Posts tagged with "Climate Change":

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A fleet of drones will try to shut down London’s Heathrow Airport next week

London's Heathrow Airport, the largest airport in the U.K. and seventh busiest in the world, has become the next target of criticism by climate activists. A group called the Heathrow Pause plans to interrupt flight activity at the airport by flying toy drones over the transit hub on September 13 in order to draw awareness to the transportation sector's contributions to greenhouse gases in the U.K. This comes in response to the Heathrow Expansion Plan, which contravenes the Climate and Environmental Emergency declared by Parliament in May 2019.  Stopping traffic at the airport requires the creation of an “exclusion zone” that would surround the airport and completely ignores Heathrow’s 3.1-mile no-fly zone for drones and aircraft not affiliated with the airport. The Heathrow Pause is calling for climate activists to join their fight against the airport and its members are willing to face arrest under the main belief of their manifesto that, “In light of current scientific knowledge and quantifiable evidence it is a crime against humanity - and all life on earth - to support carbon-intensive infrastructure projects.” The Heathrow Expansion’s main goal is to connect all of the U.K. under a nine-point Connectivity Plan, as stated on their website, with the bold statement exclaiming that the plan is “Supported by the Whole of the UK”. Despite corporate support, Heathrow has been a steady target of climate activists. In 2017, the airport emitted 19.5 million tons of carbon, and if a third runway is built there, an addition of 4.3 million tons of atmospheric pollution would be released per year. In the wake of the declared U.K. Climate Emergency, there have been more efforts to stop the airport's expansion.  Carbon emissions from air travel are one of the hardest sources to cut due to the fact that there is no current alternative to carbon-heavy jet fuels. Bio-jet fuels that can operate at the scale of use of major airlines are still far from complete development. The only current solution is to reduce flight activity or abandon air transportation altogether.  Due to the intensity and potential impacts of their peaceful protest, Heathrow Pause has created a list of protocols to ensure the safety of those involved and affected by the protest. The airport authorities have been given a six-week notice of the start date and time of the protest, and there will be a one hour notice before each drone flight. Drone use is planned to stop in the event of a “genuine emergency" and will not be flown through flight paths. Although the fleet of toy drones won't stop air travel completely, it just might be an action large enough to draw attention to the importance of investment in climate reform. 
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The Strelka Institute announces new terraforming research initiative

The Strelka Institute in Moscow has announced its newest research initiative, a three-year intensive exploration into the possibilities and necessities for terraforming a post-climate crisis earth. The initiative, called The Terraforming, will be led by American professor and theorist Benjamin Bratton, with the aim of “exploring a renewed Copernican turn,”—a lofty goal the program deems necessary for a planet being consumed by its own beneficiaries. The tuition-free program is similar in structure to Bratton’s previous three-year venture at Strelka, an urban think tank called The New Normal, that just wrapped up its research on interdisciplinary solutions on a future for urban design. 
Bratton and some of his former New Normal faculty are reemerging for the new venture, and turning the word “terraforming” on its head—usually used in reference to adapting other planets to human life, the initiative acknowledges that human activity harming the earth and our atmosphere will necessitate "terraforming" on our own planet in the possibly near future. Original research projects and proposed solutions will pull from areas such as planetary urbanism, global energy infrastructure, and speculative design, to name a few of the more accessible vocabularies.  Partnering with both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the new program is literally looking towards the future of design as a world-building game. The program and its students will use the vast Russian rural landscape as a study site, and, according to the website, “From here, [look] out into space and then back down to Earth to orient what 'planetarity' should mean."
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Army Corps of Engineers will erect miles of seawalls along Staten Island

The United States Army Corps of Engineers is slated to begin construction on a $616 million seawall in the New York City borough of Staten Island, one of the areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The storm, which wreaked havoc on much of the mid-Atlantic coast between New Jersey and New York, exposed and exacerbated Staten Island’s vulnerability to storm surges and flash flooding. In light of predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other climate-monitoring agencies that the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes will increase as global warming progresses through the 21st century, local and federal officials hope that the seawall will prevent higher levels of physical damage in the future.

When Sandy struck the New York metropolitan region in October 2012, floodwater depth in certain parts of Staten Island hit 12.5 feet above sea level. Within the area protected by the proposed seawall, depths exceeded previous records by four feet and damaged 80 percent of all structures, including critical infrastructure like schools. The storm killed 43 people in the city, including 24 in Staten Island alone.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the seawall system will include several components, known collectively as the Staten Island Multi-Use Elevated Promenade. About 4.5 miles of buried seawall, which will be topped by a walkable promenade, will protect the area against up to 21.4 feet of seawater rise. In addition to the 0.6-mile gate in the levee, there will also be 0.35 miles of floodwalls, 300 acres of natural water storage to manage surge, and over 226 acres of tidal wetlands and ponding areas. The latter two components will have the capacity to absorb an immense amount of floodwater, forming a robust natural barrier against major storms. One priority of the project is to protect vital infrastructure on the island, including senior centers, schools, hospitals, a wastewater plant, and police and fire stations.

While Sandy served as a catalyst to mobilize resources and agencies to officially begin the project, research that led to the ultimate seawall system proposal actually began after a pair of severe storms in 1992 and 1993. Hurricanes, Nor-easters, and superstorms present a major threat to the borough, but the low-lying parts of Staten Island also face flooding damage in the face of regular rainfall. In addition to protecting the coastline from such stress, state officials have promised that the seawall system will enhance waterfront access for members of the public. The boardwalk will be open to cyclists, pedestrians, and other hobbyists, allowing users to experience both the shoreline and the coastal wetlands. Governor Cuomo’s office also suggested that the seawall might one day serve as a tourist attraction, bringing in visitors from across the region and country.

Signing on to a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA), New York State and the Army Corps have committed to reducing the costs of flood damage in the area by about $30 million per year. The PPA opens the project up to $400 million in federal contributions, which will be added to the existing budget of $216 million—$65 million from the city and $151 million from the state. Construction is set to begin in 2020 and will hopefully be completed before the next major weather event.

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Indonesia will move its capital to Borneo

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who was reelected to serve his second term in office this year, announced last week that the country will move forward with plans to relocate its capital from the megacity Jakarta to the island of Borneo. As AN reported in May, the move will allow the Indonesian government to conduct its operations in a city that is less crowded and less congested than the current capital, which currently faces serious threats from natural disasters. The BBC reported last year that Jakarta is one of the world’s fastest sinking cities—a predicament that imperils its 10 million residents (30 million if you include the metropolitan area).

Widodo’s most recent announcement clarified some of the details of the move, including which province will host the new capital. East Kalimantan spans much of the eastern coast of Borneo—an island that Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei—and has three main population centers: Balikpapan, Samarinda, and Bontang. Rather than crowning one of the existing cities as Indonesia’s new capital, a new settlement will be built on government-owned land between Balikpapan and Samarinda. The location was chosen over Indonesia’s many other islands and provinces because of its location at the geographic center of the country and relative lack of natural disasters. While Java, Sulawesi, and other islands have been struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and major storms in recent years, East Kalimantan has sustained little damage. The province benefits from comparatively well-developed infrastructure but is also well-known for deforestation as palm oil plantations have expanded throughout Borneo’s jungles.

Perhaps looking to avoid accusations of escapism, Widodo has assured the Indonesian public that the relocation of the capital does not represent a wholesale abandonment of Jakarta. The metropolis will continue to serve as Indonesia’s financial center, and the national government will invest in measures to mitigate the effects of crippling traffic and climate change. Officials also hope that moving government operations out of the city will help to alleviate strains on the city’s infrastructure. Still, the relocation effort will be an expensive endeavor, with most estimates placing the total cost of moving the capital at 466 trillion rupiah, or $33 billion. Widodo has indicated that funding will come from a combination of public funds, state-run enterprises, private corporations, and public-private partnerships.

Even with the criticism that Widodo and local officials in Jakarta have faced over the city’s increasing dysfunction, moving the capital may seem like an extreme step, but several countries have made similar moves in history. The United States commissioned Pierre Charles L’Enfant to concoct a plan for a new capital city in 1791, which led to the development of what is now known as Washington, D.C. in a sparsely-populated swamp. In the 1950s, Brazil decided to relocate its capital from Rio de Janeiro to the hinterland, where it built the current capital city of Brasilia as a modernist beacon of the country’s progress. In many cases, including that of Indonesia, leaders have cited capital relocation as a strategy to bring investment to less developed parts of a country.

Still, the decision to move the seat of government away from Jakarta marks a significant moment in Indonesian history. Formerly known by its Dutch name Batavia, the port city has served as the nation’s capital since it gained full independence in 1949 and as the capital of the Dutch East Indies for centuries before that. In the precolonial era, the settlement served as the seat of several kingdoms and sultanates. 

Widodo and the Indonesian government have indicated that they intend to begin construction on the new city as early as 2021, with the actual relocation of the capital slated to begin in 2024.

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RIBA sustainability chairman urges London to consider a glass tower ban

Following NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s "ban" on glass-clad buildings in April, a leading sustainability expert in London has spoken out against London mayor Sadiq Khan’s refusal to enact the same legislation—Simon Sturgis, an adviser to the Greater London Authority and a chairman of the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) sustainability group, believes that England's capital should follow suit. While de Blasio’s "ban" was in actuality proposed as a check on excessive use of glass and steel, glass is an inherently problematic building material to use in a world facing a climate crisis and rampant carbon emissions. Sturgis told the Guardian that, “If you’re building a greenhouse in a climate emergency, it’s a pretty odd thing to do, to say the least.” The two cities of New York and London are home to iconic skyscrapers like The Shard and the World Trade Center, both considered pinnacles of glass and steel construction, but while their uninterrupted views and the striking skyline aesthetic attract architects and high-profile tenants at the moment, the environmental irresponsibility may soon phase the desirability out.  “Big commercial tenants don’t like standing up in front of their shareholders and saying they’re doing embarrassing things,” said Sturgis. Glass facades have a short life span, only about 40 years, so the impact of their embedded carbon (how much carbon a product will emit over the course of its entire life) is significant, as a building's glazing is nearly impossible to recycle and inevitably necessary to replace. However, the more immediate consequences of these glass facades is a heavy need for air conditioning. The amenity's adverse environmental impacts are well documented—almost 14 percent of total global energy use stems from air conditioning, and the heat captured and retained in building interiors by glass curtain walls is significant, especially in the summer heat.  In the same article, head of sustainability at Mitsubishi Electric, Martin Fahey, stated that rising temperatures across the globe has led to AC equipment needing to work much harder than in the recent past. “Most air conditioning equipment is designed to give an internal temperature between seven-to-ten degrees lower than the ambient temperature,” he said. But when the recent heat waves struck London and New York this summer, cooling from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to a more comfortable 70 took a toll on local electrical grids as well the air conditioners themselves. Broken AC units and their subsequent replacements add to the embedded carbon footprint of our built structures.  Advanced glazing and passive cooling options exist today that can minimize the greenhouse effect of glass, like darkening to let in less light in the warmer months, for example, the double- or triple- glazing systems are still hindered by the short life span and non-recyclability, and often not nearly at the level needed to amend the footprints of commercial emitters. Sturgis warns that “the connection needs to be made between the climate emergency and all-glass buildings. But the connection hasn’t been made yet.”
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Tulane launches new research studios on climate change and water management

Tulane’s School of Architecture announced a series of multi-year Research Studios earlier this month that will debut in the fall, each designed to address environmental issues and climate change. Combining both rigorous research engagement as well as traditional designed studio methods, the goal is to produce scholarship and real-world solutions to some of the most pressing problems affecting the architectural profession today. That includes examining a single topic over three-to-five years, including water management, conservation, sustainable real estate development, and more, The school’s setting in New Orleans, a sprawling metropolis located below sea level, has put students and faculty on the front lines of pressures from receding coastlines and escalating natural disasters. Architect Iñaki Alday was appointed Dean in August 2018 with the goal of aligning pedagogy towards practical challenges facing architecture and urbanism, and the Research Studios reflect his personal commitment to architecture that works—he is a cofounder of the Yamuna River Project, a pan-university initiative to tackle the urgent rehabilitation of the Yamuna in India. The studios, scheduled to launch for the Fall 2019 semester, will be led by Alday and global experts like Richard Campanella, Byron Mouton, and Kentaro Tsubaki, among others. Studios are expected to be interdisciplinary, spilling into other areas of scholarship at Tulane like the social sciences, law, and real estate. The Research Studios are a first of their kind and may inspire similar initiatives or climate focuses at schools around the world. With titles like Big Questions, Small Projects and The Future of Ports, the studios set out to address all scales, challenging students to design with a new type of urgency for the future.  The new Research Studios will cover the following, according to Tulane: · The Yamuna River Project and the Rajasthan Cities. By lead instructor Iñaki Alday, Dean and Richard Koch Chair in Architecture. · URBANbuild: re-evaluation, affordability, national translation. By lead instructor Byron Mouton, AIA, Director of URBANbuild, Lacey Senior Professor of Practice in Architecture. · The Future of Ports: From the Backyard to the Forefront of Ecology, Economy, and Urbanity. By lead instructor Margarita Jover, Associate Professor in Architecture. · Resilience Reinforced: Architectural precast concrete systems addressing the regional water infrastructure challenges. By lead instructor Kentaro Tsubaki, AIA, Associate Dean for Academics, Favrot Associate Professor of Architecture. · Contemporary Architecture in Historic Contexts: The Case of Magazine Street in New Orleans. By lead instructor Ammar Eloueini, AIA, NCARB, Favrot V Professor of Architecture. · Toward a Civic Landscape. By lead instructor Scott Bernhard, AIA, NCARB, Favrot III Associate Professor of Architecture. · Fast/Strong/Sustainable: Exploring the Expanded Mass Timber Industry for Design in Hurricane-Prone Regions. By lead instructor Judith Kinnard, FAIA, Harvey-Wadsworth Chair of Landscape Urbanism, Professor of Architecture. · Addis Ababa River Project. By lead instructor Rubén García Rubio, Assistant Professor in Architecture and Urbanism. · Big Questions, Small Projects: design build's potentials to advance community-driven ideas. Led by instructor Emilie Taylor Welty, Favrot II Professor of Practice.
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Architects sign on for the Global Climate Strike

You may have heard Greta Thunberg’s name in the news recently. She’s the 16-year-old from Stockholm who in August 2018, week after week, stood in front of the Swedish Parliament building with a sign reading “School Strike for Climate.” Today, Greta is joined by thousands and thousands of teenage leaders from around the world who purposely walk out of their classrooms on Fridays to advocate for action against climate breakdown. Her mission for climate justice and to bolster a living planet has inspired countless numbers of people from all generations and geographies. The public outreach initiative, Architects Advocate, is following the lead of Global Climate Strike, a grassroots campaign calling upon the architecture industries’ professional interests and commitments to the building sector. Architects Advocate co-founder Tom Jacobs has pleaded for architects to stand up for the next generation and support the “true leaders of our time.” The pledge form states, “The building sector accounts for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and buildings alone account for 72% of U.S. electricity use. The transition from fossil fuels to a thriving zero-carbon economy isn’t just possible—it’s necessary.” The Global Climate Strike will occur on Friday, September 20, just ahead of a UN emergency climate summit. On this day, inspired by the countless schoolkids leaving the classroom, everyone—sports-stars, actors, architects—are encouraged to disrupt business as usual. Architects Advocate are encouraging widespread industry participation, stating, “we share responsibility for creating healthy and safe communities for all.” To coincide with the global strike, the organization is initiating a mass assemble on September 20 at Chicago’s Federal Plaza, arguably the city’s most popular public square known for a cluster of three austere Mies van der Rohe-designed buildings: the Everett McKinley Dirksen Building, the John C. Kluczynski Building, and the (most beloved) Post Office building. Perched in the middle of Mies’ pitch-black intervention is Alexander Calder’s fiery Flamingo sculpture. Both individuals and firms may pledge to support #StandWithGreta. Below is a list of participating architects and firms at the time of this posting, although the number of Architects Advocate members is much larger. Firms: Krueck + Sexton Architects, blank studio design + architecture, Bright Common, John D. Kelley, Drawing Conclusions LLC, Architecture Is Fun, Inc., Strawn + Sierralta, Jones Studio, Jurassic Studio, DTW Architects + Planners, Kuklinski+Rappe Architects, Atelier Ten, Corporate Architectural Services, Harboe Architects, dSPACE Studio, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, COULSON, Pappageorge Haymes Partners, Lake|Flato Architects, Manypenny Murphy Architecture, Design2 LAST, Peckham Architecture, Sheri Olson Architecture, DIAG Studios, David Fleener Architects, Rykerson Architecture, Paragon Designs, Thomas W Angell Architect, Asakura Robinson, emar Studio for Public Architecture, Cleary Design Studio, Heidrun Hoppe Associates, Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design, Abruna & Musgrave Architects, BCG AE, LightLouver, ArchitecturaLAB, Robin Ashley Architects, Croft Design Collective, Atelier Ten, Landon Bone Baker Architects, beta-field Individuals: Tom Jacobs, Jason Roberts, Hilary Noll, Phoebe Schenker, Holly Lennihan, Melanie De Cola, Alison Musch, Peter Exley, Mia DiMeo, Theron Gabel, Luis Huertas, Raphael Sperry, Pam Crowell, Alima Silverman, Robert Harris, Fumiko Docker, Josephine Jacobs, Cory Rouillard, Alan Scott, Taryn Sabia, Lee Burkart, Dante Amato, Matthew Hardy, Karen Votava, Jennifer Park, Jim Morgan, Maria Bergh, Mark Weitekamper, Scott Rappe, Michael Kloefkorn, Nicole Ellis Semple, David Langdon, Kristin Boyer, Keith Knapp, Joshua Grossman, Xiang Qiang, Beau Rhee, Rory Gilchrist, Yugene Cha, Debbie Slacter, Jennifer Cutbill, Mika Sautet, Brian Kidd, Patrick Danaher, Heather Holdridge, Joe Villanti, Ludmilla Pavlova-Gillham, Marcy Giannunzio, Rick McDermott, Christopher May, Laurie Barlow, Angie Klein, Ryan Ornberg Meanwhile, as the Architects' Journal reports, the U.K. Green Building Council and Ben Derbyshire, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), have also pledged their support for the strike.
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Foster + Partners' Marseilles airport extension flagged by environmental agency

Foster + Partners’ design for a new extension to the Marseilles Airport on a former brownfield site is being scrutinized by France’s environmental agency, which has called for a resubmission of the plans in fear they don’t align with the country’s ambitious plan to go carbon neutral by 2050.  The Autorité Environnementale (AE) said that the current plans are “underestimating the project’s environmental impacts and overestimating its socio-economic benefits” in their statement. Areas of concern for the AE include Foster + Partners’ addressing of traffic, noise, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and even the impact on local birdlife.  The renowned British firm won the competition for this extension in 2017, beating Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners for the chance to add the “missing piece” between the existing buildings of the airport—the original ’60s modernist wing by Fernand Pouillon and a 1992 addition designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership. The winning design features a prominent glazed volume, a space for newly connected departures, and arrivals hall. In addition to the 72-foot-tall windows that will pour light into the building, an array of continuous skylights in the inverted beam roof will add to the naturally-lit "glass box" effect. The goal? “A clarity of layout and expression,” according to the firm, inspired by Pouillon’s project, with the ability to process over 12 million travelers per year.  “In regards to the content, the extension project has been thought to be virtuous,” said an AE spokesperson, clarifying that the query wasn’t a question of the design, but of the methodology. While the architects defend their claims that the airport will be sustainable—even exceeding the cutting edge French HQE and E+C- standards—the project's focus on new public transit connectivity and more efficient airplanes seemed to miss the mark for the AE and have muddied the proposal for the agency. The new E+C- standards place a priority on energy-positive and low-carbon emission building projects, ideas that came into effect after pledges at the 2016 Paris Agreement amongst UN countries.  France is due to receive the resubmission of more detailed plans for environmental action at the Aeroport Marseilles Provence by September 2019 and has reaffirmed its commitment to environmental action in the face of a growing denial of climate change in international politics. The carbon neutrality plan is seen as being “trialed” by the French, and the government’s attention to the new law, just implemented in June, has sent ripples throughout the international community.  Foster + Partners has recently taken several internal steps to address and highlight climate concerns, and have expressed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and movements like Net Zero Carbon Commitment. Foster + Partners has publicly pledged to have 100 percent of their own occupied offices be carbon neutral by 2030, and has joined Architects Declare, a collective of UK firms verbal in their recognition and combating of climate change. 
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Heat waves are slowing construction around the world, and it will only get worse

The effects of climate change are felt all over the world and are causing a host of negative consequences. Extreme heat events are happening more frequently and for longer periods of time. For the construction industry, a trade sensitive to the weather because of the working conditions, it becomes ever more likely that complications will arise. This June was the world’s hottest on record, according to the National Weather Service. The Independent reported that experts say this July is likely to have been the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. Extreme heat has covered much of the U.S. with temperatures approaching and exceeding triple digits. In Europe, a massive heatwave marked the summer and now Greenland, within recent days, has faced a tremendous ice melt. During these times, construction companies must pay closer attention to the health of their employees on the job. Providing more break time, shade, and water will help alleviate workers during the daytime and hours may shift to night-time when the temperature is coolest. There’s a lot of money bound to a construction site. Leased equipment, contractual penalties, and cost of labor are expected on the job, but unexpected weather results in unpleasant, expensive surprises, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for construction planners to rely on seasonal forecasts. “The construction industry loses billions of dollars on delays and failures caused by bad weather. Buildings are damaged during storms; sites turn into seas of mud; freezing temperatures make it impossible to pour concrete,” said Climate.gov in 2017 when reporting on climate and construction. The dangerous heat may become a factor in increasing incidents of heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke. A study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reports that 36.8 percent of heat-related deaths nationwide occurred within the construction industry, “Heat is something we deal with every year,” said DPR Construction Southeast Regional Safety Manager Steve Duff. At DPR, more breaks, more water, and educational talks on heat illnesses are provided to employees. Duff credits lifestyle factors over climate change as the reason for escalating heat-related incidents. He said the popularity of energy drinks is a culprit, causing dehydration. Also, new employees to the industry after the Great Recession who came from other industries had likely "not been outdoors frequently." Billy Grayson (executive director of the Center for Sustainability and Economics Performance at the Urban Land Institute, an organization providing leadership in responsible land use) faults construction materials. “Extreme heat can delay construction projects due to the need for specific building materials to cool or cure,” Grayson said. "If these products can't solidify at the right timing for the project, it can cause significant delays." Ryan Ware, cofounder of Vantis, a company that specializes in designing custom commercial facility interiors that are constructed off-site, says this could lead to more adoption of prefabricated construction. “It's taking the risk out of the heat wave, because you're putting the [staff] into a factory or a controlled environment,” Vantis said. Regardless, as temperatures continue to rise, the construction industry will have to adapt accordingly.
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The Venice Variations traces the city’s deep urban fabric

The Venice Variations: Tracing the Architectural Imagination Sophia Psarra UCL Press List price: $45.00 Sophia Psarra’s The Venice Variations fulfills a dreamy mission of aggrandizing the titular city’s history and beauty while recognizing its fragility and potential demise because of climate change and overcrowding from tourists and their marine vehicles. The beautifully designed book sets up the over-thousand-year-old city as paradigmatic but atypical. Social and physical analyses add to a discussion of its awesome historical architectural development and two contemporary works that the city inspired, Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities (1972) and Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital (1964). These projects exhibit an intensity of imagination commensurate with Venice’s idiosyncratic character. Psarra’s book points to the city’s republican governance, worldwide trading patterns, and physiognomy, especially its islands, as evidence of its fundamentally deindustrial nature, positioning its regeneration as an example worth following. Of course, Venice’s architectural importance has always been obvious: Books on Vitruvius were printed there, and Palladio’s thinking and buildings take central stage in its heritage of interwoven islands and structures. The irregularity of the city’s urban fabric introduces variability within an organic whole. Psarra deals very carefully with the history of Piazza San Marco and its central position in civic and religious interpretations of the city. Its architects, Sansovino, Longhena, and Palladio, orchestrated their contributions to this special communal space to create specific views for the public to experience. The piazza accommodated many Venetian citizens and their commercial interests, as well as cultural rites—the author titles this chapter “Statecraft,” but the square welcomed stagecraft, too. Religious processions led by clergy and the Doge marked many occasions. Illustrations of the piazza and its surroundings by the author abound; these educational aids are present to a fault. Italo Calvino makes his Invisible Cities mysteriously visible in print, a feat of vivid invention. This is a novel where plot is overtaken by expansive, thought-provoking fabrications. The merchant Marco Polo describes 55 cities as fantastical constructions to Kublai Khan, who rejoices in his empire. Our two protagonists, Khan and Polo, differ greatly: The former seeks order in his possessions, while Polo “seeks not-yet-seen adventures.” Invisible Cities attracted postmodern architects with its playfulness. The book juxtaposes images of lightness and coherence with images of entropy—disorder and ruin are the fascinations of our two protagonists. Although Polo refuses to discuss Venice, he provokes thoughts of it intermittently, and the city haunts the book. There is a play of numbers showing Calvino’s attachment to the Oulipo group of mathematicians, and he includes Polo’s descriptions and his and Khan’s dialogues and the number of combinatorial rules. Psarra shows some brilliance in this interpretation of mathematical patterns that few, including this author, fully comprehend. Though not an expert in mathematics, Psarra certainly seems to manage these complex concepts in the book. While architecture demands knowledge of mathematics, I wonder if there are architects who might appreciate the math of Invisible Cities as conveyed in The Venice Variations. As the last project Psarra visits, Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital leaves a heavy imprint on the mind. Unlike the architect’s typically isolated buildings, Venice Hospital is meant to fit in with existing neighboring structures. Le Corbusier’s imagery is pertinent for understanding that of contemporary Venice. If Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggiore lies at the front of the city, the hospital would have marked its back door. The completed project would have been as radical as the first modern designs of the avant-garde—especially in its entrance from beneath, which recalls the Villa Savoye and the later National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. Psarra also explores the hospital’s affinity with mat buildings as described by Alison Smithson. In fact, Venice Hospital’s place in the realm of architectural history lies in the province of Team Ten, with a neat precedent in Shadrach Woods’s Berlin Free University. The project engaged Le Corbusier’s attention for over nine years; after the master’s sudden death, Guillermo Jullian de la Fuente continued the work. Psarra tells the tale well: how the horizontal layout of the design sets up pivoting squares and nurse stations on the first floor and how the aggregation of cells flows horizontally to merge with the city. As in other signature buildings, Le Corbusier develops a system of squares and golden-section rectangles, which gives geometric logic to the spaces.
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How is California dealing with its disappearing coast?

The questions raised by global warming, climate change, sea-level rise, and the resulting migration crisis are not to be taken lightly. They offer us myriad dramas in the form of disappearing cities, changing neighborhoods, dwindling resources, and existential anxiety about living near water. The Los Angeles Times recently took on some of these tough questions in a special report titled “California Against the Sea.” Illustrated with sweeping photography (not shown here) of the state’s Pacific shore, the extensive feature examines the disappearing California coast, potential fixes, and the consequences those fixes might bring. As much as two-thirds of the beaches in California could be gone by the end of the century. In California alone, it is estimated that $150 billion in property could be at risk of flooding. Several points became clear from reading the LA Times reporting, done by Rosanna Xia. One is that the problems created when parts of the coast become uninhabitable are not easily solved by design or technology. Physical interventions, like seawalls—which can cost up to $200,000 per house—often make the problem worse by encouraging erosion and sand build-up around the structure; short-term solutions, like adding sand to beaches, are expensive, and there is only so much sand in the world. Environmentalists and many others favor “managed retreat,” or carefully and systematically moving away from the coast, but this option faces deep resistance from some landowners. The report shows that the crisis is a real estate drama above all else. Entrenched interests are often opposed to solutions to environmental issues if those solutions threaten people’s property. Especially in California, a strong tradition of homeownership is at odds with what many consider sensible public management of the coastline. These conflicts are already playing out on a small scale. In Pacifica, a small city just south of San Francisco, the beach is already eroding, despite efforts begun in the 1970s to install seawalls, piles of rocks, and special concrete to preserve the shoreline. Although some homes have already been removed from the coast, not all residents are willing to accept managed retreat. “‘Managed retreat’ is a code word for giving up—on our homes and the town itself,” Mark Stechbart, who is concerned about the future value of his Pacifica home, told the Times. “This is not just some intellectual exercise. These are real people and a real town at stake.” “The public has rights to the beach, but I apparently don’t have rights to my house,” Suzanne Drake, another homeowner said in the report. “I’m a left-of-left Democrat, but these environmental zealots are next level.” It is fairly scary to think about how these issues will play out if the scale and seriousness of the crisis grow. According to the Times, in the last 100 years, sea levels rose 9 inches along the California coast, but are expected to go up by as much as 9 feet by the year 2100. If a town like Pacifica is experiencing this kind of disagreement and controversy when a handful of houses are involved, how will a city like Miami deal with entire neighborhoods negotiating how to relocate (or not)? Each person has their own beliefs and personal fortune at stake. This is unfortunately already happening in Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina, among other places. There are no straightforward design solutions. Lessons from the past say that human intervention can actually make things worse—not to mention that safeguarding the whole state of California would require upward of $22 billion, according to the Times. A simulated game in the special report has three outcomes: loss of beaches due to seawall construction; cost overruns; and success, by way of managed retreat and careful diplomacy that requires negotiating with individual homeowners. There are problems with the latter solution. Buyout programs have proven successful elsewhere, but not in places with coastal California market prices. Staten Island’s post–Hurricane Sandy program bought 300 homes for $120 million, which would buy about ten houses in Malibu. These are massive problems that are only going to get bigger. Can design do anything to help? Or if it is a question of real estate, can the markets be managed without tearing communities apart? If California is any indication, both of these possibilities appear unlikely.
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The Rockefeller Foundation nixed its resilient cities program. Now it's launching a new one

Elizabeth Yee, who served as 100RC's Vice President of Resilience Finance for five years, will be joining the Climate and Resilience initiative as the managing director. Before landing at 100RC, she worked in public finance at Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, and Barclays. "Rapid changes in climate are exposing global citizens to unpredictable risks, and there is an increasing need to leverage data and technology to ensure we make informed decisions, and design and deliver solutions that improve the resilience of communities," said Yee in a prepared statement. "Continuing to support the 100RC Network is a core part of our ability to understand and tackle these immense challenges, which require creative, blended capital solutions to address at scale." The Climate and Resilience initiative will facilitate grants for disaster recovery, and will tie into the foundation's long-term work in health, food, energy, and, per the press release, the "expansion of US economic opportunities." Last month CityLab reported that part of the reason for 100RC's dissolution was that The Rockefeller Foundation wanted to drop around $5 or $6 million on the program annually, not the $30 to $40 million it was spending. Beyond money, the foundation didn't quite know how to measure the results of its investments, particularly the Chief Resilience Officers (CROs). The CROs are a network of professionals who oversee resilience capacity-building in member cities' governments whose salaries were paid by 100RC. The Climate and Resilience initiative will continue to cut checks for CROs, but as of now, it is unclear how long the initiative will be funded.