Posts tagged with "conferences":

Placeholder Alt Text

The 2019 Facades+ Conference in Los Angeles discussed high-performance envelopes in depth

facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
Now in its seventh year, the Facades+ Conference in Los Angeles was held on November 14 in the California Ballroom of the L.A. Grand Hotel and offered a wide range of lectures, symposia and networking opportunities for top professionals from the worlds of design, fabrication and construction. The subjects addressed over the course of the conference were sprawling to suit a wide range of interests yet unwaveringly focused on the importance of high-performance envelopes in the growth of cities, civic pride, and the reduction of the industry’s carbon footprint. The day began with an opening keynote lecture from Fokke Moerel, a partner at Dutch firm MVRDV, whose personal focus is on global public and cultural works, transformations, and interior design. Moerel's lecture, The Skin is the Message, elaborated on the unique challenges the firm has met developing unique facades in the pursuit of uncompromised architectural expression. Crystal Houses, for instance, featured an entirely transparent ground-floor glass facade made to appear like the brickwork common of buildings in its area of Amsterdam. By developing a novel technique for combining glass bricks, glass window frames, and glass architraves, the firm challenged the structural and aesthetic limits often assumed of the materials to “offer the store a window surface that contemporary stores need, while maintaining architectural character and individuality, resulting in a flagship store that hopes to stand out among the rest.” Moerel then highlighted the luxurious facade of the Bulgari flagship store MVRDV designed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which was developed in collaboration with Technical University Delft, with Tensoforma as the facade production team. To achieve the illusion of overscaled marble, Glass-Reinforced Concrete (GRC) was cut into a marble-like pattern, with its crevices filled in with resin and illuminated with LEDs. After her lecture, AN executive editor Matt Shaw joined Moerel on stage to moderate a discussion on the relationship between criticality and sense of humor present in the firm’s facade designs. A four-person panel, Reducing the City’s Carbon Footprint through Facade Design, elaborated on the role high-performance envelopes can play in the global initiative to reduce the industry’s carbon emissions. Given that the global building floor area is expected to grow to approximately two-and-a-half trillion square feet by 2060, more than double the current worldwide building stock, Fabian Kremkus of CO Architects advised members of the audience to “be willing to learn and get into the science” of sustainable construction techniques. The moderated conversation that followed considered how building manufacturers could develop methods that reduce material extraction, site demolition, manufacturing emissions, and the need for active heating and cooling within large-scale buildings. Michel Rojkind provided the afternoon keynote speech titled Transmutation: From Digital Design to Local Fabrication. “Where does craft sit in a world,” Rojkind asked the audience, “ruled by technology, and where digitized, mechanized fabrication is becoming more sophisticated?” He then elaborated on how he has employed hand craftsmanship “to slow things down” in his own practice, most notably with the Foro Boca concert hall in Veracruz, Mexico. Using a concrete facade “able to withstand and respond to the harsh conditions of the site,” the concert hall was constructed by a team of local dedicated craftsman.
Placeholder Alt Text

CoMotion 2019 brought the future of urban mobility to the fore in L.A.

For anyone who has attempted to drive across Los Angeles during rush hour, the future of urban mobility might not seem bright. Yet the organizers of CoMotion L.A. 2019, a two-day conference held this past November 14 and 15, provided both a progressive and realizable vision for what may come to an audience of over 2,000 people. Held at ROW DTLA, a recently-opened 30-acre complex in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles, the third annual CoMotion L.A. brought together global leaders, including Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti, Moovit CEO and co-founder Nir Erez, Deputy Mayor for Mobility for the City of Lisbon, Miguel Gaspar, and President of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, Matt Petersen, to discuss the newest forms of mobility and share their thoughts on a future that's less reliant on cars. The keynote conversation held on the first day, Reinventing Mobility, Transforming Place, elaborated on how the expansion of public mobility options might have a positive impact on real estate and civic space, and how we navigate through cities. Moderated by Frances Anderton, the host of KCRW’s Design and Architecture (DnA) show, the panel brought Grimshaw Architects' partner Andrew Byrne, chief marketing officer of REEF Technology Alan Cohen, and Chief Design Officer of the City of Los Angeles Christopher Hawthorne together to imagine how the static elements of Los Angeles’ infrastructure might be transformed into dynamic hubs of activity. Anderton and Hawthorne exchanged examples of successful pedestrian zones in the city’s history, while Byrne and Cohen shared how recent projects from their respective firms brought pedestrian infrastructure into the 21st century. On the second day, several 90-minute workshops were held for participants to imagine the future of urban mobility more intimately. Designing for Sustainability and Life Cycle Management, for example, shared visual aids and in-depth solutions to reducing the large carbon footprint associated with short-distance urban transit. Meanwhile, The Age of Automation panel, moderated by L.A. Times writer Russ Mitchell, brainstormed how vehicular autonomy might increase the speed, efficiency, and safety of urban travel while also debating the associated financial risks of investing in new technology. While the conference was taking place, a live demonstration of some of the same innovations being discussed was displayed on dedicated “new mobility” lanes that connected ROW DTLA and the L.A. Cleantech Incubator. These lanes provided a full half-mile of space for visitors to try out the latest in new mobility for themselves, including smart shuttles, electric scooters, e-bikes, hydrogen-powered vehicles, and other methods of clean-energy transportation. Though some of these vehicles had the air of concept designs, we all might be seeing them in common use throughout American cities in the very near future.
Placeholder Alt Text

A city making festival in Turin asks citizens to dream bigger

From October 18 through 20, students, architects, planners, politicians, and hordes of normal citizens all descended on Turin, Italy, to engage in talks, panels, workshops, and exhibitions at the third annual Utopian Hours festival. The name is a clever play on words; pulling the “nostra” from the middle of Torino Stratosferica, the nonprofit cultural body behind the event, results in “ours,” making the actual name of the festival more about imagining a utopian future for ourselves during that time. This year’s festival was held on the multipurpose campus of the Lavazza Coffee headquarters, offering ample space for the quickly growing event. Even before one entered La Centrale, a towering power-plant-turned-events-space, visitors were met with freestanding didactics featuring snippets of the ideas to expect within. Once inside, a sprawling exhibition floor presented visions of possible future Turins from local studios, as well as a series of low-cost placemaking interventions intended to be dropped in neighborhoods around the city. Upstairs, the festival’s organizers had set up a retrospective for the 100th birthday of Paolo Soleri, curated by Emanuele Piccardo, that tracked the Turin-born architect’s career and evolution in his thinking. Of course, civic engagement and the exchange of ideas were a central goal, and each of the festival’s three days began with activities to get participants involved. On Friday, that meant kicking off the event with a “Circular Economy Workshop” intended to make visitors brainstorm ideas for creating a more “circular,” sustainable Turin. On Saturday, Play the City started the day with an interactive workshop on using play and games to reimagine urban areas (the group would return with a presentation on their work in Amsterdam on Sunday), followed by a workshop on designing for the Turin of 2030, with the youth and elderly of the future in mind. Sunday changed things up with the chance to grab a more intimate breakfast with Jan Rudkiewicz of Werklig, the studio behind Helsinki’s rebranding; participants were encouraged to ask him about the intersection of culture within a city and institutional projects. The line-up was top-notch, as speakers from all over the world offered lectures and panels in both Italian and English. That included two mayors: Chiara Appendino, the mayor of Turin, who spoke at the “How is the Turin of our desires?” panel, and the current architect-turned-mayor of Bratislava, Slovakia, Matúš Vallo, who sat in conversation with Feargus O'Sullivan of CityLab for “How To Become The Mayor.” The shift in perspective throughout the festival, from discussions of institutional, top-down approaches to city-making, to how activists can make local, small-scale changes and advance their causes with grassroots support, provided comprehensive examples of how urban activists made people power work for them. Other discussions of note included a lecture from architectural photographer Iwan Baan on how to change one’s perception of the city, and how he approaches his work. Patrik Gustavsson of the Amager Bakke Foundation discussed the path to funding and ultimately realizing the skiable Copenhill in Copenhagen. AN web editor Jonathan Hilburg sat in conversation with Laurie Hawkinson of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson and Emily Bauer of Bau Land on how to “Make New York Livable Again,” no small task. With a mandate that big, the panel leaned heavily towards the topic of climate resiliency and flood mitigation; literally keeping the city livable. While New York is an international city and the myriad problems it faces are present in every large city, the task of informing a European city about the particulars of our own issues proved refreshing, if not daunting. One of the couldn’t-miss talks followed shortly after, as Alfredo Brillembourg of Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) delivered a fiery rebuke to the “one-size-fits-all” approach taken by many architects and urban thinkers today. Brillembourg ran down a list of the hyper-site-specific interventions U-TT had taken around the world in the last 20 years, including a cable car system through the slums of Caracas, Venezuela, and resident-led housing densification in the poorest parts of South Africa. Complementing the Soleri exhibition upstairs was what might be considered the centerpiece talk of Utopian Hours, “Paolo Soleri. From Turin to the desert,” a deep dive into the late architect’s utopian vision and thought process. Perhaps the most interesting additions to the festival, and the ones that elevate it above similar conferences, are the urban explorers. Three speakers who had never been to Turin before were invited to the city four days before the rest of the guests had arrived and given the chance to walk the city. Then, over separate days, they relayed what they had learned to festivalgoers and offered suggestions on what the city could do better. All three speakers were accompanied by flashy videos Torino Stratosferica had produced, tracking each urban explorer as they meandered around the city. Why were the urban explorers so important? Their inclusion lent the festival an “on-the-ground” feel, one of lived-in experience. It’s easy to research a place, but much more difficult to actually tackle it firsthand. Utopian Hours managed to draw an enormous crowd of engaged, thoughtful attendees who weren’t afraid to offer up questions or their own take on the material. The suggested €5 ($5.50) admission fee probably helped lure in curious passersby, and that’s certainly a good thing. Let’s hope the Utopian Hours festival make a fourth appearance. AN is an official media partner of Utopian Hours.
Placeholder Alt Text

NOMA Conference 2019 prepared architects to engage with a more diverse future

It was the first time Malaz Elgemiabby had attended the annual conference of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). But it turned out to be like going back to her childhood in Sudan, being surrounded by architects, designers, and builders who looked like her, and who cared as deeply as she does about community participation in design. “In Sudan, architects are women,” Elgemiabby told AN. “So I used to build buildings when I was a kid. As women [in Sudan] your responsibility is to build the houses, to design, to assess the needs of the community.” Elgemiabby went to architecture school at London Metropolitan University, seeking out its program for its emphasis on community participation in design. She first went to work in the Middle East, where she also earned a master's degree in interdisciplinary design from the Qatar campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. She moved to Cleveland three years ago to work as an architect. After doing some projects that she’s quite proud of in the city, Elgemiabby launched her own firm, ELMALAZ, earlier this year in Cleveland. But it’s also been a bit lonely at times, being an architect on a mission to bring communities into the design process. “[In Cleveland] I’m one of the few who are advocating for this type of approach to architecture,” Elgemiabby said. “I come [to this year’s NOMA conference] and I find not only a lot of black and brown architects, but I also find people who are excited about the same mission. This was really great. It’s always nice to grow your tribe.” Growing that tribe, of course, has been NOMA’s goal all along, ever since twelve African American architects founded the organization during the 1971 AIA National Convention in Detroit. This year’s annual conference, in Brooklyn, attracted a record attendance of over a thousand participants for five days of programming, including service outings, seminars, keynote lectures, student design contests, and the usual networking and socializing. Overall, NOMA membership has grown 30 percent in 2019, under the leadership of NOMA president and HOK principal Kimberly Dowdell. The organization now has more than 1,400 members, organized under 30 professional chapters and 75 student chapters across the country. Under Dowdell, this year NOMA established a new tiered corporate membership program for large and small firms that wish to support the organization—and also gain access to discounted consulting from NOMA’s curated pool of experts in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dubbed the “President’s Circle,” founding members include AIA, NCARB, Enterprise Community Partners, Cuningham Group, Shepley Bulfinch, Gensler, HOK, and Perkins & Will. But growth and progress for NOMA still come in the context of the Sisyphean task of making architecture more representative of the communities it serves. Out of 115,000 or so architects licensed in the U.S., only an estimated 2,299 are black. That context was made even more somber this year with the loss of one of NOMA’s giants, Phil Freelon, who passed away in July. NOMA renamed its annual professional design awards in his honor. Zena Howard worked with Phil Freelon for well over a decade. So it was fitting that this year’s NOMA conference programming included her delivery of the J. Max Bond Lecture, organized annually by the New York Chapter of NOMA and the AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Howard’s talk focused on the notion of “Remembrance Design,” which emerged over the past few years through her work with Freelon and others. Now principal and managing director of the North Carolina office at Perkins+Will, Howard used some of her firm's recent projects to illustrate remembrance design in action. The examples varied in scale and scope from the 1.1-acre Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza in Greenville, North Carolina, to a 30-acre design process covering Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, to a 1.3-mile “linear museum” along the Crenshaw Boulevard transit corridor in Los Angeles. All were historically black neighborhoods, typically scarred by racially-discriminatory redlining and later the era of urban renewal and the construction of the interstate highway system. In short, remembrance design is a way of using architectural discovery as a healing process to unearth, unpack and honor painful histories in neighborhoods that have traditionally been disinvested and neglected—or worse yet, bulldozed and paved over—by the worlds of architecture, urban planning, and real estate. “It’s about engaging people who have historically not been engaged,” Howard said. “First engaging with these communities, there’s a lot of hurt. I once thought to myself you have to go get a psychology degree or something. It’s difficult sometimes to hear. But over time, you realize that the pain a lot of people have, they have to release that, you sort of have to provide an outlet for it. A lot of it at first is just listening.” Howard spoke about how that deep listening process turns architecture into more than just a design process; it elevates architecture into a healing process. It can even make the architect’s job a little easier in the end. Once you move past the pain, Howard said, some participants from the community will actually feel inspired enough to start sketching themselves. “Even if you can’t get people really to talk about something, they can sketch something, they can draw,” Howard said. “It becomes therapeutic in a lot of ways. Once you get passed that threshold you really start moving fast towards design solutions that they’re a part of.” That depth of community engagement resonated with many NOMA members, from Elgemiabby to NOMA National Board Member and SOM senior urban designer Tiara Hughes, whose childhood neighborhood in St. Louis is now a baseball field. “I understand what [Howard] was referring to that there’s trauma and feelings and emotions that we have to deal with collectively as a group,” Hughes told AN. And it certainly resonated with Dowdell, who was partly inspired to become an architect by growing up among vacant homes and boarded-up commercial corridors in Detroit. “The kind of engagement that Zena [Howard] and her team has done or is doing, I think that’s probably standard practice for a lot of architects here [at the conference],” Dowdell said. Dowdell is hopeful that more and more of those kinds of projects will come up as the U.S. and especially its cities become more and more diverse. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts people of color will become a majority in the U.S. by 2043. Dowdell views NOMA’s work as preparing architecture for that future. “We all have to be more conscious of the fact that more and more clients will be people of color, more and more government officials—people with more power,” she said. Of course, in bringing good design to more diverse places that have historically been neglected or harmed by earlier periods of development, the conversation naturally turns to how good design can risk putting new pressure on market conditions, pushing up property taxes or rents and pushing out the very residents who participate in these design processes. Howard brought up the example of Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver, British Columbia, as one where the residents and elected officials are looking to a community land trust as a policy intervention to protect those residents the project had in mind as end-users. “The thing [Howard] also mentioned, rightly so, was the thing that design can’t solve: the political and economic conditions that need to be grappled with to effectively prevent gentrification and the negative effects of gentrification,” Dowdell said. “I think reinvestment is fine, but I think when it starts to displace people who have had a stake in that community for years, decades, generations, that’s going to be problematic.”
Placeholder Alt Text

A built environment symposium closes out Climate Week NYC 2019

With Climate Week NYC coming to a close, the Built Environment Symposium was a fitting finale, gathering together political bodies, industry professionals as well as architects and designers to speak openly about their collaborative efforts to make New York City a greener place The third panel discussion in particular, “New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act: Significantly Reducing Building Emissions,” brought together preeminent voices working to address the environmental impacts of New York’s buildings. Melanie La Rocca, commissioner of the Department of Buildings (DOB) sat down with Jason Vollen, director of architecture for Metro New York at AECOM and Christopher Toomey, vice president of major projects at McKinsey & Company to discuss the importance of addressing the costs of the built environment, and why pieces of legislation are invaluable to instituting rapid change.  With 67 percent of the city’s emissions stemming from its buildings, the need for action is acute, and the mayor’s office has accentuated the urgency by implementing Local Law 97, a mandate that all buildings over 25,000-square-feet comply with aggressive carbon caps by 2024. The very building the panelists sat in, the Midtown Manhattan office of host firm AECOM, is one such building that will fall under the new jurisdiction.  Local Law 97 is the first of its kind to make the financial penalties for non-compliance so significant that building owners will have to address the issues head-on. Fines start at $268 per metric ton over the predetermined limits (based on a building’s size and class) and additional fees are added for non-submittal of records, as well as false or flawed reports, all on an annual schedule. Hopefully, these financial roadblocks will incentivize building owners in ways that previous legislation has only wagged fingers.  This regulation doesn’t just apply to new buildings, but all buildings in New York City. That’s roughly 50,000—and this measure has sparked controversy as older buildings will have to invest in major renovations, as many did not incorporate energy efficiency in their original designs. Aged technologies like boilers and old-fashioned window glazing will need to be replaced, likely at a great initial cost to those landlords.  The panelists talked very seriously and practically about the realities of retrofitting all these spaces. “We could build an entire industry around retrofitting structures,” Toomey said, adding that there are studies that speculate that this would necessitate the creation of up to 140,000 new jobs.  However, the bureaucracy involved in clearing thousands of new buildings in the next four years in advance of the “penalty stage,” where non-complying structures will be fined heavily for carbon use, is intimidating even for the DOB: “We don’t want 20,000 applications coming in 2023,” said La Rocca. To avoid this, the DOB, architects, and project managers are encouraging companies to act now and stay ahead of the curve for not only the 2024 benchmarks but the 2030 ones as well. “No one wants to be an SUV in a Prius world,” said Vollen, “It would be an embarrassment down the line.” Architects like Vollen are encouraging high-profile companies to handle their compliance measures sooner than later with a leading mindset—to both leverage their names as well as allow for more time to design creative, innovative solutions to emissions targets rather than hasty adaptations.  While the panelists all acknowledged the risks and experimentation needed in NYC’s fight to lower emissions, La Rocca closed the discussion, saying, “This is an opportunity for us all to reimagine what we do.” 
Placeholder Alt Text

AN reports from New Cities Summit in Montreal, an international conference on new technology that shapes cities

Today in Montréal, 600 designers, architects, geographers, technology experts, entrepreneurs, and policymakers convened for the New Cities Summit, a forward-looking conference hosted by the New Cities Foundation. The Summit tries, through the lens of technology, to put a finer point "innovation," "urban change," and "economic growth," often-nebulous concepts that nevertheless drive the design and governance of our cities. Speakers, panels, round-tables, and workshops focus on using new technology to engage visitors in "thirdspaces" (where people neither work nor live), boosting the sharing economy through new (and old) means of engagement, finding solutions to a global affordable housing crisis, placemaking, and public art are held over a two-day period, followed by site visits around Montréal. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) attended the summit when it was held in Dallas, in 2014, but this is the first time AN is attending the event internationally. Follow @archpaper in Montréal for live updates on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat (archpaper). The opening panel, "The Age of Urban Tech," moderated by Estelle Métayer, founder and principal of Competia, featured four city leaders in the private and public sectors: Chiara Corazza, managing director of the Greater Paris Investment Agency; Anil Menon, president of Smart and Connected Cities and the deputy chief globalization officer at Cisco (a conference sponsor); Alexandre Taillefer, managing partner of XPND Capital and the founder of Téo Taxi; and Ivy Taylor, the mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Métayer opened with a broad question on the role of technology in the 21st century city, and panelists, despite their mostly tech-centric backgrounds, were keen on both the appeal of (and limits to) apps and hacks. At each fork in the discussion, the panelists turned back to the importance of using technology to enhance existing communities. "The best and worst thing is that people are focused on technology. [The] focus should be on urban experience, not on the technology. Technology should be invisible and should maintain and enhance the quality of life," Menon noted. Speaking of her city, Taylor explained that "people are the heart of cities we serve." San Antonio, population 1.4 million, is seventh largest city in the U.S. and is 60 percent Latino. She emphasized that closing the digital divide, especially though education and neighborhood engagement, is key to not leaving the most vulnerable residents behind, especially in an an era where cities compete directly with one another for resources and capital. Building on Taylor's observations, Taillerfer underscored the importance of adapting technology to current users with a homegrown example: A taxi company on east side of Montréal receives 90 percent of its calls via an old-fashioned phone. In that district, only twenty percent of residents use smartphones. Education and access can bring users up to speed on smartphones, but the current means of calling the taxi must be consistent with the current knowledge base. Taillefer urged participants to be wary of the role of corporations in shaping public tech projects. "A lot of innovations require a lot of capital, so cities have to be careful about the deals [we] sign with corporations. Tech," she declared, "is fun, but we need to take into account the lives of citizens." Sharing information transparently is key to having that fun and sustaining trust. Taylor noted that when body cameras for police officers were introduced in San Antonio, at first there wasn't enough communication about the new technology. Consequently, public misunderstandings and resentments arose around the cameras. "We're still on front end of conveying public what access to information will be, how quickly information will be processed," said Taylor. For all the conversation around anti-union sentiment in tech, Menon grounded the discussion in the importance of sustaining local entrepreneurs while engaging labor unions. "Unions represent the current middle class who are deeply suspicious of new tech because it's seen as replacing jobs." Public and private-sector unions, he argued, need to establish new ways to work with corporations. He cited Germany as an example of a country that has both strong economic growth and union representation. For all the barriers, there was profound optimism among panelists that cities will look radically different in the next five to ten years because of new technologies. Corazza, Taylor, and Taillerfer highlighted public transit innovations as a key locus of innovation (Taillerfer: "I dream of the day you pay $250 per month for access to multimodal, anti–private car transit for everything) while Menon cited video internet and, surprisingly, liquid biopsy, a form of data collection to detect and treat cancer. Who knew?
Placeholder Alt Text

MIPIM Day Three: Where's the U.S. contingent?

MIPIM, the world’s largest and most important real estate and development convention, conference, and meeting attracts nearly 25,000 people to Cannes every year. But like the Venice Biennale, or Saloni di Mobile in Milan, there are virtually no Americans in attendance at this international meeting. MIPIM is primarily a development gathering, and, while the United States is the strongest economy in the world with $534 billion in total real estate transactions, $91 billion in foreign investment in commercial property, and $104 billion in residential sales purchases by foreign buyers, American developers and cities seem immune to the attraction of foreign capital. But MIPIM is also a meeting about the physical development of the city and while there are many European architects in attendance there are only a handful of U.S. architects in Cannes. A meeting with the Berlin architect Jurgen Mayer H. it is clear that three days spent at the fair an architect can meet with dozens of future and potential clients both private and civic. There are pavilions by nearly every moderate-sized city (Lyon, Brussels, Palermo) and large cities (Istanbul, Paris, Mexico City) in the world-except from North America. It may be that America is large enough to be a self-supporting internal market but our myopia leaves billions of potential development dollars on the table. We seem more interested today in building walls than bridges.
Placeholder Alt Text

From Placemaking to Social Media: Takeaways from AIA San Francisco's NEXT Conference

next-conference The NEXT Conference, sponsored by the AIA San Francisco, just concluded its first year, and The Architect’s Newspaper was there moderating two panels. Day one convened in a historic bayside dock transformed into a children’s Exploratorium. We moderated a session on the urban planning concept of "Placemaking" that featured David Burney, Jennifer Wolch, and two "makers," Anisha Gade and Sue Mark of the firm Marksearch. This relatively new way of thinking about planning, particularly marginalized and rapidly transforming the space of the city, is making inroads into city planning circles and art academies and joining these two practices. David Burney just launched the first academic Placemaking program in the country at Pratt Institute and described how the practice is training students to link policy to the use and ownership of public space. Jennifer Wolch Dean of the College of Environmental Design at Berkeley was more critical and nuanced about Placemaking. She wondered what happens when the makers leave a place and move on to another site? Might this practice inevitably be, Wolch wondered, just another gentrifying agent in an already rapidly changing neighborhood? The two Placemakers Gade and Mark presented their latest North Oakland project, Communities Crossing, that attempts to “reveal a community in search of its identity.” Follow-up questions debated various aspects of the practice but left the gentrification issue unresolved on the table. The audience and panelists from earlier sessions seemed thrilled to be in the company of other practitioners, so the harder questions about the long-term impact of the practice were not addressed. The second day of the conference moved to the sagging modernist San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. In a session labeled "Business," we moderated a panel, Architects & Social Media, with Kenneth Caldwell, Amanda Walter, and architect Mark English. Caldwell a communications consultant to architects argued that designer featured profiles in traditional or “earned” media are difficult to come by and that today most architects would be better served to have a social media strategy targeted to their existing networks. This he considers professional “owned media.” But he argued content in these media streams should be delivered personally to key those contacts nurtured over many years. Walter was more direct. She wrote the book Social Media in Action: Comprehensive Guide for Architecture, Engineering, Planning and Environmental Consulting Firms, which is the bible for design firms trying to figure out marketing. Water claimed they should “consider what issues and challenges their potential clients are looking for online and then develop and share content that helps them." Mark English, a San Francisco architect who specializes in single-family homes and entertainment projects, spends 10 hours a week promoting his practice on various social media sites. He also claimed that he has gotten four major projects in the last year from his personal blog posts and other media posts. This session had a flurry of audience responses and questions to these media professionals from both older architects trying to understand this media landscape and young designers just starting out and wanting to know how to position their firms. Created by the earned media, this panel highlighted the difficulties of owned media. The NEXT Conference was lightly attended and suffered from being staged in two venues (each with its own problems) across the city, but hopefully the organizers will learn from this first event and give San Francisco the professional conference it deserves "NEXT" year.
Placeholder Alt Text

Talking tall buildings in Shanghai

In September the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) gathered high-minded designers, developers and engineers for a conference in Shanghai. CTBUH, which often partners with AN on conferences, including our own Facades+ events, invited me to serve as a special media correspondent for the conference, held September 16–19. I spent most of the time conducting video interviews with the symposium guests, which we'll post here on the AN blog as they become available. For now, here' a quick overview of the topics discussed. The theme of this year's conference was “Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism.” It was an especially relevant topic given the venue—held in the elegant, SOM-designed Jin Mao Tower, the conference looked for lessons (and warnings) in the kind of supertall, super-dense development that turned the Lujiazui area of Shanghai's Pudong district from farmland into a world financial center in just 20 years. Symposium presenters tackled sustainability from several angles. Matthew Clifford, head of energy and sustainability services for North Asia at JLL, stressed building operation and management is as important as design when it comes to energy use and building performance. Cathy Yang, manager of Taipei 101, recounted how “greening” the 101-story building did not turn a profit until the initiative's sixth year, but then made up for it in just three years. The Taiwanese supertall remains the largest LEED Platinum–certified building in the world. Jianping Gu of Shanghai Tower Construction and Development espoused the benefits of the “stereoscopic” form of his building, which at 2,073 feet is set to become the tallest building in China upon completion next year. “If you compare Shanghai Tower to Taipei 101Petronas Towers, those were all isolated," Gu said. "There were already two towers in the vicinity when we started. We had to pay particular attention to harmonizing with those buildings. We consider this an issue of sustainability.” But towering, monumental architecture may not be for everyone. David Gianotten, an OMA partner heading the firm's Hong Kong office, told me OMA gets so many briefs seeking “iconic” design that the word has begun to lose its meaning. “If everything's special, then nothing's special,” he said. That debate continued onto the conference floor, where developers discussed how China's third- and fourth-tier cities should embrace the tall building boom—or whether they should at all. On the conference's final day, Mun Summ Wong of Singapore-based WOHA talked about the psychological environment of horizontal cities, and how tall buildings should better embrace the human scale. “The idea is to inject more urban life into the high-rise city,” Wong said. “We introduce horizontal movement in the high-rise building because it changes the dynamic. When you talk to the people next to you in an ordinary high-rise, it is considered rude. But in the street, you talk to people, build relationships and bonds.” Similarly, Yang Wu of the Bund Finance Center warned of the risks of homogeneous skylines. “When I open my eyes in the morning and I am in Shenzhen, I still think I am in Shanghai because they look the same,” he said. “[China is] duplicating buildings and the mistakes of the West. There is focus on building bizarre and tall buildings but ignorance of the connotations–resulting in cold buildings for cold cities. As a developer, I call on architects: you need to have your own independent ideas that bring vitality.” You can read more about the conference on CTBUH's website. Check back here as we post video interviews.

The Clock is Ticking! One Week Until Facades+ PERFORMANCE in Chicago

AN and Enclos' Facades+ PERFORMANCE is only one week away! Register today to join hundreds of like-minded professionals from across the AEC industry as they converge on Chicago from October 24th-25th to discuss the most exciting breakthroughs in high-performance building enclosures. The response has been overwhelming and there are just a few seats remaining, so don’t miss your chance to be part of this groundbreaking event! Be there for hands-on technology workshops and in-depth discussions of the tools and techniques that are forcing a paradigm shift in the way high-performance architecture is conceived and constructed. Form lasting professional connections with leading innovators from across the industry through our unbeatable networking opportunities. Set new standards for performance in your professional practice. The future of architecture begins at Facades+, so sign up today before the clock runs out!
Placeholder Alt Text

Network with Leading Professionals from Across the AEC Industries at Facades Plus

At AN and Enclos’ Facades+ PERFORMANCE, the most anticipated conference on high-performance building enclosures, we not only provide you with the educational experiences that enable you to push your professional practice into emerging architectural frontiers, but we facilitate the networking opportunities that provide you with connections you need to excel in today’s dynamic professional environment. Be there as hundreds of leading specialists from across the AEC industries gather to share and discuss the latest methods and technologies that are revolutionizing the built landscape. Whether you are an architect, engineer, fabricator, contractor, materials supplier, developer, educator or student, Facades+ PERFORMANCE is the destination for those interested in the latest breakthroughs in all aspects of high-performance facades. There are only nine days left before the conference touches down on Mies van der Rohe’s IIT Campus in Chicago, so register today to take advantage of this exciting opportunity. Sign up now and mark it down on your calendar: Facades+ PERFORMANCE, Chicago, October 24th-25th! With networking breaks every two hours, complementary lunches, our jam-packed sponsors gallery, and, to top it all off, a cocktail reception at Rem Koolhaas’ IIT McCormick Tribune Campus Center, the Facades+ agenda was crafted to maximize your ability to form crucial professional connections. Be exposed to new technologies, new methods, new materials, and new ideas as you meet and mingle with representatives from today’s most exciting firms. The clock is ticking, so reserve your space today to begin the next stage in your career.
Placeholder Alt Text

Facades+ is Fast Approaching! Sign Up Today for Exclusive Educational Opportunities

icons_blog-3 Facades+ PERFORMANCE is only ten days away! Space is filling up fast, so don’t miss your chance to be part of this groundbreaking, two-day convergence of the industry’s leading innovators. Register today to take advantage of our exclusive educational opportunities, including a day-long symposium examining new perspectives on building skins and sustainable practices, and hands-on technical workshops in the latest design and analysis technologies that are revolutionizing contemporary architecture. And don’t forget about our in-depth, seminar-style dialog workshops, in which leading professionals from across the AEC industry sit down with you to discuss their most innovative recent projects. Space is limited, and some sessions are already SOLD OUT, so sign up today to reserve you seat! Join the movement that is changing the face of the built environment, only at Facades+ PERFORMANCE – Chicago, Oct. 24-25th! The conference kicks off next Thursday morning with a keynote address from founding principal of Behnisch Architekten, Stefan Behnisch, as he discusses the evolving role of building enclosures amidst ever-advancing technologies. The symposium will continue throughout the day as representatives from SOM, Thornton Tomasetti, Rojkind Arquitectos, and other leading firms will discuss the most pressing issues in sustainable, high-performance facades. Registered architects can earn 8 AIA LU/HSW credits. The following day, attendees can customize their schedules to best suit their professional goals. Sign up for two, half-day dialog workshops to join representatives from SHoP Construction, Gehry Technologies, Morphosis, and other industry leaders for intimate discussions of exciting, real-world case studies. Or register for our cutting-edge technology workshops, and join the experts for full-day, project-based instruction in the most relevant applications of breakthrough technologies, like environmental analysis with Grasshopper and Ladybug, and parametric facade design with Dynnamo for Revit—another exciting opportunity to score your AIA credits! For a complete schedule of events, check out the full Facades+ PERFORMANCE site.