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Here’s every participant working on the Venice Biennale 2016
This year's Venice Architecture Biennale, titled Reporting from the Front, has unveiled its full list of participants. The 15th instalment of the Biennale, directed and curated by the man of the moment, Alejandro Aravena, will occupy venues along the Arsenale and the Central Pavilion in the Giardini. There will be work on display from 62 national pavilions, featuring five newcomers: Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Philippines, Seychelles, and Yemen. From this pool of nations, 50 architects will be taking to the Venetian stage for the first time. This year's event will also witness an infusion of youth never seen before with 33 of the featured architects being under 40—a first for the Biennale. “There are several battles that need to be won and several frontiers that need to be expanded in order to improve the quality of the built environment and consequently people’s quality of life," said Aravena. "This is what we would like people to come and see at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition: success stories worth to be told and exemplary cases worth to be shared where architecture did, is and will make a difference in those battles and frontiers.” Together, they will contribute work that addresses concurrent issues such as: segregation, inequalities, peripheries, access to sanitation, natural disasters, housing shortage, migration,  informality, crime, traffic, waste, pollution, and the participation of communities. “It is not easy to achieve such a level of expansion and synthesis; they are battles that need to be fought," Aravena continued. "The always menacing scarcity of means, the ruthless constraints, the lack of time and urgencies of all kinds are a constant threat that explain why we so often fall short in delivering quality. The forces that shape the built environment are not necessarily amicable either: the greed and impatience of capital or the single mindedness and conservatism of the bureaucracy tend to produce banal, mediocre and dull built environments. These are the frontlines from which we would like different practitioners to report, sharing success stories and exemplary cases where architecture did, is and will make a difference.”

Here's the full list of participants:

Albania “I Have Left You the Mountain” Commissioners: Albanian Ministry of Culture. Curators: Simon Battisti, Leah Whitman-Salkin, Åbäke. Exhibitors: Etel Adnan, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Mourid Barghouti, Claire Fontaine, Yona Friedman, Anri Sala, Michael Taussig, Yanis Varoufakis, Ornela Vorpsi. Site: Arsenale

Argentina experimentAR - Poéticas desde la frontera Commissioners: Federico Gonzalez Perini. Curator: Atilio Pentimalli. Site: Arsenale, Sale d’Armi

Armenia Independent Landscape Commissioners: Ministry of Culture, (Vartan Karapetian).Curator: Sarhat Petrosyan. Site: Chiesa di Santa Croce degli Armeni, Calle dei Armeni, San Marco 965

Australia The Pool – Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia Commissioners: Janet Holmes a Court AC. Curators: Amelia Holliday and Isabelle Toland (Aileen Sage Architects) with Michelle Tabet. Exhibitors: Conversations with Olympians Shane Gould and Ian Thorpe (Anna Funder and Christos Tsiolkas; musician Paul Kelly; environmentalist Tim Flannery; fashion designers Romance Was Born; and art curator Hetti Perkins). Site: Giardini

Austria Places for people Commissioners/Curator: Elk Elke Delugan-Meissl with Liquid Frontiers. Exhibitors: Caramel architects, EOOS, the next ENTERprise architects. Site: Giardini

Bahrain Commissioners: Sh. Mai Al Khalifa. Curators: Anne Holtrop e Noura Al Sayeh. Site: Arsenale

Belgium BRAVOURE Commissioners: Christoph Grafe, Director Flanders Architecture Institute. Curator: bravoure architecten de vylder vinck taillieu - doorzon interieur architecten - filip dujardin. Site: Giardini

Brazil Commissioners: Luis Terepins, Bienal de São Paulo Foundation.Curator: Washington Fajardo. Site: Giardini

Canada “EXTRACTION” Commissioners: Catherine Crowston, Art Gallery of Alberta. Curator: Pierre Bélanger, OPSYS. Exhibitors: OPSYS / RVTR. Site: Giardini

Chile Against the tide Commissioners: Cristóbal Molina (National Council of Culture and the Arts of Chile). Curators: Juan Román, José Luis Uribe. Exhibitors: Felipe Aranda, Ximena Cáceres, Claudio Castillo, Ximena Céspedes, Gabriel Garrido, Carolina Guerra, Juan Francisco Inostroza, Yasna Monsalve, Felipe Muñoz, Daniel Prieto, Javier Rodríguez, Jonnattan Silva, Carolina Solís, Tanya Vera, Cesar Verdugo. Site: Arsenale

China Daily Design, Daily Tao-Back to the ignored front Commissioners: China Arts & Entertainment Group (CAEG).Curator: Jingyu Liang. Exhibitors: Approach Architecture Studio, Drawing Architecture Studio (Han Li, Yan Hu), in+of architecture (Lu Wang), People’s Architecture Office (Zhe He, James Shen, Feng Zang), Run Atelier (Hao Wang, Man Ye), Qun Song, View Unlimited Lanscape Architecture Studio CUCD (Xie Xiaoying, Yan Tong, Haitao Huang, Qu Zhi), Wuyong (Ma Ke), Jingxiang Zhu (Unitinno+CUHK), Jing Zuo. Site: Arsenale

Czech Republic & Slovakia Care for Architecture: Exemplum of the Slovak National Gallery or Asking Arche of Architecture to Dance Commissioners: Monika Mitášová, Monika Palcová. Curators/Exhibitors: Benjamín Brádnanský, Petr Hájek, Vít Halada, Ján Studený, Marián Zervan (Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and University in Trnava). Site: Giardini

Côte d'Ivoire Live differently Commissioners: N’Guessan N’Dri Barthelemy. Curator: SOSSAH Francis. Exhibitors: Ministère de la construction et de l’urbanisme, Ministère de l’habitat et du logement social, Ministère de la culture et de la francophonie, Ordre des architectes, Ecole d’architecture d'Abidjan. Site: Palazzo Bembo e Palazzo Mora

Croatia “We Need It-We do it” Commissioners: Zlatko Hasanbegovic, PhD, Minister of culture; Ministry of Culture. Curator: Dinko Peracic. Exhibitors:Dinko Peracic, Slaven Tolj, Miranda Veljacic, Emina Višnic. Site: Arsenale

Denmark Commissioners: Kent Martinussen, CEO, Danish Architecture Centre. Curators: Boris Brorman Jensen and Kristoffer Lindhardt Weiss. Exhibitors: 3XN; AART architects; Adept; AI; Anders Abraham & Christina Capetillo; Anders Peder Larsen; Andersen & Sigurdsson Architects; Arcgency; Arkitektfirmaet Merete Lind Mikkelsen; Arkitema Architects; BCVA Architecture; BIG; BO FROST architects; CEBRA; CF. Møller Architects;Christensen & Co architects; COBE; COLORCLOUDSTUDIO;DISSING+WEITLING architecture; Dorte Mandrup Architects; EFFEKT; ELKIÆR + EBBESKOV; Erik Brandt Dam architects; Erik Møller Architects; Force4; Frans Drewniak & Philip Rahm; Frederiksund Municipality; Friis & Moltke Architects Gottlieb Paludan Architects; Herzog de Meuron; JAJA architects; Jakob Knudsen; Jan Gehl; Jane Havshøj Architects; Jes Vagnby; JJW Architects; Johan Mottelson; Jonathan Meldgaard Houser; Junya Ishigami; Karlsson Arkitekter; KHR Arkitekter; Kim Loudrup; KRADS; Kristine Jensens Tegnestue; Lenschow & Pihlmann; LETH & GORI; LUMO Architects; Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects; Mathilde Petri Architects; Middelfart Municipality and Middelfart Wastewater Utility; Mikkelsen Architects; Møller & Grønborg; Nicolai Bo Andersen; NORD Architects Copenhagen; ONV Architects; POLYFORM; Powerhouse Company Copenhagen; Roskilde Municipality;  RUBOW Arkitekter; schmidt hammer lassen architects; SLA Architects; SLETH Architects; SNE architects; Spektrum Arkitekter; Svendborg Architects; THIRD NATURE; Toposfære IVS; TRANSFORM; Tyra Lea Amdisen Dokkedahl; URBAN AGENCY; Vandkunsten Architects; Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects; WE Architecture; Wienberg Architects and Frier Architecture; Schønherr; Henning Larsen Architects. Site: Giardini

Egypt ReframingBack/ImperativeConfrontations Commissioners: Ahmad Hilal. Curator: Ministero della Cultura. Exhibitors: Eslam Zenbaey, Luca Borlenghi, Gabriele Secchi, Mostafa Salim. Site: Giardini

Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania The Baltic Pavilion Commissioners Estonia: Raul Järg Commissioner Lettonia: Janis Dripe ( Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia) Commissioners Lithuania: Ona Lozuraité, Jonas Žukauskas. Curators: Karlis Berzinš, Jurga Daubaraite, Petras Išora, Ona Lozuraityte, Niklavs Paegle, Dagnija Smilga, Johan Tali, Laila Zarina, Jonas Žukauskas. Exhibitors: Architekturos Fondas, Eesti Arhitektuurikeskus. Site: Palasport G.B. Gianquinto, Castello, Calle S. Biagio

Finland From Border to Home - Housing Solutions for Asylum Seekers Commissioners: Juulia Kauste Museum of Finnish Architecture. Curator: Marco Steinberg. Exhibitors: a team; Lindberg & Erdman; Society Lab with the participation of alt Architects; D.A.T. PANGEA + QUATORZE; Helsinki Kasbah Combine; Satoshi OHTAKI. Site: Giardini

France Nouvelles du Front, Nouvelles Richesses Commissioners: Institut Français, ministère de la culture et de la communication - direction générale des patrimoines.Curator: Frédéric Bonnet - OBRAS e AJAP 14 (PNG, Boidot & Robin, Studio 1984, Studiolada, Boris Bouchet, Claas architectes, R Architecture, NeM / Niney et Marca architectes). Site: Giardini

Germany Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country Commissioners: Peter Cachola Schmal, Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM). Curator: Oliver Elser, Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM). Exhibitors: Something Fantastic. Site: Giardini

Great Britain Home Economics Commissioners: Vicky Richardson. Curators: Shumi Bose, Jack Self, Finn Williams. Exhibitors: ÅYR, Pier Vittorio Aureli e Martino Tattara (Dogma) con Maria S. Giudicci (Black Square), Julia King, Jenna Sutela Hesselbrand. Site: Giardini

Greece “Challenging architecture on site of crisis” Commissioners: General Secretary of Spatial Planning and Urban Environment, Ms Eirini Klampatsea. Curators: SADAS-PEA (the Greek Architects Association).Exhibitor: SADAS-PEA (the Greek Architects Association). Site: Giardini

Hungary æctivators. Locally active architecture Commissioners: Júlia Fabényi. Curators: Gábor Fábián, Dénes Fajcsák. Exhibitor: Arkt. Site: Giardini

Iran Commissioners: Ministry of Road and Urban Development Hamed Mazaherian. Exhibitors: Saba Engineering Events Association. Site: Arsenale

Ireland Losing Myself Commissioners: Niall MacLaughlin. Curator: Yeoryia Manolopoulou. Exhibitor: Níall McLaughlin (Níall McLaughlin Architects). Site: Arsenale

Israel "A is for Architecture, B is for Biology" Commissioners: Arad Turgeman. Curators/Exhibitors: Ido Bachelet, Bnaya Bauer, Arielle Blonder, Yael Eylat Van-Essenn, Noy Lazarovich. Site: Giardini

Italy TAKING CARE – Progettare per il bene comune Commissioners: Federica Galloni, Direttore Generale Arte e Architettura Contemporanee e Periferie Urbane, Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo. Curators: Simone Sfriso, team Curatorsale Massimo Lepore, Simone Sfriso, Raul Pantaleo TAMassociati. Site: Tese delle Vergini all’Arsenale

Japan beyond - SHARING Commissioners: The Japan Foundation. Curator: Yoshiyuki Yamana. Exhibitors: mnm (Mio Tsuneyama); ondesign (Osamu Nishida); Erika Nakagawa; Naruse Inokuma Architects (Jun Inokuma, Yuri Narus; Naka Architects’ Studio (Toshiharu Naka, Yuri Uno); Nousaku Architects (Fuminori Nousaku, Junpei Nousaku); miCo. (Mizuki Imamura, Isao Shinohara); Levi Architecture (Jun Nakagawa); Shingo Masuda+Katsuhisa Otsubo Architects (Shingo Masuda, Katsuhisa Otsubo); Koji Aoki Architects(Koji Aoki); 403architecture [dajiba] (Takuma Tsuji, Takeshi Hashimoto, Toru Yada); BUS (Satoru Ito, Kosuke Bando, Issei Suma); dot architects (Toshikatsu Ienari, Takeshi Shakushiro, Wataru Doi). Site: Giardini

Kazakhstan (New) Commissioners: Minister Muhamediuly Arystanbek.

Korea The FAR Game: Constraints Sparking Creativity Commissioners: Arts Council Korea. Curators/Exhibitors: Sung Hong KIM, Eungee CINN, Keehyun AHN, Seungbum KIM, Isak CHUNG, Daeun JEONG. Site: Giardini

Kuwait Between East and West, A Gulf Commissioners: NCCAL. Curators: Hamed Bukhamseen e Ali Karimi. Site: Arsenale

Luxembourg Tracing Transitions Commissioners: LUCA Luxembourg Center for Architecture, Andrea Rumpf. Curators/Exhibitors: Claude Ballini, Serge Ecker, Daniel Grünkranz, Panajota Panotopoulou. Site: Ca’ de Duca, Corte del Duca Sforza, San Marco 3052

Macedonia 
No Man’s land Commissioners: Ivanka Apostolova. Curator: Stojan Pavleski. Exhibitors: Stojan Paveski, Ivan Simeonov, Gjorgji Radovanovic e Ljupcho Tasevski.

Mexico Dispiegamenti e Assemblaggi  (Despliegues y ensambles) Commissioners: María Margarita Segarra Lagunes.Curator: Pablo Landa Ruiloba.Exhibitors:David Mora Torres, Valeria Prieto, Mariano Arias-Diez, Alejandro Suárez Pareyón, César Augusto Guerrero Rodríguez, Mariana Ordoñez Grajales, Jorge Andrade Narváez, Paloma Vera, João Boto Matos Caeiro, Javier Toscano Guerrero, Isadora Hastings, Melba Denisse García, Álvaro Lara Cruz, Juan Carlos de la Garza Madero, Juan José Santibañez, Luz Yazmin Viramontes, Juan Alfonso Garduño, Jesús Roberto Nuñez, Rodolfo Samperio, Alfredo Hidalgo Rasmussen, Daniel Filloy Ring, Juan M. Casillas Pintor, José Carlos Lavalle Alonzo, Alexa Mabel Pacheco, Carlos Hagerman, Jesús Álvarez, Lara Becerra, Betsaid M. Moreno Corona, Jorge A. Rivera, Aarón Gutiérrez, Raúl Cárdenas Osuna. Site: Arsenale, Sale d’Armi

Montenegro Project Solana Ulcinj Commissioners: Dijana Vucinic Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism. Curators: Bart Lootsma, Katharina Weinberger. Exhibitors: ecoLogicStudio, London; LOLA, Rotterdam; LAAC, Innsbruck. Site: Palazzo Malipiero, San Marco 3079

Nigeria  (New) ‘Diminished Capacity’ Commissioners: Nkanta George Ufot (Ministry of Information and Culture). Curator: Camilla Boemio. Exhibitor: Ola-Dele Kuku.

New Zealand “Future Islands” Commissioners: Tony Van Raat. Curator: Charles Walker. Exhibitors: Kathy Waghorn, Jessica Barter, Stephen Brookbanks, Maggie Carroll, Bruce Ferguson, Minka Ip, Jonathan Rennie, Rewi Thompson. Site: Palazzo Bollani, Castello 3647

The Netherlands BLUE: Architecture of Peacekeeping Missions Commissioners: Het Nieuwe Instituut. Curator: Malkit Shoshan. Site: Giardini

Finland, Norway & Sweden In Therapy - Nordic Countries Face to Face Commissioners: ArkDes, The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design (Sweden). Adjunct Commissioners: The Finnish Museum of Architecture (Finland) and Nasjonalmuseet (Norway). Curators: David Basulto, James Taylor-Foster. Site: Giardini

Perù "OUR AMAZON FRONTLINE" Commissioners: José Orrego. Curators: Sandra Barclay e Jean Pierre Crousse. Exhibitors: Ministero dell’Istruzione Peruviano, “Progetto Plan Selva” Capo Progetto Elizabeth Añaños e con Claudia Flores, Sebastian Cilloniz, Jose Luis Villanueva, Miguel Chavez, Gino Fernandez, Alvaro Echevarria, Alfonso Orbegoso, Luis Miguel Hadzich, Carlos Tamayo. Site: Arsenale, Sale d’Armi

Phillipines (New) Muhon: Traces of an Adolescent City Commissioners: National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Felipe M. de Leon. Curator: Juan Paolo de la Cruz, Sudarshan Khadka Jr., Leandro Locsin (LVLP Partners). Site: European Cultural Center - Palazzo Mora, Strada Nuova 3659

Poland “Fair Building” Commissioners: Hanna Wróblewska. Curator: Dominika Janicka, in cooperation with Martyna Janicka and Michal Gdak. Site: Giardini

Portugal NEIGHBOURHOOD: Where Alvaro meets Aldo Commissioners: Carlos Moura-Carvalho. Curator: Nuno Grande e Roberto Cremascoli. Exhibitor: Álvaro Siza Vieira. Site: Campo di Marte, Giudecca (tra Calle Mason e Calle Michelangelo Buonarroti – vaporetto: Zitelle)

Romania SELFIE AUTOMATON Commissioners: Attila Kim. Curator: Tiberiu Bucsa. Exhibitors: Tiberiu Bucsa, Orsolya Gal, Stathis Markopoulos, Adrian Arama, Oana Matei, Andrei Durloi. Site: Giardini e Nuova Galleria dell'Istituto Romeno di Venezia Palazzo Correr, Campo Santa Fosca, Cannaregio 2214

Russia V.D.N.H. Commissioners: Semen Mikhailovsky. Curator: Sergey Kuznetsov. Site: Giardini

Serbia HEROIC: Free Shipping Commissioners: Ivan Raskovic. Comitato Scientifico: Ljiljana Miletic Abramovic, Igor Maric, Aleksandar Bobic, Milan Ðuric, Vladimir Milenkovic, Vesna Cagic Miloševic, Maja Ciric. Exhibitors: Stefan Vasic, Ana Šulkic e Igor Sjeverac. Site: Giardini

Seychelles (New) Commissioners: Benjamin Rose. Curator: Andres Ramirez.

Singapore At The ‘Home Front’ Commissioners: Jeffrey Ho, Executive Director of DesignSingapore Council. Curator: Wong Yunn Chii, Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore. Site: Arsenale, Sale d’Armi

Slovenia Home@Arsenale Commissioners: Matevž Celik, Museum of Architecture and Design, MAO. Curators: Aljoša Dekleva e Tina Gregoric (dekleva gregoric architects). Site: Arsenale

Spain UNFINISHED Commissioners: Iñaqui Carnicero + Carlos Quintans. Curator: Carnicero + Quintans. Exhibitors: Contemporary Spanish Architecture. Site: Giardini

Switzerland "Incidental Space” Commissioners: Sandi Paucic e Marianne Burki, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. Curator: Sandra Oehy. Exhibitor: Christian Kerez. Site: Giardini

Thailand Class of 6.3 Commissioners: The Office of Contemporary Art and Culture, Ministry of Culture. Curator: Teeranuj Wongwaisayawan. Exhibitors: Pitupong Chaowakul, Chatpong Chuenrudeemol, Jeravej Hongsakul, Kanika R’Kul, Jun Sekino Chutayaves Sinthuphan, Suriya Umpansiriratana, Twitee Vajrabhaya, Varudh Varavarn. Site: Arsenale

Turkey Darzanà: Two Arsenals, One Vessel Commissioners: Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV). Curators: Feride Çiçekoglu, Mehmet Kütükçüoglu, Ertug Uçar. Exhibitors: Hüner Aldemir, Caner Bilgin, Hande Cigerli, Gökçen Erkiliç, Nazli Tümerdem, Yigit Yalgin. Site: Arsenale, Sale d’Armi

United Arab Emirates Transformations: The Emirati National House Commissioners: Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. Curator: Yasser Elsheshtawy. Site: Arsenale, Sale d’Armi

United States of America The Architectural Imagination Commissioners: Monica Ponce de Leon. Curators: Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon. Exhibitors: Marcelo López-Dinardi and V. Mitch McEwen, A(n) Office, Detroit, Michigan Kelly Bair and Kristy Balliet, BairBalliet, Chicago, Illinois, and Columbus, Ohio, Greg Lynn, Greg Lynn FORM, Los Angeles, California Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta, GeorgiaMarshall Brown, MARSHALL BROWN PROJECTS, Chicago, Illinois Hilary Sample and Michael Meredith, MOS Architects, New York, New York Florencia Pita and Jackilin Hah Bloom, Pita & Bloom, Los Angeles, California Albert Pope and Jesús Vassallo, Present Future, Houston, Texas Preston Scott Cohen, Preston Scott Cohen Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts Stan Allen, SAA/Stan Allen Architect, New York, New York Thom Moran, Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure, and Meredith Miller, T+E+A+M, Ann Arbor, Michigan Andrew Zago and Laura Bouwman, Zago Architecture, Los Angeles, California. Site: Giardini

Yemen  (New) Beautiful Yemen Commissioners: Mr. Ayed Ali Al-Shawafy, Undersecretary for Cultural relations, Ministry of Culture, Yemen. Site: Arsenale

ull list of participants (via www.labiennale.org) 1. 51N4E (Brussels, Belgium) Freek Persyn; Johan Anrys 2. ADNBA (Bucharest, Romania) Andrei Serbescu; Adrian-Ioan Untaru 3. Aires Mateus (Lisbon, Portugal) Francisco Aires Mateus; Manuel Aires Mateus 4. Al Borde (Quito, Ecuador) David Barragán; Pascual Gangotena; Marialuisa Borja; Esteban Benavides 5. Alexander Brodsky (Moscow, Russia) 6. Alonso de Santos Estudio (Madrid, Spain) Francisco Alonso de Santos 7. Amateur Architecture Studio (Hangzhou, China) Wang Shu; Lu Wenyu 8. Anupama Kundoo Architects (Auroville, India) Anupama Kundoo 9. Architecture and Vision (Bomarzo - Viterbo, Italy) Arturo Vittori 10. Arno Brandlhuber + Christopher Roth (Berlin, Germany) Arno Brandlhuber; Christopher Roth 11. Assemble (London, Great Britain) 12. Atelier Bow-Wow (Tokyo, Japan) Yoshiharu Tsukamoto; Momoyo Kaijima; Yoichi Tamai 13. Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner (Haldenstein, Switzerland) Peter Zumthor 14. Barozzi / Veiga (Barcelona, Spain) Alberto Veiga; Fabrizio Barozzi 15. Batlle i Roig Arquitectes (Barcelona, Spain) Enric Batlle; Joan Roig 16. BeL Sozietät für Architektur (Köln, Germany) Anne-Julchen Bernhardt; Jörg Leeser 17. Bernaskoni (Moscow, Russia) Boris Bernaskoni 18. Block Research Group, ETH Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) Philippe Block; Tom Van Mele WITH Ochsendorf, DeJong & Block (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) John Ochsendorf; Matthew DeJong; Philippe Block AND WITH Escobedo Construction (Buda, Texas, USA) David Escobedo 19. C+S Architects (Treviso, Italy) Carlo Cappai; Maria Alessandra Segantini 20. Cadaval & Solà-Morales (Barcelona, Spain) Eduardo Cadaval; Clara Solà-Morales 21. Cecilia Puga (Santiago, Chile) 22. Christ & Gantenbein (Basil, Switzerland) Emanuel Christ; Christoph Gantenbein WITH Stefano Graziani 23. Christian Kerez Zürich (Zurich, Switzerland) Christian Kerez 24. David Chipperfield Architects (Berlin, Germany) David Chipperfield 25. designworkshop: sa (Durban, South Africa) Andrew Makin 26. El equipo Mazzanti - Giancarlo Mazzanti, Carlos Medellín, María Mazzanti (Bogotá, Colombia) Giancarlo Mazzanti 27. Ensamble Studio (Madrid, Spain) Antón García-Abril; Débora Mesa Molina 28. EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung (Hamburg, Germany) Michael Braungart 29. Estudi d'Arquitectura Toni Gironès (Barcelona, Spain) Toni Gironès 30. Estudio del Paisaje Teresa Moller & Asociados (Santiago, Chile) Teresa Moller 31. Film First (New York, USA) Gary Hustwit 32. Forensic Architecture (London, Great Britain) Eyal Weizman 33. G124 (Gruppo di lavoro del Senatore Renzo Piano) (Rome, Italy) Renzo Piano 34. Gabinete de Arquitectura (Asuncion, Paraguay) Solano Benítez; Gloria Cabral; Solanito Benítez 35. Grafton Architects (Dublin, Ireland) Yvonne Farrell; Shelley McNamara 36. Grupo EPM - Departamento de intervenciones urbanas sostenibles (Medellín, Colombia) Horacio Valencia 37. GrupoTalca (Talca, Chile) Martín del Solar; Rodrigo Sheward 38. Herzog & de Meuron (Basil, Switzerland) Jacques Herzog; Pierre de Meuron WITH Agav Films (Paris, France) Amos Gitai 39. Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects (Helsinki, Finland) Saija Hollmén; Jenni Reuter; Helena Sandman 40. Hugon Kowalski + Marcin Szczelina (Poznan, Poland) Hugon Kowalski; Marcin Szczelina; Klaudia Dopierala; Maria Dondajewska 41. Inês Lobo, Arquitectos (Lisbon, Portugal) Inês Lobo 42. Jiakun Architects (Chengdu, China) Liu Jiakun 43. João Luís Carrilho da Graça (Lisbon, Portugal) 44. José María Sánchez García (Madrid, Spain) 45. Kashef Chowdhury / Urbana (Dhaka, Bangladesh) Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury 46. Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA (Tokyo, Japan) Kazuyo Sejima; Ryue Nishizawa 47. Kengo Kuma and Associates (Tokyo, Japan) Kengo Kuma 48. Kéré Architecture (Berlin, Germany) Francis Kéré 49. LAN (Paris, France) Umberto Napolitano; Benoît Jallon 50. Luyanda Mpahlwa DesignSpaceAfrica (South Africa) Luyanda Mpahlwa 51. M. Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo (Vittoria – Ragusa, Italy) 52. Manuel Herz Architects (Basil, Switzerland) Manuel Herz 53. Marte.Marte Architects (Weiler, Austria) Bernhard Marte; Stefan Marte 54. Matharoo Associates (Ahmedabad, India) Gurjit Singh Matharoo 55. menos é mais (Porto, Portugal) Francisco Viera de Campos; Cristina Guedes 56. NLÉ (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) Kunlé Adeyemi 57. Norman Foster Foundation (Madrid, Spain) Norman Foster WITH Redline-EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland) Jonathan Ledgard WITH Ochsendorf, DeJong & Block (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) John Ochsendorf ; Matthew DeJong; Philippe Block WITH Block Research Group, ETH Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) Philippe Block; Tom Van Mele 58. OMA - Office for Metropolitan Architecture (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) Rem Koolhaas 59. ORG Permanent Modernity (Brussels, Belgium) Alexander D'Hooghe, Luk Peeters, Natalie Seys 60. Paulo David (Funchal, Portugal) 61. Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Concepcion, Chile) Mauricio Pezo; Sofía von Ellrichshausen 62. Rahul Mehrotra and Felipe Vera (Cambridge, Washington, USA) Rahul Mehrotra; Felipe Vera 63. Raphael Zuber (Chur, Switzerland) 64. Recetas Urbanas (Siviglia, Spain) Santiago Cirugeda 65. Renato Rizzi (Venice, Italy) 66. Robust Architecture Workshop (Colombo, Sri Lanka) Milinda Pathiraja 67. Rock Garden (Chandigarh, India) Anuj Saini 68. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (London, Great Britain) Richard Rogers; Graham Stirk; Ivan Harbour 69. Rural Studio, Auburn University (Newbern, Alabama, USA) Andrew Freear; Rusty Smith 70. Rural Urban Framework, The University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong) Joshua Bolchover; John Lin 71. SAAS (Porto, Portugal) Samuel Gonçalves 72. School of Architecture, University of Waterloo (Cambridge, Ontario, Canada) Robert Jan van Pelt; Anne Bordeleau; Sascha Hastings; Donald McKay 73. Simon Velez (Bogotá, Colombia) 74. Souto Moura - Arquitectos, S.A. (Porto, Portugal) Eduardo Souto de Moura 75. SPBR Arquitetos (São Paulo, Brazil) Angelo Bucci 76. Studio Anna Heringer (Laufen, Germany) Anna Heringer WITH Lehm Ton Erde Baukunst (Schlins, Austria) Martin Rauch WITH Architekturmuseum der TUM (Monaco, Germany) Andres Lepik 77. Studio Jaeeun-Choi (Tokyo, Japan) Shigeru Ban Architects (Tokyo, Japan) Jaeeun-Choi; Shigeru Ban 78. Studio Mumbai Architects (Mumbai, India) Bijoy Jain 79. Studio Snozzi (Locarno, Switzerland) Luigi Snozzi 80. Studio TAMassociati (Venice, Italy) Massimo Lepore; Raul Pantaleo; Simone Sfriso 81. Tadao Ando Architect & Associates (Osaka, Japan) Tadao Ando 82. Tatiana Bilbao Estudio (Mexico City, Mexico) Tatiana Bilbao WITH Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura (Mexico City, Mexico) Rozana Montiel WITH Dellekamp Arquitectos (Mexico City, Mexico) Derek Dellekamp WITH Alejandro Hernández (Mexico City, Mexico) 83. Transsolar (Stuttgart, Germany) Matthias Schuler WITH Anja Thierfelder Freie Architektin (Stuttgart, Germany) Anja Thierfelder 84. TYIN tegnestue (Trondheim, Norway) Yashar Hanstad; Andreas Grønvedt Gjertsen 85. VAVStudio (Iran) Arash Aliabadi; Afshin Farzin; Saman Shamsbeki; Sakhi Shirmohammadi; Amin Tadjsoleiman 86. Vo Trong Nghia Architects (Hanoi, Vietnam) Vo Trong Nghia 87. Werner Sobek (Stuttgart, Germany) 88. ZAO / Standardarchitecture (Beijing, China) Zhang Ke
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A wide array of architects chosen by Walmart owners for Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program
The Walton Family Foundation has chosen a group of 36 design firms comprising architects and landscape architects to be part of their Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program in a bid to boost the standard of architecture in the up and coming area of Northwest Arkansas. A smaller, more refined group of practices from this pool will be chosen by a selection committee at a later date for three pilot projects announced early in September. Those pilot projects are: TheatreSquared in downtown Fayetteville; a 28,000-square-foot adaptive reuse building for the Rogers Historical Museum in downtown Rogers; and a new 35,000-square-foot facility and half-acre playground for the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center (HWCEC) in Bentonville. The announcement wraps up a two-month, country-wide search for designers that will shape the new urban landscape in Northwest Arkansas. “We are extremely pleased with the level of talent exhibited by the architecture and landscape architecture designers chosen for the program’s first year,” said Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program Director Karen Minkel in a press release. “Our extensive review process, led by reputable industry professionals, will give our grantees access to high-caliber design that meets the needs of these public-use buildings and enhances Northwest Arkansas’ urban fabric.”
Anmahian Winton Architects Cambridge, MA
Alta Planning and Design* Davidson, NC
Bing Thom Architects Vancouver, BC
Brian Healy Architects Somerville, MA
Brininstool + Lynch Chicago, IL
David M. Schwarz Architects, Inc. Washington, D.C.
De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop Louisville, KY
Deborah Berke Partners New York, NY
DLAND Studio Architecture and Landscape Architecture* Brooklyn, NY
Duvall Decker Architects Jackson, MS
Ennead Architects New York, NY
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple New Orleans, LA
Grimshaw New York, NY
GWWO, Inc./Architects Baltimore, MD
HBRA Architects Chicago, IL
HGA Architects and Engineers Minneapolis, MN
KieranTimberlake Philadelphia, PA
Lake-Flato San Antonio, TX
Louise Braverman Architect New York, NY
LTL Architects New York, NY
Marlon Blackwell Architects Fayetteville, AR
Martinez + Johnson Architecture Washington, D.C.
Marvel Architects New York, NY
Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Minneapolis, MN
Michael Van Valkenburgh Architects* Brooklyn, NY
Modus Studio Fayetteville, AR
Overland Partners San Antonio, TX
Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects Little Rock, AR
Rice+Lipka Architects New York, NY
Robert A.M. Stern Architects New York, NY
Robert Sharp Architects & Massengale Architecture PLLC Fayetteville, AR | NY, NY
Schwartz/Silver Architects Boston, MA
Spackman Mossop Michaels* New Orleans, LA
Stoss Landscape Urbanism* Boston, MA
Trahan Architects New Orleans, LA
WXY Architecture + Urban Design* New York, NY
  • * denotes a landscape architecture firm.
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Here are the AIA New York’s 2015 Design Award Winners in architecture
A jury of architects, landscape architects, critics, educators, and planners has named the 35 winning projects of this year's AIA New York Chapter Design Awards. "Each winning project, granted either an 'Honor' or 'Merit' award, was chosen for its design quality, response to its context and community, program resolution, innovation, thoughtfulness, and technique," AIANY said in a statement. "Submitted projects had to be completed by members of the AIA New York Chapter, architects/designers practicing in New York, or be New York projects designed by architects/designers based elsewhere." Take a look at the winning teams in the architecture category below. But before we get to that, let's start with the Best in Competition distinction which goes to SsD and its Songpa Micro Housing in Seoul, Korea (above). "Like the ambiguous gel around a tapioca pearl, this ‘Tapioca Space’ becomes a soft intersection between public/private and interior/exterior building social fabrics between immediate neighbors," the firm said in a statement. "Finally, as this is housing for emerging artists, exhibition spaces on the ground floor and basement are spatially linked to the units as a shared living room. Although the zoning regulation requires the building to be lifted for parking, this open ground plan is also used to pull the pedestrians in from the street and down a set of auditorium-like steps, connecting city and building residents to the exhibition spaces below." Okay, now onto the Honor Awards in the architecture category. Davis Brody Bond National September 11 Memorial Museum New York, NY
From the architects: "Remembering the fallen Twin Towers through their surviving physical structural footprints, the 9/11 Memorial Museum stands witness to the tragedy and its impact."
John Wardle Architects and NADAAA Melbourne School of Design Melbourne, Australia
From the architects: "The new building for the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning responds to the urban design values identi- fi ed in the Campus Master Plan and enhances the existing open spaces within the historic core of the Centre Precinct of the Parkville Campus. It engages with the existing landscape elements, continues the sequence of outdoor rooms arrayed across the campus, and links strongly to the intricate network of circulation routes that surround the site. The new building compliments and enhances the sense of place that the Eastern Precinct of the Parkville Campus already commands."
REX Vakko Fashion Center Istanbul, Turkey
From the architects: "Turkey’s pre-eminent fashion house, Vakko, and Turkey’s equivalent of MTV, Power Media, planned to design and construct a new headquarters in an extremely tight schedule using an unfinished, abandoned hotel. Fortuitously, the unfinished building had the same plan dimension, floor-to-floor height, and servicing concept as another one of our projects, the Annenberg Center’s 'Ring', which had been cancelled. By adapting the construction documents produced for that project to the abandoned concrete hotel skeleton, construction on the perimeter office block commenced only four days after Vakko/Power first approached our team. This adaptive re-use opened a six-week window during which the more unique portions of the program could be designed simultaneous to construction."
ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers Henderson-Hopkins School Baltimore, MD
From the architects: "The new Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School and The Harry And Jeanette Weinberg Early Childhood Center, together called Henderson Hopkins, is the fi rst new Baltimore public school built in 30 years. A cornerstone for the largest redevelopment project in Baltimore, it is envisioned as a catalyst in the revitalization of East Baltimore. The seven-acre campus will house 540 K-8 students and 175 pre-school children."  
WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center Brooklyn, NY
From the architects: "A botanic garden is an unusual kind of museum: a fragile collection constantly in flux. As a constructed natural environment, it is dependent on man-made infrastructures to thrive. New York City’s Brooklyn Botanic Garden contains a wide variety of landscapes organized into discrete settings such as the Japanese Garden, the Cherry Esplanade, the Osborne Garden, the Overlook, and the Cranford Rose Garden. The Botanic Garden exists as an oasis in the city, visually separated from the neighborhood by elevated berms and trees."
WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology Philadelphia, PA
From the architects: "The newly-opened Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology demonstrates the University of Pennsylvania’s leadership in the emerging field of nanotechnology. Nanoscale research is at the core of cutting-edge breakthroughs that transcend disciplinary boundaries of engineering, medicine, and the sciences. The new Center for Nanotechnology contains a rigorous collection of advanced labs, woven together by collaborative public spaces that enable interaction between different fields. The University’s first cross disciplinary building, the Singh Center encourages the exchange and integration of knowledge that characterizes the study of this emerging field and combines the resources of both engineering and the sciences."
Merit Awards  Garrison Architects NYC Emergency Housing Prototype Brooklyn, NY H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center Brooklyn, NY Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects Toroishiku (Marc Jacobs Building) Tokyo, Japan Louise Braverman, Architect Village Health Works Staff Housing Kigutu, Burundi Maryann Thompson Architects Pier Two at Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn, NY OPEN Architecture Garden School Beijing, China PARA-Project Haffenden House Syracuse, NY Skidmore, Owings & Merrill University Center – The New School New York, NY Thomas Phifer and Partners Project: United States Courthouse, Salt Lake City Location: Salt Lake City, UT Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects Project: Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts Location: Chicago, IL
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St. Petersburg, Florida flooded with proposals to transform its famous 1970s-era pier
About 10 years ago, the city of St. Petersburg, Florida started talking about tearing down one of its most well-known piece of architecture: a 1970s-era, inverted pyramid at the end of a city pier. The city would then replace that pier head with a more modern, but still architecturally significant, statement. So, a few years back, a design competition was launched, and it resulted in some of the most ambitious designs we’ve ever seen from a competition like this. The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) created a massive, spiraling loop, West 8 designed a sea urchin–shaped pavilion, and Michael Maltzan Architecture envisioned The Lens, a massive circuit of bridges and pathways that connect into an angled canopy—or lens—that faces back toward the city. Out of that short-list, Maltzan came out on top, but nothing ever materialized and the inverted pyramid is still standing. Long story short: voters overwhelmingly rejected the $50 million plan at the polls, a new mayor was elected, and then, this fall, a second, more public-facing, competition was launched. Now, eight designs from that competition have been unveiled. While the teams competing aren't as well-known as those in round one, their designs are no subtle gestures. Each team received a $30,000 stipend for its work, meaning the second competition has already racked up nearly a quarter million dollar bill. That's on top of the millions of dollars poured into the first competition that didn't really go anywhere. All of the new plans come with extraordinarily splashy renderings (literally, there are dolphins splashing around in one), and long, detailed plans. One proposal is even paired with a video set to Frank Sinatra’s "Somewhere Beyond The Sea." Following public input, the City Council will approve one of these plans next spring. A St. Petersburg official told AN that funding for the pier has already been allocated and would not have to go back before the voters. For this round, each team was asked to work within a construction budget of $33 million. And now onto the proposals for round two: Prospect Pier FR-EE with Civitas + Mesh From the architects: Prospect Pier celebrates our unique geography, culture and history as a subtropical, waterfront city. In a reinvented Pyramid that looks to the future, it builds upon the Pier’s assets – a strong form floating over the water. Our vision is a journey that begins downtown, passes through a vibrant park and becomes a magical stroll over water before ascending through active, public spaces culminating in breathtaking views of city, sea and sky, high over Tampa Bay. Destination St. Pete Pier St. Pete Design Group From the architects: The St. Pete Design Group's concept provides the perfect marriage of historic icon and modernized, functional pier; a pure, crystalline pyramid is surrounded by fun, contemporary elements and activities within multi-leveled layers of shade. Varied attractions that will keep residents and tourists coming back include a larger Spa Beach, multiple dining options, a children's zone and a spectacular waterfall. Come fish, play, relax and remember. Discover the New St. Pete Pier. The Pier Park Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers, ASD, Ken Smith From the architects: The ASD/Rogers Partners/KSLA design honors St. Petersburg Pier’s robust, eclectic history while transforming it into a 21st century public place. It is a hub for activity; not only at the pier head, but all along its length. Flexible programs engage tourists and community alike – from children to seniors, nature lovers to boaters, fishermen to fine diners. The Pier does not take you to a place – the Pier is the place. It is THE PIER PARK. ALMA Alfonso Architects From the architects: The Soul of the City. Cultural Icon. Just as the Eiffel Tower image alone can conjure up an entire cultural experience by merely representing a fragment of the City, the Pier transmutations over the years have served as the symbol and spirit of the place that is St. Petersburg. Our project will recapture the past, embrace the present, and look to the future ALMA: The Soul of St. Petersburg. Blue Pier W Architecture and Landscape Architecture From the architects: The vision for the St. Petersburg Blue Pier lagoon park is a grand civic gesture bringing the pier, bay and natural landscape closer to the city. Blue Pier acts as a unifying element uniting the Bay with the City along a new axis of recreational and economic activity. Starting new allows us to set a new sequence of events in motion to make the pier even more successful and relevant for the coming century. rePier Ross Barney Architects From the architects: repier is a vision of St. Petersburg as a catalyst for more environmentally-friendly, physically-engaging, and socially exciting urban living. repier adds opportunities to engage with the water, creates marine habitat, provides places to snack and sit in the shade, and builds a social space that also generates electricity. repier projects progress and hope and provides St. Petersburg with a place that is useful and loved. The Crescent ahha! - New Quarter From the architects: The crescent as a metaphor for the growth of our community. A gathering place for the people of St Pete; a place for learning and play. A place that is self sustaining. How does one have a pier experience without actually being on a pier? Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?" - Frank Scully Discover Bay Life VOA From the architects: “Discover Bay Life” respects the past and looks to the future by transforming the upland park and pier into a new destination for St. Petersburg. Just as life on the Bay continually transforms, so does life at “The Pier”. Three destinations - Bay Life Park, the Pier, and the Marine Discovery Center - become one unique destination for locals and visitors to discover and enjoy year around.
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Mid-Main Movement
Sited beside a light rail line, this project will be Houston's first transit-oriented development.
Courtesy Rogers Partners

As Houston begins to grow from the inside out, many developers are staking their ground in the Mid-Main district just south of downtown. Cultivating a culture of vibrancy, public transit, and neighborhood interaction are some of the goals of one new project located in this prime location along the METRORail light rail system. New York City–based Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Designers and local developer RHS Interests are planning to break ground in Spring 2014 on a mixed-use development located at the 3500 and 3600 block of Main Street. The privately funded project, which also enlists the help of architect and Rice professor William T. Cannady and Gensler Houston, is estimated to be complete by mid to late 2015.

Banking on the strengths of the location and seeking to attract younger tenants, the project includes 30,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, while 363 studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units fill out the levels above. The development team expects to lure students and young professionals who work in downtown or at the Texas Medical Center—both of which are accessible by the light rail—as well people who are tired of commuting from outlying areas of the city. The structure is complemented with three levels of parking, two of which are shared with the public and one that is dedicated to residents.

The apartment block is broken up to create a community courtyard that opens to Main Street.
 

“A key owner and designer decision was to abandon the traditional ‘Houston Wrap’ typology of apartments surrounding a parking deck, and instead develop a podium that provides street level activities to surround the site, while concentrating residences around a common open space,” said architect Rob Rogers of Rogers Partners. “Instead of a monolithic two-block wall, the pro-urban scheme acknowledges the street grid and massing, including placing the major public access point across from the Mid-Main rail stop.”

Rogers Partners’ design embraces the urban surroundings by opening the project’s central courtyard to the street. Activity on Main—whether it be passing vehicular traffic or pedestrians visiting the surrounding businesses—will be visible to residents, while passersby on the street will be able to see what is going on in the community spaces of the multi-level development. This permeability with the surrounding environment seeks to imbue the project with the excitement generated by Mid-Main’s many bars, restaurants, and retail shops, including such nearby Houston nightlife institutions as the Continental Club and Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge. In addition, the development is neighbor to MATCH, a forthcoming performing and visual arts center that will be home to some of Houston’s leading and emerging arts organizations.

The urban lifestyle is fostered inside the development through the communal courtyard area. The apartment blocks are broken apart to create this open space and to avoid long hallways on the interior, encouraging socialization among neighbors as well as interaction between retailers on the terrace level. A majority of units have balconies, while the street-side penthouse apartments cantilever out to cap the elevation.

“The project focuses on holding and activating the urban street edge, while making a vibrant, sculpted courtyard landscape within,” said Rogers. “The blocks are city scale, the courtyard residential and intimate. The forms are simple, modern, and efficient; it is critical that Houston’s first real transit-oriented development project embody progressive urban ideals and materiality.”

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Softening Modernism’s Hard Edge
Boston City Hall's vast plaza.
Ezra Stoller / ESTO

Inserting a work of contemporary landscape architecture into the context of a mid-century modernist complex is a challenging proposition. Many of the most prominent plazas, pocket parks, and courtyards from the modernist era feature stark and austere designs that were intended to complement the buildings they were built to serve.

Some renowned modernist spaces such as the Spartan granite plaza in front of Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building were not even designed with the intention that people would linger. “When Mies van der Rohe saw people sitting on the ledges, he was surprised,” Phillip Johnson is said to have commented. “He never dreamed they would.”

Certainly the sensibility of the typical mid-century modernist urban landscape is at odds with contemporary tastes and activities. The greenery was designed to be sparse and ordered. Restrooms, cafes, and shade structures are nowhere to be found. Nowadays, however, urban open spaces are designed for people to linger. The reigning design approach calls for populated plazas, a variety of seating options, cafes, shade trees, and lawns where people can relax.

Indeed, many public plazas from the modernist era, such as Dan Kiley’s North Court at Lincoln Center in New York City and Lawrence Halprin’s Skyline Park in Denver, Colorado, have been redesigned to conform to the contemporary program. And although nobody has proposed inserting a lawn and trees into the Seagram Building Plaza, some say that the current open space redesign juggernaut is threatening to eradicate an important part of the country’s architectural history.

“We have a thing now about using every square inch, which is not an awful idea, but it might not always be necessary,” said Frank Sanchis, program director of United States Programs at the World Monuments Fund.

OLIN's redesign of Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building Plaza in Cleveland.
Courtesy OLIN
 

In 2004, when Sanchis was vice-president of New York City’s Municipal Art Society, he helped organize a high-profile competition for the redesign of a dilapidated one-acre elevated plaza at 55 Water Street in lower Manhattan; the plaza originally was designed in the early 1970s by landscape architecture firm M. Paul Friedberg & Associates. The winners of the competition, Rogers Marvel Architects and Ken Smith Landscape Architect, completely redesigned the place with an artificial lawn and a diverse selection of plantings.

However, in retrospect, doing away with the Friedberg design may have been a mistake, said Sanchis. “Simply replacing its original design, rather than reinventing it, might have worked perfectly well,” Sanchis said. “I don’t think that we ever looked to see what Paul Friedberg’s design originally looked like—it might have been perfectly fine.”

 
 

Much of the credit for the reawakening of interest in the preservation of modernist landscape architecture can be tied to Charles Birnbaum, president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). In 2008, TCLF came out with a Marvels of Modernism list to call attention to dozens of significant post-war landscapes that had been allowed to fall into disrepair and were threatened with destruction.

Birnbaum says that his campaign was created to encourage sensitive renovations that respect the original design intent of landscape architecture masterworks. “So it is not just about people lying on the lawn, it is not about having a space with a dog park,” Birnbaum said. “We are trying to give people the information so that we can manage change. It is about understanding how a particular masterwork fits in with the history of design.”

 

Many New Yorkers were introduced to the thorny issues surrounding the preservation of works of modernist landscape architecture several years ago, when a controversy erupted over the renovation of the North Court at Lincoln Center.

The North Court was considered a masterwork by renowned landscape architect Dan Kiley. This outdoor temple, situated in front of Eero Saarinen’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, was once one of the most serene sites in the city. It was a geometrically-ordered place that featured half a dozen benches surrounding a shallow reflecting pool that contained sculptor Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure. The landscape’s geometry complemented the surrounding exteriors of Wallace Harrison’s Metropolitan Opera Building and Max Abramovitz’s Avery Fisher Hall.

Although aspects of Kiley’s design remain, thanks to a redesign by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, today it is an altogether different setting. The size of the reflecting pool has been reduced and the distinctive travertine planters removed. In keeping with the contemporary agenda of activating urban spaces, the court is bounded by a restaurant that features a sloping green lawn on its roof where people can sunbathe in the summer.

Preservationists such as Birnbaum and Sanchis were appalled by the North Court’s redesign. “By designing a simpler restaurant than the one that Diller designed with the sloping roof, they might have been able to keep the severe aspect of the landscape that goes with the severity of the Beaumont Theater,“ Sanchis said. “They could have downplayed the spirit of Dan Kiley’s design, but they wiped it out—which I think is happening with a lot of landscapes from that period.”

A new quad at SUNY Albany by Thomas Balsley Associates.
Dale Schafer
 

The design community is still divided over whether Kiley’s design for the North Court could have been updated in such a way as to appease the preservationists and accommodate Lincoln Center’s programming. However, the conditions at other modernist-era plazas certainly call for substantial overhauls.

One example is the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building Plaza in Cleveland, originally designed in the 1960s atop an underground parking garage. For more than four decades, the place was an elevated windswept plaza that did not connect with the rest of the city and was largely devoid of human activity. The plaza was comprised of geometrically-ordered planes of grass interspersed with paving. Most of the design intent was oriented toward complementing the 32-story office building that it serves.

 
 

As happens with many modernist plazas built atop garages, this one developed severe drainage problems. A 2004 renovation by the landscape architecture firm OLIN fixed the leaks and used the opportunity to better connect the plaza with the rest of the city. The architects made the plaza more comfortable, with bosques of trees and grading that help block the 30-mile-per-hour winds that frequently assault the place. Rather than eradicate the plaza’s original composition, the designers incorporated it into a new, sinuous landscape that they laid on top of the old one.

“There are lots of games going on, which are about using the modern grid and then varying it to create a space that people can occupy,” said Richard Newton, a partner in OLIN. “It is something people can use rather than something that is only a visual complement to the building. We learned a lot from William Whyte and what he brought to design.”

For the State University of New York at Albany, Edward Durell Stone masterplanned and designed the buildings at a grand scale. Many traditional campus gathering places were omitted in favor of little-used ceremonial spaces like a mammoth motor court at the entrance. Thomas Balsley Associates is working on a landscape masterplan for the campus, and recently converted the cobble stone motor court into a new two and a half acre lawn quadrangle with an interactive fountain at the center. The lawn is flanked with over-scaled slab benches with integrated lighting to illuminate the pathways. “Many of the spaces were impressive, very modernist, but not very human,” said principal Thomas Balsley. “You didn’t feel like you were part of the story.”  Balsley respected the scale and grandeur of Stone’s design, but was tasked with creating a more inviting space for students and faculty. “We gave them the softening and flexibility they needed,” he said. “In the context of that ensemble, it does harmonize with the scale.”

A prairie-inspired green roof in Midtown Manhattan by HM White Site Architects.
C. Taylor Crothers
 

Private developers are also using contemporary landscape strategies to add value to midcentury properties. Shorenstein Properties asked HM White Site Architects to create a new outdoor space on top of a setback at the 17th floor of 850 Third Avenue, a 1960s-era Emery Roth office building, which would serve as small meeting areas as well as a pleasant view for the interior offices. The landscape architects designed a false topography of native grasses and wildflowers, which is visible to most of the workers on the floor. “It creates a natural presence on the building that is a strong contrast to the midcentury architecture,” said Aaron Booher, an associate principal at HM White.

Another example of a dysfunctional modernist landscape is Boston’s vast City Hall Plaza. Known as the “brick desert,” the plaza is one of the most widely disliked places in Beantown. “The public hates this place; they just hate it,” said Birnbaum, who put the place on TCLF’s Marvels of Modernism list. “This is what happens with a lot of these landscapes when they are not taken care of.”

 
C. Taylor Crothers and Courtesy HM White Site Architects
 

Boston City Hall Plaza reflects an approach to urban planning that is antithetical to contemporary notions of what a city’s center is supposed to look like. The 11-acre expanse of brick and concrete was designed in the 1960s as part of a 60-acre urban renewal scheme that centralized many of Boston’s federal, state, and city buildings into Government Center, a massive Brutalist complex of buildings.

Some older residents resent Government Center because of what it replaced: a lively, although dilapidated hub known as Scollay Square. The place once bustled with commercial activity and was distinguished by grand theaters dating from the early nineteenth century. But by the 1950s the place had become a bar-crawling nightlife district, and instead of Shakespeare, the theaters featured striptease acts and slapstick vaudeville shows.

C. Taylor Crothers
 

The master plan for Government Center—by I.M. Pei—succeeded in getting rid of the riffraff. But the Brutalist-style buildings and the plaza’s severe design, which was modeled after the Piazza del Campo in Sienna, Italy, also succeeded in getting rid of everyone else.

Today, unless one has business at one of the government buildings on the plaza or there is an event, such as the farmer’s market that moves in twice a week, there is little reason to linger there. This windswept expanse is largely devoid of greenery. There are no shade structures and no seating. When it rains, the plaza’s inadequate drainage system overflows, leaving large puddles throughout. And traversing the plaza’s 26-foot grade change involves negotiating innumerable staircases.

Over the years, a slew of proposals have suggested how to redesign City Hall Plaza. To the alarm of preservationists such as Birnbaum, many of them have called for dramatic change. One put forth in the 1990s featured a hotel in front of the federal building and a big lawn smack in the middle of the “brick desert.”

The proposed alterations to Boston City Hall Plaza by Utile and Reed Hilderbrand.
Courtesy Reed Hilderbrand
 

It now appears that a more viable plan is on the table courtesy of Greening America’s Capitals, a new federal initiative that is a joint program of the EPA-HUD-DOT Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The initiative led to a plan designed by Utile, Reed Hilderband, Durand & Anastas Environmental Strategies, and Nitsch Engineering. The plan is oriented toward mitigating the harsh manmade conditions of the plaza with many of the landscape strategies that society has come to demand from contemporary public spaces.

The proposed plan features bosques of trees discretely placed to provide summer shade and reduce the heat-island effect. It also improves pedestrian and bicycle access by providing grade changes in places to replace some of the many staircases. In addition, the plan calls for replacing the plaza’s decrepit drainage system with a modern one that captures stormwater runoff and keeps it on site, instead of allowing it to run into the harbor.

 
 

One of the most important aspects of the team’s vision for City Hall Plaza is that, “it is a plan for adaptation, not a redesign,” said Hilderbrand. The design embraces the plaza’s Brutalist aesthetic by preserving its vast expanse of bricks. In fact, although the plan calls for new bosques of trees at grade level, thanks to structural soils, there will be no tree grates. The bricks will come right up to the trunks of the trees.

Hilderbrand argues that the modernist aesthetic of Government Center deserves to be preserved because of its historic importance. “Government Center was conceived at a time of renewal, and we now have 60 years of legacy here,” he said. “Our cultural imprint from this place represents a mid-century way of re-conceiving a relationship between the people of the city and their government, and I am not really so keen on eradicating it.”

The plan that Hildebrand and his team have developed has won kudos from Birnbaum, who sees it as a model for resuscitating neglected modernist landscape masterworks. “The concept behind city hall and the plaza was a synergistic relationship, but it didn’t really function on a human scale,” he said, adding, “What Gary is doing with these insertions is really reinforcing the design intent, by bringing some humanity to the place.”

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The China Construct
SOM's Beitan Master Plan.
Courtesy SOM

Given the cooling of its once red-hot economy, is China the right place for western architects?

Do ambitious firms have a choice? The United States has been nearly paralyzed by the foreclosure crisis and two major wars. The euro has been showing signs that it may collapse. Brazil has been faltering. The once breakneck pace of development in the Middle East has significantly fallen off. With its strong bureaucracy and centrally controlled market economy—somehow not a contradiction—China still beckons, despite these known risks.

But whether or not China is the right place for architects depends upon whom you ask.

 
Reality and rendering of Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design’s theater in Ordos, Inner Mongolia..
Courtesy Yazdani Studio
 

Once thing is certain: China is not an easy place in which to work. Since the 1980s foreign architects have traveled there, wide-eyed and full of optimism, to realize projects they generally would be unable to do in their home countries.

Recalling the empire-spreading colonials of the past, some architects seem to do quite well at taking on China. Steven Holl, for example, has built some of his fantastic watercolor sketches. Chinese developers and government officials (often one and the same) seem willing to let OMA do whatever it wants. Young architects just a few years out of internships, like Beijing-based MAD’s Ma Yansong, have landed huge commissions, including iconic high rises, while their counterparts in the U.S. are lucky to receive jobs designing a downtown loft renovation.

But the promise of success in China can come with a price. As architect Neil Denari put it, “There is that knowing wince when you mention China.” The wince apparently means, “Have you made every effort to understand the world you are operating in?”

At a recent LA Forum Pecha Kucha night devoted to working in China, a certain darkly humorous tone permeated the stories told by veterans of building overseas. There were many moments when the shared “wince” emerged as a collective groan or sigh, often ending with sympathetic laughter about compromises made: “Here’s another podium with icon tower”; “There was no program”; “They wanted it blue so we made it blue.”

One presenter summed it up by declaring, “China is about time, process, and metaphors. There is no time, no process, and everything is about the metaphor.” Like many, the speaker, who did not wish to be identified because he would like to continue working in China, is still trying to make sense of his China experience.

Yazdani Studio’s restaurant is nearing completion in Ordos.
Courtesy Yazdani Studio
 

To get to the truth about the horror stories from China is not easy—even at an open-bar Pecha Kucha. Speculation and vague rumors are rife. Have you heard that so-and-so had a project built from renderings? Did you know that so-and-so had his designs stolen and he might need to close his office? Did you hear about the firm that lost the competition only to have their idea built elsewhere? Did you hear about the competition that was cancelled after all the submissions were handed in? These are the sorts of unspoken stories that go into The Wince.

Yet the fundamental drive to work in China remains, despite the risks. And architects are developing different ways to navigate these complexities with business savvy.

 
rendering of the restaurant reveals the blank slate that is still Ordos (left). A detail of the restaurant's cantilever (right).
Courtesy Yazdani Studio
 

As Denari observed, “Everybody working there knows about the things that can happen. It’s about gathering intelligence to reduce risk and doubt.” In fact, in the six years his firm has been engaged with China, Denari hasn’t built anything. He figures that 95 percent of the inquiries he receives don’t even get to the discussion stage. “We don’t treat it differently from anywhere else,” he said. “We don’t work with doubt.” He added, “When the visions don’t sync, then the project can’t achieve its highest good.”

Denari, it appears, manages the risks by saying no. Then there is Alvin Huang, a young Los Angeles architect. For him the China market has been a place to dive in and start building a reputation for his LA firm, Synthesis Design + Architecture.

Huang, a Chinese American, started with an unbuilt project that led to a commission for a beach resort in Quanzhou. Everything seemed to be going according to plan until he noticed that the clients kept coming back for more and more changes and development beyond the concept deadline. “It’s not a horror story, yet, and I hope it doesn’t turn into one,” Mr. Huang said. “I was trying to be cooperative, but at some point I just had to let them know we weren’t doing any more work.” There was “radio silence” for weeks. Mr. Huang started contacting other people to see if they could find out what was going on.

“It’s not like I could go over and pull a Tony Soprano,” he said, noting that there is little opportunity for recourse, even with a contract. Finally the client emailed to apologize for the delay in payment, promising to move forward. From his prior experience he was used to delays, but he had never had someone simply disappear. If the project does go to the next phase, he said he’s going to require 50 percent of the fee in advance. “This isn’t a loss yet, but it’s definitely a learning experience,” he said.

SOM’s Poly Real Estate headquarters in Guangzhou.
Tim Griffith
 

“You can count on them to take the shirt off your back,” said  William H. Fain, Jr., partner and director of urban design and planning at Johnson Fain in Los Angeles. “They have a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude when it comes to business.” He’s speaking from fourteen years of engagement with China, a journey that began when his firm was asked to develop the master plan for Beijing’s Central Business District in 1998. OMA’s CCTV and other high-profile projects now sit within the plan.

Still, Fain said, “We’ve never lost anything significant.” This is one reason they concentrate on city planning. “The outcomes for buildings are too hard to control,” he said. Planning is a different market with a different species of client. Fain notes how government officials are inclined to follow signed contracts because they are too high up and vulnerable to being investigated if anything goes wrong. Moreover, he added, one of their rules is that they get paid upfront. “It’s a frontier out there, kind of like cowboy-land. You have to stay on top of the whole thing.”

Craig Hartman, a partner at SOM in San Francisco, points to his deep relationships with “well-connected individuals” as the best way to reduce risks. His advice for architects just starting out on their China adventures? “Learn Mandarin, be culturally attuned, and don’t be a carpetbagger.” (Hartman himself does not speak Mandarin:“Happily, that’s one of the things I delegate,” he said.)

 
SOM’s ICBC headquarters in Beijing (left). Neil Denari’s unbuilt commercial building in Ningbo (right).
Tim Griffith and Courtesy Neil Denari
 

Indeed in the popular imagination of the West there exists the tendency to define China as catching up, as being part of the developing world. In the recent past, China has often been cast as inferior, especially when it comes to such so-called borrowed forms of culture as capitalism and even modernity. Such false historical assumptions can factor in to why some firms lose their China campaigns early on. It is easy to get burned if preparations were not thorough. Or if they underestimate the complexity and sophistication of their Chinese counterparts.

“Parachute architects.” That is what Michael Tunkey, who opened Cannon Design’s Shanghai office in 2007, calls architects who just drop in without preparation. These are the ambitious practitioners who don’t know the context. “They don’t understand where they are and when projects fall apart it seems totally surreal,” he said. Tunkey has seen and heard it all over the years. Foreign architects who lack on-the-ground experience maintain false assumptions and are quick to generalize. “I’ve heard people say they just assumed they would work for free. I always wonder, did they lose their minds on the flight over? Then they get burned and that’s their China,” he said.

For culture clash and sheer loss there may be no better example in China than Ordos, a mostly unrealized city in Inner Mongolia. The BBC recently called Ordos, a coal town built on China’s insatiable hunger for resources, “the biggest ghost town in China.”

Riding the success of their collaboration on the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Herzog & de Meuron and local artist-architect-dissident Ai Weiwei formed a partnership with developers to build 100 1,000-square-meter villas in a remote area of Inner Mongolia. They selected 100 architects from 27 countries (China was not included) to design unique villas as a way to attract more tourists. The list of architects involved included MOS, IwamottoScott, Preston Scott Cohen, and Toshiko Mori.

Synthesis’ unbuilt beach club in Xiamen.
Courtesy Synthesis Design
 

Ai Weiwei’s resulting documentary, titled Ordos 100, is currently making the rounds at international film festivals. What comes across most clearly is that no one knows how to work together, communications are convoluted and misinterpreted, and expectations are not in sync, to borrow Denari’s term. The 100 architects—many from small firms with relatively little building experience— all have their own ideas. As one said, “I don’t know anything about the client or the people who will use the villa, so I’m simply designing it for myself.”

The film ends with the architects counting their money and then departing for their home countries with no clear understanding of what happened or what the future will hold. Not one of them has been back and there may never be any opening.

Mehrdad Yazdani, who runs his own design studio as part of Cannon Design, is one of the lucky ones. He has completed two of three planned projects, all in Ordos but outside of the Ordos 100. For Yazdani, the experience was about developing a method of working that goes beyond any one project. “We’ve reduced the unknown by tapping local talent,” he said.

He mentioned how they even use Cannon’s China staff on U.S. projects. “We can work seamlessly, twenty-four hours a day,” he added. For both Yazdani and Cannon, China factors into a broader business strategy of outsourced labor and talent. Christopher Whitcomb, Cannon spokesman, describes this as their “SIFMO” methodology (Single International Firm, Multi-Office).

Johnson Fain’s master plan for Gulin, in western China.
Courtesy Johnson Fain
 

Proving that there is no silver bullet, Los Angeles–based Jerde Partnership, which has built several maxi-sized, mixed-use developments in China, takes the opposite tack, keeping its designers together in LA after their research in China is complete in order to ensure what Jerde vice president David Rogers calls “quality control.”

“Communication is hard enough when you’re brainstorming ideas in creative teams in one place rather than having it spread out all over the world. It just doesn’t work,” Rogers said.

But while strategies may differ, one thing unites these firms: the recession made China even more important. Fain sees this continuing, but not forever. When asked if he thinks China will always need the expertise of U.S. firms, he describes how once clients would just say, “It’s great. Let’s do it.” Today, there is more questioning and more issues of local identity arise. Chinese clients are more critical. “They are learning our methods and it’s just a matter of time before they eclipse us,” he said.

With this in mind, western firms will remain relevant in China only by having something different to offer. Being different is not always easy to define. All have their own approaches and experiences. They know they are not bringing some architectural light to a supposedly mysterious or menacing China. There can be as many Chinas as there are firms and clients, each a series of relationships producing different results within a larger framework of complexity and change. As Fain says, “It’s about listening, luck, skill, and figuring it out.”

And it’s about accepting the limitations of what you can know. With the insight of someone who has known China for a long time, Tunkey summed it up this way: “People who visit China for a week can write a book. Those who go for a month, write an essay. If you live there, there’s nothing to say.”

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Every Designer on the Planet Wants to Redesign Chicago’s Navy Pier
There's a certain dorky pleasure in the reading lists of teams vying for design competitions. The big names paired with the dependable locals. The firms with very busy dance cards that everyone seems to want. The odd random people with no discernible reason to be involved. The 52 teams that responded to the Navy Pier RFQ have all those in spades. Zaha! Foster + Partners, BIG, OMA! Every prominent Chicago architect! Hoerr Schaupt Landscape Architects on no less than four teams! We'll be watching to see who makes the next round. Amusement aside, it's great to see so many prominent local and international designers vying to improve the iconic pier. 1. AECOM, BIG, Lead Pencil Studio, Project Projects, Speirs + Major, WET Design, Davis Langdon, Christy Webber 2. Aedas Architects, Martha Schwartz Partners, Halcrow Yolles 3. All Design, Halcrow Yolles, Janet Rosenberg + Associates 4. Behnisch Architekten, Urban Strategies, Urban Works, Mia Lehrer + Associates, Arup 5. Booth Hansen, Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, Terry Guen Design Associates,Arup, Tillett Lighting Design, Bruce Mau Design 6, Cooper Carry, SWA Group, Janet Rosenberg + Associates, Terry Guen Design Associates, MIG, Light Projects, Fluidity Design Consultants, Selbert Perkins Design, Arup, Chicago Public Art Group 7. D+K Architects, Theaster Gates, Schuler Shook, Daniel Weinbach & Partners, Larson Engineering, Tylk Gustafson Reckers Wilson Andrews 8. Design Workshop,Pickard Chilton, Patrick B Quigley Associates, JSC Art Consulting, Selbert Perkins Design, CMS Collaborataive, AES, RWDI, Live.Work.Learn.Play, Altus Works, Nelson Nygaard, MGPG Events, Primera 9. EC Purdy and Associates, Milhouse Engineering, Hitchcock Design Group, Vistara, GSG, Nayar Nayar, Land Surveying Services, Gjean Guarino 10. Epstein, Foster + Partners, Site Design Group, Schuler Shook, Catt Lyon Design 11. Frederic Schwartz Architects, Alejandro Zaera-Polo Architects, Thomas Balsley Associates, Arup, Atelier Ten, Pentagram, Fisher Marantz Stone, Nancy Rosen Inc. 12. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Pentagram, Tillotson Design Associates 13. Habitat 14. ingenhoven architects, Goettsch partners,Werner Sobek, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Topotek 1, Liskae Associates, Jack Rouse, Office for Visual Interaction, Barbara Flynn 15. Jacques Ferrier Architectures, Sensual City Studio, Agenceter, Integral Ruedi Baur, Chris Rockey, Dear Production 16. James Corner Field Operations, nArchitects, Leo Villareal, Bruce Mau Design, L’Observatoire International, Fluidity Design Consultants, Patrick Marszewski, Buro Happold, Primera, HR&A Advisors, ETM Associates 17. John Ronan Architects, Janet Rosenberg + Associates, Arup, Thirst, Derek Porter Studio, CLUAA, Sharma Art Advisory 18. Kengo Kuma and Associates, StudioGC, Pivot Design, Anne Kustner Lighting Design, Terra Engineering, Primera 19. Krueck + Sexton Architect, Brooks+Scarpa, Uhlir Consulting, Charles Anderson Atelier, Terry Guen Design Associates, Fluidity Design Consultants, James Rondeau, Fisher Marantz Stone, Thornton Tomasetti, Pentagram 20. Landworks Studio, NADAAA, Arup, Urban Art Projects, 50,000 feet, L’Observatoire International 21. Lohan Anderson, PWP Landscape Architecture, Civitas, LAM Partners,Catt Lyon Design, Halvorson and Partners, Terra Engineering 22. Machado and Silvetti Associates, Grant Associates, Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), Terry Guen Design Associates, Buro Happold, Thomas.matthews, Jason Bruges Studio 23. marquardt + GRIDWERK ARCHITECTURE, Conservation Design Forum, Urban Works 24. !melk, HOK, UrbanLab, Terry Guen Design Associates, Zoe Ryan, Thirst, Conservation Design Forum, HR&A Advisors, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Sam Schwatz Engineering, Leni Schwendinger LIGHT projects, CMS Collaborataive, Karin Bacon Enterprises 25. Metropolitan Workshop, Buro Happold, Townshend Landscape Architects, Squint/Opera, Speirs + Major, Modus Operandi, HR&A Advisors, A Different View 26. Miralles Tagliabue, David Woodhouse Architects, Site Design Group, Atelier Ten, TKB, Primera, Schuler Shook, Selbert Perkins Design, Waterline Studios, Concord Group, Sam Schwartz Engineering 27. Morphosis, Terry Guen Design Associates, Arup, Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Pentagram, Merry Norris Contemporary Art 28. MorrisTerra, CD+M Lighting Design Group, WET Design, ESI Design 29. MSI Design, Utopia Entertainment, Hunt Design, Gallegos Lighting, Fluidity Design Consultants 30. OBRA Architects, Dattner Architects, Hood Design, L’Observatoire International, Mary Jane Jacob, CSS, Philip Habib 31 OMA/SGA, SCAPE, Thirst, Tillotson Design Associates, Arup, dbHMS, Patti Gilford Fine Arts, Robert Kirschner, Davis Langdon, KLOA 32. Perkins + Will, Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, John David Mooney 33. PLANT Architect, Dialog Urban Design, Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, Enermodal Engineering, United Visual Artists, Leni Schwendinger Light Projects, Dan Euser Water Projects, Andrew Jones, Entro Communications, Beth Kapusta, The Publicity Works 34. Rafael Viñoly Architects, Sasaki Associates, URS Corporation, Thornton Tomasetti, V3 Companies, Alfred Benesch & Company, Pentagram, Art Production Fund, One Lux Studio 35. Rios Clementi Hale Studios, Destefano Partners 36. Rogers Marvel Architects, Rockwell Group, Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, L’Observatoire International, Mary Jane Jacob 37. Ross Barney Architects, Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, Arup, WET Design, Karpowicz Studios, Thirst, Schuler Shook 38. RTKL Associates, Adjaye Associates, Rios Clemente Hale, Siteworks, Daniel Weinbach & Partners, Speirs + Major, Pentagram, Greenblue, Halvorson and Partners, Joseph Becherer, Fluidity Design Consultants, C.H. Johnson Consultants, Primera 39. Safdie Architects, SCB, SWA Group, Terry Guen Design Associates, Moffatt & Nichol, Sam Schwatz Engineering, Halvorson and Partners, Primera, RME, Cotter Consulting, Concord Group, TKB, Speirs + Major, Pentagram, Fluidity Design Consultants, SMW, Ned Kahn, Electroland, FTL Design Engineering, Motive Industries 40. SANJAY EKTATE 41. SHoP Architects, Brininstool Kerwin + Lynch, Coen + Partners, GCAM Group, Mark Robbins, Pentagram, L’Observatoire International, Acoustic Dimensions, Arup 42. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Wirtz International, James Carpenter Design Associates 43. STOSS Landscpe Urbanism, MPdL Studio, Myefski Architects, Terry Guen Design Associates, Jacobs Ryan Associates, L’Observatoire International, Studio Blue, Buro Happold, KPFF Consulting Engineers 44. TCL, Grain Collective, ARM 45. UNStudio, CAMES/gibson, Tom Leader Studio, a.g. Licht, Robert Somol, Lord Cultural Resources, Buro Happold, Norcon 46. Vasilko Architects, Philips Farevaag Smallenberg, Sussman Preja & Co., Schuler Shook, Vasilko Architects, Shabica & Associates, CS Associates, WMA Consulting Engineers 47. W Architecture, Handel Architects, Tillett Lighting Design, Site Design Group, 212, Lisa Corrin, Green Shield Ecology 48. WEISS/MANFREDI, Terry Guen Design Associates, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, HR&A Advisors, Brandston Partnership, Construction Cost Systems, Urban Works, Pentagram, dbHMS, Fluidity Design Consultants, Lisa Corrin 49. Woods Bagot, Surfacedesign, Lisa Freiman Curator, Bailey Edwards Architecture, Sherwood Design Engineers, Original Champions of Design 50. WORKSHOP: Ken Smith Landscape Architect, Michael Maltzan Architecture, Guy Nordenson and Associates, EE&K/Perkins Eastman, HR&A Advisors, Site Design Group, Edgewater Resources, Terra Engineering, Tillotson Design Associates, Merry Norris Contemporary Art, April Greiman, Fluidity Design Consultants, ETM Associates, Ambius 51. Xavier Vendrell Studio, Grimshaw Architects, Harley Ellis Devereaux, Arup, Studio Lab, Schuler Shook, IA+igo Manglano-Ovalle, Sarah Herda 52. Zaha Hadid Architects, tvsdesign, Balmori Associates, Halvorson and Partners, Space Agency, Seam
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What’s Holding Us Up?
Chicago architects UrbanLab developed guidelines for the city of Aurora, Illinois, reprogramming landscapes with new soft-infrastructural networks.
Courtesy UrbanLab

Opening day on March 27, 2008 at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5—designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to radiate confident, high-tech bravura—was a complete disaster. Instead of the planned celebration, mayhem ensued when airport personnel failed at working key networking infrastructure, from following directions to their work stations to operating their hand-held computers. At the end of the day, 23,205 suitcases had gone astray, and most had to be hand sorted in Milan. National embarrassment was complete, according to Donald McNeill of the Urban Research Center at the University of Western Sydney, who has written a paper about the increasingly complex intersection of hard and soft infrastructure at airports, when Naomi Campbell pitched a fit and The Daily Mail called the supermodel “a martyr to the Terminal 5 fiasco.”

Tunnels, bridges, highways, and airports have traditionally been both the backbone of organized societies and the way they dig out of economic ruts and push on to higher standards of living. Yet events such as those at Heathrow have drawn attention to another, emerging infrastructure, one with none of the steel beams, soaring trusses, and hulking pipes we associate with the hard underpinnings that make cities work.

This so-called soft infrastructure tends to be invisible or disembodied, organic in behavior, and powered by data networks, not engines. But when the world’s financial systems—soft infrastructure of an especially indecipherable kind—collapsed in 2009, the reverberations felt every bit as shocking as the collapse of a four-span suspension bridge. As with the disastrous opening day at Terminal 5, hard infrastructure—no matter how brilliantly designed— cannot triumph without effective soft infrastructure.


All systems go?: Heathrow's Terminal 5, where hard and soft infrastructure meet in a confrontation between complex spaces and digital networks.
Gary Bembridge

The need to pay equal attention to both is fast becoming apparent across many professions, from education, healthcare, and government to architecture and urban design. Key areas of interest especially for designers include water management, layering social networks over transportation, and programming public spaces. In fact, finding ways to integrate soft solutions into building projects could be the opportunity that architects have been seeking to show how design thinking is an essential tool for building not only offices, schools, and museums, but also more smoothly functioning societies.

Efforts to explore this largely uncharted territory are well underway. Last fall the Architectural League did so with its exhibition Toward the Sentient City, based on the premise that we “are now on the cusp of a fundamental reconfiguration of physical space, one in which a vast and mostly invisible layer of technology is being embedded into the world around us,” according to exhibitions director Gregory Wessner. Installations included LED sensors measuring and reporting on water quality in real time from the Bronx and East rivers, and mobilizing opportunities for office work in public places through social software.

In February, Parsons launched a new graduate program in transdisciplinary design to engender fresh thinking about what constitutes design in a world where, according to TransDesign program director Jamer Hunt, “Designers are increasingly designing businesses, services, experiences, policies, and even emergent social forms; and along the way they are inventing new methods, new tools, and new ways of conceiving design.”

But what soft infrastructure—if that’s the operable word—exactly is remains frustratingly vague. As he prepares a new curriculum at Parsons in large part focused on it, Hunt said, “We are all struggling to understand what we mean when not talking about the old infrastructure. Is it whatever is systems-based, sentient, dynamic, or wetware and squishy?” Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, finds the roots of soft infrastructure in the traditions of 18th-century landscape design, where complex systems of land management sometimes manifested themselves in stunning visual and architectural effects. And while the formation of any network of exchange might qualify as a type of soft infrastructure, Bergdoll considers the adaptive networks engendered by meshing the demands of landscape, urbanism, and sustainability—especially as they relate to changing coastlines and water levels—to be at the most compelling frontiers of the subject. (See our feature on the exhibition Rising Currents now at MoMA.)


UrbanLab's Eco-Boulevard concept for Chicago would turn the city into a gigantic water recycling machine, using greenways to filter storm water.
Courtesy UrbanLab

From the University of Pennsylvania, architect and landscape architect Anuradha Mathur, together with Dilip da Cunha, a planner and architect, have also been exploring new frameworks and modes of representation for ecological issues, from monsoons in India to Mississippi River floods. They are investigating historical maps and how the hard lines drawn to indicate solid divisions between land and water both misrepresent and prevent understanding—and appropriate response to—a landscape that in reality is in flux depending on the season, the climate, and agricultural uses. ”The time is past for measuring performance according to probabilities. Architects, engineers, and landscape designers need to build in resiliency,” said Mathur.

Last summer, they presented the exhibition SOAK: Mumbai in an Estuary at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai. The show and accompanying book have inspired subsequent studies of coastal conditions, with its conclusion that hard walls and defined borders must be replaced with more flexible terrains that can absorb and recirculate water as needed. “It’s not rocket science,” said Mathur. “Why push water out? Why don’t we imagine ways to hold it and to think of water conditions over time, not only at one moment, or season? Boundaries need to be negotiated, not made permanent.” (The couple were consultants for nArchitects’ entry into MoMA’s Rising Currents exhibition.)

Closer to home, UrbanLab in Chicago has been concentrating on further developing a concept that architects Sarah Dunn and Mark Felsen proposed theoretically in 2006 when they won History Channel’s City of the Future competition in Chicago, a city where one billion gallons of fresh lake water are consumed each day. Functioning as a gigantic recycling machine, a citywide network of so-called eco-boulevards would treat all of Chicago’s wastewater—passing it along greenways and through vertical nodes, or living machines stocked with microorganisms, small invertebrates, scrubber fish, and plants—and returning it to Lake Michigan. As with SOAK, a key to the plan hinges on reprogramming existing hard infrastructure (around playing fields, parking lots, and airport runways) to double up as part of a flexible water-collecting network. Through swales, swamps, blue belts, and vegetation corridors instead of tunnels and pipes, water could thus be treated and absorbed back into the ecosystem rather than blocked and channeled out of sight as sewage. More recently, the architects have worked with Mayor Daley’s office to develop an “eco-boulevard toolbox,” including recommendations for improving ongoing and upcoming road renovations. The ideas are robustly doable and include both point- and linear-based solutions for water absorption, including swales along median strips and planter boxes next to sewer points.


Local Projects' BikeIt layers public infrastructure like bike lanes with an interactive network to create a super-charged iPhone app for cyclists. 
Courtesy Local Projects

While much of the current thinking about soft infrastructure is focused on storm water, a second front is networking, especially as it applies to social and civic space. In a series of talks, and notably in a review of Sentient City on the Architectural League’s blog, the Sydney-based Arup designer and urbanist Dan Hill describes soft infrastructure as a way to “bend the physical city” and rescale it to what he calls “walkable urbanism.” Hill could have been referring to Bike It, an initiative by Jake Barton of Local Projects, a design firm focused on public space. Bike It takes advantage of underused infrastructure—in this case, New York’s bike lanes—by layering them with an interactive network. In brief, said Barton, Bike It is a “super-charged iPhone app that calculates time and money saved, as well as calories burned plus locations of other cyclists” that could be broadcast on LED panels already embedded in bus shelters around the city.

Barton sees soft infrastructure as a powerful planning and advocacy tool that promises to change people’s behavior. And while Bike It could be a model for encouraging bicycle commuters, Barton realizes there is a cultural component to soft infrastructure that could thwart the best-laid plans: People don’t like to arrive at work in sweaty clothes. And so there is Cool Biz, a governmental initiative from Japan that recommends minimal air-conditioning at work and a greater tolerance for casual clothing. Intended to lower energy costs but equally focused on office culture, pilot programs are already in place in California and Colorado. 

Unintended consequences are a constant where soft infrastructure and humans meet. During a recent lecture for the New School’s Design and Social Science Committee Seminar—whose theme this year is “Infrastructure: Complexity, Risk, and Design”—McNeill of Sydney’s Urban Research Center described the collision of privatized interests, political will, digital interfaces, and human error at Heathrow, where hard and soft infrastructure are intimately entwined. Soaring spaces buttressed by structural derring-do may impress, but the real business of getting around depends on information in digital code, from e-tickets to LED announcement boards. The subtitle of McNeil’s paper is “The Heathrow Hassle,” and in it he detailed the Terminal 5 catastrophe to underscore the new reality that without complete integration, neither hard nor soft infrastructure is going to work.

“The way we build has to be rethought, as the old ways don’t cut it,” said Hunt of Parsons’ TransDesign program. “The real opportunity for designers is to have a voice. We bring the right capabilities to this kind of problem.” And better understanding may offer the sturdiest bridge to get there.

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LMDC’s Legacy
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Courtesy WEISS / MANFREDI
Weiss/Manfrediis concept design for Park Row introduces a landscaped, terraced pedestrain connection to the elevated Police Plaza.

The mandate of the LMDC, formed by Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the aftermath of 9/11, was not only to oversee the rebuilding of the WTC site but to spearhead the comprehensive, integrated urban renewal of all of Lower Manhattan. To that end, it commissioned several major urban studies in areas below Canal Street by top-tier design firms, and encouraged them to truly think big-picture about rebuilding downtown. Weiss/ Manfredi, H3 Hardy Collaborative Architects, Robert A. M. Stern, and Smith-Miller + Hawkinson were all awarded contracts, amounting to over $2 million in fees, according to research compiled by AN at the time of these particular planss completion in 2004 (see World Trade Windfall,, AN 19_11.16.2004). When the LMDC announced last July that it would dissolve in the months to come, it maintained that its primary responsibilitiess selecting a masterplan and memorial design for the WTC site and allocating more than $2.78 billion in federal grants toward fostering business, residential, and cultural growth downtownnhad been fulfilled. Construction of the memorial and development of urban design guidelines for the site has been since delegated to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, but the fate of the urban studies the LMDC initiated has been more difficult to assess.

The LMDC was never intended to be the agency that implemented such plans. Moreover, there is never a guarantee that any commission will translate into a realized work. But the fact that so little has been publicly discussed with respect to urban design at the WTC site or its surrounding neighborhoods since 9/11 merits a closer look at these plans, and at how or whether the ideas they propose might be expressed in built form.

According to LMDC spokesperson John DeLibero, all of the above-mentioned plans have been transferred to the Department of City Planning (DCP). Rachaele Raynoff, DCP press secretary, confirmed that the DCP is in possession of them but could not specify how the plans are being prioritized. At present, the DCPPs biggest initiative in Lower Manhattan is the East River Waterfront Study by SHoP Architects and the Richard Rogers Partnership.

One piece of news that gives reason to be optimistic that the plans wonnt end up in a drawer is Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patakiis announcement in May 2005 of a comprehensive allocation plann for the LMDCCs unspent $800 million. The plan earmarked $110 million to implement certain elements of the LMDCCs urban plans, including the studies conducted by Weiss/ Manfredi, H3, and Stern. For some of the designers, the announcement was the last concrete news they received regarding their projects.

Raynoff confirmed that the DCP, together with the Department of Transportation (DOT), is currently studying one aspect of Weiss/ Manfrediis larger plan, which looked at the area surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage (see A View from the Bridge,, AN 10_6.08.2005). The plan envisions connecting Chinatown to the seaport through streetscaping, and makes specific recommendations for reinvigorating the closed-off area under the Brooklyn Bridge and replacing the concrete retaining wall behind Police Plaza on Park Row with a grassy, stepped pedestrian path to connect the elevated plaza with the street.

After the architects presented the plan to the LMDC in 2005, the LMDC and other consulting city agencies focused on their recommendations for Park Row as a feasible project. Shortly after, as part of Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patakiis allocation plan, $32 million was granted to fund components of their study and a related Chinatown study, including Park Row. As of yet, however, the DCP and DOT have not announced any concrete plans or schedule for the project.


Courtesy H3 HARDY COLLABORATION ARCHITECTURE
H33s design for Greenwich Street South proposed roofing over the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to create a park along with new residential and commerical space.

Aspects of the Greenwich Street South Study, developed by a team of seven design and consulting firms headed by H3 Hardy Collaborative Architects, also appear to have a promising future. This study proposes decking over the existing entry to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (owned by the MTA), which currently separates Battery Park City South from the financial district south of the WTC site. The plan suggests that the new surface area of the deck would create valuable buildable space in an area where opportunities for largescale development no longer exist. In that new space, it recommends the creation of a 2-acre park surrounded by residential and commercial developments, as well as a bus garage south of Morris Street that would decrease current street-level congestion and house buses that might be displaced by potential developments on the East River Waterfront and Pier 40.

At H33s last meeting with the LMDC in September, attending city officials agreed that if the engineering required to build the deck could be coordinated, the MTA would revisit the proposals. The DCP anticipates working with the Governor Eliot Spitzerrs administration to realize this plan. Though the prospects for the plan seem positive, principal designer Hugh Hardy still worried, With the fading of the LMDC, [the plan] doesnnt have a champion.. Senior associate John Fontillas added, The unfortunate thing is that [the LMDCCs former vice president of planning and development] Alex Garvin intended for all of these parts to knit together. With personnel changing, therees little institutional memory.. Though the designers have not received any updates on the status of the plan, it has been allotted $40 million under the 2005 Bloomberg-Pataki initiative.

By comparison, aspects of Sternns Fulton Street Revitalization seem to be moving forward. With $38 million (again, part of Bloomberg and Patakiis 2005 initiative) approved by the LMDC board of directors in February 2006, the parts of the plan that have been retained for implementation, according to the DCP, include: enhancing the 35,000-square-foot Titanic Memorial Park and Pearl Street Playground, both set for completion in 2008; improving retail, facades, and streetscape elements along Fulton toward the East River; and creating a new open space at corner of Fulton and Gold streets. It is difficult to know, however, how close these elements are to the original design recommendations of Stern and partner on the study, Gensler. A public presentation of the study in 2005 was cancelled at the last minute, and even then, the plan was reportedly only in draft form (see Fulton Street Plan Chugs Along,, AN 12_7.13.05). Moreover, both then and now, the designers have declined to comment, barred by the LMDC from speaking about the plan.


COURTESY SMITH-MILLER+HAWKINSON ARCHITECTS
Louise Nevelson Plaza is the result of a larger study by Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects to identify open-space possibilities in the blocks east of the WTC site. View west toward William Street.

The most tangible results from any of the studies are from Smith-Miller + Hawkinsonns comprehensive urban study Strategic Open Space: Public Realm Improvement Strategy for Lower Manhattan. The study, which won a P/A Award in 2003, canvassed 500 acres of Lower Manhattan in the area roughly bound by Fulton, Church, and Water streets to identify possibilities for creating new public spaces and bolstering existing ones. One site, Louise Nevelson Plaza, a run-down traffic island at the corner of William and Liberty, stood out as a feasible location to move forward on right away. The architects worked with the LMDC and other consulting city agencies to draft construction documents, and had successfully gone through the majority of the approval process well before the LMDC began to phase out. Since the LMDCCs dissolution, the Department of Design and Construction has taken over execution of the project, and has folded it in among its general infrastructure improvements on Liberty Street.

The design for the plaza involves a series of changes meant to create, in principal Laurie Hawkinsonns words, a 24/7 open spacee in an emerging mixed-use neighborhood. The park will feature benches of cast glass, new lighting and planting, and seven restored Nevelson sculptures that the artist herself donated to the park in the 1970s. The project will break ground this summer, and is expected to be completed in 2009.

The LMDC has never been forthcoming about its undertakings, despite the fact that these compelling urban design studies are nothing to hide. Even now, no one from the LMDCC including Kevin Rampe, chair of the LMDC boarddwill comment on the planss respective fates. The arrival of Governor Spitzer, who has been critical of the way the LMDC has been operating, may bring a change in direction. A. J. Carter, spokesperson for Empire State Development Corporation, the LMDCCs parent body, offered, We are taking a fresh look at everything and re-evaluating whatts been done and what needs to be done as we get started with the [Spitzer] Administration..

SAMANTHA TOPOL IS AN EDITOR AT AN.

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Grand Plans

The Biennale featured, in the Arsenale and various national pavilions, the works of many photographers known for their urban documentation, including Armin Linke, Gabriele Basilico, Edward Burtynksky, Antoni Muntadas, Bas Princen, and Sze-Tsung Leong. Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri's site specific_SHANGHAI 04 (2004), above, and Spanish photographer Dionisio Gonzalez Heliolopolis (2006), below, both appear in the mini-exhibition C on Cities, curated by the magazine C International Photo Magazine.


Courtesy Galerra Max Estrella
 



Cities Without Architecture
Richard Ingersoll
Architecture critic and author; professor at Syracuse University in Florence

Behind this year's Venice Architecture Biennale lurks a daunting moral imperative: Something must be done before the planet is overrun by urbanization. But whether architecture is the problem or the solution remains a serious doubt. The title of the show, Cities, Architecture, and Society, is peculiarly inaccurate in that the content of the major exhibition in the stadium-length Corderie of the Venice Arsenal is devoted to 16 urban regions of a size and complexity that can no longer be called cities. Any of them—London, Tokyo, New York, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai—are made of a fusion of several cities around a historic core city, each comprising a sprawling megalopolis of millions of inhabitants in areas that are usually more than 50 kilometers in diameter. Aside from this linguistic anomaly, the main exhibition suffers from a more egregious absence: There is no architecture: that is, there are no memorable projects presented meaningfully through drawings, models, or photographs. The buildings and projects that are visible in an impressive series of films and photographs used in the show are furtive—always incidental to some greater reality. At first this lack of architecture strikes one as a pleasant surprise in an exhibition known for its incestuous relationships to star architects and its tendentious promotion of formal trends. But after 300 meters of being hounded by statistics and zenith views of cities, one starts to miss the company of celebrity authors and their trademark works, or at least some sense of a project for architecture.

This year's director, Richard Burdett, professor at the London School of Economics and architectural advisor to the Mayor of London, aside from delegating the Golden Lion career award to his close friend Richard Rogers, has studiously avoided giving any notion of a criterion for architecture. Good intentions, however, are blazoned on the walls—sustainability and social justice—but they are not given any particular aesthetic agenda. Nor do the few specific examples, such as the transport system in Bogota, offer any notion of what can be done. An exemplary project for urban regeneration, for instance, Barcelona's 22@, a 200-hectare new town, is thrown in with hundreds of images and completely lost. Burdett's vision of the megalopolis, as he states, is of promising challenges, providing the opportunity to re-design the meanings, the functions, the aptitudes and the positive features of the various urban structures and strategies. But the display remains primarily analytical.

The alarm over uncontrollable urban growth has been sounded frequently since the end of the 19th century, when Ebenezer Howard, reacting to the inhumane densities of London, the world's first boundless megalopolis, proposed the Garden City as a means of restoring the balance between city and nature. Two generations later Jose Lluis Sert published the modernist notions of decentralized urbanism in his 1942 tract Can Our Cities Survive? And more than 50 years back the most influential urban historian, Lewis Mumford, was constantly engaged in battles against sprawl and urban growth. The Dutch Pavilion directed by Aaron Betsky recuperates some of the bird's-eye-views of how Dutch architects confronted the question of urban crowding, using archival materials, such as H. P. Berlage's 1910 plan of South Amsterdam and the 1960s beehive scheme of Bijlmemeer. The Austrian Pavilion, curated by Wolf Prix, also recuperated historic exhibitions of urban utopias, including a recreation of Fredrick Kiesler's 1925 City in Space and Hans Hollein's 1964 malaprop collages of aircraft carriers in wheat fields. These historic works were in fact the closest thing to an architectural agenda in the Biennale. The only other truly inspiring exhibit from a formal point of view was Metro-polis, curated by Benedetto Gravagnuolo and Alessandro Mendini, devoted to the new subway system in Naples, a series of art-stations designed by well-known international architects and artists as varied as Dominique Perrault and Anish Kapoor.

If the question of rampant urbanization is by now rather old, what's new about Burdett's analysis? Nothing, really, except the consideration of the ever-increasing dimensions of scale and the influence of digital technologies, which have resulted in the concept of flows. He promises that 75 percent of the world will live in urban situations by 2050, but since most of Europe and developed nations have already surpassed this measure, this fact does not seem so controversial. Uncontrollable urban growth is a vexing problem in terms of its environmental consequences, but this has not really yielded a show that provides convincing solutions; rather, it is a bit like walking through a geography textbook. There have been other recent exhibitions, such as MVRDV's traveling installation Metacity/Datatown (1999) and Rem Koolhaas and Stefano Boeri's Mutations: Harvard Project on the City at the Arc en Reve in Bordeaux (2000) that were more successful in creating a graphic method for appreciating the quantitative difference of the contemporary megalopolis.

A surprising number of the national pavilions were devoted to what can be called everyday urbanism. The Australian Pavilion in fact uses the term specifically, the Belgian is devoted to the beauty of the ordinary, and those of the U.K., Hungary, Korea, and many others worked on the pervasiveness of vernacular and commercial landscapes, which in general excludes the work of architects. The Japanese eccentric Terunobu Fujimori was featured in his country's pavilion, offering a movement called ROJO (Roadway Observation Society). One had to remove their shoes to walk through the charred wooden walls into a room paved in tatami mats to look at the weird collection of things found on the roadside and the architect's arcane additions to these landscapes.

The U.S. Pavilion was typically out of step. While the choice of the theme of Hurricane Katrina was a good one considering that most large urban agglomerations contend with a considerable degree of risk from disaster—a subject that has been beautifully investigated by Paul Virilio—the curatorial team of Architectural Record and Tulane University completely avoided the international scandal of the disaster in New Orleans, and the continuing scandal of governmental indifference. They simply offer some student project–like solutions on stilts that will never be built.

The Spanish Pavilion was one of the most formally satisfying, and while it includes many fine urban projects, the focus is exclusively on the presence of women. It presents three dozen white boxes, each with a vertical video screen showing a woman from the waist up, speaking about urban questions. The curator, Manuel Blanco, somewhat like the filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, has produced an exclusively feminine version of a world dominated by men, presenting women who work as planners, politicians, artists, developers, taxi drivers, street vendors, and, of course, architects. Architect Carme Pinos commented, "Everyone says how great I look in the video, but no one seems to have noticed my tower," referring to her recently finished the 20-floor Torre Cube in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her comment captures the spirit of this year's Biennale, which downplays the role of architecture.

The French Pavilion is by far the most exuberant and popular, and perhaps best captures the overall atmosphere of this year's Biennale as cities without architecture.. Directed by architect Patrick Bouchain, it sprawls outside and over the top of its neoclassical porch, with deck chairs and card tables scattered about. Inside one finds scaffolds that shelter a bar, kitchen, and a workshop for artisans to make tee-shirts and other take-home items. The structure also supports a stair for ascending to a roof terrace where visitors can enjoy a sauna, sundecks, and hammocks. A frolicking, hedonistic, and purposely messy affair, much in the spirit of Lucien Kroll, who was involved in its planning, this invasion of the existing structure makes a serious case for participatory design by adaptation rather than settling for the imposed formal order of architects.
 




Digital Globe / Telespazio


QuickBird satellite views of (from left to right) Milan, Barcelona, and Bogota. Similar views of all the cities under examination appear in the Corderie of the Arsenale.
 



The Big Reconciliation
Liane Lefaivre
Chair of architectural history and theory at the Applied Arts Academy; research fellow in the urbanism department of the Technical University of Delft

For over five hundred years, since Leon Battista Alberti, architects and urbanists formed a whole, working together in the making of cities. That is until the early 1970s, when architecture and planning went through The Big Divorce in American architecture schools. Among the reasons for the break-up was the drying up of publicly-funded support for urban revitalization programs. Urban issues were, largely, thrown out of architecture schools. Key figures left for schools of government and policy, geography departments, and such. As a result, for the past 30 years, architects and urban professionals stopped speaking to one another almost entirely.

Now, Richard Burdett, director of the Cities Program at the London School of Economics and head of the itinerant Urban Age conference series, has, at the request of the Venice Architecture Biennale organizers, kick-started a dialogue between the two disciplines. In order to do so, he presented some of the grubbiest, grittiest, and dynamic cities in the world, including among others Istanbul, Shanghai, Caracas, Johannesburg, Mumbai, New York, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo.

The concept behind the exhibition is exciting, with greater implications for the health of the planet and humanity than the latest architectural trends. No one has attempted a comparative study of the world's megacities on this scale before. The exhibition itself won't likely wow the general public, however. Panels of text, images, and charts filled with unprocessed information about the lower depths of urban reality is not the stuff of blockbusters. Among the show's shortcomings is the fact that issues like density and society are raised but are left hanging in the air. In the age of Google Earth, one might also wonder why more interactive media was not used. But what the show lacks in depth of coverage will presumably be supplemented by other activities throughout the next two months while the Biennale acts as a forum for debate and an incubator for policy brainstorming with a planned series of high-level workshops. Here, one supposes that issues like democratic rights, sustainable growth, local government versus World Bank–dictated rules of governance, and Hernando de Soto's brand of neoliberalism will be addressed.

The theme of cities had a galvanizing, almost psychoanalytic effect on many national pavilions. At the U.S. Pavilion, Robert Ivy's team at Architectural Record along with Reed Kroloff of Tulane University grappled with the profound dysfunctionality of post-Katrina New Orleans and wound up with a statement of the inability of architecture alone, in spite of endless good will, to overcome certain political and social realities. The French Pavilion, perhaps as a form of expiation for the race riots that marked the nation's suburbs last year, was turned into one big pop-anarchist Rabelaisian bistro, celebrating togetherness in the midst of delicious food smells and plentiful wine. Austria fell back on two of its bluest chips, venerable masterpieces by once rebellious artists, one by Friedrich Kiesler of 1925 and one of 1964 by Hans Hollein. By contrast, the Hungarian Pavilion took a chance on an independently minded, youthful approach—examining the reach of Chinese-made goods in the world—and came up with a relevant contemporary statement on a specific urban reality. At the Russian Pavilion, the work of Alexander Brodsky, with his hilariously Gogolian black humor, offered a commentary on urban life in Russia today. The Spanish Pavilion was devoted to 52 of the most important women involved with architecture and urbanism in Spain. The overwhelmingly encouraged feminine presence goes a long way in explaining why this country has such great architecture and cities.

Of all the countries, Great Britain was the most active in organizing real discussions. Paul Finch, the editor of Architectural Review, together with Odile Decq, Peter Cook, and Robert White of White Partners should be commended for presenting a series of public debates called The Dark Side Club, which took place every night during the vernissage from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., after all the other parties had ended. And the British Council assembled a panel called My Kind of Town: Architecture and Urban Identity, featuring Rem Koolhaas, David Chipperfield, author Alain de Botton, Nick Johnson of visionary development firm Urban Splash, critic Alice Rawsthorn, and Sudhev Sandhu, author of London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City. Judging by the international attendance, these lively events might set a trend in future Biennales.

Richard Rogers used the high-profile moment of winning this year's Biennale Golden Lion Award for Life Achievement to stress the need for strict government regulations, citing Portland, Oregon, as the most popular city in the U.S. because it is the best at regulating and containing sprawl and encouraging inner-city densification. Of all the speakers I heard, he was the one who got the most enthusiastic response. In the same vein, this Biennale brought the work of a generation of designers in their 40s to the fore, including James Corner of Field Operations in New York, Rahul Mehrotra of Mumbai, Yung Ho Chang of MIT and Beijing, and Jeremy Till from Sheffield, England, to whom architectural issues are not antithetical to urban, political, social, or ecological concerns.
 



Austria


Markus Pillhoffer


Italy


Giorgio Zucciatti / Courtesy Venice Biennale


Japan


Courtesy Institute for Japanese Culture

Top: The Austrian Pavilion, directed by Wolf D. Prix, features Hans Hollein's 1964 Flugzeugtrrger (aircraft carrier). The piece suggested how to install a complex urban structure in a rural setting, and also served as ironic commentary on the relationship between the city and nature. Middle: With the opening of the Italian Pavilion in the Tese delle Vergini (near the Arsenale), the old Italian Pavilion in the Giardini was given over to dozens of smaller exhibitions organized by various schools, countries, and research groups. The facade of the pavilion is wrapped in Olivo Barbieri's photograph of the Gonehexin Road overpass in Shanghai. Bottom: The Japanese Pavilion is devoted to the work of Terunobu Fujimori, whose naturalist architecture features the use of charred wood, planted roofs, and rough stone and earth. Within this woven hut, installed in the pavilion, visitors could watch a slideshow of images taken by ROJO, the Roadway Observation Society, founded in 1986 by a group of artists, including Fujimori, dedicated to documenting extraordinary roadside phenomena.



Architecture Between the Cracks
Toshiko Mori
Principal, Toshiko Mori Architect

The Biennale is basically a provocation from director Ricky Burdett to architects and planners. Why do architects not have a role in the forming of cities, why are we not involved more, or voicing opinions more? Why do we have such a lame role in civic discourse? Planners always seem to have good ideas, but they do not follow through. If they did we would not witness the degree of dystopia displayed at this Biennale. Planners do not have power, they are disengaged with physical reality; instead they seem to be buried in paper statistics. With the war in Iraq, the threat of terrorism, poverty, starvation, and genocide erupting around us, how do we answer the questions posed by the exhibition's organizers: Can planning promote social cohesion? Can good governance improve things? Do we all answer "yes" and go and have a Bellini? This is when the 1970s come to mind: Back then, we went into action more directly and architecture's sense of purpose ran deeper.

How did architecture become perceived to be surface-deep? It's an apt question to ask in a city like Venice, where the tourist-pleasing Serenissima facade comprises less than one-third of the city. Going around on the vaporetto (ferry) #82, one sees the blue-collar industrial and working gut of Venice. Author Alain de Botton asked me if I liked the decoration on the building facades. I recommended the vaporetto commute so he could see beyond the place's surface happiness. Architect Patrick Bouchain, organizer of the French Pavilion Metacity/Metaville, where two dozen architects, graphic designers, and media artists set up house and every day go about domestic chores like cooking and sweeping, told me that in Paris, street sweepers are called technicians du surface. The traditional French respect for the worker stands in contrast to the country's recent crisis over the lack of assimilation of immigrants. Intolerance and antagonism are causing riots and lawlessness because people are unable to share discourse and civic values. The message is simply to go back to what we all have in common, and try to establish direct communication among lives in the cities. (The irony is that the pavilion encourages both a sense of community and anarchy, breaking the decorum of exhibition halls by making it an inhabited space, a fragment of a city, with all the transgressions they encompass.)

The Spanish Pavilion, curated, designed, and organized by the perfectionist super-phenom Manuel Blanco, is the individuated and collective voice of women in Spain from all walks of life: female vox populi. It is a very clear, powerful, and credible message. Women are animated, beautiful, sympathetic, and most of all humane. Manuel says his approach was obvious since Spain has a feminine prefix, yet female voices have been suppressed by strong male dominance in politics and culture.

The Irish have the most to show in terms of their efforts to balance Ireland's fast economic growth, ecology, large planning efforts, and sustainability. It is unfortunate that their room, in the old Italian Pavilion, is painted black, since their projects are realistic and send a positive message about the robust engagement of politicians, planners, and architects to make the semblance of utopian future possible.

The relationship and balance between the obvious and visible architectural quotient of a city versus the support fabric of its infrastructure is the point of this Biennale. I was not so worried that there was not enough architecture. A lack of buildings does not mean architecture is absent. There is a territory where architects can take over creatively, as is demonstrated by the Irish group show, which is filled with strong case studies.

There was a lot of dialogue and discussion going on during the vernissage, but one looming question was: Where were the Americans? The U.S. Pavilion sent a strong impression of the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The intricate moving model of cubes suspended by fragile strings is a metaphor for New Orleans housing as a puppet of mechanized bureaucracy. Once these strings are cut, the cubes float aimlessly without life support (full disclosure: this is the work of GSD students). And yet Americans had a weak (if any) presence in the public discussions organized by the Biennale. It made me realize that not only is the U.S. isolating itself in foreign policy, but we may be in danger of isolating ourselves in the area of urbanism too. What can we learn from others, what can we share? Are we engaged in this global discourse? If so, we should certainly be able to have several alternatives and viable models other than New Urbanism.
 



France




Cyrille Weiner ( top); Stefan Jonot (bottom)

The French Pavilion has become temporary home to two dozen artists and designers, who have outfitted the neoclassical building with bunk beds, a kitchen, bar, DJ stand, rooftop sauna, and sundeck.



China






Stefan Jonot (top and middle); Danish Architecture Center (bottom)

Top: The Austrian Pavilion, directed by Wolf D. Prix, features Hans Hollein's 1964 Flugzeugtrager (aircraft carrier). The piece suggested how to install a complex urban structure in a rural setting, and also served as ironic commentary on the relationship between the city and nature. Middle: Their Tiles Garden is made over 60,000 tiles recycled from demolished structures in Hangzhou. Bottom: The Hungarian Pavilion made use of cheap, Chinese-made plastic goods to create animated canopies, wall-hangings, and other installations. The Danish Pavilion proposed various projects for sustainable development in China, including Magic Mountains, a green business district.



The End of the Line for the Biennale?
Hugh Pearman
Architecture critic, London Sunday Times; editor, RIBA Journal

Despite the importance of the subject matter and the high seri- ousness with which it has been approached, this Biennale, for me, does not work as an exhibition. The long, long gloomy columnar promenade of the Corderie in the Arsenal complex—in recent years the heart of the show, crammed with goodies—has never been sparser. You feel you are attending a stern lecture. Only the lecturer is absent, and has sent along his notes instead.

The rest of the show, over in the pocket garden suburb of national pavilions and scattered here and there throughout the city, is as patchy as ever though one finds intermittent flashes of joy. But it is difficult to imagine where this exhibition can go from here. The last good one with a strong theme was curated six years ago by Massimiliano Fuksas, Less Aesthetics, More Ethics. That allowed plenty of provocative architecture, but it also required an analysis of the social dimension.

And now? The architecture biennales are always rather touch-and-go. The go button is always pushed late: It is always a scrabble to get it together in time. This one feels like the end of an era. If the series is to continue, it must be comprehensively re-thought. It must have a reason to exist.
 



The Laser-Print Biennale
Aaron Betsky
Director, Netherlands Architecture Institute; Incoming Director, Cincinnati Art Museum

As far as I am concerned, the best room was the central space at the Italian Pavilion, where the imaginative power proper to art and architecture were used to confront, criticize, and speculate on the city as a reality, rather than reduce it to facts and figures. For sheer scale, the AMO layout, an aerial panorama of the whole Gulf coast, from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, could not be matched. And of course in our historical exhibition [at the Dutch pavilion] we tried to bring up the issue of the city as a real place for which we have to take responsibility as architects, not just as concerned citizens. For the same reason I appreciated the attempts by the Russians, the French, and the Hungarians to make this point in an imaginative way. And that would lead to my major gripe: Just as architects should not pretend to be graphic designers or landscape architects, nor should they claim to be sociologists or politicians. Positioning your work within a social and political field is one thing; claiming to be Al Gore is another. The imagination was buried too deep beneath the pavement of Venice this year to be unearthed by any statistical tools.
 



Highs and Lows
Paola Antonelli
Acting Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art

The Venice Biennale is, as always, worth it, even though the overall lack of normall architectural scale—meaning models, drawings, reference to neighborhoods—made this year for a rollercoaster between the elegantly cold and the sometimes overdone touchy-feely. The show at the Arsenale belongs in the former category. Director Richard Burdett's momentous analysis of 16 great cities was impeccably presented in an installation designed by Aldo Cibic and his partners. The installation had some beautiful moments, some planned—the room comparing densities, for instance, filled with self-explanatory beautiful styrofoam stalagmites, or the views of the cities flowing under your feet in small connecting bridges—and some serendipitous: in the Caracas corner, an oil stain in the floor that ghostly mimicked the shape of the city hung on the wall just above. The deeper you went into the Arsenale, the more you could get lost in data, comparative studies, and gorgeous satellite pictures, but somehow you longed for people and buildings.

The pavilions were very uneven. One wonders why some nations don't just stay home, or rent out their pavilions to the other countries that might really have something to say. Among the interesting ones: the Spanish, curated by Manuel Blanco, my favorite, with women of all walks of life talking about their cities, with architecture a part of their soundtrack. The British, taking the city of Sheffield as a case study and exploring it at different scales, from sheep to satellite view. The Japanese were a bit out of theme, but soothing and beautiful. The Slovenian: at last some innovative architecture. The French overshared—do we really need to see guys cooking in a pareo?—but were a hit because they were very hospitable, to the point where otherwise respectable architects were hopping the fence to join their late-night parties and the police were called nightly to kill the fun.

Personally, I learned to blog. Together with London's Architecture Foundation, MoMA launched a wild beast of a blog that became quite the recipient of everybody's rants and raves (www.venicesuperblog.net).
 



Disquietingly Quiet
Odile Decq
Principal, Odile Decq Benoit Cornette

When we try to describe a city, we often start by quantifying its inhabitants, expressing through its size what typology of city we are speaking about: small, middle, large, or extra-large. The presentations of the 16 megalopolises in the Arsenale strive to analyze the phenomena of how they came to be. But never could a collection of quantified facts express what a city is.

Architects are dedicated to thinking about and organizing people and life; architecture exhibitions are dedicated to vicarious representations that are free of the noise and smell of flesh-and-blood cities. This Biennial takes a non-risky position, avoiding experiments on concrete strategies. It is a pity for the general public and the thousand of young future architects, desperate for inspiration for visions of tomorrow.
 



Planning Potential
Ron Shiffman
Director, Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development

Richard Burdett's exhibition begins with a description of cities in a changing world and ends with an invitation to cities to change the world. At critical junctures, displays focus on issues such as income disparity, density, mobility, and information flows. Implied throughout are the issues of class and race, which underlie many of the disparities the exhibition highlights.

The individual city presentations varied in quality. New York's presentation (coordinated by Pamela Puchalski of the Center for Architecture) successfully captured several of the city's innovative planning and development initiatives such as the High Line park and the effort to build more housing along the city's waterfront. Given the city's penchant to diminish its mandated participatory planning processes by surrendering its decision-making role to the state, as they have in the case of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, I was surprised to read in the exhibition text that New York has decided to accommodate growth by capitalizing on its edges along the water, investing heavily in new housing projects in the outer boroughs, and involving its citizens in the debate on the future of the city. One wishes it were really so. Too little investment and far too little debate. Perhaps New York City should borrow from the Norwegian city of Tromss, which decided to call a time-out on large-scale development and engage its citizens in what is truly a public debate.
 



Painting by Numbers
Hani Rashid
Principal, Asymptote

After the painful, but visually enticing, onslaught of Burdettian data, statistics, and images of cities on the verge, perhaps the upcoming Venice Art Biennale will follow suit by filling the Corderie and Giardini Pavilions with the financial statements of artists, galleries, and museums (leaving out the art). Now that could actually be interesting!
 



Comparative Views
Barry Bergdoll
Chair, Department of Art History, Columbia University; Incoming Philip C. Johnson Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art

In 1933 CIAM studied 34 world cities in aerial overviews and statistical analyses aboard the S.S. Patris while cruising between Marseille and Athens. The result, the Athens Charter, published in 1943, was the lingua franca of postwar modernism's bid to take charge of the city through functionalist and universalist criteria. It was hard not to think how far we are from this venture of over 70 years ago, arriving by air in one of Europe's prime museum cities, Venice, to take in Richard Burdett's ambitious marshalling of aerial views and statistics comparing 16 cities on five continents. If the pious list of five recommendations at the show's conclusion had more to do with issues of city governance—even in a display largely devoid of analysis of the vastly different historical and political forces at play—the results displayed could not have been further from CIAM's taking hold of the reins through design. The Biennale was filled with small-scale interventions in the impoverished quarters of the Third World and landscape re-workings of the detritus of the industrial past in the cities of the First World. The shrinking city of Berlin, where capitalism and democratic political process has eclipsed Europe's communist past, were lumped together with Shanghai and with Mumbai, the latter earmarked soon to overtake Tokyo as the largest city in the history of civilization. Caracas, presented neutrally as yet another booming metropolis, with little acknowledgment of the distinct political and economic situation of the petroleum capital with its populist anti-imperialist leader (a not so subtle protest is registered in the Venezuela Pavilion where the sole exhibition objects are a grainy aerial photograph and a broadsheet declaring a complete lack of interest in any Westernn-imposed urban solutions). As the exhibition embraces the notion of a globalized crisis—with many of the virtues and problems of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth—the particularity of each city begs for attention. Projects were modest and isolated, except for large-scale planning sponsored by developers, who increasingly have turned to star architects.

What could have underscored how omnipresent a very different urban condition in 2006 is than the looming mass of the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship, whose towering 15 decks threw the national pavilions at the Giardini in shadow during much of the preview. None of the tourists disgorged was clamoring for entry to the Biennale, even if the morning Gazettino di Venezia featured both the influx of international architects and a photo reportage on the visible erosion everywhere of Venice's fragile brick and stone fabric caused by the ever-increasing traffic of super tourist liners in the lagoon.
 



The No-Stop City
Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi
Architecture Critic

The Italian Pavilion curated by Franco Purini presents the design of Vema, a theoretical city for 30,000 residents located between Verona and Mantua. Contained within an area measuring 3,720 by 2,300 meters, the city is divided into sectors designed by 20 groups of architects under 40, chosen from among the most promising young practices in Italy. The immense model of Vema, which dominates the exhibition space, can be appreciated on two levels. For the general public, Purini's project will seem to go against the grain: The creation of a newly founded city in a Western country, so similar to the Renaissance examples of Sabbioneta and Palmanova, is in clear opposition to the dominant urban model of sprawling metropolis or the Koolhaasian Generic City. What makes Vema contemporary are the projects designed by young architects. The result is thus a strange hybrid in which the ideal cities of Filarete and Vignola coexist with deconstructivist, super-modern, and neo-organic projects.

For insiders, Purini's project is an attempt, as brilliant as it is unconvincing, to reduce the tension between young, experimental architects and the old guard, of which Purini himself is a leading exponent. The video that accompanies the exhibition thus presents a picture of Italian architecture as a continuum, where the old and new coexist without conflict, and wherein we are able to overcome the violent clashes that have historically occurred, for example, between figures such as Manfredo Tafuri and Bruno Zevi, and gain inspiration from models as diverse as the baroque Paolo Portoghesi and the radical Archizoom.
 



Women on the Verge
Below is an excerpt of architectural theorist Beatriz Colomina's video observation included in the exhibition Espana [f.] nosotros, las ciudades (Spain [f.] we, the cities) at the Spanish pavilion, curated by Manuel Blanco. Hers was one of 52 recordings of Spanish women—clients, architects, citizens—speaking about their experiences of particular buildings or of urban life in general.

What interests me most about cities is how they are so radically transformed with each new technology, from gas lamps to trains to electricity to video cameras. Lately I have become interested in cell phones. No technology has transformed the city more than cell phones in a long time. They have completely revolutionized the relationship between public and private. To be in a city you no longer have to be in the street—you can join a friend in a cafe simply by calling—and if you are in the streets you may not be in the city, as when you are so immersed in a conversation that you are somewhere else and the streets you are walking become a kind of mirage. In fact, in almost any city today there are more people on the phone than in the streets. Every aspect of our experience has changed.

This became evident on September 11 when any traditional sense of public and private space became obsolete. In the heart of the spectacular nightmare, covered continuously by every single television channel, the most intimate exchanges were taking place. For the first time in the history of a catastrophe, the families and loved ones of many of the victims were among the first to know when they received cell-phone calls made from hijacked airplanes and from inside the World Trade Center towers. These calls carved out a whole new sense of space, a last vestige of domesticity.

In the aftermath of the events, the desperate attempts on the part of cell-phone companies to deliver the last messages that had not gone through attested to the importance of this form of communication. In a situation in which there were very few human remains recovered, those messages were all that was left, the very thing that is always missing in tragic accidents. No longer simply a fragile substitute for real people, the digital record became the most solid reality.

There was a new sense of space constructed by the unrelenting bombardment of repetitive images through TV and the Internet and the simultaneous exchange of the most intimate and unique, one-on-one communications via cell phones.

If 9/11 in New York revealed the cell-phone as the last vestige of domesticity, 3/11 in Madrid revealed the cell-phone as a weapon, triggering the train bombs. Personal defense became public attack.



Spain


Cemel Emden



Painting By Numbers
Wolf Prix
Principal, Coop Himmelb(l)au

The theme of the 10th International Architecture Biennale is key for the architecture of the next decades. Thus I find that though the main exhibition at the Arsenale displays a striking collection of different factors and important data, it fails in developing a theory or visions out of this information. On the other hand, the shows at the national pavilions in the Giardini present, with a few exceptions, the helplessness of architects in association with strategic city models.



I Heart New York
Alexander Gorlin
Principal, Alexander Gorlin Architects

Maybe Richard Burdett, the curator of the Architecture Biennale's Cities theme, should have first listened to Madonna's latest song, I Love New York, before putting together a mind-numbing, statistic-fest that completely fails to understand the essential experiential differences among cities around the world: 

I don't like cities, but I like New York / Other places make me feel like a dork / Los Angeles is for people who sleep / Paris and London, baby you can keep

Other cities always make me mad / Other places always make me sad / No other city ever made me glad / Except New York,  I love New York


Walking through the Arsenale, one would hardly know there was a difference between Bogota and New York. In fact it seems that Cairo is denser than New York, therefore...exactly—so what? The quality of the characteristics that make a difference between cities is leveled in this show by categories that have nothing to do with living in each place, such as stock market capitalization or the ranking of their commodity exchanges. Most of the cities appear to have been selected for politically correct purposes: one from continent A, one from continent B, and who knows why so many from South America? The show also suffers from extreme Google Earth–mania, an obsessive fascination with those satellite maps that are now available to everyone. But who experiences a city at 250 miles up in outer space?

In the end, the whole show should have been about New York—Manhattan, to be precise—in an attempt to understand why it is clearly the most exciting city on earth and the present-day capital of the world—I love New York!

If you don't like my attitude than you can F-off / Just go to Texas, isn't that where they golf / New York is not for little pussies who scream / If you can't stand the heat, then get off my street



The China Syndrome
Cathy Lang Ho
Editor, The Architect's Newspaper

China crops up often in the Biennale, which perhaps should not be surprising given its dizzying rate of urbanization and the extent to which its rapid development has affected global architectural and construction practices, not to mention the world's ecological balance. The Danish Pavilion followed curator Henrik Valeur's prompt: How can we improve people's living conditions without exhausting the very resources needed to sustain a better life? The display presents the sort of dramatic statistics that Rem Koolhaas first introduced with his Pearl River research almost a decade ago, alongside theoretical projects by teams of Danish architects and Chinese architecture schools. Their fantastical gestures—business centers that resemble picturesque mountains, a peaking infrastructure-laden mega-wall circling a city—betray the sense that the country is still perceived, by too many in the world (including the Chinese themselves) as a tabula rasa.

Hungary had a quirkier approach to the topic of China as both a consequence and protagonist of globalization: Its pavilion was filled with artful installations made of cheap China-made toys: a canopy of chirping plastic penguins, a wall of plastic resin with repulsive furry toys imbedded within. The installation was part of a larger project, documented in a fine catalogue, investigating the impact of Chinese immigrants on the world's cities and of Chinese-made goods on life everywhere. It was one of the few projects that conveyed what I wish the Biennale accomplished more: how globalization and urbanization has affected people's lives. This was poignantly communicated in Hu Yang's Shanghai Living (2005), a photographic series displayed in the Italian Pavilion, showing a factory worker, shop-girl, office manager, and dozens of other Shanghai residents in their homes. Each is presented with a statement from the subject, personalizing the effects of the phenomena measured elsewhere in the Biennale.



Hu Yang's images are on display in C on Cities, a special photography exhibition in the Italian Pavilion, curated by the London-based publication C International Photo Magazine. Issue 3 is dedicated to its Biennale presentation, and is available through www.ivorypress.com.


Shanghai Living
 (2005) by Hu Yang 
Tang Zhen'an
(Shanghainese general manager)
Up to now I am satisfied with my life, and I like photographing and collecting western art works during my leisure time. I have pressures, mainly from competition within the circle and requirement from inside. I want to do everything I can to promote Shanghai's photographing industry.



Shanghai Living (2005) by Hu Yang
Wei Yufang
(Shandongnese vendor)
We are leading a hard life and eat battercakes, pickles and a glass of water for all three meals. When our kids want meat dishes, we cook them an egg. We work more than 15 hours a day if it doesn't rain. We want our kids to be educated and not to live like us. I will risk anything for our kids to go to university. My eldest son is excellent and wins prizes every semester. I suffer being teased by local ruffians.

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Breaking Ground

Rogers Marvel shows that security design needn't be defensive and formidable. With a holistic design approach, they prove that that there's more to safe streets than bollards and bomb dogs. Sara Moss reports.

Courtesy Rogers Marvel Architects

Addressing post-9/11 security requirements is now a central part of designing any major urban project. The obvious, and disheartening, reflex is to beef things uppto thicken walls, install barriers, widen distancessa trend most visibly seen in the redesigned Freedom Tower. But building fortresses and barricading streets aren't the only solutions. In two recent projects, Rogers Marvel Architects (RMA) has shown that safety can be integrated in subtle, multidimensional, and even beautiful ways.

In 2002, the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) hired the RMA team after an open RFP process to oversee the streetscape improvement project, which included designing street lighting, furniture, and landscape features, as well as traffic planning. The project was prompted by both the congestion from last stages of building out the neighborhood as well as post-9/11 security activity (such as truck screening), which was making pedestrian and vehicular traffic worse. Security measures were an implicit part of everything they did. It's not healthy to feel like you're a target all the time,, said Rogers. From the beginning, we were talking about streetscapes as the thing to look at and the thing to start with.. The project team also included Sam Schwartz (traffic consultant), Ducibella Venter & Santore (security consultant), Weidlinger Associates (blast and security engineer), and James Carpenter Design Associates (art elements).Rogers Marvel designed a series of bus shelters and glass benches that double as security measures in Battery Park City

A core of collapsible concrete in front of the bench prevents heavily loaded vehicles get too close to the World Financial Center.
 

Addressing how Battery Park City meets its surrounding neighborhood, the designers found themselves deep in solving urban design problems that required large-scale decisions. Improving vehicular and pedestrian trafficcwhich would lessen potential threatsswas a paramount concern. With Schwartz, RMA devised a plan that called for adding raised crosswalks on North End Avenue (between 6 and 8 inches high, they make the street level with the curb). Further down the North End Avenue at Murray Street, they added neck-downss (curb extensions at intersections to slow down vehicles) to eliminate long, unimpeded approaches to Battery Park properties. These keep cars from picking up too much speed as they near the area. They also added truck and taxi lay-bys, areas where the vehicles could wait while separated from the street by barriers.

Even the sidewalks assumed protective powers in Rogers Marvel's scheme. RMA used the existing cobblestone band that surrounds much of the World Financial Center to install a special collapsible fillla kind of concrete that's ordinarily used at the end of airport runways. The fill is sturdy enough for pedestrians but is designed to give under the weight of anything heavy, like a truck bomb. The firm sought advice from the Army Corps of Engineers on the urban use of the material and eventually entered into an agreement to share their research. So many architectural projects start out with form but this is real science,, enthused Marvel. It feels great to be working on this level..

At night, LEDs illuminate the benches and shelters.

RMA also infused security qualitiessand hence multifunctionalityyin other elements, like cast-glass and stainless steel benches that are both furniture and illumination. Working with James Carpenter, the bench is luminescent depending on the angle of the sun; at night, it is lit by LEDs. The benches form an axis a quarter-mile long, from the site of the future Ferry Terminal to the World Trade Center site. The elements on the other axis, along North End Avenue, are lightweight stainless steel and structural glass shade structures that are lit from below, also designed with Carpenter. Interlayers in the glass bounce the light back down at night so that light pollution is minimized. One structure provides a shelter at the new dog run; another provides a structure for security workers checking trucks in the street.

After presenting their Battery Park City work to city agencies, RMA asked to consult for designing security for the New York Stock Exchange, which led to a larger projecttNew York Financial District Streetscapes + Security, started in 2003. There, RMA were presented with a very different situation: a landmarked district with many clients (the DCP, LMDC, and EDC) and stakeholders (the New York Stock Exchange, Alliance for Downtown New York, and Bank of New York))all with serious concerns about safety.

A fountain in front of the New York Stock Exchange (top) which would separate NYSE employees with security clearance from pedestrians.

Many of the streets in Lower Manhattan have been closed off since 9/11, creating traffic nightmares and logistical headaches for businesses. At the Wall Street intersections, RMA used retractable bollardssa sort of trap-door system that will allow bollards to drop below street grade. However, at Broad Street, tangles of utility lines below the street made this solution nearly impossible (and prohibitively expensive). RMA needed a solution that could be installed quickly and sit within a shallow depth. As in Battery Park City, RMA found their solution on the ground plane. Working again with security experts Ducibella Venter & Santore, and with Quennell Rothschild & Partners (landscape architect) and Philip Habib & Associates (traffic engineering), they came up with a rotating disc that sits level with the ground. With bollards lined up across it, the 20-inch deep disc rotates to allow vehicles to pass by when necessary. In a nod to some of the surrounding historic buildings' heavy old doors, the faceted bollards (which are in MoMA's Safe show) are made of bronze. RMA patented the crash-test rated turntables.

This patent, along with ones for other RMA designs, will be handled by the office's newest spin-off, Rock Twelve, a division for research and patenting of security architecture. Rock Twelve will share resources with TRUCK, RMA's product architecture division. These other divisions permit development of side projects while keeping the firm's main focus on architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. Rogers stresses that in the end, he and his colleagues are architects, not security experts. Their holistic approach, however, is proving to be popularrboth the Battery Park City and Financial District projects have won numerous awards in the past year.

Rogers Marvel has taken the sting out of security measures in the Financial District with bronze bollards that double as benches on Wall Street.

And both are being used as demonstration projects for the development of new FEMA security guidelines. And the firm was recently invited to work on a pedestrian open space project for the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. We have no ambition to be security guys,, said Rogers, but what we like to do is to be incredibly inventive and solve problems. That's what good architects do..
Sara Moss works on the Fulton Street Transit Center project.