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A Total Work of Art

Herbert Bayer-designed Aspen Institute will launch a center for Bayer studies
Self-made billionaires Lynda and Stewart Resnick have donated $10 million to establish the Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies on the Aspen Institute campus in Colorado. Bayer, an exemplary figure of the Bauhaus movement in America, designed the institute’s historic campus, originally founded in 1949 as the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. The new Resnick Center will allow the institute to preserve and showcase Bayer’s art, grow its collection, borrow from other cultural institutions, and create new exhibitions to educate the public about Bayer’s remarkable modernist legacy. The gift is timely as the Institute, and the town of Aspen itself, have been heavily involved in the global celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus movement. “Bayer’s unique creative vision allowed him to capture complex phenomena in their core, simplified elements," said Dan Porterfield, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute. "Inspiring such vision in others is the mission of the Aspen Institute. By demonstrating the ways in which Bayer’s art and architecture contributed profoundly to the development of both the Institute and Aspen, Colorado, this new center will bring the Institute and the community into an even greater relationship, which is one of our highest priorities.” Like Bayer’s work, innovative thinking and problem-solving are central to the Institute. The new center will enhance programming, and visitors will be able to learn the principles of design and creativity and apply those principles to their own work, whether it be art, social improvement, or entrepreneurship. The new center will be architecturally integrated with the remaining grounds, bringing to life Bayer’s vision of the campus as a total work of art. The project is expected to complete in Summer 2022. The Aspen Institute is also a non-profit organization, or “think-tank,” working to build a free, just, and equitable society. As the creation of Walter Peapcke and Herbert Bayer, the Institute was the original home of the International Design Conference at Aspen (IDCA), an ongoing series founded in 1949 to serve as a forum for designers to discuss and disseminate current developments in the related fields of graphic arts, industrial design, and architecture. Lynda and Stewart Resnick are co-owners of The Wonderful Company, a privately held $4.6 billion global company dedicated to agriculture and health through consumer brands like FIJI Water and Wonderful Pistachios. Their philanthropy includes historic gifts to UCLA and LACMA. “As longtime Aspen residents, we have had the opportunity to experience and admire the vision of the great Bauhaus master Herbert Bayer through the work he created in this community," said Lynda Resnick, vice-chair and co-owner of The Wonderful Company. "We are gratified to support the Institute in providing a resource for future generations to appreciate the influence that Bauhaus had on Bayer and consequently on the town of Aspen and the campus of the Aspen Institute, Bayer’s greatest work of art.” 
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Fly Safe!

Pioneering glass products that birds can see
Thanks to new legislation and building codes promoting bird-friendly construction in Canada and the United States, manufacturers are developing glass that minimizes the likelihood of collisions. New architectural glazing products provide visual cues to birds without sacrificing views or the overall look of the building envelope.
AviProtek E Bird-Safe Solar Control Low-E Glass Walker Glass Vitro Architectural Glass partnered with Walker Glass on a bird-friendly glass developed for the new canopy at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Vitro’s Starphire Ultra-Clear Glass transparent glass allows for optimal light transmission while making the light reflecting from Walker Glass’s velour acid-etched finish more visible to birds.
Bird1st UV Guardian Glass This new coating reduces bird collisions by breaking up reflective areas of glass with vertical UV stripes that are barely visible to the human eye. It will be available in December, adding to Guardian’s current bird-friendly glass products outfitted with industry-standard frit patterns on Guardian SunGuard coated glass.
ORNILUX Bird Protection Glass New larger sizes Arnold Glas At the AIA Expo in June, Arnold Glas debuted new oversize production capabilities for its bird-safety glass, ORNILUX. It is now offered in a maximum size of 126-by-472 inches, up from the previous maximum of 102-by-197 inches.
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Forest School

Andrés Jaque explores how school buildings can enact experimental pedagogy
Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation have released their design for the Reggio School, a pilot project of the Reggio Center for Pedagogical Research and Innovation (CIIP Reggio) in Madrid. The school’s architectural environments are designed to foster the students' dire for exploration and inquiry. It is based on the experimental teaching methods of Loris Malaguzzi and parents in the Italian city of Reggio nell’Emilia, including self-directed education that gives students the opportunity to collectively experiment. The school building itself is meant to avoid standardization, instead offering students a layered, variable environment that challenges them to make decisions and react to changing conditions. The mixture of climates, situations, and regulations is expressed in the architecture so that students can be aware of the pedagogical model they are participating in. Younger students are located on the ground floor, while intermediate students comingle with water and soil tanks for an indoor forest. A greenhouse hovers above the trees that are surrounded by a ring of classrooms around the third floor.“This distribution of uses implies an ongoing maturity process," said architects said in a statement, "that is translated into the growing capacity of students to explore the school ecosystem on their own.” A 5,000-square-foot, 26-feet high gathering space will sit on the second floor, at the base of the "forest" in the empty space around the "roots" of an inner forest. It is a “cosmopolitical agora where vegetation, water, and soil frame a changing program of a gymnasium, art classroom, conference and events hall, and gathering space for school assemblies,” according to the designers. Processes such as the services, waste management, and storage are all expressed through the architecture, creating a didactic interface for the students and provokes discussion between students, teachers, and the building. Construction is expected to complete in fall 2020.
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Back in Motion

For its 250th anniversary, San Diego gets an update
This is the third article of AN‘s July/August 2019 print edition feature focused on development. The first, “A new breed of skyscraper threatens to devastate the fabric of New York,” can be read here. The second, "Why the developer’s vision matters in the experience economy," can be read here. As it celebrates the 250th anniversary of its founding this year, San Diego is rethinking past projects, planning billions of dollars’ worth of new projects, and coping with a housing shortage that is making it one of the nation’s least affordable markets. The most significant project on the boards is the redevelopment planned for Horton Plaza shopping center, a 1985 postmodernist downtown mall designed by Jon Jerde. But there are many other megaprojects under construction or in the offing throughout this county of 3.3 million residents. Laura Warner, an architect who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s, watches all this action from her perch as cochair of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids & Onions program. This 43-year-old education effort celebrates the good and shames the bad in local building, landscape, planning, and historic preservation projects. “We’ve got some really well crafted, well designed, and well detailed buildings that are places that people like to go to, where they want to create memories,” Warner said. San Diego’s architectural zeitgeist goes back to its founding in 1769 by Spanish colonizers intent on protecting the area from European rivals and the local Kumeyaay population. The colonists introduced new building techniques, laid out towns as required by Spain’s “Laws of the Indies,” and built adobe and stucco ranch houses that remain the local go-to style, especially for residential development. The city’s iconic buildings and structures include the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, Reid & Reid’s 1888 Hotel del Coronado, the 1915 Panama-California Exposition grounds in Balboa Park, the 1920s Navy and Marine Corps bases, the 1938 County Administration Center on the downtown waterfront, Louis Kahn’s 1964 Salk Institute, and William Pereira’s 1970 Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego, campus. Post–World War II car culture led to sprawl, center-city blight, and urban ills shared with other American cities. Some midcentury mistakes are being reversed, but challenges remain: homelessness, high-priced housing (the median home price in May was $591,000), large wage gaps between tourism service workers and high-tech engineers, and relations with Tijuana across the Mexican border. Ten major projects in the works promise to add to San Diego’s collection of notable buildings, but it remains to be seen if any of them rise to world-class, must-see status in the decades ahead. The Campus at Horton Stockdale Capital Partners of Los Angeles bought the Horton Plaza shopping center in 2018 for $175 million with plans to turn it into a high-tech office complex with only half the 600,000 square feet of retail originally required in the center. The Jerde Partnership’s original postmodern design was copied worldwide, and the new owners are seeking ways to retain some of its quirky features. L.A.-area firms RCH Studios and EYRC Architects are the design architects, and RDC is the executive architect for the redesign. The developers hope to complete the first phase by the end of 2020. Chula Vista Bayfront A 535-acre World War II-era industrial zone is being transformed into a complex comprising hotels, housing, retail, parks, and a conference center in this South Bay city’s portion of the San Diego port tidelands. Houston-based RIDA Development plans a $1.1 billion hotel and conference center on 36 acres. RIDA’s architect is HKS of Dallas. Courthouse Redevelopment Another repurposing project involves the 1960s downtown county courthouse. On the first of three blocks owned by the county government would be a $400 million, 37-story mixed-use building developed by Vancouver, Washington–based Holland Partner Group and designed by local firm Carrier Johnson + Culture. Manchester Pacific Gateway The Navy Broadway Complex, which dates back to the 1920s, has been leased to local developer Doug Manchester, who agreed to build the Navy a new West Coast headquarters. He, in turn, won rights to build hotels, offices, a retail galleria, and a museum on the balance of the complex’s 13.7 acres. Gensler is the architect, and construction of the tower is well underway in the $1.3 billion, 3 million-square-foot complex. NAVWAR The Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR, formerly the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command or SPAWAR) occupies former Air Force hangars dating to World War II located between Old Town San Diego and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot north of downtown. The Navy, seeking a modern research and development home, would like to repeat its deal on the Naval Broadway Complex by signing up a developer who would deliver such a building in exchange for the right to develop the rest of the site privately. The 71-acre location is also being eyed by regional planners as a “Grand Central” multimodal transportation center. The Navy expects to issue a request for proposals. In the meantime, the local National Association of Industrial and Office Parks chapter sponsored a “university challenge” for a portion of the site. The winning $1.6 billion, 4.1 million-square-foot “Delta District” plan from students at the University of San Diego includes offices, housing, and retail, plus an “innovation center” where education and R&D would meet. De Bartolo + Rimanic Design Studio of San Diego aided the UCSD students. One Paseo Suburban development continues in San Diego County, and one of the most controversial suburban projects, One Paseo, opened earlier this year east of Del Mar on the North County coast. Opponents, led by a rival shopping center company, objected to the density and launched an initiative to kill the project, and the developer, Kilroy Realty, downsized the plans. The retail portion, by the Hollywood architecture firm 5+design, opened earlier this year, and the first apartments are due this summer. San Diego Convention Center Expansion The center, built in 1989 and last expanded in 2001, will appear on the March 2020 city ballot in the form of a hotel tax increase that will fund an $800 million expansion, plus homeless and transportation improvements if it can gain the required two-thirds approval. The main new feature would be a rooftop public park. The project designer is Fentress Architects of Denver. SDSU Mission Valley San Diego State University won voter approval in 2018 over local developers’ rival “SoccerCity” to redevelop the 166-acre site of the former Chargers NFL football stadium site in Mission Valley, north of downtown. When the Chargers returned to Los Angeles, the future of the 70,000-seat, 52-year-old stadium was up for grabs. SDSU plans to replace what is now called SDCCU Stadium with a smaller facility for its Aztecs football team. Developers would be selected to build 4,600 housing units and 1 million square feet of office and retail space that ultimately could be repurposed for academic use to complement the university’s 250-acre campus a few miles to the east. Carrier Johnson + Culture prepared a conceptual master plan, and Gensler is the architect for the new $250 million stadium, which is targeted to open for the 2022 football season. Seaport Village The downtown Embarcadero postindustrial transformation began with the construction of the Robert Mosher–designed San Diego–Coronado Bridge in 1969. The obsolete ferry landing was redeveloped as the Seaport Village specialty retail center in 1980. Now it’s time to turn the 39-acres of one-story buildings into something denser and more sophisticated. The current $1.6 billion plan calls for the usual mix of hotel and commercial uses plus an aquarium, ocean-oriented learning center, a 500-foot skytower ride designed by BIG, and water-centric recreational and commercial fishing features. The project architect is San Diego–based AVRP Skyport. UC San Diego The UC San Diego campus, whose first class of fewer than 200 students took up residence in 1964, is nearing an enrollment of 40,000 and is planning to add three more undergraduate residential colleges to the six already in place. The 2,100-acre campus, spanning Interstate 5 in San Diego’s La Jolla neighborhood plus a community hospital near downtown, has about $10 billion dollars in projects planned over the next 10 years. That doesn’t count the $2.1 billion extension of the San Diego Trolley light-rail system which is due to reach the campus in 2021. The campus trolley stop will lead to a new campus gateway entrance, where several major buildings and an outdoor amphitheater are in the works. An off-campus downtown hub on the trolley line is already under construction. Numerous architectural firms, both local and national, have been engaged to build out the campus, including HKS and San Diego–based Safdie Rabines Architects for Sixth College, now under construction; Seattle-based LMN Partners for the Triton Pavilion, a six-building complex at the new trolley stop; and the downtown hub by Carrier Johnson + Culture. Roger Showley is a freelance writer who recently retired from The San Diego Union-Tribune.  
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Gateway to Criticism

Proposed Chinatown sculpture stirs controversy in New York

A sculpture proposed for a traffic triangle in New York’s Chinatown neighborhood is being criticized by some members of the community for its "stack of tin can"-like appearance. The art piece is a product of the Gateways to Chinatown project, a collaborative effort by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), local development corporation Chinatown Partnership, and the Van Alen Institute to “engender pride of place, foster connectivity, and reinforce cultural and social identity within Manhattan’s Chinatown.” Focusing on the plaza where Canal Street forks and Walker Street begins, organizers oversaw an open competition to select which artist would work with the project’s $1 million budget.

While the primary purpose of the project was, according to director of communications at Van Alen Alisha Levin, to “foster connectivity and better enable way-finding with a new public landmark,” selectors also sought a proposal that “responded to the site’s history and context.” Out of 80 total submissions, an installation by Chinese-Australian artist Lindy Lee was ultimately chosen. Lee partnered with two New York-based companies—architecture firm Levenbetts and public art fabrication studio UAP (Urban Art Projects)—to facilitate the structural design and installation of the project.

As renderings released last month indicate, the piece consists of a series of perforated cylinders stacked irregularly above the sidewalk. Inspired by traditional Chinese drum towers, the form of each component is reflective of both drums and the cylindrical rooftop water towers that have come to represent New York City. Titled The Dragon’s Roar, the proposal maintains a level of flexibility through its minimal impact on the traffic triangle’s ground plane. Even with the sculpture installed, the space would still be able to accommodate a small kiosk or seating for social gatherings.

As with most contemporary art that is proposed for urban public space, The Dragon’s Roar has received plenty of criticism from some members of the community. Certain residents have argued that its overall form, which makes only abstract reference to Chinese culture, has nothing to do with the local neighborhood and its heritage. Others have compared the drum-like cylinders to tin cans, complaining that the installation is unsightly and should not become a neighborhood landmark. While organizers of this year’s competition did engage with local community members at various stages in the process to determine what should be placed on the traffic triangle, many insist that outreach efforts were inadequate. The controversy is reminiscent of a similar incident from one year earlier, when residents of Chinese descent called a "Dog-Man" sculpture proposed for Chatham Square demonic and whitewashed. Protests over that piece eventually forced the city to relocate it to Foley Square.

As for The Dragon’s Roar, Levin told AN that Van Alen will “take all feedback in earnest” and will continue working with DOT, community boards, and neighborhood stakeholders to make certain that the final product reflects its cultural and social context. Before Community Board 3 weighs whether to approve the sculpture in September, detractors have promised to make their voices heard.

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It's Pretty Dandy

BlazysGérard imbues Montreal's Dandy restaurant with arched elegance
Local interior design firm BlazysGérard has converted a former insurance office into Montreal's latest breakfast and lunch hotspot Dandy; celebrated chef Michael Tozzi first venture out on his own. The monumental restaurant balances an unpretentious atmosphere with a touch of class; achieved through the running theme of arches and circular elements. The design practice identified this design motif in the space's large pre-existing, street-facing windows and carried through the implementation of structural details, bespoke pendant lamps, and oversized mirrors. The enfilade-esque restaurant incorporates all of its dining tables, chairs, and banquets in one central two-row volume with a sequence of mobile-like, two-prong, arch-shaped lamps running above; that evoke structural room-diving archways on either side. Altogether, this scheme cuts an impressive profile. But however bold in geometric expression the concept might be, Dandy's design is intended to act as an unimposing backdrop canvas for its clientele. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
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Heat waves are slowing construction around the world, and it will only get worse

The effects of climate change are felt all over the world and are causing a host of negative consequences. Extreme heat events are happening more frequently and for longer periods of time. For the construction industry, a trade sensitive to the weather because of the working conditions, it becomes ever more likely that complications will arise. This June was the world’s hottest on record, according to the National Weather Service. The Independent reported that experts say this July is likely to have been the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. Extreme heat has covered much of the U.S. with temperatures approaching and exceeding triple digits. In Europe, a massive heatwave marked the summer and now Greenland, within recent days, has faced a tremendous ice melt. During these times, construction companies must pay closer attention to the health of their employees on the job. Providing more break time, shade, and water will help alleviate workers during the daytime and hours may shift to night-time when the temperature is coolest. There’s a lot of money bound to a construction site. Leased equipment, contractual penalties, and cost of labor are expected on the job, but unexpected weather results in unpleasant, expensive surprises, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for construction planners to rely on seasonal forecasts. “The construction industry loses billions of dollars on delays and failures caused by bad weather. Buildings are damaged during storms; sites turn into seas of mud; freezing temperatures make it impossible to pour concrete,” said Climate.gov in 2017 when reporting on climate and construction. The dangerous heat may become a factor in increasing incidents of heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke. A study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reports that 36.8 percent of heat-related deaths nationwide occurred within the construction industry, “Heat is something we deal with every year,” said DPR Construction Southeast Regional Safety Manager Steve Duff. At DPR, more breaks, more water, and educational talks on heat illnesses are provided to employees. Duff credits lifestyle factors over climate change as the reason for escalating heat-related incidents. He said the popularity of energy drinks is a culprit, causing dehydration. Also, new employees to the industry after the Great Recession who came from other industries had likely "not been outdoors frequently." Billy Grayson (executive director of the Center for Sustainability and Economics Performance at the Urban Land Institute, an organization providing leadership in responsible land use) faults construction materials. “Extreme heat can delay construction projects due to the need for specific building materials to cool or cure,” Grayson said. "If these products can't solidify at the right timing for the project, it can cause significant delays." Ryan Ware, cofounder of Vantis, a company that specializes in designing custom commercial facility interiors that are constructed off-site, says this could lead to more adoption of prefabricated construction. “It's taking the risk out of the heat wave, because you're putting the [staff] into a factory or a controlled environment,” Vantis said. Regardless, as temperatures continue to rise, the construction industry will have to adapt accordingly.
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Go Big Red

Hopkins Architects wins international competition to design Milton Keynes university
The MK:U International Design Competition—a collaboration between Milton Keynes Council (MKC) and Cranfield University—announced Hopkins Architects as the unanimously selected winner of their new model university competition launched in early 2019. Milton Keynes is a large town in Buckinghamshire, England, to the west of London. The winning scheme was chosen mainly because of its clarity and confidence. The plan boldly illustrates a red centerpiece at the heart of the new project. Encased in an all-glass lobby "reminiscent of a giant friendship bead" is the round forum building featuring a central lecture theatre. MK:U’s plans to reach “beyond the scope of a traditional university” and will focus on vocational and STEM subjects relating to digital, robotics and artificial intelligence. The MK Futures 2050 program anticipates the population of the Buckinghamshire new town will more than double. The proposed new university is scheduled to open to its first undergraduates in 2023. It is expected to be delivered in three phases and complete within 15 years. Mike Taylor, principal, Hopkins Architects, added, “This commission is special because MK:U presents a unique opportunity to rethink higher education through its radical curriculum focusing on the digital economy.” Inspired by the famous infinity street at MIT, the project creates an open quarter with a series of orthogonal academic pavillions described as "new urban frontage" and a pedestrian and bike-friendly atmosphere envisioned for the future. Hopkins’ proposal echos MK’s original vision with "calm, super-rational buildings surrounded by greenery." Competition director Malcolm Reading said: “The Hopkins scheme celebrates and develops the emblematic Milton Keynes urban design principles, elegantly re-interpreting the concept of the original town block.” The jury included Santander UK CEO Nathan Bostock, ITV’s non-executive chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette, professor Dame Madeleine Atkins, and was chaired by chief executive and vice-chancellor of Cranfield University, professor Sir Peter Gregson. The winning team is drawn from international firms and suggests a collaborative approach. This includes Prior + Partners, Expedition Engineering, Atelier Ten, GROSS. MAX., Buro 4, RLB Schumann, GRFN, Caneparo Associates, QCIC, Nick Perry Associates, Access=Design, Cordless Consultants, Sandy Brown Associates, FMDC and Tricon. “All our best projects have come about through a collaborative process and the next step is to test the ideas we had during the competition with the university leaders, local council and people of Milton Keynes.” said Taylor. The original competition attracted 53 team submissions made up of 257 individual firms from across the globe. Other shortlisted finalists were led by Co:MK:U; Hawkins\Brown; Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands; and OMA. The shortlisted team’s design proposals can be seen on the competition website.
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Permanent Collections

Museum of Modern Art receives massive gift of African contemporary artwork

French-Italian art collector Jean Pigozzi has gifted New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) a substantial collection of contemporary artwork from across Africa. The 45 pieces included in the donation feature work by Sierra Leonean artist Abu Bakarr Mansaray, Malian photographer Seydou Keïta, and Congolese sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez, whose fantastical models of cityscapes formed the retrospective exhibition Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams at MoMA last year. According to MoMA, Pigozzi’s is the largest single gift of African art that the museum has ever received and will contribute significantly to future displays of its permanent collection.

Born in Paris to Italian businessman and Simca-founder Henri Pigozzi, Jean Pigozzi amassed his fortune through inheritance and a variety of enterprises, including photography and fashion design. He jumpstarted his collection of African contemporary art in 1989, soon after seeing the exhibit Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Curator André Magnin lent considerable guidance as Pigozzi accumulated upwards of 10,000 pieces, now widely recognized as one of the largest collections of African contemporary art in the world. Pigozzi has maintained his holdings as the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) in Geneva, which has no permanent galleries for exhibition. Pieces from the CAAC have been lent to museums and galleries across Africa, Europe, and North America for a range of temporary exhibits.

The move by Pigozzi sheds light on a broader effort by MoMA to overcome its longstanding focus on American and European modernism. The museum’s leaders have been appealing to donors with collections that highlight other regions of the world, including Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, who has given Latin American artwork to the institution twice since 2016. For MoMA, the acquisition may represent an opportunity for both redemption and growth. Between 1984 and 1985, the museum held an exhibit titled ‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, which many have excoriated for promoting reductive, racist, and deeply ingrained notions of African inferiority. The Pompidou show that catalyzed Pigozzi’s collection was largely considered a rebuttal to MoMA’s own curatorial efforts, prompting Pigozzi himself to spend much of his life advocating for African contemporary art as on-par with, and often more interesting than, Western examples.

The growing stature of African contemporary art on the global stage extends well beyond MoMA’s walls. Earlier this year, the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair made its Manhattan debut at New York’s Industria, six years after its founding in London and four years after popping up in Brooklyn. In 2016, the international auction house Sotheby’s opened a department dedicated to African art in London, which has been frequented not only by Europeans but also by wealthy collectors from Nigeria, Kenya, and elsewhere in Africa. MoMA is likely looking to get in on the action, and Pigozzi’s gift presents the institution with its best opening yet.

While it is still unclear exactly how curators will incorporate Pigozzi’s pieces into the MoMA’s permanent collection displays, they are sure to play a role in the museum’s continuing growth. MoMA’s newly expanded facility, including its reconfigured permanent collection galleries, will open to the public on October 21, 2019.

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From Dr. Dolittle, to artificial intelligence, to your firm
Sponsored by
Exactly 100 years after the fictional Dr. Dolittle talks to animals (1919), and “curses in fluent kangaroo,” we’ve reached the non-fictional moment. People can now have intelligent conversations with inanimate devices. If you’re familiar with Hugh Lofting's books featuring the eccentric Dr. Doolittle, you know that he used his unique abilities to speak with animals in order to better understand nature and the history of the world. Today, technology has taken us beyond Dolittle’s wildest dreams. We can now talk to a myriad of devices and get valuable information about our world. Many of you have already dabbled in artificial intelligence (AI)  by using Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant to perform simple tasks: setting alarms, getting the weather, recipes, world news, etc. From my advantageous perch, I’ve been witness to the disruptive, next generation of business technology which has just been deployed for architects, making Dr. Dolittle’s out of all of us. We can now talk to our devices and have them intelligently respond to us with information that gives us a better understanding of our projects, our employees, and our entire business. It might seem odd, but I’m convinced that with AI, we can now “do little” and “get more.”
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Gerhardt Fjuck

Comedy Central roasts pretentious architect videos in the latest Alternatino
Have you ever watched Daniel Libeskind or Bjarke Ingels speak in hollow truisms about inspiration and “creating the world” and thought it was an elaborate joke, perhaps a Comedy Central sketch? Listening to Gerhardt Fjuck is literally a joke. On comedian Arturo Castro’s new Comedy Central show Alternatino, he spoofed all the clichés of architecture in the 21st century, from the hollow, pretentious rhetoric to the glasses to the sparse interior spaces to the trash-can inspiration. In the four-minute clip, "Gerhardt Fjuck," the architect “behind the world’s ugliest buildings,” is played by Castro. He is the architect of LaGuardia Airport, Penn Station, The Port Authority Bus Terminal, Boston City Hall, North Dakota State Building in Bismarck, and “the world’s first above-ground basement.” “Architecture begins with a thought, a dream, a single line. But then you build it. And all of a sudden, the dream, you can touch her, she is real.” It is the culmination of all the ridiculous fundraising, condo-sales, and vapid inspirational videos out there. We won’t spoil the rest for you.
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Place Setting

Why the developer’s vision matters in the experience economy
This is the second article of AN's July/August 2019 print edition feature focused on development. The first, "A new breed of skyscraper threatens to devastate the fabric of New York," can be read here. As our economy moves from one of consumerism to one of experience, the real estate industry needs to change. It’s time to shift focus from the hardware of buildings to the software of place. Developers are great at spotting the potential of land and what mix of uses and development will make land viable—what they’re less good at is what happens next. When they hand over that mix and program to an architect and ask them to squeeze it all into the site, developers may be doing all they’ve ever done historically, but they are neglecting the most critical of steps: agreeing on a vision for the place. “Vision” here means a strongly defined collective destination, the north star that guides and aligns all decision-making and allows teams to answer that most valuable question, “What should we do?” rather than that far more expensive question, “What could we do?” This process begins by asking, “Who is this place for? Why will they come? What will they do here?” When a place lacks vision, the end result is often at worst a commercial or critical failure and at best a bunch of people asking themselves, “What might this site have been if we’d only known then what we know now?” Architects often say that a project is only ever as good as the client. One of the challenges faced by developers is that many of them outsource the visioning process to architects rather than cocreating it with them. The best projects, and the best places, are always those that have a strong and shared vision delivered with unerring confidence. The absence of a place vision, and the reliance solely on a technical brief, can easily lead to cost overruns, design team disputes, ineffective communication, community objections, and ultimately simply soulless places. As we move from a consumer economy to an experience economy, we are reaching “peak stuff.” Millennials are far less interested in acquiring things and more interested in seeking experiences. Whereas their parents measured success by working hard to afford a luxury automobile, today’s youth measure their status by the stories they can tell about the latest hip restaurant, a pop-up retail experience, or an amazing vacation cabin in the woods. Instagram is full of the experiences people sought as opposed to the stuff they bought. This is putting ever more pressure on developers to provide a level of experience traditionally only provided by historic or organically emerging postindustrial neighborhoods. It’s time for real estate to step up. Office developments are no longer about grand statements that appease the corporation. Organizations have shifted their focus to the individual and the attraction and retention of talent over the cathedral to capitalism that has typified so many office buildings of old. In parallel, online retail is winning over homogenous retail streets and shopping centers; places like this will die unless they can shift to provide nontransactional experiences. Online shopping means consumers won’t bother to go to a shopping center or high street filled with chain stores to get things that they can simply buy with one click. There’s more choice online and goods can be delivered, and even returned, on the same day. People will only venture to physical shops if the basic act of consumption is complemented by outstanding service or experience. So the long-term viability of retail environments is predicated on their ability to provide some form of experience that provides enjoyment to the consumer. Architecture alone is no longer the answer. There is good news. Developers that are willing to take the “missing step” and really focus in on vision, purpose, and establishing a place brief will do well. They are not just stemming the tide of failure but actually achieving premium values across all real estate sectors. Kings Cross and Battersea Power Station in London have both proved that considered thought—rather than additional capital—can result in increased demand and value; Google and Apple both moved their operations to the respective projects—proof, if ever it were needed, that a strong vision leads to solid capital results. Closer to home, a strong vision and early communication for SOM’s The 78 development in Chicago allowed Related Midwest to secure stakeholder support for its ambition even before finalizing the massing, which paved the way for faster approvals. We need to embrace the synergy between great places and their consequent value appreciation. This is how we create a culture of self-perpetuating success, which will enable change where planning policy has failed. A small number of progressive developers have recognized that the market is changing. They can see that customers are increasingly seeking out experiential places that are engaging to live in, work at, or visit. Successful development is increasingly about the software of experience rather than the hardware of buildings. How you invest in creating place can vary whether you are investing millions into a sculpture at Hudson Yards or into a tech incubator to seed market momentum in Tampa. In contrast, traditional developers that are failing to develop or repurpose projects with such a sense of purpose and life are seeing their investment values stagnate. The scale of postindustrial sites that are now coming forward means we are no longer developing infill buildings that work off the historic character of established neighborhoods. Developers are working across entire districts, and it is essential that an overarching vision and purpose is established at the earliest opportunity. Failure to do so will result in incoherent and unsuccessful new districts; cookie-cutter, big brand monoculture; and disappointing, unpopular places. We are all familiar with places that have failed; they are globally prevalent, and the reason the real estate development industry is treated with such contempt and skepticism by the general public. But as new case studies emerge, such as King’s Cross in London, they act as a showcase for the synergy between the creation of great and thoughtful places and a more viable business practice. David Twohig is a founding partner of Wordsearch Place.