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Moving Up

Canadian Centre for Architecture director Mirko Zardini steps down
The director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture for the past 14 years, Mirko Zardini, will step down at the end of the year, and Giovanna Borasi will take his place starting in January. Borasi is chief curator at the CCA, and she has been a curator at the Montreal-based institution since 2005. Zardini led the CCA through a crucial period of growth and change. The CCA was founded in 1979 by the architect Phyllis Lambert with a desire to provoke—a masthead on their website quotes Lambert as saying “We’re not a museum that puts things out and says, ‘This is architecture.’ We try to make people think.” As its director, Zardini made crucial moves to fulfill Lambert's mission, including the ambitious use of the CCA's archives and exhibition spaces, enabling a vibrant research program, and launching an online platform that makes the CCA's resources widely available. Donations to the archives during Zardini's tenure include those of Kenneth Frampton, Pierre Jeanneret, Abalos Herreros, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Alessandro Poli, Umberto Riva, Álvaro Siza Vieira, and Anthony Vidler. Donations of works by architects included Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn, Foreign Office Architects, and UnStudio. Recent exhibitions such as The Other Architect (2015-16) and three shows in the Archaeology of the Digital series (2013-16) have been international in scope and focused on challenging models of architectural practice. Zardini has positioned the CCA as a crucial node in conversations about architecture and the urban realm. In an interview with AN, Zardini deflected questions about the "highlights" of his time at the CCA: "I like to think of what we produce as critical tools," he said, not singular exhibitions or publications. He emphasized the CCA's success in focusing on environmental issues, the effects of increasing global multicultural processes, the question of combining large-scale planning with button-up building, and reflections on technology. Zardini said that he hopes the CCA "will not be judged for any single exhibition or publication, but for the discourse it has produced through the years." He added that he likes that the CCA is "mature enough as an institution to speak in a collective voice." This is "not easy," he says, because "as an institution, you have to build your own public." He concluded that his achievement as a director has been in "the kind of friction we have created at the CCA – we have maintained the institution in a critical position." The appointment of Borasi is based on a conviction that Zardini's time as director was a success. In a statement, CCA Board Chair and Toronto-based architect Bruce Kuwabara emphasized that the CCA will continue to build on its current direction. Borasi was involved from the beginning of when Zardini became director, and indeed before. After curating and collaborating on exhibitions in Milan and working as an editor of Lotus International, Borasi worked closely with Zardini on exhibitions in Italy and then at the CCA. They seem to think alike. One of Borasi's current projects involves the creation of three short documentary films, the first of which, What it takes to Make a Home, will focus on homelessness. It will premier at the Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York in October 2019. This type of experimentation with media, modes of discourse, and challenging topics related to the built environment embodies the essence of the CCA's approach to architecture. Speaking about her upcoming directorship and Zardini, Borasi said in an interview that she "shares his vision. He pushed the idea from Phyllis that architecture is not just about building, but about ideas." Borasi emphasized their shared belief that architecture "needs to have an impact at large" by constantly asking "What are the issues that architects should discuss today?" She said that it is the responsibility of an institution such as the CCA to "ask the questions that no one wants to ask. This means that the CCA "is not neutral. Architecture that is committed, not self-referential, is the architecture I am interested in." Zardini was quick to emphasize how he has benefitted from collaboration at the CCA. Lambert's support has been crucial, he said, as has collaboration with Borasi. He mentioned the help of several others at the CCA and outside, including strong advice from Peter Eisenman that the CCA should be proactive and take risks in the use of its resources. Pressed to offer advice, Zardini opined that "many other institutions are too confident of the traditional role that they have. In this moment, rather than being reassuring, institutions need to be provocative;" they should become "public intellectual figures." Zardini spoke against the pressures of the current neoliberal moment: "Rather than thinking of architects as part of large corporations, I would rather think of architects operating with a more community-oriented strategy or in public organizations." Asked what he will do next, Zardini mentioned that he has "never had a chance to take a sabbatical." He said that he "never aspired to become 'director' of anything," that he is "not a director by career," and he even mentioned wryly that did not apply for the directorship of the CCA, but was persuaded to take it by Lambert. Zardini plans to spend time in Europe and begin work on new research – to "create a new baggage of ideas to work with in the future." Among his last projects at the CCA will be a publication of essays from the past 15 years, which is due out in spring 2020. What will remain to be seen is whether Zardini's departure and Borasi's appointment will mark the end of an era for the CCA or the continuation of an approach that seems to have worked.
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Bio Season

A Walter Gropius biography and Bauhaus study paint rich portraits of the period
Walter Gropius: The Man Who Built the Bauhaus By Fiona MacCarthy Harvard University Press List Price: $35.00 Bauhaus Goes West: Modern Art and Design in Britain and America By Alan Powers Thames & Hudson List Price: $40.00 “When Walter Gropius arrived in London on 18 October 1934, he was treated like a creature from another planet.” That first impression, the first sentence in the first chapter of English architectural historian Alan Powers’s enlightening study of the reception of the Bauhaus in Britain, has long prevailed. Historians have tended to see the short period that Gropius and fellow Bauhäusler Marcel Breuer, Lucia Moholy, and László Moholy-Nagy spent in London as a relatively fruitless layover on the Bauhaus’s posthumous westward march to North America (and have ignored the fact that many prominent figures also went eastward to the Soviet Union or Palestine). The New World was a land of opportunity for modernism as the United States succumbed to the genius of Gropius, whom Tom Wolfe later—riffing on Paul Klee—satirized as the movement’s “silver knight” in his 1981 book From Bauhaus to Our House. If Britain was unmoved, America was transformed, or so the oft-told tale would have it. Powers’s book is one of two new major studies that tell a different story. Gropius’s new biographer Fiona MacCarthy reports that Gropius—whom she met a year before his death—“looked back on his years in London with a kind of exasperated fondness,” while Powers argues that Britain was a far more consequential chapter in Gropius’s development as an architect than has ever been acknowledged. Gropius founded the Bauhaus in 1919 in Weimar, but after the school lost the confidence of the local state government, it moved into its iconic modernist buildings in Dessau, only to be chased away again six years later by the local rise to power of the Nazi Party. The school eked out a final year in an abandoned telephone factory in Berlin until its third director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, read the graffiti on the wall and closed the school under pressure from a government now under Hitler’s command. Exile was already a condition of the Bauhaus long before the diaspora sought to re-create, in vastly different circumstances, from Moscow to Harvard, something of what had been lost. For more than a generation, American architectural historians have set out to debunk in exhibitions and books the powerful myths of the Bauhaus’s international reincarnation that Gropius himself—with enormous help from Swiss historian and polemicist Sigfried Giedion—continually nurtured. This year the Bauhaus is celebrating its centennial, and the jury is out on whether the scholarly work of those revisionist contemporary historians is being advanced or slightly eroded. Post–Cold War Germany has a vested tourism interest in promoting the myth that all of modernist design emanated from the crucible of the Bauhaus—new museums are opening dedicated to it in Weimar and Dessau—and many of the myriad publications that accompany the festivities have set out to recharge the magnetic power of the Bauhaus as a lodestone to attract credit for almost anything modernist, especially steel architecture and metal furniture. But recent scholarship has shown just how complex and contradictory the school was during its 14-year existence as a laboratory for the most varied experimentation, and scholars continue to try to resist the pull of the Bauhaus as an easy-to-remember moniker and marketing device. Among their myriad achievements, one joint contribution of MacCarthy’s and Powers’s books is to reopen the question of what the Bauhaus diaspora brought to the U.K. and what the English sojourn contributed to Gropius’s formation, but in both books, the American part of the story feels a bit like an afterthought. One of the dangers for those writing a biography of anyone who was at the Bauhaus is that it is tempting to treat that place as key to understanding their subject’s artistic biography from beginning to end. This reductive assumption is perhaps somewhat excusable with “the man who built the Bauhaus,” since even in America, as MacCarthy notes, Gropius kept an address book with a separate section for Bauhäusler, and set the powerful myth of his Bauhaus in motion with the 1938 show he curated at the Museum of Modern Art, intended more as a reanimation rather than a postmortem. MacCarthy is best known for her prizewinning biography of William Morris, and elements of her own biography pop up from time to time when she explains why a new biography of Gropius—a 1,200-page, two-volume account was published in 1983—is needed. She recalls a visit with Gropius to the extraordinary apartment house-cum-commune in Lawn Road near Hampstead—a modernist building designed by Wells Coates that opened in June 1934, a few months before Gropius’s emigration—as the spur that determined her to be his posthumous apologist. She writes in conscious emulation of Nikolaus Pevsner’s Pioneers of the Modern Movement: From William Morris to Walter Gropius, published in 1936, when Gropius had decided to leave for Harvard. But MacCarthy doesn’t ruminate—as Alan Powers’s book helps us to do—on what it means that a radical building like Coates’s was built in anticipation of the Bauhaus master’s arrival, not after it. MacCarthy’s appraisal of the evolution of modern architecture and design seems hardly to have advanced beyond Pevsner’s bromides in claims such as, “Without Walter Gropius’s broad-based approach to industrial designing as first developed at the Bauhaus, there might not have been an architect-designer as fluently imaginative as the American Charles Eames.” Don’t pick up The Man Who Built the Bauhaus—a great read, suitable for the beach, which Gropius and other Bauhäusler loved, from the banks of the Elbe to Cape Cod—to bathe in Gropius’s architecture. MacCarthy has little understanding of architecture, no sense of the role that others, including Adolf Meyer and Breuer, played in Gropius’s most successful designs, and only a weak sense of his international role in the 1950s and ’60s, after he arrived in America. Despite the fact that he spent over half of his professional career in America, this period takes up only a quarter of this hefty volume. There are not even mentions of such key works as the U.S. Embassy in Athens, opened in 1961. This review could be quickly filled with a list of absences of key aspects of Gropius’s career, or misunderstandings, such as the Bauhaus building being constructed of “prefabricated concrete walls,” or the roof of Gropius and Breuer’s Frank House in Pittsburgh (1939–40) hosting a dance floor (it is in the dining room two floors below). But this churlish assessment is to miss the point. MacCarthy’s aim lies elsewhere. In her book, we are offered an account of the sentimental journey of one of the most influential architects and pedagogues of the 20th century. The themes are of loss and absence, of the long shadow cast by Gropius’s failed first marriage to Alma Mahler and his longing for greater contact with their daughter, Manon; of the loss of the Germany he had known; of life in exile; and the troubling lack of connection with his adopted daughter, Ati (who married John M. Johansen). All this has been painstakingly and empathetically reconstructed from private letters and interviews, and finally, after the book ends with a very moving passage, MacCarthy sees Gropius as having spent his whole life fighting against that very “architectural soullessness, the despoliation of nature, the denial of community…and capitalist greed” that is still commonly held to be the legacy of modernism among Britain’s particularly virulent anti-modernists, led in recent years by Prince Charles. In the acknowledgements she offers another element of her motivation for this impressive commitment of five years of research and travel: namely, to counter Gropius’s reputation as a cold-hearted modernist and “reveal Gropius as a man of considerable passions and tenacity.” Little concrete argumentation is offered for the supposed positions in defense of nature and against capitalism by the designer of New York’s Pan Am Tower, but one goes away with something of that connection to Gropius, the man, who so moved his new biographer 50 years ago. Bauhaus Goes West will be an eye-opener for historians and general readers alike. Powers’s main achievements are to reveal the extent to which strains of modernist experimentation existed in England before the arrival of the German and Hungarian émigrés from the Bauhaus, and also to argue convincingly that many of the key elements of their later work in America were influenced by experimentation in Britain. In a rich weave of documentation and little-known images—as opposed to the oft-reproduced photography offered in the Gropius biography—we are offered a nuanced and subtle context for the handful of years spent in London by Gropius, Breuer, and Moholy-Nagy—each of whom is given a chapter. They arrived in a country where, Powers argues, “there was a greater endorsement of a broad range of Modernism among an older generation than has been supposed,” and where a broad range of German modernism, notably the work of Bruno Taut and Erich Mendelsohn, was recognized as equally as important as the work produced at the Bauhaus. Even more important Powers underscores the radical changes that took place in modernism in the 1930s. He shows that the “romantic and regional turn in the second half of the 1930s,” in which Gropius and Breuer took part, was evident in a greater embrace of timber and structural fieldstone walls in both works that have long been part of the canon, such as Breuer and F. R. S. Yorke’s Gane’s Pavilion of 1936, and works that are great discoveries, such as a wood house by Gropius in Kent. It was in Britain that Breuer began to experiment with bent laminated plywood, which would be crucial to the transformation of American timber architecture after he joined Gropius in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But Powers does not restrict himself to a handful of famous designers. He has researched an impressive roster of lesser-known Bauhaus émigrés and of British students who had attended the Bauhaus, and most important, he studies the work of a number of female designers, such as Enid Marx, little known outside—or even inside—Britain. Marx later wisely remarked that “the strength of the Bauhaus was not in the profundity of its technical training, but in the atmosphere of enterprise and experiments in all the arts which it managed to create.” Bauhaus Goes West is as impressive for offering a history of British textile experimentation during this period as for fully depicting a corpus of architectural statements that make it clear that modernism’s contribution to the 1930s in Britain was much more impactful than is generally acknowledged. The impact was not simply in formal terms, but also in the way that different Bauhaus figures offered different paths to explore, notably Moholy-Nagy, whose interest in the biological underpinnings of design dovetailed with scientific research in England, where the botanist A. G. Tansley coined the word “ecosystem” in 1935. As Powers notes, then, as now, “everyone finds the version of the Bauhaus they are seeking.” Barry Bergdoll, cocurator of the 2009 Bauhaus exhibition at MoMA, teaches architectural history at Columbia.
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Cable Car to the Future

To celebrate the Bauhaus centennial, German researchers show off new robot printer
This summer, to celebrate the centenary of the Bauhaus, the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar in Weimar, Germany, hosted an exhibition called sumaery2019. At the exhibition, the university showcased some of the latest innovations in robotics, displaying a cable-driven robot that 3D printed cementitious material, designed by a team led by professor Jan Willmann, in cooperation with the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and the University of Duisburg-Essen. The robot extruded and deposited layers of the "concrete" onto a platform to create a shell around a large steel structure. The robot moved over long distances across four cables, similar to how cameras work for sports broadcasts. (the Weimar robot also featured a high-resolution camera to capture what it was doing). The benefits of the robotic cable system, according to Willmann, is its ability to “to perform a variety of non-standard building processes, beyond the workspace restrictions imposed by conventional CNC-machinery.” He goes onto explain that “this means that the required components can be produced at full-scale, on-demand, on-site, and in practically unlimited forms and sizes, eliminating the need for additional formwork, transportation over long distances, and standardized parts.” The researchers hope that the robot showcased new possibilities in computational design and formwork-less additive manufacturing. “The results not only demonstrate the innovative aesthetic and functional potential of the robotic process," said Willmann, "they also provide a fascinating insight into the future of digital design and the manufacturing process in a real-world scenario.”
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Public Palace

India's first sculpture park opens for a second season
India’s first public sculpture park opened last year in the sprawling Madhavendra Palace, a milestone for the country’s contemporary art scene. The palace's formal corridors and rooms have been curated as a uniquely rich pathway for visitors to The Sculpture Park to see new works of contemporary sculpture in each edition of the park’s programming. This year, 23 artists have brought new, often site-specific works to the palace, and over half of them live and work in India themselves.  “For most of my career as a gallerist and curator, I have been trying to break away from the white-box exhibition space,” 2019 edition curator Peter Nagy told Hyperallergic. “With this project, I am able to indulge my passions for art, architecture, and decor into a marvelous synthesis of the past and the present.”  Completed in 1892, the Palace is the best-preserved section of the Nahargarh Fort complex, which was designed to sit organically amongst the hills as a pleasure retreat for Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh, founder of the city of Jaipur. Twenty-three artists will explore ideas of landscape, politics, and colonialism in their works this year, amidst the backdrop of an Indian heritage landmark to create a striking context. From architectural explorations of the intersections of modern colonial and traditional styles to World War II radio relics, the pieces are varied in narrative as well as scale, but united by their common backdrop. The palace as sculpture park continues to exist as an example of public and private sectors working side-by-side for the proliferation of the arts. A collaboration between the Government of Rajasthan and Saat Saath Arts non-profit, The Sculpture Park states in its mission statement that the park is an example of an “India of the 21st century,” a "synthesis of the contemporary with the traditional, bringing art into the public realm and reclaiming public spaces.” But with works decrying hot-button issues such as the Kashmir border crises and the lingering effects of war and empire, it is difficult to see how the park's artists plan to work with governmental bodies to reform the topics this exhibition is expressing.  Yet, the public is responding. Just since the park’s opening, visitation to the palace has increased by 37 percent.
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Hole-y Roller

Neri&Hu's Aranya Art Center opens on China's Gold Coast
Neri&Hu’s Aranya Art Center, located in China’s “Gold Coast” of Qinhuangdao, is a part of the developer Aranya’s seaside villa community. The newly built resort town is all about communal activities, with work from firms ranging from OPEN Architecture to Vector Architects that emphasize culture and education—and the newly opened Aranya Art Center is no exception, as its inscribed cylindrical design and tone of "calm drama" creates a unique opportunity for art and entertainment.  The building’s heavy concrete envelope is richly textured and pierced by the occasional bronze-fitted windows and centered around an open-air pond-cum-amphitheater. When a performance is scheduled, the base of the round room becomes a descending wave of concrete steps punctuated with custom lighting. When out of use, the depression is filled with water, creating a reflective pond whose surface plays with the natural light and splashes on the surrounding concrete walls.  The enclosed mass around the circular opening is filled with unexpected amounts of natural light and warm woods, and snaking corridors that choreograph the way visitors wander through the art center. The interiors were designed for peace in mind, for the maximum enjoyment of art. Despite the heavy and industrial concrete that informs the first impression of the building, the warm interiors and light-filled spaces have the ability to surprise, and Neri&Hu have said that the overall design was informed by the sea just a stone’s throw away. Accordingly, the art center is warm and calm in the summer, and iced and sharp in the winter.  Although it's unfolded in the midst of China’s building boom, the art center was designed to encourage a sense of community and a slowing down. The traditional nods to Chinese architecture and history, from the presence and importance of the pond to the non-linear pathways and use of wood, encourage subtle reflection in a ready-made developer project.   
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Commuter Consumers

Gare du Nord expansion critics speak out over commercializing the train station
“Indecent,” “absurd,” and “unacceptable”—these are a few of the adjectives used by Jean Nouvel and other architects and urban planners to denounce new plans for the Gare du Nord train station renovation in Paris. Proposed by S.N.C.F Gares & Connextions, the expansion of the largest train station in Europe by 1.2 million square feet would focus heavily on duty-free mall-like commercial development targeting suburban R.E.R commuters.  While the proposed transformation is not very different from other train station trends, from the Gare Saint-Lazare renovation to London’s Liverpool Street Station, the size and scope of this project have hit a sore spot for the French public. Nouvel and others wrote and signed on to an open letter published in this Tuesday’s edition of Le Monde outlining their objections. As a city that prides itself on the beauty and vivacity of its historic monuments, any alteration on the scale of the Gare du Nord prompts scrutiny, as the city fabric becomes more and more consumer and profit-oriented.  Bernard Landau, a former deputy director of urban planning at the city of Paris, told The New York Times that “it all goes into one question. Should we transform all train stations into shopping malls?”  The plans were described as “primarily for the daily commuters, the millions of users of the R.E.R. and the suburban trains,” by Claude Solard, chief executive of S.N.C.F. in the same article. Yet these commuters, who reside in the affluent suburbs of Paris, like Versailles, are often hurrying through, going from point A to B—yet the plans were proposed to be beneficial for those who have more time to use the added “amenities.” The extant Gare du Nord has been criticized heavily in the past for its hour-long delays, and passengers won’t be appeased in the face of cancellations by having more boutiques to browse.  In addition, opponents to the plan have pointed out that the added shops will increase the pressure suburban malls and retail are already feeling, making it more difficult to attract customers.  The open letter is a new chapter in what has been an ongoing debate amongst architects and urban planners in Europe: What should a modern train station look like? A coworking space and fitness facilities are also included in the proposals, which is scheduled to begin construction in early 2020.  As the city eyes the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Gare du Nord is poised to be a major player in moving people from the Charles de Gaulle airport as well as around the city to various events, in addition to being the termination point of the international high-speed Eurostar rail service. It is not a radical idea that station planning should be focused on pedestrian flow, efficient movement, and timely departures. While an expansion and modernization of the transit hub is called for, Parisian planners are demanding that the project's priorities should be shifted and that the designers should “rethink from floor to rafters.”
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Cubic Spectrum

Taller KEN infuses color into Costa Rican fashion brand Hija de Tigre's new San José boutique
New York and Guatemala-based architecture practice Taller KEN has transformed a formerly unimpressive modernist block in San José, Costa Rica's trendy Escazú neighborhood into a multi-volume boutique for local fashion brand Hija de Tigre. Evoking the label's ethos and business structure—being run by women of different generations—the architecture and interiors project incorporates a full-color spectrum. Renovating an existing building, the firm added additional concrete volumes and did away with obstructive ornamentation to render a more perfect cluster of boxes. Inspired, in part, by Latin American architects Luis Barragán and Ricardo Bofill, the facade is clad in a tropical gradient that ties all components of the architecture together. “The facade is a consequence of the context," Taller KEN co-founder and principal Inés Guzmán said. "Until very recently, suburban San José was farmland. Today it is gated communities of houses and convenience malls and shopping centers. For us, the project was an opportunity to make the stand-alone building “stand out” and bring a fresh, hip and colorful vibe to the surroundings and break from the standard palette of new constructions you see around.” Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Graham Grants

Graham Foundation announces 2019 organizational grant recipients

The Chicago-based Graham Foundation has released a list of organizations that will receive its coveted Production and Presentation Grants to pursue architecture-related projects this year. A total of 54 organizations will be presented with financial support from the foundation, with no grantee’s allocation exceeding $30,000 and few receiving the full amount requested. In line with the Graham Foundation’s mission to “foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture,” awardees will receive assistance with production-related expenses for a variety of undertakings that aim to enrich architectural discourse, including films, publications, exhibitions, and lectures. Final decisions were made on the basis of four criteria: originality, feasibility, capacity, and potential for impact.

The winning projects for 2020 are split into four distinct categories—exhibitions; film, video, and new media projects; public programs; and publications—and were submitted by a wide range of institutions, companies, and non-profits. Among the grantees are Boston’s MASS Design Group, Michael Sorkin’s Terreform, the Oslo Architecture Triennale, and the University of Chicago’s South Side Home Movie Project. Several past grant recipients received funding for new projects this year, including the Museum of Modern Art for a publication on the work of Robert Venturi and Mexico City-based LIGA-Space for Architecture, which is working to highlight Latin American designers in its annual public program. Here is the full list of the 2020 recipients and their respective projects:

EXHIBITIONS (19 awards)

Àkéte Art Foundation Lagos, Nigeria How To Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine?, 2nd Lagos Biennial

ArchiteXX Syracuse, NY Now What?! Advocacy, Activism, and Alliances in American Architecture since 1968

Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury

Chicago Architecture Biennial Chicago, IL Graham Foundation Artistic Director

Cranbrook Art Museum Bloomfield Hills, MI Ruth Adler Schnee: Modern Designs for Living

Elmhurst Art Museum Elmhurst, IL Assaf Evron & Claudia Weber

El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera Buffalo, NY Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments

Equitable Vitrines Los Angeles, CA Florian Hecker

Landmark Columbus Foundation Columbus, IN Good Design and the Community: 2019 Exhibition, Exhibit Columbus

LIGA–Space for Architecture Mexico City, Mexico LIGA Public Program 2019–2020

Madison Square Park Conservancy New York, NY Martin Puryear: Liberty/Libertà: US Pavilion, 58th International Art Exhibition

Materials & Applications Los Angeles, CA Staging Construction

National Building Museum Washington, DC Architecture is Never Neutral: The Work of MASS Design Group

National Trust for Historic Preservation—Farnsworth House Plano, IL Edith Farnsworth Reconsidered

Oslo Architecture Triennale Oslo, Norway Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth, Oslo Architecture Triennale 2019

Serpentine Galleries London, United Kingdom Serpentine Pavilion 2019 by Junya Ishigami

Storefront for Art and Architecture New York, NY Building Cycles

Toronto Biennial of Art Toronto, Canada Learning from Ice

University of Illinois at Chicago—College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts Chicago, IL A Certain Kind of Life

FILM/VIDEO/NEW MEDIA PROJECTS (4 awards)

Architectural Association School of Architecture London, United Kingdom Architecture in Translation

The Funambulist Paris, France The Funambulist Network

MASS Design Group Boston, MA The Whole Architect: Giancarlo De Carlo

University of Chicago—South Side Home Movie Project Chicago, IL South Side Home Movie Project Interactive Digital Archive

PUBLIC PROGRAMS (6 awards)

Association of Architecture Organizations Chicago, IL 2019 Design Matters Conference

Harvard University—Graduate School of Design—African American Student Union Cambridge, MA Black Futurism: Creating a More Equitable Future

Independent Curators International New York, NY Curatorial Forum

Lampo Chicago, IL Lampo 2019 Concert Series at the Graham Foundation

New Architecture Writers London, United Kingdom Constructive Criticism

University of Michigan—A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning Ann Arbor, MI Re: Housing: Detroit

PUBLICATIONS (25 awards)

Anyone Corporation New York, NY Log: Observations on Architecture and the Contemporary City, Issues 47, 48, and 49

ETH Zurich—gta exhibitions Zurich, Switzerland Inside Outside / Petra Blaisse

Flat Out Inc. Chicago, IL Flat Out, Issues 5 and 6

Harvard University—Graduate School of Design–New Geographies Cambridge, MA New Geographies 11: Extraterrestrial

Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, Germany Counter Gravity: The Architecture Films of Heinz Emigholz

Instituto Bardi/Casa de Vidro São Paulo, Brazil Casa de Vidro: The Bardis’ Life between Art, Architecture and Landscape

The Museum of Modern Art New York, NY Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction at Fifty

Northwestern University Press Evanston, IL Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side

Paprika! New Haven, CT Paprika! Volume V

Places Journal San Francisco, CA Reservoir: Nature, Culture, Infrastructure

PRAXIS, Inc. Boston, MA PRAXIS, Issue 15: Bad Architectures

Produzioni Nero Scrl Rome, Italy Scenes from the Life of Raimund Abraham

REAL foundation London, United Kingdom Kommunen in der Neuen Welt: 1740–1972

Rice University—School of Architecture Houston, TX PLAT 9.0

The School of Architecture at Taliesin Scottsdale, AZ WASH Magazine, Issues 003 and 004

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York, NY Countryside, The Future

Southern California Institute of Architecture Los Angeles, CA LA8020

Standpunkte Basel, Switzerland Archetypes: David Ross

The Studio Museum in Harlem New York, NY The Smokehouse Associates

Terreform New York, NY UR (Urban Research) 2019

University of California, Los Angeles—Department of Architecture and Urban Design Los Angeles, CA POOL, Issue No. 5

University of Florida—Graduate School of Architecture Gainesville, FL VORKURS_Dérive

University of Maryland, College Park—School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation College Park, MD See/Saw, No. 2: Difference

University of Miami—School of Architecture Coral Gables, FL Cuban Modernism: Mid-Century Architecture, 1940–1970

Yale University Press New Haven, CT Mies van der Rohe: The Architect in His Time

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Droning On

A fleet of drones will try to shut down London’s Heathrow Airport next week
London's Heathrow Airport, the largest airport in the U.K. and seventh busiest in the world, has become the next target of criticism by climate activists. A group called the Heathrow Pause plans to interrupt flight activity at the airport by flying toy drones over the transit hub on September 13 in order to draw awareness to the transportation sector's contributions to greenhouse gases in the U.K. This comes in response to the Heathrow Expansion Plan, which contravenes the Climate and Environmental Emergency declared by Parliament in May 2019.  Stopping traffic at the airport requires the creation of an “exclusion zone” that would surround the airport and completely ignores Heathrow’s 3.1-mile no-fly zone for drones and aircraft not affiliated with the airport. The Heathrow Pause is calling for climate activists to join their fight against the airport and its members are willing to face arrest under the main belief of their manifesto that, “In light of current scientific knowledge and quantifiable evidence it is a crime against humanity - and all life on earth - to support carbon-intensive infrastructure projects.” The Heathrow Expansion’s main goal is to connect all of the U.K. under a nine-point Connectivity Plan, as stated on their website, with the bold statement exclaiming that the plan is “Supported by the Whole of the UK”. Despite corporate support, Heathrow has been a steady target of climate activists. In 2017, the airport emitted 19.5 million tons of carbon, and if a third runway is built there, an addition of 4.3 million tons of atmospheric pollution would be released per year. In the wake of the declared U.K. Climate Emergency, there have been more efforts to stop the airport's expansion.  Carbon emissions from air travel are one of the hardest sources to cut due to the fact that there is no current alternative to carbon-heavy jet fuels. Bio-jet fuels that can operate at the scale of use of major airlines are still far from complete development. The only current solution is to reduce flight activity or abandon air transportation altogether.  Due to the intensity and potential impacts of their peaceful protest, Heathrow Pause has created a list of protocols to ensure the safety of those involved and affected by the protest. The airport authorities have been given a six-week notice of the start date and time of the protest, and there will be a one hour notice before each drone flight. Drone use is planned to stop in the event of a “genuine emergency" and will not be flown through flight paths. Although the fleet of toy drones won't stop air travel completely, it just might be an action large enough to draw attention to the importance of investment in climate reform. 
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Forced Labor, Forced Out

A new group of experts wants to eradicate modern slavery in the built environment
This article appears in the September print edition of The Architect's Newspaper.

The 2018 Global Slavery Index estimated that 24.9 million people around the world are enslaved in forced labor. Although the practice underpins much of the global 21st-century building economy—for example, the index noted that of all imports to the United States that are at risk of being produced under conditions of modern slavery, timber was the fifth largest by value—its invisibility to many in the U.S. has kept the issue from attracting widespread professional attention.

But as consumers become more concerned with where their pants are being made, who grows their coffee beans, and their electricity use, it’s reasonable to expect them to demand that the architecture they inhabit is realized without slave labor, too. The U.S. garment industry—which last year imported $47 billion worth of slave-produced pieces from China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam, among other countries—has been slowly responding to awareness around its corrupt supply chains, and the New Canaan, Connecticut–based Grace Farms Foundation (GFF) wants the building industry to be next.

The design world was recently clued in to the grave issue of labor justice when the late Zaha Hadid said she had “nothing to do” with the hundreds of migrant workers who died on the construction sites of World Cup facilities in Qatar. Many were outraged. Ambassador (ret.) Luis C.deBaca, a senior justice adviser at GFF with expertise in disrupting contemporary slavery and a Robina Fellow at Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, said the initial activism that stemmed from controversial megaprojects in the Gulf States shed light on a broader problem in the industry.

“For many in the human rights community, Hadid’s tone-deaf response to the plight of those workers laboring on World Cup projects not only symbolizes the profession’s abdication of responsibility,” C.deBaca said, “but is proof of an ivory-tower nihilism that undercuts architecture’s claim to leadership in designing for community as opposed to wealth.”

C.deBaca is part of an expanding working group of high-profile construction and design professionals, scholars, human rights experts, and industry association leaders gathered by Sharon Prince, GFF president and cofounder, and AN editor-in-chief Bill Menking. To address exploitation in building supply chains, the two brought together many of the principals of the firms that designed and built Grace Farms to educate the industry and develop better practices. They aim to create a LEED-like score sheet to evaluate forced labor’s role in buildings and products, as well as guidelines on how to infuse antislavery language into design briefs, competition rules, contracts, and more.

“It is time to recognize our responsibility,” Prince said, “and subsidizing construction projects with forced labor on job sites is only half of the slavery issue. Illuminating forced labor in building material supply chains, that design teams specify, has not yet begun. We must turn our attention to the built environment and eradicate modern slavery’s permanent imprint.”

To do this, the team is promoting total transparency from the ground up (and even from below the ground; 4 percent of forced labor occurs in the global mining industry, per the International Labour Organization). Brad Guy, former chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group, recently joined GFF’s initiative. He’s also a member of the AIA Materials Knowledge Working Group and is developing a pledge that will try to channel interest in the environmental and social impact of building materials. This includes spreading the word on the “dirty dozen”: bricks, copper, electronics, fiber and textiles, glass, granite, gravel, iron, minerals, precursor chemicals, tin, rubber, steel, and stone. He said these often-specified materials are at risk of being sourced unethically on job sites around the world.

“I’m pretty sure that most people would not consciously choose to purchase these building products if they were the product of forced or child labor,” Guy said. “The core of an architect’s standard of care is the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and the point of incorporating human rights as a fundamental criterion in the production of buildings and materials is for that reason.”

According to Nat Oppenheimer, executive vice president of structural engineering firm Silman, highlighting a tight list of materials can help clarify how much easier it has become to track their origins. “It can change the frame for the design community, hopefully motivating others to ask about other materials and start doing their own research, which in turn may spur further innovation on tracking technology and the creation of new clean versions,” Oppenheimer said.

Though the Grace Farms Foundation Architecture + Construction Working Group, as it’s officially called, has been active for only a year, its efforts are moving forward quickly thanks to the diligence of its members and, in part, because there is already substantial awareness out there. “We’re seeing increasing government regulation around the world, whether in specific modern slavery legislation, such as in Australia and the United Kingdom, or in broader business and human rights initiatives coming out of the European Union and the United Nations,” said C.deBaca, who led the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons during the Obama Administration. “Anyone doing projects overseas or who has multiple offices, or even who sources materials from outside of the U.S., needs to know about this problem.”

So the team is busy spreading the news. Oppenheimer and C.deBaca will present their work at the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering Congress in New York this September, while Deborah Berke, also a member of the working group, is planning a spring series of discussions on the topic at the Yale School of Architecture. Hayes Slade, 2019 president of AIA NY, and Benjamin Prosky, AIA NY executive director, will host a meeting to discuss existing antislavery laws and the more than 45 ethical product and materials certifications or reporting mechanisms that can be applied in the U.S. alone.

“As architects, it’s impossible to look at our work from the products selected to the job site to the completed project and not think about how it all came together,” said Slade. “We are also at a point where information is more readily available and so our expectations and aspirations for transparency are increasing.”

It’s an achievable goal, Prince believes, to get more people on board and boost consciousness of the issue in a short amount of time. She says it will take a serious communication and organization strategy, and that’s why the more experts involved, the better.

“This is an opportunity for industry leaders to use their design and construction wherewithal for significant humanitarian effect through the material procurement and specification process,” Prince said. “And we want to find new projects to test this on. Perhaps Amazon’s new HQ2 in Crystal City, Virginia, is a good place to start since they have distinctly made a commitment to responsible sourcing and developed one of the most sophisticated data platforms that could be tuned to illuminate and audit the building material supply chain. We’re looking for that kind of dedication.”

Sydney Franklin is a member of the GFF Architecture + Construction Working Group, of which AN’s editor-in-chief William Menking is a cofounder. Read more about the group's efforts to end modern slavery in architecture here

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Khan-tinuing Education

The 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture winners split a $1 million prize
Every three years, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture is given to building concepts that “address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world in which Muslims have a significant presence.” The award was established in 1977 by the Muslim spiritual leader Aga Khan, with the belief that modern architecture often failed to meet the needs of non-Western societies.  Now in its 14th cycle, the six 2019 winners have been selected by a master jury of nine architects and scholars, including David Chipperfield, Elizabeth Diller, and Ali M. Malkawi, as well as David Adjaye, who served on the steering committee. The projects were selected from a shortlist of twenty buildings that represented sixteen countries and the finalists will share a $1 million prize with all of those involved in the realization of the project—architects, engineers, artisans, and builders.  As follows, here are the six winning projects from Bahrain, Bangladesh, the West Bank, the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, Senegal, and the United Arab Emirates The Revitalization of Muharraq  In 2013, The Authority for Culture & Antiquities Conservation Department of Bahrain began a series of restoration and adaptive reuse projects to highlight the World Heritage Site’s history in the pearl trade. The project has since evolved into a program titled Pearling Path, Testimony of an Island Economy which has created new public spaces that aim to “re-balance the city’s demographic makeup.” Arcadia Education Project  The Arcadia Education Project was designed by architect Saif Ul Haque Sthapati and was completed in 2016. Sthapati developed the modular, amphibious structure out of three types of bambooa solution that would avoid disrupting the existing ecosystem by allowing the building to rise with the water levels during monsoon season. The structure incorporates space for a preschool, a hostel, and a nursery.  Palestinian Museum Selected through an international competition, Dublin-based architects Heneghan Peng completed the 430,000 square foot Palestinian Museum in 2016. The zigzagging forms of the museum sit atop a terraced hill overlooking the Mediterranean and the building is clad with locally quarried Palestinian limestone. The LEED Gold-certified museum is intended to “foster a culture of dialogue and tolerance.” Public Spaces Development Program In an ongoing program for The Republic of Tatarstan, over 300 public spaces have been improved since 2015, including public gardens, beaches, walkways, and parks. The participatory design process encourages engagement with local citizens in an effort to offer equal quality spaces for all members of the community while reflecting on each place’s unique culture and history.  Alioune Diop University Teaching and Research Unit Te Alioune Diop University in Senegal has been functioning far beyond capacity since 2012. Spanish architects IDOM were asked to design a new addition with a 500-seat lecture hall, thirteen classrooms, and three labs, as well as offices and meeting rooms. Using local labor and materials, the building features a 660-foot-long lattice wall which provides passive cooling desirable for the tropical climate.  Wasit Wetland Centre The Dubai-based X-Architects transformed a “wasteland into a wetland” as a part of an initiative by Sharjah’s Environment and Protected Areas Agency. The Wasit Wetland Centre has helped restore the area’s natural ecosystem while providing visitors with information on biodiversity and preservation efforts.
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I.M.Peccable Taste

I.M. Pei’s $25 million art collection will go up for auction at Christie’s
Over the course of their 72-year marriage, Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei and his wife Eileen amassed a substantial collection of modern and contemporary art. The collection, which was kept privately in their home up until Pei’s death this past May, will be going up for auction at Christie’s this Fall with a total value expected to exceed $25 million. The collection of 59 works will be on sale from November 12 to December 4. A global tour of exhibition previews will begin in Paris this month before traveling to Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and ending in New York in November. The auction will feature a diverse range of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper falling under Christie’s categories for Chinese painting, impressionism, modern, and postwar art. Their collection illustrates not only a significant moment in 20th-century abstraction but also the couple’s deep relationships and dialogue with influential artists of the time. Many of the works were commissions or personal gifts from the artists themselves.  “My parents’ collection is a reflection of how they lived. They shared a deep curiosity about the world,” said Pei’s daughter Liane in a press release, “no matter the country, they always seemed to have friends, many of whom were artists, architects, gallerists and museum directors, ready to welcome them.” One of the collection’s highlights includes two paintings by the couple’s close friend Barnett Newman. Untitled 4, 1950 and Untitled 5, 1950 were given to the couple by Newman’s widow, Annalee, in 1970, shortly after the artist’s death. The paintings were just two of a series of six—others can be found in the collections of MoMa and the Art Institute of Chicago. Additional notable works that filled the interior of the Pei’s Manhattan residence include paintings by Jean Dubuffet and Franz Kline as well as objects by Isamu Noguchi and Henry Moore.