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Between the Black and White

Diana Agrest explores geology through representation in Architecture of Nature: Nature of Architecture
Architecture of Nature: Nature of Architecture By Diana Agrest Applied Research + Design Publishing $49.95

“Representation, theater of life or mirror of the world.” Michel Foucault, The Order of Things 

Presented as a 9-by-11-inch hardbound volume of full-color drawings, this sumptuously produced book includes interviews and writings alongside Diana Agrest’s design research as demonstrated by the work of her M.Arch II students at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union in New York City over a period of nine years.

Agrest is known for work that spans theoretical discourses in architecture, urbanism, semiotics, and gender. Her approach to semiotics has been neither purist nor essentialist; rather she takes a mediated view that argues that shifts in textual meaning are based on shifts in cultural context. In the 1970s and ’80s her view was also a kind of mediation between the Whites and the Grays, treating representation as a form of artifice, reflexively commenting on architecture’s inability to do more than this.

The Architecture of Nature exhibits (at first blush) a big pivot, with a new arena of investigation, if not perspectival view and methodology. The focus on nature, seen through geologic data (point clouds and weather data), is new to Agrest, yet the representations it produces are familiar as the aura and language of Cooper Union through multiple eras (under the leadership of Hejduk, Vidler, et al.).

If there’s a through line between Agrest’s early and late career, it rests here, in the primacy of (a particular type of) representation as the number one tool of architectural practice, with theory and building coming in a distant second and third. Less easy to appreciate is how this new territory relates to Agrest’s intellectual foundations in language, architecture, and urbanism.

The drawings make geologic space seductive, in an ambient way. The works are more diagrammatic than spatial, more planetary and notational than human. They work through abstraction; delamination of layers; and schematic, atmospheric sections producing geometrically complex artifacts that are difficult to apprehend, yet in their finest moments, verge on the mystical. In their elusive effects, they seem cultivated like an endangered species to demonstrate the Cooper design imaginary and unique skill of the architect in re-presenting (in this case) science to the world.

In an interview with Agrest, which forms some of the finest content of the book, art historian Caroline Jones and science historian Peter Galison suggest that the work exemplifies “an embrace of the constructed nature of the image and how it comes into being.” Jones then offers the following critique: “It’s a sort of nature without us, except that the drawing is completely human in the way it is conceived.” The paradox Jones points out is this: Whatever “nature” is, we’re part of it, made of it, embedded in it. “Yet we can only ‘get to it’—that is, produce it as some kind of object for contemplation—by modeling, by presenting, by analogy, by metaphor, by externalization. We are of course a part of it all. But we have to pretend we aren’t, just to be able to think about it.”

Agrest’s stated ambition is not to be metaphorical but rather to visualize space-time. Jones suggests that avoiding metaphor is not possible (and possibly not desirable), suggesting Donna Haraway’s notion of “witness” as a more apt concept to engender complex ideas of entanglement. Agrest responds by invoking the transdiscursive and then “the process by which knowledge builds at the boundary.” In ecology we call this ecotone, but here it seems like getting caught in the dialectic of Jones’s caution.

In his interview with Agrest, science historian D. Graham Burnett suggests the work is “best understood as a kind of cataloging of contemporary gestures in the direction of a program—call it the ‘neo-sublime.’ This new program trades heavily on the aesthetics of information. In these cases, what we stand before that occasions a moment of negatory vertigo is not a big cliff or a deep cave but a colossal mass of data.” Burnett’s point is a salient one that this reader wishes had been further explored by Agrest. It’s part of a discussion that’s been percolating.

The material would also be enriched had Agrest made connections between the work she’s known for and this more recent design research less tacit—for example, the ongoing investment in notational design. Or to articulate ideas of gender and nature (if they are indeed still important) in her pivot to investigations of nature. She presents a too-simple discussion of “nature-gendered-female” in the introduction, and there’s no evidence of this thread in the design research.

Is it too far a reach to suggest that for Agrest, nature is the new object of the gaze, the so-called “scene of history” that in her previous work referred to the city? It’s one way to interpret an interest in the geologic past. Shifting focus from urbanism, Agrest has set her gaze away from the city and toward nature, and geology in particular. So it might follow that her previous articulations of a street—“Street: A scene in movement. The street is the scene of struggle, of consumption, the scene of scenes; it is infinitely continuous, unlimited in the motion of objects, of gazes, of gestures. It is the scene of history”—are now being transmuted to the immersive experience of geologic, or deep time. However, this is pure conjecture, so the reader is left to wonder if Agrest intends reinvention, recalibration, or promotion. The decision to include the 1991 essay The Return of the Repressed: Nature seems designed to place a golden spike in the calendar, a moment at which she began investigating nature. The essay, however, adds little to the more nuanced discourses with Jones, Galison, and Burnett in the book.

Given Agrest’s commitment to the transdiscursive, especially in the context of a body of work premised on an engagement with nature, it’s curious that the discipline of landscape architecture bears no mention, and in particular, the topological work coming out of the ETH in Zurich under Christophe Girot, as well as the work of Bradley Cantrell at Harvard and more recently the University of Virginia. Or the burgeoning interest in geology over the last 10 years or so in architecture, including Stan Allen’s Landform Building and the work of Design Earth, to name a few. This absence of peer context suggests that the real context for the book is not so much contemporary discussions about nature, but rather the legacy of representational virtuosity associated with Cooper Union’s School of Architecture.

Cathryn Dwyre-Perry is a landscape architect, adjunct associate professor at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, and coprincipal of experimental design practice pneumastudio.

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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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Design + Practice Exchange

New York and New Orleans women will tackle design leadership in a new conference
For architects, the feeling of solidarity and the sharing of ideas are important aspects of professional practice, especially when it involves highly-skilled women who are constantly aiming to collaborate and want to raise up the next generation of design leaders. The Design + Practice Exchange is a new conference model that's bringing together the members of Women in Architecture committees from various chapters within the American Institute of Architects. The first official event, happening this Friday, September 27, in New Orleans, will give both local and New York architects a chance to share best practices for building community within their respective cities, practices, and the field at large.  Hosted at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center and the Center for Architecture and Design New Orleans, the two-day symposium will feature presentations by Vivian Lee, principal of Richard Meier & Partners Architects, Fallon Samuels Aidoo of the University of New Orleans’ Department of Planning and Urban Studies, as well as Emilie Taylor Welty, partner of the New Orleans-based studio Colectivo, and Sara Lopergolo, partner at Selldorf Architects. Each will discuss current projects that are transforming neighborhoods in New Orleans and New York. For Lopergolo, the presentations are a time to champion women leaders in design. “There are many women in offices—not enough, of course—but too few women in design leadership roles,” she said. “This forum is to discuss the challenges and solutions to getting women into these leadership roles.” Wells Megalli, a designer at Deborah Berke Partners, and Tracie Ashe, partner of studioWTA, will explore how they approach housing projects and how, as design leaders, they utilize every part of the architectural process to build community. This also translates to the process of building solidarity in the industry. “Our field is very coast-to-coast-centric,” said Lopergolo, “and with this Design + Practice Exchange, we’re trying to expand our communication to other cities small and large.”
 
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Joel Pominville and Aran Donovan of AIA New Orleans are helping prepare for the event this week. As a smaller organization compared to the AIA NY, they are thrilled to start the conversation surrounding the Design + Practice Exchange in their home city. “It’s critical that architects from cities of different scales, social, and political makeups come together around key issues in the field,” said Pominville, executive director of the AIA New Orleans and the New Orleans Foundation. “These types of discussions aren’t happening in New Orleans as much as they are in New York.”  During the conference, there will be a series of roundtable discussions spearheaded by leaders from Studio West, FXCollaborative, Perez, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Trapolin Peer Architects, and Fogarty Finger Architecture. These conversations will be less project-focused and more centered on workplace culture and leadership. “It’s good for women to know how other women are being perceived in other cities,” said Cassidy Rosen, a designer at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple who will be moderating the event. “We want to know that we’re on the same page as women in New York and know how to be engaged not just in professional development, but in community, social and networking aspects as well.” In addition, a session on advocacy and activism, two growing topics that architects today are more and more challenged by, will be lead by Colloqate’s Sue Mobley and Arielle Weiss of Urbhan. Whether it’s learning ways to uplift other women, bolster entrepreneurship, or combat gender discrimination and equal pay issues in the practice, the ideas exchange will give women from all backgrounds the support they need to do even better work.  “We want greater collaboration,” said Rosen, “which is something that’s lacking between states.” The Design + Practice Exchange will take place Friday, September 27 at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, with an evening reception at the Center for Architecture and Design New Orleans. There will be a tour of women-led projects and organizations along Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. on Saturday morning, September 28. The morning presentations and morning tour are free and open to the public, while the roundtable discussions and reception are limited with a registration fee. AN is an official media sponsor.
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Pratt-ice Makes Perfect

AN interviews Frances Bronet, the Pratt Institute’s new president
Pratt Institute began in 1887 in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood as an affordable college accessible to the working class of New York. Founded by industrialist Charles Pratt, whose company, Astral Oil Works, was absorbed into John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust in 1874, it was run as a charity for many years. It still had a Pratt family member, Richardson Pratt Jr., as president in 1990, the fifth family member to serve in that position. Its ninth president, Henry Saltzman, who served from 1970 to 1972, was an urban studies specialist, but other non–Pratt family leaders came from the fields of education and academia. Now for the first time, the school has selected a president, Frances Bronet, who has degrees in architecture and civil (structural) engineering. This, in itself, is a unique background for someone leading a design institute, but of course, she was also selected for her accomplishments in and out of design academia. In this interview, we questioned Bronet about her design background, what it brings to the school, and how it informs what she hopes to accomplish as the institute’s 12th president. William Menking: You’ve had a distinguished 20-year career as an educator before becoming Pratt Institute’s 12th president. You have degrees in architecture and civil engineering, and a diploma in management. This is not a common degree path to becoming a college president. How did it happen that you went from being a designer to a president? Frances Bronet: I have always imagined what it would be like to be the head of a think tank, from the time I was 17. I may not have known exactly what that meant, but at this moment we can all agree that leading a college would qualify. In Montreal, I worked in prominent, faculty-led architectural offices, and ultimately in a partnership with two colleagues. After graduating from McGill, I began teaching at McGill, Vanier, and Montreal Technical College in the evenings after working in practice during the day. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to continue in the academy, and I came to New York City to study at Columbia University for grad school. As an engineer and an architect with solid experience as a teacher, I was offered a few jobs, from the University of Texas to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), as a tenure-related faculty member. It’s hard to believe when looking back, but I taught for almost 30 years. In my experience, the academy, somewhat like an ambitious office, offers an amazing amount of freedom. As a faculty member, you have an incredible bandwidth for experimentation, new ideas, and collaboration. In many ways, it is both an entrepreneurial environment and one that has manageable boundaries. As soon as I was tenured, I became associate dean (I was also a new parent!). This was a great experience. I love building relationships and brokering genius—and being in an administrative position lets me do that. There are certainly many architects who would avoid administration, but it can be unbelievably creative. And where else do you get to engage this extraordinary amount of intelligence and aspiration? I then left RPI to become dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts (now the College of Design) at the University of Oregon. Being dean across domains—from painting to architecture to public policy—gave me access to understanding the big picture. When an even larger university-wide landscape was made available to me as acting provost at Oregon, I couldn’t resist. The ability to take opportunities across disciplines and connect remarkable people, projects, and places was key, as was designing teams where the unexpected can unfold. From there, I went on to be provost at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago and now have the honor of being the president of Pratt Institute. The school has a massive external face, leading through design—and as an extreme extrovert, this position is perfect. WM: The next logical question is how did an architecture and engineering degree prepare you for your academic career? Did it give you particular and unique insights into design education? FB: Absolutely. Studying and working in these environments exposed me to various ways of thinking and unique modes of defining complex problems and solving them. I was impressed by how distinct expertise came together to make it all work. We all have different modes of learning and teaching, and people self-select these disciplines. For me, architecture, although tough, resonated with how I experienced and performed in the world; engineering put me in a place that was unfamiliar, so that very precariousness opened up a new universe. WM: Your resume highlights your publishing career “on multidisciplinary design curricula connecting architecture, engineering, STS (science, technology, and society), dance, and fine electronic art.” You’re now the president of an art and design institution of higher education. How will you expand or develop interdisciplinarity between schools at Pratt? FB: Ah! That would be the provost’s gig. And now that we have a strategic plan developed with all our constituencies, this very recommendation is central. I could guide, advise, and listen, but the provost is the chief academic officer. My work is how what is going on in the world impacts our strategic vision and how we share this beyond our own gates, building broad constituencies of support. We have 1,200 faculty members—many of whom have their own practices—already connected to the world at large and bringing the world here when they teach. How can these connections be magnified and supported? Many educational enterprises are building experiential, embodied, problem-based, and practice-oriented courses. Pratt has been doing this for more than 130 years. That is where we should take a leadership role. WM: What are the challenges of directing an art and architecture and design academy in 2019? How do you hope to change or expand the institute? FB: Some challenges transcend the institute—preparing students for careers that don’t yet exist, accessibility, including cost, and wellness, to name a few. But for us, it is that excellence will be measured by how a private institution works for the public good, from social and environmental to cultural metrics. We are part of the economic and social engine that has transformed our neighborhood into a new, creative economy. And we must do more to create an academic institution that can collaborate to make a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable community. WM: What are the challenges and advantages of directing an institution of higher education for creative thinkers and makers in New York City? FB: The world’s best and brightest are here or are coming to New York City. It is also important to be aware that some great talent is outside of New York City, too. When thinking about the great diversity of this city, we ask ourselves, how do we represent the communities in which we sit? How do we collaborate with all this extraordinary talent and get out of institutional silos? How can we leverage our practice-based faculty, who bring both new ideas to their students and their students’ ideas to bear on their practices? There is an incredible opportunity to ask what are the key projects, and how do we partner and get involved? How are we part of a larger ecosystem? Climate change, rapid urbanization, ethical practice, and so forth impacting our world will require research, working across many disciplines, universities, and other organizations. This infrastructure can serve as a frame for true participatory democratic practice. Pratt is uniquely poised to do this type of engaged work and be part of this ecosystem. Our goal is to equip our students as cultural, environmental, urban, design, and education contributors and leaders. We are sitting next to one of the great new emerging developments at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. That’s where you’ll find our Consortium for Research and Robotics. It’s clear to me now that I was on the right track envisioning myself at a think tank. But in today’s world—with so much possible through technology and collaboration—we work in think-make tanks. There is so much possibility for partnership that, indeed, it will be the only way to address some of the most difficult issues confronting us. Designers are optimists. As Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon said, “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”
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Obit

Phil Freelon, who worked on the national African American history museum, is dead at 66
Phil Freelon, the Durham, North Carolina–based architect who helped design the monumental National Museum of African American History and Culture, has died at age 66. The cause was complications from ALS. Freelon founded his firm, The Freelon Group, almost 30 years ago. He was best known for his most recent project, his work on the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) with J. Max Bond, Jr., principal of New York's Davis Brody Bond, and David Adjaye, principal of London's Adjaye Associates. The D.C. museum opened in 2016 to rave reviews of both the building and exhibitions on the history of African Americans and African American life. The structure is clad in tessellated cast-aluminum panel inspired by patterns made by black artisans in the New Orleans and Charleston, while the form echos a crown and a group raising their arms in celebration. The Freelon Group also completed projects like Atlanta's National Center for Civil and Human Rights and Houston's Emancipation Park, the News & Observer reported. The Freelon Group was acquired by Perkins+Will in 2016, and Freelon joined the firm as a principal and design director in North Carolina. Friends, family, and colleagues took to social media to remember Freelon: Most recently, Freelon and his wife, Nnenna, a Grammy-nominated jazz singer, unveiled their renovation of the NorthStar Church of the Arts, a house of worship and space for creative activities in Durham. In a message on NorthStar's website, the Freelon family requested the bereaved donate to the church in lieu of buying flowers.
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Putting on a Public Face

Check out 2018's best facade products for enclosure performance and design
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To ring in the New Year, AN dived into a year's worth of facade products to select the best of 2018. Ranging from operable vent windows to manually-embossed cement rainscreen panels, these products are sure to boost the environmental performance and aesthetic value of any new project. SUNGATE 400  Vitro Architectural Glass Sungate 400 is glazed with a passive solar control coating that improves thermal performance and reduces solar heat gain. This energy efficient solution helps to reduce winter heating costs and provides exceptionally clear views. YOV SSG OPERABLE VENT WINDOW YKK AP Engineered for maximizing views, this curtain wall system is built around structural silicone glazing. It includes an operable vent for aeration without the unsightly aesthetics and sight blockage of traditional windows and openings. NX-300 Kawneer Designed for historic window restorations, the NX-300 thermal window bestows an antique look updated to meet contemporary performance codes. It is available in a variety of casements: outswing, awning, fixed, and fixed-over-awning configurations. SELF-CLEANING AND SUSTAINABLE FACADE Neolith + Pureti This facade system is treated with a photocatalysis-activated coating that is accelerated by light, which decontaminates the surface millions of times per second. As a byproduct, the autonomously cleaning cladding also improves air quality. 3D WALL PANEL Corian Design Undulating and virtually seamless, this 3-D surface can morph into almost any shape imaginable. Using a thermal-forming technology, it can be produced in varying levels of transparency and in countless colors. Texial Swisspearl The Texial facade panel is manually embossed to create a surface similar to that of fabric. Through manual input, each panel is different from the next, adding a layer of complexity to any facade. TERRART Baguettes NBK NBK's TERRART baguettes can be customized in a number of shapes and uses, ranging from rainscreen to brise soleil. A wide range of color and glazing treatments are available for each project. TECU DESIGN_PUNCH KME Architectural Perforated and embossed, this sheeting creates an ever-evolving, “living” facade. It can be used as screening or secondary cladding and in its natural coloring or in a range of colors that pass through the various stages of oxidation.
MOTION MESH
This kinetic metal fabric system is a solution that addresses all kinds of decorative and functional screening purposes—from signage, to sun shading, to exterior cladding. It is fashioned in laser-cut stainless-steel letters and it is offered in endless combinations of custom colors.
Dekton Stonika Collection Consentino Group The Dekton Stonika Collection features a range of architectural surfaces suitable for both interior and exterior application. Each panel is a blend of glass, quartz, and porcelain, allowing for a high range of UV and environmental resistance.
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Virtual Victory

2018 Best of Design Awards winners for Digital Fabrication
2018 Best of Design Award for Digital Fabrication: 260 Kent Designer: COOKFOX Architects Location: Brooklyn, New York

Slated to be the tallest tower in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 260 Kent by COOKFOX Architects was designed using an innovative precast exterior concept inspired by the molecular structure of sugar crystals. In a unique collaboration between the architect, developer, and Gate Precast, the same BIM model that was used to design the facade and create early scaled 3D-printed models was utilized to print molds for the precast panels. When complete, the facade is intended to act as a shading element. Opening in fall 2019, the 42-story tower will join the already open 325 Kent and Domino Park as the latest edition to the Domino Sugar waterfront redevelopment project.

Honorable Mentions Project Name: A.V. Bath House Designer: Facilities Design Group Location: Custer, Michigan Project Name: MARS Pavilion Designer: Form Found Design Location: Los Angeles  
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Awards Season

Weekend edition: Winners, Travis Scott, and New York's next great public space
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! 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). Snøhetta goes back to the drawing board with revised AT&T Building plans Snøhetta is back at work on the AT&T Building renovation. This time they've released new renderings showing their plans for the tower's entrance and garden. Travis Scott tweets that he is applying to Harvard GSD Travis Scott announced on Twitter that he is applying to Harvard University's Graduate School of Design to study architecture this week. New York’s High Line prepares to open its next great public space The first art project on the new High Line plinth will be Brick House, a sixteen-foot-tall bronze bust of a black woman by Brooklyn’s Simone Leigh. Announcing the winners of the 2018 AN Best of Design Awards We are proud to announce the winners of 2018's AN Best of Design Awards. Congratulations to all of our winners and honorable mentions!
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Enter by July 9

Seven forward-thinking designs from the 2017 Best of Products Awards
With the 2018 Best of Products Awards entry deadline just around the corner, we wanted to take a moment to remind you of last year's winners. Here we highlight only a handful of the most riveting and forward-thinking winning products from seven categories in the 2017 Best of Products Awards. With groupings that span from HVAC to residential furniture, outdoor to textiles, and smart home systems to facades, there are many opportunities for great designs to be acknowledged. You'll find more information about the various categories and how to enter on the 2018 Best of Products Awards competition page. Good luck and don't wait too long; the deadline is July 9! OUTDOOR PUBLIC

MANGROVE REEF WALLS KVdR Design with Jessene Aquino-Thomas

Approximately half the world population lives in urban areas near coastlines, with coastal armoring reducing native habitats and enabling invasive species to thrive. Mangrove Reef Walls are integrally cast within seawalls to recreate tidal habitats along urbanized waterfronts. The digitally developed mangrove and oyster geometry maximizes surface area and texture variety promoting adherence, growth, and hiding areas for numerous species. Ultimately, these eco-friendly seawall panels may be tuned for a variety of local species.

HVAC

WHISPERRECESSED LED Panasonic

The WhisperRecessed LED is an 80 CFM exhaust fan that hides abaft an LED Recessed Light and disappears behind the ceiling. It is an attractive way to remove moist, polluted air from the home, and it helps to prevent mold and mildew. The architectural-grade recessed light fixture provides powerful yet quiet ventilation.

OPENINGS

PORTAPIVOT 6530 XL Portapivot

With their discreet joinery, these unique room dividers are designed to be mounted on an already finished floor and under a solid or reinforced ceiling surface, without any preinstalled mounting systems. The minimal aluminum frame is designed to be fitted with 6- or 8-millimeter-thick safety glass and is available in three anodized colors: silver, black, and bronze. The axis can be positioned at one-third or in the center, with a configurable swing capacity of 90, 180, or 360 degrees.

TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION MAKERARM Makerarm A beautifully designed robotic arm that’s infinitely customizable, Makerarm is a factory on a desktop. It offers interchangeable tool heads that easily snap on and off, allowing instant conversion from a 3-D printer to a CNC mill to a laser engraver to a pick-and-place machine, among countless other functions, in a matter of seconds. Makerarm rotates 360 degrees and, at over 700 square inches, its work area is one of the largest of any 3-D printer or fabricator on the consumer market. BATH

FONTANE BIANCHE Salvatori + Fantini

A dialogue between circle and square runs through this entire collection from Fantini, created in collaboration with Italian stone company Salvatori. The washbasin is carved from a square marble block, from which a circular hemisphere is extracted. The Fontane Bianche line also includes faucets, showers, and handles.

FACADES

CORSO Innova Tile

This long-format brick presents a new emphasis on the horizontal lines of fine brick installations with its 19.70-inch unit length. The extended shape, the colors, the variations of textures, and the size and position of mortar joints work together to express the modernity of terra-cotta. The architectural ceramic method of production broadens the range of available colors.

RESIDENTIAL INTERIOR FURNISHINGS

MUSHROOM TABLE Yabu Pushelberg for Henge

Designed as complementary pairs, the Mushroom Tables have an unexpected lightness given their all-metal construction with softened, refined edges and rounded corners. The tables’ differences in height and scale are precisely considered, while the process of sand-casting is reflected in both form and finish, exhibiting a handwrought fluidity. The base of each table is more substantial than its top but is mirrored in its form; slender posts change in profile, from circular to square.

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What a CAD

Autodesk puts R&D first with its BUILD Space in Boston
Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue.  Located on the first two floors of a concrete-framed former army base in South Boston, Autodesk’s BUILD Space (BUILD stands for building, innovation, learning, and design), which opened in 2016, has become one of the software company’s best tools for keeping up with architecture’s hyper-speed technology changes. The cavernous 34,000-square-foot facility, whose adaptive reuse was carried out by Boston and New York-based SGA, contains two chief components: First, it houses every piece of digital manufacturing equipment under the sun, from CNC routers and multi-axis robots to microelectronics, metal fabrication tools, and a giant crane; second, it hosts over 70 organizations and 500 people, including architecture and design firms, start-ups, and universities, who use the facilities, supported by Autodesk’s software engineers. In return, Autodesk gets to make important new contacts and learn how to position its software for the coming years. “By investigating these technologies with these teams, it gives us a view of what may be coming, and what we need to start thinking about,” said Rick Rundell, Autodesk’s senior director, who has carefully curated the community with his colleagues. “I could hire a team of 30 researchers to use this equipment,” said Rundell. “Instead, I have 500 researchers that I’ve been able to curate. They’re doing their own work, but it keeps us in touch in a way that would be much harder otherwise.” The word has gotten out, encouraging the company, with SGA, to grow the space by another floor. “We get five or six calls a week,” noted Rundell, who has hosted researchers from the Middle East, all over Europe, and the far corners of the U.S. “We only review the most promising.” To prepare the space for all this activity, SGA implemented some R&D of its own, employing carbon fiber supports to help brace the building after it made large cuts through the thick concrete floors, and using the facility’s crane to haul in extra-large items. The firm needed to install new electrical and HVAC on top of what the building already had in order to support the teams’ extraordinary infrastructure needs. Autodesk, whose Boston software team works on the building’s sixth floor (also designed by SGA), has opened a handful of similar innovation facilities, each catered to a different aspect of digital design and manufacturing. The San Francisco office, which hosts Autodesk researchers as well as independent ones, focuses on micro-factory models, the Toronto office looks at artificial intelligence and generative design, and the Birmingham, England, office centers on advanced manufacturing. “We know this is happening, but we’re seeking to learn more,” said Rundell.

Some of the residents include

Perkins+Will

The architecture firm investigated new framing systems for mass timber.

Bechtel Corporation

The engineering company explored inflatable shading devices.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT students have created self-deploying fabric canopies that can be dropped via aircraft.

Construction Robotics

This construction manufacturer is developing a system for robotically constructing masonry walls.

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Honor Thy Planners

WXY's Claire Weisz receives AIA New York's Medal of Honor
WXY Architecture + Urban Design co-founder Claire Weisz has received the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter’s (AIANY) top award, the Medal of Honor. "We are delighted to present to Claire the 2018 Medal of Honor, our chapter's highest level of recognition, for her ongoing career of distinguished work, and her immense contributions to public and civic space in New York," said Benjamin Prosky, executive director of AIANY and the Center for Architecture, in a statement. WXY partner and co-founder Mark Yoes has also been elevated to an AIA Fellow, which recognizes "exceptional work and lasting contributions to architecture and society." Weisz is an avowed urbanist, and WXY has won recognition for a large number of public projects across New York City, including a 2018 AIA Honor Award for their work on the Spring Street Salt Shed. Weisz was named a 2011 Emerging Voices winner, and WXY’s reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square nabbed the studio a mention in AN’s 2017 Best of Design Awards for Urban Design. The studio works at all scales, from master planning enormous developments to designing for coastal resiliency, to street furniture and everything in between. Weisz will be honored at a ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on April 20 at the annual AIANY Honors and Awards Luncheon. Artist Ai Weiwei, this year’s winner of the Award of Merit, and critic Inga Saffron, winner of the Kliment Oculus Award, will also be recognized at the event alongside the 2018 AIANY Design Awards winners. One set of Design Awards winners who won’t be attending is Richard Meier and Peter Marino, as the AIANY stripped both architects of their 2018 Merit Awards late last month amidst reports of harassment and misconduct.
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All Decked Out

Here is AN Interior's first ever list of top 50 interior architects and designers
Welcome to AN Interior's inaugural top 50 interior architect and designer list, featuring emerging and established firms across the U.S. While these architects' and designers' talents certainly go beyond interior work, they are deftly pushing the boundaries of residential, retail, workplace, and hospitality spaces and cleverly reimagining the spaces we inhabit. Ensamble Studio  Boston, Madrid With a distinct focus on the process of making, Ensamble Studio leverages material technologies to produce dramatic spaces and forms. 64North Los Angeles Multidisciplinary studio 64North provides branding, interiors, website, and product design services. Architecture is Fun Chicago
As the name implies, Architecture Is Fun produces playful designs, frequently working with children’s museums; it won AIA Chicago’s 2017 Firm of the Year award. UrbanLab Chicago, Los Angeles
UrbanLab’s highly graphic design sensibility brings together smart solutions and visual identity in projects ranging from small storefronts to urban infrastructures. Design, Bitches Chicago, Los Angeles
The irreverent work of Design, Bitches employs layers of color, light, and material to build engaging interior spaces across Southern California. LADG Los Angeles
LADG produces uncanny forms and clever spaces by leveraging common construction materials.
Toshiko Mori Architect New York
The minimal interiors of Toshiko Mori belie their complexity, framing dramatic landscapes and challenging notions of craft. Young Projects New York
The formally expressive interiors and objects by Bryan Young utilize smooth geometries and refined materials.
Tacklebox’s interiors are filled with “ordinary” materials deployed in unexpected ways, recontextualizing the quotidian.
Michael K Chen Architecture New York
MKCA’s puzzle-like built-ins make the most of tiny living spaces. NADAAA New York, Boston
NADAAA’s work engages with high-tech material investigations and form finding. LOT New York, Athens
The influence of LOT’s Greek office is clear in its mellow, refined interiors and the firm’s furniture line, Objects of Common Interest. MOS Architects New York
The highly intellectual work of MOS plays on contemporary and historical architectural philosophies. Norman Kelley Chicago, New York
A self-described superficial practice, Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley explore the concepts of play, illusion, and flatness, all within an often tongue-in-cheek understanding of historical precedent. Snarkitecture New York
It should be no surprise that a firm named Snarkitecture produces works that are often outlandish—tempered by clean, white color palettes. INABA Williams New York
Part think tank and part design firm, every INABA Williams project is rooted in an in-depth research process.
Elliott + Associates Architects Oklahoma City
Rand Elliott has been focusing the country’s attention on Oklahoman design for the past 40 years. SPAN Architecture  New York
SPAN creates high-finish spaces full of carefully chosen materials and details. Home Studios  New York
Home Studios produces polished, finely detailed commercial and hospitality interiors filled with fine wood, stone, and metal detailing. Architecture in Formation New York
AiF brings together eclectic styles for a wide range of projects, from large hospitality to urban lofts.
Only If— New York
Only If— fuses smart geometries with clever materials for striking interiors.
Ezequiel Farca + Cristina Grappin Los Angeles, Mexico City, Milan
Ezequiel Farca and Cristina Grappin draw from their collaborations with Mexican artisans and use local materials to create contextual works for high-end clients. Bureau Spectacular Los Angeles
The comic book sensibility of Bureau Spectacular delves beyond the superficial with spaces that encourage the occupants to live a less ordinary life. Barbara Bestor Los Angeles
Between her many residential and commercial projects across L.A. and her book, Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake, Barbara Bestor is an influential force on Southern Californian design.
Johnsen Schmaling Architects Milwaukee
Johnsen Schmaling translates the beauty of the rural upper Midwest into site-specific residential projects.
Morris Adjmi Architects New York
Carefully proportioned spaces and forms—and a sensitivity to history— define Morris Adjmi’s elegant work.
Neil M. Denari Architects Los Angeles
Teaching at UCLA in addition to running his practice, Neil Denari is a perennial thought leader in the space where technology and architectural form meet. WORKac New York
With clever twists on typical programs, WORKac’s interiors are unexpected and playful. archimania Memphis
The progressive Memphis-based firm is taking a leading role in redefining what architecture can be in the Southeast through its numerous projects and help in redeveloping its city’s waterfront.
Shulman + Associates Miami
Shulman + Associates draw on the history, materials, and culture of South Florida to formulate vibrant, innovative commercial and residential interiors. Clive Wilkinson Architects Los Angeles
Focusing on workplace and educational facilities, Clive Wilkinson has helped define the aesthetics of contemporary creative professional and learning spaces.
Rafael de Cárdenas Architecture at Large New York
Native New Yorker Rafael de Cárdenas incorporates ’80s and ’90s glamour and pop culture into his high-profile endeavors.
Studio O+A San Francisco
The workspaces designed by Studio O+A express its clients’ stories and personalities, pushing the envelope of the modern office.
New Affiliates New York
New Affiliates works in “loose forms and rough materials” to create elegant spaces.
Biber Architects New York
James Biber approaches every project with a fresh vision, letting design and function guide the form.
Olson Kundig Seattle
With a dedicated interiors studio, Olson Kundig has redefined the Pacific Northwest architectural typology.
OFFICIAL Dallas
OFFICIAL designs bright interiors with pops of color and custom furnishings. The two-person studio also has its own furniture line.
Aidlin Darling Design San Francisco
Materials are at the forefront of and celebrated in each project by Aidlin Darling Design. Leong Leong  New York
Brothers Christopher and Dominic Leong use broad, decisive formal moves to organize space into crisp, refined interiors. Alexander Gorlin Architects New York
For the past two decades, even when minimalism reigned, Alexander Gorlin has been layering colors and patterns with great success. Craig Steely Architecture San Francisco
Craig Steely celebrates the tropical locales of his projects with interiors that reflect and embrace the native flora.
Aranda\Lasch New York, Tuscon
Truly experimental, Aranda\Lasch explores pattern and fabrications as easily as space and form.
Andre Kikoski Architect New York
Known for creating everything from architectural interiors to furniture and finishes, Andre Kikoski consistently delivers refined designs. SO-IL New York
Airy and ethereal, yet highly programmatic, the formal and material exercises by SO-IL are unmistakable. Peter Marino Architect New York
Leather-clad Peter Marino is the go-to for sumptuous interiors in high-end retail and hospitality around the world. Slade Architecture  New York
Slade’s lighthearted approach brings together form, color, pattern, and material. Charlap Hyman & Herrero  Los Angeles, New York
Bold interior forms with a refined material palette typify the work of RISD graduates Andre Herrero and Adam Charlap Hyman.
BarlisWedlick Architects New York
BarlisWedlick produces super-efficient, passive projects without neglecting aesthetics. Schiller Projects New York
Schiller Projects works through analytic research to design everything from architecture to branding.
Reddymade Design New York
Reddymade’s interiors are influenced by founder Suchi Reddy’s Indian upbringing, with lush colors, patterns, and rich materials.