Search results for " The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture "

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UT Austin School of Architecture students install living wall on campus
Students at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture (UTSOA) have just finished the installation of a “living wall” as an experiment in green architecture on campus. The honeycomb-shaped structure spans 10 by 25 feet and wraps around the doorway of a building on the architecture schools’ northwest corner. This project was five years in the making and was realized through a partnership between UTSOA and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a public botanical garden that is now a part of The University of Texas at Austin. Each of the wall’s cells contains a different type of native plant, including red yucca, nolina, and Mexican feathergrass. In choosing plants for the wall, designers took care to select hardy, drought-resistant plants that could withstand the hot, dry weather of Texas Hill Country. The project required a custom structure that allows individual cells to hold more soil than would typically be used in a green wall; this provided a growing environment more suited to the region’s harsh climate. The wall will also provide an artificial habitat for native wildlife like anole lizards, birds, and butterflies. In addition to beautifying the building, the living wall provides environmental benefits to the campus. The structure provides noise buffering, storm water retention, building cooling, and air filtering to residents of the architecture school. Data collected as the plants continue to grow will give designers insight into whether further green design projects can be implemented elsewhere on campus. UT Austin Installs First Living Wall on Campus from University of Texas at Austin on Vimeo.
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Elizabeth Danze appointed interim dean at UT Austin School of Architecture
                                          Elizabeth Danze, FAIA, will take over the University of Texas at Austin's School of Architecture as Interim Dean. Her previous roles at the school include associate dean of graduate programs, professor, and associate dean of undergraduate programs. She's an alumna of the University of Texas at Austin's School of Architecture and the Yale School of Architecture. Danze co-edited the book Architecture and Feminism. She has also authored CENTER 17: Space and Psyche and Psychoanalysis and Architecture (volume 33 of The Annual of Psychoanalysis). The school's former dean, Frederick “Fritz” Steiner, left his post earlier this year due in large part to new state laws that would permit licensed students, faculty, staff, and visitors to carry concealed guns into campus buildings. These new rules go into effect as of August 1, 2016. Steiner has moved to the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Design, where he will start as Dean on July 1, 2016.                
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Eavesdrop> Sources give new details of University of Texas Architecture Dean’s departure
Shots fired! Fritz Steiner, the University of Texas at Austin‘s architecture dean, says that he is leaving his post because of the state’s new campus carry laws. “I would have never applied for another job if not for campus carry. I felt that I was going to be responsible for managing a law I didn’t believe in,” Steiner told The Texas Tribune. National media have sensationalized the story, and Steiner has even appeared on NPR to tell his story, which includes a new deanship at UPenn active July 1. Sources tell AN that the real reason Steiner left Texas is because of feuds with the president of the University, which included a lack of support for a new architecture school building. Steiner claims that the president “hung him out to dry.” However, sources say that the real reason UT won't be getting a new architecture school building any time soon is Steiner’s inability to raise the funds to do so. He claimed that he was angry and hurt by the president. They described it as an ungracious performance that came off as undignified. While Steiner left the school citing the gun law, sources say that he was silent for the six months of debate over the law, when he really could have had an impact on its implementation. "Yes, there are other reasons relating to the state support for public research universities in Texas, but there is no 'feud' with the president. He’s someone I admire and respect greatly," Steiner told AN via email.
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Texas gun laws prompts Fritz Steiner, dean of UT Austin’s architecture school, to decamp for Penn
Shots fired! Fritz Steiner, the University of Texas at Austin's architecture dean, says that he is leaving his post because of the state's new campus carry laws. Under Steiner, the UT-Austin architecture school has ranked among the best in the country. According to The Texas Tribune, Steiner said that "I would have never applied for another job if not for campus carry. I felt that I was going to be responsible for managing a law I didn't believe in." What's Texas's loss is Pennsylvania's gain:  When the University of Pennsylvania School of Design approached him last semester about an opening, Steiner was receptive. On July 1, Steiner will become dean of University of Pennsylvania School of Design. For the past 20 years, it's been perfectly legal to carry concealed guns onto campus, but not into campus buildings. Although new campus carry laws were ratified last year, the laws don't go into effect until the first of August. In a state with some of the nation's most liberal gun laws, it's worth noting that the new law does not allow open carry on campus; students, faculty, staff, or visitors must have a handgun license; and the gun owner must be 21 or older. Public universities are allowed to create some limited "gun-free zones," but those zones can't include classrooms. Students for Concealed Carry, a campus group that supports gun rights, criticized Steiner, stating that, essentially, the only thing to fear is fear [of the law] itself. For his part, Steiner is looking forward to returning to the institution from which he earned three degrees: "Penn is a great institution and I am very happy to go to Penn, but I was approached ... and, if it wouldn't have been for campus carry, I wouldn't have considered it."
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University of Texas at Austin is transforming Speedway into a pedestrian mall through campus
The so-called Speedway in Austin, Texas, is being slowed to the pace of the pedestrian, thanks to a redesign by PWP Landscape Architecture. The road is not a racetrack as its name implies, but a street used heavily by cyclists and motorists as it cuts through the University of Texas at Austin. The project, called the "Speedway Mall," is a move by the university to improve the area and boost its usage. Construction on the mall, to be located between Jester Circle and Dean Keeton Street, will be carried out by the university starting soon on October 26 with the project set to cost $36 million. The project will convert the predominantly urban area into one that is made up of 70 percent green space, a move that will transform the space making it a social hub complete with trees, tables, study areas, and Wi-Fi access. According to the Daily Texan, Pat Clubb, the university operations vice president, stated that the scheme should free up the space for university and educational needs with outdoor learning, campus festivities, performances among other student enterprises. “[Speedway] is a wonderful asset that is not being used, and this project allows us to turn a dull, ugly — this place that students just walk past — into a true activity center,” Clubb said. “I think it will transform the student experience. It will become a place of learning, become a place of social activity. All of the things that will be possible are going to enhance the students’ experience.” “The idea is to transform it to make it safer, to make it more environmentally hospital, to make it more accessible and more usable to students,” Frederick Steiner, dean of the School of Architecture, told the Daily Texan. Steiner has confidence that the Speedway Mall, when finished in 2017, will evolve into an area that students, faculty, staff, and alumni will love about campus. “Where 30 years ago, the Main Mall was sort of the center of campus, now Speedway is sort of the center of campus and it should change to reflect that. There’s an old Joni Mitchell song about tearing up paradise and putting in a parking lot,” Steiner continued. “Well, we’re going to be tearing up parking lots and putting in paradise.”
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Voices of Architecture
Lawrence W. Speck and others get down to the collaborative business of architecture.
Courtesy Page

We asked some of our favorite architects from across the United States to answer eleven questions about the state of the practice today. The following selection of responses was assembled to fit the space available while presenting a sum of the many and sometimes conflicting perspectives.


What are the forces and philosophies driving architecture today and how do they mesh with your approach to design?

The current focus seems to be on envelopes, form making, and the use of technology. There’s quite a bit of creative and good work going on in a more generic path, but the things that seem to be in the limelight and which so many young architects are striving to achieve have to do with works of architecture that are iconic in their use of technology. That as an agenda seems to throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to creating useful and socially engaging work. The place of architects in terms of placemaking and taking advantage of the impact their building is going to have on the surrounding environment I think is diminishing. It reflects an increasing isolation of the architect from an engagement with the city as a whole and becoming more and more engaged with the machinery of design. This doesn’t match with our design approach. We’ve followed in the wake of people like Aalto and Eames and people who saw architecture and design as a sophisticated and entertaining way to engage with the environment and with the people that use it.

Craig Hodgetts, Hodgetts + Fung

The ones we are most tapped into in our practice have to do with making. There is a general movement towards making, and that is not just design in terms of architects but also in learning and in other fields like education. We set up our studio as both a design studio and fabrication practice and it has very practical advantages and, more importantly, an ethos about the virtual and the physical, and I think it ties into larger forces connected with design. The honeymoon with the purely digital is over. There is a workflow and continuity between the physical and the digital.

Bradley Samuels, Situ Studio

Obviously sustainability is the major driver in design today. I think where that meshes with our design approach is when accountability is brought into the picture. It involves hard questions that we all have to consider; the simplest being, is it appropriate in a given situation to build or not, or should we even as a firm get involved. To me there needs to be more of an acceptance that construction is a destructive and resource-intensive undertaking and with that acceptance should come the desire to treat the process with respect, great care, and responsibility.

Craig Steely, Craig Steely Architecture

There are forces that push “object” buildings, there is a commercial architecture fueled by developers and financial gain, and there is a growing interest in what is being called architecture of resilience. Our practice has believed in work that, in many ways, is in opposition to the first two forces. Although we do not articulate our work as being “green” this is an underlying principle of all we do.

Billie Tsien, Tod Williams Billie Tsien


Is technology shaping your practice in significant new ways?

Yes, the technologies that we have in the office are really influencing how we design and how we visualize our work. Then there are the tools—3D printers, MakerBots, etc.—all have allowed us to explore design more deeply earlier in the process. We’ve been doing Revit for more than a decade now. What’s been interesting is that some of the younger employees have brought Grasshopper and Rhino into the office. Those have allowed us to explore and visualize and express the building and look at the data of the building in different ways.

Scott Kelsey, CO Architects

We’re friendly to new technology but find that it’s important to try design with the most basic attitude towards technical innovation. For example, most of the issues of sustainable construction can be solved with proper orientation, ventilation, and insulation. We prefer to open a window than to turn on the air conditioner. We do try to anticipate technologies that will become practical as their costs come down. PV’s will surely become part of the standard repertoire of construction. So will green roofs and extensive planting. Likewise, rainwater capture. None of this requires great technical sophistication, but it does demand a shift in attitude.

Michael Sorkin, Michael Sorkin Studio

We thrive on new technologies that are opening up every day. We are really excited right this moment about a new chip that |has been designed for LED lighting that can make a regular interior light fixture shift color subtly through the day to match the color shift in the sun’s light. This color shift is important to set the body’s Circadian rhythms and to trigger production of melatonin late in the day so we sleep well. We are planning to use these lights in a medical school facility we are working on currently. Architecture can be such an important contributor to health through some of these new technologies.

Lawrence W. Speck, Page


What role does hand drawing play in your design process? Are you seeing a resurgence of interest in hand drawing among recent graduates?

I was trained in hand drawing. It’s central to all my work. The recent graduates I hire may be able to draw by hand but it is never their first recourse, even when a hand sketch is clearly more efficient. This is most apparent in CD and CA. The clarification detail I can rip out in 15 minutes—and they could too—takes them an hour or two (often more) in AutoCAD. I think a couple of things are at work in their young minds. First is a funny, almost moral idea about the inherent superiority of the accuracy of digital drawings: for them N.T.S.— that hallmark of the field sketch—is just wrong. Second—and I come across this a lot, but it may be endemic to my school—is the notion that in digital work you are primarily building an electronic version of the building—that is the effort—for which the drawings are just sloughed off by-products. That is quite different from making a set of drawings, which, because they are already twice removed, have to be thought about with primary regard for how and what they communicate. The hand drawing remains a brutally efficient way to communicate ideas; it is the need to communicate that is today I think less well understood.

David Heymann, University of Texas, Austin


Should the licensing process be streamlined? If so, how? If not, why?

Like by getting licensed from school? It’s a terrible idea. It’s a great way to justify these programs that are providing five-year masters degrees, but it’s a bit of a scam: Let’s conflate and compress education and professional licensure and act like nothing’s given up in the process. I’m not buying it. You know the way there’s a separation between church and state? There’s a reason we have a separation between the academy and the profession. Now, once you get out of school, I think you should be able to take the licensing exam as soon as you want, all at once if you wanted. But I still believe the internship is important to be in the culture of a firm, which is very different from the culture of a school.

Marlon Blackwell, Marlon Blackwell Architects

A national license would be nice and would save money for both the states and architects. It seems other countries manage this one.

Carol Ross Barney, Ross Barney Architects

Yes. I could go on and on here since I chaired a task force for Texas Society of Architects that looked into this. What is disturbing to me about NCARB’s current direction is that they seem to be reducing the duration of internships but still keeping all the intricate rules and bureaucracy. I think we should do the opposite—keep high standards in terms of duration, but allow more flexibility and less bean counting and box checking.

Lawrence W. Speck, Page


What can be done to improve the racial and sexual diversity of the profession?

I am so disappointed with the hollow gestures I see from our professions. The only way to attract minorities is to glorify what we do so they can see how it touches their lives, and show them how much money they can make to support their families. We are too invisible. We were taught to be a quiet gentlemen’s profession, but by being that, we are invisible to the general population. We need to go populist to really achieve diversity.

Thomas Balsley, Thomas Balsley Associates

I know with women, this is such a complex problem. One of the big reasons is just babies. We are working through the challenges of that now. You have to be flexible. If you have a new mom and expect them to get back six weeks after having a baby, good luck. I know I couldn’t. They [David Baker Architects] gave me a good maternity leave for five months, and then another month where they let me transition in. I don’t think only women should get that privilege. Firms should support equality of life and work balance. People are happier and more productive then.

Amanda Loper, David Baker Architects

Alas, racism and sexism are endemic to our society—just look at Ferguson. It’s still urgent that we all work actively to overcome this legacy. The schools seem to be doing pretty well in admissions and faculty diversity—a slower process—is catching up. But, as long as wealth and power are disproportionately in the hands of white men, things will never be as they should. The fight continues!

Michael Sorkin, Michael Sorkin Studio

The greatest difficulty in increasing diversity is the perception that architecture is not a secure profession. And unfortunately that perception is based on truth. Women might stay in the profession if there was a more accepting attitude in offices and if the government was more supportive of childcare. While we cannot control government practices we can control what happens in our offices. We need to be parent friendly. Childcare issues last a relatively short time, architecture as a profession lasts much longer.

Billie Tsien, Tod Williams Billie Tsien


What is an architect’s civic responsibility and how involved are you in your local community?

You have to get involved. We belong to the boards of several local organizations. One opportunity is to get involved in kids schools and activities. That allows you to be involved with family and community simultaneously. Lending your expertise and services to the communities that you are part of and that interest you is what we suggest. Everybody needs the architect’s ability to solve problems even if they are not specifically architectural.

Byron Kuth, Elizabeth Ranieri, Kuth Ranieri Architects

Every building regardless of scale, use, and type should have a civic responsibility. We define “client” very broadly: There is the specific client with whom we have a contractual relationship and there is the larger public with whom we have an ethical relationship.

In this era of global responsibility, we are reminded that architecture is a social art. As the public realm is increasingly eroded, we must work of necessity in hybrid terrains, no longer just adding the new and “novel,” but transforming sites at every scale to recast the terms of what serves the individual and the collective, and what is natural and what is public.

Michael Manfredi, Weiss/Manfredi

As a critic, I write extensively about local issues. As a teacher, my students and I engage city sites and issues that are in play. As a “theorist” I strongly advocate for the idea of the local as both a source of architectural particularity and as a medium of democratic practice. As researchers, we are directly engaged in seeking forms that support and encourage local autonomy. As a political person, I am active in local disputes and initiatives. As stewards of the environment, architects have a special role in ameliorating the places they live and practice. As citizens, architects have duties they share with others but which they must interpret through the medium of their special skills and practice. I am disgusted, for example, that the AIA cannot bring itself to urge its members to withhold their services from the purveyors of torture and execution. These are not architectural questions but we have some special leverage to resist this barbarism.

Michael Sorkin, Michael Sorkin Studio


Does your firm regularly enter competitions?

No. We’re too busy trying to make payroll. Are we suckers for them sometimes? Yes. There’s a book of suckers around here someplace. I mean, the pay is nothing and you do tons of work. I think they can be useful, if they’re run properly; if there’s more of a procedural and objective approach to how work is decided upon. If you could win a project based on ideas rather than what your RFQ looks like, that would be invigorating.

Marlon Blackwell, Marlon Blackwell Architects

Yes, I believe in anonymous competitions, and we do at least one per year. If New York City followed Spain’s successful competition structure we would build all public projects this way and create opportunities for talented architects, young or not.

Carlos Brillembourg, Carlos Brillembourg Architects

We sometimes enter competitions, although we do not believe they are the best way to select an architect. They are like “picture” brides—getting married based on an image. The image is hardly ever realized and the image is never really the right answer. We prefer a process-based and collaborative approach to find the solution.

Billie Tsien, Tod Williams Billie Tsien


Has your firm worked in emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East, or elsewhere? If so, what lessons have you learned or challenges have you faced in these markets?

For 16 years I also had an office in Caracas, Venezuela, that gave me a different perspective on the role of architecture in a society that is in the process of formation. Your building can have a very large impact for society at large in a developing country.

Carlos Brillembourg, Carlos Brillembourg Architects

We practice in many of these markets when invited to do so. Genuine cultural respect and understanding is critical, as is understanding the basics of the physical environment—the ways of means of construction—and seeking out the best in local collaborators.

Craig Hartman, SOM

I think the most important lesson is to get paid up front. Get a very large retainer that enables you to produce the first two submissions without losing money. Because they will always pay to get you started, then you may struggle to get paid after that. The other lesson is knowing that everything is going to be taken over by somebody else. You have to define the rules for the design. They need to understand the rules and the intentions, so they will change according to those rules rather than just changing.

Alvin Huang, Synthesis Design + Architecture


What is the future of the American city?

Generally the future looks good to us because people want to be around other people and not spend time commuting. Here on the West Coast and in Northern California specifically, we are enjoying a technology boom. The future of the city will be shaped by this growing population that embraces change.

Byron Kuth, Elizabeth Ranieri, Kuth Ranieri Architects

I think the future of the American city should lie in the belief that it has the potential to be “its own best city.” In other words, it is critical that (smaller) American cities grow and develop in a manner that embraces the notion that they are necessarily the best of their type through local and cultural idiosyncrasies—qualities that should be celebrated, strengthened, and hyperbolized. In my own particular city, it becomes disheartening when we internally base qualitative comparisons to other cities like New York City. New York City can never be Louisville.

Roberto De Leon, De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop

Cities are America’s and the planet’s sustainable future. Future cities will be denser and more efficient. I am a Rust Belter and our cities are relatively dense, but our infrastructure is desperately in need of renewal and can be infinitely more efficient.

Carol Ross Barney, Ross Barney Architects

We just finished a project about the future of New York, and I think one of the things that was quite clear is the future is unequal. Inequality is greater than it has ever been in cities—this is as true in New York as anywhere in the country, if not more so.

Bradley Samuels, Situ Studio

We must also question the idea of density as unmitigated good.

Michael Sorkin, Michael Sorkin Studio

I think the future of Sun Belt cities is very bright indeed. The best of them have bought into the idea of making themselves more compact, increasing density at the core, embracing mixed uses and pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit oriented transportation. Many have even started looking at rehabilitating the suburbs and changing their out-of-date building types and patterns of settlement in substantial and creative ways.

Lawrence W. Speck, Page


What are architecture students not being taught that they need to be successful practitioners?

I get back to fundamentals. This sounds stupid, but scale, proportion, insistence on mastering the language of the discipline, and understanding the canonical aspects of architecture and their relevance to today. I’m just dismayed at the level of talent that comes out of schools and runs through the profession. I’ve never had a client come to me and say, “what I want is an ill-proportioned, unresolved, expediently delivered project that underperforms, and I’ll pay you for that.” I’ve never had anybody say that. I would doubt that most people cranking out this shit have either. What are we doing in schools that permits that?

Marlon Blackwell, Marlon Blackwell Architects

One thing that I think is becoming a problem is the issue of understanding scale. That is a digital problem, and it comes from looking at things on the screen. So the translation of what’s on screen to physical dimensions and physical scales is often a big struggle. That’s why a lot of projects are being assessed as objects or images, because that’s the way they’re being designed. Ninety percent of the views you have when you are navigating a 3D model are from a helicopter.

Alvin Huang, Synthesis Design + Architecture

Architecture students need to be taught about the importance of interiors. After drawing in “scale-less” space on computer screens, students need to better understand human scale. They spend too much time on the outside and need to understand we all live our lives on the inside.

Billie Tsien, Tod Williams Billie Tsien


Are you satisfied with the AIA as your professional association?

The AIA I think would gain value if it fought for protection of intellectual property of architects. Architects should get the same amount of credit for the work as their photographer does. That’s one example where the AIA is way behind the curve.

Craig Hodgetts, Hodgetts + Fung

For me it’s doing a pretty good job, what I don’t know is if the AIA is meaningful to the next generation thinking about whether they want to go through the process and get something from it. I don’t know if the AIA is doing that as aggressively as it could. Maybe that’s contributing to the reduction of people going through licensure. Maybe the AIA needs to spend more time on how to advocate on behalf of people who have not registered yet.

Scott Kelsey, CO Architects

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John Peterson, founder of Public Architecture, to curate GSD’s Loeb Fellowship
Harvard's Graduate School of Design has named John Peterson, founder of the non-profit Public Architecture, as the new curator of the Loeb Fellowship. The fellowship consists of architects, landscape architects, journalists, and more studying the built environment. Peterson will step into the role in January, succeeding James Stockard who served in the position for 16 years and is an alumnus of the fellowship. "John has built an impressive organization and impactful career focusing on societal engagement through the agency of design,” said Charles Waldheim, Chair of Harvard GSD’s Department of Landscape Architecture and head of the Loeb Curator search committee, in a statement. “His capacity to articulate and enable design to play a role in the service of broader publics, often in very challenging conditions, promises to renew the Loeb program’s longstanding commitments in this area." Peterson founded Public Architecture in 2002 and led his own practice, Peterson Architects, from 1993 to 2010. He holds degrees from RISD, taught at the California College of the Arts as well as the University of Texas at Austin, and was a Loeb Fellow in 2006. In a statement, the GSD said, "Peterson has played an important part in defining the concept of “public interest design,” which has evolved in recent years into a significant field of practice."
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Earthworks

The American Society of Landscape Architects names their best projects of 2018
Rejoice, lovers of landscape architecture, because the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has published their 2018 ASLA Professional Awards and awarded their top honors to projects across the U.S. and Canada. The Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates–designed Brooklyn Bridge Park, a project twenty years in the making but closing in on the finish line, took home the Award of Excellence in the General Design category. The transformation of a formerly-industrial landscape into a leisure-oriented waterfront park that simultaneously knits together formerly disconnected communities paved the way for an entire generation of similar projects. Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki’s revitalization of the Chicago Riverwalk, another urban landscape project that has been heavily lauded in the past, was recognized with a General Design Honor award. The ASLA chose a wide variety of winners this year. West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture’s master planning and landscaping of the Main Fountain Garden at the Longwood Gardens was honored alongside a culturally sensitive native cemetery in Nunavut, Canada, and an international sculpture center in the grasslands of Fishtail, Montana. In the Residential Design category, the Word + Carr Design Group’s Balcones Residence in Austin, Texas, received the Award of Excellence. The landscape balances positive and negative space and creates a dialogue with the house’s boxy, concrete forms while requiring little maintenance. The top prize in the Analysis and Planning category went to A Colorado Legacy: I-25 Conservation Corridor Master Plan, a master plan by the Design Workshop - Aspen which created a strategic vision for a 17-mile-long stretch of Interstate 25. Other than offering solutions to the urban sprawl surrounding the interstate, the plan serves strategies for preserving up to 100,000 acres of open space while promoting sensible development. Three projects received Honor awards in the Research category, each tackling resiliency in one form or another. The University of Pennsylvania’s interactive Atlas for the End of the World - Atlas for the Beginning of the Anthropocene tracks the decline of biodiversity worldwide as conservation clashes with development and climate change; Mahan Rykiel Associates tracked the 1.5 million cubic yards of sediment dredged from Baltimore Harbor in Design with Dredge: Resilient Landscape Infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay; and Ayers Saint Gross explored sustainability strategies for the National Aquarium in Baltimore with their Urban Aquatic Health: Integrating New Technologies and Resiliency into Floating Wetlands project. In the Communications category, the Landscape Architecture Section, Knowlton School, The Ohio State University took the Award of Excellence for their free, online library of historical landscapes. The database, 100 Years of Landscape Architecture at The Ohio State University, offers virtual tours of historical and contemporary landscapes around the world, inlcuding in virtual reality, and is meant to serve as both a teaching and landscape architecture recruiting tool. Last but certainly not least, Design Workshop received the Landmark Award for their From Weapons to Wildlife: The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Management Plan. The ambitious plan demonstrates how a 17,000-acre Superfund site could be converted into one of the country’s largest urban wildlife refuges. Now in its third phase, the plan was put into implantation in 1992 as the U.S. government and Shell struggled to remediate what was once a testing ground for biological and chemical weapons. A full list of this year’s Professional Award winners is available here. No less important are the recently announced 2018 ASLA Student Awards, available here.
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Earth Daze

AIA honors the top eleven sustainable buildings of 2018
As a fitting kickoff to Earth Day weekend, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the 2018 recipients of its COTE Top Ten Awards. Honoring ten projects that have surpassed rigorous thresholds in integration, energy use, water conservation, and wellness benchmarks, the award showcases cutting-edge buildings that are not only sustainable, but that contribute to the surrounding neighborhood. This year’s jury included:
  • Michelle Addington, Dean, School of Architecture, The University of Texas Austin Austin, Texas
  • Jennifer Devlin-Herbert, FAIA, EHDD. San Francisco
  • Kevin Schorn, AIA, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, New York
  • Julie V. Snow, FAIA, Snow Kreilich, Minneapolis
  • Susan Ubbelohde, LOISOS + UBBELOHDE, Alameda, California
The 2018 awardees ranged in usage from libraries to art galleries, as well as one single-family home. While the COTE Top Ten Awards are given to buildings that meet certain requirements, an additional “Top Ten Plus Award” is handed out to a single project with exceptional post-occupancy performance. The winners are as follows: Albion District Library; Toronto, Ontario, Canada Architect: Perkins+Will According to the jury: "This project clearly demonstrates the immediate positive impact of good design. A district library that serves a diverse and newly-immigrant community, the library has a dramatically increased visitorship (with a notable 75 percent increase for teenagers) over the old facility." Georgia Tech Engineered Biosystems Building; Atlanta, Georgia Architect: Lake|Flato in collaboration with Cooper Carry According to the jury: "The Georgia Tech Engineered Biosystems Building weaves a large array of active and passive strategies into a highly tuned machine for this university research laboratory." Mundo Verde at Cook Campus; Washington Architect: Studio Twenty Seven Architecture According to the jury: "A 25,000-gallon cistern holds rainwater for reuse, while the gardens have increased site vegetation from zero to 40 percent." Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House; San Francisco Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects According to the jury: "This cost-effective building serves a community of sick children and their families while prioritizing environmental performance." New United States Courthouse; Los Angeles; Los Angeles Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP According to the jury: "We were impressed with the quality of the calm, light-filled interior spaces for occupants who are often in the courthouse under difficult circumstances." The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Washington, D.C. Architect: DLR Group According to the jury: "The Renwick Gallery renovation wove complex and robust new systems while preserving the impressive historic design and collection and allowing opportunities for new works to be displayed." San Francisco Art Institute - Fort Mason Center Pier 2; San Francisco Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects According to the jury: "The design team recognized the assets of the existing structure and created a great, low-energy building with a healthy interior environment." Sawmill; Tehachapi, California Architect: Olson Kundig According to the jury: "The team is commended for their site-specific analysis, as evidenced by the decision to let rainwater recharge the water table rather than collect it. If a single-family dwelling is to be built in a desert climate, this is how to do it." Sonoma Academy’s Janet Durgin Guild & Commons; Santa Rosa, California Architect: WRNS Studio According to the jury: "This project demonstrates that, even with an energy-heavy program that includes a commercial kitchen, a fully integrated and dedicated design team can produce a beautiful and extremely well-performing building." Top Ten Plus winner: Ortlieb's Bottling House; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Architect: KieranTimberlake According to the jury: "An exceptional example of passive strategies used in adaptive reuse of an historic urban building."
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No-Fly-Over

The year’s best buildings outside NYC-LA-CHI
Not every piece of spectacular architecture built this year has been located in the major urban centers. From Utah to Ohio, ambitious institutions have constructed some of the country’s best new architecture. The following projects are a few of our editor’s favorites from this year. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2017 articles here.) Southern Utah Museum of Art by Brooks + Scarpa Cedar City, Utah The 28,000-square-foot Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) by Los Angeles-based Brooks + Scarpa looks to the sandstone canyons of nearby Mount Zion National Park for its soft, yet expressive, form. The dipping and arching exterior includes a 120-foot cantilever, covering a 6,000-square-foot public event space. That form also works to reduce solar gain and protect the museum's artworks, reducing the building's environmental footprint. Home to contemporary and performing art from southern Utah and the surrounding region, the museum is also an educational resource, providing a site for conservation training for MFA students at Southern Utah University. Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design by WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism Kent, Ohio Of great interest to most architects, new academic architecture buildings are a rare treat. Designed by New York-based WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, the Kent State Center for Architecture and Environmental Design was the winner of Building of the Year – Midwest in AN’s 2017 Best of Design Awards. Along with the expected studio spaces, lecture halls, library and classrooms, the building includes a café, gallery, and grand stairways, which activate the north and south facades. Large custom brick fins, made of locally produced iron-spot bricks, ties the building into the surrounding campus, while a larger tiered form makes reference to the scale of neighboring buildings. The Contemporary by Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis Architects Austin, Texas The Contemporary brings together two of Austin, Texas’s, most important art institutions, Arthouse and the Art Museum of Art. The project is an adaptive reuse of a building that in the past has served as a theater, a department store, and, most recently, a local art center. The redesign specifically allows for large-scale art pieces to be installed in the building, while the large roof terrace provides additional exhibition space. The roof also includes a perforated aluminum canopy, which includes a retractable weather curtain. At 23,800 square feet, the Contemporary is a new center for art in the heart of Downtown Austin. Innovation Lab and Lamplighter Barn by Marlon Blackwell Architects North Dallas, Texas Arkansas-based Marlon Blackwell Architects has been delivering exceptional buildings throughout the middle south for years. This continues with its first North Texas project, an Innovation Lab and Lamplighter Barn. Built on the campus of the North Dallas Lamplighter School, the project is part of the "Igniting Young Minds for a Lifetime of Learning” campaign. The Innovation Lab includes a teaching kitchen, environmental science spaces, a robotics lab, and a woodworking shop. The Lamplighter Barn is replacing the campus’s chicken coop and will define an outdoor pasture for its animals. Most strikingly, the Innovation Lab takes the form of a long sleek building clad in a concealed-fastener, flat-panel copper facade. Over time the project is expected to gain a varied coloration as the copper patinas, based on local weather and sun movements. Cummins Headquarters by Deborah Berke Partners Indianapolis, Indiana Cummins, makers of diesel engines, is no stranger to quality architecture. The company’s founder is credited with bringing many of the Modernist masterpieces to the small town of Columbus, Indiana, just south of Indianapolis. When it came to building its own headquarters, Cummins turned to New York-based Deborah Berke. The nine-story tower is Berke's first office design, which is located on the empty site of a former arena. The building includes flexible work spaces, including double height “social hubs,” retail space, with a new urban park at the its base. The highly tuned form and facade of the building integrates vertical fins and horizontal shades to provide environmental control, as well as a carefully considered aesthetic.
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Pocket Perks

Here are some of our favorite PARK(ing) Day interventions
Today, pocket parklets popped up across the country for Rebar Group's 2017 PARK(ing) Day – now a beloved tradition among public space enthusiasts and designers. According to the PARK(ing) Day Manual, the celebration treats metered parking spots as a "short-term lease for a plot of precious urban real estate." In place of parked cars, a range of creative interventions abound. This year, the American Society of Landscape Architects asked landscape architects all over the country to invest their quarters on temporary, miniature green spaces. Here are some of our favorites from the #ASLAPD17 hashtag on social media. Site Design Group in Chicago built a human-powered hamster wheel, albeit with one glaring design flaw: the absence of an attached grass smoothie machine. In Baltimore, Hord Coplan Macht constructed a peaceful little greenspace with terraced timber seating. D.C.'s Landscape Architecture Bureau (LAB) built a small field of artificial tulips from plastic taken from the Anacostia Watershed. L.A.'s AHBE LAB privileged the deep thatch in a rewilding of a parking space recalling Agnes Denes' 1982 Wheatfield in Battery Park Landfill. https://twitter.com/ahbeland/status/908757935999803392 From Instagram, Seattle's Weisman Design Group created seesaws and tetherballs amid tall grasses that we really wish were permanent. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEdSumFbSg/?taken-by=weismandesigngroup The ASLA's branch at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona constructed a lovely raised topographic seating area. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEw2TXlNUZ/?taken-by=asu_asla Finally, in Austin, Texas, Daniel Woodroofe Group put up a hedge public hammocks. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEqDLjnJ6q/?taken-by=studiodwg Other parklets are permanent. As The New York Times reported in late August, 18 curbside pop-up spaces have appeared across New York City alone (double last year's count), and they're here to stay. Most of these spaces have been created through a partnership between the city's Transportation Department and local groups, including the Parsons School of Design, which created a flexible space called Street Seats with planters constructed of bamboo and movable seating. PARK(ing) Day has catalyzed similar programs nationwide. Regardless of its permanence, parklets remain a charming, temporary form of urban acupuncture expanding public and green space.
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Op-Ed

Four initiatives for architects post-Harvey: A call to action
Austin was spared the wrath of Hurricane Harvey, but the destruction weighs on all of us here in Texas. What can we do as architects to respond to a natural catastrophe of such size? The first priority is humanitarian: saving lives and providing comfort and aid in every form. As I write this, people are still being rescued, hospitals face evacuations, flood waters remain, and two chemical plants have exploded. The tragedy is real and very human. The Texas Society of Architects is holding trainings sessions in safety assessment. AIA Dallas has mobilized a disaster action committee. But the scope of the disaster challenges architects throughout the country as the long-term tasks of rebuilding begin. Tens of thousands of homes, businesses, civic buildings, schools, water systems, power plants, and factories will need remediation or reconstruction. Architecture, as we usually practice it, quickly comes up short in giving direction to follow. But that only means we need to define new paths. In figuring out how to proceed we make our profession useful and visible to the public at large. Modernists dreamed for decades about reconstructing the city in rational terms, but the realities of economics and politics always thwarted them. Collaboration was the siren call of modernist design education. The current crisis provides an opportunity to realize some of those dreams and to create new modes of collaboration. In principle, the federal government takes a primary role in recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, has moved into action in disaster recovery. It provides several assistance programs and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. The Small Business Administration provide its own stream of funding. Early estimates for residential property losses range from $25 billion to $37 billion. The governor of Texas has mentioned a figure of $150 billion. A half-million homes have been affected in an area the size of New Jersey. The National Flood Insurance Program is already more than $24 billion in debt from previous disasters. How effective such agencies will be in dealing with a catastrophe at this scale remains to be seen. Architects can and do have a direct advocacy impact at the levels of state, county, and city governments. We need to raise the questions that should be on the dockets when public entities confront rebuilding: where do people live and where should they not live, now and in the future? Do we reconstruct with the same techniques and materials normally used, or is there a better way to build in areas that are threatened by flooding? Houston was built on swamps naturally prone to flooding, but the city is not moving. Its medical center—almost a city in itself—secured its campus by having flood gates in place. What other techniques can mitigate against flooding and hurricane damage? How do we build with the resilience that climate change is demanding? We not only need to raise these questions, but we must lead in finding the answers. A second initiative involves new methods of rebuilding infrastructure. Architects ought to be engaged with these efforts, even if buildings themselves are not the tangible result. Conceptualizing new means of large-scale remediation for immediate threats to health and safety is essential—that’s a first step. Coordinating the infrastructure of buildings, transport and highway systems, power and human lives follows. These are ultimately design issues that are rarely integrated. We can lead in these integrative ventures and dissolve the differences between architecture and infrastructure. A third initiative suggests new approaches to the mass rebuilding of houses. The residential housing industry has highly effective techniques to produce massive numbers of dwellings at several scales. Yet the gap between the architectural profession and the housing industry is immense. We architects dismiss the entity that produces 95 percent of the housing in America. Why not join with the housing industry to help replace the vast number of residences that will need reconstruction? By collaborating, we can bring fresh insight not only to the design of the domestic residence but also to site planning. The look of a house is far less important to homeowners than to architects, but the siting of a home affects their quality of life daily. The planning and plotting of residential tracts has changed little for decades, and common practice ignores orientation and climate. If suburbs remain the staple for much of the domestic life that needs rebuilding, then let’s contribute to designing them. Finally, while Houston will be a major focus of reconstruction, small towns with limited resources will face their own challenges. The swath of destruction extends from Port Aransas in southern Texas into Louisiana. These communities could greatly benefit from the expertise of the architectural profession. After a summer of toxic politics and depressing social conflict, the challenge of Hurricane Harvey may provide a glimmer of the altruism we desperately need. Anthony Alofsin, FAIA, is the Roland Gommel Roessner Centennial Professor in Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin My thanks to William Richards for his helpful comments.