Search results for "china"

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INTO THE WOODS

Getty Research Institute acquires collection of drawings and sketches by Lebbeus Woods
On Friday, the Getty Research Institute (GRI) at the Getty Center in Los Angeles acquired a two-part collection of drawings and sketches by Lebbeus Woods, the visionary American architect and Cooper Union professor that passed away in 2012. The acquisition includes 46 drawings from the architect's A-City and 4 Cities and Beyond projects (ca. 1982-1997), a body of work that, according to a statement from the GRI, "constitute[s] a powerful expression of Lebbeus Woods's mid-1980s critique of contemporary architecture and the urban environment," as well as a 30-page sketchbook (1986-1988) the New York-based architect produced during an extended visit to Los Angeles. Together, the illustrations demonstrate Woods' exquisite pen, ink and pencil draftsmanship, as well as his penchant for drawing daring or impossible structures. The acquisition was made with partial support from the Getty Research Institute Council with the hopes of providing scholars and researchers of architectural history an up-close look at Woods' creative process. “As a teacher who linked drawing to theory, Lebbeus Woods’ influence on generations of architects is difficult to overstate,” wrote Maristella Casciato, senior curator of architecture at the GRI, in a press release. The two-part collection completes the institute's collection of A-City drawings, following its previous acquisition of six in the series as a donation, and it also complements two other special collections previously acquired by the institute: Drawings for the Berlin Free Zone Project (1990) and Lebbeus Woods Journals, 1988–1997. “With these acquisitions," said Casciato, "the Getty Research Institute is the largest repository for Lebbeus Woods’ theoretical thinking on the city.” As of last Friday, the GRI now boasts an extraordinary collection of architectural documentation, including the extensive work of Archigram, John Lautner, and Rudolph Schindler. Aside from the Light Pavilion completed in 2011 in Chengdu, China, Woods' groundbreaking designs primarily exists on paper, making the recent acquisition by the GRI particularly significant.
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Welcome to Pelliland

San Francisco's fourth-tallest tower inches closer to approval
San Francisco’s Planning Commission has approved a new 61-story, 800-foot-tall mixed-use tower at Transbay Center. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects for a group led by developer Hines, if approved and built as currently planned, it would be the city’s fourth-tallest building. Located at 542-550 Howard Street, the currently vacant site is known as Parcel F and sits across from the Transbay/Salesforce Transit Center and Salesforce Tower—both also designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli. Anticipated to be the last major high-rise in the Transbay district, the proposal incorporates a 189-room hotel, nearly 300,000 square feet of office space, and 165 market-rate condominium units. Additionally, Pelli Clarke Pelli’s design calls for just under 9,000 square feet of retail space and a 183-car below-grade garage with bike parking. The scheme also includes an elevated pedestrian bridge that would connect to the PWP Landscape Architecture-designed Salesforce Park atop the Transit Center. Like its taller neighbor, this latest glassy, 935,000-square-foot building is not without challenges and controversy. The development has already been through several rounds of refinement since the initial design reveal in 2016, with a reduction in the number of hotel rooms and residential units, as well as the size of the proposed commercial and retail uses. The office space is already fully leased to Salesforce. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the proposal has also faced challenges related to an annual citywide cap on new office space and has met with resistance from community groups in neighboring Chinatown, who are concerned about potential shadows cast over the popular Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground. Similarly, although 546 Howard Street’s developers would foot the bill for 337 units of off-site affordable housing, seen as vital in a city with dramatic and seemingly intractable housing shortages, as per the Chronicle, activists have expressed fears that these homes will not be affordable enough for area residents. Despite these setbacks, the San Francisco Planning Commission approved the project, and now 542-550 Howard Street’s final approval rests with San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.
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Virgin Tracks

Virgin to build another high-speed rail line from SoCal to Las Vegas
The United States has largely tailed other global leaders in the development of high-speed train infrastructure. State and municipal governments throughout China and the European Union have long-invested more in public transportation systems over the automobile, but one recent development in the U.S. may potentially bring America to the fore. A 170-mile-long, high-speed train from Las Vegas and Southern California is slated to start construction next year. Developed by Virgin Trains USA, the $4.8 billion rail line will be placed in between the Interstate 15 highway lanes, from Victorville, California, to Las Vegas Boulevard between Blue Diamond and Warm Springs roads in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to Tina Quigley, vice president of business strategy for the company, the build-out will begin on the western end in California. She told the told Las Vegas Review-Journal that contractors will likely begin work "in about five different areas when construction starts" and that "those five areas will probably be in California.” A section of the track stretching 35 miles will run through Southern Nevada and is expected to begin construction in 2021. Virgin is basing much of its design strategy for the project on a previous, 70-mile system completed by the company in South Florida between Miami and West Palm Beach. When complete, the train is expected to dramatically influence the economy of Victorville, a town with a population of fewer than 20,000 people, as well as the development of other high-speed rail projects throughout the United States. The price for train fare has not yet been determined, but it will have to remain competitive with plane fare and the cost of driving to remain a viable option for interstate travel. Though the project cannot begin until it receives a "record of decision" by the Federal Railroad Administration, Virgin has already begun securing equipment and materials, according to Nevada's Department of Business Director Terry Reynolds. The company received an additional boost last month when the state of California approved a $3.25 billion bond request to support the project. If all goes according to plan, construction on the route will break ground in the second half of 2020 and be completed in 2023.
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Stocking Stuffers

AN rounds up 2019's must-reads for the holiday season
With the end of the decade on the horizon, AN has once again rounded up the best new releases for holiday reading. This list has something for everyone on your list, whether they want to dive back into Michelangelo's renaissance work, learn the ins-and-outs of socialist architecture, or explore the world's contemporary architectural biennials. While it's too late for holiday shopping, that doesn't mean you can't pick up something for the New Year's break. Note: AN may receive a commission for items purchased through the following affiliate links.  Biennials/Triennials: Conversations on the Geography of Itinerant Display  Léa-Catherine Szacka Columbia Books on Architecture and the City  MSRP: $17.99 Recent decades have brought about an onslaught of -ennials (or -iennales), indicating both the growing importance in exhibition design for architects as well as increased capital and spectator entertainment value; architecture for show, but also a “taking the temperature” of the current climate. This little book colleccts conversations between the author and dozens of biennial and triennial curators, as they discuss the showpiece of our contemporary moment in context.  Structured Lineages: Learning from Japanese Structural Design  Edited by Guy Nordenson  MoMA MSRP: $39.57 This collection of 10 seminal essays outlines the contributions of Japanese post-war architect-engineer collaborations that led to some of the country’s most iconic buildings. Japanese domes, bubbles, and sweeping forms fascinated architects and designers worldwide and led to an unprecedented non-linear chapter in architectural history.  The essays, and their generous accompanying images and archival materials, show how the ideas and concepts of these collaborations were passed down seamlessly over several generations, and in some ways, how they still persists as a scientific feat in design imagination today.  Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War By Łukasz Stanek Princeton University Press   MSRP: $60.00 Political regimes have used architecture as a way of transmitting power, legacy, and permanence throughout all of history, and the socialist movements of the mid and late 20th century were no different. Throughout the Cold War years, architects and planners from socialist Eastern Europe worked closely with those in regions such as West Africa and the Middle East, resulting in a substantial reshaping of the great cities of Accra, Lagos and Abu Dhabi, among others.  This text-heavy book brings this story of cross-continent collaboration to life with previously unpublished images and original archival research, revisiting the connective powers, as well as lessons through longevity, of architecture.  A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change By Marco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual, and Andrea Bagnato Columbia Books on Architecture and the City  MSRP:  $25.52 A moving border is not a border at all—movement becomes negotiable, and the ebb and flow of human fabrication and implication are thrown out of balance. This is a phenomenon observed by ZKM researchers, who have dispatched equipment along the mountainous border between Italy and Austria, the ridge that forms the disparate water flows towards either Northern or Southern Europe. Their findings and cartographic visual language remind the reader that borders and the human political mind are in flux and impermanent, but that our actions towards melting glaciers and climate change are not: in fact, they’re reflected as hiccups in the very borders we try so hard to maintain. As glaciers melt, rivers flood, and borders shift, the environment is literally reshaping political boundaries. The Shenzhen Experiment: The Story  of China’s Instant City Juan Du Harvard University Press MSRP: $35.00 The “instant city” concept of Chinese mega-development is crystallized in the success of Shenzhen, a government-planned city that seemingly sprouted from the ground. Recognized for its role as an international technology center, economic powerhouse, and mega-city population of over 20 million, Shenzhen also a bit of a mystery, as the same model has been applied to dozens of other "insta-city projects," but none have approached Shenzhen’s overnight celebrity. This book explores the blurry history of the city, beginning with its farmers and oyster fishermen. Tracing policymakers, government regulation, and that the concept of explosive overnight growth is desirable the world over, is an important story for architects and planners everywhere facing the excitement as well as perils of rapid urbanization and industrialization.  Michelangelo, God’s Architect: The Story of His Final Years and Greatest Masterpiece By William E. Wallace  Princeton University Press  MSRP: $29.95 The last two decades of Michelangelo’s life were at first expected to be marked by failure and decline—the Renaissance artist even began to carve his own tomb. However, intervention via the Catholic Church landed Michelangelo with the master plan of St. Peter’s Basilica, a commission that would change his legacy, as well as the course of the Renaissance's architectural history. A fresh look at a portion of the artist’s life that often goes overlooked, the narrative aspects bring to light many myths and very human struggles that the venerated figure overcame. City on a Hill: Urban Idealism in America from the Puritans to the Present By Alex Krieger Harvard University Press MSRP: $35.00 A critically deep dive into the visions of utopia that have shaped American development, City on a Hill outlines the idealisms underlying various urban design movements, starting with the first wave of pilgrims looking for a new start. Krieger honors the grand ideas that have moved America and its cities forward over the centuries but also underwrites with a critical eye the lessons that can be learned as we move forward towards contemporary ideals of sustainability and smart cities today. 
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In Memoriam

Looking back on the great architects, designers, and curators we lost in 2019
As 2019 draws to a close, we’re looking back on some of the events that made it memorable. We’ve rounded up this year’s funniest, most important, and most controversial stories, as well as homages to some of the people we lost. The world is a little less bright without these iconic designers, but from the Louvre pyramid to a series of architecturally-diverse cancer care centers, their legacies live on. I.M. Pei  Louvre pyramid designer I. M. Pei passed away at 102, bringing an epic career of international acclaim to a close. Born in 1917 in Guangzhou, China, Pei moved to the U.S. to attend architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania and later MIT, following by the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He founded Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (formerly I.M. Pei & Associates) in 1955 and decades later won the 1983 Pritzker Prize for projects such as the Mile High Center in Denver, Colorado. Among Pei’s other notable projects is the National Gallery of Art, East Building, in Washington, D.C., and the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. Kevin Roche Legendary Irish-born American architect Kevin Roche passed away at age 96 in March. His namesake firm, Roche-Dinkeloo, was founded in tandem with partner John Dinkeloo after the death of their boss and mentor Eero Saarinen in 1961. A modernist architect trained by Saarinen and Mies van Der Rohe, Roche designed over 200 buildings in his lifetime including the Ford Foundation headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the Oakland Museum of California. He was the 1982 Pritzker Prize Laureate and won an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1993.  Florence Knoll Bassett Midcentury modern designer Florence Knoll passed away at age 101 this January. Considered one of the most influential furniture designers in history, her sleek and minimal pieces became commonplace throughout American postwar office spaces and later in homes. In 1955, she took over Knoll Inc, the company started by her husband Hans in 1938, which continues to manufacture furniture by designers such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, and Knoll herself, among others.  Phil Freelon Phil Freelon, one of the lead designers of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, died at 66 this July. The Durham, North Carolina-based architect founded his eponymous firm, The Freelon Group, in 1990 and was responsible for projects like Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, and Houston’s Emancipation Park. The studio was acquired by Perkins+Will in 2016 and Freelon stepped in to lead its regional office. Henry Urbach  Former SFMOMA curator Henry Urbach passed away at 56 this summer, and his friends and family are opening new dialogues on the subject of mental health in his memory. Urbach, who more recently served as director of Philip Johnson’s The Glass House, suffered from Late-Onset Bipolar Disorder. He was an accomplished curator, having started his own New York-based experimental design gallery in 1997 in which he hosted over 55 exhibitions. At SFMOMA, he accumulated hundreds of works for the museum’s permanent collection and collaborated with Diller Scofidio + Renfro on one of his most famous shows, How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now Cristiano Toraldo di Francia Superstudio cofounder and iconic Italian architect Cristiano Toraldo di Francia died in July. In his 78 years, his work helped shape generations of avant-garde designers such as Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid. Best known for starting the radical collective Superstudio in the late 1960s, Toraldo di Francia produced highly regarded drawings, videos, and lithographs through the practice, eventually exhibiting work in the Milan Triennale, the Venice Biennale, and at the Museum of Modern Art, among other institutions. Up until his death at age 78, Toraldo di Francia designed and built several projects throughout Italy and taught at various universities throughout Europe, Japan, and the U.S.  César Pelli  César Pelli passed away in July at the age of 92, leaving behind the legacy of an international firm and a monumental portfolio. Considered the father of the modern skyscraper, the Argentine architect designed some of the most famous towers in the world: the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, The Landmark in Abu Dhabi, and the recently completely Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. Pelli moved to the U.S. in 1952 and worked for Eero Saarinen in Michigan for a decade. From 1977 to 1989, he served as dean at the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven. During that time, Pelli received the commission for the 1984 expansion and renovation of the Museum of Modern Art, which more or less forced him to open his own studio, Cesar Pelli & Associates. After over 20 years designing projects like the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., among others, Pelli renamed his practice to Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects in honor of his long-time partner Fred Clarke, and son Rafael. Charles Jencks Landscape architect and historian Charles Jencks died this October at age 80. Remembered for his embrace of theory, built practice, and connecting the cosmos, Jencks designed whimsical gardens and earthworks that promoted tranquility and play. He is best known for founding Maggie’s, a cancer research institute named after his late wife and whose patient rehab centers have attracted architects like Steven Holl, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid. In the middle of his career, Jencks authored several books on the subject of "Post-modernism" before taking up landscape design. Stanley Tigerman Chicago architect and theorist Stanley Tigerman died in June at 88 years old. Known as a member of the Chicago Seven—a group of architects that rebelled against the doctrine of modernism—his design style was fairly eclectic in his early years, gaining a reputation as an iconoclast, until later when he adopted a more organic approach to architecture. He established his own eponymous firm, Stanely Tigerman and Associates (later renamed Tigerman McCurry Architects), in the early 1960s and completed over 175 buildings in his six-decade career. Among his most prominent works were the Daisy House in Indiana, Lakeside Residence in Michigan, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, and the POWERHOUSE Energy Museum in Zion, Illinois.
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Paleolithic Pains

Scottsdale’s oldest, Pueblo-revival style strip mall is being demolished
“It was a peculiar and visionary time, those years after World War II to which all the Malls and Towns and Dales stood as climate-controlled monuments,” Joan Didion wrote in her iconic 1979 treatise on Californian culture, The White Album. “The frontier had been reinvented... that new free land on which all settlers could recast their lives tabula rasa.”  Didion romantically reflected on the rituals of the freeway, the immediate gratification of the rising strip mall, as well as the architects who built them who she claimed: “Staked the past to seize the future.” Today, few typologies more accurately represent the promises and shortcomings of suburban life, its perils made clear as towns across America continue to witness the “death” of their local shopping mall. The demolition of Scottsdale, Arizona's oldest strip mall, Papago Plaza, and its replacement with a massive, mixed-use redevelopment, shows that this death is perhaps more akin to an evolution.  Vacant for years, demolition of the pink stucco strip began December 5, where Lee Mashburn of Pivot Development spoke at a ceremony that marked the beginning of the next phase of the site. “We’re not developing a strip center,” he said at the groundbreaking according to a local news network, “we’re developing a sense of place and I’m proud of that.”  The adobe-style landmark, Papago Plaza, was built in 1962 and originally named Frontier Town Plaza. In an attempt to stay true to regional architectural heritage, the plaza changed its name while simultaneously undergoing a Pueblo-revival style renovation in 1988. The term, Papago, is now an obsolete name given to the indigenous Tohono O’odham people by Spanish colonizers—it has since been rejected by the tribe. The redevelopment will keep the name in remembrance of the original strip. “Keeping the name was important to tell the legacy of the project. You gotta respect that. It’s been here for 60 years,” said Mashburn.  The $100 million redevelopment will consist of a 118-room Marriott hotel, more than 270 apartments developed by Alliance Residential, restaurants, retail, and an Aldi grocery store. It would be a stretch to call it adaptive reuse, though some have, but the developers plan to repurpose a few of the strip’s elements such as the kachina on the sign and the original wood beams. The new center will also feature murals, gathering areas for events, and a park with a water feature. Construction of the first phase retail center is expected to be completed in the fall of 2020. The hotel, apartments, and grocery store will follow.  Aesthetically, the redesign couldn’t be any different from the original mall, as the ethos of the American roadside establishment has faded—exchanging parking lots for 120,000 square foot garages, novelty gift shops for accessible green space, and suburbs for multi-level apartment buildings. And while it is certainly emblematic of good ole’ Americana, some residents could care less about the strip's demise. Local journalist Peter Corbett tweeted, “Good riddance to Papago Plaza. It's a stretch to call it iconic... the architecture was a mashup of Flintstone's Bedrock City and faux Pueblo style." But as Didion said, when it comes to the retail experience, frontiers will continue to be reinvented, sometimes at the expense of history and sometimes at the expense of pure nostalgia. See below for a video tour of the historic Papago Plaza before demolition:
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Coming up Jaque

Andrés Jaque will curate the Shanghai Art Biennale 2020
Andrés Jaque, the architect, writer, professor, and 2015 winner of the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program, has recently been appointed the Chief Curator of the Shanghai Art Biennale 2020. Jaque first announced the news via Twitter on November 29. For its thirteenth edition, the biennale will be held at the Power Station of Art (PSA), the first state-run museum dedicated to contemporary art in mainland China. A press release from the PSA Academic Committee stated that Jaque was selected for his ability to “establish connections between art and the public through his frequent interdisciplinary collaborations with artists, scientists, architects, historians, ecologists, and other like-minded individuals.” The Shanghai Art Biennale was the first international biennale of contemporary art on the Chinese mainland when it was first launched in 1996, and it soon became one of the most widely followed internationally. Previous iterations of the biennale have centered on the themes of history, modernization, social production, and urbanism. Commenting on his role in the biennale’s thirteenth edition, Jaque stated that he would like the city of Shanghai to not only be its host, but also “a fundamental actor in the discourse, content, and experience.” In this vein, Jaque will commission new projects from talent around the city “as a way to assemble different kinds of sensitivity and knowledge through art-making, and moreover, as a way to empower the legacy the Biennale leaves for the social issues the city is constituted on.” Jaque’s appointment reflects one of the first for an architect, as previous curators of the biennale—including Cuauhtémoc Medina, Anselm Franke, Qiu Zhijie, and Raqs Media Collective—have primarily identified as artists and art curators. The thirteenth edition of the biennale will be held from November 13, 2020, through March 28, 2021, and its theme will be announced in January.
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Fair Pay for Fair Work

Lawrence Scarpa on paid competitions
The following editorial comes courtesy of the Lawrence Scarpa, a co-founder of the Los Angeles-based Brooks + Scarpa Architects, in response to Matt Shaw's October 24, 2019, article on the value of paid architectural competitions. Matt. After reading your post, “Here’s to Paid Competitions!” about the design competition for the new cafe at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, it reminded me of the many pitfalls surrounding the vast majority of design competitions and the abuse of design professionals that are rarely made public. While the Everson Museum Competition appears to have been equitably organized and includes some compensation, most competitions grossly exploit architects and designers and their valuable skills. Competitions today are a “Client Take All” proposition with perhaps one architect or designer as a winner. Even when competitions are well-compensated, the requirements for deliverables, such as physical models, 3D visualizations, travel for interviews, etc. almost always exceed the amount of compensation offered, by double or more! I have never heard from any architect, EVER, that has said anything other than how much they’ve spent or lost (beyond the compensation) to partake in a design competition. Furthermore, the large majority of design competitions rarely get built. Not because of poor design or any problem(s) with the designer or architect, but because too many clients are quick to hold a competition before they have funding for the project, control of the site, jurisdictional approval, political support, or many of the realities that are necessary to permit and build a competition-winning scheme. Take the recent Guggenheim Museum competition in Helsinki, for example. Many millions of dollars were spent by hundreds of architecture firms around the world with the promise of the “career-changing” commission. Result: No commission and NO BUILDING. (Winning such a coveted commission and seeing it built are about the equivalent of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning). No big deal for the client(s), as they’ve invested very little relative to the benefits they get from the architects' work. Another similar competition was recently held in Bentonville, Arkansas, sponsored by a major foundation that paid shortlisted firms $5,000 each to compete, and again, after the architects spent well in excess of the stipend amount, they were informed that maybe only one of the five sites that were part of the competition might be constructed. Just last week, I was told by a globally recognized firm that they just finished a competition where they were paid $450,000 to prepare a design proposal but had spent almost $2 million to complete the competition submission. Recently, our firm was short-listed for an important commission in South Florida by an unnamed city. When the teams were notified for their interview times, and even though it is against Florida law, they were told that the selection committee was expecting to see design proposals during the interview. No compensation was offered, nor did the rules state that this would be a requirement. I was shocked that a municipal organization would brazenly break the law. Yet no team dared challenge this demand as it would be a sure ”death sentence” and the chance to win the competition would go to zero. Unfortunately, these examples are more of the norm than the exception. To add insult to injury, we have a network of architect-slash-competition advisors that, rather than informing clients of the great benefits that architects provide and how they should be compensated fairly, they instead get paid handsomely by the client to round up the best architecture talent and get them to do extensive amounts of work for competitions at little to no cost. When was the last time you told your attorney that if they represent you for free this time, and that if you like them and their services, you might hire them for future work? Architects should simply say NO to competitions that are: a) Not compensated fairly and/or b) do not have an extremely high probability of being constructed. Furthermore, organizations that hold competitions and do not hire or engage the winner for professional services to construct the building should be held accountable for false advertisement and be required to pay all competitors for the time they spent preparing their competition scheme. By the way, many competitions also require that the architect or designer give up their ownership and copyright for their designs they create Unfortunately, there has been little movement to change this unjust practice surrounding competitions. Britain’s Architects' Journal has at least started a conversation on the issue. They’ve assembled a panel to look at how competitions are being run  and followed up with an article by Ella Jessel titled, “What is Going Wrong with Architectural Competitions?” Derek Leavitt’s blog, “Why Open Competitions are Bad for Architects?” highlights even more poor and unfair practices surrounding design competitions. What is sorely needed is an organization that officially sanctions all design competitions, that have been vetted and proves that they have the ability to pay the design professional in accordance with industry standards and have the funds to build the project they are offering in the competition. Competitions are a massive investment for design professionals, and at the very minimum, they should be treated fairly and given proof that the competition they are about to enter is not just a dream! Architects and other designers rarely talk publicly about this for fear of becoming the Colin Kaepernick of the design world. Competitions in the U.S.A. are a far cry from European and other countries' models, even China's, where rules and compensation are clearly stated at the onset of a competition and submission requirements are more fairly aligned with the expected deliverables. This has started a new and alarming trend for “Design Awards” as well, with so many magazines and organizations starting to charge $500 and more just to submit for an award, but that is another story. It is time for our profession to stand up against this treatment, but more importantly, advocate for the valuable services and skills we provide. It would be interesting to hear from your readers and others about their experiences with design competitions. Hopefully, there will be a few readers brave enough to speak up and hold those who exploit designers accountable.
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Leeza SO-HIGH

Zaha Hadid Architects completes twisting tower with the world's tallest atrium
The long-held title of "world’s tallest atrium" has jumped from a building in Dubai to a new tower in Beijing. The recently-opened Leeza SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) boasts a 623-foot-tall twisting, open-air interior that beats out the Burj Al Arab hotel by 23 feet.  Located in the southwest corner of the city, the 45-story skyscraper sits in the heart of the burgeoning Lize Financial Business District near the area’s main transit hub. It features 1.8 million square feet of commercial office space spread across the two bisected volumes, connected by four sky bridges within the adjoining structural rings. The area in between the two halves makes up the full-height atrium, which spirals upward at a 45-degree angle in order to maximize the amount of light able to reach every floor.  ZHA had to slice the interior of Leeza SOHO in half due to ongoing work on the nearby subway. The building sits at the intersection of five new lines and is atop a below-grade service tunnel. From the outside, the structure doesn’t necessarily look divided; double-insulated, low-e glazing encases the entirety of both volumes like a shell, reducing energy consumption and emissions. During the day, however, the sun shines through the middle of the facility and reveals the void in its center.  Other sustainability interventions include a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, as well as a greywater-collection method. The project is on track to receive LEED Gold certification.  Construction on the project began in April 2015 and took just over four years to complete. ZHA co-developed the building with SOHO China and worked with The Beijing Institute of Architectural Design as the architect-of-record. The tower was one of the final projects designed by Zaha Hadid before her passing in 2016.
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Honed Edge

Ahead of Design Miami, Aric Chen talks sustainability, economics, and China

Aric Chen is the new curatorial director of Design Miami, the premiere show of collectible design, which features the world’s top designers and architects. The show returns for its 15th edition December 2 through 8, 2019, alongside Art Basel, showcasing a body of work that revolves around the theme of environmental sustainability. Until recently, Chen was the lead architecture and design curator at the soon-to-open Hong Kong museum M+. Long before that, he grew up in Chicago with his Taiwanese mother before studying architecture at Berkeley and then design history at Cooper Hewitt. In 2008, he was the co-creative director at Design Fair Shanghai, and served as the creative director at Beijing Design Week from 2011 to 2012. Chen now lives in Shanghai, where he teaches and works as M+’s curator-at-large.

A former Archpaper columnist himself, Chen recently spoke with AN’s products editor Gabrielle Golenda about the current state of design, the environment, and issues affecting the industry, as well as major changes that will shape the field in the coming years.

AN Interior: How is the environmental impact of humanity on the world affecting design?

Aric Chen: When it comes to issues of the environment, I don’t think we can talk about design as solving problems anymore, as we now realize that the problems are too complex to “solve.” That being said, design offers a way to help change behaviors, to mitigate our impact on the planet, and to adapt and build resilience to what we can’t change. It’s prompting us to rethink the relationship between natural and man-made, raw materials and waste, and production and consumption in exciting and promising ways.

How can platforms like Design Miami influence how we think about these issues? How are you addressing sustainability at the show?

Design Miami, and the work it shows, has always been about more than aesthetics and form. To me, what makes a design “collectible” are the ideas that inform it: the experimentation—in terms of these ideas, but also through materials, making, and, yes, aesthetics and form—that it embodies, and the messages and narratives it communicates. The best design speaks to the issues and concerns of its time, so questions around materials, production, and sustainability in our current environmental condition are naturally finding their way into Design Miami through the work of designers who are pushing the boundaries of experimentation and discourse—and, I hope, finding a market to support their work in doing so. As such, I hope we’re contributing to a cultural conversation while also taking practical steps to make the fair more sustainable—for example, by partnering with the advocacy group A Plastic Planet to eliminate single-use plastics from the fair’s food and beverage.

Read the full interview on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Raffling with China

Safdie Architects completes first phase of enormous mixed-use complex with horizontal skyscraper
The first phase of Raffles City Chongqing, a 22.7-acre skyscraper development in the burgeoning city of Chongqing in southwestern China, has been recently completed. Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, Raffles City is sited on the waterfront of the Yuzhong District made up of eight vertical skyscrapers and one “horizontal skyscraper,” comprising a total of 11 million square feet of occupiable space. Raffles City is the fourth project Safdie Architects has designed in collaboration with Capitaland, one of the largest real estate developers based in Asia, and is by far the largest project the firm has ever built. The first phase of the development’s completion was signaled by the opening of a five-story mall within a retail podium, 95 percent of which has already been leased. According to Capitaland, the mall alone is expected to accommodate 400,000 daily visitors across its 2.5 million square feet of retail space. When complete, five of the Raffles City towers will be primarily residential with approximately 1,400 luxury apartments (one of which, at 1,150 feet tall, will become the tallest residential tower in China when complete), while the others will accommodate a total of 1.6 million square feet of office space, 380 hotel rooms and several other programs. Perched above four of the towers is a 980-foot-long "horizontal skyscraper," named The Crystal, which will contain gardens, dining spaces, a clubhouse and an infinity pool set within its cylindrical expanse. This distinct feature recalls the Skypark, a three-acre recreational space resting atop the three skyscrapers constituting the Marina Bay Sands Hotel the firm completed in Singapore in 2010. From a distance, the curved facades of Raffles City are designed to recall the prow-like arcs of “a fleet of ancient Chinese ships,” according to the architects. Safdie Architects began designing Raffles City eight years ago and, with international company Arup Group as the structural engineers and LEED consultants, the building is working towards LEED Gold Level certification. Following the landmark opening of Raffles City’s first phase, the remaining majority of the megadevelopment is anticipated to open by the middle of 2020.
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Plantastic

1,000 Trees cover Heatherwick Studio's development in Shanghai's arts district
Now towering over Shanghai’s Suzhou Creek is Heatherwick Studio’s latest landscape-heavy development: a veritable mountain of trees populating a sprawling, mixed-use facility made for the city’s burgeoning M50 arts district.  1,000 Trees—the project's official name—has been under construction for the past five years and its first phase, spanning 3.2 million square feet, is slated to open in 2020. As a whole, the project is made up of two buildings split across two sites totaling 14.8 acres, each featuring a jagged facade with a “mountain peak” where the highest floors top out. So far, only the exterior of the first mountain has been unveiled to the public, revealing an undulating frontage punctuated by an array of plants atop structural concrete columns.  In initial photos, the project looks like a shrine to landscape architecture, or more specifically, the diversity of plants capable of outfitting buildings. Sourced locally from Chongming Island just northeast of Shanghai, 25,000 individual plants representing 46 species make up the vision of 1,000 Trees. Over half are evergreen to ensure a yearlong verdant look for the massive structure. Heatherwick Studio used grey-green granite to create a striped or striated facade that further accentuates the plants throughout.  Shangai's M50 arts district is located in an old manufacturing neighborhood where textile production used to take place. Now, the industrial area is a boon for contemporary art and 1,000 Trees is being built to amplify that theme. At 10 stories, the first section of the development, when open next year will boast eight levels of retail, restaurants, and commercial office space, as well as room for events programming and art galleries.  Its southern, street-facing facade, is practically flat compared to the rippled, creek-front portion, but it does include a series of boxy windows of varying sizes that are set back from the building's frame. Natural light from the floor-to-ceiling glass will be allowed to percolate inside the building, while multiple tall atriums throughout the elongated structure will bring a nice glow all the way down to the ground-floor from above. Heatherwick Studio partnered with local graffiti artists to cover some of the southern windows with large-scale murals. 1,000 Trees was commissioned following the completion of Heatherwick’s U.K. Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo nearly a decade ago. As China continues to push towards building extra-large developments, architects are also considering the role landscape plays in the country's increasingly dense environment. For example, a new green-roofed hospital with a terraced design by Foster + Partners and the Cleveland Clinic is set to rise in Shanghai as well, bringing wellness to the forefront of contemporary architecture.  Compared to Heatherwick’s smaller, albeit still plant-focused projects, such as the nearly-complete, 2.75-acre Pier 55 or “Little Island” in New York (which utilizes a similar sculpted concrete pillar approach), 1,000 Trees will completely change the look and appeal of Shanghai’s M50 arts district. Phase two of the mega-project will connect to the existing structure through an enclosed link bridge, a tunnel, and a ground-floor drop-off area. It will feature even more public space and a 129,000-square-foot park.