Posts tagged with "Southwest":

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AN chooses this fall's can't-miss architecture lectures across the South

This fall, architecture schools across the southern half of the U.S. will host architects, landscape designers, curators, and architectural photographers as part of their semester-long lecture series. These types of events often see hundreds of students scrambling to get a front row seat to hear from the greatest minds in design. But the public is invited too, meaning architecture enthusiasts, veteran designers, and aspiring city planners alike can learn from these influential talks. While several universities have yet to publish their fall schedules, we’ve gathered some highlights from a few top-notch schools in the list below. Mark your calendars before September sneaks up on us this weekend! Rice University School of Architecture Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Yugoslav Architecture at the Crossroads of International Exchange in the Cold War” Thursday, September 27 Ellen van Loon, Partner at OMA "Was it Just a Dream? Architecture and Social Inclusion" Monday, October 15 Virginia Tech School of Architecture and Design Marlon Blackwell, founder of Marlon Blackwell Architects Wednesday, September 26 Christian Bailey, founding principal at ODA Thursday, October 25 University of Miami School of Architecture Meejin Yoon, dean of Cornell APP and co-founder of Howeler + Yoon Technoglass Lecture Wednesday, September 19 Livia Tani, architect and project manager at Atelier Jean Nouvel Technoglass Lecture Wednesday, October 3 Georgia Tech School of Architecture Michael Murphy, cofounder and director of MASS Design Group “Architecture That’s Built to Heal” in collaboration with Museum of Design Atlanta Thursday, October 18 Nader Tehrani, Principal at NADAAA “The Tectonic Grain” Wednesday, October 24 NC State University College of Design                                                                                                              Neil Denari, principal of Neil M. Denari Architects Monday, September 10 Hagy Belzberg, FAIA, founding principal of Belzberg Architects Monday, September 24 Louisiana State University College of Art + Design Robb Williamson, photographer Wednesday, September 26 Kate Orff, founder & principal of SCAPE Wednesday, October 24
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A new book delves into the unique personality and prolific work of artist J. B. Jackson

John Brinckerhoff Jackson, perhaps the father of American landscape studies, was an autodidact whose unique perspective on the world was shaped by travels through Europe, several short stints at elite schools, military service during World War II, and, ultimately, ranching in the Southwest. Jackson initially spread his ideas through the periodical Landscape, which he self-published (and, as it was later discovered, wrote all the early articles under pseudonyms) from 1951 through 1968. As his acclaim grew, he turned the reins of the magazine over to trusted colleagues and split time between the east and west coasts, teaching at Harvard and UC Berkeley. Through these venues, Jackson forcefully argued for an understanding of the American landscape that incorporated both the natural and the human, the architectural and the everyday. While they are now truisms—that the landscape includes human-made forms like roads and buildings or that banal signage and vernacular architecture provide insight into contemporary culture—these were revolutionary ideas when Jackson forced his way into the discourse of cultural studies. Indeed, it was Jackson’s influence, directly or indirectly, that gave way to everything from Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour’s Learning from Las Vegas, to Bernard Rudofsky’s Architecture Without Architects, to Reyner Banham’s Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, to John Chase, Margaret Crawford, and John Kaliski’s Everyday Urbanism.

Recently published is Drawn to Landscape, an edited volume that revisits Jackson’s life and work. While the book will certainly give readers a sense of Jackson’s intellectual importance, it focuses on two areas which would seem to be secondary to his ideas: his flamboyant personality and his visual art—sketches, magazine covers, and photographs. Given the rich body of Jackson’s published work, however, and the strength of an earlier volume from many of the same contributors, Everyday America, which is perhaps a better survey of the impact of Jackson’s ideas, the lighter fare of this book is welcomed. In fact, the lone essay that attempts to catalogue the various intellectual endeavors which owe lineage to Jackson, “Passing the Torch” by Timothy Davis, stands out as the weakest and least interesting to read, listing off subfields related to landscape studies without noting Jackson’s influence and leaning heavily on interdisciplinary jargon. It does, however, deserve credit for providing the sole mention of anything related to gender and sexuality in the book, a topic which is curiously absent given the politics of everyday existence which one would expect to find in a book so intimately biographical. While Jackson’s personality is fondly remembered at length, his identity—and with it, issues of gender, race, and sexuality, among other things—is left as something unspoken or, at the very least, left without definition.

Despite this, the remainder of the book is a delight to read largely because the personality of John Brinckerhoff “Brinck” Jackson was so multifaceted—to some he was Brinck, the erudite scholar; to others he was Mr. Jackson, the professor without a graduate degree; and to others still, he was John, the church janitor. Like the titular character of Citizen Kane, Jackson revealed very different sides of his personality and history to the various people in his life, and in the end one can only imagine the depths to his character which will remain a mystery. He performed the roles of blue-blooded heir and worldly traveler, at the same time he was the hardscrabble pragmatist who learned with his hands, an evangelical Catholic, a raconteur par excellence, and a motorbike gang aficionado. Unlike the film, however, this book stays in the safe area of fond remembrance, leaving so much of Jackson an enigma.

While we never see Rosebud, the book makes a move, which comes close. Earlier books on Jackson’s influence have reproduced his sketches, magazine covers, or photographs, but they have done so only in the singular. Here, the book presents three “portfolios” of 15 to 60 images each, which were surely painstakingly curated given Jackson’s prolific production.

The images rarely stand on their own as anything close to art—and Jackson likely would have agreed, given his penchant for casually discarding so much of his work. The sketches are quick and messy, while the photographs are competent yet prosaic. When presented in multiple, the images begin to demonstrate the consistency of Jackson’s eye, show what he paid attention to, and in a strange, mute sort of way, reveal even more about who he was as a person. In his sketches, the shapes of architecture just as easily give way to plant life or geography, or the physicality of the bodies of men in his photographs, as they stood without guile near cars or grouped together in a public landscape.

In the end, the greatest success of the book is that it continues Jackson’s mission of imploring everyone to pay attention to the incredible landscape around them, to see value in the overlooked and apparently mundane. While it does so in part through strong texts and a well-curated set of Jackson’s visual output, it does so most potently simply by invoking the inspiring yet inscrutable figure of Jackson, himself.

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Houston Offering Tax Breaks to Build Housing Downtown, Create a Vibrant City

Houston is set to double the amount of tax breaks it gives to developers for downtown apartments and condos to try to lure people to the city's sleepy business district. The City Council unanimously agreed to expand the Downtown Living Initiative, which first launched a year and a half ago, to offer tax breaks for 5,000 residential units, up from a previous cap of 2,500. Houston will now offer developers up to $15,000 for each residence they build in a complex of at least 10 units, provided they meet design guidelines focused on getting retail built at street level. The idea is to lessen the hurdles to developing downtown, such as high land costs, and to draw in retailers to serve the new residents and create a more vibrant street scene. "We made a judgment that it was needed when we looked at the extra cost of construction downtown," Andy Icken, the city's chief development officer, told the Houston Chronicle. "Retail follows rooftops, and it's our view that critical mass is needed. We've had a lack of retail in downtown. We believe that will follow and we believe this is needed to make it happen, to really continue the momentum that's on right now." In the decade preceding the subsidy, only one new residential development was built. After the subsidy initiative launched, 13 new projects have been announced, including six recent proposals that could add more than 2,200 new apartments to the urban core. The momentum is hard to miss. The total cost of the tax breaks could reach $75 million.
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Austin Unveils Top 10 Competition Entries for Seaholm Intake

The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department recently hosted a competition (ended July 12) to attract concepts for the adaptive reuse of the Seaholm Intake Facility, the pump house of the decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant (the turbine hall of which is undergoing another adaptive reuse project). The Seaholm complex is located prominently on Lady Bird Lake in downtown, not far from Waller Creek, whose landscape is being redesigned by Michael Van Valkenburgh, and adjacent to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. Some of its buildings, including the intake, are solid examples of the heroic period of American cast-in-place concrete Art-Deco municipal architecture and stand as civic icons in Austin. Competition entrants were asked to envision a new use for the structure and the surrounding land that would engage park users, the trail, and the water. Austin Parks received 76 proposals and is displaying its favorite 10 entries at Austin City Hall from now until August 2. The top three will be announced on August 9. The ideas from the top three proposals will "help inspire subsequent design phases of the project," according to Austin Parks' website. Following this competition, Austin Parks will release a request for proposals for public-private partnerships with ideas of how to reuse the facility.