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NYCxDESIGN kicks off this week, and our first ever Tech+ Expo will be part of it. Check us out on May 23rd from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 639 West 46th St. For more information visit techplusexpo.com.
A wave of new technologies is transforming the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. On May 23, The Architect’s Newspaper will host the first trade expo and forum to investigate this convergence: TECH+. Taking place during NYCxDesign month, New York’s official citywide celebration of design, the conference incorporates visionary speakers, engaging panels, live demos, and product displays from leaders in emerging fields like virtual reality, smart buildings, parametrics, advanced materials, drones and robotics, AEC Software, and mobile apps.
Architects, engineers, designers, builders, real-estate professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, software developers, students, and makers will converge at Metropolitan West in New York—the center of one of America’s fastest growing tech markets—to discover innovations, come across start-ups, meet top experts, and build connections. A conference addressing new architectural technologies is both needed and timely, spurring new ideas, cross-pollination, and innovation.
“We see TECH+ as the place where technology companies and the AEC industry converge,” said The Architect’s Newspaper publisher Diana Darling. “We want to share what’s happening and start pulling people together. These fields are developing quickly, and people are eager to build a community.”
Over the past six years, AN has hosted 26 events for Facades+, a series of conferences taking place in cities around the country focusing on the future of building envelopes. TECH+ will build on that series’ success by teaming up with Microsol Resources TechPerspectives conference to host a full day of inspired presentations on the Innovation Stage.
Presenters at TECH+ will include keynote speaker Hao Ko, a Gensler principal who helped mastermind the Nvidia headquarters building in Santa Clara, California, and the Mercedes-Benz headquarters building in Atlanta; Kerenza Harris, leader of Morphosis Architects’ advanced technology team; and leaders of innovative companies like Graphisoft, Humanscale, Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), FXFowle, Thornton Tomasetti, and more.
Panels will discuss, among other topics, start-up technology investment, workplace design, digital printing and fabrication, virtual-reality environments, and on-site drone footage. More than a dozen exhibitors hail from around the AEC industry, in fields like BIM (building information modeling) software, virtual reality (VR), 3-D printing, engineering, and computer graphics. The conference will also showcase know-how from some of the city’s top tech incubators and research from cutting-edge technology programs at design schools like Columbia GSAPP, Parsons, MIT DesignX, and Pratt.
“TECH+ is a new type of conference,” said Darling. “We’re focusing on completely new ideas and techniques, and gauging where the future of the AEC will be and how we get there.”
A new book explores John Portman’s influence on American architecture with photos by Iwan Baan
In 1995, Ramón Prat and photographer Jordi Bernadó published Atlanta, a book of images of that city on the edge of the 21st century. A generation later, a new volume titled Portman’s America & Other Speculations revisits Atlanta—and American urbanism at large in this not-so-new century—through the work of hometown architect John Portman.
Photographer Iwan Baan traveled to Portman buildings around the United States, documenting his work in New York, Detroit, San Francisco, and, of course, Atlanta.
The images reveal a humanism that’s lost in the Hunger Games films and the Walking Dead television series, which exposed Portman’s work to most of America. Lush shots of Entelechy I and II, the Georgia houses the architect built for his family, coexist among now-classic takes on his supersized atria and their stacked balconies. Amid the drama, Baan’s work captures the everyday: a woman on her phone outside the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, a guy perched on a curved red banquette at the Westin Bonaventure hotel in L.A., and the sculptures and furniture Portman created to enhance the spaces he developed and designed.
Four essays (including one by Portman himself), a conversation between the architect’s close friends and family, plus student work from a Portmanian architecture class at the GSD, complement Baan’s images.
“The resulting photographs,” wrote editor Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), “capture the view as if in a state of distraction; Portman’s architecture, and by extension Portman’s America, is presented as it is today, for all to see.”
Portman’s America and Other Speculations, Lars Muller Publishers, $35, June 2017
Zero Work Future
As the American Dream dies, we must rethink our communities
This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.
Americans define themselves through work; it builds character, or so we believe. The American Dream is premised on individual achievement, with the promise that our labor will be rewarded and measured by the things we collect and consume. For many, the sine qua non of the dream, our greatest collectible, is the single-family house. Of all our products, it is the one we most rely upon to represent our aspirations and achievements.
Throughout the history of our republic, the idea—promoted from the beginning by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, heir to Palladio and father of the American suburban ideal—of living in a freestanding house in the middle of one’s own personal Eden has been the dream of generation after generation of Americans. So while it was possible for Le Corbusier to say, in Paris near the beginning of the last century, that “A house is a machine for living,” from our perspective, on this side of the Atlantic and on this side of the 20th century, it would be better to append that famous maxim: “A house is a machine for living the American Dream.” At this point in history, this statement seems entirely self-evident but still we are reminded by our leaders to get our piece of the dream. In promoting his vision of an “ownership society” in a speech at the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta in 2002, President George W. Bush said, “I do believe in the American Dream… Owning a home is a part of that dream; it just is. Right here in America, if you own your own home, you’re realizing the American Dream.” And during the early years of the new century, the economy soared as millions of wood-framed dreams sprang up across the country, enabled by an elaborate new financial calculus cooked up by Wall Street.
But then the magic formulas—which scripted the construction and consumption of ever-larger houses in ever increasing numbers by bundling our dreams together into tradeable units—began to fail. The dream quickly became a nightmare. As the legitimating environmental, economic, and socio-political narratives that for so long sustained the endless reproduction of suburbia began to collapse, it became clear that the suburban house, rather than the manifesting of our achievements, masked our delusions. According to the historian John Archer, “the romanticized isolation of the individual (or nuclear family unit) in a manufactured Arcadian preserve is an increasingly untenable fiction.”
The myth that we all stand alone, propelled by our own initiative and hard work is part of that fiction. Suburbs, and the detached single-family houses of which they are comprised, reinforce it. They work to isolate and separate us, to dislocate us as individuals, detached from any larger heterogeneous collective body. The common cul-de-sac is, both literally and symbolically, the end of the road, a terminus in a system. Safely sequestered within its four (or eight, or sixteen, or thirty-two) walls, we stand apart from the crowd, reaching out through an array of devices to make contact with those who are, more or less, just like us. Space becomes less a medium in which we mix and more a barrier that insulates us from those unlike ourselves. And as houses balloon in size, this sense of disconnection is amplified within the walls of the house itself, with each inhabitant withdrawing to ever more far-flung and insular domestic realms.
The social and political consequences of this withdrawal are increasingly obvious in the deterioration of a civil society and the erosion of civil discourse. The further we live from each other, the less we are capable of seeing each other as people with shared dreams and struggles and the more likely we are to see an other, unlike us, whom we fear and demonize. The evidence of this is clear in the last election, in which President Donald Trump’s campaign of xenophobia claimed the most votes, according to the Washington Post, in our suburbs, small cities, and rural areas. As our houses spread out—as the distance between us increases—we vote more myopically to protect our own perceived interests (and the interests of those we see as like us) at the expense of what is arguably the greater collective good.
But is the detached house, with its resulting social detachment, a prerequisite of the American Dream? Is it possible to imagine other futures for the dream and, consequently, other futures for dwelling? What would happen if personal happiness were no longer so closely tied to economic success derived from the fruits of one’s labor? These are questions we would do well to consider. Jobs are disappearing. And while presently most of us still need—and may even want—to sell our labor, it is becoming clearer that with each passing day there will only be fewer buyers. Our relationship to work, and therefore to the American Dream, and therefore to our manner of dwelling, and therefore to politics, is changing.
According to the network theorist Geert Lovink and the political activist Franco Berardi, the capitalist promise of “full employment turned out to be a dystopia: there is simply not enough work for everyone…. Zero work is the tendency, and we should get prepared for it, which is not so bad if social expectations change, and if we accept the prospect that we’ll work less and we’ll have time to think about life, art, education, pleasure, love, and what have you rather than solely about profit and growth.” Our current world is built on a foundation of profit and growth. Our urbanism—and the infrastructure and architecture with which it is constructed, including the tens of millions of homes spread thin across the landscape—is the result of a centuries-old economic system. And that system has consistently sought to segregate sites of labor and production from sites of dwelling. The single-family house in a suburban bedroom community along a congested commuter route is the product of a capitalist system in which we head out each day to sell our labor in an indifferent market, returning as night falls to replenish our energies and reclaim our identity.
As the market for labor decreases in an increasingly automated world, we need to begin thinking about the consequences and benefits of a future without work, or, more accurately, with far less wage-earning work. Even now we can see that a shift is occurring. The recent collapse of the distinction between places of work and living is both a symptom of the underlying economic and technological transformations that are reshaping work as we know it and a sign that points toward other ways of dwelling. Out of necessity, and, in many cases, desire, people are beginning to experiment with other ways of living, coming together to form new (or new again) types of shared live-work households. And as the tendency toward zero work increases, we will all need to rethink the way we live. Because if we take the classical definition of work out of the equation, the whole structure of our cities, as well as our manner of living, makes a lot less sense.
Already, this probability is leading economists, technologists, and political scientists—but sadly few politicians on either the left or the right—to speculate on the structure of society in the future. A key question is how people will sustain themselves without jobs. There are renewed calls for a universal basic income by tech leaders like Elon Musk (or a universal basic dividend suggested by Greek economist and politician Yanis Varoufakis); Bill Gates has even suggested that we have an income tax on robots. In any case, a new economic model—which will, necessarily, be accompanied by a new politicalorder—in which we are freed from the obligation to sell our labor in order to survive will require that we consider other conceptions of human productivity, other forms of human association, and of course other ways of living.
In such a future, the American Dream, as it is currently defined, would have no utility. But how would we organize our lives in a world where we work less? What would we do? How would we live? In his essay “Fuck Work,” the historian James Livingston points toward an answer when he asks, “How would human nature change as the aristocratic privilege of leisure becomes the birthright of all? As architects, seeking a way forward, we might ask a different version of Livingston’s question: How would human habitats change, as the privilege of leisure becomes the birthright of all?
Liberated from the idea that our dwellings must be understood as freestanding castles, as isolated retreats from society through which we represent our individualism and secure our market share, we could instead conceive of assemblages of dwellings that collectively define a domain of mutual cooperation, interaction and civil discourse. We have counter-histories of dwelling that offer us guidance in thinking about other possible domestic orders. In 1886, Jean-Baptiste Godin, the French industrialist who built the Social Palace at Guise, wrote that when “constructed with a view to unity of purpose and interests, the homes, like the people, approach each other, stand solidly together, and form a vast pile in which all the resources of the builder’s art contribute to best answer the needs of families and individuals.” And following this, we might allow ourselves to imagine—as a way of shaking off the dust of the 20th century—living in what the social reformer Robert Owen described as a “magnificent palace, containing within itself the advantages of a metropolis, a university, and a country residence, without any of their disadvantages, …placing within the reach of its inhabitants… arrangements far superior to any now known … [nor] yet possessed by the most favored individuals in any age or country.”
Of course, the American Dream can’t be transformed overnight. There are aspects of it that are deeply embedded in our collective consciousness. At its core, the dream is about security, comfort, and familiarity, as much as it is about aspiration, accomplishment, and status. Any new ideas about the way we live, if they are to dislodge us from our long-habituated connection to the single-family detached house, must be accompanied by new architectural models and delivered through compelling new narratives that situate the needs and desires currently manifest in the house within new patterns that make collective life more desirable.
This may seem to be yet another call for a utopia, and therefore criticized as being divorced from the pressing concerns of the real world. It is not. For as Lewis Mumford said, “the prospects of architecture are not divorced from the prospects of the community. If man is created, as the legends say, in the image of the gods, his buildings are done in the image of his own mind and institutions.” The real world is changing rapidly all around us; meanwhile we cling to increasingly outmoded dreams. In the future, if we hope not only to survive but also to thrive, we’ll need to change our minds and rethink our institutions. We’ll have to prioritize community as much as we currently prioritize individuality. We’ll have to decide to live together. We’ll need new dreams.
Keith Krumwiede is the author of Atlas of Another America: An Architectural Fiction (Park Books, 2017).
Da ba dee Da ba daa
(Almost) everything is blue in Snarkitecture co-founder Daniel Arsham’s latest installation
Arch League of New York
AN profiles all of this year's Emerging Voices firms
The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series spotlight individuals and firms with distinct design “voices” that have the potential to influence the discipline of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. The jury, composed of Sunil Bald, Mario Gooden, Lisa Gray, Paul Lewis, Jing Liu, Thomas Phifer, Bradley Samuels, Billie Tsien, and Ian Volner, selected architects and designers who have significant bodies of realized work that creatively address larger issues in the built environment.
The Architect’s Newspaper featured the Emerging Voices firms in our February issue and the lecture series has just concluded. However, in case you weren't able to attend, we've compiled each of our Emerging Voices firm profiles below. Enjoy!
After leaving large architecture offices in Vancouver, wife and husband Susan and David Scott established their own practice in 2012 out of their home and studio—a renovated former grocery store off of Main Street. Using this home-studio and a cabin they built for themselves as their initial portfolio, the Scotts began building a reputation for their warm, minimalist aesthetic. “Our first few commissions included a sausage restaurant and a barn,” David said. “After working on large institutional projects, the idea of doing things that were more functional and related to the daily lives of their owners was very appealing. We really value having a direct relationship between architecture and its occupants.”
OJT is making waves in New Orleans with research-based work that redefines overlooked and undervalued properties. Founder Jonathan Tate is an Auburn graduate who experienced the Rural Studio under Samuel Mockbee and spent 10 years in Memphis working for Buildingstudio (formerly Mockbee/Coker Architects). After a sabbatical to study at Harvard, he relocated with the firm to New Orleans in 2008 and started OJT a few years later. “New Orleans just felt like the right place to be. We really cared about what was happening post-Katrina,” he said.
Architect Thomas Robinson kick-started his career with Joseph Esherick, the architect best known for designing the Hedgerow Houses at Sea Ranch, California, followed by stints leading institutional and cultural projects at Herzog & de Meuron in Switzerland and Allied Works in Oregon. In 2009, Robinson, a graduate of UC Berkeley and later Harvard (studying under Peter Zumthor), decided to branch out on his own, launching LEVER Architecture from his Portland basement.
“Our father was an architect and we grew up in a small town in Napa Valley. Architecture became a medium through which we explored the world,” Dominic Leong said. “It was a way to understand the city, and for us there was an inherent link between the cosmopolitan and architecture.”
Dominic and his brother Christopher founded their practice, Leong Leong, in 2009, and although they came from distinct architectural firms—Dominic worked at Bernard Tschumi Architects before founding PARA-Project, while Christopher worked at SHoP and Gluckman Mayner Architects—their shared upbringing equally influences their firm’s approach. “The practice is much more about an organization and a collective of people. Our interest in architecture is a way to embed ourselves in different contexts and to relate to who we are as individuals,” Christopher said.
Jackson, Mississippi–based Duvall Decker Architects have a knack for finding design solutions for the complex politics of the underserved urban South. From housing to institutional work, the firm navigates an intricate web of public money, government subsidy, and city code. They have become so good at it that they find that they are teaching their clients, and sometimes city officials, how to get things built while serving the community.
Mexico City–based architect Frida Escobedo has only ever worked for herself. A graduate of Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and the Arts, Design, and the Public Domain program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Escobedo cofounded her first office, Perro Rojo, in 2003.
In 2006, she began her eponymous firm, realizing a trend-setting rehabilitation and reinterpretation for the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros’s home and studio that utilized screened walls made up of breezeblocks. Casa Negra, built in 2007, is a slightly deconstructivist sentinel clad in black panels that straddles a bluff overlooking a rural road from Mexico City to Cuernavaca. In 2013, her studio conceived of a circular, weighted plaza sculpture for the Lisbon Architecture Triennale. Escobedo explained, “Our work goes from the scale of furniture to something larger.”
When Brian Bell and David Yocum first founded BLDGS 10 years ago, they didn’t plan to specialize in adaptive reuse—certainly not in Atlanta, a city not necessarily known for exploring the past.
But after they continued to land such commissions, they began to relish the role and have elevated this ever-expanding realm of architecture to a more creative, thoughtful, complex level than almost any firm has been able to achieve.
“We take a lot of pleasure in uncovering,” Yocum said. “If we can find the truth in each of the challenges and kind of reflect the presence of that truth it gives us a lot that we would not be able to layer onto a project.”
Can You Handle the Heat of Kundig’s Kitchen?
Delve into Bo Bardi's archives, take a VIP tour with Robert A.M. Stern, and more, with Van Alen's Auction of Art + Design Experiences
- Barbara Bestor, AIA, Bestor Architecture
- Hagy Belzberg, FAIA, OAA, Belzberg Architects
- Tatiana Bilbao, Tatiana Bilbao ESTUDIO
- Elizabeth P. Gray, FAIA, Gray Organschi Architecture
- Anne Fougeron, FAIA, Fougeron Architecture
- V. Mitch McEwen, McEwen Studio
- Peter Waldman, School of Architecture, University of Virginia
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Architect: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners Associate Architect – Core and Shell: AGD Design Associate Architect – Interiors: Associated Architects Landscape Architect: ADI Limited Project: Asia Society Hong Kong Center Location: Hong Kong, ChinaArchitect: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners Landscape Architect: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects Project: Kim and Tritton Residence Halls, Haverford College Location: Haverford, PA Architect: WORK Architecture Company Restoration Architect: CTS Group Architecture/Planning Project: Stealth Building Location: New York, NY INTERIORS HONOR Architect: A+I Project: Squarespace Global Headquarters Location: New York, NY Architect: Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture Project: Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center Location: Brooklyn, NY Architect: Stephen Yablon Architecture Project: Diane L. Max Health Center: Planned Parenthood Queens Location: Long Island City, NY MERIT Restoration Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle Architectural Conservator: Cultural Heritage Conservation Landscape Architects: Vogt Landscape Architects with Future Green Studio Project: The Met Breuer Restoration Location: New York, NY Architects: BFDO Architects and 4|MATIV Architect-of-Record: Marvel Architects Project: Maple Street School Location: Brooklyn, NY Architect: LEVENBETTS Project: Brooklyn Heights Interim Library Location: Brooklyn, NY Architect: Marvel Architects Concept Design and Interior Design: Macro-Sea Project: New Lab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Location: Brooklyn, NY Architect: SPAN Architecture Project: Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Decorator Show House Installation Location: New York, NY Architect: STUDIOS Architecture Project: One Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza Location: New York, NY PROJECTS HONOR Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro Project: Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design, The Jewish Museum Location: New York, NY Architect: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism Project: Penn Palimpsest Location: New York, NY Architect: Studio Joseph Media Designer: Local Projects Graphic Designer: Pentagram Project: New York at Its Core, Museum of the City of New York Location: New York, NY MERIT Architect: Andrew Berman Architect Project: Re-Envisioning Branch Libraries Design Study Location: New York, NY Architect: APTUM ARCHITECTURE Project: Isla Rhizolith | Rhizolith Island Location: Isla Grande, Cartagena, Colombia Architect: Efficiency Lab for Architecture Project: The Lima Art Museum New Contemporary Art Wing Location: Lima, Peru Architect: J. Mayer H. und Partner, Architekten Project: XXX Times Square with Love Location: New York, NY Architect: StudioKCA Project: NASA Orbit Pavilion Location: San Marino, CA URBAN DESIGN MERIT Architect: DLANDstudio Architecture + Landscape Architecture Project: The Gowanus Canal Sponge Park Pilot Location: Brooklyn, NY Architect: Kohn Pederson Fox Associates Landscape Architect: OLIN Project: New York City Housing Authority Red Hook Houses – Sandy Resiliency & Renewal Program Location: Brooklyn, NY Architect: ROGERS PARTNERS Architects + Urban Designers Landscape Architect: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Project: Buckhead Park Over GA400 Location: Atlanta, GA Architect: Studio V Architecture Landscape Architect: Ken Smith Workshop Project: Maker Park Location: Brooklyn, NY