Search results for "W Architecture and Landscape Architecture"

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Ride On!

America's largest BMX park opens in Houston, courtesy OJB Landscape Architecture
OJB Landscape Architecture’s (OJB) ambitious vision for America’s largest BMX venue opened earlier this month in Houston. Located near the Bush Intercontinental Airport on the site of a former wastewater treatment plant, the Rock Star Energy Bike Park features a massive bike track and public recreation space, spanning a total of 23 acres just north of the city.  “This one-of-a-kind park is a keystone to a redeveloping neighborhood in Houston,” said Chip Trageser, managing principal and project design director at OJB in a statement. “The design balances different types of experiences, from the novice to expert rider, to the visitor, or sport spectator.”  The design gives equal weight to the various types of competitive bike racing. OJB integrated a Supercross Track, a 27,000-square-foot Pump Track, and a 13,000-square-foot Dirt Jump Track across the park. There's also an 18,000-square-foot urban riding plaza that's outfitted with trick fixtures, as well as 25,000-square-feet of concrete bike bowls, and a tot-track for super young riders. A central promenade runs along the spine of the park so visitors can get from one distinct zone to the other while a bike trail encircles the entire site.  In time, the extreme sports destination will be shaded by 400 towering trees that OJB planted through several years of construction. The other 400 trees on-site were preserved from the original plot—a necessary design move to mitigate the Texas heat, according to Trageser. "We wanted to put the forest back and make the different tracks feel like they were part of a series of rooms throughout one big natural space," he said.  Built out by the Greater Greenspoint Redevelopment Authority (now known as the Northeastern Development Corporation), the $25 million, large-scale activities park also includes four structures. At one end, local firm Brett Zamore Design created a 2,500-square-foot welcome center, as well as the larger BMX Center, which houses restrooms, a classroom, concessions area, and office space. The latter structure serves as the base of the starting ramps on the main track. Next door, an events space and observation deck looks out over the third turn on the course. On the opposite end of the park, EndreStudio designed a small pavilion that feeds visitors into the large event lawn in the center of the site, as well as the 223-foot-long wooden bridge that leads bikers and visitors over the bowls. According to Trageser, one of the most surprising ways bikers use the bridge is by incorporating its thick concrete columns into their trick elements. "I feel like this is what the park's going to be known for," he said. "The most memorable moment for me when the bike opened was when I saw these BMX professionals do these crazy tricks off the edges."  Rock Star Energy Bike Park is seamlessly attached to the North Houston Skate Park, a 13-acre urban landscape also designed by OJB. It’s dually the largest of its kind in the U.S. and hosts major skate competitions all year long. OJB's construction manager Scott Blons told AN that when the park was completed in 2015, there was an outcry from the local BMX community, which was banned from using the skating facility. "Those two courses, of course, don't mix with one another," said Blons. "So that triggered the start of our work on the BMX park." The entire site sits in a major flood zone next to the North Fork of the Greens Bayou, so OJB integrated a series of sustainable design elements to combat a potential deluge. Permeable pavement was used across all 3.5 acres of the two parking lots on-site, while stormwater detention capabilities were also integrated into the event lawn, rain gardens, and bike bowls, among other places. "There's a substantial amount of hardscaping in the park that can handle water overflow," said Blons. "Flooding is a big deal nowadays so it was important for us to think about this from the beginning." According to OJB, Rock Star Energy Park has already gotten major buzz. It's set to hold major BMX competitions starting next month with the Texas state championship and then U.S. Nationals in October and in April of next year. In May, it will present the 2020 UCI BMX World Championships, which is the last qualifier for the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo.  But it's not just the international community that will profoundly benefit from the new park. Local schools are set to visit, and STEM programs are being created to teach kids how to design and build BMX tracks, said Blons. "Even my kid is now a BMX rider. The CEO of USA BMX once told me that people are now tearing down baseball fields left and right to build these parks, which speaks to their popularity." Though the park is free to use and inclusive to everyone no matter age or ability, perhaps the most important aspect of the park's existence is its location. Situated in the lower-income neighborhood of Greater Greenspoint, the park is an investment in the future economic development of its underserved population, according to Trageser. The city is prone to flooding and lacks substantial infrastructure. "The project has the potential to score growth in this area and truly give back to the community," he said. "We worked really hard to get to know the people who'd use this park and tried to translate their passion into a physical form that would be exciting for all."
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Pratt-ice Makes Perfect

AN interviews Frances Bronet, the Pratt Institute’s new president
Pratt Institute began in 1887 in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood as an affordable college accessible to the working class of New York. Founded by industrialist Charles Pratt, whose company, Astral Oil Works, was absorbed into John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust in 1874, it was run as a charity for many years. It still had a Pratt family member, Richardson Pratt Jr., as president in 1990, the fifth family member to serve in that position. Its ninth president, Henry Saltzman, who served from 1970 to 1972, was an urban studies specialist, but other non–Pratt family leaders came from the fields of education and academia. Now for the first time, the school has selected a president, Frances Bronet, who has degrees in architecture and civil (structural) engineering. This, in itself, is a unique background for someone leading a design institute, but of course, she was also selected for her accomplishments in and out of design academia. In this interview, we questioned Bronet about her design background, what it brings to the school, and how it informs what she hopes to accomplish as the institute’s 12th president. William Menking: You’ve had a distinguished 20-year career as an educator before becoming Pratt Institute’s 12th president. You have degrees in architecture and civil engineering, and a diploma in management. This is not a common degree path to becoming a college president. How did it happen that you went from being a designer to a president? Frances Bronet: I have always imagined what it would be like to be the head of a think tank, from the time I was 17. I may not have known exactly what that meant, but at this moment we can all agree that leading a college would qualify. In Montreal, I worked in prominent, faculty-led architectural offices, and ultimately in a partnership with two colleagues. After graduating from McGill, I began teaching at McGill, Vanier, and Montreal Technical College in the evenings after working in practice during the day. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to continue in the academy, and I came to New York City to study at Columbia University for grad school. As an engineer and an architect with solid experience as a teacher, I was offered a few jobs, from the University of Texas to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), as a tenure-related faculty member. It’s hard to believe when looking back, but I taught for almost 30 years. In my experience, the academy, somewhat like an ambitious office, offers an amazing amount of freedom. As a faculty member, you have an incredible bandwidth for experimentation, new ideas, and collaboration. In many ways, it is both an entrepreneurial environment and one that has manageable boundaries. As soon as I was tenured, I became associate dean (I was also a new parent!). This was a great experience. I love building relationships and brokering genius—and being in an administrative position lets me do that. There are certainly many architects who would avoid administration, but it can be unbelievably creative. And where else do you get to engage this extraordinary amount of intelligence and aspiration? I then left RPI to become dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts (now the College of Design) at the University of Oregon. Being dean across domains—from painting to architecture to public policy—gave me access to understanding the big picture. When an even larger university-wide landscape was made available to me as acting provost at Oregon, I couldn’t resist. The ability to take opportunities across disciplines and connect remarkable people, projects, and places was key, as was designing teams where the unexpected can unfold. From there, I went on to be provost at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago and now have the honor of being the president of Pratt Institute. The school has a massive external face, leading through design—and as an extreme extrovert, this position is perfect. WM: The next logical question is how did an architecture and engineering degree prepare you for your academic career? Did it give you particular and unique insights into design education? FB: Absolutely. Studying and working in these environments exposed me to various ways of thinking and unique modes of defining complex problems and solving them. I was impressed by how distinct expertise came together to make it all work. We all have different modes of learning and teaching, and people self-select these disciplines. For me, architecture, although tough, resonated with how I experienced and performed in the world; engineering put me in a place that was unfamiliar, so that very precariousness opened up a new universe. WM: Your resume highlights your publishing career “on multidisciplinary design curricula connecting architecture, engineering, STS (science, technology, and society), dance, and fine electronic art.” You’re now the president of an art and design institution of higher education. How will you expand or develop interdisciplinarity between schools at Pratt? FB: Ah! That would be the provost’s gig. And now that we have a strategic plan developed with all our constituencies, this very recommendation is central. I could guide, advise, and listen, but the provost is the chief academic officer. My work is how what is going on in the world impacts our strategic vision and how we share this beyond our own gates, building broad constituencies of support. We have 1,200 faculty members—many of whom have their own practices—already connected to the world at large and bringing the world here when they teach. How can these connections be magnified and supported? Many educational enterprises are building experiential, embodied, problem-based, and practice-oriented courses. Pratt has been doing this for more than 130 years. That is where we should take a leadership role. WM: What are the challenges of directing an art and architecture and design academy in 2019? How do you hope to change or expand the institute? FB: Some challenges transcend the institute—preparing students for careers that don’t yet exist, accessibility, including cost, and wellness, to name a few. But for us, it is that excellence will be measured by how a private institution works for the public good, from social and environmental to cultural metrics. We are part of the economic and social engine that has transformed our neighborhood into a new, creative economy. And we must do more to create an academic institution that can collaborate to make a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable community. WM: What are the challenges and advantages of directing an institution of higher education for creative thinkers and makers in New York City? FB: The world’s best and brightest are here or are coming to New York City. It is also important to be aware that some great talent is outside of New York City, too. When thinking about the great diversity of this city, we ask ourselves, how do we represent the communities in which we sit? How do we collaborate with all this extraordinary talent and get out of institutional silos? How can we leverage our practice-based faculty, who bring both new ideas to their students and their students’ ideas to bear on their practices? There is an incredible opportunity to ask what are the key projects, and how do we partner and get involved? How are we part of a larger ecosystem? Climate change, rapid urbanization, ethical practice, and so forth impacting our world will require research, working across many disciplines, universities, and other organizations. This infrastructure can serve as a frame for true participatory democratic practice. Pratt is uniquely poised to do this type of engaged work and be part of this ecosystem. Our goal is to equip our students as cultural, environmental, urban, design, and education contributors and leaders. We are sitting next to one of the great new emerging developments at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. That’s where you’ll find our Consortium for Research and Robotics. It’s clear to me now that I was on the right track envisioning myself at a think tank. But in today’s world—with so much possible through technology and collaboration—we work in think-make tanks. There is so much possibility for partnership that, indeed, it will be the only way to address some of the most difficult issues confronting us. Designers are optimists. As Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon said, “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”
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Towers of Tokyo

Japan's tallest tower revealed in Tokyo's new Heatherwick-planned district
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects has unveiled its vision for a 64-story tower in Tokyo, which, once finished, will be the tallest in Japan at 1,082 feet. The project is part of the upcoming Toranomon-Azabudai district, an ultra-green, mixed-use destination with an urban design plan devised by Heatherwick Studio Located in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, the skyscraper will be one of three new soaring structures when completed in 2023. Other projects in the new district designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli include an 862-foot-tall tower that is currently coming online and another that is already finished and caps out at 935 feet. The latter will soon be the second tallest in the city. According to the architects, each building was designed to reference the nearby Tokyo Tower, with gleaming facades that break down towards the base of the structures into a lattice-like pattern with wider windows. The 1950s-era landmark that doubles as communications and observation tower features the same texture, but without the glass.  The Toranomon-Azabudai Tower, as the tallest one is formally called, will house office and retail space, as well as 10 floors of apartments at the top of the building. Where it meets the sidewalk, the base will be activated with a series of terraced public spaces. The other two skyscrapers will largely be filled with apartments and one will include a 120-room hotel.  The entire district—a "modern urban village" with a focus on health and wellness—is being built out by Tokyo-based developer Mori, which has also enlisted Thomas Heatherwick to envision the surrounding streetscape. Early renderings show that bringing green space to the center of the city was on the London architect's mind; he’s created a massive landscaped pergola at one corner of the 19-acre site. Largely a piece of architecture with green terraces straddling its roof and glass siding, the pergola will include interior space for offices, shops, and more.  In addition, Heatherwick has also designed a series of low-lying buildings throughout the entire district with the same distinct identity. Each mimics the surrounding mountainous region that Tokyo sits in, and altogether, the structures will undulate from one side of the site to the other and propagate that pergola-like design. Hidden gardens, sunken courtyards, and terraced spaces will be well mixed among the apartment buildings, retail, office spaces, museum, and gallery. A seven-story international school is also slated for the site as well along with an underground pedestrian tunnel and food hall.
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This Year's Best

TWA Hotel, Snøhetta projects, The Shed top TIME's World's 100 Greatest Places
TIME Magazine’s second annual list of the World’s 100 Greatest Places is here and several major, recently-opened cultural marvels secured top spots—two of which were just completed by Norweigan-firm Snøhetta. Put together by the editors and correspondents at TIME, as well as a handful of industry experts, the following parks, hotels, restaurant, and museums were voted highest because they exhibited four key factors: quality, originality, sustainability, innovation, and influence.  It’s interesting to note that only two principals of big-name firms that designed the projects below have made the TIME 100: The Most Influential People list in recent years: Liz Diller (2018) and David Adjaye (2017). The only architect to make the list this year, Jeanne Gang, didn’t have a new piece of architecture up for consideration among the World’s Greatest Places 2019. Not a single Bjarke Ingels Group project made the cut either.  Though it’s not clear why they weren’t chosen, it is possible to guestimate which soon-to-be-finished works across the globe might catch an editor’s eye in 2020 based on this year's finalists. See the TIME’s full list here and AN’s shorter, what-you-must-know version below to learn more:  The Shed New York City By Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group New York’s newest 200,000-square-foot art center only opened in April but it’s been one of the most talked-about building in Hudson Yards. Situated on West 30th Street and surrounded by new glass towers, the kinetic structure features a 120-foot-tall retractable outer shell covered in ETFE panels. It boasts eight different levels for rehearsals, large-scale exhibitions, and events, as well as live music, dance, and theater performances. According to DS+R, The Shed embodies the architecture of infrastructure.  All Square Minneapolis, Minnesota By Architecture Office Austin-based firm Architecture Office created a stand-out space in Minneapolis for the nonprofit/restaurant All Square. Unveiled in September 2018, the 900-square-foot, neon-lit eatery provides the formerly incarcerated with a place of employment and continuing education. The civil rights social enterprise was started by lawyer Emily Turner and has bragging rights to the best craft grilled cheese sandwiches in town. The Gathering Place Tulsa, Oklahoma By Michael Van Valkenburg Associates  Imagined by billionaire philanthropist George B. Kaiser, The Gathering Place is a 66.5-acre riverside park situated two miles from downtown Tulsa. It opened to the public last September and has since welcomed over 2 million people. New York-based landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh and his team transformed a slate of land next to the Arkansas River into a veritable green theme park of activities for adults and children. It’s the largest public “gift park” in U.S. history; 80 philanthropic donors funded the construction of the park and created an endowment to secure its future.  Ruby City San Antonio, Texas By David Adjaye Associates Officially set to open this October, the 14,000-square-foot Ruby City holds the 800-piece art collection of the late Linda Pace, artist, philanthropist, and heiress to the Pace Foods salsa fortune. Constructed with a sparkling, rose-tinted concrete exterior made in Mexico, the museum complex includes a series of open galleries with sculptural skylights that bring the sun into the interior spaces. The project was created in collaboration with local firm Alamo Architects.  TWA Hotel Queens, New York By Lubrano Ciavarra Architects Flanking the backside of Eero Saarinen’s historic midcentury modern TWA Flight Center, the new TWA Hotel is a glass-clad, dual-structure composed of 512 sound-proof rooms, a rooftop infinity pool, and a 10,000-square-foot observation deck that looks out over incoming international flights. Guests started arriving at the Jet-Blue adjacent site in May to enjoy the recently-renovated terminal, completed by Beyer Blinder Belle, and its newly-opened dining options. The ultra-energy-efficient hotel also houses 50,000 square feet of underground events space.  Central Library Calgary, Canada By Snøhetta and DIALOG Snøhetta’s Central Library takes up 240,000 square feet of space in downtown Calgary and stands six stories tall. One of the many design elements that make the public building so attractive is its gleaming facade made of white aluminum and fritted glass, as well as the way it straddles an active rail line. On the inside, a massive oculus and sinuous wooden stair system give the 85-foot-tall atrium a light and airy, yet dramatic feel. The public project opened last November The National Museum of Qatar Doha, Qatar By Ateliers Jean Nouvel Qatar’s highly-anticipated National Museum came online in March and is part of a recent construction boom in the country as it prepares for the 2022 World Cup. Designed to mimic Qatar’s desert rose sand formations, the 430,000-square-foot institution stretches in a series of interlocking discs across a portside site in downtown Doha. The galleries inside tell both the story of the desert's natural history as well as the country’s evolution, cultural heritage, and future. Xiqu Centre Hong Kong, China By Revery Architecture  Hong Kong’s new opera house is covered in 13,000 curved aluminum fins arranged in a wave-like fashion—a design move inspired by the delicacy of theater curtains. Though the architecture itself is shaped like a box, the cladding gives it a texturized appearance that’s almost psychedelic to see up close. The cultural space, which opened in April, includes a 1,073-seat theater that floats above an interior plaza used for exhibitions and performances.  V&A Dundee Dundee, Scotland By Kengo Kuma As the second outpost of London’s Victoria and Albert Design Museum, the staggered, concrete facade of the V&A Dundee is a stark contrast to its historic sister site and makes it stand out amongst the industrial waterfront near downtown Dundee. Kengo Kuma inverted two pyramids for the outline of the structure, some of which juts out into the River Tay, to both evoke Scotland’s craggy, cliff-edged coastline and the shape of a ship on the sea. It opened its doors last September with a set of permanent exhibitions on Scottish design.  Statue of Unity Gujarat, India By Michael Graves Architecture & Design and sculptor Ram V. Sutar Standing 597 feet tall on an island in the Narmada River, this bronze statue is a larger-than-life replica of India’s first deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It was completed last November and since then, visitors have flocked to the western India state to climb the statue for unparalleled views of the nearby mountain range. Soon, its base is slated to become a resort.  Under Lindesnes, Norway By Snøhetta Finished in March, Under doubles as a partially-underwater marine biology research station and an ultra-exclusive restaurant. Snøhetta’s sunken “periscope” design dives 16 feet below the North Sea and features a 36-foot-long, 11-foot-tall window wall in the dining room. The exterior is clad in concrete, but the interior boasts other materials such as oak and terrazzo. 
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Showing in Seattle

Seattle Architecture Foundation will open 22nd Annual Architectural Model Exhibit

The Seattle Architecture Foundation is set to open Symbiosis, the 22nd edition of its Annual Architectural Model Exhibit next month. Curated in the foundation’s on-site gallery, Symbiosis will bring together the work of 25 local architects and designers from September 12 through November 23 and will be free to the public. As has been the case for over two decades, participants in the exhibition will have the unique opportunity to connect with visitors through models, drawings, renderings, videos, and accompanying text.

This year, several innovative design practices in the area, including NBBJ, Olson Kundig, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Perkins + Will, LMN Architects, and Wittman Estes Architecture + Landscape, have been asked to contribute work based on a central theme. According to the foundation’s website, Symbiosis “celebrates mutually beneficial relationships and the positive products and constructive outcomes of interdependence.” An opening reception with local designers and architects will be held on September 11 and is open to paying members of the public.

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Can You Dig It?

Dorte Mandrup, DS+R, and WEISS/MANFREDI unveil ideas for La Brea Tar Pits revamp
Dorte Mandrup, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and WEISS/MANFREDI have revealed their concepts as finalists in the effort to reimagine the historic La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Located within 12 acres of Hancock Park in the city’s Miracle Mile district, the world-famous site contains the only active urban paleontological research facility in the world but it hasn’t been updated since it opened in 1977. Spearheaded by the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County and the County of Los Angeles, the project aims to create a more integrated experience between the surrounding landscape and the George C. Page Museum, a 57,000-square-foot structure with sloping, grass-covered walls. Due to the building’s shape and underground siting—it was designed to take up as little space as possible—it’s proven difficult to expand and make room for more storage, research, education facilities, and exhibitions. The design teams have been tasked with improving all of these elements within the built portion of the site, while also refining access to the contemporary gardens, concessions building, and the observation structure that looks over the active dig site. All three firms partnered with renowned landscape, engineering, and ecology specialists to present the following holistic visions:  Dorte Mandrup With Matha Schwartz Partners, Arup, Gruen Associates, and Kontrapunkt According to the Copenhagen-based studio, the museum park should be designed in a way that reflects its status as a living laboratory. “Our proposal interweaves the park and museum, so the moment you step inside the park you become immersed into the story of the Tar Pits,” said Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen, founder and creative director of Dorte Mandrup in a press release. “A visit here should be a journey of curiosity, where senses and imagination are instantly awakened. Our hope is that this will bring visitors much closer to the world of natural science, and in turn heighten their understanding of the past, present, and future of our planet.” The museum itself will remain in its existing footprint, but a square building, or “geometric halo,” standing on stilts will float above the main portion, calling attention to itself via a digital Pleistocene mural on its glass walls. A series of boardwalks will connect all activities in the park while also leading visitors to the new, open foyer inside the museum which will, with ample daylight highlighting the floor and ceiling cutouts, tease the exhibitions above and below. The building will feature a new public roof garden and a "Tar Bar" overlooking the grounds.  Diller Scofidio + Renfro With Hood Design Studio, Nabih Yousef Associates, Rana Creek, Arup, and Schwartz/Silver Architects DS+R’s masterplan seeks to make Hancock Park a catalyst for growth in the Miracle Mile community by creating a systematic grid of pathways that inspire people to visit the major cultural locations in the area. “A revitalized Hancock Park is conceived to be the connective tissue between existing and new institutions, public spaces, and urban infrastructure,” said Diller Scofidio + Renfro in a statement. “We have taken a ‘light touch’ approach for the next evolution of the Page Museum, infilling underutilized spaces and reconfiguring what is already there to create a more dynamic and efficient hybrid structure that is both building and landscape." The New York-based design team will expand the museum’s current footprint and create a new forecourt at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Curson Avene. By adding a spiraling landscape of berms around the structure, exterior views of the new, centralized archive block are altered. DS+R designed a floating glass cube that sinks below the ground and is visible from the lobby. The firm has also proposed a mobile “Dig Rig” that can be moved throughout the park to access new dig sites and enhance accessibility.  WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism With Mark Dion, Dr. Carole Gee, Michael Bierut, Karin Fong, Michael Steiner, ASLA, and Robert Perry, ASLA WEISS/MANFREDI’s proposal, titled “La Brea Loops and Lenses,” provides a new path for visitors to experience all activities within Hancock Park and around the La Brea Tar Pits as one long, triple Mobius loop. This includes a 3,281-foot-long pedestrian walkway across Lake Pitt that would feature terraced seating areas for lakeside viewing. “The intertwining loops link all the existing site components, enhancing spaces for community and scientific research,” said founders and principals Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi in a press release. “The lenses, as framed views throughout the park and museum, reveal the La Brea collection to visitors, bringing the museum to the park, and the park into the public imagination.” The new museum would sit on two interconnected diamond-shaped plots across from a central lawn space. One would house a stilted canopy structure covering a below-ground Pleistocene Garden and another, situated on the museum’s existing footprint, would open up to the plaza with a glass-clad events space and spiraling frieze. The museum’s lobby would sit partially-underground and in between these main spaces, while an exhibition pit will be visible from the panoramic labs that encircle it.  All three designs for the La Brea Tar Pits will be on display at the George C. Page Museum through September 15. Locals can provide feedback on the materials, models, and drawings on view, or visit TarPits.org to comment. After reviewing, a jury will choose a winning design by December. Jury members include Milton Curry, architecture dean at the University of South California; Christopher Hawthorne, L.A.’s chief design officer; Kirk Johnson, director of the National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian; and Barbara Wilkes, founding principal of W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, LLC, among others. 
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Space for Space

Virgin Galactic unveils ultra-lux Gateway to Space

Virgin Galactic, the branch of the British Virgin Group corporation that aims to render commercial space flight a reality, has officially unveiled the interior of its "Gateway to Space" building at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert. The facility will play a critical role in the company’s space tourism endeavor, including as a workspace for Virgin employees and a waiting area for the families of prospective private astronauts.

The Gateway to Space building sits on the 18,000-acre Spaceport America campus and was originally designed by the international architecture firm Foster + Partners in 2011. With Virgin Galactic’s civilian space travel program beset by numerous delays, the building has served primarily as an aircraft hangar for the past eight years. The now completed two-story interior is designed to accommodate lounge space for guests on the first level and staff offices on the second. A third floor, which is still under construction, will be used as a passenger training center for three days of coaching before each flight.

While one might expect a spaceport to be full of tech gadgets and screens, the design of the passenger lounge is surprisingly warm. Labeled Gaia, and designed by the London-based Viewport Studio, the lounge makes use of natural materials and colors that ground the space in the surrounding landscape. With expansive views of the desert just outside the Gateway's double-height windows, the natural wood textures, stonework, and earth-tone upholstery contribute to the overall visual unity of the experience. Most of the seating around the perimeter of the space faces outward, giving guests prime views of the land, runway, and sky. Viewport has worked with other branches of the Virgin Group before, including as an aircraft interior designer for Virgin Atlantic.

With a high-end bar at its center and all of the components of a first-class airport lounge, Gaia promises to live up to the swanky—and completely unprecedented—experience of space tourism. Only the families of ticketed passengers, each of who will pay upwards of $250,000 for a few moments of weightlessness at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, will have access to the lounge. Passengers themselves will also be able to use Gaia before and after their flights. Virgin Galactic aims to launch its first civilian astronauts into space in 2020.

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Dean's List

The country’s newest architecture deans share their visions, role models, and mascots
For many architecture and design schools across the United States, 2019 marks a shift in institutional leadership. From Charlotte to Berkeley, new deans will assume the helms of some of the country’s most challenging—and exciting—programs. The deans will have the opportunity to shape design pedagogy and practice in significant ways, potentially guiding how academic institutions teach and address issues related to the built environment for years to come. But in an era of collaborative learning and community engagement, what does deanship look like? AN asked eight of the country’s new deans about their plans for the future of their schools and their discipline. Here’s what they have to say: Respondents’ answers have been edited and condensed in some cases. Vishaan Chakrabarti University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design A former principal at SHoP Architects, Vishaan Chakrabarti is a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and the founder of the New York-based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism. The Architect’s Newspaper: What is your vision for the school moving forward? Given the spatial nature of our three existential challenges—climate change, social inequity, and technological dislocation—I believe that schools of architecture are as relevant today as law schools were during the civil and equal rights era. I am keenly interested in exploring with students, staff, and faculty the questions of how to reconcile the demands of professional practice—which takes decades to do well—with the understandable impatience of many students to radically and immediately change our world in light of the environmental, intersectional, economic, and political crises in which they have come of age. How is your new school different from your previous institution, Columbia University? Because [Berkeley] is public, it serves disproportionately large numbers of first-generation college students, Pell Grant recipients, and other diverse groups relative to most private institutions. More broadly, Berkeley is part of the Pacific Rim and therefore exists at a healthy distance from the Eurocentric framework that still dominates many design schools. Harriet Harriss Pratt Institute School of Architecture Before assuming her role at Pratt, Harriet Harriss was the head of the postgraduate program in architecture and interior design at the Royal College of Art in London, where she explored new models of design education addressing gender imbalances that exist at many institutions. What is your vision for the school moving forward? The tradition of parachuting in architectural visionaries ready to superimpose their agenda and aesthetics upon an unsuspecting faculty—with little regard for the established expertise within a school of architecture— is no longer viable. The vision I have is the one I intend to co-design with the talented and dedicated educators, students, and administrators at Pratt Institute School of Architecture… What’s needed is a dean who is willing to facilitate, enable, and empower, who is committed to ensuring talented students’ and educators’ work gets the recognition and exposure it deserves, and one who will work toward ensuring the work is realized across an expanded field of professional practices and public contexts. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Architecture’s habit of focusing upon an individual’s contribution over that of a collective does not reflect the reality of architectural practice or education. Instead, we need to recognize the achievements of collectives in shaping the most successful spatial outcomes and increase our capacity for collaboration in order to respond effectively to challenges ahead. What would you make your school’s mascot? Do we need mascots? Or actions that lead to meaningful impact? Branko Kolarevic New Jersey Institute of Technology Hillier College of Architecture and Design Previously a professor and administrator at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape at the University of Calgary, Branko Kolarevic is a designer and educator with experience at multiple universities across North America and Asia. How is your new school different from your previous institution, the University of Calgary? The urban fabric and the demographics of [Newark and Calgary] are very different, as are the local economies and politics. The school in Calgary was based on graduate and postgraduate education, while the Hillier College is mostly focused on undergraduate degrees, even though we have both professional and post-professional masters degrees (and also a PhD program)… There are similarities, as both NJIT and the University of Calgary place great emphasis on research; both are in the top tier research-wise. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? My role model is late Bill Mitchell, the former dean at MIT, who was my mentor when I was a doctoral student at Harvard GSD, and who provided unwavering support throughout my academic career. I also had a privilege early on to learn about leadership from two great deans: Marvin Malecha, who was dean of the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design in early 1990s when I taught there, and Roger Schluntz, former dean of the University of Miami School of Architecture. They both radiate positive energy that is infectious and are great minds and compassionate leaders who care deeply about people around them. What would you make your school’s mascot? That's a tough one. Given that New Jersey is known as the “Garden State,” I would pick our state bird (American goldfinch) or insect (honeybee) as a mascot. Both the goldfinches and bees are designers and builders of their nests, so in my view they are appropriate mascots for a design school. Lesley Lokko The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York Beyond her training as an architect and her tenure as head of school at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, Lesley Lokko is a Scottish-born-Ghanaian-raised writer with 12 best-selling novels. How is your new school different from your previous institution, the University of Johannesburg? Managerially and administratively, they are very different, but the hunger that drives the staff and students is very similar. Both places have a desire to say what has previously remained unsaid: that issues of class, race, gender, and power are central to architectural production, not marginal; that diversity strengthens architectural, landscape, and urban culture; that difference matters, not because it is “different,” but because it enriches discourse. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Alvin Boyarsky [chair of the Architectural Association from 1971 to 1990]. He made the marginal mainstream and was committed to change. What would you make your school’s mascot? A chameleon. Shape-shifter. Brook Muller University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture  Brook Muller was an associate dean of the University of Oregon (UO) School of Architecture and Allied Arts, and his work focuses primarily on design theory and ecologically responsible practice. What is your vision for the school moving forward? I seek to build a shared vision for the College of Arts + Architecture, so the idea is to shape it when I hit the ground… My priorities include (1) Introducing [students] to an expansive set of issues and asking them to assume active stances…(2) [Building] community partnership…in the arts and design…(3) Promoting interdisciplinarity and other forms of intra-college community building; (4) Assuming a proactive stance in fostering equity… (5) Pushing the boundaries of sustainability and ecological responsiveness. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Frances Bronet, my former dean at UO, who is now President at the Pratt Institute. [An interview with Frances Bronet is on page tktk] Frances was tireless, visionary, and enthusiastic, always one step ahead. I have seen many different models of leadership; hers was predicated on building effective collaborations and trust. It was a lot of fun to walk into work when Frances was at UO. What would you make your school’s mascot? I like UNC Charlotte’s current team nickname (49ers). This name came about as the institution was founded in the late 1940s after World War II in response to rising educational demand. Focusing on the city and on opening up educational opportunities for those who are deserving—that strikes me as a beautiful pairing. Dan Pitera University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture Dan Pitera served as the executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, a community-based nonprofit located at the University of Detroit Mercy. The center’s website describes him as “a political and social activist masquerading as an architect.” What is your vision for the school moving forward? We do not need to abandon the tools of our discipline to engage a wider variety of people in a collaborative way… Working in this way is often viewed as an alternative practice. Instead, I propose that we are working to alter how architects practice. Our school of architecture will interrogate and craft methods to meaningfully incorporate community-driven practice throughout the profession. What would you make your school’s mascot? A mascot for the Detroit Mercy School of Architecture would have to amplify and celebrate our values. It would stand for justice, be inclusive, have a global perspective, be daring and be fun. After consulting several students, we came up with the Canada goose. Yearly, two Canada geese nest on a visible section of roof at our school of architecture on their daring annual journey… The geese are unaware of political boundaries of countries, cities, institutions, or buildings. They have welcomed us into their home. Sarah Whiting Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) Previously the dean of the Rice University School of Architecture, Sarah Whiting is a founding partner of WW Architecture, a practice she established with her husband Ron Witte. How is your new school different from your previous institution, Rice University? The GSD is almost five times bigger than Rice, and it has three departments and multiple programs, whereas Rice was a one-department school. At the same time, both schools are filled with extraordinary faculty and students, and both schools situate design’s importance within global culture, so they really do share a similar ethos. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Two figures who immediately come to mind as role models include Robert (Bob) Geddes at Princeton (dean from 1965 to 1982) and Harry Cobb at the GSD (chair of architecture at the GSD from 1980 to 1985). Both did a remarkable job of building up faculties of diverse yet precise voices—resulting in specific, yet unpredictable conversations within their schools—during extraordinary moments for architectural education. Meejin Yoon Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning Before joining the faculty at Cornell in early 2019, Meejin Yoon led the architecture department at MIT’s School of Architecture + Planning. She is a cofounding principal of the architecture firm Höweler + Yoon. How is your new school different from your previous institution, MIT? [Cornell and MIT’s] overlaps are probably more interesting than their differences. Specifically, I’m thinking of the underlying social and cultural values that drive creative imagination, breadth of scholarship, and depth of research across the domains of architecture, art, and planning at both schools. Who would you consider a role model dean and why? Dean William Mitchell… I will never forget Dean Mitchell’s response when I anxiously shared the news that my students, in fulfilling a studio assignment, had caught the building on fire. He acknowledged that no one was hurt, assured me that insurance would take care of the physical damage, and concluded by sharing that experimentation means taking risks and that he was happy that I was stirring up things in the department of architecture. His level of encouragement and support for taking risks that push boundaries was profound, and I have always admired him as a role model for academic leadership. What would you make your school’s mascot? A fire-breathing dragon.
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New Nouvel

Jean Nouvel is designing a luxury resort in the Saudi Arabian desert
In the heart of a historic Nabatean valley in Saudi Arabia, Pritzker-winning architect Jean Nouvel has been tapped to design a luxury resort. The desert region in question, called Al-Ula, is part of a nature reserve, but the Saudi crown prince is hoping to turn the beautiful desert landscape and its ancient architectural monuments into a vibrant tourist attraction.  While the Nabateans were also the architects of the more well-known city of Petra, al-Ula has avoided the beaten path, until now. The proposed Sharaan resort will layer the sensitive landscape with luxury amenities—5 villas, 40 residential estates, and 25 bedroom suites are expected to be built by 2023, though plans have not yet been released by Nouvel. “I think that for an architect to build a project on such a site is a rare and wonderful opportunity,” Nouvel said in an article in Arab News. He commented on his unreleased design by saying, “I actually established the relation between history and modernity by using the region’s geographical nature, especially the rocks.” However, the resort is just the first piece of a mega project the Crown Prince has set in motion for the valley. The project designers, called the Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU), do claim to acknowledge a degree of sensitivity to both the environment and existing residents in the area. In addition to the Sharaan, a fund for the protection of the Arab leopard, an international scholarship program, and an open-ended program for the "protectors of the heritage of Al-Ula" are said to be included in the full plan for the valley. Upon completion, the project is expected to attract up to 2 million visitors to the site. Prince Badr said in a statement, "We are proud to be signing this agreement with a luxury operator who shares our vision of sensitive development that both works with and incorporates the local landscape and culture in a highly sympathetic manner.”  However, as no definitive plans have been released yet, what measures the kingdom is taking to preserve the valley's environmental integrity are unknown. The resort system is expected to create up to 38,000 jobs, offering new opportunities for nearby residents, but the ancient valley seems poised for a seismic culture shift. 
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Sounds of San Diego

San Diego Symphony is slated to build a bayside concert hall by Soundforms
San Diego is soon to boast one of the most acoustically innovative waterfront concert venues in Southern California, according to local officials. Set to open next summer on Embarcadero Marina Park South, the San Diego Symphony will get a permanent space to host its shows, all centered around a 13,000-square-foot stage structure by London-based consortium Soundforms and local studio Tucker Sadler Architects The $45 million project is part of a larger proposal to encourage year-round activity in downtown San Diego. The venue, Bayside Performance Park, will be built on a 10.8-acre existing greenspace that’s able to hold over 3,000 people on average, and up to 10,000 on special occasions. It will be located directly across the from the San Diego Convention Center and will mimic its design in form and texture. Soundforms, best known for the “Olympic Bandstand” structure it created for the 2012 London Olympics, will scale up its most famous product, the Soundforms Performance Shell, for San Diego’s premier outdoor music hall.  Taking cues from the convention center’s stand-out shape and the surrounding downtown skyline, Soundforms will create a concert shell with a cantilevered roof at the edge of the parkland. It will be wrapped in durable, white fabric—a nod to the convention center’s rooftop sails—and built by tensile structure contractor Fabritecture. Charles Salter Acoustics, a sound company in San Francisco will work with consultant Shawn Murphey to install a massive sound system that can accommodate orchestral performances, Broadway musicals, film screenings, and popular artists.  Tucker Sadler Architects and Burton Landscape Architecture Studio will root the structure in place and connect it to the entire Embarcadero Marina Park South by designing a terraced lawn with temporary seating and a widened public promenade that wraps around the venue. The design team will also add sunset steps to the back of the pavilion, which locals can access when performances aren't happening. For the San Diego Symphony, such a space has been a long time coming. For the last 15 years, it's had to assemble and disassemble a stage for its popular Bayside Summer Nights concert series. But that’s all changing now. According to a press release, Bayside Performance Park will be the only permanent outdoor performance space that doubles as an active park on the West Coast.  [This project] supports the Port of San Diego’s goals for a vibrant and active San Diego Bay waterfront,” said Chairman Garry Bonelli of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners in a statement. “Bayfront visitors will love the new and improved performance facility, not to mention the improved park and park amenities.”  Construction will begin in September. 
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LEVERaging Timber

The Nature Conservancy turns to protected habitats and LEVER for its Portland headquarters
The Oregon Conservation Center (OCC) in Portland, Oregon has reopened a new 15,000 square foot nature-centered expansion and renovation courtesy of LEVER Architecture. A redevelopment project of The Nature’s Conservancy’s existing headquarters, the building better reflects the mission of the organization which acts to conserve nature for nature’s sake and to enrich human lives through conservation. The original, dull landscape and 1970’s-era building were not representative of the organization’s identity as a global nonprofit headquarters. The building’s exterior has been reenvisioned and entirely clad in a combination of materials vulnerable to weathering, such as a new steel rainscreen facade that will weather over time, Juniper siding, and Cedar decking both harvested from nonprofit’s conservation sites. With The Nature Conservancy’s commitment to sustainability, renovating the original, uninspired office building was important for the project. Targeting LEED Gold certification, the new rooftop photovoltaics produce 25 percent of its electrical supply and the use of efficient building systems and fixtures reduce electric consumption by a further 54 percent, and water consumption by 44 percent. In an effort to articulate The Nature Conservancy’s impactful work, LEVER's design reflects the ecology of the region with special attention to three of the organization’s protected habitats: the Rowena Plateau, the Cascade-Siskiyou region, and western hemlock and cedar forests. Managing partner of the renovation's developer, project^, Tom Cody, describes the project as an “ecological and innovative hub” with respect to reused and recycled materials, and landscape architecture firm Lando and Associates’ incorporation of Oregon’s indigenous plants. The new design values a connection to the region’s natural surroundings, offering visitors and staff a greater and more accessible bond to the outdoors. Central to the upgrade is a new, highly visible 2,000-square-foot building addition built with domestically-fabricated cross-laminated timber panels, the first of its kind built in the U.S. and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The addition contains a community room and roof garden terrace, ideal spaces to hold gatherings and public events. Additional programmatic elements include open-plan layouts, meeting rooms of various sizes, staff cafe and lounge, and dedicated storage space for equipment used in the field. “The Oregon Conservation Center truly embodies the mission of sustainability, stewardship, and inspiration that we serve at The Nature Conservancy,” said Jim Desmond, Oregon state director at The Nature Conservancy. “Against this inspiring new backdrop, we can now better convene with partners in a highly collaborative environment featuring elements of our important work around Oregon.”
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Remembrances from 2002-2015

Peter Lang on Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's 'incredible love'
Cristiano Toraldo di Francia sadly passed away on July 30. Cofounder, along with Adolfo Natalini, of the Florentine Radical design and architecture group Superstudio, Cristiano was the kind of person who was incredibly open-minded, shared a sharp sense of humor, and professed a deep love for humanity. While accolades spread across the internet following news of his passing, there was a lot to Cristiano that didn’t make it into these postings, tributes, and memorials. What might have been most lacking in all these accounts was the way he shrugged off fame and shunned formality. Yet he never wasted a moment, had infinite stamina, and to stick by him you needed to react fast and move quickly. Cristiano was a perceptive and ever-present photographer, and it is thanks to him that so many historical moments during their superlative adventure were captured for posterity. When I asked him about how he got into photography, he spoke about his father, Giuliano, who was a renowned physicist, recounting an odd story about how he was introduced to his first photo-camera. As Cristiano told me, in an interview at his house in Filottrano back in 2005, his father “…designed lenses for Ducati, at that time they made electronics—now they´re making motorcycles. They made cameras, radios. And they made a micro-camera, which anticipated the cameras of today, instead of the normal 35 mm film --24x36mm, they were using 24x18mm film, so it was fantastic. Italy was poor at the time, everything had to be reduced! Cristiano couldn’t help make a quip about the States, and while proudly acknowledging that Italian technology was inventing incredible things that were “almost too advanced for their time,” in America “everything was big—big cameras, big cars. But that camera was a jewel... Just to say that since I was a child I was initiated to the mysteries of photography—the images coming out of the acids, of the paper.” Probing further, I asked Cristiano what his relationship was to the burgeoning Florentine fashion industry in the early sixties when he was a professional photographer. “I was making family portraits at the time to raise money. In Florence, there is a big tradition around the Alinari family that besides all the city portraits,” now in the Alinari Archive in Florence, “they shot a lot of family portraits, but these were like paintings, all retouched, like Photoshop. “They were perfect photographers- so this tradition was present. I was trying to do a very different kind of photography. I looked more to the American model. A journalistic kind of picture, Diane Arbus... Not so much Man Ray or the historical ones.I became quite successful at the time. All these noble mothers came to make photos in my studio. After a while, I was asked to do fashion photography, but after a while, Superstudio started and I quit. But of course, I had all the contacts and all the people- I was friends with Oliviero Toscani for example,” who would go on to make the controversial photographic campaigns for Bennetton. With his usual irony, Cristiano pointed out that he also worked as a fashion model, for the kind of magazines that were constantly referencing architecture. It’s hard not to talk about the origins of the Italian Radical movement without getting into influences, of which there were many: “We started…” as Cristiano clarified in that same interview, “…on parallel levels, looking at Archigram, but even more we looked back at Dada and then to Pop-art that was bringing the Dada methods up to date. Fluxus—breaking boundaries and being completely interdisciplinary, fluctuating from one activity to the other. But on the other hand, Archigram had this political information as background—for which we could say maybe we were more idealistic than them. They were more pragmatic, more Anglo-Saxon.” Dan Graham connected his generation to Rock and Roll, and given the times, it is clear that music played a considerable role for Cristiano. When I spoke to Cristiano about music when we met in December of 2002, he had this to say: “When I talk about the importance of music, we don’t deny having discovered a person like Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, it was a time when popular music reached great artistic levels, Laurie Anderson, the whole group of Fluxus, back then there was a system of self-propulsion, in every field…” What is critical in understanding Superstudio is precisely this level of mixing passions that the art and architecture curator Lara Vinca Masini referred to as “contaminations.” Cristiano stabbed at this point by bringing in Aldo Rossi: “Yes the work of Rossi and others was interesting, but it was always inside a discipline with few confrontations with the world that went much faster than their own reasoning.” Getting back to the Florentine music scene, Cristiano credited his father with exposing him to experimental music when he was beginning university. In a conversation I had with him in 2005, Cristiano remarked: “My father was a scientist, and as a scientist he was traveling a lot and, in a way, disillusioned and relativistic. He was asked in 1963 to become president of the young contemporary music association. One of those members was Sylvano Bussotti,” a Florentine native, musical polyglot and noted dandy. “One was Giuseppe Chiari,” the atonal musician, close to John Cage and a member of Fluxus, “and the other was Pietro Grossi,” a Venetian electronic musician and composer living in Florence. “I remember they were making concerts of electronic music, and one concert was in the Conservatorio di Musica Cherubini which is a traditional music conservatory. And after 10 minutes of this music people went crazy.” Evidently, for this generation of young architects living in Florence in the sixties, these were incredibly stimulating years. Superstudio detoured around the traditional tools of the architect, experimenting with alternative forms of expression and representation. When Emilio Ambasz showed up in Florence around 1971, scouting for ideas for the upcoming exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape for MoMA, the young curator was seeking out experimental “environments.” These would be full-scale prototypes for living, accompanied by films serving as animated captions. Yet I wanted to know just how Superstudio produced this project, what kind of technology was used to build this elaborate environment and how did they create their 12-minute film Supersurface. The main backer for the environment was the manufacturer Print but they also had to procure other funders, due to the elevated expenses. According to Cristiano, they found the supplies they needed in Florence, the special reflective glass and the electronic components key to simulate alternating moods of day and night inside the environment. It took 15 days to manually assemble it before the show opened in New York on May 26th, 1972. The movie was instead made during the winter of 1971- 72 and it was filmed in 36 mm. “I worked on that with Sandro Poli,” the Superstudio member officially present between 1970 and 1972, “we found the music, made the soundtrack, with the professional help of a guy who made advertising for TV (Marchi Producers), who had that mentality, and in fact, we wanted it to be projected as if it would be an advertisement for the Supersurface. The first part presents in a scientific way how the thing is done, and the second one tells how happy you will be living there.” In fact, both making the environment and directing the animated film were very labor-intensive hands-on processes. I asked Cristiano what role the Italian manufacturers had in producing Superstudio’s concepts. Cristiano’s response was that these factories were mostly made up of artisans. “That is why we managed to make a series of objects from very different things and from really different materials. Most of these objects are coming out of a kind of bricolage. The factory made almost nothing—we had to find artisans who did the different parts. The industry would just put the parts together. We were doing a kind of bricolage Cheap-scape—as Frank Gehry would say—for the industries.” The Italian design industry seemed to work as an artisanal chain assembly. But what was still not clear, was why did these manufacturers get behind a group like Superstudio to make things that worked against the idea of mass consumption? Why would they sponsor designs that were against their best interests? “We thought these objects we were making were a kind of trojan horses that coming from inside the system would produce criticism, which means creativity, which means refusal, or incredible love. They were objects of poetic reaction for the people. They were not mass-produced, they were in little series, multiples, like works of art.” To this day I still think about Cristiano’s trojan horses, and his incredible love.