-positivist cycle, questioning the assumptions, ethics, and values of previous generations to leverage computational design and digital processes to advance pressing and prescient political, economic, and ecological agendas. Expansionists appropriated bleeding-edge technologies, or those newly introduced to the discipline, to stake new terrain in design and construction. The conference was the first of its kind to host a dedicated session on the use of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) in design. This machine-learning system pits two forms of artificial intelligence against each other—one AI acts as the creative “artist,” generating all the possible solutions to a given task, while the other acts as the “critic,” selectively editing and curating the most appropriate responses. After training the networks on archives of architectural imagery, panelists put the GANs to work on evaluative and generative design tasks, alternately generating passably authentic floor plans, building envelopes, and reconstructed streetscapes. The workshop sessions, hosted by a suite of computational research teams from several architectural offices, demonstrated possibilities for adopting emerging technologies with familiar platforms, adopting and adapting tools like Fologram and Hololens to more familiar software platforms and fabrication methods. The subvertors, familiar with the expected uses and applications of given tools, would offer intentionally contradictory alternatives, short-circuiting established workflows and celebrating the unintended consequences of digitally enhanced platforms. A project from MIT researchers Lavender Tessmer, Yijiang Huang, and Caitlin Mueller entitled “Additive Casting of Mass-Customizable Brick” is a good example of the subvertors’ approach to interrogating workflows, enlisting precision-equipment for low-fidelity effect. As the current state-of-the-art in custom concrete formwork employs costly and time-consuming workflows to task CNC routers or robotic arms with milling, the MIT project is a critical alternative. Instead of shaping the mold, the project mobilizes the mold, achieving a wide variety of sculptural concrete “bricks” using standard cylindrical forms wielded by a robotic arm, while leveraging the ability of liquid concrete to self-level. The molds are shifted to preset positions while the concrete sets, allowing the sequential states of self-leveled concrete to intersect in complex geometries. The process is surprisingly delightful to watch, as the robot controls seven molds simultaneously like a drummer with a drumkit. The unexpected combination of high- and low-tech recalibrates possibilities for the robotic craft. Other researchers swapped out expected materials to produce unexpected results. Vasily Sitnikov (KTH) and Peter Eigenraam (TU Delft) teamed with BuroHappold to produce IceFormwork, a project that uses milled blocks of ice as the unlikely forms for casting high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete. Ice, the team argued, is a preferred, environmentally neutral alternative to industry-standard EPS foam molds, which produce a vast amount of waste. Ice molds, the team demonstrated, are easy enough to make (with some help from a reliable water source and a repurposed refrigerated ISO container). Airborne particles suspended by the ice-milling process are harmless water vapor, unlike the dangerous foam dust requiring ventilation equipment and other protective measures. When it comes to de-molding, the ice can simply be left outside to melt. While these investigations showcased new ways to hack the assembly process of cast building elements, their choice of concrete as a material contradicted a growing consensus in the panels; that designers should actively seek alternatives to the glut of concrete in the building industry, given the high ecological cost and high carbon footprint of concrete manufacturing in the context of an accelerating global sand shortage. Daniela Mitterberger and Tiziano Derme (MAEID/University of Innsbruck) offered one of the more radical alternatives with their project “Soil 3D Printing.” The team is using hydrogels—non-toxic, biodegradable adhesives—as binding agents injected into loose soil, to form alien landscapes of networked, earthen structures that portend a near-future where biocompatible, organic additive manufacturing processes restructure geotechnical landscapes and planetary geology. The provocations of the disruptors—who radically repurpose computational tools beyond perceived disciplinary constraints—raised profound questions about the potential for design technologies to enable and enact larger societal transformations by lining up global supply chains, material economies, and non-human constituencies squarely in their sights. Jose Sanchez (Plethora Project/Bloom Games/USC), in the presentation he gave while accepting the Innovative Research Award, presented his work leveraging computation and game design to critically examine and transform economic and ecologic realities. Sanchez has developed a series of game environments which force players to navigate wicked problems in contemporary cities, to confront the complexities, contradictions, and paradoxes of urbanization, logistics, and manufacturing. Sanchez described the continued focus in his work on efforts to "optimize for the many"—as opposed to the few—in a period of increased economic inequality, re-assessing the predominant use of digital technologies over the past few decades to enable complex mass-customized assemblies. Sanchez, in his own work, and in projects like Bloom with Alisa Andrasek (Biothing/Bloom Games/RMIT), has been exploring the potential of digital technologies to disrupt mass-production models through high-volume production of serialized and standardized “discrete” architectural components. In a similar vein, Gilles Retsin (UCL/Bartlett) argued for a reconsideration of the labor practices and digital economies enmeshed in, and implicitly supported by,  a building industry that has not yet come to terms with automation. By focusing on the ability of digital tools to combat material waste, Retsin argued, a generation of digitally savvy architects have ignored the potential of automation to address wasted labor. Through speculative research and small projects, Retsin is hoping to disrupt the building industry, increasing the capacity of architects to design and implement new platforms for project delivery which can combat exploitative practices. As expansionists pointed out where to look for the next big advancement, subvertors demonstrated how existing tools could be used differently. Disruptors were some of the few to ask—and answer—why. Stephen Mueller is a founding partner of AGENCY and a Research Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University College of Architecture in El Paso.
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Falling Far from the Tree

Apple breaks ground on its new 133-acre campus in Austin, Texas
On November 20, multinational technology company Apple announced that it had broken ground on its new 133-acre office park in Austin, Texas, that will cost an estimated $1 billion to construct, and released a first look at the project. The campus, which will contain over three million square feet of usable interior space across 10 buildings once complete, will initially house 5,000 employees, with plans to eventually make room for over 15,000. Apple currently employs around 7,000 people throughout Austin, more than twice as many as it had just five years ago, and the company shows little signs of slowing down growth in the area. A production facility near the city has recently taken on the important task of building the latest fleet of Mac Pros and shipping them out to customers in December. “With the construction of our new campus in Austin now underway,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a press release, “Apple is deepening our close bond with the city and the talented and diverse workforce that calls it home. Responsible for 2.4 million American jobs and counting, Apple is eager to write our next chapter here and to keep contributing to America’s innovation story.” The company has partnered with Bartlett Tree Experts, an Austin-based tree and shrub care company, to ensure that the diversity of native trees on the property are responsibly preserved while increasing their numbers to stock the 50-acre nature and wildlife preserve planned for the site. In addition, the new campus will run entirely on renewable energy from locally-sourced solar power. The construction of the new campus reflects the company’s commitment to contributing $350 billion to the US economy between 2018 and 2023, during which time it also plans to create 20,000 jobs. Like other buildings in Apple's portfolio, the new campus will be awash in crisp white surfaces contrasted against floor-to-ceiling glass to reflect the company’s minimalist identity. The new Apple campus is expected to be completed by 2022. While Apple's UFO-like headquarters building in Cupertino, California, was designed by Foster + Partners, the company has not as of yet released information on who designed their Austin offshoot.
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RIP

British architect Ted Cullinan dies at 88
Edward "Ted" Cullinan, founder of London firm Cullinan Studio, has passed away aged 88. The RIBA Gold Medalist died in his sleep yesterday, Monday, November 11. The British architect was born in Islington, London, in 1931 and started eponymous practice, Edward Cullinan Architects (later Cullinan Studio) in 1965. After studying in the U.K. and U.S. at the Architectural Association and the University of California at Berkeley, he designed buildings across the U.K. in his own name after working Denys Lasdun on ziggurat-shaped student housing at the University of East Anglia. For his first project, Cullinan spent a year as a student working with a local builder to restore the decommissioned 19th-century Belle Tout lighthouse in East Sussex. The project was finished in 1956 and today you can rent it out for a holiday—worth it for the views across the South Downs alone. Other early buildings also endure, like the British Olivetti headquarters in Derby (1971) which Cullinan got the job for after being recommended by James Stirling. “Stylish and expandable” and “immediately identifiable by its big yellow plastic-clad roof” Nikolaus Pevsner’s co-editor Elizabeth Williamson once remarked, before adding her fears over the building’s maintenance. Almost 50 years since it opened and after the original tenants departed, the building has been refurbished and reincarnated as the East Midlands Logistics Center, with Stirling's influence still very much present. Cullinan’s work was also a big part of my childhood. His studio’s Charles Cryer Theatre in Carshalton, South London, was—and arguably still is—the area’s most architecturally ambitious piece of modern architecture in the area. As a former member of the council’s technical office told me, Cullinan was given a graphic account of what activities can take place in public toilets by the council’s chief electrical engineer as the theater was under construction in the early '90s. “That told him!” the engineer told the rest of the office, who had all been listening in, as he put the phone down. (It was all in good spirits, I’m told). Other notable buildings from Cullinan include the Bartholomew Villas in London; the Grade II-listed (the U.K. equivalent of having landmark status) RMC headquarters in Surrey; the Downland Gridshell, West Sussex; and the Newcastle Maggie’s Center (all featured in the above image gallery). Beyond practicing as an architect, Cullinan taught at the University of Nottingham, the Bartlett, Sheffield University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Edinburgh. Cullinan was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2008. “I’ve never seen anyone hold a room quite like Ted did …when he spoke, everyone listened,” a former colleague told AN. In a statement released today, the practice said:
“The inspirational founder of our practice was a true pathfinder for all architects. Ted was designing for climate change 60 years ago with a holistic vision for the practice of architecture that he described as a social act. His legacy is in the buildings and places he transformed, in his model of architectural practice, but perhaps most powerfully in the thousands of people he taught and inspired throughout his long life. We share our deepest sympathies with his family and all his many friends.”
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Unionize-Nation

Section of Architectural Workers sets up union efforts in London
The first union for architects has been founded in London. The Section of Architectural Workers (SAW) aims to improve the toxic design culture of overwork and address issues like stagnating wages, discrimination, and industry-wide attitudes towards mental health.  SAW operates within the United Voices of the World (UVM), a relatively young but influential union based in London with 3,000 members. According to the Architects' Journal, a SAW spokesperson said some of its members had been working 60 hours of overtime per week, while others hadn't taken a weekend break for four months. The union is supported by many architects and administrators in the field, including notable alumni of the University College London Bartlett School of Architecture Thandi Loewenson, Jane Rendell, and David Roberts. They describe the unionization as a "landmark moment in the ethical production of the built environment."  The industry has steadily felt the pressure to take on big-ticket, ground-up built projects with low-risk profiles to compensate for tight competition over projects and wages. Kate Macintosh, a London-based architect and union member, told AJ that the "toxic system" has penetrated the profession since 1979. "Those rights have been steadily eroded to the point where one in three of the workforce are on zero-hours contracts and typically work 25 hours a week.”  The culture of overwork trickles down even to unpaid interns, who often work from 9 a.m. to well into the evening—sometimes past midnight—consistently. This year’s Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Junya Ishigama, made headlines after the press discovered the architect solicited unpaid interns to assist in its fabrication. Subsequently, it was revealed just how widespread the practice was. Not only was the inquiry illuminating of the lack of pay but also the degree of overwork even the youngest in the profession are expected to take on. An internship job posting for Lot-Ek also announced this in plain language last March:
 
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Alleged email from Lot-ek Architecture & Design New York, March 2018. The office have been approached for comment - #arch4all #archishame

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While architectural workers have attempted to unionize before and other varieties of unions like the construction-sector UCATT have tried to attract architects to join them, no effort has ever come to fruition quite like SAW. The breadth of professionals enveloped and supported by SAW, from architects to BIM technicians and cleaners, are using this platform to help support each other and therefore support their industry from top to bottom.  “It will transform the environment in which we work, encouraging and empowering us all to step up and speak out to confront systemic social injustices and inequality, climate breakdown and biodiversity loss,” said SAW, asserting that unionization will allow architects and their firms to focus on the projects that really matter, rather than who stays at their desk the latest.
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Steam Works

A steampunk pavilion combines analog and digital technology
In Tallinn, Estonia, a knotted wooden structure that combines both new and old technology has won the Huts and Habitats award at the Tallinn Architecture Biennale. Curated by Yael Reisner under the theme “Beauty Matters,” the biennale seeks to celebrate the beauty in opposition to architectural environs that can often be isolating, alienating, and ecologically unsound. Steampunk, as the installation is called, is designed to show off the latest in tech while retaining a human touch. It was designed by Soomeen Hahm and Igor Pantic, who both teach at the Bartlett, as well as Cameron Newnham and Gwyllim Jahn of software company Fologram, and constructed along with the engineers at Format and the Estonian lumber building specialists Thermory. Standing 13 feet tall, the thermally-modified pavilion is made of steam-bent ash wood, with hand-crafted elements sitting side-by-side with parts that have been CNC-milled and 3D printed; blurring the boundaries between the analog and digital in process and production. Steampunk was also designed in part using mixed reality tech, further complicating this “human-machine collaboration,” as biennial juror Areti Maropoulo put it. “The structure challenges the idea of the primitive hut—showing how, by using algorithmic logic, simple raw materials can be turned into a highly complex and inhabitable structure,” said Gilles Retsin, TAB 2019’s Installation Program Curator, in a release from the biennale. “[Steampunk] consists of a bespoke merging of craft, immersive technologies, and material performance, for the production of dynamic organic forms that surpass building limitations of local precision or of the pure automate,” explained Areti Markopoulo, head of the jury for the installation program, in a press release. The pavilion is the latest in a long line high-tech timber installations, as architects, researchers, and educators all try their hand at pushing the boundaries of what timber can do; take Cornell University’s Robotic Construction Laboratory's LOG KNOT, for example. Steampunk will be on view until 2021.
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Not Bargain Bin

Gensler will lead the project team for Walmart's new headquarters
Gensler has been announced as the lead firm on the project team for the new Walmart headquarters in Arkansas. The 350-acre home office campus, centered around community, innovation, and sustainability, will be located between Central Avenue and Highway 102 in Bentonville, Arkansas Dan Bartlett, the executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart, announced the project team for the campus as design leaders across both the Arkansas community and the world. His team choice was intended to highlight the collaboration between global and local designers. The rest of the project team includes: Miller Boskus Lack Architects of Fayetteville, Arkansas, CEI Engineering Associates, Inc. of Bentonville, Walter P Moore of Houston, Sasaki of Watertown, Massachusetts, and the Los Angeles branch of landscape architecture firm SWA Group. The team will focus their abilities towards amenity buildings, low-cost engineering and material sourcing, a downtown extension, and wildlife preservation.  Douglas C. Gensler, Gensler's managing director and principal, issued the following comment for Walmart's website: “We are honored and humbled to be the creative partner helping shape Walmart’s future campus. The design is innovative, resilient, thoughtful and purpose-driven that places people at the heart of the company's next chapter. The new Walmart campus will embody the DNA attributes for a connected and successful work-place with the latest advances in technology and sustainability, while reflecting the Walmart culture and seamlessly integrating into the fabric of the community.” The new headquarters will span 20 buildings, with the "Razorback Regional Greenway" running through the center of the campus, harmonizing biking and walking trails that encourage internal mobility. The offices are expected to hold 14,000- to- 17,000 employees, and will join expanded cafeteria spaces, fitness spaces, a childcare facility, and accessible parking. The renderings, released in May, display office buildings boasting large windows with an abundance of natural light and open green spaces seeded with native vegetation that bolster the sustainable design.  Gensler has noted that the buildings will feature energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems under the goal of creating a zero-waste environment that operates completely on renewable energy.  The new Walmart Arkansas headquarters will be another corporate campus that Gensler can add to their extensive resume; it joins Facebook’s one-million-square-foot headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the Washington Post Offices in Washington D.C., and the renovation of the Adobe campus in San Jose, California.
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Bestanbul

Mariana Pestana to curate fifth Istanbul Design Biennial

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) has named Mariana Pestana as the curator for the fifth edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial, which will take place in the Turkish metropolis in fall 2020. Established in 2012 as an international exhibition of creative work from the fields of urban design, architecture, new media, graphic, industrial, product, interior, and fashion design, the Istanbul Design Biennial aims to celebrate and embrace the city’s emergence as a global economic force with considerable creative potential.

Splitting her time between Porto, Portugal, and London, Pestana is the cofounder of an interdisciplinary practice called The Decorators and works primarily on cultural programs and design interventions for public space. She also has extensive experience in academic and curatorial work. Since pursuing her Ph.D. in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College of London, Pestana has taught at the Royal College of Arts, the Chelsea College of Arts, and Central Saint Martins. Pestana has also served as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Department of Architecture, Design, and Digital, and has co-curated exhibitions for the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale and the 2019 Porto Design Biennale.

The fourth edition of the Istanbul Design Biennial, which took place in 2018, centered on the design process through six distinct “schools.” While a thematic focus for the fifth edition has yet to be announced, it is clear that Pestana will bring significant experience in design-based exhibition work to the Bosphorus over the course of the next year.

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Six in the Mix

RIBA announces the 2019 Stirling Prize shortlist
Today, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced their six projects shortlisted for the 2019 Stirling Prize, an annual award given to the U.K.'s most stellar new structure. The nominated schemes include two residential projects: the Cork House, an adaptive reuse of a historic mill building designed by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton for themselves, that, as its name suggests, is made almost entirely of cork (pictured below). The other is Goldsmith Street in Norwich, England, a seven-block development of row houses with traditional massing and Passivhaus certification. The project, pictured below, was executed by architect Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley, while MPH Architects (along with a team that included The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL and Arup) completed Cork House.   On the public-facing side, three cultural projects made the list this year. London's Feilden Fowles Architects delivered the Weston, a new visitor center and gallery for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, an open-air museum founded in 1977 on an 18th-century estate. The stretched-out structure's facade is made of concrete mixed from local aggregates and banded out to create a sedimentary rock–like effect. Meanwhile, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners dreamed up a visitor center for a very different client, pictured above and at top. Macallan, the scotch producer, received a distillery tour facility in Moray, Scotland, with a wild timber gridshell roof that connects to the property's 18th-century laird's home. At a smaller scale, London's Witherford Watson Mann Architects hid the Nevill Holt Opera in the yard between existing historic stables. On the inside, the arrangement of the hall's cladding dialogues with the stable joists behind the structure, and the pattern reinforces a scheme to make young singers' voices more resonant. Rounding out the list is the largest project, Grimshaw's almost 930,000-square-foot London Bridge regional rail station, which enlarged the main concourse but preserved original Victorian arches elsewhere in the building. Last year, the Stirling Prize went to Foster + Partners' Bloomberg project, the London headquarters for the American financial and media company founded by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Like in years prior, this year's shortlist will be, according to RIBA " judged against a range of criteria including design vision; innovation and originality; capacity to stimulate, engage and delight occupants and visitors; accessibility and sustainability; how fit the building is for its purpose and the level of client satisfaction." The 2019 winners will be announced at a ceremony on October 8.
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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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In Memoriam

British architect, educator, and critic David Dunster passes
The distinguished British educator and architectural critic David Dunster died in London on January 11, 2019, after a brief illness. He was 73 years old. Dunster led three of his country’s leading architectural schools during a fifty-year teaching career, influencing countless students and changing the tenor of architectural practice from that of an exclusive club to one open to new ideas and responsive to changing social norms. His approach was broadly humanistic, inclusive and always sensitive to the life experiences of his students. As the architect Farshid Moussavi remembered: “He treated everyone equally and with great generosity—if you had an idea he would reach out and encourage you.” David Dunster was born in Kent in 1945 and attended the Gillingham School before pursuing an architecture degree in the Bartlett School, at University College, London. Always a vagabond, with wide-eyed curiosity for different cultures and locales, he went to Chicago in his early twenties to work for Bertrand Goldberg. While there he witnessed first-hand the fateful year of 1968, with its two assassinations and tumultuous Democratic convention, and developed a love for the city and its culture. It was there that he met his wife, Charlotte Myhrum, a Chicago native. Returning to the Bartlett, he received his diploma and worked briefly for James Gowan before taking a teaching position at South Bank’s architecture school. He was a visiting critic at Rice University in the early 1980s, and returned to take a full-time position at the Bartlett School in 1983. It was there that he made his greatest mark, writing, researching and eventually heading the program after Robert Maxwell’s departure for Princeton. A devoted Italophile, he would often lead summer trips for students to various Italian cities, camping in Caravans, and visiting the piazzas, gardens, and buildings he loved. Equally versed in the contemporary buildings of Carlo Scarpa and the baroque masterpieces of Borromini, David’s enthusiasm for history left students with a deep respect for the past as they embarked on their design careers. While in London Dunster was active as a writer, editor, and publisher. He edited a number of Architectural Design monographs for Andreas Papadakis, including influential volumes on the work of John Soane and Edwin Lutyens. He wrote articles in leading periodicals, many on contemporary British architecture, and maintained his ties with U.S. firms as well. His gregarious personality and sharp wit made an impression on everyone he met in the far corners of the globe. He taught in Melbourne, Australia, and was a visiting fellow at the Architectural League of New York, expanding his connections and friendships. Though always ready with a biting quip or incisive comment on things he found petty, ugly, or unjust, he was warm and loyal to friends. He briefly headed the diploma program at Kingston Polytechnic, and wrote a monograph on key twentieth-century houses that became a best seller. Following his departure from the Bartlett in 1995, he became Roscoe Professor at Liverpool’s school of architecture, retiring in 2010 and returning with his family to London. Always active in education, he was an external examiner for several UK universities in his later years. With fewer responsibilities, he found time to continue his architectural history writing and research. David was an architect in the tradition of the Renaissance uomo universale—well-read, curious, practical, politically astute, and steeped in the culture of not only his own time but that of past epochs. He approached his work with skepticism and tolerance in equal measure. Most important, he saw design as a means to social amelioration and the advancement of humanistic values, not as technology, theory, or narrowing aesthetic conceptualism. As a colleague at Liverpool remembered: “David was one of the last of his kind—incredibly knowledgeable on all things architectural and cultural.”
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Professor of Cities

Thom Mayne to take over SCI-Arc’s cities program
Thom Mayne of Morphosis will be rejoining the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) as a full-time distinguished faculty member as the new coordinator for the SCI-Arc EDGE Design of Cities postgraduate program. Mayne, one of the original founders of SCI-Arc, will be taking over the Design of Cities program from current coordinator David Ruy, who will stay on as head of postgraduate studies at the school. Regarding Mayne’s new post, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz Alonso said:
“It is wonderful to have Thom Mayne come back home. He is a major part of what SCI-Arc is, was, and will be. Thom Mayne represents everything that we want our students to aspire to. Thom embodies the best aspirations of architecture as a historical, cultural, and political force that is unique among creative disciplines. Thom will help us to maintain the unique spirit of exploration that defines SCI-Arc. In the contemporary world, architectural thinking should be a platform for challenging the status quo. We welcome back to SCI-Arc, one of the pioneers of this idea.”
Mayne has extensive experience as an educator and has held teaching positions at Columbia, Yale, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Berlage Institute in the Netherlands, the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, and most recently at the University of California, Los Angeles, where Mayne led the school’s Suprastudio, among other institutions. The Design of Cities program is focused, according to the SCI-Arc website, “against the conventional wisdom that cities are hopelessly complex, informal networks beyond the reach of any design model, this program fundamentally believes in the power of the architectural imagination to create sustainable urban designs for the twenty-first century and beyond.” With a long legacy of urban- and sustainability-focused work and research under his belt and a growing momentum toward regional urban transformation in Los Angeles and California more broadly, expect to see Mayne’s provocative ideas take on new life as he undertakes his new position.