Posts tagged with "Harvard":

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Architecture's Two Percent: Black in Design conference at Harvard tackles complex social and economic issues

In recent months there has been increasing awareness and discussion around the built environment's impact on a number of complex social and economic issues that also intersect with race and class. Architecture critic James Russell has written about Ferguson and even New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman has written about Eric Garner. This momentum for a long-overdue public conversation on these issues among those in the design and planning disciplines is also being fostered by a group of predominantly black and predominantly women students at Harvard's Graduate School of Design.

The GSD's African-American Students Union (AASU) has challenged themselves, their peers, their institutions, and the built environment disciplines at-large to seriously engage the real differences that race can make in design practices. This led to the Black in Design Conference—organized by AASU and held at Harvard GSD this weekend.

A range of ideas, projects, and provocations by nearly 30 speakers from different disciplines were organized into panels according to scales of impact: buildings, neighborhoods, cities, and regions. There were also sessions on the role of race in the pedagogy of design and global design practice.

But this was not your usual design conference. Beyond the presentations and discussions, there were collective breathing and dance exercises, throwback Goodie Mob music video clips addressing urban conditions, and even a choir performance with many participants singing along to anthems for social equality and progress. The conference lunch was programmed as a workshop around the issue of food access and quality that affects many black and low-income communities. The conference's structure created a space to share and question what it means to attempt to address the difficult issues that affect black communities as a designer—and further, what it means to be black in design.

Phil Freelon, an award-winning architect of the new Smithsonian African American museum, asked who was going to be the "Miles Davis of Architecture" to provoke the notion that in the built environment design fields black designers do not yet have the weight of influence seen in other creative fields, such as music or fashion, that shape and inform our larger culture and everyday lives.

More than once, speakers raised the need for more people of color to get into the design fields and increase the number of licensed black architects which today stands at a paltry 2 percent. Architect and planner Maurice Cox advertised to the audience 30 new urban designer and planner job openings in the predominantly black city of Detroit, underlining the need for black designers to work in black communities. The discussions at the two-day event highlighted that the personal and professional contributions that black designers make to their fields, and by extension to the global and local contexts and populations that they serve, is all too rare.

More information about the conference can be found at blackindesign.com and some of the ideas and images from the event can be found on social media using the #blackindesign and #blackdesignmatters hashtags.

Justin Garrett Moore is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture at Columbia University's GSAPP and was a speaker at the Black in Design Conference.

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KVA Brings Digital Brick to Harvard

Old and new technologies combine in renovated anthropology building.

Tasked with transforming Harvard's 1971 Tozzer Library into a new home for the university's Anthropology Department, Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA) faced a unique set of challenges. In addition to balancing the desire for a distinct architectural identity with the building's literal and metaphorical connection to adjacent structures including Peabody Museum, the architects had to accommodate an expanded program within the old library's footprint and structure. As for Tozzer Library's facade, a mold problem and poor environmental performance meant that preserving the brick exterior was never an option. "It's a generic problem of envelopes from buildings that aren't that old, yet can't stand up to contemporary needs," said principal Sheila Kennedy. "What are you going to do with those buildings? The bold approach here was, 'we're going to build on [the existing] value." By stripping Tozzer Library down to its steel and concrete-slab bones, adding space under a two-story copper roof, and wrapping the exterior in a parametrically-designed brick skin, KVA seamlessly negotiated between Harvard's storied past and the mandates of a 21st-century curriculum. Both Kennedy and founding principal J. Frano Violich are quick to dismiss the notion that the problems with the 1971 building, designed by Boston firm Johnson, Hotvedt and Associates, were anything other than a product of their times. "Attitudes toward energy consumption were very different at the time," said Violich. "[Tozzer Library] was built by intelligent people, but everyone's understanding was different from today." In contrast, he said, for the new Tozzer Anthropology Building, "everyone was on top of every [LEED] point." (The project achieved LEED Gold.) KVA began by substituting 6-inch wall studs for the original 2 1/2-inch studs, making way for improved air circulation and insulation. In addition, they eliminated the potential for mold growth by increasing the air gap between the outside sheeting and the back of the brick veneer from 3/4 inches to 2 inches. With the mechanics of the exterior walls in place, "the challenge, aesthetically, was how do we get a sense of both thickness and thinness in the veneer?" said Violich. Luckily, the question of how to breathe new life into flat surfaces was nothing new for the architects. "At KVA we've been very interested in how one designs with contemporary wall systems, with materials that are thin," explained Kennedy. "How do we express their thinness, but by architectural means and devices give them an architectural thickness, manipulate them formally so there can be a game of thin and thick?" In the case of Tozzer Anthropology Building, the answer was a new entrance pavilion with a three-dimensional brick pattern meant to "seem like carved thick brick—like an archeological find," said Kennedy. Drawing upon their early experiments with digital brick, including those at the University of Pennsylvania Law School building, the designers used parametric design software to tie each brick unit to the building's overall form. "As we manipulated the physical form in 3D, we could see various brick patterns that could develop," explained Kennedy. "It was a hybrid of low-tech and high-tech," she said of the process of zeroing in on corbeling, a brick-stacking technique that allows for overhanging layers. The digitally-derived corbeled texture complemented the depth of ornament found elsewhere around Harvard's campus. "We didn't want to make something that was arbitrary and ornamental, but something that was authentic to our time," said Kennedy. To arrive at a final design for the multi-story entrance wall, the architects again combined cutting-edge technology with traditional expertise. "The actual pattern was achieved through physical experimentation," explained Kennedy. "We did a lot of dry stack work with local masons: We would take the designs out of the computer, then pass them to the masons to test. That was a really fun part of the process." KVA then took what they learned from their real-life experiments back into the virtual world, adjusting the digital design accordingly.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kansas Brick (brick), Wasau (glazing)
  • Architects Kennedy & Violich Architecture
  • Facade Installer Consigli (masonry), Gilbert & Becker Roofing (copper)
  • Facade Consultants BuroHappold Engineering
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System brick walls, including parametrically-designed corbeled entry pavilion, with high performance glazing and custom copper roof
  • Products 500 Harvard brick from Kansas Brick, Wausau 4250-Z Zero Sightline insert windows, Wasau 6250 S-Series SuperWall curtain wall system
Even the flat facades appear unlike typical brick walls, thanks largely to an unusual window arrangement. "When you're looking at the windows, you're not looking at traditional punch windows, or a strip window with a long relieving angle," said Violich. Rather, the windows are shifted to conceal the vertical control joints in the brick. "That helps defuse the veneer quality that brick sometimes brings on," he explained. The floor-to-floor windows further confound expectations by concealing the plenum and—because they are frameless, and punch out rather than in—appearing as much like light monitors as the actual skylights cut into the building's roofline. Tozzer Anthropology Building's recycled-content copper roof completes the dialogue between thick and thin established on the brick facades. "We worked hard in the massing of the design to give a twist to the building," said Kennedy. "That could really only happen in the two new floors." KVA textured the copper roof with vertical standing seams, again using parametric software to arrange different panel types in a corduroy-like pattern. "A lot of times people think advanced facades are super technical, but we can get lost in the technology and why we're using it," observed Kennedy. "[This project] is a good combination of an aesthetic agenda, an architectural agenda, and a technical agenda." For KVA, Tozzer Anthropology Building represents more than just a repurposed campus building. Rather, it offers a provocative answer to one of today's most pressing questions: how to rectify an inherited aesthetic preference for glass with the current push for improved energy efficiency. "Everybody loves glass—we love transparency in architecture," said Kennedy. "But as we move on in our energy transition, we're going to have to develop new ideas about mass and opacity. How can we go back to a pre-modern time, but create something that is contemporary?"
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Could evaporating water be the newest renewable energy source? Columbia researchers harnesses the power of bacterial spores

A biophysicist at Columbia University has discovered how to tap evaporating water as an electrical energy source using a simple device made from bacterial spores, glue, and LEGO bricks. Ozgur Sahin’s findings operate at the cellular level, based around his research on the Bacillus bacteria, a microorganism commonly found in soil—and its implications could potentially be far reaching. In high humidity, the spores absorb moisture from the air, expanding up to 40 percent in volume. In dry conditions, the reverse occurs. “Changing size this much is highly unusual for a material that is as rigid as wood or plastic, said Sahin, associate professor of Biological Sciences and Physics at Columbia University. “We figured that expanding and contracting spores can act like a muscle, pushing and pulling other objects. We noticed that we could harness the motion of spores and convert it to electrical energy.” Sahin’s prototype generator is modeled after a wind turbine, which captures kinetic energy and converts it into electricity. Attached to the generator is a flexible, elastic rubber sheet coated in a thin layer of spores. Using a fan and a small container of water, Sahin’s team showed that dry laboratory air and the evaporating moisture from the surface of the water can cause the entire sheet to curl up and straighten, rotating the turbine back and forth to yield electricity. “The biggest form of energy transfer in nature is evaporation. Our climate is powered by evaporating water from oceans and we have no direct way of accessing this energy,” Sahin pointed out. In a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology earlier this year, Sahin and his team, ExtremeBio, consisting of collaborators from Harvard University and the Loyola University Medical Center, showed that these spores produced a thousand times more force than human muscles, and that even a little moisture from evaporation could trigger movement strong enough to be harvested. “The subtle phenomenon of evaporation has big potential. This may be an opening for a completely new energy platform,” said Sahin, whose findings also bode the possibility of developing environmentally benign batteries and engineering stronger materials that mimic muscular movement in robots and prosthetic devices. Pound for pound, the spores pack more energy than other materials used in engineering for moving objects, according to Sahin’s paper. The ramifications are simply enormous in terms of energy savings for the construction and other industries, as well as possibly circumventing the depletion of fossil fuels. In an online issue of Nature Communications, Columbia University scientists reported the development of two novel devices powered entirely by evaporation – a floating, piston-driven engine dubbed the Moisture Mill, which generates electricity and causes a light to flash, and a rotary engine that drives a miniature car. Both devices contain a thin layer of spores. When the evaporation energy is scaled up, researchers predict that it could one day produce electricity from giant floating generators on bays or reservoirs, or from huge rotating machines like wind turbines that sit above water.
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HUD Secretary Julian Castro touts new planning rules for affordable housing

U.S. Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visited Chicago today to announce a clarification to the 1968 Fair Housing Act that officials say will improve access to affordable housing in cities across the country. HUD finalized a bureaucratic rule that Castro says will correct shortcomings in the federal agency's provision of fair housing. The 1968 law, part of the Civil Rights bill, obligates HUD and its local affiliates to “affirmatively further fair housing,” a lofty goal that “has not been as effective as originally envisioned,” according to the new HUD rule. "This represents a new partnership with cities,” said Secretary Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Standing in front of Chicago's newly expanded Park Boulevard—the mixed-income housing development was formerly Stateway Gardens, part of the corridor of South Side housing projects that included Robert Taylor Homes—Castro said the new rule will make publicly available data and mapping tools to help community members and local leaders establish local goals for the development fair housing. He added that Chicago had already used the newly available data for a preliminary exercise linking affordable housing and transit planning. The change also allows local housing agencies more time and flexibility in presenting their fair housing priorities and goals to the federal government. Castro referenced a recent Harvard study that found kids from low-income neighborhoods were statistically less likely than their wealthier counterparts to achieve upward mobility. "A zip code should never prevent anyone from reaching their greater aspirations,” said Castro.
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Diane Davis to head Harvard GSD's Department of Urban Planning

Just days after the Harvard Graduate School of Design announced that Anita Berrizbeitia would be the new chair of its Department of Landscape Architecture, the school has announced another big appointment: Professor Diane Davis will be head its Department of Urban Planning. "Davis teaches courses and options studios that examine the role of politics in planning and design, relations between urbanization and development, and socio-spatial practice at the scale of the city," the school said in a statement. "Her research focuses on urban transformations in the global south, particularly the urban social, spatial, and political conflicts that have emerged in response to globalization, informality, and political and economic violence. In her capacity as co-director of the Risk and Resilience track in the Master in Design Studies (MDes) program, Davis explores overlapping vulnerabilities in the built and natural environment and assesses their significance for planning theory and design practice." Both Davis and Berrizbeitia will assume their new roles on July 1.  
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Anita Berrizbeitia to head Department of Landscape Architecutre at Harvard GSD

Anita Berrizbeitia has been named as the new chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard GSD. Berrizbeitia is already quite familiar with the department as she is currently a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the GSD and the Director of its Master in Landscape Architecture degree programs. "Berrizbeitia is a landscape architect specializing in theory and criticism of 19th and 20th-century public landscapes in the United States and Europe, with particular interests in material culture, design expression, and the productive functions and roles of landscape in processes of urbanization," Harvard GSD said in a press release. "Her research on Latin American cities and landscapes centers on the creative hybridization of local and foreign cultural practices as a response to a centuries-old process of global cultural exchange; the role of large-scale infrastructural projects on territorial organization; and the interface between landscape and emerging urbanization." Berrizbeitia will assume her new role on July 1.
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Erik L’Heureux Wins 2015 Wheelwright Prize

The Harvard Graduate School of Design has named Erik L’Heureux as the winner of the 2015 Wheelwright Prize. L’Heureux is an American architect and current professor at the National University of Singapore; he also heads up his own firm called Pencil Office. Along with the prestigious accolade comes a $100,000 traveling fellowship for L’Heureux to study new approaches to contemporary design for two years. L’Heureux's proposal, Hot and Wet: The Equatorial City and the Architectures of Atmosphere, asked how architecture can help Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Pondicherry, Lagos, and São Paulo mediate the impacts of climate change while simultaneously responding to urbanization. L’Heureux presented his proposal in mid-April at the GSD alongside other finalists Malkit Shoshan from Amsterdam and Quynh Vantu from London. “We commend L’Heureux, Shoshan, and Vantu, who are each working impressively to broaden the definition and possibilities of architectural practice,” said K. Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Harvard GSD. “L’Heureux is an example of an architect with a strong practice who has developed a serious intellectual project that relates organically to his own work. His proposal is not just about technology and efficiency, but deals with the politicization of ecologies and economies in a complicated region and architecture’s complicity in difficult global issues.”        
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John Peterson, founder of Public Architecture, to curate GSD's Loeb Fellowship

Harvard's Graduate School of Design has named John Peterson, founder of the non-profit Public Architecture, as the new curator of the Loeb Fellowship. The fellowship consists of architects, landscape architects, journalists, and more studying the built environment. Peterson will step into the role in January, succeeding James Stockard who served in the position for 16 years and is an alumnus of the fellowship. "John has built an impressive organization and impactful career focusing on societal engagement through the agency of design,” said Charles Waldheim, Chair of Harvard GSD’s Department of Landscape Architecture and head of the Loeb Curator search committee, in a statement. “His capacity to articulate and enable design to play a role in the service of broader publics, often in very challenging conditions, promises to renew the Loeb program’s longstanding commitments in this area." Peterson founded Public Architecture in 2002 and led his own practice, Peterson Architects, from 1993 to 2010. He holds degrees from RISD, taught at the California College of the Arts as well as the University of Texas at Austin, and was a Loeb Fellow in 2006. In a statement, the GSD said, "Peterson has played an important part in defining the concept of “public interest design,” which has evolved in recent years into a significant field of practice."
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Harvard GSD announces finalists for the 2015 Wheelwright Prize

The Harvard Graduate School of Design has announced the three potential awardees of the 2015 Wheelwright Prize, a travel-based architectural research grant valued at $100,000. Each year, one architect from approximately 200 applicants bags the prize. Established in 1935 at a time when foreign travel was limited to an elite few and then known as the Arthur C. Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship, the prize used to be awarded solely to GSD alumni. It has now become an international competition welcoming early-career architects (within 15 years of earning an architectural degree) from around the world to bring in new blood, fresh ideas, and cross-cultural exchange. The number of countries represented has grown from 46 the previous year to 51 this year, including Bosnia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Poland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Zimbabwe and more. The seven-person jury of architects has selected three finalists to present their research proposals at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on April 16, with the winner to be announced at the end of the month. To inspire the next generation of Wheelwright prizewinners, the winner of the 2013 Wheelwright Prize, Gia Wolff, will present "Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats," reporting on her research on over the past two years on carnival festivals. "The idea is not just about travel—the act of going and seeing the world—but it is about binding the idea of geography to themes and issues that hold great potential relevance to contemporary practice," said Harvard GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi in a statement. The three 2015 finalists are as follows: Erik L’Heureux, Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore, presenting: “Hot and Wet: The Equatorial City and the Architectures of Atmosphere.” Malkit Shoshan, founder of think tank, FAST (Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory) Amsterdam, presenting: “Architecture and Conflict: Pre-Cycling the Compound” Quynh Vantu, Award-winning Architect, London, presenting : “On Movement: The Threshold and its Shaping of Culture and Spatial Experience.”
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Harvard Names Seven Finalists for the 2014 Wheelwright Prize

Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) has announced seven finalists for the $100,000 Wheelwright Grant which is awarded annually for travel-based architectural research. This prize was first given in 1935 to purely GSD grads until it was revamped in 2013 to be an open competition. The 2014 competition received nearly 200 submissions from 46 countries. The jury awarded special commendation to seven individuals for their exceptional design talent and imaginative research proposals. The winner will be announced on April 30th. Jose Ahedo Studio Ahedo Barcelona Wheelwright proposal: Domesticated Grounds: Design and Domesticity Within Animal Farming Systems. Jose Ahedo established his own firm, Studio Ahedo, in 2010. His first completed project is Blanca, a dairy complex in the Pyrenees, which includes 13 buildings comprising animal facilities, research labs, and an education center. Ana Dana Beros Think Space Zagreb, Croatia Wheelwright proposal: INTERMUNDIA: Re-Imagining Border-Scape in Mediterranean Countries. Ana Dana Beros is an independent architect, curator, editor, educator, and exhibition designer. Alison Crawshaw Alison Crawshaw Architecture London Wheelwright proposal: The Poison and the Cure: Rubbish in the Information Age. Alison wrote a thesis on illegal building practices in Rome during her time as a Rome Scholar. Masaaki Iwamoto Vo Trong Nghia Architects Ho Chi Minh City Wheelwright proposal: Tropical Skin: Study on New Building Envelope for Tropical Megacities. His work includes low-cost housing, a kindergarten, and workplaces, has been widely published. Jimenez Lai Bureau Spectacular Chicago Wheelwright proposal: Caricatures, Fictions and Hyperboles: A Revisit of the World of Wonders. Jimenez Lai is the principal of Bureau Spectacular and an assistant architecture professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Sean Lally Weathers Chicago Wheelwright proposal: Climate Design: The Architecture of Energies. Sean Lally is the founder of the firm Weathers and assistant architecture professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Kaz Yoneda Takram Design Engineering Tokyo Wheelwright proposal: Utopics of Cities: Amorphous Contemporaneity of Ideal. Kaz Yoneda is the founder of the Architecture and Space Design Unit at Takram Design Engineering
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Hopkins Architects to Transform Harvard's Holyoke Center into New Campus Hub

Harvard’s Holyoke Center, designed by renowned Catalan architect and former Dean on the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Josep Lluís Sert, will soon be undergoing major renovations, university President Drew Faust announced last Thursday. London-based Hopkins Architects, the designers of Princeton’s Frick Chemistry Laboratory and Yale’s Kroon Hall, have signed on to transform the 50-year-old, cast-in-place administrative building into multifaceted campus center by 2018. The 360,000-square-foot, H-shaped structure, completed in 1966, represents both the first high-rise building in the area as well as the beginning of Harvard’s adoption of Modern architecture. Behind its complex, Corbusian facade of concrete fins, colored bands, and seemingly randomly placed windows, Holyoke Center has housed the university’s health services, infirmary, and the majority of its administrative offices, as well as ground-floor retail. As part of Harvard's ongoing efforts to improve common spaces across its campus, the building will undergo extensive interior remodeling and exterior renovations in order to provide students, faculty, and staff with an expansive cultural and social center. Once complete, the rechristened Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center will contain a flexible indoor gathering space, lounges, and study areas, as well as exhibition, performance and event spaces. The building’s ground floor, renovated over a decade ago to enclose Sert’s original open-air arcade with glass walls, will remain open to the public with a variety of retail and food service outlets. “The Smith Campus Center will draw members of the University community together and serve as an important common space for everyone to enjoy and use,” said Harvard President Drew Faust last Thursday during the unveiling of the building’s new identity. “We are very pleased to be moving forward with planning, and we are eager to engage students, faculty, and staff in the important work of creating a flexible and welcoming campus hub.” Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 following an extensive planning process that will include considerable student and community participation.
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Le Corbusier's Carpenter Center for Visual Arts: Fifty Years Later

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. Completed in 1963, it is Le Corbusier’s only major building in the United States, and one of his final commissions before his death in 1965. The renowned modernist architect envisaged a "synthesis of the arts," the union of architecture with sculpture, painting, and other arts. In the spirit of Corbusier’s unique style, the building stands out among the more traditional architectural prototypes of the Harvard campus. This is evident right from his initial concept sketch of the building, where Corbusier utilized bold colors to denote the new building, while shading the surrounding Harvard campus in dark brown—a color not typically part of his visual palette. The Center is unmistakably Corbusier, and reminiscent of the Villa Savoye with its smooth concrete finish, thin columns which break up the interior spaces, and a great curvilinear ramp which runs through the heart of the building, encouraging public circulation while providing views into the design studios. This achieves visibility and transparency of the creative process taking place within. To mark the anniversary of the buildings completion, Harvard displayed new material that revealed the evolution of this unique five-story structure. While Le Corbusier was never able to see his preliminary sketches come to fruition, the Carpenter Center for the Arts successfully unites a range of art disciplines, and continues to maintain the largest 35mm film collection in the New England region, as well as housing Harvard’s historic film archives.