Posts tagged with "Howeler + Yoon Architecture":

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Höweler + Yoon will plant fluted concrete in the center of Boston

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Breaking ground later this year, 212 Stuart Street is located on the northern edge of Boston’s Bay Village Historic District between two very different contexts: a midrise commercial corridor and the 19th-century enclave of brick rowhouses. Architecture firm Höweler + Yoon was challenged with bridging these distinctive neighborhoods via a 20-story residential building that is contemporary in design but still deferential to the landmarked neighborhood. The architects found inspiration in the masonry buildings in the area, notably the fluted piers on a nearby 1930s garage dubbed “Motor Mart.” In response, they designed a series of super-scaled precast concrete panels to break up the relatively straightforward massing of the high-rise building into “courses” of varying height.
  • Architect Höweler + Yoon Sasaki (Architect of Record)
  • Facade Consultant Vidaris
  • Structural Engineer McNamara Salvia
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2021
  • System Precast concrete barrier and window wall system
The facade is constructed from 14-inch-thick concave panels whose rhythms produce a dynamic play of light and shadow; there’s a depth and richness to the facade that echoes the surrounding historic architecture. The design was developed and refined over many iterations and with many physical models. The developer-client was won over by the idea with a small plaster prototype of the fluting but was ultimately convinced with a full-scale foam mockup created to study the lighting effects and to better understand how the deep concrete panels would affect the views from the inside. The concave panels and the overall assembly were optimized in collaboration with pre-casters, who helped the architects realize that it would be more efficient to use nine unique panels than the three they initially proposed. Window walls and glass spandrels complete the envelope. The design is more complex than it first appears, with a lot of movement and deflection that required extensive coordination between multiple systems to create the appearance of a single unified building envelope. “Ultimately, we worked out all the details with the help of the pre-caster, the glazier, the facade consultant, and the architect of record, Sasaki,” said principal Eric Höweler. “It’s a very clear diagram, but it turns out that requires a lot of work to get right.” The design of 212 Stuart Street was a collaborative process during which the architects also worked closely with the Bay Village community—who needed to be convinced. For nearly everyone except architects, concrete has a bad rap in Beantown, and the architects had to prove that they weren’t trying to build another Boston City Hall. The 1930s Motor Mart that inspired their design helped with this: “People thought it was limestone, but it’s actually precast,” noted Höweler. “So we were able to show that there is a way to do precast beautifully. It doesn’t have to look like City Hall.”
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American Academy of Arts and Letters announces 2019 Architecture Awards

Last night the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded its 2019 Architecture Awards to five teams and people. Selected by jurors Annabelle Selldorf (chair), Henry N. Cobb, Kenneth Frampton, Steven Holl, Thom Mayne, Laurie Olin, James Polshek, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams from 33 nominees, four winners will receive a $10,000 award from the Academy, and Eduardo Souto De Moura will receive $20,000 for the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize. The winners are: Hernan Diaz Alonso The director of Sci-Arc and principal of Xefirotarch, Alonso was recognized by juror Thom Mayne as occupying “a pivotal position from which to influence the future of architecture,” through his educational involvement. Mayne also praised Alonso's combination of animation, architecture, and design that results in “a dark and aesthetic edge.” His proposal for the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Patagonia received the AR+D Award for Emerging Architecture and a Progressive Architecture Award in 2013, and he has also worked on product design, collaborating with Alessi and others. Mario Gooden and Mabel O. Wilson Co-directors of the Global Africa Lab at Columbia University, the duo has focused on the history and complicated politics of placemaking through their work and writings. Juror Billie Tsien said that the work of the Lab “reminds us that architecture and design can and should be a participant in the struggle for a just world.” Dark Space: Architecture, Representation, Black Identity and Begin With the Past were published by Gooden and Wilson, respectively, in 2016, exploring the intersections of African American identity and architecture, and the history and complexities that surround the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Eric Höweler and Meejin Yoon The principals of the firm Höweler + Yoon have created “some of the most formally innovative and beautifully crafted work today,” according to juror Tod Williams. Shadow Play, a pedestrian-focused public space project, and the Collier Memorial both received an American Architecture Prize in 2016, with Shadow Play tacking on a 2018 AIA Small Project Award as well. Williams called the memorial “a tour de force, integrating innovative structure, form, and meaning.” Anne Rieselbach The program director for the Architectural League of New York has “dedicated her life to architecture,” as said by juror Steven Holl. Rieselbach encourages engagement and architectural discourse through the Current Work lecture series and has overseen the Emerging Voices program for over three decades. “She has continuously advocated for the exploration of new ideas in urban design and architecture,” Holl said. Eduardo Souto De Moura The recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, de Moura will receive $20,000 as the architect honored for advancing the practice of architecture as an art. Juror Annabelle Selldorf cited the “distinct sense of materiality” inherent in his works, like the Paula Rego museum in Portugal and his 2005 Serpentine Gallery, designed in partnership with Alvaro Siza. His architecture “feels inevitable,” said Annabelle Selldorf, and has “a timeless and profoundly humanist quality.”
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These toothsome dentist offices make cleanings a piece of cake

We’ve all been there—harsh lighting, outdated fitness magazines, uncomfortable chairs in windowless rooms—the truth is that dentist offices are often as ugly as they are fear-inducing. But every now and then, it’s possible to create medical offices that soothe rather than stress. To achieve this goal, some designers might focus on interesting wall detailing, access to daylight, or even innovative circulation. We’ve collected examples that align all three approaches to show that when designers drill down into the details of dentistry, spaces can make patients smile. KU64 Dental Specialists Karhard Architektur + Design On the other side of the pond, German architects Karhard Architektur + Design divide patient rooms from circulation and waiting areas with transparency instead of the usual poché. In the offices for KU64 Dental Specialists, the firm deploys fritted glass walls and brightly patterned wallpapers depicting local flora and fauna for maximum dissociation. These colorful spaces are intended to provide a visual distraction as well as personal comfort. The offices include a dental surgery wing divided into sterile and nonsterile areas by a faceted airlock while also offering an area of themed recovery rooms to help patients come to. These loungelike rooms—cloaked in cross-stitched end-grain plywood, accented with photo murals depicting Baroque interiors, and filled with chrome-wrapped seating—look out over leafy, urban vistas. Santa Monica Orthodontics Sharif, Lynch: Architecture For Santa Monica Orthodontics in California, Los Angeles–based Sharif, Lynch: Architecture uses subtle abstraction to create surprisingly kid-friendly spaces. With an emphasis on “graphic flatness and tectonic fullness,” the designers interrupt cool materials with dramatic points of visual interest to bridge the front- and back-of-house sections of the office. The dichotomy is most pronounced where sliding acrylic and glass panels separate an open treatment room from a mix of ancillary spaces located beyond. The prismatic, dichromatic panels change color throughout the day, running from purple to gold as the lighting conditions behind them shift. Mohamed Sharif, founding principal at Sharif, Lynch, said, “We wanted to break free of the typical associations we might have with normative medical spaces by creating details for anyone who cares to linger.” MINT, D.D.S. Höweler + Yoon Architecture Höweler + Yoon Architecture (HYA), on the other hand, takes an opposite tack by using patterned millwork and monochromatic, faceted surfaces to conceal medical equipment and storage spaces for the MINT dental clinic in Boston. Here, the designers line an interior hallway with cabinets sheathed in CNC-milled, laminated Baltic birch plywood panels studded with pointillist representations of buoyant clouds. The arrangement, an effort to be “strategic with thickness,” according to Eric Höweler, founding principal at HYA, creates an “almost spalike appeal” to the spaces while also providing clear circulation routes as well as privacy for each of the operating suites. An accent wall located behind a stark-white reception desk uses serial end-grain panels as a faceted backdrop for the office waiting areas, elements that help the firm develop an “exceptional project with a nonexceptional budget.”
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J. Meejin Yoon is the new dean of Cornell AAP

Cornell University's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (Cornell AAP) has just announced its new dean, J. Meejin Yoon, AIA, who will be the first woman to take the post and will succeed Kieran Donaghy, currently the Interim Dean of the school. Yoon is currently a professor and the first female head of the department of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yoon co-founded Boston-based practice Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP with partner Eric Howeler. "I am very excited about my new role as Dean at Cornell and look forward to amplifying the agendas already at Cornell AAP that I can contribute to," Yoon said in a statement. "Cornell has excellent programs in architecture, art, and city and regional planning. As a designer, I have always tried to work in ways that cut across or sit at the intersection between disciplinary boundaries and I find the eco-system of disciplines and expertise at Cornell extremely substantive. I also see tremendous potential for expanding the role of technology within the culture of design at Cornell, from computational design and digital fabrication to data-driven processes in planning to new forms of media in the arts." Yoon has been widely recognized for her teaching and practice. She was the winner of the New Generation Design Leadership Award by Architectural Record in 2015, the United States Artist Award in Architecture and Design in 2008, the Rome Prize in Design in 2005, and a Fulbright Scholarship in 1998, with which she completed a trip to Korea. She received a Master of Architecture in Urban Design with Distinction from Harvard University in 1997, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University in 1995, where she attained the AIA Henry Adams Medal. She was born in Seoul, Korea, and grew up in the states. Höweler + Yoon will maintain its office in Boston where it is working on both local and global projects. "Now more than ever, we need design to address complex challenges across multiple scales," Yoon said. "From climate change to rapid urbanization and social strife, design plays an instrumental role in the transformation of cities and cultures. There is an urgency to design to address these critical challenges, and there is an agency to design in enabling instrumental change." Yoon will commence her role in the next academic year. Cornell AAP is one of the oldest and most respected schools of architecture in the United States and is the only department in the Ivy League to offer a NAAB-accredited Bachelor of Architecture degree.
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Howeler + Yoon and substance are among winners of AIA Small Project Awards

Big ideas start with small changes. This is definitely the case for the 11 outstanding projects that were just honored for their design excellence in small project design as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) just announced its 2018 Small Project Awards winners. The awards are given in three categories: architectural objects or environmental art that cost up to 150,000 in construction (Category 1), small project constructions that cost up to 1,500,000 in construction (Category 2), and projects under 5,000 square feet (Category 3). The theme this year is “Renewal.” Here are a few of the Small Projects award winners: Howeler + Yoon Architecture designed Shadow Play, a hovering canopy formed from triangulated modules. Located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, Shadow Play is a cluster of shade structures that casts geometric shadows that transform the streetscape and how pedestrians congregate in the public space. The canopy’s design maximizes the shaded area but also allows for apertures that bring breezes underneath, making it an ideal space to sit and relax. substance architecture designed the Principal Riverwalk Pump Station in Iowa, which also received the award. The design includes two objects–a Pump House that responds to the neighboring Café Pavilion with similar materials of black zinc and steel, and a Gate Valve Platform that combines translucent glass atop and a solid concrete base. According to the AIA, “The creation of this facility has literally led to the renewal of Des Moines' Historic District and, in concert with the Café Pavilion, it frames a popular public space along the river.“ Kevin Daly Architects was recognized for a low-cost, low-impact prototype backyard home. The 500 square foot parcel dubbed BI(h)OME has an innovative facade made of a paper honeycomb inside layers of ETFE, making a lightweight but sturdy structure that creates a pleasing aesthetic. The prototype is recyclable and customizable, and aims to serve as a housing option for 500,000 single families in Los Angeles, a city that struggles with a “shelter crisis.” Sawmill, designed by Olson Kundig, is a family retreat standing in the high desert of California. In response to the harsh climate and the remote location, the net-zero home utilizes recycled but durable materials and employs strategies to reduce environmental impact and minimize operating costs. Cutler Anderson Architects’ design of Studio / Bunkhouse blends in with the wooded site in Washington. The 80 square feet compact, multi-purpose toolbox is set at the top of a waterfront bluff and complemented by the jury for the ability to work with limited power-tools within the challenging site. Other winners include Allford Hall Monaghan Morris for The Grand Lake Poolhouse, FXCollaborative for their Chapel at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, and Edward Ogosta Architecture’s design of Rear Window House. For the past 15 years, the AIA Small Project Awards program sets out to promote value and design quality in buildings, no matter their size. The complete list of the awarded projects can be seen in the link.
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2017 Harleston Parker Medal finalists revealed

Four Boston-based firms have been shortlisted for this year’s Harleston Parker Medal. Awarded by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), the winner will be recognized for designing the “the single most beautiful building or other structure” erected in Boston in the past decade.

In the running for 2017: Höweler + Yoon, Jonathan Levi Architects, William Rawn Associates, and Payette. Now in its 96th edition, this year’s jury is led by Yugon Kim, founding owner and partner of IKD, as well as associate and director at TSKP Studio. Kim enlisted ten professionals from Boston that specialize a variety of disciplines, covering urban planning, design, architecture, and media, notably including Dante Ramos, ideas editor at The Boston Globe and principal of Boston firm, CBT Architects, Kishore Varanasi.

The finalists and their respective shortlisted projects are listed here, in no particular order: Boston Public Library, Central Library Renovation Project (Transformation of the Johnson Wing) William Rawn Associates Collier Memorial Höweler + Yoon Read more about this project here. Field Elementary School Jonathan Levi Architects Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex Payette

The Harleston Parker Medal award was established in 1921 by J. Harleston Parker after his father. The BSA awarded the first medal in 1923 partnership with the Boston chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Last year, Dutch studio Mecanoo and the Boston office of Sasaki were awarded the medal for their Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building. Other previous winners include Renzo Piano Building Workshop who worked with Stance on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum addition and Foster + Partners with CBT Architects who designed the Museum of Fine Arts and the Boston Art of the Americas Wing.

The winner of the medal is to be announced on Thursday January 18 next year at the seventh BSA Design Awards Gala.

The full jury is listed below:

  • Yugon Kim, founding owner and partner, IKD; associate and director, TSKP Architects Boston
  • Karin Goodfellow, director, Boston Art Commission
  • Cynthia Smith FASLA, vice president and principal, Halvorson Design Partnership
  • Anne-Sophie Divenyi AIA, senior capital project manager, Harvard University, Office of Physical Resources and Planning
  • Malia Lazu, president, EpiCenter Community
  • Lee Moreau AIA, principal, Continuum
  • Alexa Pinard, urban designer, Boston Planning & Development Authority
  • Dante Ramos, Ideas editor, The Boston Globe
  • Kishore Varanasi, principal, CBT Architects
  • Richard A. Yeager  AIA, assistant director of planning and design, Boston College
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Höweler+Yoon combine cutting-edge tech and age-old craft to complete the Sean Collier Memorial at MIT

On April 18th, 2013, the Boston Marathon bombers went on a crime spree that included the killing of Officer Sean Collier who was shot in the line of duty on the MIT campus. In honor of the slain MIT patrol officer, the university commissioned Boston-based Höweler+Yoon Architecture to design the Sean Collier Memorial—a somber, grey stone structure that marks the site of the tragedy. The heaviness of the unreinforced, fully compressive masonry structure is meant to convey the concept of “Collier Strong,” or strength through unity. Thirty-two solid blocks of granite form a contemporary version of a five-way vault. "Our goal was to not post-tension the structure, to make it compressive and use solid blocks," Höweler + Yoon principle Meejin Yoon told AN, "It could have been built out of concrete or steel, but we wanted solid blocks." The large stone pieces were digitally designed and fabricated to work as a self-supporting structural system. Forces are translated into form via a robust combination of cutting-edge computational processes and ancient techniques for making masonry structural spans. The stones were precisely milled within a .5 millimeter tolerance, so that they fit together perfectly to form a compression ring with a keystone that caps the shallow masonry arches. In the center of the buttressed vaults is a covered space for reflection. The buttresses act as walls that extend out to the surrounding campus context. The novel concept required many moving parts to work in harmony. "It is very pure. It is a simple idea," Yoon said. "It took so much collaboration to make this simple idea have the integrity that it did. There were students from 8 degree programs, including a PhD student, undergraduate architecture, undergrads in building technology, and grads in engineering and architecture." Engineering and design were intricately linked form beginning to end. The whole design process was influenced by a feedback loop of physical, analog, and digital models as well as digital simulation. Massive quarried blocks of stone were cut with a single-axis robotic block saw, then with a multiple axis KUKA 500 robot. Robotic milling processes made the tiny tolerances possible. Some of the blocks took as long as seven days to carve, with machines running 24 hours. Often, the cutting tools would wear down, causing the tolerances to change mid-fabrication. The team compensated by altering the digital model and then the next piece would change to match what had been previously carved IRL. Sensors were placed at each joint as the project was assembled on site. As stonemasons placed the high-tech monoliths into the 32-part final assembly, the structure was a choreographed symphony of new technology and timeless craft. The legible visualization of forces is parallel with the MIT ethos of openness and transparency, while the poetic nature of a dry masonry vault represents togetherness of the community in recovery. The project team also included structural engineer Knippers Helbig- Stuttgart, masonry consultant Ochsendorf DeJong and Block Consulting Engineers, landscape architect Richard Burck Associates, civil engineer Nitsch Engineering, geotechnical engineer McPhail Associates, lighting designer Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design, and electrical engineer AHA Consulting Engineers.
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Shareway 2030: How Höweler + Yoon Wowed Audi

Somewhere in the world right now, drivers and passengers are cursing their city’s traffic. The automotive snarls common in today’s metropolis are accepted as a symptom of modernity, but the traffic jam—as well as the battle between wheeled and foot traffic on city streets—is probably as old as the city itself. In fact, our forbearers dealt with it in many of the same ways that we’re attempting to now. To alleviate congestion in Rome, Julius Caesar implemented a version of road space rationing, forbidding carts and chariots to enter the city center before late afternoon. For bustling 15th century Milan, Leonardo da Vinci sketched an idea for road sharing system that separated pedestrian from wheeled traffic. But the stakes of moving through the city were dramatically changed in the early 20th century with the debut of the car, a shift that provoked well-founded anxiety. “With all their speed forward, they may be a step backward in civilization,” Booth Tarkington wrote of automobiles in The Magnificent Ambersons, his 1918 novel that follows the beginnings of car culture. The multi-layered cost of cars and the infrastructure they require have come under intense scrutiny almost 100 years later, but one automotive company is hoping to be a leader in the conversation about what’s next. 2012 marks the second cycle in Audi’s Urban Future Award, a biannual competition that invites young architecture firms to contemplate what “mobility” could mean for cities in the year 2030. This year Audi selected six teams in part based on each firm’s connection to a global metropolis—Tokyo, the Pearl River Delta, Istanbul, Mumbai, São Paulo, and the Boston-Washington corridor. The teams presented their final concepts in an exhibition in Istanbul October 12-26, and on October 18th the jurors heard presentations from each and selected a one winner. Boston-based Höweler + Yoon took home the prize (€100,000) for their scheme Shareway 2030, a futuristic proposal to bundle different types of transportation into a seamless, symbiotic whole. Maybe because the team was assigned a sprawling region rather than a city, thinking big—really big—came easily. Höweler + Yoon proposed not only innovations in transportation and infrastructure but also new paradigms for public spaces and social relations also based on sharing. Here’s the premise: The American Dream is in crisis. The old model of individual ownership of a house and a car is passé—unsustainable, and, frankly, unappealing to future generations. So what might the new American Dream look like? Maybe something like “Boswash,” the team’s nickname for development along I-95 from Boston to Washington. The effective capital of Boswash is Newark, NJ, which becomes the site of a massive waterfront super hub where ships meet planes and high-speed trains. At points beyond the hub, energy generated by braking trains is used to charge pod-like Shareway cars, available for easy pick up at every train station. Cars and bikes aren’t the only shared amenities: so are houses (Sharestay). No matter where you are along the Shareway, you’ll never be far from a place to call home. Sharing extends to the very fabric of the city as well. In the urban centers of Boswash, Shareway goes below ground but activates the streets directly above. The ubiquitous blacktop is replaced by a system called Tripanel, where three-in-one street surfaces rotate like billboards: paved road during certain times of day, turf-covered park at others, or, when the light is right, photovoltaic panels that capture solar energy. Some of the more challenged cities of Boswash are repositioned entirely (e.g. Baltimore, becomes a vast urban farm—Farm Share). “It requires imaginative design but also imaginative politics,” said Höweler + Yoon principal Eric Höweler of making his vision for Boswash a reality, noting that it would require a federal commitment on the scale of Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. It’s a fantastical vision, to be sure, but also an optimistic and occasionally thrilling one. Shareway evokes previous bold statements about the city, from Lewis Mumford’s call to rethink the modern megalopolis, which he described as a “bursting container,” to MVDRV’s concept of the Evolutionary City, a city constantly made smarter through transparent use of technology. Technology-enabled communication played a key role in other proposals, most notably that of Superpool, the Istanbul home team and local favorite. Called PARK, Superpool’s concept is essentially a loyalty program that builds on the city’s current transportation infrastructure, rewarding participation in transportation sharing with a stake in programming public space.  “In Istanbul, streets are the true public space,” said Superpool principal Selva Gürdoğan. “Streets are democratic when you can own them, when you can change them.” Based on the fact that the citizens of Istanbul are already heavy users of social media—if cities were ranked by Facebook users Istanbul, population 15 million, would come in second—PARK is managed through a social-media-style software program that advises on routes and also rallies like-minded people together for public events. For PARK, Superpool built on the firm’s established approach of data collection, analysis, and mapping. It’s something we often take for granted in the West, but the work is an important public service and means of instigating conversations about the city in a country where such information to date has not been readily available. Both Shareway and PARK are highly specific to their assigned region or city but also contain bigger ideas that transcend a particular location. It may be this quality that the jurors found lacking in equally compelling concepts from Mumbai-based CRIT, NODE Architecture & Urbanism (Pearl River Delta), and Urban Think Tank (São Paulo), who just coming off a Golden Lion Award at the Venice Biennale. (The Tokyo team of Junya Ishigami + Associates, who in early previews was onto some interesting ideas of the city as an organic entity constantly regenerating itself, unfortunately dropped out before the final presentations.) In all the final proposals, cars, if anywhere to be seen at all, played second fiddle to grander scheme of good life in the city; cars become a means to an end rather than an end in and of themselves. Of the winning proposal, Rupert Stadler, Chairman of Audi AG, said, “We’ll work with the winner to make a concrete project out of it.” This will take the form of a “city dossier,” a kind of blueprint that charts how a concept like Shareway could one day be realized. From Audi’s side of the table, it’s really a matter of facing the future—and the car’s place in it—head on. “I’m much more a fan of being active than defensive,” said Stadler. The German design consultancy Stylepark acts as curator for the award, which falls under an umbrella program called the Audi Future Initiative. Stylepark founder Christian Gärtner said, “With this city dossier we want to include other stakeholders, like real estate developers.”  Noting that the Höweler + Yoon concept called for top down decisions while also engaging users, he added what could very well become a tagline for future competitions, “Cities are a joint effort of civilization.” In the end, with meaty presentations from all the teams, it might have come down to who had the best images. While Superpool charmed with quirky animations and Urban Think Tank wove in a fictional love story, Höweler + Yoon offered up gorgeous renderings depicting a sleek and friction-free universe, one where an Audi logo would not be out of place. But cities of the future are likely to be assaulted not just by the traffic of increasing populations but also by the climate--witness hurricane Sandy's recent impact on key Boswash hubs. It's these rare moments of collective awareness that need to be seized upon to start conversations about how cities work in 2030 and beyond. Click on a thumbnail to launch a slideshow of Höweler + Yoon's proposal.
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Höweler + Yoon Win 2012 Audi Urban Future Award

Last night in Istanbul, Audi bestowed its 2012 Urban Future Initiative award to the Boston-based firm Höweler + Yoon Architecture for Shareway, their 2030 vision for the Boston-Washington corridor. In a ceremony designed to generate Oscars-level suspense, Eric Höweler accepted the award (which carries a €100,000 prize) from Audi CEO Rupert Stadler. Höweler + Yoon Architecture’s project proposes redefining the American Dream, because “the notions of progress that supported the continual sprawling American expansion no longer ring true.” They’re looking at the monotonous I-95 corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. (a.k.a. “Boswash”) and repositioning the “infrastructural leftovers” of the post-war city into places that generate activities relevant to today.
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Six Firms Compete for Audi's High-Stakes Urban Future Award

Last week at Audi's HQ in Ingolstadt, Germany, architect Junya Ishigami of Tokyo succinctly summed up the problem the car company aims to tackle: there is "a gap between people's speed and the city's speed," Ishigami said. In other words, people's habits evolve quickly to suit a 21st-century lifestyle, but the infrastructure of the cities they live in is constantly playing catch up. And Audi, whose primary product is by nature infrastructure-bound, wants get ahead of the curve. Ishigami was one of six architects presenting research as part of the first phase of Audi's 2012 Urban Future Award, a bi-annual program first started in 2010. The 2012 firms were selected for their track records of researching the urban environment and their relationships to one of six metropolitan areas: CRIT (Mumbai); Höweler + Yoon Architecture (the Boston-Washington corridor); NODE Architecture & Urbanism (Pearl River Delta); Superpool (Istanbul) and Urban Think Tank (São Paulo); and Junya Ishigami + Associates (Tokyo). The brief: to "create visions for individual mobility in the future." Audi defined the future as ca. 2030, when it's predicted that 70 percent of the world population will live in cities with eight million or more inhabitants. Last week's event offered a preview of each firm's research thus far and some hints of the content of their final proposals, which will be presented in the form of an exhibition at the Istanbul Biennale in October (each firm is also working with a local curator). What became clear in the early presentations is that all the architects were looking for inspiration beyond infrastructure, particularly in cities' in-between spaces, gaps, and cracks, and that their proposals would be flexible enough to deal with rapidly evolving urban conditions. Some highlights: Urban Think Tank's presented a concept of the city as an "electric circus," a constant-motion carnival in which services, from libraries to clothing shops, are mobilized in electric vehicles to better meet the needs of populations and create a more democratic city. CRIT's embraced the city, in this case Mumbai, as "being nicely messy."  Mega projects "ruffle the logic of the city" said Rupali Gupte of CRIT, about large-scale developments that wipe out informal but highly functional networks of activity. Gupte called instead for architects to intervene between the layers of  informal and official to envision multiple futures for any given location. Although Tokyo is perceived as a mature city, Ishigami charted how it actually changes dramatically over the decades, much like a living organism (65 percent of the city's sites will be redeveloped within 40 years). Rather than a fixed condition, he proposed considering Tokyo as an evolving natural landscape that has the potential to be completely reborn. Any forms of future mobility will have to be nimble enough to follow. NODE considered how people are served in volatile cities like Shenzen in China's the Pearl River Delta. In a society where more is more, what makes a city livable rather than alienating? NODE's Doreen Heng Liu's message is that "balance is more" in the post-sweatshop era. Superpool from Istanbul presented research on the city's growth, both planned and unplanned, including how small-scale entrepreneurial enterprises have evolved to meet mobility demands that larger infrastructure cannot. Considering what similar systems might look like in the future and how they could incorporate emergent technologies is what Superpool thinks "is critical for the future of mobility in Istanbul," a city with an evolving identity. Höweler + Yoon Architecture's project proposes redefining the American Dream, because "the notions of progress that supported the continual sprawling American expansion no longer ring true." They're looking at the monotonous I-95 corridor between Boston and Washington (a.k.a. "Boswash") and repositioning the "infrastructural leftovers" of the post-war city into places that generate activities relevant to today.  Thinking ahead to how such a concept might be marketed, the architects brought "I heart Boswash" t-shirts and bumper stickers to the event. The teams received feedback on their preliminary ideas at a workshop in Ingolstadt last week, and now they will have another few months to develop their concepts further. The first round selection of firms was made for Audi by the German online design magazine and publishing company Stylepark, but the final winner will be selected by jury that is yet to be announced. The grand prize: 100,000 euros—an amount that surpasses the award attached to one of architecture's highest honors, the Pritzker. At the end of the day, Audi will have hefty research dossiers on each of the six cities/regions and hopes to have some ideas that can be implemented in the future. But what if these visions don't happen to include cars? "If the solution is no cars, then we have to deal with it, " said Audi board member Peter Schwarzenbauer.