Posts tagged with "UC Berkeley":

In memoriam: Landscape architect Ron Herman

The award-winning San Francisco Bay Area landscape architect Ron Herman has passed away.  The University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design (CED) announced Herman’s passing in a post on its website earlier this week. Herman, an alumnus of the school, graduated in 1964 with a Bachelors in Landscape Architecture. The designer practiced in the Bay Area for over 35 years and created over 400 full-scale gardens during this time. Herman’s designs included some of the country’s largest and most intricate residential gardens, including Japanese garden-inspired designs for the 25-acre site surrounding the home of Silicon Valley billionaire Lawrence Ellison. Herman grew up in Hollywood, where his father owned a plant nursery. As a child, Herman helped his father install gardens at the homes of rarefied clients, including celebrities Phil Silvers and Steve Allen. After graduating from CED, Herman studied Japanese garden design at Kyoto University in Japan for three years. While there, Herman grew inspired by the tension between regimented and organic forms inherent in traditional Japanese garden design. Herman brought this sensibility back home, imbuing his works with a mix of formal and informal sequences of spaces and plantings.  Like his father, Herman’s list of clients included a whos-who of celebrities and prominent individuals and companies, including the professional football player Joe Montana, Neil Young, and Ellison’s company, Oracle. Herman also designed the garden for the East Wing addition by I.M. Pei to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. In a 2002 profile, Herman summed up his philosophy to SF Gate: “A successful garden doesn't show itself all at once...there needs to be an integration or relationship between indoors and out—such as a room that opens onto the garden."

Sightings at the Venice Biennale and news from the UC Berkeley expansion

Eavesdrop from Venice We were wondering if we would see any celebs in Venice this year—perhaps Brad Pitt and Neri Oxman would be strolling the Giardini, or maybe Kanye West would show up at the Arsenale. But instead, AN editors ran into none other than legendary comedian and actor Chevy Chase, who was spending the week at the Biennale. Chase was in town because his old friend, photographer Peter Aaron, was showing a series of pictures about pre-Civil War Syria. Aaron’s wife wasn’t able to make the trip, so Chevy—an old college friend—came with him. The pair was spotted dining with the Architectural League’s Anne Reiselbach at a small osteria in the San Polo neighborhood. What national pavilion at the Venice Biennale seemingly featured more Americans than the U.S. Pavilion? The Dutch! With GSAPP’s curatorial program—including Mark Wasiuta, Felicity Scott, and Dutch Pavilion curator and CCCP grad Marina Otera—talking to themselves and their friends, as well as Beatriz Colomina in bed with other (mostly New York) friends, it seemed more like a U.S. academy than the actual U.S. pavilion. Now that Eva Franch i Gilabert is packing up her paella pans and heading to Brexitland, the Storefront for Art and Architecture needs a new director. It is currently assembling a list of prospective directors from over 100 applicants. A new director will need to be in place by early fall. In the world of architects’ archives, two of the biggest have recently been promised to major collecting organizations, and we will reveal them shortly. Stay tuned. People's Park No More
The University of California, Berkeley recently announced intentions to make good on a 70-year-old plan to convert the university’s People’s Park into a student housing site. The school hopes to replace the notorious park—site of the 1969 “Bloody Thursday” police violence incident—with new student housing structures containing up to 1,000 beds. The move will displace many of the people currently living in and around the park, which officials have likened to a “daytime homeless shelter.” Plans for the site are still in the works, but the university is considering dedicating a portion of the site to supportive housing and social services. The housing is due to be completed by 2022, according to a UC Berkeley spokesperson.

Hans Hollein’s son is tapped as the Met’s new director

Max Hollein, an Austrian-born museum director, is set to take over the Metropolitan Museum of Art's directorship. Hollein's appointment follows the tumultuous departure of Thomas P. Campbell in 2017, a period noted for lagging financial growth and deferred maintenance. Since Campbell’s departure, the Met has been led by interim director Daniel H. Weiss, who will retain his position as the museum’s CEO. As the Met's tenth director, Hollein will be the first recruited from outside the Met's curatorial ranks in over six decades. Hollein's new job managing the largest art museum in America entails a broad set of responsibilities. The Wall Street Journal describes the position as a mix of "curator, lawyer, and diplomat," charged with managing a 2,200-person staff, overseeing maintenance of the Met's millions of objects, and leading approximately 40 exhibits annually. The new director’s proficiency in both modern and classical art may be partially influenced by his father, the late Pritzker-Prize winning architect Hans Hollein. Hans, who graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1960, was a world-renowned postmodern architect. As noted by The Guardian, the Austrian architect was known for mixing forms and materials with overstated historicist references, creating one-of-a-kind projects such as Vienna’s Haas Haus. As reported by the New York Times, Max Hollein has worked as a museum director since the age of 31, stacking his directorship credentials with tenures at Frankfurt’s Stadel Museum, Schirn Kunsthalle and Liebieghaus. Hollein will be departing his position at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, where he has served as director since 2016. While his tenure at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco lasted just two years, Hollein has received praise for his leadership there. In a profile of Max Hollein published by The New Yorker, the young director is cited as boosting the museum’s digital programs through free online courses, as well as through more outlandish schemes such as creating a crossover between the popular video game Minecraft and the former exhibition “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire.”

The Graham Foundation announces 2017 Carter Manny Awards for architectural scholarship

The Graham Foundation has announced the winners of the 2017 Carter Manny Awards. Founded to recognize promising doctoral students engaged in advanced scholarship in architecture, the awards are given to two recipients for writing and research each year. Since 1996, the award has provided over $775,000 to PhD candidates. This year’s winners are James Graham of Columbia University for writing, and Razieh Ghorbani of UC Berkeley for research. James Graham’s dissertation, "The Psychotechnical Architect: Perception, Vocation, and the Laboratory Cultures of Modernism, 1914–1945," examines the influence of psychology on architectural pedagogy and practice during the period between the world wars. The research focuses on the rise of the interrelation of psychology, vocational education, and occupational therapy, all of which saw a rise in the mid-20th century. Comparisons are also explored as these fields are applied to architecture in the Soviet Union, the United States, and Germany. Ghorbani’s dissertation, entitled "The Space of Sanctions: Architecture and Construction in Contemporary Iran," looks at the “culture of sanctions” and its effect on architectural practice in Iran. Rather than a strictly political or economic understanding of sanctions, Ghorbani’s work explores the material and special implications of forced austerity. In particular, the research looks at how sanctions have transformed the way in which the design and building industries perform culturally and socially. This year the awards were also extended to three citations of special recognition. These three awards went to Kera Lovell of Purdue University, Nikki Moore of Rice University, and Matthew Mullane of Princeton University. The Graham Foundation awards three categories of grants each year to dozens of architects, designers, historians, and academics. Over the past 60 years, the foundation has awarded millions of dollars to support research in architecture.

A forgotten psychology study of famous midcentury architects gets its due in new book

In his new book The Creative Architect: Inside the Great Midcentury Personality Study, Pierluigi Serraino writes about a forgotten psychology study of well-known creative people that U.C. Berkeley’s Institute for Personality Assessment and Research conducted in the late 1950s. In addition to writers and scientists, participants included Eero Saarinen, Louis Kahn, I.M. Pei, Philip Johnson, and dozens of other major architects of the day.

The Architect’s Newspaper: How did you find out about the studies that became the basis of this book?

Pierluigi Serraino: From different sources. A large part of it was a result of spending time with Don Olsen when I was working on NorCalMod: Icons of Northern California Modernism and then on my monograph on him. Also, Jack Hillmer told me Charles Warren Callister was in the creativity study. The daughter of Fred Langhorst told me about her dad coming home from participating in the study and telling them about this absurd problem the study posed, how to put a third arm to use. Raymond Neutra told me that he had seen the study’s files about his father and that he knew where they were.

Where was the material stored?

U.C. Berkeley has a large storage facility in Richmond, California. The archives are in a little room filled with file cabinets.

When I ran into Neutra, he told me that he had met Wallace Hall. Hall was the right-hand man to Donald MacKinnon, the director of the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research, a research institute at U.C. Berkeley, better known as IPAR. I called Hall. He was very old and in declining health. He said that they had wanted to do a book.

Hall was the gatekeeper of everything IPAR. He wouldn’t give access to anybody. So when he died, no one had a vested interest any longer.

Why do you think the well-known architects of the day participated in the study?

It was largely due to the political clout of William Wurster, whom MacKinnon asked to reach out to the architects. Wurster was an important architect himself, and he was dean of the College of Environmental Design at Berkeley.

Who funded the study?

The Carnegie Corporation. IPAR applied for a large grant in November of 1955. The people who were at the top of the funding agencies for these kinds of studies were in the Office of Strategic Services [OSS, a precursor to the CIA] and worked at the same OSS station together during the war, performing assessment studies of troops. They assessed candidates for very delicate missions.

Why did the Carnegie Corporation want to do this study?

It was the result of the Cold War. The researchers changed gears completely. There was a shift from studying human effectiveness to studying creativity in general. There was a desire to identify the folks who were going to be the most creative people, so that the U.S. could have a competitive advantage against the Russians. It was deeply nationalistic, if you think about it.

Why was the study not published?

That is the biggest mystery of all. Territoriality and politics about authorship of the study, perhaps. I think they strung this thing along too long and they lost the momentum.

Also, in the 1970s, there was a shift in the conception of personalities: Maybe it’s not just about the person, maybe it’s also the environment. Psychologists started thinking they were giving too much credit to the individual.

Describe the Mosaic Construction Test.

The architects were given tiles and told to create an eight-by-ten-inch mosaic. They also had a form that they had to fill out, answering questions about the intentions behind what they were doing.

The mosaics reveal that the creative person explores colors and fields in a non-formulaic approach. Some very creative architects did some rather dull mosaics, so it’s an imperfect procedure. For example, John Funk, who did the Heckendorf house in Modesto, did a very uninteresting mosaic. Victor Lundy’s was really superb, just very lyrical. He was a fantastic architect. Louis Kahn used some rather gloomy colors—there’s some darkness in it. I have to say, Neutra’s wasn’t interesting.

There is the famous story, reported by Charles Eames in 1963, about why Eero Saarinen used only white tiles. Apparently, Saarinen said, “I use only white, because I’m interested in texture.”

Did the researchers come to a conclusion about creativity as a result of this study?

Yes, but the conclusions were broad. One of them was that the creative person is not teamwork material. And in corporate society, this doesn’t sit well. What are we going to do with that? Are we going to have a bunch of people who do whatever they want?

Courage may be the great differentiator. You can have the intelligence, the talent, the intuition. But you have to have the courage to act on your instincts. You have to create conditions to do the work that you deem necessary, based on your aspirations, your vision. The condition of creativity is that you have to sustain the vision that you have for very long time, because you have a very long period where people resist you.

So who is the creative person?

Everybody has a capacity to be creative. This is a capacity that we always have at birth and we lose. We lose the authenticity of who we are. In a way, the message of this book has to do with life choices. What do we want to do with our lives? The creative person is someone who picks one field and explores it to its full extent.

Carme Pinós awarded Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize

Carme Pinós, the award-winning Spanish architect and academic, has been named the recipient of this year’s Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize. The award, bestowed by the University of California, Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design (CED), highlights the accomplishments of a “distinguished design practitioner or academic who has made a significant contribution to advancing gender equity in architecture, and whose work emphasizes a commitment to sustainability and community,” according to a press release by the CED. The prize includes a $100,000 award, a one-year professorship at the school, and a public lecture and gallery exhibition also to be held at the school. In announcing the prize, CED Dean Jennifer Wolch praised Pinós’s studied and broadly-based portfolio of work, stating, “Her outstanding design, vibrant intellectualism, dedication to public architecture and landscape in the public realm, and support of women-led economic development embody all that we strive to cultivate with this prize.” Pinós founded her namesake firm in 1991 after garnering high regard with the designs for the Crematorium at Igualada Cemetery in Barcelona, Spain with Enric Miralles. Recent works include the Caixa Forum Zaragosa in Zaragosa, Spain as well as the Cube I and Cube II office towers in Guadalajara, Mexico. Among many other projects, Pinós’s office is currently designing a master plan the French town of Saint Dizier. Pinós will begin her residence at CED during the spring semester of 2018 and will utilize a semester-long graduate research studio to conduct inquiries into one of her latest projects, which, through a partnership with Albert Faus and support from the Ministèrie de L’Habitat et de l’Urbanisme du Burkina Faso, will look into the development of a new, low-cost, sustainable thermal insulation made from peanuts. The project aims to utilize formal associations among the mostly-female peanut farmers of Burkina Faso to develop a production plant to produce the insulation. The project also aims to erect an agricultural training and investigation center to fuel the effort. In 2012, Deborah Berke, founder of the award-winning firm Deborah Berke Partners and current Yale School of Architecture dean, was awarded the inaugural Berkeley-Rupp Professorship and Prize. Sheila Kennedy, founder of Portable Light Project, a venture that aims to bring solar textiles to the developing world, received the prize in 2014.

Department of Energy names Solar Decathlon teams, but mum about competition site

Brace yourself O.C.: It’s unclear if the battle of the Solar Decathlon will return to Irvine’s Orange County Great Park in 2017. This week the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 16 participating teams who are gearing up for the task of designing and building a solar-powered house, but the feds have yet to announce the competition site. Hailing from colleges and universities across the United States and around the world—from Rolla, Missouri to Utrecht, Netherlands—the teams have nearly two years to develop an affordable and energy-efficient design strategy. According to the DOE, the Solar Decathlon teams compete in 10 contests that range from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance. Judges are looking for “[T]he team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.” In past years, teams had to cover some hefty research, design, construction, and shipping costs. But for one team the gamble will pay off. The winner takes home a whopping $2 million prize. (That’s a pretty huge PV array.) Homes will be showcased and on view to the public for free tours in mid-2017. The Solar Decathlon 2017 teams are:
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • HU University of Applied Science Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Northwestern University
  • Rice University
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California at Davis
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Washington State University
  • Washington University
  • West Virginia University

Contrary to popular belief, the sacred “T” in TOD may not be necessary for reduced car dependence

Urban planning credo states that, through design and policy interventions that improve access to public transportation, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) reduces car dependency and encourages individuals to walk, bike, bus, or take the train to their destination. Well, maybe. A University of California, Berkley study suggest that, for rail, the T in TOD may not be necessary to reduce car travel in neighborhoods that are dense and walkable, with scarce parking. fig1 In a study of rail transit's impact on travel patterns, Daniel Chatman, associate professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, challenged the assumption that easy access to rail leads to less reliance on cars (and subsequently lower rates of car ownership). Were there other factors at play, like narrower streets, good parking, wider sidewalks, and nearby destinations? Chatman received over 1,100 responses to a survey he sent to households living within a two-mile radius of ten New Jersey train stations, within commuting distance to Manhattan. Chatman asked residents about what type of house they lived in, on- and off-street parking availability, travel for work and leisure, residential location preferences, and household demographics. 30 percent of respondents lived in housing that was less than seven years old. Half lived within walking distance (0.4 miles) to rail, in TOD-designated and non-designated developments. Controlling for housing type, bus access, amount of parking, and population density, among other markers, the availability of on- and off-street parking, not rail access, was the key determinate in auto ownership and car dependence. The study asserts that "households with fewer than one off-street parking space per adult had 0.16 fewer vehicles per adult. Households with both low on- and off-street parking availability had 0.29 fewer vehicles per adult." Living in a new house near a train station, moreover, was correlated with a 27 percent lower rate of car ownership compared to residents further afield. Bus access was also key in determining car use. The number of bus stops within one mile of a residence is a good indicator of public transit accessibility, and there are usually more bus stops in denser areas. The study found that "doubling the number of bus stops within a mile radius around the average home was associated with 0.08 fewer vehicles per adult." Compared to areas with poor bus access and plentiful parking, car ownership was reduced by 44 percent when strong bus access converged with poor parking availability. To reduce car ownership and use, municipalities don't necessarily have to invest in rail. Reducing the availability of parking, providing better bus service, developing smaller houses (and more rentals), and creating employment centers in walkable, densely populated downtowns may accomplish the same objective, at considerably less expense.

This mapping tool shows the effects of gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area

Researchers at UCLA and the UC-Berkeley are mapping neighborhood change in the Bay Area. The Urban Displacement Project uses government housing, land use, transportation, and Census data from 1990–2013 to find markers that represent turnover in housing, demographic shifts, and new investment. Led by UC-Berkeley's Karen Chapple and Miriam Zuk, researchers divided the nine-county Bay Area’s 1,569 Census tracts into low- and high-income tracts. Low-income tracts were defined as areas where 39 percent of households earn 80 percent less than each county’s median income, and high income tracts where less than 39 percent of households are considered low income. Low- and high-income tracts were categorized by residential displacement “risk factors.” Significantly, the report defines “gentrification” and “displacement” differently. Displacement is defined as a net loss of low income residents, while “gentrification” is tangible evidence of neighborhood investment and/or an influx of more affluent residents. This is important because, as the researchers found, gentrification in some areas happened before displacement, while in others, displacement comes first or occurs at the same time as gentrification. Lower income tracts were assessed for risk of gentrification and displacement, while higher income tracts were assessed for displacement risk only. Overall, 51 percent of tracts did not experience significant displacement, while 48 percent are losing low-income residents. Researchers found that 422 tracts are “at risk” of displacing poor residents, while 165 are “currently experiencing displacement.” The map is intended as a resource for community groups taking action to prevent displacement. The data is retrospective, shedding light on regional population trends. Planners, however, cannot use the data to make sure predictions about where gentrification and displacement is likely to occur in the future. The data doesn’t reveal where displaced residents move to, or account for other qualitative factors that may prompt a move. Transportation planning and development can benefit a lower-income area, if officials take into account the economic and social needs of the existing population. Some areas, including  East Palo Alto, and Marin City, have actively forestalled displacement with housing subsidies and community organizing.