Search results for "metro"

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Studio Saves

Tulane launches new research studios on climate change and water management
Tulane’s School of Architecture announced a series of multi-year Research Studios earlier this month that will debut in the fall, each designed to address environmental issues and climate change. Combining both rigorous research engagement as well as traditional designed studio methods, the goal is to produce scholarship and real-world solutions to some of the most pressing problems affecting the architectural profession today. That includes examining a single topic over three-to-five years, including water management, conservation, sustainable real estate development, and more, The school’s setting in New Orleans, a sprawling metropolis located below sea level, has put students and faculty on the front lines of pressures from receding coastlines and escalating natural disasters. Architect Iñaki Alday was appointed Dean in August 2018 with the goal of aligning pedagogy towards practical challenges facing architecture and urbanism, and the Research Studios reflect his personal commitment to architecture that works—he is a cofounder of the Yamuna River Project, a pan-university initiative to tackle the urgent rehabilitation of the Yamuna in India. The studios, scheduled to launch for the Fall 2019 semester, will be led by Alday and global experts like Richard Campanella, Byron Mouton, and Kentaro Tsubaki, among others. Studios are expected to be interdisciplinary, spilling into other areas of scholarship at Tulane like the social sciences, law, and real estate. The Research Studios are a first of their kind and may inspire similar initiatives or climate focuses at schools around the world. With titles like Big Questions, Small Projects and The Future of Ports, the studios set out to address all scales, challenging students to design with a new type of urgency for the future.  The new Research Studios will cover the following, according to Tulane: · The Yamuna River Project and the Rajasthan Cities. By lead instructor Iñaki Alday, Dean and Richard Koch Chair in Architecture. · URBANbuild: re-evaluation, affordability, national translation. By lead instructor Byron Mouton, AIA, Director of URBANbuild, Lacey Senior Professor of Practice in Architecture. · The Future of Ports: From the Backyard to the Forefront of Ecology, Economy, and Urbanity. By lead instructor Margarita Jover, Associate Professor in Architecture. · Resilience Reinforced: Architectural precast concrete systems addressing the regional water infrastructure challenges. By lead instructor Kentaro Tsubaki, AIA, Associate Dean for Academics, Favrot Associate Professor of Architecture. · Contemporary Architecture in Historic Contexts: The Case of Magazine Street in New Orleans. By lead instructor Ammar Eloueini, AIA, NCARB, Favrot V Professor of Architecture. · Toward a Civic Landscape. By lead instructor Scott Bernhard, AIA, NCARB, Favrot III Associate Professor of Architecture. · Fast/Strong/Sustainable: Exploring the Expanded Mass Timber Industry for Design in Hurricane-Prone Regions. By lead instructor Judith Kinnard, FAIA, Harvey-Wadsworth Chair of Landscape Urbanism, Professor of Architecture. · Addis Ababa River Project. By lead instructor Rubén García Rubio, Assistant Professor in Architecture and Urbanism. · Big Questions, Small Projects: design build's potentials to advance community-driven ideas. Led by instructor Emilie Taylor Welty, Favrot II Professor of Practice.
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Cycling in NYC

Buro Ehring envisions a bike path network that would span all of NYC
There is a cultural aversion to cycling in New York City At least, that’s the belief of one Lower Manhattan-based engineering firm with a plan to upgrade the network of biking opportunities in the city. Though recent news has reminded New Yorkers that cycling here is dangerous, there seems to be a less-than-friendly approach to changing the inefficient system despite it. Mayor Bill de Blasio has advocated for Vision Zero since he took office in 2013 and continues to push for net-zero carbon emissions across all five boroughs, yet the build-out of safe bike lanes has been incredibly slow and not very innovative. Buro Ehring, a local studio that specializes in structures, facades, and fabrication, has envisioned a world where all this is different: New Yorkers can cycle underneath the Brooklyn Bridge instead of on top of it; an elevated bikeway lined with trees runs above Canal Street; 31st Street is completely and solely dedicated to pedestrians—no cars allowed. These speculative improvements, created under a masterplan called CycleNYC, would decrease commuting times, separate cyclists from vehicles, enhance air quality, and in turn, add joy to the art of bicycling in a major metropolis.  It’s not a far-reaching proposal. In fact, some of want they want to actualize is very doable. "CycleNYC at its core simply seeks to repurpose last century infrastructure and elevate it to meet the growing needs of New Yorkers," said Andres De La Paz, a designer at Buro Ehring.  But in order to make a series of infrastructural, cultural, and formal moves that turns that aversion upside down—as the team at Buro Ehring aims to, it will take the help of city agencies, local community boards, alternative transit advocates, other design professionals, and maybe even CitiBike Here’s what they propose:  Greenways Arguably the most construction-heavy part of CycleNYC, greenways would require the build-out of elevated bike infrastructure above the city’s busiest east-to-west corridors. In a study, Buro Ehring found that the bike network running north to south in New York is much stronger than its perpendicular counterpart. To fix this problem, those busy axes would be relieved with an above-the-street cycling track. Remember Foster + Partners’ raised bike path for London? It’s like that, but possibly with less glass. Buro Ehring reimagines New York’s most traffic-ridden (and most deadly) thoroughfares with this unique infrastructure. For context, Canal Street’s cycling track would span 5,843 feet starting from the Manhattan Bridge, Delancy Street's path would stretch 9931 feet from the Williamsburg Bridge westward, and there would be similar structures on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Houston Street in Manhattan, as well as Myrtle Avenue and Sunset Park in Brooklyn. By calculating the exact measurements of these potential bike highways, Buro Ehring outlined the amount of material needed to build these greenways as well.  One of the biggest benefits to this idea—besides the increased safety of cycling out of sight from cars—would be the advanced purification of the surrounding atmosphere. Buro Ehring proposes that the sustainable materials used to build these greenways include titanium-painted panels that absorb respiratory pollutants, as well as self-cleaning protective rain screens. Artificial LED lights also installed along the way could help grow the tree screens that envelope the legs and walls of the tracks.  Pathways Just as buildings get expanded and retrofitted to accommodate new programming, so can New York’s bridges and elevated subway lines, according to CycleNYC. The goal is to increase interborough connectivity and remediate air pollution that cyclists experience when they cross the East River next to idle cars and their heart rate rises due to the gradual incline. Buro Ehring proposes using existing pieces of infrastructure and building cycling tracks underneath them in order to provide healthier links. Think: Manhattan Bridge with a bike path hanging below the highway instead of structured on its northern side as it is now.  In another example, the Queensborough Bridge could feature a pathway that’s 6561 feet long and creates a smoother connection to Roosevelt Island and Cornell Tech. The bike path would spiral down onto the small island and stop commuters from having to cross into Queens before taking the pedestrian bridge or the tram from Manhattan. Pedestrian Walkways  This idea doesn’t include building anything, but instead, paving over everything. Buro Ehring sees some of New York’s most packed streets as pedestrian- and cycling-friendly only. A 14,540-foot-long, green-covered walkway on 30th Street could increase the desire to be in Midtown, while a similar car-free space across 61 Street and through Central Park could be a new east-to-west axis.  With all these solutions, Buro Ehring also sees the construction of cycling-specific hubs placed on the edges of the boroughs for commuters and advocates to join forces, and create solidarity. Not only that, but there could be a serious placemaking effect from the integration of these healthier cycling options. Just as the High Line spurred both high-design and community-based development along it and underneath, so too could these greener, cycling-centric spaces help influence growth throughout New York. "A simple idea like improving the bicycle network can have a domino effect of positive impacts on the city," said Ryan Cramer, a project manager. "The infrastructure is all in place. It's now just a matter of implementing the solutions."
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Wright On Time

$50 million restoration of Buffalo estate designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is finally complete
On July 22, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that a two-decade, $50 million restoration of a significant Frank Lloyd Wright urban estate in Buffalo is finally complete, including the Martin House. Wright completed the complex for Darwin D. Martin, the head of the Larkin Soap Company, in 1905. The buildings on-site include the Martin House, which is connected to a glass conservancy via a 100-foot-long glass pergola, as well as the Barton House, a residence for Martin's sister and her family. A carriage house and a gardener's house (added in 1908) are integrated into the estate via formal English gardens that merge with more naturalistic landscape elements. While work on the homes wrapped last year, the restoration of the one-and-a-half–acre grounds was completed just this month. Bayer Landscape Architecture, a firm based in Honeoye Falls, near Rochester, led the project. Its most significant undertaking was the remake of the floricycle, an intricate scheme of 20,000 plantings that radiated out from the Martin House in a series of nesting hyperbolas. Originally, the bulbs, trees, and shrubs were spaced to provide visual interest from March through November as they grew and bloomed in a rhythm. The firm also redid the formal decorative border around the pergola and beefed up the grounds' plantings to revive the outdoor "rooms" and the wild-by-design clumps of shrubs and trees that had faded over the years. Bayer worked with the City of Buffalo to coordinate street tree planting along Jewett Parkway and Summit Avenue, the two roads that abut the property. Wayfinding, lighting, and a new cafe area rounded out the landscape improvements. The project is part of New York State's Buffalo Billion, an economic development initiative that targets the metro area. "The Darwin Martin House is one of Western New York's most iconic attractions," Cuomo said in a press release. "The restoration of the historic landscape is an outstanding addition to this important piece of Buffalo's growing architectural tourism industry." In the same release, Kevin R. Malchoff, president of the Martin House board, noted that the property is the first work of 20th-century architecture among the state's 36 historic sites. Overall, the preservation effort was funded by the National Historic Landmark Program and New York State Historic Site, with New York State kicking in $29 million, a little over half of the total project cost.
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Neomenon

Saudi Arabia wants NEOM to have flying cars, a fake moon, and 24/7 surveillance
Have you heard of NEOM? The futuristic city-state rising on the northwestern corner of Saudi Arabia The Wall Street Journal recently uncovered more details on the $500 billion desert destination that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) wants to create. The ambitious project, which aims to transform 10,000 square miles of desert into “the world’s most liveable city,” hasn't been a total secret. MBS has been promoting it since 2017. But the WSJ’s findings on what NEOM would truly consist of, based on a review of 2,300 pages of documents on the plans, offers the best glimpse inside it. We’re talking about a place of extreme automation, surveillance, and wealth meant to attract large Western companies, help diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy, and decrease its financial reliance on oil.  If fully constructed, NEOM could be the next Dubai, but with far more advanced technologies and an urban ecosystem built from scratch that would rival every major metropolis in the world, at least according to MBS. But the truth is that NEOM might not be fully realized due to the reported corruption that exists within the Saudi government. Right now, many countries are hesitant to do business there because of it. Even architects and major leaders in the field who previously committed to and served on NEOM's advisory board are flat-out refusing to work with the country anymore. Located on the very edge of Saudi Arabia where the Red Sea meets Egypt, Israel, and Jordan, NEOM features a masterplan that’s rather inconceivable and extremely expensive, but construction is already underway and an airport has already been built. Here are some of the consultants’ big ideas: flying taxis to take residents to work, robot maids to clean peoples' homes, beaches with glow-in-the-dark sand, cloud seeding to bring rain to the hot desert, a hologram faculty teaching at leading local schools, a robot dinosaur island that serves as a tourist attraction, and state-of-the-art medical facilities where scientists will work to “modify the human genome to make people stronger.” Last but not least, MBS wants to build an artificial moon that would light up the city at night. While that could be accomplished with drones, one of the more nefarious ideas proposed by MBS himself is the constant surveillance of NEOM's citizens through facial recognition technology and a legal system operating outside the bounds of Saudi Arabia's courts. Regardless of whether it gets built, it’s interesting to note that the proposal for NEOM was dreamt up by a team of U.S.-based consulting and management firms. The WSJ discovered that Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company, as well as Oliver Wyman, were working on the project. Their recommendations go beyond urban planning and include a slew of economic incentives and legal systems that NEOM could utilize to both lure residents and keep them there. In addition, the expert advisory group also provides plans to relocate the over 20,000 people that already inhabit the region.  How and when these out-of-this-world ideas will come to fruition is unclear, but we do know that the Crown Prince wants things to move quickly. NEOM's first phase of development is expected to be completed by 2025, but it remains to be seen whether there will be any flying cars.
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Beyond Kengo Kuma

AN rounds up the hottest 2020 Summer Olympics venues in Tokyo
Eight out of the 42 venues slated to host next summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo will be brand new. All were designed by Japanese architects, and it’s one of the rare times that the biennial sporting event isn’t banking on the brand recognition of a foreign-born design team for one of its main buildings. In fact, most of the architecture is old; 25 venues are already existing thanks to Japan’s plans to repurpose a number of the buildings constructed for the 1964 Summer Olympics, the last time Tokyo hosted the Games.  Though Kengo Kuma’s timber-clad Olympic Stadium will be at the center of the sprawling citywide sporting campus, the other slew of structures—most of them inspired by Japanese tradition—will also put Tokyo’s architecture on the world’s stage. Take a look at some of the buildings that are coming up for 2020, as well as the ones that will return to the spotlight:   Olympic Stadium Architect: Kengo Kuma Capacity: 68,000 Sport: Opening/Closing Ceremonies, soccer, track and field After almost of decade of controversy over the design of the Olympic Stadium, Kengo Kuma’s vision is nearly complete. An all wood-and-steel structure, it broke ground in December 2016 on the site of the former National Stadium which was demolished the year prior. Kuma’s design was criticized upon release, many citing its similarity to Zaha Hadid’s defunct proposal for the project, which she won in 2012. Hadid’s proposal proved too costly, so the Japanese government decided to rebid the site in late 2015, asking designers to partner with local contractors who could estimate costs and timing. Kuma won in a partnership with several major groups including the Taisei Corporation and Toyo Ito.   Olympic Aquatics Center Architect: Yamashita Sekkei and Cox Architecture Capacity: 15,000 Sport: Swimming, diving, synchronized swimming Scheduled for completion in February, the Aquatics Center features a distinct and thin roof supported by four bare pillars that rise from the ground level. Its four angular all-glass facades appear to have a rib-like pattern going from end to end, drawing the eye upward to focus on the trapezoidal-shaped platform atop it. The entire 828,800-square-foot arena, located in the North Tokyo Bay, is raised on a podium and is expected to weigh 7,000 tons.   Ariake Arena Architect: Kume Sekkei Capacity: 12,000 Sport: Indoor Volleyball  Volleyball made its Olympic debut in 1964, coincidentally the last time Tokyo hosted the Summer Games, and the future Ariake Arena was a major part of the city’s 2020 bid. Situated in a northwest corner of Tokyo Bay next to the Ariake Tennis Park, the almost-complete project features a convex roof design that’s unlike any other venue in the athletic event. Resembling an inverted crest wave, the silver-structure boasts incredible views of the bay outside its front door.  Olympic Village Architect: Unknown Capacity: 17,000 athletes Tokyo’s Olympic Village will be located on the Harumi Pier, which is at the physical center of the Heritage and Tokyo Bay venue zones—the two areas where the venues have been allocated for Tokyo 2020. Spread out over 33 acres, the village will contain 22 buildings ranging from 14 to 22 stories, as well as two 50-story residential towers. It’s another controversial project: locals are concerned about the site’s functionality after the Olympics are over. Plans call for some 5,650 apartments to be built in the next five years, which has the real estate market worried. Branded as the Harumi Flag community, the development will include commercial space, parks, and a school on the pier as well. More interestingly, it’s supposed to be the largest hydrogen-powered development in the world. Ariake Gymnastics Center Architect: Nikken Sekkei Capacity: 12,000 Sport: Gymnastics Located in Tokyo’s Koto Ward just steps away from the Olympic Village, the Ariake Gymnastics Center will feature more wood than any other venue in its bowl-shaped design. Construction is set to finish in October on the one-million-square-foot, low-lying structure which, according to the Japan Times, includes slanted walls as a nod to the engawa verandas found on traditional Japanese homes. The central element of the architecture is a massive, 394-foot-long-by-295-foot-wide wood roof that arches over the building’s core. The exterior includes a series of crisscrossed wooden poles that stretch from the overhang of the roof to the plaza below.  Here's a rundown of the older venues that will host an event for Tokyo 2020: Yoyogi National Stadium Architect: Kenzo Tange Capacity: 13,000 Sport: handball Built: 1964 Known for: Its parabolic roof design and for inspiring Frei Otto’s design for the Olympic Stadium in Munich. Nippon Budokan Architect: Mamoru Tamada Capacity: 41,000 Sport: Judo Built: 1964 Known for: Its octagonal shape and pointed roof that references Mt. Fuji., as well as a concrete lower half that looks like a Brutalist version of a traditional Japanese temple.  Sapporo Dome Architect: Hiroshi Hara Capacity: 41,000 Sport: Soccer Built: 2001, for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Known for: Its metallic exterior and futuristic form, as well as for boasting the first retractable pitch in the world.  Tatsumi International Swimming Centre Architect: Environment Design Institute  Capacity: 3,600 Sport: Water polo Built: 1993 Known for: Its space frame roof and all-white exterior cladding, that folds over the glass and concrete building to create curved frames for views.  Tokyo Big Sight Architect: AXS Satow Size: 1.1 million square feet Sport: Planned to host wrestling, fencing, and taekwondo, but will now be the main media center Built: 1996 Known for: Its four inverted pyramids clad in titanium that together house a convention center.  Izu Velodrome Architect: Gensler and Schurmann Architects Capacity: 1,800; 4,300 with temporary seating Sport: Track Cycling Built: 2011 Known for: The silver drum-shaped building holds the first 250-meter-long indoor track made of timber in Japan.
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Let There Be Light

Foster + Partners wins competition to update the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
Foster + Partners has been selected to design the future expansion and remodeling of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in northern Spain. The team entered into an international competition in collaboration with local studio LM Urirate Arkitektura S.L.P under a pseudonym, and the winning proposal beat our six other design teams due to its respect for the existing architecture on-site. The 105-year-old institution has undergone two major renovations since first opening in the center of the city—it’s situated between an urban park and major plaza and surrounded by both aging buildings and new construction. Foster + Partners teamed up with Luis María Uriarte, who worked on the 2001 expansion, under the collective name of “Agravitas.” Their vision to update the historic space will re-orient it towards the city, and add over 21,500-square-feet of new galleries within an open and flexible floor plan.  According to Norman Foster, the heart of the project will be making the original 1945 building the central focus of the museum. They aim to freshen up its plaza-facing facade and enhance the structure’s permeability by building a new sun-lit lobby between the thin, brick building and the 1970s addition in the rear.  “Our design will restore the existing mid-twentieth century building and setting to its original glory,” said Norman Foster in a statement, “[and] create a new publicly accessible atrium space and add major new galleries for contemporary art in a floating pavilion.”  In true Foster + Partner’s style, this stacked piece of architecture will appear lightweight and fluid, with terraces on its western edge. On the outside of the museum towards the park, the slender addition will create a large overhang where visitors can gather underneath in the shade. In the atrium, which will be built over the exterior Plaza Arriaga, a massive skylight will stream natural light from the roof of the pavilion. The circular window will cut through each level to maximize views of the art below.  “Technological in its image, humanistic in its approach and ecological in its sustainability, the proposal combines architectural quality, urban sensitivity, and social responsibility to raise a luminous landmark in the historic heart of Bilbao,” the jury said in an official statement. This isn’t the first project Foster + Partners have done for the city of Bilbao. In 1995, the firm completed the Metro Bilbao Station, an understated but ultimately iconic glass canopy that leads commuters to an expansive underground.  No estimated date of completion for the project has been given yet.
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Not a Literal Baby Shark

West Palm Beach deploys "Baby Shark" against the homeless

In a strange attempt to deter homeless people from camping out at a waterfront pavilion (and a great example of hostile urbanism), authorities in West Palm Beach, Florida have been blasting children’s songs from a public address system on loop overnight. The Lake Pavilion, which is adjacent to a public park and a promenade facing the Intracoastal Waterway, regularly hosts private events that rake in around $240,000 each year. The low-slung building has floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive terrace that make it particularly popular with guests, especially as a wedding venue. West Palm Beach Director of Parks and Recreation Leah Rockwell told the Palm Beach Post that playing such recent hits as "Baby Shark" and "Raining Tacos" on a continuous loop is necessary to keep the event space “clean and open” for paying customers.

The decision to weaponize music against those who sleep on the property highlights Palm Beach County’s relatively pronounced homelessness problem. West Palm Beach alone accounts for a large portion of the county’s 1,400 homeless people, whose plight has been exacerbated by a lack of affordable housing in the Greater Miami Area. According to a report published by the Miami Urban Future Initiative, the metropolitan region’s enormous housing stock of 2.5 million units consists primarily of high-priced condominiums and single-family homes. Greater Miami, which encompasses urban centers like Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, ranks among the top ten most expensive rental markets in the nation.

While hostile architecture is nothing new, West Palm Beach’s deployment of "Baby Shark" against the homeless has generated considerable pushback from both locals and observers across the country. Critics argue that the city should focus its resources on support for the unsheltered, but Rockwell insists that the music is only a temporary solution. Once the park’s hours are finalized, she says, the municipal government will be better equipped to control who is at the pavilion during nighttime hours. It is unclear, however, how targeting the homeless for trespassing will resolve the broader issues at hand. It's also worth noting that this type of sonic warfare is nothing new; retail stores and local governments across the U.S. have been playing high-pitched squeals that only young people can hear to deter loitering teens for decades. Another place music is played all night long to deter sleeping? Guantanamo Bay, where the government has reportedly used non-stop rock, metal, and children's song playlists to keep detainees up for days on end.

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Noblesse Oblige

Big Plans: Picturing Social Reform employs photography and drawings to capture a movement
The United States of America of the 19th century was a civilization in rapid flux, subject to spiraling economic and demographic growth coupled with staggering socioeconomic inequality that manifested in deleterious urban poverty. Big Plans: Picturing Social Reform, on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston through September 15, 2019, effectively encapsulates the bold visions of the era's patrician reformers with the living conditions of the urban poor that influenced their sweeping plans. The exhibition is curated by Charles Waldheim, the Harvard Graduate School of Design's John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture, Director of the Office for Urbanization, and the Ruettgers Curator of Landscape, and is largely made up of highly-detailed topographical and landscape maps, historical photographs, and personal mementos. According to Waldheim, "the show started with a very simple idea; could we take large urban plan drawings from the 19th century and treat them like works of art?" For Big Plans, Waldheim hones in on four protagonists; Frederick Law Olmsted, the historic doyen of landscape architecture; Isabella Stewart Gardiner, the museum's namesake and prominent member of the Boston Brahmins; Charles Eliot, Olmsted's apprentice and prominent city planner in his own right; and Lewis Wickes Hine, the sociologist and prodigious photographer of the American urban condition. Although contemporary controversies surrounding park construction largely center on budgetary or zoning constraints, the execution of such projects during the 19th century was remarkably radical in ideology and scope. Big Plans highlights the revolutionary nature of public landscape design with an initial focus on Olmsted & Vaux's design for Central Park in New York, juxtaposed with an original hand-colored map by William Bridges for New York's 1811 Commissioners' plan that would place the gridiron street layout of Manhattan. In comparing these two disparate visions of Gotham at the onset of the exhibition, the curatorial direction quickly lays out the reformers' visions of reshaping the rigid rationality of the industrial city into one that cultivated both economic and social progress. The theme of correcting the societal ills of the industrial metropolis is continued in the second room of the exhibition with five-by-seven-inch silver gelatin prints produced by street photographer and sociologist Lewis Hines. Similar to contemporaneous New York-based social reformer Jacob Riis, Hines advocated for photography as an effective tool to prod for social reform. The images are not beautiful; as is the case with much early photography, many are overexposed and out of focus. However, aesthetics were not their purpose. The photos are a searing indictment of child labor, depicting young men and women toiling in industrial mills and sifting through fetid landfills in search of scrap materials. The remainder of the exhibition is largely a collection of drawings that plot out the expansion of the public realm and park space in Boston and Chicago, ranging from the Back Bay Fens to Jackson Park. Absent from the curatorial direction of Big Plans is a perspective from the urban working class and impoverished for whom the grandiose schemes were tentatively laid out for. This top-down perspective was a conscious decision by Waldheim to highlight the uneasy paternalism, or noblesse oblige, of the era's social reformers. While not explicit, the exhibition begs the question of whether this condescension laid the groundwork for similarly grandiose urban renewal plans during the mid-20th century. Big Plans: Picturing Social Reform Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 25 Evans Way Boston Through September 15, 2019
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Old Landscapes in New Places

Decoding the colonial history behind Blue Origin's space settlements
In May 2019, Jeff Bezos made his case for why and how humans will occupy space, in a presentation titled “Going to Space to Benefit Earth.” The original presentation was made to a relatively small audience but is also viewable on the website of Blue Origin, the Bezos-owned spaceflight and rocketry company. In little less than an hour, he made the argument that for humans to continue to evolve and improve their living standards, we will need access to more resources and environments than the earth has to offer us. As part of the presentation, Bezos described his vision for what the off-planet colonies will look like and the short-term goals required to make them a reality. While most of the emphasis was placed on those short-term goals, which are to colonize and extract resources from the moon, the more compelling section of the presentation focused his long term goal for off-planet environments. Using a series of illustrative animations, Bezos explained how humans could inhabit space using O’Neil cylinders. This is technology initially imagined in the 1970s by Princeton University physics professor Gerard O’Neil. There are plenty of other people, such as Fred Scharmen, who have already written about the history behind extraterrestrial colonies and their cultural impacts, so instead, I would like to focus on the even older representational techniques that influenced Blue Origin's vision of the future. Bezos used four images to illustrate and emphasize a set of important points that he makes to re-enforce his vision. The first of these points is that Blue Origin's space habitats would not be made up of larger versions of the international space stations but of manmade environments capable of supporting populations that are the equivalent of small to medium-sized cities. The second is that these orbital landscapes could vary in use (and simulated gravity through the adjustment of their rotational speeds), including recreational, farming, and technical purposes. The third is, that despite being removed from the surface of the Earth, the architecture could be made to be both visionary and familiar, allowing colonizers to maintain their cultural and spatial references while experimenting with novel landscapes. Despite being new natures, the landscapes and ecologies presented by Blue Origin were highly familiar places. This was an important part of the presentation because it allowed the audience to imagine themselves as potentially occupying these places. The representational devices used in the renderings are part of a long tradition of landscape painting: most notably, passive cues that make the occupation of unfamiliar landscapes imaginable and palatable. For comparison, Thomas Cole and other artists of the Hudson River School created paintings that normalized the 19th-century expansion into the Northeastern United States. They celebrated agriculture and other methods of organizing nature to the benefit of European colonizers, "taming" what they saw as a wild place. Nature has been historically used as an adversary to be conquered in the form of weather and difficult-to-traverse topography. An example of this can be seen in the painting View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow by Thomas Cole. The painting illustrates an artist on a hill facing storm clouds and farmland in the distance. The use of perspective and distance used in the Blu Origin images echo the rules used by Cole, with the only significant difference being the threat that the environment poses. One of the animations places a stag on a mountain in the center foreground of the rendering. In the background, there is an expanse of artificial wilderness with a city in the distance. To the right of the stag, an eagle or other large bird of prey flies effortlessly through the cylinder. Adjacent to the settlement in the image, the earth slowly rotates into view from behind the wilderness section. Instead of the thunder clouds seen in Cole's work, the sky has been replaced with the dark void beyond the structure's enclosure and stars, with the explicit understanding that this is an off-planet landscape surrounded by a vacuum. In another animation, a city is present in the background and passenger cars moved along a light rail. The presence of rain seen in Thomas Cole's painting has been replaced with a drone watering crops as it drifts over land designated for agricultural use. Weather in these spaceborne enclosures, specifically rain events, would be fabricated and controlled by necessity. However, using drones to create rain events also speaks towards a need to experience weather to simulate “nature” to the highest degree possible. The drones provide a service, but they also normalize an extremely artificial landscape. The final two animations illustrated two forms of off-world urbanism. In one of the images, the "city" was created by collaging together a series of important architectural constructions and streetscape seen across the world. From one vantage point, a resident would see a blend of Swiss, Italian, and Chinese architecture. Architecture would work as a comforting set of references for the residents, tying them back to the Earth-bound cultural environments perceived as being valuable. This vision was a more densely populated habitat of tall buildings, parks, and athletic fields. As is the case with the landscapes, the city animations sampled a narrow segment of the Earth, and were meant to attract interest from a narrow segment of people. The primary audience is the people that were present in the auditorium, sharing privileged worldviews and experiences, who would recognize the imagery being referenced. The animations shared by Blue Origin represent a complex set of ideas and allowances. They presented a chance to revisit the romantic mythologies that the adults in the audience saw in their college art history courses. At the same time, those renderings validate their commitment to a future where technology is the best means to advance humanity. Like the Cole painting, they justify the presence of people in space habitats through the use of positive pastoral imagery. This leads to what is arguably the real goal of the presentation—building enthusiasm for resource extraction on the moon. Jeff Bezos makes it clear that the moon would need to be mined for the resources that would make these space habitats economically viable. He also stated that space would provide a limitless amount of resources for expansion. This is an argument of expansion and capitalism, one that edges out conservation on Earth. There is an implicit assumption that increased exploration will make the materials cheaper. This is an argument that has been made many times before, including in 1492 when Columbus lobbied for the investments that would allow him to reach the Bahamas. Marc Miller is currently an assistant professor at the Penn State Landscape Architecture Stuckeman School.
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Maybe?

New York's public housing is in crisis. Can architects design the way out?
The Regional Plan Association (RPA) has selected architects Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich of Peterson Rich Office (PRO) to dream up housing and maintenance strategies for New York City’s deteriorating public housing for the nonprofit planning think tank’s newly-funded chair of urban design. The joint appointment will give the pair the opportunity to build on past work that reimagined the New York City Housing Authority's (NYCHA) developments. It’s a tall order to step into a project that’s supposed to help NYCHA, the landlord for 400,000 New Yorkers, though it’s not necessarily the number of tenants that poses a challenge. The authority has been strangled by decades of under-investment, hobbled by long-running scandals, and faces an estimated $45 million backlog for repairs and capital projects. A December 2018 RPA report stated that maintaining the status quo of broken-down buildings could cost the city an additional $700 million every year that maintenance is deferred. The funding options for public housing are scarce, but nascent development plans aim to fill the gap created by missing funds at the federal level. Over the past five years, PRO has delivered concepts for building out the roofs of NYCHA high-rises and the transforming parking lots that surround the towers into units that scale to the size of two contiguous parking spaces. This time, PRO will have more financial resources and access to RPA experts at their disposal, allowing them to explore housing provision and maintenance in-depth.  While Peterson and Rich have a year to develop a book of scalable public housing concepts, RPA—not NYCHA—is PRO’s primary client. Moses Gates, RPA's vice president for Housing and Neighborhood Development, confirmed that NYCHA is not a partner on the project. He added that the no-NYCHA approach aligns with the organization’s usual M.O. of giving experts free rein to explore ideas that might not be feasible within an agency’s framework. Richard Kaplan, the architect who endowed the chair at RPA, gave the organization the funds so it could focus some of its efforts on urban design. Gates emphasized that here, and with subsequent Kaplan chairs, the architects' ideas are springboards for future action, not prescriptions. For inspiration, Rich told The Architect's Newspaper that they’re looking to London, where public (social) housing is similar in age and design to many NYCHA projects and has similarly struggled with disinvestment. But, unlike centralized NYCHA, London social housing is delivered on a borough-by-borough basis. Borough councils may act as developers, borrowing money against the value of their assets to build market-rate housing that subsidizes the upkeep of social housing units. That approach fits in with an emerging strategy in New York, where the city is entertaining plans to sell air rights and underutilized developable land in certain NYCHA projects to generate revenue for the cash-strapped agency. In a press release, the RPA stated that PRO’s mandate is to deliver ideas that will “bring NYCHA into financial solvency, while better integrating NYCHA into the surrounding communities.” Housing projects in New York are islands, separated spatially—and often socially—from their surroundings, especially in neighborhoods that are whiter and wealthier. From Chelsea to Canarsie, NYCHA stewards the largest portfolio of affordable housing within the five boroughs: If NYCHA residents had their own city, it would be larger than New Orleans, Cleveland, or Pittsburg. However, chronic mismanagement has impaired the agency’s ability to provide safe affordable housing. Last year, the New York Times reported that NYCHA officials routinely disputed the results of lead paint tests in its apartments and exposed children to the dangerous heavy metal. Elsewhere, thousands of families contend with vermin infestations and repair requests that go unanswered. The shameful conditions in the developments, as well as the opportunity to rework the modernist tower-in-the-park paradigm, make NYCHA housing a prime target for architects and planners looking for a do-good project. Most white-collar urbanists, however, have never lived in public housing, nor do they have personal connections to the projects beyond observing them from the sidewalk or reading about them in the paper. Designers also have to contend with a real fear on the part of some NYCHA residents that new development will catalyze displacement and spur neighborhood-wide gentrification. Under these conditions, how can a firm that’s best known for designing art galleries and high-end homes effectively design with, or for New Yorkers who live in public housing? First and foremost, Rich said, PRO intends to address immediate needs, like the mold that afflicts tenants in some developments and heating systems that fail in the dead of winter. This will be the firm’s first go at spearheading a community consultation, so they intend to collaborate with RPA-affiliates to help organize and guide the process.  “It’s just crucial that residents have buy-in during the process and into the project,” said Peterson. “We’re thinking about phasing, how to create a process that sets a project up for success.” RPA has a relationship with Community Voices Heard, a social justice organization primarily led by low-income women and people of color, and together they will work to facilitate connections with NYCHA residents.  NYCHA did not respond to multiple requests for comment on how it regards design proposals from outside the agency. Peterson and Rich first became interested in NYCHA after a 2014 fellowship with the Institute for Public Architecture (IPA) where they, along with urban designer Sagi Golan, thought through public housing in 9x18, a project that would infill development on NYCHA parking lots. The goal now, said Rich, is to think about incremental changes instead of jumping straight from an idea to a construction proposal. "NYCHA is a source of fascination for people in design and planning because it’s a city in a city; it’s just so big," Peterson said. "What we’re trying to do here is focus on actionable ideas."
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Walls of Air maps the myriad divisions that mark contemporary Brazil

In the post-truth age, the effective and public display of meticulously researched data is a welcome change. The Americas Society's Walls of Air exhibition is an instructive and concise mapping of the trends of urbanism, environmentalism, and economic relations, amongst many other subjects. Four Brazilian and Mexican architects curated the exhibition: Sol Camacho, Laura González Fierro, Marcello Maia Rosa, and Gabriel Kozlowski. The Americas Society’s gallery is located on the ground floor of McKim, Mead & White’s Neo-Federal 680 Park Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The gallery, in contrast to the grandeur of the turn-of-the-century mansion, is relatively stark and divided into three rectilinear spaces. The show's curatorial medium du jour are large format, ten-foot-by-ten-foot UV prints on aluminum composite material, mounted on aluminum frames. The panels are supplemented with video interviews with project researchers. The exhibition was originally displayed in 2018 at the Brazilian Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale and began as a research project to examine and discuss the visible and non-visible walls or barriers that make up contemporary Brazil.   It is immediately apparent from viewing the cartographic drawings the exhaustive level of research undertaken to produce them. The curators partnered with a multidisciplinary team with particular expertise on the subject matter for each panel. In total, over 200 professionals, ranging from the fields of social sciences to the visual arts, aided in the project's collaborative research. This data, in some circumstances Excel sheets with over a million entries, was then visualized with a broad toolbox of software including GIS, Rhino, and Illustrator. Visually, the Brazil displayed throughout the exhibition is not bounded by national frontiers, but placed amid a fluid web of global and regional forces. Deforestation, a trend reshaping the Amazon basin, is presented as a continental issue stretching from the Andes to the river deltas on the coast of the Atlantic. Land stripped bare to the west effectively reduces the level of humidity and rainfall in other places, such as northeastern Brazil—in effect, the policies of one locality catastrophically spin outwards across the ecosystem and impact the surrounding region. A particularly well-documented aspect in Walls of Air is the mapping of commodity flows, immigrant migration, and the geography of the country's real estate market. Lines of increasing width are color-coded to specify the material harvested—bearing a fair resemblance to Charles Minard's map of Napoleon's Russian Campaign—and drive from the Brazilian hinterland to the primary trade ports in the country's southeast. The destination of each type of commodity, its monetary value, and the nation's imports are neatly placed on the side margins of the print. When juxtaposed with the concentration of real estate value in the country's southeast and the destination of immigrant groups within the primary economic centers, one can tease out the prevailing socioeconomic contours of Brazil and the geographic inequalities therein. Walls of Air concludes with an analysis of the Brazilian city in history and the present day. Beginning with Portuguese colonization in the 16th century, the curators mark every single city founded within the country since and the maritime routes that fed them. The subject is expanded upon further with the analysis of post-war urban planning, maps of manmade modifications to metropolitan topography, and data focused on acts of insurrection.

Walls of Air: The Brazilian Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale Americas Society 680 Park Avenue New York, New York Through August 3, 2019

 
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Open/Work On View

Outpost Office explores the state of architectural education in post-revolution Ukraine
Architecture has faced many challenges in modern Ukraine: shifting narratives around cultural heritage and the legacy of Soviet architecture, predatory developers who willfully ignore planning regulations, a struggling economy, and widespread corruption to name a few. Ukraine’s state institutions of higher education often grapple with badly needed reforms, bloated by outdated bureaucracy and limited resources. But today, only five years after a peaceful revolution came to a tragic end and with war waging at its eastern border, Ukraine’s first independent school of architecture has just completed the inaugural year of its bachelor program in architecture. The newly established Kharkiv School of Architecture (KhSA) and its dedicated community of educators and students are hopeful signs of the bottom-up reforms possible in post-revolution Ukraine. In spite of the frustrating global tug-of-war over its lands, and the sobering societal struggles, a new generation of leaders are being trained to construct Ukraine’s future.  Reformation Calls for reform in post-Soviet Ukraine have been steadily building for many years but became a global focus in 2014 during the “Maidan” movement (now termed the Revolution of Dignity). Although it began in Kyiv as backlash to the former President Yanukovych's decision to reverse an EU agreement, the movement rapidly grew to multi-city protests. The protestors’ grievances grew to include Ukraine’s systematic and widespread corruption, which affects many aspects of daily life, including in higher education. As Lviv-based historian Yaroslav Hrytsak told the Kyiv Post at the time, the revolution was characterized particularly by, “young people who are very educated, people who are active in social media, who are mobile and 90 percent of whom have university degrees, but who don't have futures.” Today, the legacy of the Revolution of Dignity is a young generation that continues to work towards political, social, economic, and educational reforms. For the leaders of the KhSA, the question is how the architects they are training can be not only become responsible practitioners but the reformers Ukraine needs. One of the many positive societal shifts in post-revolution Ukraine is a growing engagement in the built environment. Young activists are leading a charge to save Ukraine’s remaining Soviet modernist architecture from destructive forces, including decommunization laws and aggressive development. Additionally, many architects are returning to Ukraine after training or working abroad and leveraging their experiences to bring visitors and new ideas into the Ukranian architectural community through workshops, forums, and other public programming. A New Model Kharkiv is an industrial city in the northeast corner of Ukraine. The country’s second largest city, Kharkiv was the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic before the capital was moved to Kyiv in 1934. In architecture circles, Kharkiv is perhaps best known as the site of Derzhprom, a Metropolis-like complex of constructivist towers interlinked by iconic skyways that made it the largest single structure in the world when completed in 1928.  The KhSA fronts a small square near the confluence of the Lopan and Kharkiv Rivers. Behind its sparkling white Beaux-Arts facade, the activity of the school is intense and frenetic. The lower level galleries are filled with studio spaces and exhibitions. Upstairs, the “big hall” hosts lectures and symposiums on an almost nightly basis. The basement workshop is filled with mock-ups, models, and countless meters of wood. The school rents various lab spaces to a coding academy, a VR company, and other start-ups. The greatest hub of activity is the small office on the lower floor. Inside, the young tutors and directors that run the school day-to-day meet constantly, often planning events and the school’s schedule on a weekly or daily basis. The conversation is intense, vigorous, and constant. No one in the room is over 40.  The KhSA serves a unique population—of its first class of eleven students, ten are women. The students range in age from 18-to-44, many with families and children. Everyone in the first year class is Ukrainian, but the school is in the planning stages of an international master’s program, which they hope to introduce in the coming years to attract students from around the world to study in Ukraine. The KhSA is a new type of architectural education in Ukraine. The school’s statement of purpose is to “prepare a future generation of professional responsible architects and urbanists who will implement spatial changes in Ukraine and will create a quality environment with an emphasis on modern technology solutions, community challenges, and new ideas.” A workshop earlier this summer at the school focused on rehousing some of the nearly 1.5 million internally displaced Ukrainians who have fled the Eastern conflict zone near the Russian border. The school’s founder, Oleg Drozdov, sees training architects to tackle the real-world problems of the Ukrainian context as his young institution’s mandate. Drozdov leverages relationships from his successful practice to identify organizations, municipalities, and projects that could benefit from a relationship with the school.   Open/Work To celebrate the first year of their newly established bachelor's program, program director Kuba Snopek and his colleagues decided to hold a public exhibition and architectural education symposium. Our practice, Outpost Office, was invited to lead a seminar that would work with students to curate, design, and fabricate the exhibition, Open/Work. We quickly discovered that KhSA’s first class was a prolific one. We began by asking the students to collect every single piece of work they had produced and arrange them on the floor of the big hall. Over the next few hours, our students assembled an immense landscape of work, including compositional studies, material experiments, construction details, and modest houses that concluded their studio studies. After a conversation about the work, we asked the students to sweep through the school again, gathering tools, books, posters and any other ephemera that was significant to them. We explained that we were seeking answers to a deceptively simple question: What makes an architecture school?  In many ways, our approach to this seminar and exhibition draws inspiration from previous research work on organizational and material systems of open-air markets and bazaars. Starting in 2014 as a Fulbright Fellow in Ukraine, Ashley became fascinated with architectural logic of organization, tectonics, and display methods found in Ukrainian markets. In 2016 she led “Bizarre Bazaar,” a travel seminar with students from the University of Michigan’s Taubman College to study these environments and make legible their design modalities of organization, governance, and logistics. Like all start-ups, the KhSA works with limited resources. In this spirit, the exhibition utilizes inexpensive materials typical of bazaars and markets in Ukraine—white metal grating, glossy white tiles, and generic LED lights—along with the bazaars’ highly curated organizational approach to display. The white metal grating used as the exhibition’s primary material is also erected by bazaar vendors to densely suspend their goods. Students worked collaboratively to explore organizational methods and detailing more often associated with museum storage than acts of display. Objects in the floating archive are arrayed to produce micro-narratives that celebrated significant accomplishments of their first year. The exhibition not only included student work, but items borrowed from around the school including lecture posters, books, pencils, ✖️ 's (for Ха́рків), pillows, hard hats, woodworking tools, and at least one concrete whale. Ultimately, the exhibition is a moment to reflect on a remarkable milestone before another important "first" arrives... second year.  This project would not have been possible without the supporting institutions that funded our research in Ukraine the last five years, including the Knowlton School of Architecture at the Ohio State University, University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the Fulbright Program, the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, and the KhSA.