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Inclusive Recovery

Five years after Detroit’s bankruptcy, design fuels recovery
Could Detroit be pioneering a new type of gentrification? It is possible. The recovery—with its innovative experiments in revitalization—is set to become a laboratory of ideas that will redefine gentrification, learning from the urban renaissance of the last 20 years in other cities. The Detroit of the late aughts was a desolate place: The municipal government had all but crumbled in the wake of a depopulation that saw the city go from over 2 million residents to around 700,000. With the loss of people and jobs came the loss of density and infrastructure, which left Detroit the poster child for apocalyptic Rust Belt landscapes. During this period of the late 2000s to the early 2010s, steep real estate discounts allowed artists and entrepreneurs to buy houses and commercial buildings extremely cheap. This legendary scenario led The New York Times to publish an article titled "Last Stop on the L Train: Detroit,” in 2015.  And it certainly feels that way, with vibrant music, arts, food, and design scenes in the city that seem to be linked together by a small community of like-minded people working on a host of cultural projects together. However, much of the buzz about Detroit in the national media has died down. How is Detroit doing five years after becoming the largest city ever to go through a structured bankruptcy, and how is design helping to speculate on new future urbanisms? Today’s Detroit is a different place than five years ago. The days of $500 houses bought at auction and dark, empty landscapes are becoming a thing of the past. Developers and speculators have bought up much of the land around the city center, with Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Ventures owning almost 95 percent of the downtown area. This area could now pass for a street in downtown Chicago, with high-end boutiques and chains like Warby Parker and lululemon. In other neighborhoods, such as the more industrial Milwaukee Junction, near the Russell Industrial Center—an icon of gritty urban reuse—land and property have been claimed by those waiting to sell or develop it. Other neighborhoods like Corktown and Midtown have seen a resurgence in development, an increase in market-rate housing, and more traditional forms of urban revitalization. Infamously abandoned sites have been bought for eventual redevelopment or reuse. Most strikingly, a Ford-branded security Ford Escape is parked outside the Ford-emblazoned fence at Detroit Central Train Station, a ruin-porn poster child now slated for redevelopment as the auto giant’s “innovation” hub, focusing on autonomous vehicles. Now the challenge will be to deliver on some of the potential that has been so evident over the last decade. Detroit’s municipal government has long been seen as incapable of addressing the city’s problems, such as abandoned buildings, vacant lots, lack of infrastructure, and general disinvestment. Since declaring bankruptcy in 2013, the city has implemented a series of initiatives that have in many ways stabilized it. These include basic things like improving emergency services and transportation. Perhaps most important, new LED streetlights were installed, ending the days when residents carried flashlights in their cars. Perhaps the most dramatic change in Detroit’s governance has been in the city planning department. Architect and former Charlottesville mayor Maurice Cox has been tasked with overseeing the recovery. His first step? Hiring a diverse, interdisciplinary team of 36 planners, architects, urban designers, and landscape designers to rethink how a city can incentivize investment, rebuild infrastructure, redensify targeted neighborhoods, and provide services to new residents while preventing displacement of existing residents and cultures that have endured the city’s darker times. Cox calls it “inclusive recovery.” This comprises measures that harness one of the unique things about Detroit—a high level of community engagement. As a majority African-American city, it is an especially promising place to pioneer these ideas. At a recent event at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), the artist Tyree Guyton sat down for a talk at the closing for a show about his Heidelberg Project, a self-started community art project he has developed since 1986. Rather than a typical artist’s talk, the event was more like a community town hall, where residents of the nearby neighborhood spoke in detail about how they see the neighborhood changing, and how the evolution could be better. This kind of community-led development will be key to making sure that Detroit can innovate without displacing people or local cultures. The most important priority of the plan is to recover while preserving both local neighborhood culture and affordable housing. Cox’s initiatives include framework plans for targeted neighborhoods that have strong residential numbers and some active housing stock. The planning department identified weak spots surrounded by higher-density areas that could be tied together with coordinated investment, resulting in—thus far—six quarter-mile-by-quarter-mile areas where recovery could be easiest. The proposed Joe Louis Greenway will be a 31.5-mile bike-pedestrian loop that passes mostly through neighborhoods with a median income under $27,500 a year and a 70 percent rate of car access. The greenway will incorporate existing routes, such as the Dequindre Cut, a below-grade rail-line-turned-pedestrian-promenade that is being used as a gentrification vehicle to spur development of a mix of affordable housing embedded in market-rate developments. Development group The Platform will be developing a housing complex at the north end of the cut. This could lead to displacement, but because the city owns so much land along the path, it will experiment with ways to provide affordable housing and transportation without driving people out. Local housing research includes a joint venture between the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the City of Detroit. In studios led by Lars Gräbner and Christina Hansen, students generate ideas about what housing might look like in Detroit, some of which are displayed in exhibitions such as 2017’s A City For All: Future Housing Models for the City of Detroit. These studios also helped produce a series of design guidelines. For example, one line reads: “Impress the value of design on all projects and all audiences—emphasizing equity, design excellence, and inclusion.” As design thinking ramps up, so too will design excellence. Detroit has a long legacy of designers and architects who have called Michigan home, such as Eliel and Eero Saarinen and Albert Kahn. But in recent years, there have been fewer high-quality projects. This is changing, however, with firms such as Lorcan O’Herlihy, SCAPE, Walter Hood, Adjaye Associates, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and others signing up to design housing, parks, and urban farms. O’Herlihy, for instance, is working on a housing study for Brush Park, the first of Cox’s targeted neighborhoods just outside downtown, designing a 24-building, 410-unit densification plan. And design is baked into the new planning department goals and regulations. What could be design’s biggest impact is the preservation of existing cultures, which includes the existing building culture, one of the goals for “inclusive recovery.” To prevent the loss of the visual character of the neighborhoods, incentives such as a double density allowance are offered for projects that preserve the existing shell of a building. Layering history in this way will inevitably lead to interesting new adaptive reuses. These building refills are a good metaphor for the new type of gentrification being pioneered here: They redensify the abandoned fabric with useful infill, but do not take away the texture that makes Detroit unique. As part of VolumeOne, Gräbner and Hansen’s private practice, the pair is working on a redevelopment of the historic Stone Soap Building, an historic 1907 factory. The structural concrete frame and brick infill will be preserved, and a minimal, floating addition will be clad in a galvanized metal panel system. The strong visual contrast between old and new will articulate a strategy of respect for the existing structure while implying continuity through the use of industrial materials. Imagining new uses for vacant land will also play a big part in making the future of Detroit, and nature is integral to the next image of the city. There are about 24 square miles of vacant land that are very costly to maintain. In collaboration with developers and designers, the city is programming many experiments in urban agriculture and self-reliant landscapes. The ad-hoc, community-initiated urban farming pioneered by projects such as Oakland Avenue Urban Farm has become a staple of Detroit urbanism and is becoming part of larger, city-led projects as well. Walter Hood Studio’s Rosa Parks Neighborhood Master Plan does not propose any new buildings but rather infills vacant lots with tree nursery gardens that will provide jobs and act as productive landscapes. In the Fitzgerald neighborhood, local developers Fitz Forward have set out to improve 100 vacant houses and 200 vacant lots. The strategy included some 28 community meetings and 50 neighborhood meetings that resulted in creating a park—a connective tissue—for the neighborhood, as well as flowering meadows in vacant lots. Cox sees it as a success in testing the idea of using design to create a place and restore beauty and community. Detroit is not without its issues, of course, but the future looks bright for the city. Its unique problems, such as the over-the-top reliance on the car built into the city’s planning, and its sprawling, vacant lots, could become assets when coupled with its strengths: relatively cheap land, strong communities, diverse leadership, and many cultural artifacts that have survived the dark times. Five years after bankruptcy, it is an exciting time in Detroit, and there is reason to believe it will provoke a new kind of urban revitalization: one in harmony with nature and existing cultures, informed by the urban progress made over the last few decades.
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lets talk masonry

Abu Dhabi's oldest building stands strong after intensive stone restoration
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Architectural heritage is something of an anomaly in the city of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Since 1950 the city has grown from 4,000 residents to nearly 1.5 million, many of whom are housed and working in miles-long rows of concrete tower blocks. The 18th-century Qasr Al Hosn castle stands as a rare historical monument in this remarkably modern city, and the local government just recently completed a decade-long architectural conservation program restoring and stabilizing its masonry walls. The Qasr Al Hosn was built by the ruling Bani Yas tribe in the 1760s as a coastal bastion defending the city’s fresh water well and regional trade routes. The walls and towers are built of coral and sea stone and are lathed in a render composed of burned and crushed seashells mixed with white sand and water. Rich in minerals, the render takes on a bright white and iridescent finish that glints under the sun. Apertures are located throughout the concentric rings of walls, naturally drawing ventilating gusts throughout the complex. And as a virtue of the thermal mass of the formidable walls, the sequence of courtyards is considerably cooler than the surrounding city.
  • Facade Manufacturer Zublin Construction
  • Architects The Department of Culture & Tourism Abu Dhabi
  • Lead Contractor Zublin Construction
  • Preservation Consultant Elgaard Architecture
  • Location Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
  • Date of Completion December 2018
  • System Coral-and-sea stone masonry with seashell render
After centuries of wear and tear, as well as the ill-thought coating of the original masonry with a thick cementitious render and decorative layer of white gypsum, the castle was due for a significant restoration. The restoration of historic structures, especially those of major cultural significance, requires painstaking material and historical research. The Department of Culture & Tourism (DCT) deployed a team to “carefully remove strips of the modern render layer which enabled us to determine that a high extent of original masonry was still intact and to discover that the original render was still in existence in areas,” said Mark Kyffin, DCT Head of Architecture. “This enabled us to analyze the constituent parts of this material, under laboratory conditions, for replication and application in the ensuing remedial works.” With the information gathered by laboratory observation, the team developed a new render replicating the porosity and thermal qualities of the old. Research of preexisting masonry sections also provided insight into its original hand application, a process appropriated by the modern construction team. While the use of render shields masonry from the elements—think of it as a coated rainscreen—the condition of loadbearing elements determines the structural longevity of the building. The walls that surround the complex are just under two feet in width, with significant voids caused by internal stone deterioration. To fill these voids, the DCT set up a gravity-injected mortar grouting system. "Loose mortar was removed from the external facing masonry joints and temporarily replaced with cotton wool," said Kyffin. "This enabled the wall to be a sealed enclosure and prevented grout from seeping through the facade." The external cotton wool was removed once the internal grout had cured, with gaps in the masonry subsequently being repointed. Historical research also played a significant role in the conservation process. Researchers pored over photographs, diary extracts, and oral testimonies of those who lived in the building during the 1940s, gaining further knowledge of key building features. Abu Dhabi is surrounded by desert. For centuries, the city exclusively sourced its timber from an adjacent and expansive mangrove forest. The dimensions of internal rooms were dictated by the maximum height of the local mangrove forest; the tallest mangrove poles can measure close to twenty feet. In conjunction with the restoration of the Qasr Al Hosn, the Department of Culture & Tourism collaborated with Danish architecture firm CEBRA to landscape nearly 35 acres of open land surrounding the castle. Also unveiled in December, the design features polygon-shaped concrete formed to resemble the sun-baked earth and rolling water features that course pass shade-providing vegetation.
 
 
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Shadows on the Cave Ceiling

Junya Ishigami chosen to design the 2019 Serpentine Pavilion
The 2019 Serpentine Pavilion has found its architect. Junya Ishigami, the Golden Lion winner at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, has designed a monolithic stone canopy to rise on the grounds of London’s Serpentine Galleries. Ishigami’s pavilion will open on June 20 this summer alongside the gallery’s augmented reality collaboration with Google, Sir David Adjaye, and a prospective design competition winner. “My design for the Pavilion plays with our perspectives of the built environment against the backdrop of a natural landscape,” said Ishigami in a statement, “ emphasizing a natural and organic feel as though it had grown out of the lawn, resembling a hill made out of rocks. This is an attempt to supplement traditional architecture with modern methodologies and concepts, to create in this place an expanse of scenery like never seen before. Possessing the weighty presence of slate roofs seen around the world, and simultaneously appearing so light it could blow away in the breeze, the cluster of scattered rock levitates, like a billowing piece of fabric.” Ishigami, born 1974, previously worked at SANAA until 2004, when he left to form Junya Ishigami + Associates in Tokyo. The firm’s work has often been described as minimalist, yet still active and in dialogue with surrounding landscapes, and the 2019 pavilion seems like it should be similar. Ishigami has proposed layering slate tiles to form a single cavelike structure and that will recontextualize the roofing materials into something that appears both natural and contrived. The contemplative, naturalistic pavilion appears to share themes, materials, and colors with last year’s perforated installation from Mexican architect Frida Escobedo. The Serpentine Pavilion, now in its 19th iteration, will be open to the public from June 20 through October 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. A slate of programming has been lined up as part of the annual Summer at the Serpentine series. The gallery has commissioned site-specific films, dances, art pieces, written work, and more to accompany the pavilion on select Fridays. The pavilion will be sponsored by Goldman Sachs for the fifth year in a row.
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Just City, Only Design

New York's Center for Architecture explores what makes a city just
From January 10 to March 30, visitors to New York's Center for Architecture can check out an exhibition that explores how urban communities can be empowered to create more resilient and sustainable futures. Design and the Just City raises awareness about urban inequality by exploring generations of flawed policy and systematic injustices, and the psychological effects of undesirable architecture and weak urban design. The exhibition was curated by the Just City Lab of the Harvard Graduate School of Design under the leadership of its director, Professor Toni L. Griffin. The first encounter visitors have with the exhibition is a labeled map of New York City. To the right of the map are rolls of stickers with words like "Aspiration," "Fairness," "Power," "Identity," and "Resilience." The piece asks visitors to take a single sticker that references the most significant attribute of their neighborhood and put it on the map. From a step back, the conglomeration of multi-colored stickers could be interpreted as a pointillism piece, but the experience is meant to reveal what residents actually value about their environs. The exhibition focuses on five videos that each look at one of the many challenges combatted by the Just City Lab. The first focuses on the uncomfortable spaces made by transportation infrastructure, particularly subway overpasses common to neighborhoods in Harlem, the Bronx, and Queens. The video shows the many ways in which landscape architecture, lighting design, and low-cost public structures can encourage these once-unsafe areas to become places where people meet or engage with wildlife. Another project also discusses transportation, but as a remedy instead of a malady. To combat the severe racial and class-based segregation among Brooklyn's 15 intermediate-level schools, the video proposes free family and student transportation, community workshops to encourage a stronger integration between parents and students, easier access to information and technology, and equitable admissions. The final product is a well-produced piece describing the difficulties and challenges faced by constituents and designers, and the subsequent final designs and approaches. Griffin founded the Just City Lab in 2011 and has established herself as one of the most influential explorers of the relationships between spatial and racial justice in urban environments. Throughout her two decades in the urban design field, she has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, and the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City University of New York.
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Emerging Voices 2019

SCHAUM/SHIEH experiments with architectural tools to produce surprising spaces at every scale
Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  SCHAUM/SHIEH will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 21, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series.

For SCHAUM/SHIEH, the city is not a mere backdrop for designing buildings. Instead, it is a source of productive potential and a platform for theoretical and built experimentation that has informed the firm’s relationship to design from its founding in 2010.

The studio’s founding partners, Rosalyne Shieh and Troy Schaum, first explored this interest in speculative projects for Detroit and the Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung. Their early urban proposals for Detroit led to an installation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale of a room that was also a staircase and public seating, one of many prototype structures they envisioned could infill the spaces between vacant homes in the city. This design, part of a larger project called “Sponge Urbanism,” challenged the divide between domestic and public space and confronted the broader narrative about vacancy in Detroit.

This intersection of urbanism, form, and identity is something that the studio has carried into its commissioned work, especially for cultural institutions and spaces with hybrid programs. These include the Judd Foundation’s buildings in Marfa, Texas; White Oak Music Hall in Houston; and most recently, the Transart Foundation, also in Houston.

While its Judd Foundation work is an exercise in restraint, aimed at preserving and restoring the artist Donald Judd’s vision for more than a dozen buildings in Marfa, projects like White Oak show how the designers play with form, massing, and landscape to create a distinctive destination for Houston’s music lovers and a new open space for the city as a whole. The main two-story concert hall, which contains multiple stages for different types of music and audience sizes, is part of a larger 7-acre complex which includes a lawn for outdoor performances and an open-air pavilion and bar, converted from an existing shed on the site.

Across the studio's diverse range of projects, abstract representation and diagrammatic processes are essential tools to generate concepts and collaborate with partners and clients. But, as Schaum explained, “We always like to come back to where that kind of set-making and pattern-making starts to break down and question its own set of possibilities, where the sets open up new possibilities for inhabitation rather than where they complete themselves in perfect studies of pattern or complex assemblages.”

This is evident in SCHAUM/SHIEH’s Transart Foundation (a 2018 AN Best of Design Awards Building of the Year). The project includes two structures comprising a private residence, art studio, and exhibition space, and is located across from the Menil Collection within a largely residential neighborhood.

Transart's white stucco facades, with their thick massing, look substantial, but are peeled away at the edges and corners, giving the overall appearance of lightness, like curled paper. The sculptural massing of the main building, juxtaposed against its relatively compact size— closer to a large house than a museum—also makes the foundation appear more monumental than it is, demonstrating the way SCHAUM/SHIEH works with scale to blur the lines between private and public space. This exercise in form and material produces unexpected moments and transitions that serve the multi-functional art space well.

But ultimately, the practice is most interested in its ongoing dialogue with the broader world. As Shieh explained, “I want the buildings that we make to belong to the world, and not to architecture. We don’t necessarily put them out there in a way that we hope that they tell architecture what they are, but that they somehow produce some kind of surprise.”

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Concrete Collaborations

Ignacio Urquiza, Bernardo Quinzaños, and Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica are an inclusive activist practice
Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  Ignacio Urquiza, Bernardo Quinzaños, and CCA will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 7, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series.

Bernardo Quinzaños, Ignacio Urquiza, and Mexico City–based Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica (CCA) have over a decade of experience working toward their goal of using architecture as a “tool for change.”

Since its founding in 2008, the partnership has completed over two hundred projects with the help of many interdisciplinary collaborators, including builders, contractors, and nonprofits. The firm, an organization dedicated to the “research, conceptualization, and development of architectural and urban projects,” according to the architects, combines tastefully exuberant buildings with socially driven programming—the goal being to enrich the practice of architecture. With a deep interest in local building traditions and a passion for collaboration between adjacent professionals and craftspeople, Quinzaños and Urquiza pursue building as a social and creative enterprise.

For example, the firm recently completed a new campus for the State of Mexico Boys and Girls Club, an organization for at-risk youth, comprising three spartan educational buildings linked by an arch-covered concrete walkway. Just as the human spine is made up of two dozen vertebrae, the walkway is composed of 24 pairs of intersecting concrete vaults generously proportioned for group conversation. The walkway connects classrooms and spaces for the performing arts and sports programs with a sunken amphitheater and plaza that constitute the center’s beating social heart.

Urquiza explained, “We’ve always had a particular interest in architecture that is precise, yet at the same time has the flexibility of being able to give itself to each space.” He added, “Ambiguity is what gives architecture the freedom to be owned by its users.”

One way the parnership imbues its projects with this desired ambiguity is by creating many different kinds of covered outdoor spaces to establish architecturally focused social condensers.

In their Escuela Bancaria y Comercial Aguascalientes project, for instance, the designers invert the approach taken at the Boys and Girls Club by designing an inwardly focused campus centered on broad internal hallways and exposed single-loaded corridors. A central concrete-lined courtyard is the epicenter of consecutive circulation rings that connect formal classrooms and libraries with public living rooms to help create areas where students’ minds can wander and extended conversations can take place.

In the firm’s more conventional commercial and residential projects, the designers make skillful use of layered spaces to add a human dimension to larger-scale buildings. Casa Moulat, a wedge-shaped residential golf compound north of Mexico City, for example, uses mud-colored concrete walls to frame a pair of long-span openings that dematerialize to form a living room open to the landscape on two sides. At Casa Moulat, landscapes, materials, and buildings come together both physically and conceptually.

As Urquiza sees it, their approach is a pragmatic one: “For us, it’s very important to understand what we have available nearby and use it in a precise manner. Economy of means is a fundamental concept in our practice.”

Starting 2019, Urquiza and Quinzaños will carry on to work in independent offices: Quinzaños will remain as lead of Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica while Urquiza will continue his practice as Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos.
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Holy Houston

Farshid Moussavi wins competition to design first Ismaili cultural center in the United States
London-based architect Farshid Moussavi has been selected by His Highness the Aga Khan to design an Ismaili cultural center on an 11-acre site in Houston, Texas. This will be the seventh such center in the world and the first in the United States. Moussavi's scheme was chosen over designs presented by a roster of leading architects including Rem Koolhaas, Jeanne Gang, and David Chipperfield. As home to approximately 40,000 Ismaili Muslims, Houston has one of the largest Ismaili communities in the U.S. Like the other Ismaili cultural centers around the world—in Toronto; London; Lisbon, Portugal; Vancouver, British Columbia; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and Dubai, U.A.E.—built over the past four decades, the Houston center is intended to serve as an educational, cultural, and spiritual institution for the worldwide Ismaili community and the broader public. The centers are characterized by distinctive designs that blend Islamic aesthetic precepts and symbolism with their local contexts. The Houston center will host a space for prayer and reflection, and will offer areas for public programs, cultural exchange, and discussion. While preliminary renderings for the center have not been released, a spokesperson for the Ismaili Council told the Houston Chronicle that the Center “should be distinctly American and Texan in its approach, but expressive of Houston’s diverse cultures.” The Houston center will be located across from Buffalo Bayou Park, one of the city's main green spaces, and is seen as part of a burgeoning cultural corridor anchored by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, along with other planned public art offerings in the park. The landscape elements of the center are expected to be an integral part of the overall design, and will be led by Thomas Woltz of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. This will be the second U.S. project for Farshid Moussavi, who designed the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, which opened in 2012. Her portfolio includes residential complexes, retail flagships, parks, and office towers in Paris, London, and elsewhere in Europe. In her previous practice, Foreign Office Architects, she also designed numerous award-winning projects that ranged from social housing to master plans, including the Yokohama International Cruise Terminal and the Spanish Pavilion at the Aichi International Expo. Moussavi, who is also a professor in practice at Harvard GSD, has previously taught at the Architectural Association in London, Columbia, Princeton, and UCLA. She is a Royal Academician and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2018 for services to architecture. The design team for the center also includes Hanif Kara, co-founder of engineering firm AKT II and Harvard GSD professor, who will serve as structural design consultant, and Paul Westlake of DLR Group, who is the architect of record. The project is expected to be complete in several years, with the timeline dependent on Moussavi's design.
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...And Other Such Stories

The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial announces curatorial focus
The third edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is coming to the Midwest this fall with a curatorial vision by Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu and co-curators Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares. Under the theme ...and other such stories, the biennial will engage “multiple narratives from different geographies and histories” to spark conversation about a future for the field that is shared, diverse, sustainable, inclusive, and equitable. Centered around four areas of inquiry, the biennial will showcase a broad view of the industry while addressing the importance of space, architecture, and nature in connection to the practices of building, designing, planning, policymaking, teaching, and activism. The first focus, “No Land Beyond,” will feature projects inspired by an indigenous approach to nature, ecology, and landscape, while “Appearances and Erasures” will dive into designing monuments and memorials in response to shared and contested memories. “Rights and Reclamations” and “Common Ground” will explore civil rights and advocacy within the field with a particular concentration on affordable and equitable housing. The biennial will also draw from Chicago’s own urban development history, as well as the spatial and socio-economic conditions that have shaped it. By “moving beyond the grand narratives of the city’s architectural heritage,” the biennial will highlight the unique experiences of both architects and everyday people by sharing new voices and perspectives on the environmental and socio-political issues that make up Chicago’s landscape. This idea will be echoed in projects brought to the biennial from around the world. In preparation for the multi-month event, the curators have worked on research initiatives in Chicago, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, and Vancouver to uncover the most important issues to architects and citizens living in cities today. “Through these engagements,” Umolu said in a statement, “we have drawn out a myriad of stories about how lived experiences across global communities, cities, territories, and ecologies resonate with architectural and space-making practices.” The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial will run from September 19, 2019, through January 5, 2020. It is free and open to the public. The central exhibition will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center, and other sites throughout the city will host exhibitions, projects, and panels.
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Nature, Nurture, Nouveau

The Cooper Hewitt's 2019 Design Triennial will tackle climate change
The Cooper Hewitt’s sixth Design Triennial will look at ways to radically redress the climate crisis. The Manhattan museum has enlisted designers, scientists, environmentalists, and local stakeholders to present over 60 works that tackle how humans can fix their climate mistakes and harmonize with nature. Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, co-organized by the Cooper Hewitt and Cube design museum in Kerkrade, Netherlands, will put large-scale sculptures, virtual reality installations, extinct scents, and more on display from May 10 through January 20, 2020. “With 2018 the Earth’s fourth-warmest year on record and global carbon emissions at an all-time high, the crisis of human-caused climate change has never been more dire,” said Cooper Hewitt director Caroline Baumann. “Solutions will not emerge without radical new thinking and alliances. Nature brings together some of the most creative and intelligent designers whose works address our complex relationship to nature and its precious resources and advocate for greater empathy for our planet.” Nature is organized in seven categories for understanding how designers can work with, and around, the natural world to benefit both the environment and humanity. "Understand" celebrates the fusion of scientific knowledge with design, and the pursuit of understanding the natural world. In Curiosity Cloud, courtesy of the Vienna-based design studio Mischer’Traxler, patrons can walk through a cloud of light bulbs, each containing a handcrafted model of an insect native to New York City. The models will flutter to life in response to movement. "Simulate" focuses on biomimicry, the borrowing of techniques and structures from nature in architecture and design. In Resurrecting the Sublime, museum-goers can sniff long-extinct flowers, their scents recreated Jurrasic Park–style from DNA extracted from specimens at the Harvard University Herbaria. "Salvage" is less about nature itself and more about how humans can reclaim their waste, making new goods and products from our mountains of garbage. In Shahar Livne’s Metamorphism, the conceptual material designer imagines a future in which ocean-faring plastic is collected and recycled back into a useable product. Livne will also present “Lithoplast," a composite material made from discarded plastics that form the basis of this conceptual economy. In "Facilitate," designers worked with and around the forces of nature and growth. Xu Tiantian, of the Beijing-based DnA_Design and Architecture, will present Bamboo Theater. The theater, set in a remote, rural Chinese village, bends live bamboo to form an outdoor theater and invites villagers to tend to the piece of living infrastructure. "Augment" references nature’s ever-evolving, ever-advancing character, with projects that use science to push the boundaries of the natural world. MIT’s Neri Oxman and the Mediated Matter Group will present Aguahoja, a 3-D-printed pavilion built from a blend of plant cellulose and chitosan (a sugar extracted from invertebrate shells), in the museum’s Great Hall. Aguahoja represents the continued evolution of Oxman’s adaptations of natural materials and patterns with computational design and advanced fabrication. "Remediate" prompted designers and artists to think about how humanity can slow, stop, and even reverse the deleterious impacts of modern society. In Monarch Sanctuary, which comes courtesy of the New York-based Terreform ONE, a section of a monarch butterfly incubator-slash-facade will be on display. The Monarch butterfly population has been ravaged by climate change and habitat loss in recent years, and the full-scale variegated facade mockup will contain live butterflies that will periodically be released to fly around the exhibition space. Finally, "Nurture" asks viewers and designers to reinterpret humanity’s relationship with nature, and to reach a place of respect instead of dismissal. In The Substitute, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg will confine an artificially intelligent digital recreation of the extinct northern white rhino to one of the museum’s hallways, where it will gradually refine its movement over time to become more lifelike. Ginsberg’s work questions the role that science plays in preservation—researchers are currently working to revive the white rhno through preserved cell cultures and genetic manipulation—at a time when science increasingly usurps the primacy of social awareness in preservation. Nature’s installations won’t be confined to the floors of the Cooper Hewitt; two large-scale, site-specific installations are coming to the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden. Sam Van Aken’s Tree of 40 Fruit, which grafts 40 different types of stone fruit branches to one monster hybrid tree, will join Ensamble Studio’s 40-foot-long Petrified River, a concrete river that “flows” from a mountain peak and into a flattened, urbanized landscape. To commemorate the triennial, the Cooper Hewitt will also be releasing a 240-page book of essays, renderings, and deep dives into the science behind each installation. Nature: Collaborations in Design: Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial will be available for purchase on May 21.
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By Jennifer Egan

James Corner Field Operations is bringing a public beach to Manhattan
The Hudson River Park Trust has announced Manhattan’s first public beach. The nonprofit group has tapped James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) to transform the disused Gansevoort Peninsula (the site of the old salt shed) into a 5.5-acre park and beach in the Hudson River. The jagged track of land sits just west of the Whitney Museum, at the southern terminus of another JCFO project, the High Line. The renovation will turn the vacant plot into a public park, complete with a beach—though the Trust admits that it won’t be open for swimming, likely because of the Hudson’s poor water quality. The new park will also be a buffer for storm surges and flooding and will be the largest green space in the entire Hudson River Park once complete. Gansevoort Peninsula sits adjacent to where artist David Hammons’ ethereal recreation of the demolished Pier 52Day’s End, will rise in stainless steel, and the Trust has pledged that the work will be integrated into the future park. That’s not all—the Trust is overseeing a suite of new projects up and down the western coast of Manhattan. Pier 55, the Thomas Heatherwick and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects–designed island—park financed by billionaire Barry Diller—is rising just north of Day’s End on top of sculptural concrete caps. Down the coast is the ongoing $30 million renovation of Pier 26, which OLIN is transforming into an ecology center. Rafael Viñoly Architects is also building a two-story education center nearby. So far, $152 million has already been raised for the Trust's combined projects via air rights sales, and private, state, and city funding will be used to reach the required $900 million. The Trust will be soliciting feedback from the public and Community Board 2 before finalizing the revamped Gansevoort Peninsula's design and beginning construction in 2020. If everything goes as planned, the park and beach are slated to open in 2022.
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Rocks, Sun, and Art

Desert X to bring art, a symposium, and a podcast to California’s Coachella Valley
The organizers behind Desert X, an art and architecture–focused biennial that takes place in the Coachella Valley east of Los Angeles, have unveiled this year's participating artists. For its 2019 run, the festival will highlight a who’s-who of rising international creatives, including Venezuelan-born artist Iván Argote, Mexican artist Pia Camil, Irish artist John Gerrard, American photographer Cara Romero, American artist Jenny Holzer, Egyptian-born artist Iman Issa, and the Danish art collective Superflex, among others. In addition to highlighting evocative works of landscape-based installations and sculpture, the organizers have expanded the scope of the exhibition to include film and performance-based projects, according to a press release. This expanded scope will apply to the geographic range of the exhibitions, as well. This year, the organizers have embraced a wide terrain for the works that extends south from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea and the U.S.-Mexico Border. The Desert X 2019 program is led by Desert X artistic director Neville Wakefield and curators Amanda Hunt and Matthew Schum. A goal for the 2019 program is to “embrace a range of ecological, environmental, and social issues that have been driving conversations about our role in the anthropocene,” according to Wakefield. To facilitate this conversation, the organizers plan to hold a symposium titled Desert, Why? at the Palm Springs Art Museum (PSAM). The event takes place between March 1 and 3 and is billed as a “celebration of art and the environment.” The three-day event will highlight Unsettled, a sweeping exhibition of contemporary art from across the Americas that is currently on view at PSAM. Associated performances, panel discussions, and other events will also happen during the symposium across various locations. A podcast hosted by Frances Anderton is set to “explore the environmental, ecological, and social themes in the 2019 Desert X exhibition,” as well. Anderton is the host of DnA: Design and Architecture, a weekly radio show on L.A.’s KCRW radio station. The podcast will be developed in collaboration with Avishay Artsy, a producer for DnA. Desert X kicks off February 9 and runs through April 21, 2019.
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Make that M+1

The Archigram archives are headed to M+ in Hong Kong
The archives of English architecture collective Archigram are headed to Hong Kong. After Archigram sold its archives to the not-quite-open-yet visual culture museum M+ for $2.37 million in March of last year, the archive was packed into shipping containers—where they sat for nearly a year while the museum waited for permission to export the collection. That’s all changed, as U.K. Culture secretary Jeremy Wright has approved an export permit. At the time of the sale, the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, under UK's Arts Council, blocked the export of the archive. After hearing testimony from museum officials, the committee placed a temporary block on the archive’s export in the hopes that a U.K.-based buyer could be found instead. In the last review of the archives, the Reviewing Committee ruled that Archigram’s archives, while a precedent-setting work for contemporary architects, met the body’s three “Waverly criteria” standards. Those criteria are used to determine whether an object has enough national importance for the body to block its export. The archive spans over 10,000 images, half of which have being digitized and made available to the public for free by the University of Westminster in 2010. Ultimately, Secretary Wright made the decision to release the archives to M+, noting the difficulty in finding a buyer who would keep the collection together. M+’s purchase came at the direction of the museum’s curator-at-large Aric Chen. It’s expected that the collection of renderings, technical drawings, collages, drawings, models, ephemera will be accessible to the public, rather than shunted into a research archive. “We'd been working on this acquisition for a long time,” said Chen, “only to have this export issue throw us for a loop. On the bright side, I was happy for Archigram to see their importance reaffirmed in the U.K.—but I'm of course even happier the archive is coming to M+, where it will be equally appreciated, and where we'll work to shed new light on Archigram, from their interactions with the Metabolists of 1960s Japan to their resonance with Hong Kong's urban landscape and the work of many leading Chinese architects working today.” AN has reached out to Archigram members Michael Webb and Peter Cook for comment and will update this story as needed. Although the M+ purchase is a heady one, the museum’s physical headquarters in the West Kowloon Cultural District is still under construction. The 700,000-square-foot, Herzog & de Meuron–designed arts center is expected to open next year.