The New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman once asked, “Do you know what my favorite renewable fuel is? An ecosystem for innovation.” If you pose the same question to Pavegen founder and CEO Laurence Kemball-Cook, his answer would most likely be: foot traffic. That’s because Kemball-Cook, who is passionate about climate change, believes “technology alone won’t make cities perform more efficiently. It’s about changing behaviors.” To that end, he spent time developing renewable energy solutions in built-up urban environments and ultimately landed on the idea of capturing ambient energy from people and footfall. After testing a series of prototypes, Kemball-Cook jumped in feet first and launched Pavegen, a company that harvests energy and data from foot traffic. Building a complex technological product that operates reliably in all physical conditions isn’t easy, however. City streets are constantly undergoing challenges, from extreme temperature variations to a wide range of forces and impacts, Kemball-Cook explained. “Engineering this versatility into our system has been a big challenge, and it has been a highly iterative process to get to where our design is today,” he said.
Search results for "sustainability"
Cove.tool is an energy vs. cost optimization software for the AEC industry. It offers users the ability to simulate the material performance of a building in its context by assessing energy against cost over a given period of time. It empowers architects, engineers, contractors, and owners to make better decisions about building by presenting cost and energy information in a simple app, with the ultimate goal of helping buildings reduce their carbon emissions in an affordable way. The problem, as they phrase it, is: “When a contractor and architect make choices, they are unable to perceive all of the choices and their impacts collectively.” The software therefore uses large data sets to create material performance profiles for building components which can be run through millions of possible combinations before providing users with optimal solutions for a project’s constraint space. The software has been iteratively developed over the last several years by the sustainability consulting firm Patterns r+d, based in Atlanta, GA. While energy simulation is of course nothing new, Cove.tool is distinct in that it is the first affordable, easy-to-use energy software in the AEC industry to introduce cost into an advanced combinatorial building simulation. It is potentially a watershed development for the sustainable building industry in that it can incentivize sustainable ethics through cost analysis. According to the Cove.tool team, this software is part of a much larger shift. They make the bold assertion in their white paper that “it will not be possible to build any building without simulation within the next five years,” a relatively short time horizon in an industry which is usually slow to innovate. The tool also offers the foundations for a programmable library of materials whose construction and energy costs can be incorporated into the larger BIM workflow. Cove.tool is available as both a Revit and Grasshopper plug-in with dedicated development. It can hypothetically be integrated into the vast majority of medium-to- large scale AEC projects in which marginal savings on energy costs may represent millions of dollars over time and incentivize an increasingly sustainable building culture. For under $3,500 a year, a team of five can leverage Cove.tool in almost any project context, adding robust energy modeling value to their proposals. With a simplified graphical interface which is effective for internal and client-facing purposes, the tool is likely to gain widespread adoption.
Take a first look at BIG’s Manhattan-bound “tower-in-the-park”
The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has released the first batch of renderings for its latest Manhattan project, a 60-story office tower set to touch down in NoMad. As first reported by New York YIMBY, “29th & 5th” will rise from the site of the former historic Bancroft Bank Building, replacing an 800-foot-tall luxury condo tower designed by Moshe Safdie. As seen in the renderings, the building at 3 West 29th Street will consist of two slender, linked rectangular masses with a glass curtain wall. Differentiating each volume will be the width of the windows, with the curtain wall of the eastern half holding much wider windows than its western counterpart. One of the project’s more interesting features is the “spine” of cantilevering concrete terraces running up the tower’s eastern side, which will give each floor access to outdoor space. According to the project’s EB-5 materials–a program designed to lure foreign investment in the building in exchange for a potential green card–the tower is being designed with a heavy emphasis on wellness. “The building will incorporate a LEED-Certified design and highly amenitized offering package promoting employee connectivity, communal workspaces, and fitness options that will pioneer a new frontier of wellness and sustainability within the workplace. The building is designed with smaller 13,400-square-foot floor plates that will attract an underserved market while leaving ample lot area to design a vibrant park surrounding the building.” While permits filed with NYC’s Department of Buildings show that the project was submitted as a 34-story, 300,000-square-foot tower, YIMBY is reporting that the original application was used to begin foundation work ahead of a final plan reveal. This set of new renderings paints a picture of a tower that’s at least 60 stories tall, with a possible height of 800-to-850 feet and up to 600,000 square feet of floor space. The skyscraper’s massive heft has been made possible by developer HFZ Capital’s agglomeration of air rights from throughout the neighborhood. No completion date has been given for 29th & 5th at the time of writing.
Wheel It In
Aude-Line Dulière wins 2018 Wheelwright Prize
Brussels-based architect Aude-Line Dulière has won the Harvard Graduate School of Design's 2018 Wheelwright Prize, the large travel and research grant for emerging architects. Dulière's winning proposal, Crafted Images: Materials Flow, Techniques, and Reuses in Set Construction Design, investigates the supply chain and construction methods in the film industry to investigate potential avenues for adaptive reuse that can be applied to the AEC industry, as well. "Aude-Line's work demonstrates a sophisticated vision of spatial quality in a variety of forms that translates into her interest in the architecture of set design," said Harvard GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi. "By exploring material reuse strategies at the intersection of film, construction, and architecture, Aude-Line's project offers exciting possibilities for innovative approaches to sustainability, infused with an equally important and very sensitive consideration of aesthetic beauty." Dulière, who holds an M.Arch from the GSD and works as an architect and movie production design assistant in Europe, was selected from a pool of five finalists for the fellowship. She will use the Wheelwright's $100,000 travel and research stipend to deepen the ideas set forth in Crafted Images. Here's what Dulière had to say about her process: "The movie industry has the potential to offer clues for streamlining material flows and offers opportunities for experimentation on sustainability for contemporary architectural practice," she said in a prepared statement. In addition to Mostafavi, Edward Eigen, K. Michael Hays, and the newly-appointed chair of GSD's architecture school, Mark Lee, this year's jury included Frida Escobedo, Michelle Wilkinson, and Jose Ahedo, the 2014 winner. Last year, Chilean architect Samuel Bravo won the Wheelwright Prize for his work on informal settlements across the globe. More information on Dulière's project proposal will be posted on the award's website shortly.
The Climes They Are A' Changin'
AN rounds up our favorite climate change books of 2018
Coastal flooding, heatwaves, snow storms, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes; all of these natural disasters are being exacerbated by the effects of climate change, and architects and planners will need to learn to plan for the future. Through building structures and facets of the urban landscape that resist or incorporate flood waters, that manage stormwater runoff or create “wind corridors” to blow pollution out of city centers, designing for the impacts of climate change often means designing for health. With a wealth of sophisticated modeling tools and techniques at our disposal, it’s easier than ever to look towards the future and harden projects for what might be coming next. Below is a list of books that AN considers as helpful guides for thinking about and designing for climate change. Toward an Urban Ecology The Monacelli Press Kate Orff $34.00 Towards an Urban Ecology may feature a number of projects by New York’s SCAPE, but the overall message extends beyond a simple firm retrospective. Throughout the book, Kate Orff (now co-chair of the new climate resiliency center at Columbia’s GSAPP) dissects how designers can integrate environmental concerns with urban ones, and create a more resilient built environment. Landscape architecture can play an integral role in mitigating the effects of climate change, and often acts as the first line of defense in protecting buildings from disasters. Blue Dunes: Climate Change by Design Columbia Books on Architecture and the City Jesse Keenan & Claire Weisz $17.15 Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was a watershed moment in designing for climate resilience, as the reality of a “once-in-a-hundred-year” storm hit architects and planners along the eastern seaboard close to home. Blue Dunes follows a plan to place wave-blocking barrier islands off the Mid-Atlantic coast, and the research (and cost concerns) uncovered in the multidisciplinary quest serves as a valuable lesson for designers who want to pursue the same path. Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change Verso Ashley Dawson $21.41 The world’s cities will both be hit hardest by climate change and have the largest impact on it. How can cities cut their carbon emissions while simultaneously hardening their defenses and creating resilient systems? In Extreme Cities, Dawson argues that seawalls and hard infrastructure aren’t enough, and that the successful cities of the future will survive through fostering new social movements and ways of integrating climate change into design and planning. Adaptive Ecologies/ Correlated Systems of Living Architectural Association Publications Theodore Spyropoulos, John Frazer & Patrik Schumacher $49.11 Though it might seem better suited to our technology book roundup, Adaptive Ecologies confronts the twin challenges of harsher environments and tighter resource restrictions that buildings will face in the future. The abundance of modeling programs available to architects and planners, whether it be daylighting, planning for high-performance facades, or computational design, can be combined with active data intake from an array of sensors. As a result, new typologies, artificial ecologies and unimaginable city planning-schemes might one day reign supreme as we become more and more able to optimize building design. Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary The Avery Review: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City James Graham, Caitlin Blachfield, Alissa Anderson, Jordan Carver & Jacob Moore $36.99 A collection of essays and sample projects from Columbia University’s Avery Review, Climates examines the intersection of architecture and climate change. What precedents already exist in dealing with such an existential threat? How can architects and their work render climate change knowable while also combatting it? What kind of shifts would be required to bring awareness to the field about designing for resilience and sustainability? Far from providing concrete answers, Climates seeks more to stimulate discussion and speculation about a topic that can be hard to conceptualize. BIG, HOT TO COLD: An Odyssey of Architectural Adaptation TASCHEN Bjarke Ingels $45.30 Whatever one may think of the work being done by Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG), it would be hard to argue that the firm isn’t prolific. In Hot to Cold, architects can find 60 case studies for designing in extreme environments in conjunction with BIG’s projects all over the world, and innovative ways of dealing with extreme heat, cold, and everything in between are put on display. Designing for water is given significant weight in the book’s middle section, as BIG breaks down the master plan for their lower Manhattan-encompassing seawall system, the Dryline. How can the extreme environments of the present give designers an idea of what may be to come? New York 2140 Orbit Kim Stanley Robinson $13.65 2140 may be the only fiction book on the list, but even far-flung speculation has its uses in inspiring architects. While New York (or any city for that matter) might not be inundated with 50 feet of water anytime soon, Robinson’s work speaks to a future where adaptive reuse and clean energy are the norm, not the exception. Most importantly, 2140 presents a worst-case scenario ostensibly overcome by design, and serves as a reminder that no solution should be ruled out as too imaginative. Every book on this list was selected independently by AN‘s team of editors. If you buy something via the embedded links, AN will earn a commission.
Rethinking Social Housing
Adjaye Associates to help reimagine Grenfell Tower estate
Adjaye Associates and five other firms have been tapped to provide ideas for the high-profile renovation of London's Lancaster West Estate, which contained the now-destroyed Grenfell Tower. With funding from the local council and government, Adjaye Associates, Levitt Bernstein, Maccreanor Lavington, Murray John Architects, Cullinan Studio and Penoyre Prasad will put together a design vision for the future of the municipal housing estate. Lancaster West was originally master planned and realized by Clifford Weardon Architects in 1964, and has been in dire need of an update. As part of the renovation, the architectural team has been working in concert with the Lancaster West Residents Association, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and the government to focus on resident-driven suggestions. At a public meeting earlier in the month, residents of the public housing complex gave the designers feedback on what they felt were the most pressing concerns. Improving accessibility, repairing leaks and improving ventilation all had the broadest support, as did increasing the openness of the common areas in response to safety issues. The team also raised the possibility of securing the entrances to the estate’s street, as well as installing communal and private gardens for residents. Once completed, the council wants the revitalized Lancaster West to be an example for the renovations of the area’s other estates. Of note is the exclusion of Grenfell Tower in the redevelopment plan. As a response to the fire that killed 72 in June of last year, the local council and UK government will be razing the site and likely dedicating the land for a memorial to the victims. Most important to the redevelopment has been the promise that any changes to the estate would be done without demolition of homes or displacement. Funding for the project has already been secured, with both the council and central government having pledged approximately $21 million. Landscape architects Andy Sturgeon Design and consultants Twinn Sustainability will be working alongside the architectural team as well. A brief will be prepared using the collected ideas and followed by a detailed work plan. If everything moves smoothly, work should begin by summer of 2019. No architects had been chosen to realize the plans at the time of writing.
Another one bites the dust?
Why we need architecture critics more than ever
Earlier this week we learned that Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne would be stepping down to take on the city’s newly-created role of Chief Design Officer. The move is a bold, encouraging one that should go a long way toward, as Hawthorne put it, “raising the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city—and the level of civic conversation about those subjects,” through his employment of oversight, advocacy, competitions, forums, and more. But it’s the second part of that statement, regarding civic conversation, that, regardless of this positive development, is under siege in the architecture world. Until Hawthorne is replaced — and given the turmoil at the L.A. Times that’s no certainty— our country will have still fewer regular architectural critics at its major metropolitan news outlets. You can count them on one hand in fact: Blair Kamin at the Chicago Tribune, John King at the San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Lamster at the Dallas Morning News, Julie Iovine at the Wall Street Journal, and Inga Saffron at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Beyond these dailies, while New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson and Curbed’s Alexandra Lange offer regular critiques, the New York Times’ critic Michael Kimmelman is M.I.A., the New Yorker has never replaced Paul Goldberger, and at The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The Nation, The San Jose Mercury News, and Vanity Fair, Robert Campbell, Alastair Gordon, Michael Sorkin, Alan Hess and Goldberger—all talented voices, as are all the people listed above— haven’t appeared for at least half a year. Papers like The Seattle Times, the Providence Journal, and the Washington Post never replaced their outgoing critics, USA Today has never had one, and half of the nation’s ten largest cities have no critic. It goes without saying that the L.A. Times absolutely must name a new full-time architecture critic, particularly at a time when the nation's second largest city is undergoing unprecedented transformation. Without a well-positioned critical voice, the city will lack a professional to alert them to and analyze these tumultuous built changes, or an advocate to critique decisions that, as they so often do in the developer-driven city, advance private interests over the public good. (Or, on the other end of the spectrum, marginalize design through discourse and work that most people can't relate to.) A critic can and must do much more, from awakening us to triumphs in sustainability and technology to suggesting ways to minimize sprawl or enhance public space. We don’t have to always agree with them, but he or she plays an essential role in instigating and informing a vital public discourse and to alerting us to the critical role design plays in our lives. The same goes for so many of the country’s cities, where nobody is minding the store, architecturally. The results speak for themselves: an overwhelming majority of architecture, both public and private, that’s ok, fine, serviceable. But not enough. It’s an architecture that, like most of our economy, excels for the very richest individuals, corporations and cultural institutions, but offers mediocrity to almost everyone else. Architecture should and must be for everyone, across the board, from housing to retail to schools to government buildings to civic parks. It must help propel our society, and our spirits, forward through inspiration and innovation, not just provide luxury, comfort, or status. Of course, architecture criticism isn’t limited to major commercial outlets. There are fantastic voices at many design periodicals, like this one. But critics at general interest publications still, even in this fractured media landscape, have the greatest ability to reach a wide audience, outside the bubbles of design or niche journalism, who are often preaching to the converted. While the news, sports, fashion, entertainment, and financial media promote and dissect the minutiae of their fields before millions, prompting debate, feedback, and change, the architecture and construction industry — a significant force in overall U.S. GDP—is largely on the fringe of the public conversation. (One example: If you watch March Madness this week, you’ll see more college basketball critics on one telecast than you’ll find countrywide speaking to architecture. Aline Saarinen was once NBC News’ full time architecture critic, but those days of elevated exposure are long gone.) Meanwhile, critics, as with so many players in the ailing journalism world, are increasingly being sidestepped for computerized engines like Rotten Tomatoes or for blogs that aggregate other work and churn out press releases. Or even worse, for abbreviated Facebook or Twitter posts. Algorithms and big data have their place in showing us where we are, but they can’t replace analysis, critique, understanding, common sense, and heart. Having Hawthorne— along with advocates like Deborah Weintraub at the L.A. Bureau of Engineering and Seleta Reynolds at the L.A. Department of Transportation— stationed at City Hall will be bring a keen eye and a valuable voice to the official conversation. But that conversation needs to extend to a much wider public, through experts outside the city payroll. As for his new job, Hawthorne must, as he suggests he will, make his work to improve the civic realm as public as possible, ensuring that design involves everyone, not just those in power. This is a fantastic opportunity for a gifted communicator to bring the public inside a generally opaque realm through his writing, speaking, and facility for public engagement. But he also needs a partner or two (preferably more) in the media, and as more chief design officers (hopefully) pop up around the country, so must they. Architecture is not art in a gallery. Along with landscape architecture and urban design, it is a public profession. It is for the public, not despite them. We need to empower more informed voices to keep it that way.
Two in One
A house of intersecting volumes in upstate New York house offers a geometric, sustainable retreat
Sitting alone in a dense forest clearing, the Sleeve House is composed of two simple intersecting volumes whose relationship produces a series of complex interior spaces and experiences. Designed for urban clients by New York-based actual/office (a/o), the home, two hours north of Manhattan in the Hudson Valley, offers an escape. With expansive views of the Catskill and Taconic mountain ranges and generous spaces provided for art display, the Sleeve House provides a certain lifestyle through architectural moves and a selective material palette. The 2,500-square-foot house is composed of one small and elongated prism slipping into a larger but stouter one. The irregular spaces produced between the two provide for the public programs of the house. An entry gallery leads guests to a large living area, the home’s grandest space. The remainder of this in-between is used for a stair leading to the smaller inner volume, which is mounted in the middle of the house upon concrete supports. Neatly arranged within this volume are the private spaces—bedrooms, a bath, and a study—distinctly separate (formally and metaphorically) from the home’s public areas. “The project is interested in being contemporary, yet having some reference to its context and its site,” explained a/o founder Adam Dayem. “One of the references is old agricultural buildings, barns, and silos you find in upstate New York. They are very simple volumes sitting in the landscape and have these rough and weathered facades from sitting in the elements for one hundred years.” Throughout, a selective palette of materials emphasizes the formal moves of the project while enforcing the separation of public and private. Inside and out, both volumes are clad in shou sugi ban–charred wood siding. Through alternating the orientation and spacing of the continuous black boards, the geometry of the house is emphasized, while at the same time, its surface is activated with depth and pattern. Along with structurally supporting the house, large concrete walls provide space to hang art. Exposed concrete and glass further accentuate the form, appearing on both the exterior and interior. The ends of the volumes are capped with massive glass walls, framing views of the countryside for the enjoyment of which the house was sited. The high level of detail is carried through to the mechanical systems, which are meant to provide comfort while addressing sustainability concerns. The house’s entire electrical system is supplied by solar energy, a true advantage, considering the building’s relatively remote location. Triple-paned glass and radiant heat embedded in the foundational slab keep in as much heat as possible during often brutal Northeast winters, and a heat and energy recovery ventilation system efficiently heats and cools the home all year. Finding a contractor to build a leaning house with unconventional detailing presented its own challenges, but the project’s location in upstate New York helped. “I found that there is a serious culture of high-end design and construction up there. Some contractors did say no, but the contractor I went with, Lorne Dawes, is maybe not a typical contractor. He won’t say no; he will say, ‘Let’s figure this out.’”
Facades+AM in Washington, D.C. to spotlight the District’s particular building culture and challenges
Washington, D.C. has a vibrant architectural culture, not limited to the neoclassical masonry of government buildings and major museums. The upcoming Facades+AM conference gives the District design community a chance to share ideas on building envelopes' contributions to sustainability and occupants' quality of life. Compressed into the morning of March 15 at the Washington Plaza Hotel, the nine-presentation event will address three essential themes in facade design: transparency, opacity, and connectivity. Gathering architects, specifiers, engineers, and others in the field, this Facades+AM is Washington, D.C.'s fourth annual event in the Facades+ series. According to conference chair John Jackson, a senior facade consultant at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, the conference's regional focus allows “a nice balance of projects to showcase–projects that we might not see every day here in DC, but also projects right here in the District which are custom, inspirational, and innovative.” He added that a knowledge transfer from “big, cool, fun projects with endless budgets” to quotidian practice is a high priority. Each panel will include an architect/designer, a consultant/engineer, and a contractor/fabricator to foster interdisciplinary conversations. Glass is the typical skin-type featured at Facades+ events and Jackson’s own specialty, but he made sure to include a broad range of facade types. The opening panel considers glass curtain walls and custom glazing systems. The second panel addresses the construction and performance of opaque walls, such as brick cavity walls, terra cotta, and metal panel rainscreens. The closing panel looks at connections between glass and opaque systems, which Jackson describes as often being a “no man's land," given the "ambiguity and lack of clarity of who 'owns' the design." Jackson anticipates lively discussion of new and innovative technologies that are advancing facade performance on multiple fronts. “The industry is constantly pushing greater improvement in the thermal performance of the envelope,” he said, and is now being more carefully looked at by code reviewers. Increasingly higher-performing building envelopes contribute to energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and control of condensation, particularly in humidified spaces. In the buildings of today and the future, “we expect to see full thermally broken aluminum-framed curtain-wall systems, for example, and high-performance insulating glass with low-E coatings, argon-filling, etc.” New materials and technologies challenge clients to balance performance, cost, and risk, drawing on both predictive estimates and direct experience; though testing using industry standards such as ASTM and AAMA are incredibly valuable, he says, “nothing will ever replace Mother Nature and the test of time.” The city poses its own unique set of climate and planning challenges. The mid-Atlantic climate of Washington, D.C. has wide temperature fluctuations from month to month and season to season, which requires careful attention to the design of exterior walls and hygrothermal performance. The swing seasons also offer ample opportunity for building users to enjoy fresh air from the outdoors with operable envelope elements, which are particularly popular in multifamily residential buildings, yet less so in commercial and institutional projects. The District's height limit also typically results in cast-in-place concrete as the structural system of choice, which results in limited building lateral movement under wind loads, for example, compared to tall and more flexible steel skyscrapers often found in other cities, which has an effect on the design of the facade joints. D.C. building owners, he adds, often with government end users, can also present unique challenges in other respects, including design of glazing systems for security requirements such as blast, forced entry, and ballistic resistance. The conference website lists the speakers and topics, along with details on registration, sponsors, and the ten other Facades+ events across the US in 2018. Bill Millard is a contributor to the AN, Oculus, Architect, Metals in Construction, LEAF Review, Icon, Content, and other publications.
45th Pritzker Prize Laureate
Balkrishna Doshi is the 2018 Pritzker Prize winner
Balkrishna Doshi is the 45th Pritzker Prize Laureate and the first architect from India to win the prize. For over seven decades, Doshi has been committed to shaping and nurturing India’s modern architectural milieu and is an important voice in the industry’s global discourse as an architect, urban planner, and educator. He worked closely with Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn and completed over 100 projects of varying scales with his firm, Vastu-Shilpa. Doshi deftly integrates the principles of modernism within the realities of the Indian climate and context. His work addresses serious social issues, developing low-cost housing and urban planning throughout India’s cities, particularly in Ahmedabad, India, where he is based. According to the 2018 jury citation: “With a deep sense of responsibility and a desire to contribute to his country and its people through high quality, authentic architecture, he has created projects for public administrations and utilities, educational and cultural institutions, and residences for private clients, among others. Doshi is acutely aware of the context in which his buildings are located. His solutions take into account the social, environmental and economic dimensions, and therefore his architecture is totally engaged with sustainability.” After studying architecture in Mumbai, Doshi joined Le Corbusier in Paris in the early 1950s, returning to Ahmedabad to work on several of Corbusier’s buildings there and ultimately overseeing Chandigarh. In 1962, Doshi collaborated with Louis Kahn on the Indian Institute of Management, continuing to work with him into the 1970s. Doshi founded his own practice, Vastu-Shilpa Consultants in 1956, and later established the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design in 1978. He has spent subsequent years developing cities and townships as well as notable educational and cultural facilities. Some of his most iconic projects include Aranya Low Cost Housing (Indore, India), which won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1996, ATIRA low-cost housing (Ahmedabad, India), his office, Sangath (Ahmedabad, India), and IFFCO Township (Kalol, India). The works are site-sensitive with protective overhangs and subterranean spaces to mitigate the extreme climate, interlocking volumes and fluid layouts to promote interaction, and overlapping spaces that connect the indoors to the outdoors. “Every object around us, and nature itself—lights, sky, water and storm—everything is in a symphony,” Doshi explained in a statement. “And this symphony is what architecture is all about. My work is the story of my life, continuously evolving, changing and searching...searching to take away the role of architecture, and look only at life.” The 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremony will be hosted at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, in May, and Doshi will give a public lecture in partnership with the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto on May 16, 2018. For more information, visit the Pritzker Prize website.
AN Interior’s inaugural top 50 interior architect list featured emerging and established firms across the U.S. The editors surveyed the Top 50 highlighted in the March issue and asked them to reveal their favorite building materials and products. The list below entails what made the cut. To honor them, the editors of The Architect’s Newspaper and AN Interior will celebrate 2018's leading design minds in New York's A&D Building. You can meet the acclaimed architects and AN’s editors inside over 20 participating showrooms, this Thursday, March 8. Architects and designers alike can register to attend here.
Toshiko Mori Principal, Toshiko Mori Architect “By designing sheet lights instead of bulbs, Kaneka OLED creates products that emit light evenly, softly, and with excellent color rendition—close to natural light. The LUCE Rotatable Floor Light’s ability to move allows for the creation of different atmospheres. The ambient glow is also bright enough for reading.”
Leonidas Trampoukis and Eleni Petaloti Founders, LOT
“We needed a lightweight product to renovate an existing facade on a townhouse in Brooklyn that could be more than just paint, but also an extension of the interior materiality. We were amazed by the texture, availability, duration, fast installation, and clarity of Equitone fiber cement panels.”
Stephanie Wexler Interior Designer, archimania
“One of our favorite building materials is Richlite, a composite panel material made from post-consumer recycled paper. We recently used it as a wall and door material for renovations to the attic of the Tobias Residence, a home on the historic register. We envisioned a modern material that amplified the contrast between old and new construction, as well as something structurally sound that offered color all the way through and had finished edges. Once the product was coated with a sealer, the material produced an enhanced tactile quality that reflected natural light throughout the day.”
Benjamin Aranda Principal, Aranda\Lasch “Technically sophisticated and visually shocking, the ALPI Lignum Wood Laminate by Ettore Sottsass is still, years later, so much fun to use.”
Andre Herrero Principal, Charlap Hyman Herrero “Sisal is a stiff fiber made from an agave plant of the same name, most commonly used to make rope or twine, but also found in fabrics, rugs, and wall coverings. For us, sisal is a subtle yet compelling material in interiors, lending a natural, summery feel to a given space. In a booth for Patrick Parrish Gallery at the Salon Art + Design fair, we covered both the floors and the walls with it for complete effect. Sisal has a way of visually situating the works of art and furniture; it supports them and gives them a warm backdrop.” Andrew Holder Co-Principal, LADG “Plywood is a beautiful product because it embodies so many contradictions. It can appear to be very refined and highbrow, but at the same time it is a ubiquitous component used in the roughest kind of ad hoc construction. The exterior surface is monolithic and continuous, but the cross section at the edge is exactly the opposite—clearly made of many trees in thin slices all oriented in different directions. It has the appearance of being effortless and low-cost, but is in fact a very difficult material with finicky tolerances, especially as you approach the limits of bending or machining it at a small scale. The big stacks of sheets at the lumberyard look like they are already buildings.”
Bryan Young Principal, Young Projects “We have worked with encaustic cement tiles in multiple scenarios, but recently have found success making custom colors and patterns through a partnership with a fabricator in the Dominican Republic. Locally, these tiles are very common and therefore are an economical selection for a custom finish. On our Playa Grande Retreat project, we created a custom pattern and color palettes for the bathroom floors throughout the building. More interestingly, we applied a different selection of tiles to clad the exterior facades of the Glitch House. The tiles create a shifting graphic pattern that visually reverberates with the physical geometry of the pixelated concrete block walls to create some really interesting optical effects.”
David Darling Founder, Aidlin Darling Design
“In the Bay Area, we are fortunate to have a handful of incredible ornamental metal fabricators that coax life out of seemingly innocuous metals. A favorite of ours is cold-rolled steel plate with a blackened patina. A great metal finisher can bring a subtlety and warmth out of this traditionally utilitarian material, affording us the ability to use it in more intimate, as well as communal spaces.”
Clive Wilkinson President, Clive Wilkinson Architects
“We often use rubber flooring on our projects for circulation and amenity spaces due to its excellent durability and sustainability. It’s also very comfortable and quiet underfoot. For the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, we worked with nora systems’ rubber to develop custom colors, which are much more saturated than the company’s standard offering. The bright, bold colors bring an incredible amount of energy into the labs and really encourage the patients to get up and move.”
Brian Johnsen Principal, Johnsen Schmaling Architects “Much of our interior work exploits the tactility and inherent textures of wood, concrete, and stone. We often use sheets of back-painted glass as an aesthetic counterpoint, one that contrasts the haptic qualities of these materials with a perfectly smooth, highly reflective finish. To avoid the green tint of regular float glass, we usually specify low-iron glass, which allows us to achieve the exact chromatic hue to complement the overall interior palette. Large sheets eliminate visible joints, further enhancing the appearance of immaterial perfection.”
Rafael de Cárdenas Founder, Architecture at Large “When working with hard surfaces, anodized aluminum is our preferred treatment for adding a saturated color. It has the ability to create a sense of refinement and contemporaneity, here, on the ceiling of Au Pont Rouge department store, it enhances other unusual materials and colors in the space.”
Ezequiel Farca and Cristina Grappin Founder and partner, Ezequiel Farca + Cristina Grappin
“Recinto stone is a volcanic stone of great hardness, different types of porosity, and a special tradition in the colonial architecture of Mexico. We use recinto stone because it adapts to the chromatic and textural palette used in the studio. The material has allowed us to apply it in floors and walls, and consolidate objects of our own design. It achieves interesting finishes depending on its use, from honed surface for terraces and outdoor furniture to polished gloss for design objects, or natural finish in innovative pieces that celebrate the aesthetics of the raw element.”
Mark and Amy Leveno Principals, OFFICIAL “We like Filzfelt because of its quality and well-curated colors. For the Civitas Capital Group headquarters in Dallas, we used the Filzfelt ARO Plank system in the conference room niches both for sound absorption and as a backrest for the integrated bench. The deep grooves of the plank system added texture to assist in visually breaking up a large space.”
Aaron Schiller Principal, Schiller Projects
“In the Chilmark project, I collaborated with the principals of Gray Organschi Architecture. We were very interested in utilizing the structural walls of the house and the retaining walls of the property to express the nature of the rural ecology, slicing into the landscape itself. To that end, we went to Pennsylvania and bought a huge amount of throwaway wood used in large-scale farming. The wood appears extremely weathered due to the nature of the enzymes that leak into the boards during the farming processes. We upcycled this stock, milled it into usable formwork. I was on-site assisting in the carpentry and overseeing the proper layouts for weeks at a time. When the lining finally came off the wood, it revealed this deeply embedded graining and wood patterning on the face of the concrete. It was as if we were able to freeze the exposed landscape and use it as part of our building process.”
Alex Mustonen Partner and cofounder, Snarkitecture “We’re interested in the idea of a sphere as an architectural material to infill a space. The glass marble sphere is inherently playful and can be unpredictable in its movement.”
What does a cultural hub for the 21st century require? With their newly unveiled design for the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Studio Gang and SCAPE Landscape Architecture have a few ideas in mind: flexibility, inclusivity, community, and a nod to sustainability. The expansion and renovation, which is scheduled to break ground in 2019 and open in 2022, addresses a number of concerns from the existing 1937 structure and the work of eight subsequent additions. ("A very complicated puzzle," as museum director Todd Herman described the existing space.) In addition to selective demolition that will reveal the original facade, the first course of action involved uniting the spaces, which the architects plan to accomplish with the addition of a pleated covered walkway spine that links the city-facing north entrance with a new southern entrance connected to parkland. “Starting from the inside out, the design clarifies the organization of the building and extends its presence into MacArthur Park and out to Crescent Lawn,” Studio Gang Founding Principal Jeanne Gang said in a statement. “By doing so, the Center becomes a vibrant place for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts.” In addition to the central corridor, the expansion will also include an indoor-outdoor dining space and a multifunctional area called the Cultural Living Room that's designed to welcome visitors to engage and relax, while also offering space for large-scale events and performances. Specific attention will be paid to the sustainability of the materials and mechanical systems, underscoring the connection to nature that's at the core of the project, which has been described as a "museum in a forest." Critical to that concept is the SCAPE's new plan for the landscape, which increases parkland with more than 250 new tress and a variety of new paths and trails. SCAPE founder Kate Orff found inspiration for the design in Little Rock's unique ecology, which spans from the Mississippi Delta to the bluffs of Emerald Park. “This an exciting moment for the Arkansas Arts Center, central Arkansas, and the entire state,” Herman said of the $70 million project in a statement. “The reimagined Arts Center will be a welcoming place that encourages prolonged and meaningful interaction with the collection and programs at the Arts Center. It is intended to be a gathering place for the community that highlights the interplay between the AAC and the surrounding park.”