Search results for "wHY"

Placeholder Alt Text

15 Years of The Architect's Newspaper

A brief history of architecture in the 21st century
To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we looked back through the archives for our favorite moments since we started. We found stories that aged well (and some that didn’t), as well as a wide range of interviews, editorials, and other articles that we feel contributed to the broader conversation. We also took a closer look at the most memorable tributes to those we lost, and heard from editors past and present about their time here. Check out this history of architecture in the 21st century through the headlines of The Architect's Newspaper:

2003

Protest: Michael Sorkin on Ground Zero

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Crit: AIA Convention (“No more weird architecture in Philadelphia”)
Crit: Spring Street Salt Shed (“In praise of the urban object”)
How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities
Chinatown residents protest de Blasio rezoning
Roche-Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grille receives landmark designation
Q&A: Jorge Otero-Pailos: Why the Met Breuer matters
Comment: Ronald Rael on the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border
Detroit Zoo penguin habitat opens
Chicago battles to keep Lucas Museum of Narrative Art from moving
Martino Stierli on the redesign of MoMA’s A+D galleries
WTC Oculus opens
Letter: Phyllis Lambert pleads for Four Seasons preservation
Q&A: Mabel Wilson
#NotmyAIA: Protests erupt over AIA's support of Trump
Snøhetta’s addition to SFMoMA opens
DS+R’s Vagelos Education Center opens
Baltimore’s Brutalist McKeldin Fountain pulverized

2017

Placeholder Alt Text

Gold Medal Winners

Mexico City's public sculpture corridor is a broken dream worth saving
Soon after Mexico City was designated to host the 1968 Olympics, the idea of a year-long cultural program emerged—one which would come to shape the ethos of the games for years to come. Hinting at the Greek Olympics’ legacy, the Mexican Cultural Olympiad would deploy 20 cultural events and projects throughout the year while promoting a modern discourse of peace at a time when the cold war profoundly divided the world. As part of the program, the Polish-born, Mexican artist and architect Mathias Goeritz (who coined the concept of “Emotional Architecture” with Luis Barragán) proposed an ambitious public sculptures route integrated with the city as a way to respond to its rapid urbanization. La Ruta de la Amistad (or the Route of Friendship), as it was named, would offer new ways of navigating the capital while making art available to the masses and celebrating international dialogue. The proposal was received with great enthusiasm from the chair of the Mexican Olympic Organizing Committee, the influential architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. In the lead-up to the Olympics, a total of 22 sculptures were commissioned from 19 artists and architects, including the Uruguayan artist Gonzalo Fonseca, the French artist Olivier Seguin, the American sculptor Alexander Calder, and the Mexican sculptor Ángela Gurría. Goeritz’s curatorial brief was simple: All sculptures should be abstract, of monumental scale, and use concrete as their main material. The project would become the largest sculptural thoroughfare in the world, connecting Olympics venues across a distance of 11 miles—and a great source of pride for Mexico. However, a week and a half before the official start of the games, the route, like the rest of the Cultural Olympiad, was obscured by the Massacre of Tlatelolco, in which the Mexican military and the police killed at least 300 students and civilians protesting government repression and corruption. Politicians, used to controlling every aspect of Mexican society, showed little patience for the demonstrations, which they feared would damage their cherished reputation as Olympics hosts. For the government, the games had become a platform to project its progressive, modern ideals and to challenge the perception that it was a developing country. Fifty years on, the sculptures stand neglected, in a state of near decay, like the remnants of a broken dream. “In Mexico, the route isn’t seen as something important. Not for the people, nor the government,” lamented Luis Javier de la Torre, president of Patronato Ruta de la Amistad, as he toured us around its principal site, now overshadowed by the infamous Periferico, a dystopic, elevated highway crossing the city. The organization he cofounded in 1994 with Javier Ramírez Campuzano (the son of Ramírez Vázquez) is in charge of conserving the sculptures and promoting their legacy. Prior to this, the route was largely abandoned and subjected to vandalism. The Patronato was able to restore and relocate a number of pieces at risk of deterioration, creating a centralized location composed of 13 works between 2011 and 2013. To mark the Route’s 50th anniversary, the Patronato is launching a number of activities with partner organizations on a shoestring budget. The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes is opening an exhibition about it this October, scheduled to coincide with Design Week Mexico (October 10 to 15). Meanwhile, the official program of World Design Capital Mexico City 2018 has incorporated educational projects to bring awareness to the route. “Its values live on,” argued de la Torre. So why does the route fail to receive the public interest and support it deserves? According to de la Torre, a combination of a conflicted sense of national identity, a lack of understanding, and the collective trauma of 1968 are responsible. “We don’t have a proper identity as a country,” he explained, nodding to Mexican poet Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude, a series of essays that discusses the existential tension between colonial and indigenous cultures in the country. “No one believed that as a society we were capable of running the Olympics in ways that would be replicated by others around the world,” he continued. Most important, the political turmoil associated with 1968 overbearingly shaped the country’s consciousness of that moment. “This is where the dream broke,” said Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion designer, when we visited her studio. At the recent Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, Escobedo revisited the Ruta de la Amistad by presenting a reproduction of the metal frame behind the sculpture by Olivier Seguin. The precarious-looking, welded steel structure—now permanently installed at Le Parc Floral de La Source in Orléans, France—was inspired by an installation shot of the original work, which the architect discovered while visiting the archives of the FRAC Centre in France. “The picture presented the reality of 1968,” Escobedo recounted, reflecting on the ambiguous promise of modernism in the construction of Mexico’s national identity. “It’s all a spectacle.” “We haven’t been able to separate things,” explained de la Torre of the troubled legacy of 1968. “I think that now, there is an opportunity for both narratives to coexist.” But should the Olympics’ cultural legacy really be separated from its political context? Before the army opened fire at the crowd on October 2, 1968, anti-government protesters were chanting, “¡No queremos olimpiadas, queremos revolución!” (“We don't want the Olympics, we want a revolution!”)
Placeholder Alt Text

Inside the Mile

An architect tells the story of his appearance in the Mile Long Opera
It isn’t often that one has the chance to perform in a world premiere. I’ve performed in a few during my forty years as an avocational singer, but never anything like the Mile Long Opera (MLO), which ran in New York City from October 2 to 8, 2018. Because I am also an architect, performing as a singer and actor in the MLO was a special privilege. I was able to see both the dramatic material and the urbanistic setting from an insider’s point of view. I am convinced that David Lang, Liz Diller, Claudia Rankine, Anne Carson, and the producers of MLO created a modern masterpiece. With the rather enigmatic subtitle, “A Biography of Seven O’Clock,” the MLO’s hype suggested that audience members would get a taste, maybe a big gulp, of what makes New York City so extraordinary, and also so ordinary. The first surprise was that they delivered on that promise. By using choirs from throughout the city’s five boroughs, some professional and/or small, others amateur and/or large, the creative team assembled a cast that resonated with just about everyone. Sprinkling some professional opera singers among the throng of ordinary folks provided just enough weight to please the likes of Renée Fleming, who attended a performance in mid-week, and other cognoscenti. It would have been easy to lose the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural flavor of so many New York singers strung single file along a narrow, mile-and-a-half walkway, especially in the evening hours under varied lighting conditions. Here, the production designers earned their stripes by developing several masterful costume and lighting conceits. The most effective was the duck-like baseball cap worn by the majority of us, which bathed the face in a soft, ethereal aurora. Audience members described the effect of the floating faces as dreamlike—we were instructed to wear only dark so our faces would stand out. By lighting the faces of each performer, MLO designers brought both the wonderful variety and the individuality of New York’s inhabitants into focus on the High Line. As the audience walked by, each singer or speaker could touch passing strangers with a look or an expression, while also declaiming their portions of the libretto (some of it in Spanish). I can say that for me, those brief glances from listeners were unforgettable. I thought of the paintings on the wall of a museum gazing out at amazed art lovers—Magritte would be jealous. Was there music in this opera? Yes and no. David Lang, of Bang on a Can fame, has explored sound in just about every possible way during a long career. Thus one would hardly have expected a conventional piece of musical theater, and indeed those of us singing and speaking our parts were initially rather confused by what we heard. There were no chords, no apparent melody, no key signatures, and apparently no “leitmotifs” to provide a map of the work. Even the first rehearsals were puzzling—where would we stand in relation to our fellow choir members? Was there an alto or bass part? All we knew was that this was a piece for voices and that we would be singing without amplification. There were big risks involved in putting singers of varying abilities out in the midst of a bustling urban environment. How could anyone but an operatic diva be heard above the street noise? When I looked at the first robot camera footage of the “cells” (individual areas with specific parts of the libretto and music) that were posted by the sponsor, Target, I was concerned that many voices were not coming through the texture. After performing for a couple of nights I realized what I had missed, and why our composer had written such unusual “music.” This was an immersive experience. Even more important than seeing the piece on the High Line was listening to every voice along the way. Lang gave the audience an active part in the drama as it unfolded before them. You really had to “lean in” to get the full intellectual and sensory power of the narrative. By lighting the faces of each performer, or group of performers, Lang and his collaborators invited the audience to parse the threads of text, sound, and light, both momentary and temporally continuous. The music and libretto established a repeating theme, marked by phrases and distinctive vocal riffs, that would eventually make sense in the context of a moving, walking perceptual gestalt. There was, first of all, the recurrence of the dining table in the spoken narrative. I did not realize how my version of this little “recollection” would strike audience members as they heard me say “Between us, I love my dining room table.” With a common memory, shared by so many of us, Claudia Rankine established an immediate frame of reference. In the music, themes of community, loss, loneliness, love, and deprivation played out in vignettes sung by recognizable characters from the city: a Vietnamese nail salon technician, a construction worker, an eight-year-old walking with his aunt, lovers at the movies, a hotel maid, a window washer. One thousand voices, each distinct, would finally create a “cloud” of meaning, at least in theory. Before each performance, we heard our directors describe the “miracle” that was occurring each night. Press notices were positive, but it was the audience that gave us the best feedback on the piece. They were spellbound, amazed, and entirely engaged. Friends invariably would ask if tickets were available—they had heard the hype. Alas, anyone who failed to get a pass would miss one of the cultural events of the new century. I thought of how pissed I was to have missed Einstein On The Beach. It was like you had to see MLO in order to be a hip New Yorker in 2018, at least among choral geeks. For architects, the allure was just as strong. The tapestry sound would not have been so striking without the incredible setting of the High Line. One should always mention James Corner and the community activists who fought to save the elevated tracks from Gansevoort to 34th Street, because this was adaptive re-use at its best. Architect Liz Diller and her staff saw the potential of the linear park as a performance space and helped to design the enhancements to the setting that made the piece ring so beautifully, in a visual sense. Indeed, it was the synesthetic character of the Mile Long Opera that I believe signaled its importance as a new kind of performance piece. The Mile Long Opera was an intense distillation of the things that make New York the greatest city in the world. It brought us the city of the imagination, the city of technology, the city of skyscrapers, the city of world theater, the city of music, the city of strangers, the city of magic, the city of poverty, the city of transport, the city of wealth, and above all the place that we call New York. At the end of the performance, Anne Carson’s poetry captured everything in a few trenchant, Whitmanesque lines: “Whatever can happen in a city can happen in this city, whatever can happen to anyone can happen to us. Onward rolls the bright current.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Recalibrating Discourse

AN speaks with ACADIA organizers on eve of annual conference
ACADIA, or the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, is set to meet in Mexico City at the Universidad Iberoamericana from October 18–20. Each year ACADIA brings together leading scholars, researchers, and practitioners who push the boundaries of architecture through design and computation. AN spoke with conference organizers Brian Slocum and Pablo Kobayashi, along with Technical Chair Phillip Anzalone, about the excitement of bringing the conference to Mexico for the first time. AN: Why is this year’s conference so special? This is the first time in ACADIA’s nearly 38 year history hosting the gathering in Mexico. The type of work that will be presented is something that hasn’t been seen locally and is not yet part of the culture of the institutions. Mexico, of course, has a rich tradition of craft, artisanal labor, and analog computation within architectural practices. We hope that by bringing ACADIA to Universidad Iberoamerica and UNAM that we can start a conversation for moving architecture forward. The theme of this year’s conference is Recalibration: On Imprecision and Infidelity. What do you mean by recalibration? The digital tools we use are very precise and by their very precision, there comes an obsessive need to control the output. In a certain sense, as a field we are facing a surplus of precision. We want to ask: Can error and imprecision (so-called glitches & failures) be seen as the creative act and be part of the dialogue? We have seen a shift in proposals and projects from those that place an emphasis on the tools of architectural design (robots, 3-D printers, BIM), which embody the precision and fidelity that the conference theme reacts to, toward those related disciplines and trajectories that break free from computational preconceptions and begin to encourage a redefinition of the traditional tools and processes that are at the heart of experimentation and production. Through technologies such as mixed reality and artificial intelligence, processes such as reuse and repurposing of materials, integration of computer and human interaction, and other trends, the current researchers inhabit a fluid zone where total control and the dichotomy of virtual and real is blurred, allowing for innovation and discovery to flourish. Also in terms of recalibrating the discourse, how do we deal with bigger, more social problems and evaluate the social impact of computation? How do you evaluate the results of an investigation that stems from a worldview rather than starting just from the data? How can we negotiate these social recalibrations without being too polemical? We started by speaking of truth and fidelity in computation output and arrived at this broader idea about recalibration. Our only hope ultimately is to shake things up a bit, shake up the discourse. AN: Can you speak more to how global (re)calibration works and how you define disciplines in increasingly co-located and overlapping fields of research? How does knowledge transfer work in an already connected world of research? The 2018 ACADIA conference is precisely (or perhaps I should say imprecisely) the forum needed for the pursuit of knowledge in a globalized environment. Simple digital connections via social media, publication, and direct communication are significantly enhanced through physical interactions, such as those that develop at a conference. The choice of a site and a theme that not only define boundaries and create parameters for discussion, but also engage a culture, an environment, and a sense of physicality, is critical to the work of combining the rigor of experimentation with the passion of discovery. The location and theme for this year’s conference is proposing not only a new way to look at research and practice in architecture but also exploring new places and ideas that have the potential to remake our environment. With an eye toward those locations, techniques, and ways of thinking that have been evolving and flourishing outside of the walls of digital environments, and embracing the difference between the visualized and the experienced, architectural design is discovering a new world of interaction that points toward to future of the built environment. AN: What are you most excited about this year's speaker lineup? I think we’ve hopefully found a good balance of speakers who challenge our own thinking on architecture and computation and continue to produce innovations in the field. Our keynotes range from global speakers such as Philippe Block, Patrik Schumacher, Francesca Hughes, to Mexico City-based practitioners Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Diego Ricalde Equally, ACADIA’s award winners this year continue to push architectural research and education in new and interesting directions. ACADIA is proud to honor the work of Mónica Ponce de León, Jenny Wu and Dwayne Oyler Madeline Gannon, Sigrid Brell-Cokcan and Johannes Braumann, Areti Markopoulou, and all our paper session presenters. ACADIA kicks off next week with workshops held at UNAM from October 15–17. The conference sessions and keynotes run October 18–20 at Universidad Iberoamericana. Visit 2018.acadia.org for more information.
Placeholder Alt Text

House of Controversy

David Adjaye cites anti-Semitism as criticism rises over his UK Holocaust Memorial
Critics of the upcoming UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre have cried out to the government over its prominent location in London's Victoria Tower Gardens next to the Houses of Parliament. The Jewish Chronicle reported that a cross-party group of Jewish leadership worries the $58 million project “conveys an impression of national guilt” and that it’s too close to the Imperial War Museum, which has held a long-standing permanent exhibition on the Holocaust. Despite these complaints, Sir David Adjaye, the British architect behind the memorial, is fiercely defending his vision, and several advocates, including three major Shoah charities, are backing him. Adjaye told ES Magazine this week that the poignant memorial needs to sit next to Parliament because “Holocaust-deniers have festered” in the country in recent years. Most notably, Britain's Labour Party leadership has been accused of allegedly stirring up anti-Semitism in national politics. “History has taught us that we need a mechanism to remind us of what we did and why we did it,” Adjaye told ES. Some say the project needs to be downsized or that it isn’t necessary altogether because of Britain’s involvement in liberating the oppressed from concentration camps during World War II. Critics also think some of the money for the memorial should be allocated to enhancing the efforts of the nearby Imperial War Museum, which has also repeatedly called for a rethink of the project's design and location as it gets set to unveil its newest Holocaust-related digital galleries in 2020. But Adjaye and supporters believe the new memorial is crucial to further honoring the memory of those who died and that the proposed site is “hugely appropriate.” Adjaye Associates won a competition to design the structure last year after submitting a proposal with Israeli designer Ron Arad and landscape firm Gustafson Porter + Bowman. Their vision for a bronze, sculpture-like memorial sporting 23 stark fins beat out teams from Zaha Hadid Architects, MASS Design Group, Anish Kapoor, Studio Gang, Foster + Partners, and more. The competition was put together by the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation and backed by former British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Placeholder Alt Text

$1.7 billion Gadget

London dispatch: Bloomberg HQ should not have won this year's RIBA Stirling Prize
This week, Foster + Partners’ Bloomberg European headquarters in London picked up the 2018 RIBA Stirling Prize, an award ostensibly given to the best building in the U.K., marking the third time Norman Foster's firm has won the award. But was it actually the best piece of architecture on the shortlist of six projects? No. Let me start off by saying that the Bloomberg headquarters is by no means a bad building. The judging panel, chaired by Sir David Adjaye, was right to say the project “pushed the boundaries of research and innovation in architecture." They added in a statement: “Bloomberg has opened up new spaces to sit and breathe in the City,” and went on to laud “the visceral impact of the roof-top view across to St Paul’s from the concourse space,” the office’s helix ramp and its “dynamic new workspaces.” However, all of these listed items of praise are merely examples of pricey green gadgetry and fancy add-ons. While good in their own right, they have not come together well enough to form an exemplary piece of architecture worthy of winning the RIBA Stirling Prize. Inside, amid the myriad of seating, the scheme feels like a glitzy airport at times with stock markets being displayed on screens emulating departure boards. Views out are also hard to come by, besides one panorama of St Paul’s and a vista of the city reserved for Bloomberg's higher-ups as they dine.  The Bloomberg HQ may have also carved a new thoroughfare through this part of London, but it’s hardly space to breathe. The public feels somewhat ushered through the massive slabs of sandstone by undulating bronze fins that dominate the facade, being employed further up to aid air circulation and shun views out in the process. The only spaces where you don’t have to be a paying patron at an establishment to sit are two benches at the site’s southern corner, both of which have seating dividers to prevent rough sleepers. Poor people it seems shouldn’t be allowed to rest when in the presence of a $1.7 billion building. And that’s the project’s biggest issue: money. “Some people say the reason it took almost a decade to build this is because we had a billionaire who wanted to be an architect working with an architect who wanted to be a billionaire,” said former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his building’s unveiling. Norman Foster is the U.K.’s wealthiest architect. This year, partners at his firm shared $30.4 million between them, a 43 percent increase on last year despite a downturn in profits and turnover with the company having to lose staff in the process. As critic Oliver Wainwright noted in a tweet, Foster's 'non-resident in the UK for tax purposes' status prevented him from even picking up the award in person. What does all this say about architects and the profession? That to design a good building you must find a client with apparently limitless pockets? That as an architect it is more important to be obscenely wealthy over everything else? Bloomberg’s London HQ is a far cry from last year’s winner, dRMM’s Hastings Pier, which exemplified civic architecture at its best. That delightful scheme made extensive use of timber salvaged from a fire that burned down the previous pier. It was truly a community project. dRMM held close consultations with the public and the charity funding it, and the pier was built for the public of Hastings (and those visiting, of course).   There were far better examples of architecture on this year’s Stirling Prize shortlist too. Take Waugh Thistleton Architects’ Bushey Cemetery for example. Using walls of rammed earth sourced from the site it rests on, the project demonstrates genuine material innovation and manages to convey a sense of weight and be delicate at the same time. Bloomberg, meanwhile, shipped in 600 tons of bronze from Japan and granite from India, and despite the similar earthy tones, feels dauntingly heavy. An example of working wonders when on a budget was also shortlisted: Storey's Field Centre and Eddington Nursery in Cambridge by MUMA. Like Hastings Pier, this was a celebration of civic architecture, with a community center and kindergarten surrounding a landscaped courtyard. “By building at a lower height than approved at planning…Bloomberg shows a high level of generosity towards the City,” the judges commented. In light of this, Jamie Fobert Architects’ Tate St Ives was arguably more adept at concealing space. Buried underground, yet still allowing bucket loads of light in, the museum has somehow doubled in size. It’s a remarkable piece of architectural contortion that keeps locals and the museum happy. Another shortlisted project, Níall McLaughlin Architects’ Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre for the University of Oxford, like the two aforementioned projects, articulated light in spectacular fashion. The project provided a lecture theater, a student learning space, seminar rooms, and a dance studio of immense quality and leads by example the quality of spaces students deserve. London studio Henley Halebrown’s Chadwick Hall student accommodation for the University of Roehampton, the final project on the list, did the same. A win for the project could have sent a message about what the standard of student housing in the U.K. should be. The majority of current student housing stock is dire. With space standards for student housing thrown out of the window due to it being temporary accommodation, the area has become a safe bet for investors looking to cram as many units in for a guaranteed profit. A message, in fact, was sent, coming in explicit form from RIBA President Ben Derbyshire. “This building is a profound expression of confidence in British architecture—and perfectly illustrates why the U.K. is the profession’s global capital,” he said in a statement. “This role and reputation must be maintained, despite the political uncertainty of Brexit.” This, however, feels like a lazy excuse to award a project the Stirling Prize. Defaulting to listing “Brexit” as a reason should not be in the criteria. Neither should sustainability, a high standard of which should be a baseline for all shortlisted projects. Let BREEAM (the U.K. equivalent of LEED) deal with recognizing that. The RIBA Stirling Prize doesn’t have to send any message, though. It just has to recognize the best building, and this it has not done.
Placeholder Alt Text

Clay Everywhere

Morris Adjmi gives classic New York terra-cotta cladding a modern twist
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
Morris Adjmi Architects has just completed its wedge-shaped 363 Lafayette mixed-use development in New York City. The project is located in the heart of the NoHo Historic District, a context known for its mid-rise store-and-loft buildings clad in detailed cast iron and stone.
  • Facade Manufacturer Boston Valley Terracotta, Belden/Tristate Brick, Vitro Glass, Tristar Glass
  • Architects              Morris Adjmi Architects
  • Facade Installer PG New York (terra-cotta), IHR1 (brick), TriStar Glass
  • Facade Consultants Frank Seta & Associates
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion Fall 2018
  • System Terracotta rainscreen on a frame wall system flanked by brick piers
  • Products Win-vent series 850 frames, Solarban z60 glass, custom-made rainscreen produced by Boston Valley Terra Cotta, and installed with TerraClad clip system
363 Lafayette’s site is prominent, with three visible elevations to the north, south, and west. The ground floor of the building is dedicated to commercial space and extends from Great Jones to Bond Street. Due to zoning and site constraints, the massing of the west facade is set back, with eight floors of office space rising midway through the elevation. The development’s facade is defined by horizontal and vertical bands of white brick, produced by Belden/Tristate Brick, which frame a charcoal-colored terra-cotta curtain wall. For the color scheme and materiality of 363 Lafayette, Morris Adjmi reinterpreted the area’s historically narrow terracotta mullions, window surrounds, and brick piers, into a much wider layout. Designed by the firm and crafted by Buffalo’s Boston Valley Terra Cotta (BVTC), the geometric pattern of the terra-cotta reliefs was conceived by the design team as an abstraction of neighboring Classical and Richardsonian Romanesque detailing. The custom-made terra-cotta rainscreen was installed on BVTC’s TerraClad clip system that attaches to a perimeter concrete beam and a medium-gauge framing wall. A series of gaskets and isolators allow the system to adjust to thermal expansion while reducing wind-induced vibration. Elongated rectangular windows, fabricated by TriStar with Win-Vent frames and Vitro Glass, are placed between chamfered terra-cotta mullions. Why does the building twist? Lafayette Street used to proceed north from Great Jones Street until the end of the 19th century when the street was excavated from the IRT subway. The excavation of the street led to the creation of odd-shaped sites, such as 363 Lafayette. According to the design team, “the building’s twist serves to reflect the cut of the street and to architecturally engage the setback with the lower portion of the building.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Put a Cork in It

Renewable, non-toxic, and durable: Cork is ready to pop off
Cork is a unique material characterized by its porous texture, softness, and lightweight quality. Historically, architects from Frank Lloyd Wright to Eliel Saarinen to Alvar Aalto to William Massie have favored the naturally environmentally sustainable material. Cork was first introduced in the built environment in 1904 as flooring, which was disseminated widely by the ’20s. Into the ’30s, Wright favored the bark for its natural properties and look, incorporating it into his organic architecture projects (most notably in the bathrooms in Fallingwater, completed in 1937). There are also contemporary works deploying cork in pleasantly unexpected ways, like the raw cork floor in Massie’s American House in 2008. These new manifestations of the material—in furniture, interior design, and architecture—mark the beginning of a cork revival. Cork has its drawbacks, and has thus remained a niche product: It is hand-harvested, and therefore expensive. When it is prepared for manufacturing, it is heavy to ship. Ten years ago, there were only a handful of cork molding producers around the world (mostly based in Spain and Portugal, where more than half of the world’s cork supply grows). But now more companies are willing to produce cork, and new facilities are even opening up to exclusively manufacture it. Why? Designers and architects alike are thinking about how building materials can be utilized aesthetically, but also how they can create healthy living environments. What better than a completely non-toxic, waterproof, and highly insulating substance that is also a rapidly renewable resource? For these reasons alone, cork will become ever pervasive within architecture and design in years to come.
Sobreiro Collection Campana Studio Humberto and Fernando Campana of Brazil-based Campana Studio designed a collection devised almost entirely of cork: a chair made from natural cork alone and three cabinets fashioned from a wooden structure made from expanded natural cork agglomerate (a material produced by heating the cork that does not contain any additives). The design duo spent time at the major Portuguese cork supplier Amorim to experiment and develop the materials they used to create the furniture before it debuted at the annual Experimenta Portugal arts and culture festival.
Drifted Stool Lars Beller Fjetland for Hem Norwegian designer Lars Beller Fjetland likes to make furniture from recycled materials. This charming stool is no exception. Inspired by pieces of misshapen, smooth cork washed ashore along the beach in the small Norwegian town of Øygarden, Fjetland concocted a stool with a warm oak frame that supports a seat made with both recycled and new cork.
ARMCHAIR KDVA Architects Russian architect Koloskov Dmitry of KDVA Architects dreamed up a cork and metal armchair that stays true to the classic form dating back 2,000 years. The chrome legs support the two arches that form the seat, attached together with just four screws. It is made to order, delivered all the way from Moscow.
Assemblage Side Tables Alain Gilles for BONALDO Belgium-based designer Alain Gilles designed a collection of whimsical wood-topped side tables supported by a bulging cork base. The interesting composition creates a dialogue within the piece itself, considering cork is generally thought of as lightweight but is supporting the heavier material. The raw base contrasts with the stained wood, almost as if the two entities were not meant to be paired together. Dora coffee table Gisela Simas for Epoca
Dora coffee table Gisela Simas for Epoca Brazilian designer Gisela Simas of Original Practical Design teamed up with Portuguese cork producer Amorim to develop a coffee table that was unveiled at the Rio + Design showcase at Salone del Mobile this year. The table features a circular form with spindle-like arms attached to a central supporting base.
COLUM(N) 3.21 Nova Obiecta Parisian furniture purveyor Nova Obiecta offers a limited edition of 100 stools fashioned in cork and brass. The name 3.21 refers to the average ratio between each section of cork and the dividing brass ring. The solid volume comprises new, French-harvested bark and recycled particles.
KorQWalz Steel+Cork Pull up Chair walzworkinc Kevin Walz of New York-based walzworkinc designed a curvaceous seat entirely made out of cork in 1998. Newly reissued and made to order, the cork and steel lounge chair provides natural ergonomics supported by new structural fittings.
GLAÇON end table Lee West for Ligne Roset Independent, Paris-based English designer Lee West cooked up a sofa end table by heating expanded natural cork and coating it with a varnish. The lightweight material is then reinforced by injecting polyurethane foam inside, making it sturdy enough for resting legs, sitting on, or holding dinner plates.
Mini and Standard Sway Stool Daniel Michalik for kinder MODERN Aptly dubbed Mini and Standard, these children-and adult-size stools, designed by Daniel Michalik, flex and pivot under the weight of the sitter. Making calculated slices in a solid piece of cork, Michalik produces each seat himself with his simple yet laborious self-invented production process (which is why the lead time is 8–10 weeks).
Corkdrop Skram This stool/side table is made with a solid walnut core swathed in cork. Upon request, custom sizes are available.
Placeholder Alt Text

Fabcon Sketchboard: Your personal space for all things precast
As an architect, it’s not uncommon to spend hours searching for answers and inspiration. That’s why Fabcon created SketchBoard™—your personal depository for all things precast. “When we redesigned our online experience, we wanted to do more than talk about us—we wanted to add value,” said Joy Svoboda, marketing manager at Fabcon. “By giving users a way to easily retain and revisit the things they found most useful and inspiring, we can finally do more than just give information. We can help our customers put it to good use.” SketchBoard allows you to earmark and collect project photos, technical resources, and articles for future reference—guaranteeing that the things you find will be in one place. Virtually anything on the Fabcon website can be saved to a personal dashboard. Plus, signing up is easy and free. “We’re excited to see how things evolve,” added Svoboda. “We’re hard at work developing additional features and functionality. Creating group boards and sharing content, for example, are two ideas we’re pursuing.” SketchBoard was created to spread the word about precast, as well as remind those who have worked with precast first-hand, the power of Fabcon. You can experience Fabcon’s SketchBoard here: FABCONPRECAST.COM
Placeholder Alt Text

Tour de Tile

The newest sustainable and durable tiles and surfaces from Cersaie 2018
Last week over 100,000 people wandered through the porticos of Bologna, Italy, to attend Cersaie, the annual international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings. The show surveyed nearly 900 exhibitors showcasing a world of tiles and bathroom surfaces. Why Italy? And why ceramics? According to Ceramics of Italy, the trade organization that coordinates the exhibition, in 2017 Italy’s 145 ceramic tile manufacturers produced 930 million square feet of tiles, accounting for an overall revenue of €514.9 million. The material has been the main staple for flooring and surfaces because of its beauty, cost-effectiveness, and durability, but also because of its environmentally sustainable qualities. Its intrinsic characteristics are "green"; the material is more sustainable over its entire lifecycle than products like linoleum (which is cheap but has a very short life cycle) or naturally occurring materials like marble (which is expensive but can be expensive to maintain). Here, we review only a handful of what we saw in the collections that debuted in Italy last week, though some of the new colorways and large format sizes below premiered at Coverings and Salone del Mobile earlier this year. We encourage you to also have a look at the Cersaise story on our Instagram account to see more tile and style at the world's premiere show for ceramic tile and furnishings. Wide&Style Dark Edition ceramic tile by ABK Wide&Style Dark Edition ABK Featuring a dark-hued background, this collection encapsulates six floral motifs that would fit right in at a Vivienne Westwood boutique or as a backdrop in a Siouxsie and the Banshees music video. The digitally-printed slabs are made-to-order in customized dimensions along with a rendering and instructions for cutting and installing. Majestic collection Valentino by Ceramiche Piemme For forty years, the Italian fashion house Valentino and luxury ceramic tile manufacturer Ceramiche Piemme have collaborated to make glamorous wall and floor tiles. Majestic, the newest brainchild from the collab, is inspired by gorgeous veined marbles like Carrara, Calacatta, and Emperador. While the materials imitate the naturally occurring rock, these ceramic alternatives are much more cost effective and are heat-treated to last for decades. Eterno Versace Ceramics Inspired by shou sugi ban—the traditional Japanese technique to preserve and finish wood using fire—these tiles feature a charred, tactile motif rendered by high-resolution digital printers. The full effect is accentuated by gold inlay tracing the frame of the trim with the original Versace bordering that surrounds the Medusa head in the brand’s logo. The collection dropped in May at Salone del Mobile in Milan, while new larger format tiles were released at Cersaie last week. Operae ORNAMENTA ceramic tiles Operae ORNAMENTA Earlier this year in April at Coverings in Atlanta, ORNAMENTA unveiled Operae, a large format family of seven collections of saturated floor and ceiling tiles—all of which are digitally fabricated and completely customizable. The eclectic collections—Gradient, Squares, Domestic Jungle, Rugs, Deco, and Terrazzo—feature colorful themes ranging from an Art Deco motif with geometric shapes to a pattern with a foreground of palms printed on a millennial pink background. GRANDE in Treverkfeel finish MARAZZI Emulating the look and texture of a natural wood grain, the Treverkfeel collection is spired by the knots and rings found in large planks of American walnut. Bigger sizes and wider thicknesses span the breadth of this large-format collection offered in slabs of 600 by 3200 millimeters with 6 millimeter thickness and 1620 by 3240 millimeters with 12 millimeter thickness. They are offered in four natural shades: ivory, beige, cherry, and brown. Titan CENTURY by Finbec Group Gritty and unfinished, Titan is a collection of seemingly-aged tiles in seven metal and cement finishes. The collection is one of the new brands of oversize ceramic slabs aptly dubbed OVER, which is offered in nine thicknesses and sizes.  

Sponsored Product: Maglin The Pixel Collection gives you the flexibility to design the perfect space.

Placeholder Alt Text

Hand-Held Engineering

SHoP Architects created an iPhone app to construct the Botswana Innovation Hub

New York’s SHoP Architects has created proprietary technology that is making it easier for them to organize materials during construction. During the construction of the Barclays Center from 2008 to 2012, the firm developed a novel iPhone interface capable of scanning facade components during fabrication, assembly, transport, and installation to keep an up-to-date digital catalog of the status of construction. Now, the firm is applying this comprehensive platform to the construction of its Innovation Hub located in Gaborone, Botswana, where on-site contractors can effortlessly scan recently installed items while checking in on the overall progress of the project.

The Botswana Innovation Hub is an ambitious project. The 310,000-square-foot facility is set to be the country’s first LEED-certified building, and environmental performance is significantly impacted by the structure’s complex assembly. SHoP designed an “Energy Blanket” roofscape, which incorporates large overhangs to shade interior spaces and collect rainwater for re-use. Photovoltaic panels are placed across the roofscape to further boost environmental performance.

The project’s complexity is further heightened by the incorporation of an undulating facade that projects off and indents the structural system. SHoP’s mobile interface plays an essential role in the project’s logistics and construction. The application labels each element—i.e AA2000—and the number of identical units. Each unit type is assigned to a specific construction crew that tracks the units in a database throughout assembly.

The interface has come a long way since its inception a decade ago. Initially a stitching together of off-the-shelf software applications commonly used by architects and contractors (Autodesk, NavisWorks, Filemaker), SHoP Architects has rewritten the code in-house, which allows for more seamless and scalable linking and visualization of 3-D models to live data. Why is this significant? SHoP can now take a holistic portfolio approach to track projects from earlier phases. In the next year, SHoP Architects hopes to implement its mobile interface across all of its projects.

Placeholder Alt Text

Atypical Design

An exhibit in Berlin details a new prototype for prefab housing
A new exhibition at Architektur Galerie Berlin SATELLIT details the Polish firm BBGK Architekci and their recently completed Sprzeczna 4 apartment building in Warsaw, Poland. Manifesto of Prefabrication, on view through Saturday, September 29, explains why this multifamily complex is an innovative prototype for modular housing in the country. Most housing estates built in Poland during the communist period feature large-panel concrete in prefabricated designs. This typology is ubiquitous throughout the country, especially in the capital city of Warsaw, and it has a poor reputation for being ugly, impersonal, and unsustainable. BBGK constructed Sprzeczna 4 in protest against this conception and to show that prefabrication is a valuable construction method for 21st-century housing. The complex utilizes low-cost technology, prefabricated elements, and heated ceiling systems to achieve a cohesive, contextually appropriate design. Ample light infuses the apartments through large windows framed by exposed colored concrete. Sprzeczna 4 not only flips stereotypes about traditional modular construction in Poland, but it also sheds light on past improper building practices. Historically these buildings were built by poorly paid immigrants through a semi-feudal system, but BBGK implemented fair business practices and social responsibility to create this contemporary twist on conventional Polish housing. According to the curator, Marcin Szczelina, the project is a proposal for a new way of using the prefabrication method not only in Poland, but in Europe and beyond. Manifesto of Prefabrication can be seen this week only at the Architektur Galerie Berlin SATELLIT. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.