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Keep Your Ion This, Houston

Rice University taps SHoP Architects for an innovation center in Houston
An 80-year-old former Sears department store will be transformed into a multi-level innovation center and business incubator for Houston, Texas, under a plan unveiled by Rice University. The 270,000-square-foot project is designed to bring students, professors, and entrepreneurs together with corporate leaders and investors, and to provide the centerpiece for a 16-acre innovation district in midtown Houston. Besides classrooms for students and workspace for start-up companies, there will be areas for lectures, conferences, hack-a-thons, demonstrations, job training, and networking events, as well as restaurants and other amenities. Rice has assembled four high-profile designers to repurpose the 1939 flagship department store, keeping salient Art Deco features while modifying the building for 21st-century occupants. Designers include SHoP Architects, James Carpenter Design Associates, James Corner Field Operations, and the Houston office of Gensler. The four-story building on Main Street was the first Sears store in Houston and closed in January of 2018 as part of the retailer’s nationwide retrenchment. Part of a 9.4-acre tract that was offered to Amazon as part of Houston’s bid to be selected for that company’s second headquarters, it’s close to seven colleges and universities, a METRORail line, the Texas Medical Center, and the city’s Museum District. When Houston didn’t make Amazon’s short list of 20 regions under consideration as of January of 2018, it became available for other uses. Amazon later chose northern Virginia and New York City as sites where it will split its second headquarters. In advance of its transformation, the Sears building in Houston has been renamed The Ion. “We chose the name Ion because it’s from the Greek ienai, which means go,” said Rice University president David Leebron, in a statement on Rice’s website. “We see it as embodying the ever-forward motion of discovery, the spark at the center of a truly original idea…The Ion will become Houston’s nucleus for innovation, fostering a community and culture where entrepreneurs and corporations come together to solve some of the world’s greatest problems.” “The Ion will inspire open innovation between universities, global corporations and investors,” said Gabriela Rowe, the CEO of Station Houston, a tech accelerator that will manage programming, in a statement about the project. “Students and faculty members from institutions like Rice University and the University of Houston will coexist and collaborate with scientists from Houston’s other great institutions. Investors and corporations will meet face to face with start-up entrepreneurs. Together, at The Ion, they will transform Houston into a thriving, connected high-tech ecosystem.” Besides Rice, officials say, institutions that will be involved with programming include the University of Houston, UH-Downtown, the University of St. Thomas, Houston Community College, Texas Southern University, Houston Baptist University, San Jacinto College, and the South Texas College of Law. Architectural plans call for retention of original Art Deco elements such as glass block windows, canopies, and decorative tiles that date back to the store’s opening. A central atrium will be created to let in natural light, and new windows will be installed to provide views that weren’t possible before and provide glimpses of the activity inside. The larger innovation district will include housing, stores, restaurants, public spaces, and infrastructure that will support a growing tech community. The Ion project will be led by Rice Management Company, which manages Rice University’s endowment, and Hines of Houston is managing the development. An exact construction budget has not been disclosed, but Rice Management officials said in 2018 they will invest up to $100 million for the project. Construction is expected to start in May and be complete by the end of 2020.
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Fjell Respite

These rock-like Norwegian cabins keep hikers warm under timber panels
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In 2015, the Norwegian Trekking Association announced a decision to construct two warming huts along the mountains that ring the town of Hammerfest to encourage hiking for both residents and tourists. The project brief called for a straightforward structure with a working wood-burning stove, an excellent view of the surrounding landscape, and suitability for the mountainous terrain. Norwegian-based practice SPINN Arkitekter and Britain’s Format Engineers answered this call with a cross-laminated timber shell with exterior Kebony panels.
  • Facade Manufacturer Aanesland Limtre
  • Architects SPINN Arkitekter
  • Facade Consultants FORMAT Engineers
  • Location Hammerfest, Norway
  • Date of Completion December 2018
  • System Cross-laminated timber frame with Kebony panels
  • Products Cross-laminated timber, Kebony wood
One of the initial challenges of the project was to design a form that both blended in with the rugged setting and endure the harsh mountainous weather conditions. The first step in addressing these conditions called for the 3-D mapping of the two sites with a drone and photogrammetry software. With this territorial information plugged into Rhino Kangaroo and Grasshopper files, the team was able to craft a series of visual models for the project and a series of components that could be easily transported across the mountainous terrain for erection. "Snow simulations were performed to ensure that the entrance will remain snow-free as intended," said the design team. "Structural forces between the panels were determined to specify the correct type of screws and fasteners for the construction. Additionally, 3-D printing was used extensively to test out how the construction would fit together, and to test cladding options for the exterior." The rock-like cabins effectively consist of three layers: a 3-inch-thick CLT shell, a 1/8-inch-thick membrane, and a Kebony skin with a thickness measuring just under 1 inch. A system of frames and blocks are located between the exterior cladding and the CLT core. Two sets of 3.5-inch-thick screws are found on each tile edge, connecting to adjacent tiles and the overall structure. An initial prototype of the $100,000 cabin was constructed in a controlled warehouse environment to allow for the uninterrupted testing of component assembly. Over the course of four workdays, two groups of volunteers assembled the cabin's shell and cut the cladding panels. Following construction, the cabin was split in two and transported via flatbed truck to the site and craned into position for final assembly. Construction of the second cabin is currently in the works.
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Crystal Clear

Snøhetta shows off a gleaming crystal workshop for Swarovski
When Snøhetta was approached to design a flexible fabrication space for crystal manufacturer Swarovski in Wattens, Austria, the intent was to design a light, airy space that didn’t directly reference the physical geometry of crystals. The complex opened on October 24, 2018, but Snøhetta has released a new suite of photos that explore the cavernous space. The Swarovski Manufaktur is an all-in-one workshop that brings design offices, rapid prototyping capabilities, and a presentation space under one roof. The 81,000-square-foot, three-story building (one floor is below ground) displays the experimental design process and allows clients to conceptualize, fabricate, and display small-batch product lines before realizing them on an industrial scale. A 45-foot-tall “chandelier hole,” as Snøhetta’s coined it, extends from the first floor into the basement, allowing for truly massive prototypes to be put on display. Manufaktur’s defining feature is its 14,000-square-foot ceiling that floods the interior with natural light. A deeply-coffered ceiling is made of 135 “cassettes,” 20-foot-long-by-10-foot-wide steel window bays. Each cassette has been clad in acoustic paneling, and Snøhetta claims that the height of the ceiling, which ranges from 27 to 45 feet, combined with the paneling, makes conversations audible despite the sounds of active machinery. The material palette was kept cheerful, with white walls and light birch panels used for the flooring and the cladding of the “sculptural” platform that holds the second floor. Glass-walled offices, presentation spaces, and conference rooms have been arranged on the platform, and they look out over the main floor and central staircase. “We tried not to interpret the physical properties of crystals in our building geometry,” said Patrick Lüth, managing director of Snøhetta’s Innsbruck, Austria, office. “Instead, we have tried to understand what makes crystal so special and attractive, and to use these ephemeral qualities to create a specific atmosphere. The space has an incredible amount of daylight penetration, which we believe is unparalleled in the typical production facility context. Crystals only come to life with light, so for us, it is the intense presence of that daylight that is the most important aesthetic aspect of this building.”
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Just the Scaffolding

Queens towers interrupt the view at MoMA PS1's James Turrell installation
James Turrell installation in QueensNew York, faces an unclear future after visitors began to notice its skyspace has been interrupted by the neighborhood’s newest high-rise. Meeting is a part of the MoMA PS1 campus and was designed by Turrell between 1980 and 1986 with the goal of creating a meditative place where guests would be able to gaze at the sky away from the ebb and flow of the outside world. The piece is a purely white room with a square hole in the ceiling, drawing guests to look up to the deep blue. A series of LED lights undulating in color changes the ways people perceive both the room they are in and the sky above. However, for those who enjoy visiting the piece and watching the New York sky without the interruptions of gentrification on the skyline, this experience may have just come to an end. Last week, visitors to Meeting began taking photos of what appears to be a series of bars and pipes at the lower edge of the piece, and PS1 has temporarily closed the room, according to The New York Times. The shapes, it turns out, are scaffolding belonging to a luxury, high-rise condo building under construction on the Queens–Long Island City border. Though museum officials have said the scaffolding will not be seen once the building is finished, many locals and Turrell fans are afraid their beloved installation and undisrupted view of the sky is gone for good. Among these is Craig Adcock, a professor of art history at the University of Iowa, and author of James Turrell: The Art of Light and Space. He recently told Gothamist any disruptions of the sky “will ruin [the effect]. It won’t work properly if there’s a building with lights up that’s visible.” Fans have also taken to Twitter to express their fears for the exhibit (and their city) by photoshopping the original picture to now depict a sky interrupted by countless advertisements and drones, as well as by some familiar buildings, such as One Times Square, and the infamous 432 Park Avenue and 56 Leonard. The same developer in charge of the intruding high-rise, Jerry Wolkoff, was also responsible for building another luxury residential tower on top of the famous and widely-loved 5pointz, a fortress for graffiti artists whose works lined the walls before they were whitewashed and erased forever in 2013. In 2016, a federal judge ruled Wolkoff pay 21 artists at 5pointz $6.7 million for the damages of the lost art.
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Like a Blossoming Tree

Herzog & de Meuron reveals revamped Vancouver Art Gallery
Herzog & de Meuron has finalized the design of the 300,000-square-foot Vancouver Art Gallery and has released new renderings of the top-heavy timber building. The $350 million arts complex in Vancouver, Canada, also has a new name. After a $40 million private donation from the Chan family on January 23, the Vancouver Art Gallery (the organization responsible for the building’s programming) announced that the building would be renamed the Chan Centre for the Visual Arts. The gift is the largest single private donation in the history of British Columbia and has brought the amount raised for the building to $85 million. That marks an important figure as the provincial government has pledged that it would donate $50 million if the Vancouver Art Gallery were able to raise $100 million in private funds. The newly-revealed design for the Chan Centre presents an airy update to the scheme that was initially presented in 2015. Herzog & de Meuron has kept the stacked, seven-story massing, but replaced the opaque timber facade with fluted glass screens that are supposed to resemble stacked logs. The building rises from a narrow footprint to cut down on its impact on the street and create a covered open-air courtyard at ground level. The arts center expands as it rises, creating covered areas protected from the summer sun and winter rain and snow. It appears that Herzog & de Meuron has leaned more heavily into timber than in the original scheme, using wood for a majority of the interior finishes, columns, and supportive elements. Once complete, the center will hold classrooms, 85,000 square feet of gallery spaces, a theater, reading rooms, shops, and restaurants. Even the building’s location is hub-like; it lies at the intersection of the Downtown Vancouver, East Vancouver, Chinatown, Yaletown, and Gastown neighborhoods. “The project for the new Vancouver Art Gallery has a civic dimension that can contribute to the life and identity of the city,” said senior Herzog & de Meuron partner Christine Binswanger, “in which many artists of international reputation live and work. The building now combines two materials, wood and glass, both inseparable from the history and making of the city. We developed a facade out of glass logs which is pure, soft, light, establishing a unique relation to covered wooden terraces all around the building.” Fundraising is ongoing, with the Vancouver Art Gallery looking to raise $300 million for the building’s construction and $50 million to establish an endowment. If all goes as planned, construction is expected to start either late this year or in early 2020, with an opening planned for some time in 2023. Perkins+Will Vancouver is the project’s executive architects.
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Confetti Courtyard

Swedish retailer Hem gets a festive courtyard for its first U.S. showroom
With spring weather just a few weeks away in Southern California, San Francisco–based Endemic Architecture has completed a courtyard installation for design brand Hem’s first U.S. showroom. Hem is known for partnering with rising designers for its collections of bespoke furniture and design accessories, a tradition the Stockholm, Sweden–based brand has extended to its new West Coast headquarters. Hem previously occupied a pop-up shop at the Row location of local retailer Poketo. The new showroom in Downtown Los Angeles is a collaboration with vintage wood floor manufacturer Madera designed to “celebrate [Hem’s] immersive and collaborative nature…through the layering of colorful graphic shapes,” according to a press release. Endemic’s design includes a site-specific installation that combines graphic patterning with bright colors that wraps the floor and walls of the courtyard. The installation, dubbed Confetti Courtyard by Endemic, is reminiscent of the office’s Confetti Urbanism installation that was installed last year at the California College of the Arts campus in San Francisco. Like in the previous design but at a much smaller scale, the courtyard is demarcated into zones by bright patterns and color blocks. For the installation, yellow, green, white, and pink squares are arranged throughout the courtyard while peripheral bits of paint—shaped like squiggles, rectangles, and dots—float around the space and wrap the courtyard walls. The zones, according to the designers, are perfect for arranging sets of outdoor furniture and for creating different social zones when the courtyard plays host to parties and other social gatherings. The showroom is now open to the public. For more information, see the Hem website.
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Notes from Mexico City

Acadia 2018 focused on imprecision in digital design
For the first time in its 37-year history, the 2018 Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) Conference convened in Mexico City. The conference was chaired by Pablo Kobayashi and Brian Slocum, and was hosted by the University Iberoamericana. The cultural implications of holding the conference in Mexico City were best explained by keynote speaker and professor at the Universidad Iberoamericana CDMX and principal at Estudio MMX, Diego Ricalde’s analysis punnily titled PPP (Prejudice, Paradox, Pragmatism). Ricalde speculated that Mexico’s architectural culture is at a moment where the unproductive division of old world single-vision, analog thinking, and new world "digital hysteria" needs to come to an end. Ricalde’s call for action can be read as a parallel to this year’s ACADIA theme "Recalibration: On Imprecision and Infidelity". The theme encouraged participants to rethink a machine-driven infatuation with nano-centric precision, and recover other avenues of thinking and making. One of the keynote lecturers in the conference, Francesca Hughes, a professor and head of school at UTS Sydney, presented a historically guided parallel analysis between the development of machines and algorithms (in relation to precision and imprecision). She highlighted the architectural surface as an agent that inspired a world-wide (or rather architecture school–wide) cultural obsession with precision and the birth of the software-compulsive object. Critiquing our collective obsession with precision, Hughes offered “error” as a new architectural context in which to frame other digital and "real" systems of designing. Other conference participants (organizers, keynote lecturers, presenters, award recipients, and moderators) responded in their own particular ways to the same question. Every Acadia conference is unique, and the overall discourse generated from the discussions and presentations of the work varies significantly from year to year. The 2018 six-day endeavor, split evenly between conference and workshop components, attracted 282 attendees from all over the world. One could say that this year’s conference consisted of three primary categories: theory/speculative narratives, work that investigates the aesthetic potential of new technologies, and hyper-focused computation/fabrication oriented research efforts. These categories balanced and propelled the conference into a truly spectacular, inspiring, and educational event. Projects, papers, and talks positioned on theoretical and cross-disciplinary grounds This first category can be best illustrated by the materials presented (and materials included in the publication) by participants such as Neil Leach, Mónica Ponce de León, Patrik Schumacher, Axel Kilian, Behnaz Farahi, Brandon Clifford, Jose Sanchez, ACADIA president Kathy Velikov, and many others. These researchers and thinkers are engaged in cross-disciplinary work and therefore carry a certain responsibility for setting the tone for the overall theme of the event and the conversations that continue after the conference. Leach, for example, appealed to the audience to reassess its understanding of the digital and post-digital. He suggested that we are not yet, and have never really been authentically digital. On another note, Killian warned that the anthropomorphizing of robotics as a way to move forward is a false promise. Lastly, Ponce de León, upon receiving the 2018 Teaching Award of Excellence, illustrated her broader ambitions for digital fabrication from a pedagogical and professional point of view. She argued that the two must be intertwined in order to productively engage with professional and academic architecture. Other thinkers and designers contributed to this discussion with their own predictions and convictions of where the field is headed. This meta-discussion is most essential for the future of the conference. Theoretical and extra-disciplinary discourse sets the tone for the speculative fronts of the next conference, and the evolution of its ambitions for many more to come. Work that explores aesthetic potentials in new technologies The second category of the conference, broadly speaking, can be characterized as an intermediary between the more theoretically-oriented work and work embedded in deep studies of technology, borrowing critical aspects from both. Many participants that plug into this territory discussed projects executed at the pavilion scale. What distinguishes this work from the purely technical or scientific experiments is that many of the projects synthesize serious visual problems and broader research themes. A great example of this type is Jenny Sabin’s Lumen project for the MoMA PS1 pavilion. Lumen, a robotic knitting project, demonstrates multiple layers of tremendous effort and research. While the project showcases deep fabrication/material knowledge, one cannot help but notice its balancing act between material performance optimization (robotic knitting, custom analysis software, form-finding simulation) and an equally sincere interest in visual studies (composition, lighting, color). Other exemplary practices represented at the conference operating in the same mode are Oyler Wu Collaborative, Matsys, Stephanie Chaltiel and Maite Bravo, Chandler Ahrens, Tsz Yan Ng, and many others as featured in the proceeding's publications. Deep dives into technology and science This last category, central to the overall theme of the conference, is probably closest to the initial ambitions of ACADIA as it was originally conceived. It is fair to say that almost all the projects participate in technologically-driven research and scholarship. However, a few of them focus on a more scientific approach; their project ambitions seem to culminate in the search for novel processes. The evaluation of such projects is perhaps the most speculative because the criteria are abstract and yet to be discovered. Philippe Block, one of the keynote speakers and a professor at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich, presented a very thorough research project centered on the use of concrete and its capacities for structural integrity and material thickness (or thinness). Another interesting example was Madeline Gannon’s research. Upon receiving the Innovative Research Award of Excellence, Gannon presented her work on synchronized, real-time robotic motion. Her work takes form in unique environments (trade shows, gallery exhibitions, and biennales), but what was most interesting about her investigation was the custom workflows and software that she developed during her time at Autodesk’s Pier 9 space. Dr. Gannon’s interface design supports the exchange of information between different parts of machines that were never meant to communicate with one another—introducing a new type of cross-contamination of machine vision and reactive motion. During the last five-plus years, the workshop segment of the conference has been heavily focused on this last category (tech/engineering/computation). The 2018 workshop series, hosted by the Facultad de Arquitectura at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) however, was more balanced and plural by comparison; solar optimization and robotic spray-painting workshops were held in tandem. The workshops held true to the theme of the conference and interrogated various recalibrations through concentrated production-events. In the workshops, leaders investigated a reassessment of machine and software-thinking related to visual ideas, specific projects, and scientific research. Final thoughts and thinking ahead to next year’s event Of course, it is important to note that the three categories outlined above are inextricably intertwined with one another. One of ACADIA’s strengths is that it provides a unique platform for these conversations to occur under the umbrella of computation’s presence in the expanded territory of contemporary architecture. Perhaps the project that best illustrates a scenario that accommodates these three modes of thinking in a non-hierarchical manner was presented by another keynote speaker, the Mexican-born, electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. For Lozano-Hemmer, the artwork is not simply a thing on display but an interactive environment that promotes human-machine symbiosis. For example, Population Theatre (2016) is a beautifully orchestrated collection of self-inflicted responsibilities. In this work, a highly diverse team of artists and scientists collaborate to generate funds to support a politically-driven project. Population Theatre is technologically-supported by the use of 3651 Raspberry Pi boards to create 7.5 billion points of light. This exceptional keynote lecture was accessible to the public and was held at the Alberto Kalach and Juan Palomar–designed Biblioteca Vasconcelos in downtown Mexico City. It was events such as Lozano-Hemmer’s keynote lecture that made this year’s gathering extraordinary. The organization and curatorial efforts for the 2018 conference were impeccable. It was very clear that the board of directors (comprising 20 members) and the president of ACADIA, Kathy Velikov’s ambitions were to widen the scope of the conference as a pedagogical and professional platform and to challenge the organization to evolve with the discipline. This year’s conference was heavily supported by industrial and academic sponsors, and by the Universidad Iberoamericana, which hosted the workshop series, the project exhibition, and the first day of the conference. Next year’s conference will be held from October 24 to 26, 2019, at the University of Texas at Austin and is titled "Ubiquity and Autonomy".
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FBI Knockin’?

Work stops on one of L.A.’s biggest construction projects
Construction on one of the largest projects under construction in Downtown Los Angeles, Oceanwide Plaza, has ground to a halt, according to The Los Angeles Times. The unexpected stoppage comes as the three-tower, CallisonRTKL-designed hotel, shopping, and residential complex was heading toward a mid-2019 completion date. According to The Times, the developer, a publicly-traded Chinese conglomerate known as Oceanwide Holdings, has indicated that financing troubles are behind the construction delay. According to a statement, Oceanwide is currently working to shore up the project’s finances and expects to start construction again in one month. More ominously, however, it’s believed that the project is somehow entangled in an ongoing political corruption probe that has scandalized the Los Angeles political establishment. According to The Times, federal investigators have inquired about the Oceanwide project in relation to possible crimes including bribery, extortion, money laundering, and kickbacks that could potentially involve City of Los Angeles officials and other development executives. No one has been formally arrested or charged in the investigation, however, and several other developments are also facing inquiries from federal authorities. The FBI raided the home and offices of Los Angeles city councilmember Jose Huizar in December as news of the probe surfaced. In the weeks since, the investigation has grown as another sitting city councilmember and several officials tied to Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration have come under scrutiny. Huizar, who oversees much of Downtown Los Angeles and was a voting member on the city’s powerful Planning and Land-Use Management (PLUM) committee, was stripped of key appointments in the fallout from the investigation. While he sat on the PLUM committee, Huizar made several controversial decisions that included a critical vote against granting Historic-Cultural Monument status to the William L. Pereira–designed portions of the Times Mirror Square complex, the historic home of The Los Angeles Times. At the time, Curbed reported, Huizar referred to the Late Modern structure as “an ordinary example” of Pereira’s work that did not merit recognition. Huizar is also behind Pershing Square Renew, an effort that would scrape away Pershing Square park in Downtown Los Angeles designed byRicardo Legoretta, Laurie Olin, and Barbara McCarren. With exterior work on Oceanwide Plaza nearly complete and interior work started on the project, it’s unclear that a short-term work stoppage will have much of an impact on the project’s final completion. A statement from the developer indicates that if construction resumes in February the project should wrap up sometime during 2020.
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Slide Into Those DMs

New social network wants to change how young AEC professionals connect
As a new generation of freshly minted architects, engineers, and construction professionals enter the field, one company is trying to get ahead of the curve with a social network for people who “shape our cities.” Named Ticco, after the nearly 10,000-year-old Norwegian tree Old Tjikko, the social network is designed for Gen Z and Millennial AEC professionals, as well as others who need their expertise. The project is the brainchild of Katie Rispoli Keaotamai, who previously led the California nonprofit We Are the Next and made the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 40 Under 40 list last year. She is perhaps most famous for her successful attempt in 2015 to preserve the first Taco Bell. Ticco, which is being developed with the design studio Each + Every, could be seen as an extension of the work of We Are the Next, which apart from historic preservation, leads workshops with youth to help them engage with natural and urban landscapes and the communities that surround them. Ticco hopes to bridge gaps between siloed AEC professions by encouraging communication and collaboration. The company also wants the broader community to see what the next generation is thinking, and encourage greater access and diversity within these fields. The goal, said Keaotamai, is that “professionals who positively build and shape cities will interact when they want to, and not just when they have to.” She goes on to say that she believes the network “has the potential to change the way we as AEC professionals understand one another, initiate working relationships, and approach problems in the built environment.” Much like existing social media, Ticco will give users their own customized profiles and feeds, which will include content from those they follow and other content from across the platform. While members can follow other users and can like content, those metrics aren’t publicly displayed, doing away with sometimes toxic aspects of social media. Ticco intends to use likes to adjust what content gets highlighted to other users. And, of course, there will be individual and group messaging. That platform will also encourage groups that serve the public, like government agencies and community organizations, to pair with members who have particular expertise in order to “affordably kick-start projects that aim to make their city safer, more accessible, and more fun to live in.” There will be membership fees, which the company says will be about a third less than those of typical professional organizations, and, as the company points out, Ticco’s resources will be available all day every day, rather than just at select conferences or networking events. Additionally, for each person who joins, the company will donate $25 “to support educational initiatives and internships that help diversify our members’ professions.” The company will also branch out with retreats, discussions, and partnerships, the first of which will take place next month in Long Beach, California. Ticco is accepting applications for its first 100 spots, which are open to anyone in AEC-related fields with between 2 and 15 years of experience.
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Rethinking Redevelopment

What we’re getting wrong about gentrification and cultural heritage
We tend to think of cultural heritage in terms of iconic historical artifacts, and we tend to think of saving cultural heritage in terms of heroic acts to preserve historically important things. We tend to think of gentrification as an inevitable economic phenomenon that, like so many other components of our capitalist lives, produces winners and losers—benefitting some and injuring others. But the way we tend to think of both gentrification and cultural heritage is bound up in ideological forces that devalue the lived experiences of those most threatened by the onslaught of transformative economic change. We are all familiar with how gentrification works. A historically working-class community sits adjacent to an upper-middle-class community where previous residents have been priced out. During the next real estate cycle, incremental pressure results in more upper-middle-class residents purchasing homes in the working-class area and eventually, the working-class residents get priced out and seek housing further outside of their community, resulting in longer commutes and a net loss in wealth. In a recent Washington Post article, “How record-setting art auctions are ruining the old neighborhood,” Philip Kennicott wrote: “Gentrification is about displacement, about the market coming in, taking things that felt like accessible common property and making them so uncommonly expensive that they are no longer what they once were…Something that was once habitual, a part of a beloved place—buying a cup of coffee or getting a haircut—becomes a locus of exclusion.” Kennicott’s premise is that gentrification takes affordable assets and makes them economically unattainable. But exclusion is about constraining options, not displacing options. If people can choose to purchase coffee either from a Starbucks or from an historic coffee shop next door, then diverse classes have an expanded set of options in the same proximate space. If we apply this example to residential units and other commercial sites, we could potentially develop communities without the blunt force of gentrification, i.e. without a simplistic acceptance that capitalism inevitably will produce ever-expanding zones of exclusion absent human intervention. Regardless, Kennicott and others err by focusing on exclusion at the expense of focusing on the processes of devaluation. Devaluation, in the context of urban gentrification, describes the processes by which systemic and institutional actions suppress the value of physical assets in underserved and low-income communities. Devaluation occurs through public policy—residential redlining, environmental racism and classism, deficits of public parks and civic amenities, etc. Revaluing is catalyzed when a devalued community is targeted for reinvestment. What are constantly undervalued are the untranslatable vestiges of the interior lives of displaced residents, the staged presence of culture within the homes and apartments that these residents once occupied. The architectural uncanny, according to Anthony Vidler, treats modernity as a catalyst for unleashing psychoanalytic forces deep in subjective will to produce simulated anxieties uniquely connected to the project of modernity—“feeling-effects” like alienation or estrangement, or the feeling of being a stranger in one’s own home. Revaluing these physical assets—seen as hollow shells or neutral sites for architectural reinvention and transformation by the wealth class— is heralded as the city remaking itself and becoming contemporary, as the supposedly inevitable transformation of physical structures no longer adhering to uses they have outgrown and responding to society’s new demands. For some communities and polities, the interiority of cultural experience is one of the few available modes of resistance. The exterior image of the typical single-family home is largely regulated by zoning codes and often bland aesthetic norms. Likewise, low-income apartment buildings and the like are already depicted as places of low cultural life and places where drug usage and violence coalesce. Therefore, any exterior treatment that further marginalizes the physical asset and the inhabitants further degrades and marginalizes the inhabitants’ existence. From the dramatic description of Harriet Jacobs’s garret as described in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl to the expressive imaging of Black American life in Kerry James Marshall’s Mastry series, the interior space of Black American life has been where culture is materialized. Undoubtedly, the interior space is still the place where the most marginalized populations find their unique counter-cultural voice expressed through the aesthetic construction of their spaces and lives. Working at the intersection of architecture, theory, and urbanism, USC Architecture is attempting to think anew about “pre-gentrification zones”—places that, because of land ownership and the scale of under-development in comparison to adjacent real estate markets, are ripe for large-scale rethinking in advance of unregulated market-driven development that would force out current residents, landowners, and renters. Working with municipalities, community groups, and designers, we will utilize design as a form of policy to influence future development in these and other areas. In Los Angeles, Fresno, and the San Diego/U.S.-Mexico border region, we will examine and analyze the conditions and presuppositions that support the processes of devaluation and revaluation, as well as speculate as to how interventions can be made by market and non-market actors in achieving more egalitarian results to urban redevelopment imaginings. Cultural heritage is no longer separate from urban redevelopment, just as gentrification is no longer an issue that exclusively affects the poor. As we are witnessing, a lack of affordable housing creates ripple effects in all housing markets and sub-markets and thus affects the pricing of both rental and owner-occupied housing across virtually all sectors of the market. We must use design, architecture, and aesthetics as primary drivers of new policy interventions that will result in the development of cities in which all are able to afford the civic and public infrastructure that we all pay for. Milton S. F. Curry is Dean and Professor at the USC School of Architecture and holds the Della & Harry MacDonald Dean’s Chair in Architecture. Dean Curry obtained his Master in Architecture post-professional degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design and his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University. He was associate dean for academic affairs and strategic initiatives at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture & Planning from 2010 to 2017. Dean Curry has held teaching positions at Harvard University, Arizona State University, and Cornell University. Throughout his career in academia, he has coordinated graduate and undergraduate design studios at all levels and has taught theory-related seminars on architecture and cultural theory, urbanism, and housing. He is recognized as a leading voice in integrating cultural theory, race, and class into the ongoing interrogation of modernism and modernity. He has founded two academic journals: Appendx in 1993 and CriticalProductive in 2008.
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A Portrait of the Architect as a Wood Model

Níall McLaughlin’s 2018 Venice Biennale model finds a temporary home in London
While the U.K. parliament was voting down their prime minister’s Brexit deal with the E.U., London’s architecture world crowded into the Art Deco Jarvis Hall of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Ignoring the overheated political debacle taking place a mile away, they went there instead to celebrate the homecoming of Níall McLaughlin’s 2018 Venice Biennale model. The event was sold out and the institution’s Facebook page showed individuals begging for tickets as if for a music or sports event. But people did not just come to see this installation that will be on display from January 10 to 28—they came to hear Níall speak to them of architecture, culture, nature, and light. He is a storyteller: the poetics of his language seeping into his architecture and vice versa, infusing each other within a reciprocal process. The "Presences" installation now on display in RIBA’s Florence Hall in a large and beautifully crafted circular table that can rotate. It is devised as a gigantic horizontal sundial and the models of McLaughlin’s buildings sit atop a reflective blue expanse imprinted with constellations of stars. Surrounding this are inscriptions of the yearly rhythms as a calendar of activities that are performed in cyclical repetition within these buildings like a medieval Book of Hours. The sun is simulated from a structure above to which lights are attached and as the visitors crank the massive wooden mechanism, the models that sit on top of what could be read as either an inverted celestial expanse or a dark blue sea, are flooded with the undulating light of a rising and setting sun. The models are all made of blond wood as skeletal abstractions of their different functions and locations: The Garden Theatre in Oxford’s Worcester College and a Song School in Cambridge’s Trinity Hall, a teaching chapel in Ripon College in Cuddesdon, a new castle hall for Bishop Auckland with its watchtower inspired by a wooden bulwark, the Rugby Veterans’ Hall in Limerick, and finally a fish-and-chip shop on the Deal Pier. These designs crisscross the British Isles, representing their cultures in beautiful diversity. What they have in common is that they are all spaces of community and congregation. McLaughlin has treated each with the same sensitivity, learning from the complexities of the individual sites, their people, histories, and geographical idiosyncrasies, not shirking from this challenge but instead drawing inspiration from them. This is site-specific architecture at its best. The problem with exhibitions is that they only last for a short time and then are gone. At the Venice Biennale this model stood in the Arsenale as a temporary spectacle of learning and inspiration. Now back in London we can see it for ourselves for the next few weeks, but what then? Where will this elegiac creature telling through architecture stories about the cycles of civilization and identity finally be allowed to call home?
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Post-Prattural

Pratt exhibition looks at architecture of the Anthropocene
A show now up at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery gathers the work of over 40 architects who have considered what architecture could look like in a future world where the built environment is no longer centered around humanity. In a statement, the show's organizers referred to this new era as the Anthropocene, when "humans have been fundamentally displaced from a place of privilege, philosophically as well as experientially, and Western civilization’s traditional distinctions between nature and culture have eroded." The show asks, "What new worlds, and what new concepts of nature and culture can art and design reveal that other modes of inquiry and knowledge cannot?" Ambiguous Territory: Architecture, Landscape, and the Postnatural, which opened last December and will be on view through February 7 was curated by Cathryn Dwyre, adjunct associate professor at Pratt Institute and principal of pneumastudio, Chris Perry, associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and principal of pneumastudio, David Salomon, assistant professor at Ithaca College, and Kathy Velikov, associate professor at the University of Michigan and principal of RVTR. The show was organized by the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan. Exhibitors include Ellie Abrons, Paula Gaetano Adi & Gustavo Crembil, amid.cero9, Amy Balkin, Philip Beesley, Ursula Biemann, The Bittertang Farm, Edward Burtynsky, Bradley Cantrell, Brian Davis, Design Earth, Mark Dion, Lindsey french, Formlessfinder, Adam Fure, Future Cities Lab, Michael Geffel, Geoarchitecture @ Westminster, Geofutures @ Rensselaer Architecture, Harrison Atelier, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Lisa Hirmer, Lydia Kallipoliti & Andreas Theodoridis, Perry Kulper, Sean Lally, Landing Studio, Lateral Office & LCLA, LiquidFactory, Meredith Miller & Thom Moran, NaJa & deOstos, NEMESTUDIO, Mark Nystrom, Office for Political Innovation, OMG, The Open Workshop, pneumastudio, Rachele Riley, Alexander Robinson, RVTR, Smout Allen, smudge studio, Neil Spiller, Terreform ONE, Unknown Fields, and Marina Zurkow.