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Yankee Modern

What is New England architecture?
New England might not garner the attention that other places get for contemporary architecture, but the region has a legacy of world-class architecture, including some great works of modernism. Two iconic monuments of modern architecture in America are in New England—Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center at Harvard and Alvar Aalto’s Baker House at MIT—along with seminal late-modern buildings such as Boston City Hall and the Yale Center for British Art. Today, many contemporary design stars have built structures across New England, including Frank Gehry, Rafael Moneo, Norman Foster, Herzog & de Meuron, Michael Hopkins, Renzo Piano, Charles Correa, Fumihiko Maki, and Tadao Ando. The finalists for a competition for a new contemporary art museum on Boston’s waterfront included Switzerland’s Peter Zumthor and Studio Granda from Iceland. The only local firm considered for the museum was the then relatively young Office dA; principals Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de León went on to fame as architectural educators beyond Boston. Although not unique to New England, the whole mentality of "if-you-are-good-you-must-be-from-somewhere-else" is found here. As one might expect, Boston is the center of most architectural activity in the region. Yet, despite a heroic postwar age of Brutalism, too much contemporary architecture barely rises above the level of commercial real estate. With the exception of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Institute of Contemporary Art and David Hacin’s District Hall, much of the frantic new downtown construction features the kind of glass boxes that pierce city skylines from Dubai to Shanghai. The city’s embarrassingly named Innovation District (often called the Inundation District due to its propensity for flooding) is scaleless, overbearing, and disconnected from the soul of Boston. OMA’s new scheme for the area—which the architects gratuitously refer to as “a dynamic and vibrant area that is quickly emerging as one of the most exciting neighborhoods and destinations in the country”—is an 18-story glass cube with the dreary moniker of 88 Seaport Boulevard. One might have hoped for more from OMA’s first Boston commission. The block will offer almost half a billion square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of retail, and a paltry 5,000 square feet for civic and cultural use. Its gimmick is slicing the building into two sections with some terracing and plantings sandwiched in between. OMA disingenuously claims this double-volume exercise “creates diverse typologies for diverse industries,” and furthermore “generates an opportunity to draw in the district’s public domain.” In short, Boston will get an off-the-shelf dystopian nightmare. However, the Engineering Research Center at Brown University by KieranTimberlake is not just another knockoff. Although flush from the controversial but triumphant U.S. Embassy in London, the Philadelphians’ latest New England project is what good contemporary architecture ought to be. The $88-million, 80,000-square-foot laboratory and classroom building is both understated and environmentally responsible. Its 22 pristine labs steer the Ivy League school into uncharted territory in nano research, energy studies, and information technology. The ERC is a triumph, especially given Brown’s decades of struggle to find an appropriate contemporary architectural voice. Recent work on the Providence campus includes an international relations institute by Rafael Viñoly—the design of which was dumbed down to mollify historic preservationists; a tepid Maya Lin sculpture; and an awkwardly sited Diller Scofidio + Renfro art center that was commissioned to show that Brown could do trendy and edgy. These common missteps are best exemplified by the university’s first competition for an athletic center. Although the competition was officially won by SHoP, the donor sponsoring it declared his dislike of modern architecture and demanded the school hire Robert A.M. Stern instead. The cutesy Georgian result is predictably bland. The ERC was ahead of schedule and under budget, and rather than treating Rhode Islanders as rubes, the architects created what Stephen Kieran calls “a nice piece of Providence urbanism.” While the firm’s great strength is diminishing the environmental impact of their buildings, the ERC also contributes a handsome facade to the campus’s traditional buildings. The fiberglass-reinforced concrete fins, the building’s signature element, impose a timeless probity worthy of Schinkel. If KieranTimberlake grows weary of being identified as the designers of the $1-billion embassy that Trump slammed as “lousy and horrible,” imagine how tired Tod Williams and Billie Tsien must be of consistently being tagged with the label “designers of the Obama Library.” Is a client choosing them because of the reflected fame? Will all new works by the New York-based architects be measured against that Chicago shrine? Yet Williams and Tsien have created a number of noteworthy academic works in New England that deserve similar attention, including buildings at Bennington and Dartmouth. Their theater and dance building at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, is almost complete. Here, the very long shadow is not cast by the architects’ own projects, but by Louis Kahn’s library across campus. Kahn’s brick tribute to 19th-century Yankee mills—and the symmetry of Georgian style—is one of the great pieces of architecture in New England. The big block of the drama building by Williams and Tsien wisely does not choose to echo Kahn but is curiously almost a throwback to the early Brutalism of I. M. Pei. It establishes a more rugged character with a marvelous texture composed of gray Roman bricks. A more satisfying Granite State structure by Williams and Tsien is a library, archives, and exhibition complex at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. MacDowell is a century-old artists’ colony where thousands of painters, writers, and musicians, including James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Willa Cather, have sought quiet and isolation in a collection of rustic cabins in the woods. Thornton Wilder wrote his classic play Our Town during his time here. Williams and Tsien’s sensitive addition to the colony’s 1920s library is only 3,000 square feet, cost around $2 million, and is an exquisitely crafted gem. The single-story library is constructed of a nearly black granite. Set in a birch grove created by the leading modern landscape architects in Boston, Reed Hilderbrand, this gathering place for residents appears at one with the rocky soil and forests of Northern New England. A 23-foot-tall outdoor chimney flanking the entrance plaza to the library makes reference to the hearths in all of the MacDowell studios. It also looks like a primitive stele, giving the entire ensemble an aspect that is more primal than modern. Another prominent New York architect, Toshiko Mori, has produced a simple yet elegant warehouse for an art museum in the faded seaport and art destination of Rockland, Maine. Built to house a long-time contemporary art cooperative that had no permanent collection and only inadequate facilities for exhibitions and classes, the saw-toothed clerestories at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) make reference to New England factories while bringing in what the architect calls “that special Maine light.” Like those functional structures, Mori used economical, non-custom materials such as plasterboard and corrugated zinc that wrap the exterior, embracing the lack of funds to her advantage. Despite the nod to Rockland’s working class vibe, Mori created a thoughtfully wrought sophisticated work of art on an unremarkable side street. Mori’s Japanese heritage comes through in her subtle proportions based on a 4-foot grid. The CMCA offers a refreshing contrast to extravagantly costly new museums by superstar architects—the 11,000-square-foot arts center cost only $3.5 million. Mori has crafted a museum based on flexibility rather than attitude. A summer resident of nearby North Haven, she endowed her simple statement with an air of Yankee frugality. But perhaps the most encouraging new project is the $52-million John W. Olver Design Building at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A cooperative venture of three departments in three different colleges—architecture, landscape, and building technology—the autumn-hued, aluminum-wrapped school embodies the dynamic spirit of New England’s first publicly supported architecture program. The 87,000-square-foot studio and administrative space is the work of Boston–based Leers Weinzapfel and landscape designer Stephen Stimson, with contributions from the faculty-cum-clients. Construction Technology chair Alexander Schreyer, for example, a guru of heavy-timber structural systems, helped fashion what is perhaps the largest wood-frame building on the East Coast. The zipper trusses that span the 84-by-56-foot, two-story-high common area demonstrate the inventiveness of wood technology. The glulam trusses arrived on-site precut and were snapped together with pins. In short, the academic contributors got to show off their research and also benefit from it. In a region noted for some of the nation’s oldest and most renowned design schools, the Design Building announces the arrival of the new kid on the block. Its handsome envelope is pierced by asymmetrically placed tall and narrow fenestration as a nod to the doors of the tobacco barns that are the university’s neighbors in Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley. From its roots as a fledgling offering in the art department in the early 1970s, design education at UMass has grown into a powerhouse. As the core of a complex of postwar and contemporary architecture, the Design Building helps to bring Roche Dinkeloo’s Brutalist Fine Arts Center into contact with a business school designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). While BIG’s work is sometimes incredibly innovative, the firm’s UMass project looks as if it might be another example of a second-tier work foisted on a boondocks location. Less flashy than its newer neighbor, Leers Weinzapfel’s Design Building is nonetheless a bold, homegrown achievement. New England’s patrimony is a tapestry of local and outside talent. A significant regional building would not be a postmodern structure in the shape of a lighthouse or a neotraditional re-creation of a Richardson library, but something like the UMass studios. Capturing the spirit of the best of New England design depends little upon reputation and huge expenditure. Rather, there is a direct correlation between realizing a quality work of art and understanding the region’s history of wresting a hard-won life from the granite earth. The challenge for successfully practicing architecture in New England is accepting an uncompromising intellectual toughness that demands respect for the eminently practical as well as the aspirational.
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AN presents all of the national pavilions at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale
As the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale gets ready to welcome visitors, AN has compiled a list of the 65 national pavilions that will open to the public on Thursday, May 24. Although two countries have canceled their pavilions, the remaining projects are all an interesting take on the biennale's theme of “freespace”; how we use, negate, and integrate open spaces into our daily lives. This year’s Biennale will also mark the first show for these six countries. Each of the pavilions mentioned below have been represented in their teams’ own words. National Pavilion Events: Albania: Zero Space Location: Arsenale “This pavilion is composed of architects and artists, devoted to the dynamism of everyday life in the ground floors of Tirana, the capital city of Albania. It is a moment of reflection of Tirana's lifestyle and the future of Albania's capital city. Visitors live through the experience of Albania's capital city the same way as its citizens.” Antigua & Barbuda Environmental Justice as a Civil Right Location: Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 919 Argentina Vértigo Horizontal Location: Arsenale “Proposes a cross-cutting dialog between geographical spaces, places and architecture. It is an invitation to rethink our territory as a collective construction and see architecture in its capacity to convey unexpected generosity in every project. The collection focus on projects produced since Argentina’s return to democracy, in 1983.” Australia Repair Location: Giardini “Repair addresses the call ‘to stimulate discussion on core architectural values’ and focuses on architecture that integrates built and natural systems to effect repair of the environment through three installation: the first is made of ten thousand plants inside and outside of the Pavilion, including 65 species of Western Plains Grasslands. This component of the exhibition, entitled Grasslands Repair, will serve as a reminder of what is at stake when we occupy land – just one per cent of these threatened species are left in their native ecosystem; an experimental video series, entitled Ground, showcasing fifteen Australian projects that unpack diverse iterations of repair, which will be projected inside the Pavilion. A third installation, Skylight, incorporates lighting to simulate the sun’s energy required to sustain the plants inside the Pavilion. The curators aim to provoke a rethinking of how we value and therefore create the built environment.” Austria Thoughts Form Matter  Location: Giardini “Is a plea for the power of architecture as an intellectual analysis of the world and for the freedom to design spaces that are not subject to functional and economic constraints. LAAC, Henke Schreieck and Sagmeister & Walsh are creating a conceptually and materially complex spatial installation which draws together inside and outside, vertical and horizontal, the historic pavilion and the language of contemporary architecture and design. Concepts such as ‘deviation’, ‘atmosphere’ and ‘beauty’ become tangible in a three-part, converging spatial installation.” Bahrain (Kingdom of) Friday Sermon  Location: Arsenale Artiglierie “The pavilions curatorial team is composed of Nora Akawi, an architect and researcher based in New York, USA and Amman, Jordan and Noura Al Sayeh an architect based in Bahrain. The pavilion features an installation and research on the ritual of the Friday Sermon and its influence on public space and public opinion. When thinking about free space, and by extension free speech for Arab and Muslim communities, the Friday khuṭbah becomes a key protagonist, especially as state, law, and religion remain as entangled as ever.” Belgium Eurotopie  Location: Giardini “Eurotopie, addresses the issues and challenges tackled by the European Union. Despite being the E.U’s principal territorial, physical and symbolic anchorage, the European Quarter in Brussels seems in no way to contribute to a collective European identity. The pavilion also addresses architects and space-makers in considering how the European democratic space can be constructed, and how it can cohabit with Brussels.” Brazil Walls of Air Location: Giardini “Investigates the wall as an element of Brazilian architecture, culture and identity, and envisage in the act of bridging this wall an invitation to coexistence and multiplicity on two design fronts. The first consists of the presentation of ten cartographic designs created based on research with a network of collaborators, consultants and institutions, as a way of visualising the forms of spatial and conceptual separation resulting from the process of urbanisation of Brazil. The second, in an initiative unprecedented in the history of Brazilian participation in the event, focuses on projects chosen through a public selection process. Projects are examples that use architecture as a tool to measure conflict, transitions between public and private domains and connections between different urban fabrics.” Canada Voices of the Land Location: Giardini “On the occasion of the unveiling of a state-of-the-art restoration of the Canada Pavilion in the Giardini, and the celebration of the pavilion’s 60th anniversary, the National Gallery of Canada promotes the exhibition: Canada Builds/Rebuilds a Pavilion in Venice.” Chile Stadium: an event, a building and a city Location: Arsenale “An event of the past, which rendered a city within a building. In its origin, the word stadium is a measure of a running distance between two points. The exhibition narrates such double story interweaved by a plan: that of a building (with its dissimilar uses) and that of a city (with its atomized housing development), overlaid in a single event. The Event – On the 29th of September 1979, this landmark building was filled by 37,000 workers from all over Santiago. The focus of this gathering was not a concert or a sport match, but a massive operative which provided, in a single day, ownership titles to dwellers (pobladores) fixing decades of makeshift land occupation and policies. This day-long massive event organised by the military regime was a day of celebration, of government propaganda and reinforcement of a new popular capitalist scheme. By signing these property titles these former dwellers were also acquiring a debt instrument with specific spatial coordinates, setting a plan of a city where there was no plan” China (People’s Republic of) Building a Future Countryside Location:  Arsenale “One of the major challenges facing contemporary built environments is the future of rural ‘development’. In China, the countryside has become a new frontier for experiments in this area, and the country is developing its countryside at a speed and scale unseen in the West. Drawn by the promise of boundless opportunity, architects, artists, developers—as well as capital flow—are converging in rural areas across the nation. The return to pastoral life has long been an ideal of Chinese literary tradition. In modern times, living in rural areas typically involves aspects such as policy, capital, infrastructure, and technology. While modernization and technological progress promise us better lives with modern living conditions, they also, to some extent, sever the link between rural life and tradition.” Croatia  Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality Location: Arsenale “Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality is a collaborative site-specific environment conceived by the pavilion curator, Bruno Juričić, with curatorial advice from Branka Benčić. Cloud Pergola is an installation crossing the boundaries of architecture, art, engineering, robotic fabrication and computational models. The exhibition is structured through the interplay of three interventions: Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić, To Still the Eyes by Vlatka Horvat and Ephemeral Garden by Maja Kuzmanović & FoAM.” Cyprus (Republic of)  I Am Where You Are Location: Associazione Culturale Spiazzi, Castello 3865 “By highlighting, questioning and then deconstructing sets of binaries, key to cultural perceptions in and about Cyprus, the pavilion disengages from convention. Multiplicities, found in-between these binaries, ‘built/unbuilt, tradition/modernity, Island of Love/place of conflict, immigration/local identity,’ are revealed in the pavilion, allowing unexpected experiences to be celebrated.” Czech and Slovak (Republic) Meetings on Architecture Location: Giardini “A program of encounters It's nothing new under the sun, yet it's necessary to talk about it. Beautiful historical towns, of course not only in the Czech Republic, suffer under the heavy burden of tourists. And the local people suffer also. In the streets of such cities we see empty houses, unnecessary shops, streets people prefer to avoid – just like in socially excluded localities. One such city in our country is Český Krumlov, an example from abroad is Venice. Both cities are among the magnificent treasures included on the UNESCO list, but the only ones who really desire them are the tourists. Tourism is growing into dangerous dimensions." Denmark Collaborative innovations  Location: Giardini “The Danish Pavilion exhibition will present a collaborative approach to innovation and illustrate its impact through a handful of very different cases. The cases look at the potentials of working with a number of fields outside the traditional realm of architecture, such as mobility, cultural resilience, housing and computational resource efficiency on a global level. Each of the cases branch multiple fields of knowledge and numerous stakeholders and demonstrates the transformative potential of collaborative efforts as well as architecture’s impact on innovating the built environment. Through large scale installations, including a presentation of the new OMA BLOX building in Copenhagen, the exhibition focuses on ’Collaborative Innovations’. BLOX, represents a framework for the exhibition since it embodies the idea of a freespace for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural innovation. BLOX is the new home of the Danish Architecture Centre and a new international innovation hub.” Egypt The phenomenon of “free” Location: Giardini “The pavilion, curated by architects Islam El Mashtooly and Mouaz Abouzaid, architecture professor Cristiano Luchetti, art director and producer Giuseppe Moscatello, and art director Karim Moussa proposes the theme of a redevelopment of spontaneous commercial spaces across the entire country. The phenomenon of ‘free’, unstructured, often illegal, trading is predominant in many urban and suburban areas. The traditional souk is no longer confined to narrow streets and interstitial spaces of historical areas. Indeed, the space of commerce extends its tentacles seamlessly along the lines of urban streams without any rule. The project for the pavilion focuses on these strategic spaces but also on their content. The trading of ‘roba becciah’ is a large portion of all market activities. Disused items produced and dismissed by consumerist societies are first collected and then stacked in areas to create mono-functional enclaves for future trading.” Estonia Weak Monument Location: Santa Maria Ausiliatrice church “Weak Monument explores the explicit representation of the monument and the implicit politics of everyday architectural forms. Curated by Laura Linsi, Roland Reemaa and Tadeáš Říha, the exhibition takes over the former Santa Maria Ausiliatrice church in Venice with pavement and a monument-like concrete wall that divides the exhibition space in two. As visitors cross through the wall, they'll find a collection of photos, drawings, and models of Estonian and European examples of “weak monuments”. They will then encounter a ‘wall altar.’” Finland Mind-Building Location: Giardini “The Finnish pavilion transforms the Alvar Aalto-designed space into a temporary library. Titled ‘Mind-Building’, the exhibition explores the development of Finnish library architecture and showcases Finland’s leading role in developing the libraries of the future. The exhibition is conceived by the commissioner Hanna Harris, director of Archinfo Finland, and curator Dr Anni Vartola, architecture critic and architectural theorist, who present the public library as a case-study of ‘modern monumentality’ and reminds us of the values of the civic society and the power of education and knowledge.” France Infinite Places Location: Giardini “This year, in its 16th edition, the International Architecture Exhibition seeks to remind us of a dimension of architecture no doubt somewhat neglected, and yet so fundamental: ‘thoughtfulness.” Our concerns focus so often on the built object, or one intended to be built, that we often underestimate the importance of this frame of mind that goes beyond needs or the desires of others. Freespace needs to be a place of opportunities, a democratic space, un-programmed and open to unforeseen uses, as yet undefined, such that buildings create new ways of sharing and participating for people over time, long after the architect has left the scene… places that are in some sense infinite in possibility.” Germany Unbuilding Walls  Location: Gardini “The exhibition responds to current debates on nations, protectionism and division. In the German Pavilion, GRAFT and Marianne Birthler will take the parallel as an opportunity to explore the effects of division and the process of healing as a, special focus will be given to outstanding examples of urban and architectural design that address aspects of division and integration. An example project is Checkpoint Charlie. This Location: was the third crossing point after Checkpoint Alpha and Checkpoint Bravo between the American and Soviet sectors. After the construction of the Wall and the tank confrontation shortly afterwards in October 1961, it became, alongside the Brandenburg Gate, the most symbolically potent image of the Cold War. A current competition initiated by the new owner of the site will elaborate a new vision for the Location: of Checkpoint Charlie in conjunction with the Senate. A Museum of the Cold War is planned that will be run by the State of Berlin.” Greenland Greenland's magnificent nature Danish architect Dorte Mandrup will be exhibiting at the main exhibition of the Biennale Architettura 2018, and with over 200 square metres at her disposal, is one of the most comprehensive installations on display at this year's Architecture Biennale. The forthcoming Icefjord Centre in Greenland is the inspiration source behind a large sensuous exhibition, designed to give Biennale's visitors an authentic experience of the magnificent and harsh nature in Greenland.” Holland Work, Body, Leisure Location: Giardini Bed-In Interviews With Beatriz Colomina #BED, DUTCH PAVILION, GIARDINI DELLA BIENNALE, VENEZIA 11am – 4pm Visions of the Future With Mark Wigley, Liam Young, and respondent Amal Alhaag #LOCKER ROOM, DUTCH PAVILION, GIARDINI DELLA BIENNALE, VENEZIA 11am – 12pm Work Body Leisure | Official Opening WELCOMING WORDS 4pm – 4:30pm SONGS FOR HARD-WORKING PEOPLE A project by Noam Toran, composed and performed by Remco de Jong and Florentijn Boddendijk. This afternoon concert launches the official soundtrack of the 2018 Dutch Pavilion. 4:30pm – 5pm Great Britain Island Location: Giardini “The curatorial team, Caruso St John Architects working in collaboration with artist Marcus Taylor, responds to the theme of Freespace with the construction of a new public space on the roof of the British Pavilion. This elevated piazza offers visitors to the Giardini a place to meet and a unique vantage point looking out across the Lagoon. At the centre of this new public space, the peak of the Pavilion’s roof protrudes up through the floor, suggesting both an island and a sunken world beneath. Below, the doors of the Pavilion are open to visitors, but the building is empty of exhibits.” Greece Utopian Visions of Learning Location: Giardini “‘The Faculty of Athens,’ will focus on the structure of the educational commons – from Plato’s Academy to recent college designs. It re-imagines the Greek Pavilion adopts the architectural trope of the stepped panorama to create an energetic house of discussion and trade. Inside of this panorama, architectural fashions depicting instructional commonplace areas from throughout historical past and all over the world, each learned and unrealized, will create a box of architectural specimens that fills the pavilion in all instructions.” Guatemala Stigma  Location: Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello, 4118 Cannaregio “The Guatemala pavilion investigates space with models all linked to a sense of utopia and lexical incompleteness, that reflect and try to give an answer to the language crisis brought by the postmodern age. The exhibition proposes a sort of ‘Virtual City,’ understood as the articulation of urban systems designed according to new modes of collective intelligence.” Hungary Liberty Bridge – New Urban Horizons Location: Giardini “In 2016, one of the oldest Danube-bridges of Budapest, the Liberty Bridge became car-free due to an infrastructural development in the neighborhood. Citizens, mostly millennials immediately put the road and tram tracks to creative use and re-imagined the historic place. The construction turned into street furniture, hosting picnics, grill-parties, yoga classes. The curators choose this episode to tackle fundamental issues of urban development: What does a free public space represent today? How can a bridge or any built structure act as a medium of freedom? How can we change our own identity by transforming our city?” Indonesia Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness Location: Arsenale “Here emptiness is meant as an active entity; a singularity that functions as a prominent agency in life and at the same time, as a void which demands to be conquered. This conquest expresses in various ritualization. Emptiness is a concept strongly rooted in Indonesian’s Architecture. This project argues that the concept of Emptiness that has been practice in Indonesia is the approach to liberate spatial experience and tactility.” Ireland The Free Market Location: Asenale “The Irish Pavilion is centered around the theme of the Free Market. The exhibition will explore the common space of market towns in Ireland, their gradual demise and importance for economic and social engagement. The pavilion will be transformed into a rural Irish market square, complete with market stalls, goods, soundscape and a daily newspaper.” Israel In Status Quo: Structures of Negotiation Location: Giardini “Through the lens of architecture, the exhibition explores the status quo mechanism that was established in the 19th century to regulate conflicts and facilitate co-existence in the Holy places. In the exhibition, visitors move through five holy sites that highlight Israel’s fragile system of cohabitation and disputed territoriality. Each holy site raises different phenomenon and their highly uncertain territorial claims over centuries has made them some of the most significant and challenging sites to reexamine within this context. The Israeli Pavilion team chose 10 of the most captivating architectural proposals of the Western Wall plaza over time, including those by Louis Kahn, Isamu Noguchi, Moshe Safdie and Superstudio. For each plan, the team created custom-made, 3-D printed models. In front of the models, a live stream of the Western Wall precinct will be screened, highlighting the dichotomy between past and future.” Italy Arcipelago Italia “Projects for the future of the country’s interior territories” focuses on the urban space that runs along the Italian ridge, from the Alpine Arch, along the Apennines, up to the Mediterranean. An itinerary with a hundred stages, suggested by small, high quality architectural projects realized in recent years and the result of a call promoted by the curator, in dialogue with examples taken from history, with the relationship between architecture and landscape; a journey into the future, investigating the current situation and proposing a reflection on contemporary issues such as the urban periphery, the earthquake aftermath, brownfields, railways and mobility; five experimental projects in as many areas of Italy.” Japan Architectural Ethnography from Tokyo: Guidebooks and Projects on Livelihood Location: Giardini “The Japan Pavilion’s curated presentation showcases over 40 exhibitors, ranging from university design studios and architectural offices to contemporary artistic practices from all over the world from the last twenty years.” Korea Spectres of the State Avant-garde Location: Giardini “The Korean Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia will present Spectres of the State Avant-garde, an imagined archive of the Korea Engineering Consultants Corp. (KECC), a technical consultancy for architecture and civil engineering established by the government in 1963. Spectres of the State Avant-garde seeks to reconstruct a hidden narrative about the state’s paradoxical pursuit of a utopian vision for society through oppressive government policy. KECC enjoyed an unparalleled dominance over Korea’s architecture and construction industry, and the breadth of its activities reached beyond civil engineering and infrastructural projects to include urban master plans and expo pavilions. Their visions at times mimicked the radical architectural experiments of the West but more often assumed a pragmatic attitude in line with the state developmental agenda.” Kosovo The City is Everywhere Location: Asenale “The Pavilion’s concept revolves around the idea of ‘house’ as a compensation for the city. During ‘90s Kosovo Albanians were expelled from all activities of public institutional life because of the political conflicts in ex—Yugoslavia. Due to that Kosovo Albanians created a parallel system of public institutions into their private houses in peripheral areas of the city. The pavilion space, named The City Is Everywhere is a house always on the making and somehow unfinished because of these new additional public functions. The inside represents the outside at the same time. All public life of Albanians during ‘90s for 10 years were provided into these inside private spaces opened by by Kosovo Albanians for public uses. The house became a metaphor for the city—it was a public space / a school / a gallery / a hospital / a shop / a café and a home at the same time. Latvia Together and Apart Location: Arsenale “The Latvian pavilion looks at apartment buildings in relation to architecture’s role in organizing the society. It examines how this architectural typology generates ways of living together and apart — with one another, the market, and the state. During its 100–year–long history, Latvia has undergone several fundamental political and economic transformations that have employed housing as a means of reform. Today, despite being one of the most sparsely populated regions of Europe, nearly two thirds of Latvians live in apartment buildings, which is the highest ratio in Europe.” Lebanon The Place That Remains Location: Arsenale The project involves a reflection on the built environment through a reflection on the unbuilt land and the possible visions for the future of the national territory and landscape. The focus will be on Nahr Beirut (Beirut River) and its watershed. The project explores the preconditions for architecture through assessing its bedrock and the challenges protagonists face, such as the fragile nature of territory, scarcity of resources and commodification. The format chosen for the project is a combined 3D relief map, landscape photography and video surveillance, while the watershed setting allows its creators to ensure that the resources remain the key focus.” Lithuania  The Swamp Pavilion Location: Il Giardino Bianco Art Space (Castello Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1815 “In a time marked by existential threats of war and climate change, the pavilion highlights the vital urgency of human cohabitation with humans and forms of life. Inaugurated with the launch of live broadcasting programmes on Swamp Radio, The Swamp Space and its extended network will engage audiences in a variety of acoustic space explorations. ‘The radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, how to let the listener speak as well as hear, how to bring him into a relationship instead of isolating him,’ maintained Bertolt Brecht. Acts of revalorizing the Swamp over solid ground and exploring its complex web of interactions are both conceived as pedagogical exercises by the project’s initiators with aims to transmit possibilities of speaking for the silenced voices of this planet.” Luxembourg The Architecture of a Common Ground Location: Arsenale “Highlights the importance of land and property for architecture and urban planning: privatisation as well as speculation, especially with urban land, has risen dramatically in the past decade. Many European towns and cities, which, like Luxembourg, are under enormous pressure to develop, have virtually run out of building land. The project draws attention to this striking lack of public land with a spatial installation and literally confronts it with projects – tracked down in the architectural history of ideas, flanked by initial research results from the young University of Luxembourg – that make as much public space available as possible over and above the defined programmes. The social and political dimension of architecture is linked to its creative power. The Architecture of the Common Ground puts forward a clear statement that does not mean to deliver universal answers but to show to what extent architects may conceptually react to the privatisation of land. The Architecture of the Common Ground is an appeal to view the unreproducible and indispensable resource of land as a common good, like air and water. “ Macedonia Freeingspace Location: Arsenale – Sale d’Armi Mexico My Art Guide Mexico City  Location: Arsenale “A paper guide and digital issue dedicated to Zona Maco and the art week in Mexico City is now available online, as well as an iOS app. This edition has been developed thanks to an incredible editorial committee formed by Carlos Amorales (Artist), Juan Gaitán (Director of Museo Tamayo), and Mauricio Galguera (Director of Galería Hilario Galguera and co-director of El Cuarto de máquinas). The committee has been working to select the best and most interesting art spaces and exhibitions in town.” Mongolia (Cancelled) Understanding Location: Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1815 Montenegro Wo/man Under Umbrella Location: Palazzo Malipiero (ground floor), San Marco 3078-3079/A, Ramo Malipiero “The exhibition is a framework for future research, which will actualize the need for a holistic approach, through imperative resilience of socio-ecological systems. Such approach entails transdisciplinary methods i.e. broadening the architectural knowledge base, and understanding complex, adaptive and self-regulating systems where narrow-range activities have unconceivable consequences.” Nordic Countries Explore Nature's Relationship to the Built Environment Location: Giardini “The pavilion explores the relationship between nature and the built environment. The goal is to explore new ways of making buildings that emphasize the delicate but often invisible interactions between the built and natural worlds. The Nordic pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn in 1962, celebrates nature’s different phenomena: light, sound, materials bringing them together to form a unique architectural experience. The 2018 installation in the Nordic pavilion will build on the context created by Fehn and ask how we see ourselves in relation to nature today.” Pakistan  The Fold Location: Levante section of the Gardens of Marinaressa, along Riva dei Sette Martiri “The National Pavilion of Pakistan team Presenting Pakistan’s architectural design prowess to the international community are Coalesce Design Studio, a Karachi-based multidisciplinary design practice, and Antidote Art & Design, a Dubai-based platform that serves the careers of emerging and mid-career visual artists and designers, with the generous support of GAA Foundation, a Dutch non-profit organization that aims to heighten awareness about the more philosophical themes in contemporary art, architecture, and culture. The Pavilion of Pakistan, titled The Fold, explores these ideas of limitation and interdependence, inviting visitors to comprehend Freespace as a consequence of unity, mutuality and harmony amidst a restrictive physicality. This makes it simultaneously a global as well as a local phenomenon.” Peru Undercover. 4000 Years of Architecture and Urban Planning in an Unexpected Place: Lima Location: Arsenale “Peru immediately brings to mind the Incas and the grandeur of Machu Picchu. Little is known, however, about its capital, Lima, a city where it never rains. With 7 mm of annual rainfall, it is one of the driest on Earth. This has been a decisive factor in the survival of a great number of adobe architectural monuments in the past 4000 years – 447 structures, to be precise. The curators found reserves of generosity in this legacy.” Philippines The City Who Had Two Navels Location: Arsenale “Inspired by Filipino National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin’s novel The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1961), the Philippine Pavilion confronts the tension between the vicissitudes of the past and the challenges of constructing contemporary subjectivity. It highlights two ‘navels’ that are in constant dialogue: the forces of colonialism and neoliberalism. Through the speculations about the intertwined forces and the concomitant architectural and urban issues, Philippines’ ‘Freespace’ anticipates possibilities for renewed life and hope.” Poland Amplifying Nature Location: Giardini “Architecture serves not only to offer protection from nature, but is inherently connected with phenomena such as gravitation, water circulation, or the day-night cycle. This concept is present in nature-amplifying designs from the history of Polish architecture: the Warszawianka sports complex, inscribed in the Vistula River escarpment, designed by a Jerzy Sołtan-led team of the Art-and-Research Workshops of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Zofia and Oskar Hansens’ Szumin House, and Jacek Damięcki’s visionary, unrealised design of the Floating Rotary Pavilion, and in two original designs by CENTRALA — the vertically open Cabrio House and the Rain Pavilion. Throughout the 6 months of the show, the pavilion will be actively shaped by factors including water, daily and annual light rhythms, or viewer interaction, demonstrating how architecture is inclusive in processes of physical change.” Portugal Public Without Rhetoric Location: Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, near Piazza San Marco “This theme underlines how closely State investment in accessible, quality public space is directly related to the rise of a democratic, cultured and inclusive society. Portugal is showcasing a tour of the “Public Building” on the main floor in Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, near Piazza San Marco. Its representation includes a collection of drawings, models and photographs of the 12 selected projects that include temporary structures, buildings or infrastructures dedicated to culture, education, sport and mobility. This is the work of several different generations of Portuguese architects, born between the 1930s and 1980s and built in the last ten years. The diversity of programmes and scales in this exhibition are used to reveal the universal culture and cross-generation excellence of these Portuguese architects. ‘Public buildings such as cultural, educational and sports facilities and infrastructures,’ as the curators point out, ‘belong to the idea of evolution and progressivity as regards social opportunities. They in fact simultaneously reconstruct and rehabilitate the city and renew public space in terms of quality and culture.’” Slovenia Living with Water Location: Arsenale “The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) presents the project Living with Water in the Pavilion of Slovenia at the 16th Venice International Architecture Biennale. They developed a series of installations that investigate the relations between the hydrological systems and constructed structures, territory and landscapes on a range of spatial, temporal and operational scales. Furthermore, Plemenitaš and his team developed a Multi-Scale Flow Map.” Romania Mnemonics Location: one for the Giardini and one for the Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research (RICHR) in Cannaregio Mnemonics is the ancient technique of collecting memories. The ultimate challenge of architecture is the ability of a space to generate strong memories. In Romania the image of children playing outside the buildings is the universal icon of the space between the apartment buildings. The installation uses props specific to the environment mentioned above in order to invite everyone to exchange roles on the playground, to interact and reflect over the effects of the appropriation of a common space by communities.” Russia Station Russia Location: Giardini “The pavilion explores the past, present and future of the railways in Russia. The space itself will be transformed into a train station. The focus of the exhibition forms a parallel with the history of the Russian Pavilion itself, which was inaugurated in 1914. The building’s designer, Alexey Shchusev, was also responsible for the Kazansky Railway Station. The space will be divided into five halls: Hall 1: The Geography of Free Space Hall 2: The Architectural Depot Hall 3: The Waiting Hall of the Future Hall 4: The Crypt of Memories Hall 5: Aboard the Free Space” San Marino Urban Colors Location: Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 947 “The project we propose for the 16th Architecture Biennale focuses on the relationship between architecture and urban environments, with particular attention to color, often absent or arbitrarily used, in modern architecture. There will be projects, models, videos, photographs, works of art by architects, designers, and artists from different countries.” Saudi Arabia Spaces In Between Location: Arsenale  “‘Freespace invites opportunity. It welcomes passersby, visitors and tenants. Once, open land accommodated independent settlement. Today, the consumption of space drives suburban growth. Within the peripheries, where development meets desert, the distinction between city edge and hinterland is blurred as bare expanses are punctured by swift development. Structures ranging from pathways, forums to flexible spaces, activating the inherent potential of the spaces in between.’ Over the past four decades, Saudi metropolitan centers have undergone rapid urbanization, with rural migration propelling built territories outwards. Settlement-driven growth produces disjointed, mono-functional, car-dependent neighborhoods connected by highways. In this state of fragmentation, over 40% of city land lies vacant. The wide distances between residential enclaves erode social ties and deplete natural resources.” Serbia Free School Is Free Space Location: Giardini This work was inspired by the Drawing on the Wall found in a basement room of the house which used to be Bogdan Bogdanovic’s Village School of the Philosophy of Architecture from 1976 to 1990. After the school was closed, over its long history of decay, the house became a Free Space for refugees, football players, hunters, vagrants… The metaphysics of this drawing and the history of the place introduce us to a state of archetypal intimacy of primitive peoples or theological-cosmological interpretations of ourselves. As a rule, such a psychological state turns us into self-taught architects of our personal inner space while the process of transition from the surreal to the real unfolds within us.” Singapore No More Free Space Location: Arsenale “Under the direction of lead curator Dr. Erwin Viray, Head of Pillar, Architecture and Sustainable Design at Singapore University of Technology and Design. The exhibition comprises twelve Singapore-based architecture projects, spanning residential, commercial, private and public buildings, each demonstrating how to turn constraints into opportunities for ‘free space’ by re-imagining what a highly compact city can be. Each project incorporates light, air, greenery or water to create oasis and delightful free spaces in dense urban environments, bringing joy and connectivity to the community. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be an interactive installation – an ethereal cloud of handcrafted acrylic knots with multi-sensory sounds, light and image projections, re-creating the experiences of Singapore for the audience.” Slovenia Living with Water Location: Arsenale “The Living with Water commissioner appointed a group of internationally acclaimed architects, landscape architects, researchers and educators, who applied for an open invitation to participate in the development of a joint presentation at the Pavilion of Slovenia. The multidisciplinary process of their work is presented in two installations. Because of water, life in Slovenia is enjoyable and satisfying, but at the same time water represents a particular danger. Nearly 160,000 Slovenian inhabitants live in flood-prone areas and some 50 to 70 floods of varying sizes affect Slovenia every year. At the same time, the right to drinking water has been enshrined in the Constitution since 2016 and almost one-fifth of Slovenia's territory is protected in order to safeguard drinking water resources. On the other hand, many concessions for the management of important water resources have been granted to corporations.” South Africa (Cancelled) Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng “In response to the Biennale’s theme, the South African Pavilion invites viewers to explore the artist’s role in visualising and articulating the notion of selfhood within a context of global marginalisation. What is it to be visible in everyday life, yet invisible and disregarded at the level of cultural, political or economic representation? The exhibition reflects on experiences of exclusion, displacement, transience, migration and xenophobia, exploring the complex socio-­political forces that shape the performance of selfhood under such conditions.” Spain Becoming Commissioner: Ministerio de Fomento Agencia Española de Venue: Giardini Turkey The Shift/Vardiya Location: Arsenale “The Shift/Vardiya, follows an atypical architectural discourse compared to other installations or projects that are set to be exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Tackling the essence of the biennale's theme Freespace directly or indirectly, or both analogically or metaphorically, the Pavilion doesn't feature a unique installation or a series of exhibition objects. Instead, it focuses on the process of production through which architecture is studied collectively and experimentally with many students and professionals coming from different disciplines from around the world. The Shift is envisioned to be a hotspot for various workshops, roundtable discussions and informal meetings, welcoming over a hundred international students of architecture, tens of tutors, guest professionals, keynote speakers and visitors while inviting all to a continuous learning and production process throughout the twenty-five weeks of the biennial.” United Arab Emirates Lifescapes Beyond Bigness  Location: Arsenale Lifescapes Beyond Bigness, the National Pavilion UAE’s exhibition at the 2018 Venice Biennale, will reveal hidden scenes of everyday life in the UAE across four ‘human-scale’ urban landscapes. Opening on 24 May 2018 at 12 noon, the exhibition will highlight the interplay between the built environment and the dynamism of informal social life through images, technical drawings, maps and three-dimensional models. The exhibition and accompanying publication examine four urban typologies, including: residential neighborhoods, morphology and social rhythm of the four typologies. Case studies and detailed personal stories offer insight into the anthropology of each research site.” Uruguay Prison to Prison, an Intimate Story between two Architectures Location: Giardini “The project for the pavilion explores the existence of an unprecedented Freespace inside the unlikeliest place and in close relationship with its larger opposite. Last year the largest building created in Uruguay was a prison and this symbolic fact bears witness to the desires and fears of our society and the effect that architecture can have.  Ironically, this new prison was built adjacent to the existing Punta de Rieles Prison, often referred to as the “village jail.” A unique experience in Uruguay, and in the world, in which the prison is understood as a lively, vibrant neighborhood that imitates the outside on the inside, resulting in an unexpected Freespace for collective projects and negotiations inside a detention center.” Vatican City Vatican Chapels Location: Island of San Giorgio Maggiore “The pavilion will consist of ten full-scale chapels that can reconstructed and deployed to parishes anywhere in the world. Vatican Chapels, as the project is officially known, will be erected in a forest on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, opposite St. Mark’s Square.” Venezuela  CCS – Espacio Rebelde Commissioner and curator: Nelsón Rodriguez Location: Giardini “The show on display at the pavilion projects three large-scale urban plans in Caracas: Avenida Bolivar-Bulevar de Sabana Grande, Simón Bolívar Parl in la Carlota and the Hugo Chávez Park in La Rinconada.” Switzerland Svizzera 240 Location: Giardini “The Salon Suisse offers a series of lectures, talks and cultural events supplementing the exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion. Curated by architectural historian Marcel Bächtiger, cultural theorist Tim Kammasch and architect Stanislas Zimmermannwith the support of local Salonnière Laura Tinti, this year’s programme is an invitation to a journey. If architecture is an island within the archipelago of the artistic and scientific disciplines, then the Salon is a ship that has left the harbour. From foreign shores, we will look back at architecture and explore its cultural and social relevance today. In the long history of architecture, such moments have always proved most fruitful when the discourse opened up to ideas, insights and inventions from other disciplines. Today, it is time to set sail again. On our journey, we will encounter philosophers and anthropologists, writers, musicians and artists, comparatists and social researchers. By discussing their work and its relevance to architecture, the Salon Suisse will open new perspectives, not only on the potentials of architecture in the 21st century, but also on hidden connections that have always existed among the different disciplines. Each soirée is also a cultural event: a concert, a lecture or a performance; a tangible sensory experience that will initiate conversation between the audience and our guests, all of them present over the whole length of a salon.” United States  Dimensions of Citizenship – U.S. Pavilion at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale Location: Giardini “The exhibition is an effort aimed to investigate how the very concept of citizenship has changed in recent times and is changing these days. Does the conventional notion of citizenship is being undermined by transnational flows of capital, digital technologies, geopolitical transformations, climatic change, populism, social inequality? How architects and designers should respond to such transformation and in which way their traditional role in contemporary society is changing because of it?”
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Another one bites the dust?

Why we need architecture critics more than ever
Earlier this week we learned that Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne would be stepping down to take on the city’s newly-created role of Chief Design Officer. The move is a bold, encouraging one that should go a long way toward, as Hawthorne put it, “raising the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city—and the level of civic conversation about those subjects,” through his employment of oversight, advocacy, competitions, forums, and more. But it’s the second part of that statement, regarding civic conversation, that, regardless of this positive development, is under siege in the architecture world. Until Hawthorne is replaced — and given the turmoil at the L.A. Times that’s no certainty— our country will have still fewer regular architectural critics at its major metropolitan news outlets. You can count them on one hand in fact: Blair Kamin at the Chicago Tribune, John King at the San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Lamster at the Dallas Morning News, Julie Iovine at the Wall Street Journal, and Inga Saffron at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Beyond these dailies, while New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson and Curbed’s Alexandra Lange offer regular critiques, the New York Times’ critic Michael Kimmelman is M.I.A., the New Yorker has never replaced Paul Goldberger, and at The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The Nation, The San Jose Mercury News, and Vanity Fair, Robert Campbell, Alastair Gordon, Michael Sorkin, Alan Hess and Goldberger—all talented voices, as are all the people listed above— haven’t appeared for at least half a year.  Papers like The Seattle Times, the Providence Journal, and the Washington Post never replaced their outgoing critics, USA Today has never had one, and half of the nation’s ten largest cities have no critic. It goes without saying that the L.A. Times absolutely must name a new full-time architecture critic, particularly at a time when the nation's second largest city is undergoing unprecedented transformation. Without a well-positioned critical voice, the city will lack a professional to alert them to and analyze these tumultuous built changes, or an advocate to critique decisions that, as they so often do in the developer-driven city, advance private interests over the public good. (Or, on the other end of the spectrum, marginalize design through discourse and work that most people can't relate to.) A critic can and must do much more, from awakening us to triumphs in sustainability and technology to suggesting ways to minimize sprawl or enhance public space. We don’t have to always agree with them, but he or she plays an essential role in instigating and informing a vital public discourse and to alerting us to the critical role design plays in our lives. The same goes for so many of the country’s cities, where nobody is minding the store, architecturally. The results speak for themselves: an overwhelming majority of architecture, both public and private, that’s ok, fine, serviceable. But not enough. It’s an architecture that, like most of our economy, excels for the very richest individuals, corporations and cultural institutions, but offers mediocrity to almost everyone else. Architecture should and must be for everyone, across the board, from housing to retail to schools to government buildings to civic parks. It must help propel our society, and our spirits, forward through inspiration and innovation, not just provide luxury, comfort, or status. Of course, architecture criticism isn’t limited to major commercial outlets. There are fantastic voices at many design periodicals, like this one. But critics at general interest publications still, even in this fractured media landscape, have the greatest ability to reach a wide audience, outside the bubbles of design or niche journalism, who are often preaching to the converted. While the news, sports, fashion, entertainment, and financial media promote and dissect the minutiae of their fields before millions, prompting debate, feedback, and change, the architecture and construction industry — a significant force in overall U.S. GDP—is largely on the fringe of the public conversation. (One example: If you watch March Madness this week, you’ll see more college basketball critics on one telecast than you’ll find countrywide speaking to architecture. Aline Saarinen was once NBC News’ full time architecture critic, but those days of elevated exposure are long gone.) Meanwhile, critics, as with so many players in the ailing journalism world, are increasingly being sidestepped for computerized engines like Rotten Tomatoes or for blogs that aggregate other work and churn out press releases. Or even worse, for abbreviated Facebook or Twitter posts. Algorithms and big data have their place in showing us where we are, but they can’t replace analysis, critique, understanding, common sense, and heart. Having Hawthorne— along with advocates like Deborah Weintraub at the L.A. Bureau of Engineering and Seleta Reynolds at the L.A. Department of Transportation— stationed at City Hall will be bring a keen eye and a valuable voice to the official conversation. But that conversation needs to extend to a much wider public, through experts outside the city payroll. As for his new job, Hawthorne must, as he suggests he will, make his work to improve the civic realm as public as possible, ensuring that design involves everyone, not just those in power. This is a fantastic opportunity for a gifted communicator to bring the public inside a generally opaque realm through his writing, speaking, and facility for public engagement. But he also needs a partner or two (preferably more) in the media, and as more chief design officers (hopefully) pop up around the country, so must they. Architecture is not art in a gallery. Along with landscape architecture and urban design, it is a public profession. It is for the public, not despite them. We need to empower more informed voices to keep it that way.
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Coming to Tech+

How R/GA is designing the office of the future
Walk around R/GA's (formerly R/Greenberg Associates) New York office and it's tough not to be wooed by the tech running the show. Despite this, however, the environment is decidedly democratic rather than technocratic. Spread across the 11th and 12th floors of 450 West 33rd Street, R/GA's New York HQ sits within 200,000 square feet of office space. The term "office space" is more appropriate than "offices" because the latter implies a series of segmented workplace zones, typically walled or cordoned. With R/GA, office furniture has wheels to move around the open plan found on the 12th floor, which is also the entry level. "I didn't see any difference between an architecture firm and a law firm," said founder and CEO of R/GA Bob Greenberg, speaking in a Gary Hustwit-made documentary about his firm. He wanted to create an environment "where the digital landscape would integrate with physical space." And now Greenberg has 450 West 33rd Street: a former brutalist block, designed by Davis Brody Bond in 1969 that has been re-skinned by Joshua Prince-Ramus (REX) and gutted on R/GA's two floors by Foster + Partners. On the 12th floor, conference "rooms" have no walls. Instead, they're round tables (with wheels, of course) wired up to hidden power outlets and surrounded by high chairs. Zones are denoted by color, letters, and numbers. It feels a bit like moving around an airport, though Greenberg's collection of art, transit, and technological nostalgia make useful wayfinding devices. Screens display product and marketing information and welcome messages for visitors. Everything is modular—even the floor can be taken up. The system works through a Unistrut canopy from which all manner of devices—such as the aforementioned sensors—hang from. The blockbuster feature, however, is that everything can be controlled by an app. Conference "rooms" can be booked, lights changed, art can be identified (just point your camera at it), and audio of the video being played on screens can be easily accessed. A geolocation service—using sensors dotted around the space—also runs at a granular scale to aid navigation. R/GA's aim is for a fluid, versatile and connected environment. Though still being refined, they developed this beta office model for themselves and deliver it as a tailored product primed for startups. In fact, R/GA supplies a tech-based incubator for blossoming firms looking for guidance, direction and of course, funding. Daniel Diez is R/GA's executive vice president and global chief marketing officer. He works closely with managing directors and senior leadership across all R/GA offices, leading marketing and communications strategies and thus he has a hand in all R/GA's projects. Diez will be speaking about R/GA's work at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Tech+ conference. The event will be at Metropolitan West on 639 West 46th Street in Manhattan on May 23. To register and find out more, visit techplusexpo.com.
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ZUS Bolt

This landscape architecture firm is bringing Dutch water expertise to the U.S.

Senior editor Matt Shaw sat down with Rotterdam- and New York–based ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles) partners Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman to see what the United States can learn from the Netherlands, a country that is almost half below sea level and leads the way in water management in landscape infrastructure design.

The Architect’s Newspaper: You have a host of urban and landscape projects that are currently in the works, some of which are very large in scale. Are any of these explicitly dealing with water?

ZUS: There are five water-related projects we are working on right now. The Almere Dune is an artificial dune landscape on the original polder (a piece of low-lying land reclaimed from the sea and protected by dikes), with 3,000 houses and a mixed-use core.

We are working on the world’s largest sea lock, at IJmuiden, which means we are doing the landscape design and architecture of three control centers. A similar project we are designing is the Hoogwatergeul Veessen, a three-mile river bypass that serves as a river flood basin, with a dynamic flood-protection bridge berm. There is also the self-initiated Delta 3000 project, which is a utopia that imagines the Netherlands as a dune metropolis. We are proposing massive dunes to counter soil inclination and rising waters.

Here in the U.S., we are working together with AECOM and ORG on the execution of our winning competition entry for Rebuild by Design: New Meadowlands. It is a very exciting combination of coastal protection, green infrastructure, and public amenities.

What are some of the issues that designers and researchers are dealing with in the Netherlands today? Is climate change an important topic for designers in the Netherlands?

Yes, of course many issues are climate related, like sea-level rise, rising temperatures, and new migration patterns. We also face a more diffuse clientele, as governments are retreating and new markets and players emerge. Therefore, designers have to be more proactive to get interesting commissions.

One of the main issues is water. As half of the country is below sea level, every project has to respond to the challenges of water coming in more intensely from all sides: Sea-level rise, river floods, rain events, and groundwater.

How do you see working in the U.S. as different from working in the Netherlands? What are the differences in attitude about water and dealing with climate change?

We face many of the same issues: Climate adaptation, bureaucracy, big companies versus small offices, less and less risk-taking. In the Netherlands, there’s a long tradition of spatial planning and the culture of design, where, for decades, they were by definition incorporated into policy making. In the last few years, a corporatism is emerging, where [experimentation] is hardly possible. The good news is that, in the U.S., we feel an emerging interest in design in all fields. However, there is still a big gap between the academic world and the real world there, including governments and bureaucracy.

What do you think other countries can learn from designers in the Netherlands, in terms of designing for water and with water?

We would say to them: Take sea-level rise really seriously, and do it together. Only if all parties—governments, designers, scientists, contractors, engineers—collaborate can the challenges be faced and countered. Build with nature, meaning that we will never win against the water unless we embrace its presence and dynamics. Introduce different levels of safety, and spread risks along hard infrastructure, adaptive landscapes, and evacuation programs.

Are attitudes to waterfront development changing in the Netherlands? How do is that possible? On-site infrastructure? Off-site?

After having the top-down Delta Works (1953) for many decades, protecting the Netherlands from 10,000-year storms, our country established a rich apparatus of water boards, such as the National WaterAuthority and local governmental agencies, to think of the next big threats. The first Delta Works turned the Netherlands into one big bathtub.

In addition to sea-level rise, extreme river floods and rain events are also severe risks to the country. Therefore, Room for the River was introduced, and the new Delta Works, which directs new policies for more local adaptations. For example, Almere Dune introduces a public–private partnership for making more resilient urban districts. This means that the dunes, privately funded, are contributing to national safety. And they are also a new way to live above sea level. The IJmuiden sea lock is made for the 200-year forecast of sea-level rise, so large-scale infrastructure is made with great responsibility toward the future.

Off-site, we witness more adaptation measures, like water squares and retention basins to deal with extreme rain events. Nowadays, many of these projects come with multiple agendas with climate adaptation also taking a social responsibility.

This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.

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Zero Columns

Metropolitan Opera House designed by Toyo Ito opens in Taichung, Taiwan
Toyo Ito’s Metropolitan Opera House has opened in Taichung, Taiwan. The Japanese architect's latest project was ten years in the making, with designs revealed in 2006 and construction beginning in 2009. The six-story complex is 624,000 square feet in size and features a 2,014-seat grand theater, an 800-seat theater, and a 200-seat black box theater, as well as rehearsal spaces and a restaurant. From an engineering perspective, the building is architecturally complex, erected entirely without beams or columns. It relies on 58 curved wall units to achieve its grand, curved interiors. Support for its construction was donated by the city government to the Ministry of Culture in Taiwan, according to Taipei Times. "I aimed to create the architecture of this opera house in such a way that the inside and outside are continuous in a like manner to how bodies are connected to nature through organs such as the mouth, nose, and ears," Ito told Domus. Ito has earned numerous awards for his designs, including a Pritzker Prize in 2013, and a Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture in 2014. The International Museum of the Baroque, designed by Ito, opened in Puebla, Mexico earlier this year. The National Audit Office in Taipei stated that the Metropolitan Opera House will likely run at an annual deficit of $4.7 million, according to Taipei Times. In response, vice supervisor for the theater’s promotional affairs Lin Chia-feng called the government's focus on "profits and losses" a "narrow approach." "The theater also has a mission of assisting and fostering the development of local and national performance troupes,” Lin said. 
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Vishaan Chakrabarti departs SHoP to begin his own practice, the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism
Architect and planner Vishaan Chakrabarti has had some crazy ideas over the years. In the past he has worked to convert an old Post Office adjacent to Penn Station into the monumental Moynihan Station and helped shape a loopy scheme to transform the former Domino Sugar Factory on Brooklyn's Williamsburg Waterfront. In 2013, he even spearheaded a proposal to extend Manhattan island to connect it with Governors Island and project a new plot of land into New York Harbor. It's fair to say that Chakrabarti thinks big. Today, Chakrabarti announced his latest big idea: his own architecture firm called the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU). "All architects have something in them says they want to start their own firm," Chakrabarti told AN on Thursday. "I certainly thought about it in the past. I realized if I didn’t do this now I wouldn’t do it." He hopes PAU can return relevance to a profession that the public has relegated to "navel gazing." Rather than viewing buildings as shiny objects, PAU will look at how they interact with cities and across disciplines, accounting for the building user's experience and that of passers by. Chakrabarti has assembled a diverse and prestigious resume, working at top posts in the public and private sector. He started his career at SOM. Six years later he was named head at the Manhattan office of the Department of City Planning under Dan Doctoroff where he worked on projects like the High Line. Later he joined development firm the Related Companies, where he was named Executive Vice President of Design and Planning. The list goes on. Chakrabarti served as Director of the Columbia Center for Urban Real Estate in 2009 and is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP). In 2012, he joined up with the skyrocketing firm SHoP Architects in the midst of several mega-projects including a number of skyscrapers and Essex Crossing. He published his book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for Urban America, in 2014, expounding a manifesto of urban living. "For me, PAU is really an opportunity to synthesize all of that experience into one direction," Chakrabarti said. "To bring to bear all I have learned—it’s a great chance to bring all that experience together." He plans to draw on both his planning and architecture background to create a more holistic firm. "I think this is a healthy and important thing for the future of architecture, to understand the context in which we practice," he said. "It’s about speaking multiple languages." In his work, teachings, and writing, Chakrabarti has been a staunch supporter of cities and the urban density that makes them tick. PAU, set to be based in New York City, will focus on those cities. "You’ll see a very strong focus on cosmopolitan architecture and strategic urbanism—how we’ll have an impact that’s very directly associated with cities," he said. "That division—architecture and planning—is what makes cities work," he continued. "It used to be that the professions were joined at the hip. You could think of architecture as an outcome of innovative planning. That’s no longer the case." PAU will concentrate on architecture and strategic planning, including master planning, advocacy, and urban design. The firm's first clients include Google's Sidewalk Labs, a new project with Two Trees Management, and a new cultural building in Manhattan. Chakrabarti said he couldn't disclose concrete details about those projects and noted that his firm would begin unveiling them in coming months. Describing his work with Sidewalk Labs, Chakrabarti said his work will prioritize "the future of the city and technology and how technology can create innovation and make our lives better by elevating quality of life. It thinks about everything from changes to the automobile to changes in how we use services in the city." PAU's cultural commission "will talk about the future of how culture interacts with the city and integrates with the urban experience." He added, "It's not just another black box." PAU will initially focus on metropolitan areas in North America. "I’m very interested in the betterment of the American city," he said. "Mayor’s around the country have really caught on to this—that design is a critical piece of attracting human capital and making cities better places." Chakrabarti said the firm may eventually work internationally, but with strong caveats against working in nations that abuse labor or are not transparent and accountable.
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Beyer Blinder Belle restoring Marcel Breuer’s Whitney building for 2016 reopening under the Metropolitan Museum
The Met Breuer will throw open its doors in March 2016 for the first season of contemporary art programming under the banner of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Breuer's iconic building, formerly the Whitney Museum of American Art, is currently being "invigorated by renovations that will support a fluid, integrated experience of art and architecture," as the Met's press release proudly declares. The renovation seeks to integrate art throughout the entire museum. Immediately upon entering, visitors will be greeted by artist-in-residence Vijay Iyer, who will be conducting a performance installation. It's a short elevator ride up to four additional floors of "contemporary art in dialogue with historic works" in the Met's collection. “The Met is proud to become the steward of this iconic building and to preserve Marcel Breuer’s bold vision,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Met, said in a statement. “Our approach to inhabiting and interpreting the building honors Breuer’s intent for the space, highlighting its unique character as an environment for the presentation of modern and contemporary art. The wonderfully scaled galleries and interior spaces of The Met Breuer provide a range of opportunities to present our modern and contemporary program, in addition to our galleries in the Fifth Avenue building.” Beyer Blinder Belle is spearheading the restoration efforts, including touching up Breuer's distinct concrete walls, stone floors, bronze fixtures, and lighting. The architects are working hard to preserve the building's weathered patina rather than scrubbing and polishing its history away. A streamlined entry sequence, new restaurant, sunken garden, and "book bar" retail shop are also planned. "What should a museum look like, a museum in Manhattan?" Breuer asked in 1963 upon receiving the commission to design the new Whitney. "It is easier to say first what it should not look like. It should not look like a business or office building, nor should it look like a place of light entertainment. Its form and its material should have identity and weight in the neighborhood of 50-story skyscrapers, of mile-long bridges, in the midst of the dynamic jungle of our colorful city. It should be an independent and self-relying unit, exposed to history, and at the same time it should transform the vitality of the street into the sincerity and profundity of art." The inaugural showing includes free entry to the lobby and lower-level galleries. According to the Met:
The inaugural season of The Met Breuer features a major cross-departmental curatorial initiative to present a historic examination of unfinished works of art; the largest exhibition to date dedicated to Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi; and a month-long performance installation, by Artist in Residence Vijay Iyer. Upcoming exhibitions include a presentation of Diane Arbus’s rarely seen early photographic works (July 11– November 27, 2016), and the first museum retrospective dedicated to Kerry James Marshall (October 25, 2016 – January 22, 2017).
The building has been vacant since the Whitney decamped for its new Renzo Piano–designed Meatpacking outpost perches astride the High Line. Meanwhile Uptown, Richard Morris Hunt's grand Beaux Arts beauty is in the midst of a conceptual plan by David Chipperfield Architects that will eventually guide the redesign of the complex's Southwest Wing.
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Inside the Archtober Building of the Day #14: the Metropolitan Tower
The Metropolitan Tower is the wedge-shaped, Darth Vader-like all black glass monolith next to Carnegie Hall. Rising a tidy 716 feet in 77 stories of offices in the low-rise portion and residences in the high rise, the AIA Guide to New York City tells us that its developer Harry Macklowe claimed to have designed it himself. Not true! Schuman, Lichtenstein, Claman & Efron (now SLCE Architects) get the credit for the 1987 tower. Rogers Marvel Architects took a second look at the passarelle connecting 56th and 57th Streets. Sticking with the black theme, they switched from glass to shiny black aluminum panels for the walls. The reception desk was glowing blue when I passed through, and ESPN was twinkling on the 200-foot-long digital display strip. I was a bit unhappy because I couldn’t get the money shot with my metallic blue flower shoes (see Day 3). But outside I did much better with the Christian de Portzamparc extravaganza going up right across the street. I’ve done some hanging out there producing the Heritage Ball video of honoree Gary Barnett, the founder of Extell Development Company. One57, as the tower is now called, will be the tallest residential building in the city. The now visible undulating concrete structure hints at the shape of things to come. On my morning dog walks, from Central Park’s Great Lawn, I can just see it peeking out from behind the Essex House. I can’t wait to see more! -Cynthia Kracauer To take the tour of tomorrow's Building of the Day click here: Lincoln Center Public Spaces. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.
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Shohei in L.A.

OMA unveils fresh renderings for its first cultural project in Los Angeles
The Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Gruen Associates, and Studio-MLA are working toward a November 11 groundbreaking for the new Audrey Irmas Pavilion, an addition to the historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. Ahead of this weekend’s groundbreaking ceremony, OMA has unveiled a batch of new renderings of the 55,000-square-foot cultural center. The two-story, trapezoidal pavilion will contain two large event spaces within its sloped walls, including a rooftop terrace designed by Studio-MLA. The main gathering space along the ground floor will be elliptical in nature and will provide arched openings along two of the principal facades. The second space will run perpendicular to the ground floor space and will be outlined as a trapezoid along the opposing set of exterior walls. The terrace will stream daylight through the pavilion via a circular opening. The addition will allow the temple to offer supportive services for its congregants, including hot meal programs and medical clinics, Urbanize.LA reported. Renderings for the project depict a singular volume skinned with hexagonal stone cladding, with each of the stone tiles containing a rectangular glass block at its center. Gruen Associates is working as the executive architect for the project, which was designed by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas. In a press release announcing the groundbreaking, Shigematsu said, “Focusing on communicating the energy of gathering and exchange, the pavilion is an active gesture, shaped by respectful moves away from the surrounding historic buildings, reaching out onto Wilshire Boulevard to create a new presence.” Shigematsu added, “We are thrilled to break ground on this significant project that will provide a new anchor for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the broader Los Angeles community.” The project represents OMA’s first cultural commission in the region and will join the firm’s forthcoming First and Broadway Park—also designed in collaboration with Studio-MLA—in Downtown Los Angeles and The Plaza, a mixed-use shopping complex slated for Santa Monica, as other works under development nearby. Plans call for the Audrey Irmas Pavilion to be completed by 2020.
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Reshaping Grand Avenue

Gehry’s long-awaited Grand Avenue Towers are headed to construction
At long last, The Grand, a Gehry Partners–designed mega-project slated for a site across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, is finally moving toward construction. Having been in the works since 2004, the proposed $1 billion complex has faced various delays and funding hurdles over the last 14 years despite the project's high-profile status. When initially envisioned by architect Frank Gehry and developer Related Companies, the mixed-use high-rise complex was considered a marquee development that would anchor a forthcoming, multi-block arts and entertainment district. But as delays piled up, smaller ancillary projects like the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Broad Museum and The Emerson, a 19-story apartment tower, came online first. Now, instead of starting up the district's transformation, the complex might end up capping it off. After laying dormant for years, the project stirred back to life in 2017 after Chinese real estate firm CORE infused the development with $290 million in much-needed financing. In a surprise move, the developers filed for construction permits in August 2017. This week, the Related Companies announced it has amassed the $630 million needed in financing for the project, The Los Angeles Times reports, indicating that construction could begin as soon as the end of this month. If the timeline sticks, the complex is due to finish construction in 2021 and will eventually feature a 430-seat cinema, a 309-room hotel, and a 39-story residential component with 113 condominiums and 323 apartments, 20 percent of which will be subsidized. Renderings unveiled earlier this year depict a block-long terraced complex that steps back from the street as it rises. A pair of deconstructed, multi-faceted towers rise on either side of a central retail corridor. The project's three above-ground podium levels front the Disney Hall and are shown brimming with retail and restaurant establishments in renderings. These spaces feature broad, open-air shopping terraces and a central courtyard designed with seating areas and a sculptural awning. The two-tower complex will join a growing number of mixed-use developments that are on the way to sites scattered around the Grand Avenue district and the adjacent Civic Center area. City and private entities are working across these areas in an effort to break down the mono-functional post-war zoning plans that reshaped Downtown Los Angeles during the 20th Century and severed much of its residential uses. Other residential projects on the way nearby include a mixed-use tower from Gensler, a pair of condominium towers from AC Martin, as well as a new park designed by Office of Metropolitan Architecture and Studio-MLA.
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Sad to FaB

New renderings unveiled for Mia Lehrer + Associates and OMA’s FaB Park in L.A.
Designs for the forthcoming First and Broadway (FaB) Park by Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA) and Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) have been reconfigured to address community desires of Downtown Los Angeles residents. The new designs, portrayed in a collection of new renderings, depict a more leafy proposal for the two acre park than was originally proposed. The original design featured a central plaza flanked by groves of native plantings, sunken terraces, and a 100,000-square-foot food pavilion. The proposal was also dotted with large-scale shade structures and contained a small creek at its southwest corner. The new iteration of the project features a greater number of trees and shade structures, according to the renderings. The scheme also features a new 10,000-square-foot meadow that grows out of the creek bed, which had been retained in a reconfigured shape. The designers have also improved the food pavilion by adding a rooftop terrace and shade pavilion beside the structure. The two-story structure will host a restaurant, though a vendor has not been selected and there are community concerns regarding the future restaurant’s affordability. The project is expected to break ground in 2018 and be completed by 2020.