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Free Victoria Parking

Shin Shin imagines radical redevelopment of abandoned Detroit homes
The economic decline of Detroit in the second half of the 20th century is a familiar one in American history. The Motor City dramatically fell from a population of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 680,000 in 2015, resulting in an unprecedented exodus of its central historic districts. The Virginia Park district, a neighborhood lined with abandoned turn-of-the-century mansions, soon became a destination for out-of-town photographers eager to capture the ‘ruins’ as physical proof of abandonment with little interest in how the city can move on from the troubles of its recent past. Shin Shin, an architecture firm founded in 2018 by Detroit-born sisters Melissa and Amanda Shin, recently opened an exhibition at Woodbury University in Burbank, California, that offers a bold solution for the city’s historic homes through a novel form of adaptive reuse. Titled Four Corners, the exhibition dives deeply into No Vacancy, a series of redevelopment scenarios applied to a typical Virginia Park mansion. Each scenario programmatically divides the home in half, leaving the top floor as a modestly-sized private residence while transforming the bottom floor into a commercial space that generates income and provides much-needed amenities for building community. The four different family types—the bachelor or young couple, the single-parent, the nuclear family, and the empty nester—are coupled with a complementary commercial program, creative service spaces, an outdoor theater, a recreation center, and a garden cafe, respectively. Because the clash between the public and private may seem outlandish at first, the exhibition goes to great lengths to demonstrate the viability of their proposals through scaled-up construction drawings and highly detailed 3D-printed models. The models, in particular, draw the eye to the more playful aspects of each design, including silly straw-like columns, rock climbing facades, and overinflated acoustical padding. While the firm currently has no plans to make their vision a reality in their native city, they hope to come up with other, like-minded proposals to guide Detroit through its current era of revitalization and growth. Four Corners will be on display until March 6.
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Tulip Mania

London Mayor vows to fight Tulip appeal, assembles $450k war fund
Less than a month after developer Jacob J. Safra filed an appeal to keep the possibility of erecting the Foster + Partners-designed Tulip tower in London alive, Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged to keep fighting. Mayor Khan had originally rejected the proposal in July of last year and dismissed it as “poorly designed.” That came after the Greater London Authority (GLA), the agency responsible for enforcing the London Plan, which dictates sustainable growth in the city, dinged the tower. At the time, the GSA cited the 984-foot-tall Tulip’s design—which would balance a 12-story glass observation pod atop a hollow concrete stem—as inappropriate, and the potential for the building to block historic sightlines. They also raised the issue of the Tulip’s base, which would consist of an incongruous two-story retail podium. With the appeal, Safra, founder of the J. Safra Group, which also developed the Foster + Partners-designed Gherkin at the neighboring 30 St Mary Axe, will have the case heard before Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick or another government minister. However, as BDonline notes, Khan already wrote to Jenrick last week to voice his displeasure, and has amassed a $450,000 “war chest” for the GLA to fight the appeal with. BDonline has broken out the costs, but Khan has allocated nearly $200,000 for the leading counsel (legal advice) and another $77,000 for architectural consultation. In his letter to Jenrick, Khan reportedly wrote, “The Tulip is an inappropriately sited visitor attraction, which would make no such economic nor positive social contribution to London that would outweigh its harm to a world heritage site, the City’s skyline, and the public realm at ground level.” This echoes the reasoning Khan gave when he used his veto powers to stop London’s Planning and Transportation Committee from greenlighting the project, despite their earlier approval. No hearing date for the appeal has been set yet, but the battle over the Tulip’s approval is shaping up to be a long one.
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Carbon Fiber Supplements

Asif Khan completes monumental gateways for Expo 2020
While the pavilions for Expo 2020 Dubai are currently under various stages of construction, three monumental gateways to the 1,083-acre fair site are now among the first elements to be completed. Built using a woven carbon fiber composite, the three 70-foot-tall, freestanding “gateway” structures are both incredibly lightweight without compromising durability or requiring any additional support, lending them an ethereal quality under the Arabian sun. The installations’ delicate infrastructure is the product of over three years of collaboration between London-based architecture firm Asif Khan Ltd., a manufacturer specializing in carbon composites, and an aircraft engineer. Their intricate patterning was engineered to not only strike a balance between material efficiency, shading, airflow, manufacturing time, and structural strength but to also reference the mashrabiya, an ornamental window type used in homes across the region to extend beyond their property lines. The combination of vernacular aesthetics and technological ingenuity reflects the spirit of Dubai’s inaugural expo, which seeks to remind attendants that while the city has gained international recognition in the last half-century, it also has hundreds of years of culture on display as well. During the 173 days of the event, guests will enter through 34-foot-tall operable doorways to enter each of the three Expo 2020 districts: Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability. “The portals will be the first and last encountering moment for all who make the journey to Expo 2020 Dubai,” Asif Khan said in a press statement, "and these capture the very transcendental moment the region is experiencing as it hosts its first World Expo—the celebration not only of UAE’s heritage, but also the future." The structures are the first pieces unveiled from Asif Khans commission for Expo 2020 Public Realm, a 3.7-mile linear park that will also include a running track and seating co-designed with Lara Captan. “Designing the Public Realm for Expo 2020 Dubai is a seminal moment for my practice,” Khan added. “Each aspect of the design invites visitors to immerse themselves in shared Islamic culture, art and language in dialogue with the future spirit of Expo.” Of course, Asif Khan is no stranger to designing otherworldly temporary installations; the firm’s Vantablack-coated pavilion, resembling a slice of outer space, turned heads when it touched down in Seoul for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Expo 2020 will open its doors to the public on October 20 and will remain open until Apr 10, 2021.
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Design Grouping

The LADG builds practice in parts
The following interview was conducted as part of “Building Practice,” a professional elective course at Syracuse University School of Architecture taught by Molly Hunker and Kyle Miller, and now an AN interview series. On September 3, 2019, Ella Arne and Eliza Williamson, students at Syracuse University, interviewed Benjamin Freyinger and Andrew Holder of the Los Angeles-based The LADG. The following interview was edited by Kyle Miller and AN and was lightly condensed for clarity. Ella Arne and Eliza Williamson: Thank you for joining us. Our first question is a very simple one; how and when did your practice start? Andrew Holder: We started our practice when we were still students. Ben and I were in graduate school at UCLA from 2002 to 2005, and we began working on our first project together at the end of 2004. If you look at the older projects in our portfolio, you’ll see stores for a ski boot retailer called Surefoot. Surefoot in Vail, Colorado was our first project. I don’t think we intended to form a durable corporate entity at that time, and it wasn’t our intention to be a practice forever. The Surefoot store was our first opportunity and was followed very quickly by a residential remodel in downtown Los Angeles and a loft building across the street from SCI-Arc. But to the original question, “How did it start?”... we were raised on a myth of how architecture firms start. You sit down and write to clarify your position in the world. After that is absolutely clear to yourself and others, you begin to work. Our experience was almost exactly the opposite… the work came first. What is the identity of your practice, and how has it changed over the years? We started our practice during boom years for construction in Los Angeles. It was a good time to be an architect. For the first four years, we were totally consumed with work and executing projects commissioned by various clients. During the financial crisis of 2008 it became clear to us that architecture purely as a service for the market was not enough for us. We decided that we needed another layer of activity or set of incentives to impel what we were doing, because we felt as though the financial crash had removed many market-based incentives. We weren’t making money anymore. The thinness of incentives that we had thought would stick around forever was revealed. We needed new reasons to get out of bed in the morning, which lead us back to the idea that we needed an operating theory of what architecture wants to be in the world. We asked ourselves why we do this on a very personal level, but also how architecture can engage a broader audience. It was in 2009, 2010, and 2011 when we first started thinking through architecture’s relation to audience. In those years, you see the emergence of animal figures and biomorphic forms in our work. These things were essentially the most direct answer that we could imagine to the question of how architecture interfaces with a mass audience. Our answer to that was architecture sheds its status as an object, and it becomes a subject. I know how to participate in a crowd if I’m a living thing. We were doing everything we could think to do to turn architecture into a subject that could participate like other people. We reached a limit with 48 Characters, an installation at the University of Michigan where we were creating plaster versions of balloon animals. We started to realize that if architecture as a subject needs formal complication, then we have to come up with different ideas about how to make habitable space. It’s a very simple initiating problem. And that question essentially initiated a string of investigations up to the present day where we are thinking about assemblies of objects that produce rooms. Who exactly are you referring to when you talk about audience? Who is the audience for your work? We always want to have a couple of different conversations simultaneously. We are hoping that the balloon animal projects are immediately legible with no specialized knowledge in architecture. Stuffed animals have a mode of communication that requires little to no expertise. It just requires enculturation. You have to have been a person on the planet for a while. At the same time, balloon animals have a kind of second discursive tale. They're plugged into issues in architecture that are for sophisticated audiences. That longer tale has to do with the history of complex form and architecture, and the history of the use of digital tools and a long conversation about character. What exactly that term means… it looks like Ben is joining us now. Ben Freyinger: Hello. Sorry, I’m super late from another meeting. We were talking about how your work resonates differently with different audiences. But now that we have both of you here, we can ask how you maintain the identity of your practice considering both of you are in different locations. Ben: Case in point. Andrew: It'll be interesting if we have different answers to this question. Ben, what is that noise? Is that an airplane? I can assure you there is no airplane in Cambridge. Okay, so first, the geographic distance for us is profoundly clarifying. So, to revisit the history of how we started… Ben there's incredible background noise. Please go inside. Ben: I'm on a job site. I'll mute my microphone when I'm not speaking. Andrew: Great, thank you. So, bear in mind we started as students, which means that didn’t yet have formalized understandings of our roles. What we had was a desire to work together. It was when we started living on different coasts that we had conversations about who does what. It was that moment of specialization that also required us to have conversations about the operating theory of the practice. All of a sudden, in order to be efficient in schematic design, we needed to constantly be referring back to ideas we had about how to make space and how to use assemblies of objects loosely fit together to produce things like rooms and interior order. Those were as much theories of architecture and how it should work as they were a series of conversations regarding how to distribute labor between the two coasts, and how to clarify what Andrew does and what Ben does. Ben: I agree. To be blunt about it, having two people with either similar ideas or productively conflicting ideas in the same room is not always productive. There's the personal growth that you need to go through in order to expand in your career and move forward and learn new things that tends to get stunted when there is someone else in the room. Independently, we've discovered that the practice can grow and that there is a need for specialization. But no matter how specialized we each become in our roles, we still wear a lot of the same hats. We still do a lot of the same things. Andrew: Here is an example of how, for instance, something we produce has multiple lives, and becomes useful for the office. When I wrote “Notes on More,” the Log piece about density, I was interested in an academic audience. But I was also writing it as a letter to our office. It was how I was structuring thoughts about design, and was asking, “Can this help give us a common understanding of how to sit down to work?” We're always growing and shrinking, so it means anywhere from two to six people are participating in schematic design. Everyone has to be extraordinarily coordinated in their work output. The essays help hold that together. Can you talk more about the way in which the preference for using everyday objects informs your aesthetic sensibility? Also, how does this approach impact constructability and construction? Andrew: Interesting. We haven't used the word sensibility a lot in our conversations with one another. But maybe we should more often, because we have definite ideas about where we want to end up in terms of how things look. We want a kind of casualness, as though materials could come together in a variety of orientations and we would have simply picked one of those possibilities. We want a sense that our material palette is not elevated and expensive, but is common to the point of being retrievable from a junkyard if funds are limited. We also want for the fits between things to produce an occasion for design. If things fit together too perfectly, design is discouraged. One way that we create opportunities for design is by subjecting our work to physics by frequently positioning things with respect to one another so that all of the energy and intensity is in an interface or point of contact. Ben: We are using materials that are readily available and, in some cases, kind of ugly. And yes, it's in the interface between the materials and how they respond to one another or how they coexist… it’s where the invention is. The reality is that we have contractors that are looking at what we are producing. What they see is complicated or complex. We can break it down very logically, piece by piece, and explain why it isn't. But the reception of it is often “Oh, this is unusual… this is too complex to build.” Andrew: I also want to say that the casualness and looseness is not just for its own sake. Actually, let me go back. I'm totally fine if it's casualness for its own sake. I have no need to justify it further, but maybe we have an additional possibility. One thing that starts to happen as things are loosely arrayed against one another is the production of crenelated edges, which makes it difficult to assign things to the inside or outside. Elements often fall outside of the proper territory of the house or building. This means more engagement in the surrounding context. If you can't figure out where the envelope is, you're always questioning what’s around you. For us, that's good politics. We want to self-consciously style ourselves as part of architecture’s progressive crowd, but we don't see that as being related to exclusion on the basis of privilege—educational, financial, or otherwise. We're trying to resort to things that have a democratic availability and low barriers to intellectual engagement. Given this attitude towards being democratic and inclusive, what kinds of projects do you hope to work on in the future? Andrew: In the very immediate future, we're really interested in the suburbs and we're really interested in the single-family home, which may seem a weird answer to your question. We're trying to think of ways in which the form of the house can open up and start to create shared regions with neighbors. So, imagine many House in Los Angeles I’s next to one another. We'd have to imagine a different way of describing what constitutes yard or private ownership. Ben: We’re looking at the fringe areas of Los Angeles, specifically hillside areas, which encourage invention with regard to what Andrew was saying about the concept of yard or the concept of private ownership. We want to challenge and reconsider these things. Andrew: If you look at the larger context for House in Los Angeles I, you'll see that it's part of a series of suburbs that stretch between downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena. They're all super irregular, hillside lots. House in Los Angeles I looks kind of flat, but it's at the edge of a pretty steep hillside. What that means is that buildable area is tightly circumscribed. You can only put houses in certain spots, which leaves huge portions of the hillside unbuilt but also given up for shared uses. We want to be deliberate about how built form can preserve collective spaces that have already emerged, and start to encourage the emergence of new collective spaces. You spoke earlier of your dissatisfaction with conceptualizing architecture as being subservient to the market. How would you position your practice in relation to the market now? Is the market something you engage with critically? Andrew: What the market asked of us in 2009 did not overlap with how we wanted to spend our time. We wanted personal and intellectual satisfaction that the task given to us by the open market did not demand. We wanted to do more thinking and more drawing and more model building… and we weren't doing a lot of those things. When we talk about a reaction against an exclusively service-based practice, it's not that we were withdrawing from the market or the structure of how business works in Los Angeles. It's that we were trying to construct a viable business model with habits of life and thought and work that we found to be more humane and of interest to us regarding ways we wanted to live our lives. I would love to be a soldier of resistance against late capitalism, but my tools for thinking through that problem are more effective when I examine it at the scale of what I do when I get up in the morning. We’re encouraged that the market is now telling us that it has niches that support our habits. What's been the most fulfilling moment in your professional careers thus far? Andrew: I had a very fulfilling experience on my last site walk at House in Los Angeles I. It's been a while since I've been out there. When I went out, it was just after all of the rain in Los Angeles, but before the landscaping went in, so it was super muddy. My foot got stuck in one of the courtyards. There I was stuck in an idea we'd only been kicking around on paper. Ben: I'm going to play a similar card, but I'll zoom out a bit. For me, it's the physical evidence of the work. I can relate this back to Andrew's comment about how we choose to lead our lives in the office. If there's physical evidence of that work in the world, that is also the litmus test of our success in trying to bring a desire to operate, practice, and live a certain way into the market productively and reconcile those two things. I can look at it, I can touch it, and I can see it. That never gets old.
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Dubai And By

Expo 2020 Dubai pavilions will showcase global innovations in sustainability and design
Long before the telephone, the airplane, and the internet, the original World’s Fair was created in 1851 as a method of presenting the achievements of all the world’s nations in a single setting. Countless modern accomplishments—among them, the telephone, the Ferris wheel, the dishwasher, and even the Eiffel Tower—have all debuted at various World’s Fairs hosted by prominent cities around the globe. And though international communication has dramatically improved since its inception, the World’s Fair lives on as the “World Expo”—a multi-acre exhibition for which countries around the world create pavilions emblematic of their respective cultures and exemplary building techniques. Expo 2020 will be held in Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates that has gained international standing in the last half-century and has since maintained one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The expo master plan, designed by American design, architecture, engineering, and urban planning firm HOK, will host 190 pavilions across 1,083 acres between the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and will be divided into three themed districts: Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability. While the majority of the pavilions have had their designs already approved and are currently in the construction phase, the Fentress Architects-designed U.S.A. pavilion has recently met financial troubles, leaving some of its features up in the air; Arabian Business reported that the UAE stepped in last week to help with necessary funding. AN has rounded up a selection of the most striking, interesting, or technologically advanced pavilions that will go on display when Expo 2020 opens on October 20: Austria—Querkraft Architekten
The 47 truncated cones of the Austria Pavilion will be constructed using 9,000-year-old-soil to demonstrate the country’s application of traditional techniques to contemporary challenges. The cones will be arranged to naturally ventilate the exhibition space and Viennese-style coffeehouse contained within as an alternative to the air conditioning technology commonly used throughout the UAE. They will have the added effect of animating the exhibition floor in a pattern of light and shadow as the sun moves overhead.
Bahrain—Christian Kerez Swiss architect Christian Kerez has designed a 21,000-square-foot pavilion for Bahrain with an imposing facade that sharply contrasts the interior, which will host live weaving stations and an open exhibition space. The roof will be supported by 187 evenly dispersed columns—each less than two inches thick—that recall the country’s weaving tradition on a massive scale. Set to be completed within a nine-month timeframe, Kerez told News of Bahrain last December that the pavilion “is quite complex, though it looks very simple, [and] at the moment we have three different international companies working together to make this project a success.” Belgium—Assar Architects and Vincent Callebaut Architectures The architects of Belgium’s pavilion describe it as a “green ark”—both for its wooden boat-like design and its goal of producing more energy than it consumes during the duration of the expo. Multiple green spaces throughout the building will be supported by smart technology programmed to efficiently grow the produce that will feed the pavilion's visitors. While the pavilion will exhibit Belgium’s various innovations over the centuries, the country’s world-famous culinary history is the main attraction. Brazil—JPG.ARQ, MMBB, and Ben-Avid The Brazil Pavilion recreates the feeling of exploring the Amazon basin using an expansive body of water enclosed by a lightweight tensile structure. Visitors can traverse the atmospheric interior either by using a black concrete path or walking through the shallow water to get up close to the sounds, scents, and sights (via images and videos projected onto the ceiling) of the Brazilian riverside. The water has the added effect of naturally cooling the main exhibition space as well as the enclosed multipurpose room on the upper floor. Finland—JKMM The Finland-based architecture firm JKMM is blending the climatic aesthetics of its native Scandinavia with those of Saudi Arabia to produce an Arabic-style tent that appears to be made of snow. Before interacting with its main exhibition space, visitors will pass through the pavilion’s slender entrance to enter a ‘gorge,’ a curved wooden space reminiscent of a Finnish forest. The light wooden elements of the gorge will contrast the rough brushed concrete of the exhibition space, which will highlight Finland’s contributions to sustainable technology and health science. Germany—LAVA and facts and fiction As a country long dedicated to energy technology, Germany will be represented by a multi-story building its architects liken to a campus to recall the “campus learning experience.” The building’s spaces will be loosely arranged under an amorphous roof encased in a translucent ETFE membrane, recalling the engineering feats of German architects Frei Otto and Konrad Wachsmann. The pavilion will guide visitors through its major exhibition spaces—The Energy Lab, The Future City Lab, and The Biodiversity Lab—using wearable devices uniquely designed for the space. Morocco—OUALALOU + CHOI Following their design for the Morocco Pavilion at the 2015 Expo held in Milan, OUALALOU + CHOI return with an adobe brick building inspired by the ancestral construction techniques commonly found throughout Moroccan villages. The firm’s design attempts to recreate the experience of the country, rather than its iconic aesthetics, by tying the pavilion’s galleries together with a continuous ramp that recalls the narrow and dynamic streets of the Moroccan medinas. The Netherlands—V8 Architects The pavilion representing the Netherlands is, according to its architects, “more a biotope than a building.” With an enormous, cone-shaped vertical farm at its center, the pavilion will maintain a relatively low temperature thanks to a passive cooling system. The design of the interior recalls both Dutch landscapes and the traditional geometric patterns of Arabic culture. The entire space will be constructed using locally sourced materials that will all be reused within the region following the Expo’s closure.
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The Freshman 300

Living on Campus reveals the secret life of the American dormitory

Living on Campus: An Architectural History of the American Dormitory By Carla Yanni Published by the University of Minnesota Press MSRP $34.95

Dormitories figure prominently in the popular vision of American college life. They might have different forms, such as buildings surrounding a quadrangle inspired by medieval European universities or functional, modernist structures with an interior array of nearly identical rooms lining both sides of a long hallway. Dorms establish college as more than just a place where a person gains skills and knowledge before going out into the world, getting a job, and getting on with life; they help make higher education a distinctive life experience. Academic leaders have long fostered this concept. Lucy Diggs Slowe, the dean of women at Howard University in the 1920s and ’30s, declared dormitories to be not only “laboratories in human relations,” but also places “for the development of those cultural pursuits that ought to be part of every college student’s life.” In Living on Campus: An Architectural History of the American Dormitory, Carla Yanni, an architectural historian at Rutgers University, examines residence halls not as “mute containers for the temporary storage of youthful bodies and emergent minds.” Rather, in tracing 300 years of this building type, Yanni sees dormitories as evidence of educational ideals, ways to manage new types of students, and broader societal shifts.

The first residence hall was a space of exclusion. Constructed in the 1650s, the Indian College at Harvard University was intended to house 20 indigenous students so they could live near their classes while remaining separated from white students. This building, Yanni argues, demonstrates that “from the very beginning of colleges in North America, student housing existed to establish hierarchies.” The indigenous population differed from the typical college student of the period, namely a white teenage boy from an elite family. College contributed to these students’ individual formation but was also a broader reflection of a flourishing America. Nassau Hall, completed in 1756 at the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, was “the largest and most distinguished structure in the colony.” The dorm was separated from the street by a spacious lawn and surrounded by farms, which, university leaders argued, provided the isolation from the adjoining settlement and distance from home that gave students the best chance of becoming useful citizens.

Once women began attending college in large numbers in the 19th century, their living quarters functioned as both a sanctuary and a means of surveillance and management. Completed in 1887 at Oberlin College, Baldwin Cottage, designed by Weary and Kramer, offered a homelike environment with a combination of public and private spaces, including a parlor, reception hall, and dining room along with bedrooms. Women living in the dorms were subject to strict rules about walking in the halls and requisite bedtimes, but since male students at Oberlin lacked similar accommodations until 1910, social life at the college revolved around women’s residence halls.

The 1944 GI Bill resulted in a near-doubling of the number of college students in the decade after 1945. Faced with this expanding population, urban universities, such as Rutgers University and New York University, constructed high-rise dormitories that were not only economical but required less land than a leafy, low-rise quadrangle. High-rise dormitories also appeared outside of urban areas, such as the Morrill and Lincoln Towers at Ohio State University, designed by Schooley, Cornelius, and Schooley and completed in 1965, with room for more than 3,800 students. Intended as a response to criticisms about the impersonal appearance of high-rises, the towers’ rooms were arranged in a distinctive honeycomb-shaped plan meant to encourage better communication and raise student morale. Kresge College, by MLTW, which opened in 1973 at the University of California, Santa Cruz, offered a more striking critique of high-rise dormitories as well as the seeming impersonality of a large university: Its low, white buildings were accented with playful red, blue, and yellow supergraphics and housed a mere 270 students. Kresge’s distinctive design was intended to signal the school’s close-knit student and faculty community and experimental curriculum.

Does the image of college life change without the dormitory? Today a considerable number of students attend college beyond their teenage years and early twenties, at community colleges or commuter schools, or exclusively online. Yanni’s conclusion points to these issues regarding the future of dormitories, but the book as a whole raises questions about the relationship between architecture and transformations of the American university. Whether in the shape of a medieval quadrangle, Georgian estate, or high-rise tower, residence halls help maintain the conventional image of an American undergraduate. But shifts in the student body and new resources and buildings to facilitate education will inevitably prompt new stories about higher education in the United States.

Pollyanna Rhee is an architectural and landscape historian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Hanks for Sharing

Tom Hanks announces Academy of Motion Pictures will open this December
Tom Hanks, a trustee of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and a co-chair of its campaign, broke long-awaited news about the project while taking the stage during last night's Academy Awards: “We're all very proud of what has been accomplished so far in the landmark that is taking shape on Fairfax and Wilshire, and it is a pleasure to announce that the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will open its doors on December 14th, 2020.” On that date, the museum's first two exhibitions will take in the main gallery spaces of the renovated 1939 May Company Department Store (also known as the Saban Building): Hayao Miyazaki, a retrospective of the famed Japanese filmmaker’s career, and Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900-1970, an archival presentation of black participation in American filmmaking. Programming has not yet been announced for the David Geffen Theatre, a 1,000-seat auditorium set in a Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW)-designed semi-sphere attached to the Saban Building via the Barbara Streisand Bridge. As AN covered last August, the auditorium building is being constructed using an innovative double-layer system that provides soundproofing without compromising expansive views of the surrounding Hollywood hills. Opening dates for the museum have been repeatedly set and re-set since the capital campaign was launched in 2012. The project’s original $250 million budget has ballooned during the course of its several-years-long construction, causing significant delays in installing the finishing touches. A recent pre-opening campaign has helped the museum reach the 95 percent mark of its revised $388 million budget. In that time, founding museum director Kerry Brougher left his position was been replaced by Bill Kramer, a former managing director of development and external relations at the museum that helped raised $250 million for the new building. Though the major structural and aesthetic portions of the project is complete, work on the mechanical and electrical engineering details is being finalized alongside the installation of the museum’s first exhibitions. “The dream of this museum will finally become a reality,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a press statement. “[It will be] a gathering place for filmmakers and movie fans from around the world, where we can share the Oscars legacy and further fulfill the Academy’s mission to connect the world through cinema.” The Academy Museum will become the latest cultural attraction on Los Angeles’s Miracle Mile and will open shortly after the majority of the original building on the adjacent LACMA campus will have been demolished to make way for its groundbreaking redevelopment.
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Counterprogramming

South African studio Counterspace will design the 2020 Serpentine Pavilion
An all-female team from Johannesburg, South Africa, has been selected to design the 2020 Serpentine Pavilion. The 29-years-old architects Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar of Counterspace are also the youngest designers ever selected to create the annual summer installation in Kensington Gardens, London According to The Guardian, the architects envisioned the pavilion as a series of spaces “inspired by places where people gather across London, particularly migrant and other peripheral communities.” The trio wrote in a statement that “places of memory and care” in parts of the city—from Brixton to Hackney, Whitechapel, Ealing, and more—will come together in a singular shelter within Kensington Gardens. “Where they intersect, they produce spaces to be together,” said Vally, who co-founded the firm in 2015. The pavilion will be comprised of different sections, each representing various existing gathering spaces throughout London. Visitors will be able to see these distinctions through structural breaks, gradient changes, and differences in color and texture, according to the architects. “As an object, experienced through movement,” said Vally, “it has continuity and consistency, but difference and variation are embedded into the essential gesture at every turn.” Counterspaces’ pavilion will be built in waves. The completed sections will be set up in different neighborhoods where they’ll first play host to numerous community events. By the summer, the sections will return to Kensington Gardens and make up the whole structure. Counterspace aims to build the pavilion with earth-friendly materials such as cork and custom K-Briq modules from Kenoteq. Each unfired brick used for the structure will be made with 90 percent recycled construction and demolition waste. Now in its 20th year, the pop-up Serpentine Pavilion has long-been a space for debate and, as The Guardian puts it, selfies. Design teams that have had the recent honor of producing a temporary structure for the Gallery’s site have attempted to capitalize on the Instagram-age. Architects including Sou Fujimoto, Bjarke Ingels, selgascano, and Frida Escobedo have created stand-out spaces that have attracted thousands of visitors from around the world. Last year’s selection, however, left the organization mired in controversy. Pavilion designer Junya Ishigami came under fire for not paying his overworked interns on the project. Soon after the news broke, Yana Peel, head of the Serpentine Galleries, resigned from her post. Bettina Korek, former executive director of Frieze Los Angeles, took over thereafter and, alongside artistic director Hans-Ulrich Obrist, chose Counterspace to design this year’s project. “The idea of working with different communities is very important for us and Counterspace’s proposal does this in a remarkable way,” Obrist said in a statement. “We were totally convinced by the social dimension of their practice. They bring an African perspective, an international perspective, but they are working with locations and communities right here in London and their pavilion design is inspired by that work.”  The 2020 Serpentine Pavilion will go up as part of the institution’s 50th anniversary in London. In a push to produce greener architecture, Serpentine Galleries is now asking its pavilion designers to focus on sustainable construction methods. Additionally, the Gallery’s current events series, the Back to Earth program, explores how architecture can respond to global climate change, promote wellbeing, and rupture social hierarchies. Counterspace's pavilion will be open from June 11 through October 11.
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By Decree

On beauty, value, and justice in federal architecture in America
This past week, a frenzied debate has erupted in response to “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” a draft executive order that, if adopted, would effectively mandate “the classical architectural style” for U.S. federal buildings. Assembled by the National Civic Art Society, a little-known organization dedicated to the promotion of classical architecture and design, the order proposes to rewrite the US General Services Administration’s (GSA) “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture,” a three-point policy document written in 1962 by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor, to focus the architectural ambitions of the GSA. Moynihan’s first and third directives aim squarely at design, insisting that federal buildings “reflect the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of the American National Government” and that careful consideration be given to the building site and the layout of adjacent streets, public spaces, and landscape. His second speaks more generally to matters of architectural style:
The development of an official style must be avoided. Design must flow from the architectural profession to the Government. And not vice versa. […] The advice of distinguished architects ought to, as a rule, be sought prior to the award of important design contracts.
The crux of MFBBA’s argument is that Moynihan’s second principle precludes his first. By granting authority on matters of style to architects, it claims, the Guiding Principles supplant the preferences of the American people with “the architectural profession’s reigning orthodoxy.” This, it continues, “implicitly discouraged classical and other designs known for their beauty,” and sanctioned instead modernist, Brutalist, and Deconstructivist buildings which “have little aesthetic appeal,” citing work by Marcel Breuer, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Morphosis, and others as examples. In so doing, the order claims, “the Federal government has largely stopped building beautiful buildings that the American people want to look at or work in.” To encourage the design of buildings that inspire “admiration” instead of “public derision,” the order proposes that “in the National Capital [sic] Region and for all Federal courthouses, the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style absent special extenuating factors necessitating another style.” While this technically leaves open the possibility of non-traditional design, MFBBA sets an extremely high bar for its approval. Brutalism, Deconstructivism, and their derivatives (specified by extremely problematic, open-ended definitions) are excluded outright. Other non-traditional buildings would be permitted to move forward only with approval from the president, who must first be provided with a detailed explanation of “whether such design is as beautiful… as alternative designs of comparable cost in a traditional architectural style.” The term beauty, or one of its derivatives, appears twelve times in MFBBA’s seven pages. Though it is not included in the document’s list of definitions, it is used throughout to signify those qualities that give pleasure to the senses and the intellect. At its core, then, this debate is about more than just architectural style. It is about publicly funded pleasure. The art critic Dave Hickey similarly locates the essence of beauty in pleasure. In his 2009 essay, “American Beauty,” he finds it primarily in the “pleasant surprises” one encounters in everyday life. Such pleasure, whether derived from monumental architecture, a clear blue sky, or a perfectly executed jump shot, often leads people—Americans in particular—to dialog. “Beautiful!” someone exclaims, moved by an arresting object or experience. Others respond, sometimes in agreement, sometimes in dissent. Chatter ensues, occasionally moving toward the consensus from which societies are built. “American beauty is inextricable from its optimal social consequence,” Hickey writes, “our membership in a happy coalition of citizens who agree on what is beautiful, valuable, and just.” In American society, beauty, value, and justice are determined similarly—through the often-contentious debates we conduct in Congress, in court, in the press, in the marketplace, at school, at home, and out in the street. Given the complexity of these collective conversations (and the difficulty of surprising oneself), we often turn to trained experts—elected representatives, lawyers, cultural critics, brokers, artists, architects, and others—to generate possibilities and look after our interests. Though it often seeks guidance in expert opinion, American society is not based on timeless values, religious doctrine, or ancient edicts. It is based on mutual agreement. With the Declaration of Independence, Americans mutually agreed to their collective right to pursue “pleasant surprises” and other forms of happiness, and to tentatively ascribe power to the government to secure that right. This is where it gets complicated. As Hickey points out, every pleasant surprise is an occasion for change, an opportunity to renegotiate our collective agreement regarding what we hold to be beautiful, valuable, and just. Such activity always threatens the stability of the status quo, which is why authoritarian societies often attempt to neutralize such threats by outlawing idiosyncrasy and mandating familiarity. MFBBA adopts exactly this authoritarian posture, though its authors undoubtedly would point to their populist invocations of “the public” and to their proposal that all GSA architectural competitions convene public panels that exclude design and construction professionals as evidence of their efforts to foster exactly the sort of open debate I am advocating. Such arguments would ring false. With their thumb firmly on the scale from the outset, MFBBA’s authors decide in advance the outcome of public deliberation on federal buildings. Their message is clear: When it comes to the most hallowed spaces of our democracy, the American debate on beauty—and by extension, on value and justice – is settled. The authors of “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” thus work entirely on the side of entrenched authority, and rightly recognize the federal buildings of Breuer, Morphosis, Scogin, Elam, and others as subtly subversive. These works signal that the brilliance of American democracy issues from its accommodation of periodic reinvention, from our collective agreement that what we held to be beautiful, valuable, and just yesterday may not align with what we will hold to be so tomorrow. This is not to say that progressive architecture best represents our union, or that classically derived designs can no longer embody American values. It is merely to recognize, as Daniel Moynihan did, that we would do well to continue to draw on “the finest contemporary American architectural thought” to help us determine the best way forward, and to remember that the “dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability” of the American government obtains from the right of its citizens to perpetually renegotiate the terms by which we are governed, to reimagine the values we wish to uphold, and to freely pursue the subversive pleasures of beauty. Todd Gannon is the Robert S. Livesey Professor and head of the architecture section at The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School.
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Order, Order!

Critics speak out over the draft federal architecture mandate
Everyone from critics to commentators to professional organizations came out swinging this week in reaction to President Trumps draft executive order to impose a neoclassical style (now publicly available) on all future federal architecture. AN reported yesterday that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) released a statement strongly opposing a uniform style, and according to Contract, the organization had prior knowledge of the draft and expressed concerns over it during a mid-January meeting with James Sherk, a top policy aid in the White House In a statement published today by Contract, the AIA issued a letter to Trump after news broke about the leak, asking the president to “ensure that this order is not finalized or executed.” At the time of the aforementioned meeting, the AIA said it believed the draft was not moving forward. “We were shocked and disappointed to hear that it is still in circulation,” the organization wrote in the letter.  The AIA isn’t the only top-level advocacy group in the industry to speak up so far, but it is one of the main avenues for those interested to take action against the draft order, outside of cold-contacting the White House Below, AN broke down highlights from the AIA’s letter to Trump, alongside responses from other major players in the industry:  American Institute of Architects  “The draft we have seen also attempts to define ‘classical architectural style’ to mean architectural features derived from classical Greek and Roman architecture with some allowances for ‘traditional architectural style,’" wrote the AIA in its letter. "Given that the specific type of architecture preferred in the order can increase the cost of a project (to up to three times as much), we would hope the GSA, Congress and others would take pause. Since these costs would have to be borne by U.S. taxpayers, this is not an inconsequential concern… “President Trump, this draft order is antithetical to giving the ‘people’ a voice and would set an extremely harmful precedent. It thumbs its nose at societal needs, even those of your own legacy as a builder and promoter of contemporary architecture. Our society should celebrate the differences that develop across space and time.” The Architecture Lobby  (T-A-L) “Seizing on architectural styles is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes,” wrote The Architecture Lobby in a statement. “The particular appeal to classical architecture often uses the nostalgic appropriation of style by fictionalizing national heritage and manufacturing an ideal subject to marginalize and other while simultaneously claiming moral superiority. The Lobby wants to draw attention to the larger ideological implications this implies, implications that go beyond a conservative approach to style or limitations to freedom of expression. Neoclassicism in the US is directly related with the construction of whiteness. It was whiteness that was sought after in the many plantations houses that chose the style, justifying it as an emulation of ancient Greek ‘culture’ to separate themselves from the Indigenous peoples whose land was stolen ad the enslaved African people forced to build and work in them. Thomas Jefferson’s excitement with the work of the Beaux-Arts school in Paris was motivated by a desire to make America ‘European,’ and white... “Privileging historicist architecture is a common tool of the capitalist class in the United States as well. This tactic is used in planning codes and by homeowners associations to favor traditional aesthetics under the guise of human-centric design, but whose true purpose is to continue the legacy of red-lining by preventing the densification and diversification of neighborhoods. The ultimate goal is to inflate property values and maintain the racial and class segregation of our cities, to create an environment fo capital to continue the destruction of communities through gentrification.  The ‘Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again’ executive order is a reformulation of these local aesthetic strictures at a national level and a blatant attempt to leverage aesthetics in the service of white supremacy.” National Trust for Historic Preservation While the National Trust values—and protects—traditional and classical buildings throughout the country, to censor and stifle the full record of American architecture by requiring federal buildings to be designed, and even altered, to comply with a narrow list of styles determined by the federal government is inconsistent with the values of historic preservation,” wrote the National Trust in a statement. “The draft order would put at risk federal buildings across the country that represent our full American story, and would have a chilling effect on new design, including the design of federal projects in historic districts…We strongly oppose any effort to impose a narrow set of styles for future federal projects based on the architectural tastes of a few individuals that will diminish, now and for the future, our rich legacy of federal architecture.” Vishaan Chakrabarti, Founder of PAU Studio “Like the fundamentalists who desecrated Bamiyan and Palmyra, it is only the most insecure, arrogant and petty of leaders who attempt to remake the world in the delusions of their dominant image,” Chakrabarti said in a statement provided to AN. “Once again the Trump administration is making their hatred of our diversity clear, a hatred we must fight to defend the pluralist idea of America that most of us hold dear. Make no mistake, this is artistic censorship, and censorship is yet another step towards the fascism that clouds our land.” National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) “Diverse cultural influences on the creative expression of our collective built environment is vital to the strength of our society and paramount to our freedom as Americans,” wrote NOMA. “Given the historical significance of NOMA, rooted in the African-American experience, we are especially cognizant of the notion that for many of our members, such buildings in certain contexts stand as symbols and painful reminders of centuries of oppression and the harsh realities of racism. As architects, we are called to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. We have a duty to advocate for design that reflects the values of the people we serve: ALL of the people. The proposed Executive Order, if enacted, would signal the perceived superiority of a Eurocentric aesthetic. This notion is completely unacceptable and counterproductive to the kind of society that fosters justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Freedom of architectural expression is a right that should be upheld at the highest levels of government.”  The Architectural League of New York The Architectural League fundamentally opposes the imposition of a “preferred” style—whether classical or any other—by diktat as the enforced representation of the American people and their institutions,” wrote Paul Lewis, president of The Architectural League NY, and Rosalie Genevro, executive director. “Such a policy would be anathema to the idea of a free, diverse, and inclusive society. “Architecture that represents the American people must be created in response to specific sites and specific needs, responsive to local communities and conditions, drawing on the skills of the country’s most talented architects.” American Society of Landscape Architects  “The American Society of Landscape Architects has profound concerns about a proposed executive order that would impose uniform style mandates on federal building projects,” said Wendy Miller, president of ASLA. “Our nation’s design professionals are admired around the world for their creativity, innovation, and diversity of thought. Designers of the built environment should not be confined by arbitrary constraints that would limit federal building projects to a single style.  ASLA believes that the public interest is best served by a collaborative place-based process that continues to produce federal projects that reflect the unique needs and values of each community and its citizens.” Docomomo US “The draft executive order which states, “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style’ would roll back Federal architectural policy by nearly sixty years and set a dangerous precedent for how we value our nation’s architectural diversity and history," said Todd Grover, the vice-president of advocacy, at Docomomo US. “We, along with our colleagues at the American Institute of Architects (AIA), oppose this change in policy to promote any style of architecture over another for federal buildings across the country. This decision could create long-standing issues with new and also existing facilities that have achieved significance since the 1960s.”
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Shedding Light on the Future

The oracular visions of Agnes Denes are on display at The Shed
Agnes Denes’s watershed retrospective at The Shed, the sliding art hall at New York’s Hudson Yards, Absolutes and Intermediates (open through March 22), feels at times audaciously oracular. With its global environmental themes, conceptual graphs of the totality of human knowledge, and exaggerated post-human scale drawings, the exhibition speaks to a millenarianism powerfully present today among anyone paying attention. Yet, much of it she conceived a half-century ago. At times, it makes Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion domes and the previous heroic gestures of land art look like frivolous child’s play. “I asked her once how she knew in the early ’60s what we know now about this place, where in the early ’60s you didn’t have phrases like climate change,” said curator Emma Enderby, who organized the show. “She just said that it was there. Scientists were talking about it. You just had to have your ears open and your tentacles out. You had to be reading the texts and reading between the lines.” Before joining The Shed as a curator, Enderby worked at Public Art Fund, where she became familiar with Denes through her landmark Wheatfield—A Confrontation (1982), which the organization sponsored. Back in 1982, Denes planted two acres on landfill dug up from the World Trade Center while the site sat empty waiting to be developed into Battery Park City, arguably her most famous work. Enderby suggested a retrospective, along with the idea of commissioning unrealized pieces, in line with The Shed’s mission to support original cross-disciplinary work. The work is well organized and emphasized thanks to the work of the New York-based New Affiliates, who designed the exhibition. Photographs of Wheatfield staged by a TIME Magazine photographer show Denes standing Moses-like with a staff in the field of golden wheat, the gray towers of Wall Street on the horizon, contrasting the subduing, objectified, and commodification of the built environment with an image of resurgent nature. The figure of a woman projected as a life-giving force alongside one of the earliest human technologies, agriculture, hinted at a possible regeneration of incessant urban verticality and sprawl. “It was insane. It was impossible,” Denes wrote. “But it would draw people’s attention to having to rethink their priorities and realize that unless human values were reassessed, the quality of life, even life itself, was in danger.” The exhibition sprawls through two floors of The Shed’s double-height galleries, taking its title from a radically-scaled parametric chart Denes plotted on a sheet of AT&T Bell Labs graph paper in 1970. Absolutes and Intermediates visualizes nothing less than the history and future of the universe, from its formation to its disappearance into nothing, sweeping through the emergence of human life, the development of abstract reasoning, the creation of superintelligent machines and artificial life forms, and the evolution of a future species of homo sapiens. Expansive, minutely detailed drawings of Denes’s grand alternative systems and condensations of knowledge are displayed in long vitrines—some of them longer than 20 feet—beside study models and video interviews that show Denes as much a thinker as a visual artist. Another uncanny early piece from 1970, Matrix of Knowledge, predicts information overload in ways that are halfway too optimistic, halfway right on the mark. Charted using dialectic triangulation, in which Denes represents interconnected fields of knowledge as intersections of that construct larger geometric structures, she wrote that the sum of accumulated information doubles every ten years, more than the mind can handle. In the future systems will have to be set up to preselect and reduce incoming data, leading to loss of freedom. “Mass media is already making choices for us,” she wrote at the time, “a[nd] specialization is also leading in that direction by trapping valuable data within each specialty where it remains undigested, hindering accurate deductions and combination as the flow of communication is blocked.” A maximalist ecological intervention conceived in 1982, Tree Mountain-A Living Time Capsule—11,000 Trees, 11,000 People, 400 Years is breathtaking in its ambition and gets a dedicated display room at The Shed. Commissioned on the occasion of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and realized by 1996, 11,000 trees were planted in a gravel pit in Ylöjärvi, Finland, that was being reclaimed from environmental destruction. Each tree was assigned a dedicated custodian, along with a certificate naming its owner. Planted in a swirling pyramidal pattern, Tree Mountain would take on its full meaning over the course of centuries, Denes wrote, changing from a shrine to a decadent era to a monument of a great civilization to benefit future generations. The entire second floor is devoted to a large number of Denes’s conceptual pyramidal drawings, along with three special commissions created for the show. The pyramids are largely thought experiments expressed as drawings on a crazy scale, such as her iteration of Pascal’s Triangle, no. 3 (1974), which extends halfway across the gargantuan Shed gallery, displayed in a glass case, all drawn by hand in painstaking detail. Others use dots, thin lines, and stick figures to sketch out eccentric forms—probability, a flying fish, silk, reflection, a flexible space station—creating pyramids in which slight individual variations result in reverberating distortions in the whole. The gallery commissioned a version of the probability pyramid, Model for Probability Pyramid—Study for Crystal Pyramid (2019) and built it from nearly 6,000 3D-printed corn-based bricks, taking advantage of the venue’s unusual ceiling height and technical capacity. Illuminated from the inside, the crystalline structure stretches to 30-feet-by-22.5-feet at its base and reaches 17 feet in height. As originally conceived, the pyramid would be constructed of 100,000 glass blocks, rivaling the ancient pyramids and carrying mathematical information into the future. Another special commission was a translucent, teardrop-shaped object, also lit from inside, and hovering mid-air. A custom electromagnetic circuit in the base and a magnet within the sculpture suspends the teardrop as if by magic. It’s a model for a monumental architectural structure, a floating city conceived in 1984 as a part of a series of organic forms. The structures reference back to 4000 B.C Egyptian pyramids and were created for a future in which their inhabitants live in space or self-contained floating environments. They’re intended as mandalas that define benevolent destinies: The structures “break loose from the tyranny of being built,” Denes wrote, becoming “flexible to take on dynamic forms of their own choosing. At this point they decide to fend for themselves and create their own destiny.” The other special project, Model for a Forest for New York (2014— ), is a much more recent one: A plan to plant 100,000 trees in a form that looks like a flower from the sky on a 120-acre landfill in Edgemere, Queens, with support from the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. The forest’s conception is also more straightforwardly contemporary, appealing to public health concerns, as it would address asthma problems in the adjacent neighborhood, remove carbon dioxide from the air, and help clean the groundwater. That makes the project somewhat more prosaic, and in a way disappointing—in the same manner as a waterfront berm with a park on top, which suggests the greater truth of her aesthetic project. Well-known ecological artists like Peter Fend have complained for ages that artists are not taken seriously when proposing environmental interventions because they are not trained engineers, and the resultant projects are often wildly out of scale and untested. But with the world as we now know it is coming to an end, be it the current political order or via the climate crisis, Denes’s visionary planetary-scale retorts have a fitting rejoinder: Absolutes and Intermediates suggests the potential of aesthetic imagination—not just quantitative trading and tech engineers—to regenerate it anew.
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These Structures are Big in Japan

Japanese engineering gets its due in Structured Lineages

Structured Lineages: Learning from Japanese Structural Design Edited by Guy Nordenson Published by the Museum of Modern Art MSRP $45.00

Western architects’ fascination with Japan is indisputable, a tendency most famously personified by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. Contemporary practices are contributing to what is perhaps the third or fourth wave of Japanese influence on American architects, and this group was the focus of the 2016 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibition A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond, organized by Pedro Gadanho and Phoebe Springstubb. There is something simple yet sophisticated in the examples of contemporary Japanese architecture selected for this exhibition—attributes one can trace to the synthetic nature of Japanese design itself.

To accompany the exhibition, Guy Nordenson, a structural engineer and professor at Princeton’s School of Architecture, organized a symposium that sought to delve more deeply into Japanese design from the vantage point of the structural engineers who have collaborated with these architects. (Nordenson himself has a significant engineering practice, and worked with SANAA on the New Museum in New York and Johnston Marklee on the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston.) The resultant publication, Structured Lineages: Learning from Japanese Structural Design, illuminates key figures of postwar Japanese structural engineering and the hybrid nature of their consulting on the major works in the MoMA show. Consulting is not the right word for the essential, creative contributions of these talented engineers. As Nordenson noted in his introduction, “In Japan the cultures of architecture and engineering are entirely intertwined.” Laurent Ney observed that the architect and engineer Saito Masao titled an exhibition that he organized at the Architectural Institute of Japan in Tokyo in 2008 Archi-neering Design, coining a term that neatly grafts the two disciplines. Aspiring Japanese architects and engineers study together at university in the first phase of their education and specialize only later on. Design and technical skill are given equal weight academically, which forges a hybrid of both disciplines from a unified way of thinking.

The Structured Lineages symposium highlighted various practitioners of this fusion of art and technology: In addition to Masao, Yoshikatsu Tsuboi, Mamoru Kawaguchi, Gengo Matsui, Toshihiko Kimura, and the most significant contemporary structural engineer, Mutsuro Sasaki (who has collaborated with architects like Kenzo Tange and Rem Koolhaas), were given their rightful prominence by experts such as Marc Mimram of l’Ecole d’Architecture de Marne-la-Vallée, Mike Schlaich of Technische Universität Berlin, Jane Wernick of Jane Wernick Associates, and William F. Baker of SOM. Three roundtable discussions, moderated by Sigrid Adriaenssens, John Ochsendorf, and Caitlin Mueller and transcribed in the book, explored the basis for this “intertwining” of disciplines. These revelations—of what would be considered in Japan to be open secrets—feel like the discovery of why there is such qualitative consistency in Japanese design and architecture.

Numerous structures are presented throughout the book. Little known architect/engineer Mamoru Kawaguchi’s Fuji Pavilion at Expo ’70 in Osaka, the book’s cover image, could easily be mistaken for an early Ant Farm proposal (or a late Zaha Hadid project), with its colorful inflated tubular skin and curvaceous geometry. Toyo Ito’s innovative Sendai Mediatheque, with its occupiable structural elements engineered by none other than Sasaki, makes an appearance. MoMA curator Sean Anderson details how, in 1954, a traditional Japanese house came to be the third constructed “House in the Museum Garden,” following designs by Marcel Breuer and Gregory Ain.

This newly published book of the symposium offers essential enlightenment into the thinking, philosophy, and technical explorations behind these canonical buildings. It adds insightful analysis of and commentary on the special circumstances that gave rise to these projects, even though these significant Japanese structural engineers may be unfamiliar to the average American architecture student (and quite possibly for the average American architect). The documentation of the technical contributions, coupled with the high regard in which these projects are held internationally, makes Structured Lineages a necessary companion text for those with a deeper curiosity about the basis for the uniqueness of the design and structural experiments that have come to define architecture in contemporary Japan.

Craig Konyk is an architect and the chair of the School of Public Architecture at the Michael Graves College at Kean University in New Jersey.