The Architecture and Urbanism Research Academy (AURA) Istanbul invites you to its inspiring summer program, “Istanbul: Past, Present and Future” The melting pot of the East and the West, the great city of Istanbul, now a city of more than 15 million people, has been the capital of two glorious empires, the Byzantine and the Ottoman. With its eight thousand years of human history, it presents researchers a vast amount of architectural legacy to discover and analyze. Join us in Istanbul for a month of comprehensive analysis of the city with lectures from leading experts in their respective fields. Explore the mechanisms developed through the millennia to different sets of problems by the builders and inhabitants of this magnificent city! This summer research program will take place in Istanbul between July 8 – August 2, 2019. It is specially designed for undergraduate and graduate students of Architecture, Urban Planning and related fields. The four-week intensive coursework of lectures, on-site visits and studios will provide a valuable opportunity; while benefiting to learn from the distinguished researchers, there will be a chance to collaborate with a diverse group of participants from all over the world. For more information and application: http://aura-istanbul.com/index.php/aura-summer-academy-2019/ Download the information related to this event here.
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CALL FOR ENTRIESThe 2019 Detroit Design 139 exhibition is asking all Interested participants to submit up to three (3) projects, policies or concepts that represent inclusive design in housing, economy, neighborhoods, public spaces or city systems located in Detroit’s 139 square miles or in another UNESCO city of design. Academic projects completed within the past three years are also eligible for submission. To submit work or for more information click HERE SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 30th, 11:59 pm EXHIBITION: September 9th - 30th
INCLUSIVE FUTURESAs the nation’s only UNESCO City of Design, Detroit has a unique opportunity to utilize inclusive design in order to create a more equitable and sustainable future for both our city and those around the world. By prioritizing diverse experiences, accessible opportunities, and collaborative relationships, Detroit will show how inclusive design develops goods, systems, services, buildings, communities, and urban spaces that work for everyone. Throughout history, cities have been shaped by significant design decisions made by a few, for the many. These design solutions were meant to solve issues relevant to a city’s specific time period and were often made by experts without meaningful input from the people impacted by these plans. As a result, urban design solutions have often resulted in unintended consequences for subsequent generations. This repetitive cycle of top-down design outcomes – divisive highway infrastructure, failed public housing, anti-pedestrian streetscapes and under-utilized public parks – can be found in cities around the world. In response to the vision laid out in Detroit’s UNESCO City of Design Action Plan, Detroit Design 139 proposes that through inclusive design, Detroiters (designers and non-designers alike) can prioritize the importance of both PROCESSES and OUTCOMES for all future projects throughout Detroit’s 139 square miles. Through exhibitions, events, and shared conversations, we will explore inclusive design strategies that break this repetitive cycle of creating future problems by acknowledging all aspects of our shared history in order to solve long-standing urban issues. With this approach, we will focus on creating multigenerational design solutions that result in INCLUSIVE FUTURES for everyone.
FOCUS AREASIn September 2019, Detroit Design 139 will showcase inclusive design projects, policies and concepts throughout the built and natural environments of Detroit and other UNESCO Cities of Design. The program will be structured around five focus areas that emphasize learning from the past in order to inform a successful approach to the inclusive design process. Each focus area will consider the entire spectrum of human diversity and individual experiences – in the past, present and future – but with dramatically different outcomes.
- ECONOMY - What is the role of design in a more inclusive economic future? Where should these economic centers be located to provide the most opportunity for all? What are the new design models for economic development? These projects will spark discourse on the current and future design trends for economy-based space. Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: mixed-use developments, light industrial development, future work environments, adaptive re-use demonstrations, comprehensive retail masterplans, shared office models, etc.
- CITY SYSTEMS - How do we develop inclusive systems, services and infrastructure for our future city? How do we make the most of our shared urban assets while planning for a more sustainable future? How do we make it easier for people to move freely, safely and efficiently throughout our city? These projects will look at the visible (and invisible) inclusive infrastructure projects that will bring people, neighborhoods, industries, places and things closer together in a cohesive future urban environment. Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: sustainability strategies, wholistic infrastructure, stormwater management, alternative mobility systems, shared digital technology networks, vacant land ecosystems, future streetscapes, etc.
- HOUSING - How do we design inclusive housing? How do we make it affordable and sustainable? These projects will consider the future of housing, changing lifestyles and inclusionary growth. Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: mixed-use developments, affordable and market rate housing typologies, alternative housing models, etc.
- PUBLIC SPACE - How do we design inclusive public space, regardless of scale? What does inclusive and accessible public space look like? What activities are offered in those spaces? These projects will demonstrate the importance of public space as an inclusionary network within and throughout the city. Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: vacant land re-use strategies, community gardens, neighborhood land networks, parks, plazas, waterfronts, etc.
- NEIGHBORHOODS - What does a more inclusive future offer our communities? Is it possible to live, eat, shop, work, learn and relax within the same neighborhood? How can we design new residential developments without displacing current residents? These projects will explore strategies for inclusive neighborhoods that integrate diverse living options, neighborhood retail opportunities, walkable streets and welcoming public spaces. Project submissions may include, but are not limited to: community masterplans, large-scale neighborhood developments, form-based code, community-oriented adaptive re-use, shared community assets, future streetscapes, neighborhood retail, commercial corridor revitalization strategies, etc.
FORMATSubmissions for each of the above five focus areas should provide at least two of the items listed below:
- VISUALS. What best illustrates your project, policy, or concept? Potential content could include photographs, drawings, renderings, animations, diagrams, illustrations, model images, or other digital media about an individual project or a focus area topic.
- NARRATIVES. What is your project’s inclusive design story? To help us illustrate your narrative, potential content could include publications, short films, video, radio, photography, diagrams, illustrations, poetry, or other means of storytelling about an individual project or a focus area topic.
- PROCESSES. For this exhibition, the inclusive design process is just as important as the outcome. Potential content may include drawings, renderings, animations, diagrams, illustrations or other digital media about a project’s inclusive design process or a focus area topic.
- HISTORICAL ANALYSIS. To support each focus area, we also will be accepting comprehensive urban, architecture, or planning analysis of historic Detroit design projects. The projects must illustrate grand design decisions that solved historic problems while creating future problems for the next generation. Potential historic analysis could include photographs, drawings, renderings, animations, diagrams, illustrations, written research, or other digital media about an individual project or a focus area topic.
ELIGIBILITYAll submitted projects, policies and concepts must be completed within the past three years, currently in process, or planned to commence before 2021 and located either within Detroit’s 139 square miles or another recognized UNESCO City of Design. Academic projects completed within the past three years are also eligible for submission. Projects displayed within past DD139 exhibitions are ineligible.
DETROIT DESIGN 139 DESIGN PRINCIPLESIn 2015, Detroit was awarded the first UNESCO City of Design in the United States, joining a worldwide network of cities committed to utilizing design as a driver for sustainable urban development, social inclusion and cultural vibrancy. In celebration of that designation, design advocates from across the city came together in 2017 to demand a higher design standard for all future projects within the city’s 139 square miles. In pursuit of that ideal, these advocates curated the inaugural Detroit Design 139 exhibition around ten guiding design principles. The first exhibition, “Detroit Shapes Design” showcased 41 projects that represented a future Detroit populated with thoughtful projects that honored the city’s design legacy, while pushing the city towards becoming a leader in world-class design excellence. Crafted to benefit all Detroiters, the ten guiding design principles are:
- Empower design as a means to improve the quality of life for all people.
- Advance a thoughtful design process rooted in meaningful community engagement.
- Seek creative solutions to solve longstanding urban issues.
- Honor context and history through contemporary design.
- Activate the public realm.
- Promote community cohesion and aesthetic diversity.
- Impress the value of design on all projects and all audiences – emphasizing equity, design excellence and inclusion.
- Explore new ways to live, work and play together in the 21st-century city.
- Celebrate Detroit’s design legacy, while contributing to the city’s design future.
- Balance function and beauty.
Controversial conservative scholar Roger Scruton has been removed from his position as the chair of the U.K.’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission over inflammatory comments on George Soros, Muslims, and Chinese people. Scruton, an outspoken opponent of modernism, is no stranger to drawing criticism for his views. The thinker, most well-known for his writing on ornamentation and aesthetics, has been called out in the past over his comments on Islam, anti-Semitism, date rape, race, and for comparing being gay to smoking. This time, Scruton’s comments in the political journal New Statesman appear to have pushed things too far, and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government removed him from his position. In the interview, released earlier today, Scruton said that the Chinese government was “creating robots out of their own people…each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.” He also reiterated that “anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts,” and alleged that the Hungarian-born billionaire had been “importing” Muslims from “the Middle East” into Hungary for nefarious purposes. Scruton has long been personal friends with far-right Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who has frequently been accused of anti-Semitism and strong-arm tactics. Scruton then went on to complain that the concept of Islamophobia was “invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue.” The rebuke was swift, and Scruton was shown the door only hours after the interview went live. "Professor Sir Roger Scruton has been dismissed as Chairman of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission with immediate effect following his unacceptable comments," a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told New Statesman. "A new chair will be appointed by the Secretary of State, to take this important work forward, in due course.” The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission is a fairly new body. The group’s purpose is to provide housing policy recommendations to beautify new developments and promote a sense of cohesive community, but the commission’s output has thus far has been overshadowed by Scruton’s frequent media mentions. While Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire defended Scruton’s appointment to the commission five months ago, it appears that the unanimous outrage from the Labor and Tory parties, the Muslim Council of Britain, and 10 Downing Street, proved too much this time.
Detroit is often referred to as an example of a city in which citizen effort and innovative design in certain areas have increased the standard of living, despite the city's overall struggles. The Eastern Market district is an example of such uplift. In the five long, 19th-century "sheds" along Russell Street, cafés, local farmer-vendors, jewelers, and Coney Island–style hot dog stands now flank the corridors. Murals on brick brighten up the exterior walls. Jazz musicians and Motown singers play music for guests every Saturday when the markets are at their liveliest. Outside the sheds, there are local coffee companies, clinics, restaurants, and grocery stores. In recent years, the space, a 24-acre plot in the heart of Detroit, has been dramatically revitalized. The bustling marketplaces reflect this. However, it is clear that more effort is needed to make the most of the possibilities the district offers. Today, the Eastern Market's historic core requires both structural and environmental updates. Additionally, an increasing number of visitors means the sheds and surrounding businesses require expansions. In a group effort by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the Eastern Market Corporation, and the Nature Conservancy, Boston-based firm Utile, Inc., and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) have been commissioned to lay out a comprehensive framework for the district and the surrounding neighborhood. In doing so, the district hopes to become a larger center for food distribution. Further goals involve becoming a high-tech hub in order to present more opportunities for employment. Tim Love, principal at Utile, spoke to The Architect's Newspaper about the challenges, plans, and aspirations for the project. The Architect's Newspaper: What were the guidelines for the project and the issues present that the client wants to solve? Tim Love: The project has two separate but related focus areas: the historic core of the market, centered on the market sheds, and an area targeted for the expansion of food industry businesses to the north and east of the existing market district. The expansion of the market is necessitated by new federal food regulations triggered by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act and the desire by the City of Detroit to retain and expand the job opportunities provided by the food industry. The plan for the market expansion area required the thoughtful integration of an industrial real estate development strategy with a centralized stormwater management plan. As a result, the Utile/MVVA team needed to test alternative food business building prototypes and the network of open spaces that threaded between the buildings. The design problem was complicated by the need to provide truck access to the food businesses while screening the truck aprons from non-industrial uses on the boundaries of the expanded food industry district. The final recommended urban design strategy, conceived at the block scale, weaves together industrial buildings, stormwater greenways, truck aprons, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets, and live/work building types. The net result is an urbanism that acknowledges the need for large-footprint, truck-dependent buildings, but organizes them in a way that makes for a more environmental-friendly and walkable district. The plan for the core market area meets related but slightly different goals. In this case, the preservation of the market sheds and the funky building fabric on the blocks to the east and west of the sheds were identified as a cultural as much as a historic resource. As a result, a set of design guidelines were developed that encourage developers to preserve the existing buildings while allowing for penthouse additions of three to four stories above. To reinforce the existing ad hoc character of the district, we decided to embrace the mismatched stacking of contrasting architectural expressions rather than encourage a more canonical restoration of the historic fabric. Along the Dequindre Cut and Gratiot Avenue, where less of the historic fabric survives, dense residential mixed-use development is proposed. An increase in the local residential population will enliven the public realm, especially in the evening, when Eastern Market is mostly deserted. The twist, in this case, is that fabrication and light manufacturing spaces are encouraged on the ground floor rather than retail. The goal is to encourage smaller-scale food and fabrication businesses that complement the larger-scale facilities being planning in the market expansion area. In addition, favoring fabrication spaces over retail will help steer retail businesses closer to the market sheds, where food-focused retail already benefits from the busy public market. Our team is still working with the city to determine how our plan will be implemented, both in the short- and long-term. Certainly, zoning regulations will be one tool that will be used to shape future private investment. AN: What is the current state of the Eastern Market neighborhood, and where does your team envision it being when your design has been implemented? How will your team’s designs impact Detroit on a city-wide scale? TL: Today, Eastern Market neighborhood is an island of walkable urban fabric within a larger landscape of vacant parcels and auto-centric uses. The economy of the market core is defined by symbiotic relationships between food production, distribution, and retail businesses in close proximity to one another and in connection with larger supply chains. Our goal is to extend the district to accommodate the needs of the modern food industry while introducing a mix of uses that reinforce the public realm and increase both the daytime and evening population. The expansion of the market district will also increase the number of food industry jobs, important in a city where the largest areas of job growth have been in the customer service and retail sectors. The industrial buildings that surround the historic market sheds are not suitable for modern food processing and fabrication. Their floor plates are too small, and their ceilings are too low. And even if they were adequate in size, modern food safety codes make the buildings prohibitively expensive to renovate. To answer the need for modernization, a market expansion area was identified directly to the north and east of the core market where new larger state-of-the-art industrial building can be accommodated. As existing businesses move or expand into new facilities in the expansion area, the core market buildings can be renovated to support a mix of uses, including retail, commercial-office, loft residential, and smaller-scale food startups. New multi-floor rooftop additions are allowed per the design guidelines developed as part of the plan. The additions will increase density in the district and will cross-subsidize the rehabilitation of the lower floors. The expanded market area will both keep existing businesses from leaving the area and will attract new food industry businesses to Detroit. Preserving and enhancing the economic engine of Eastern Market not only creates jobs and generates revenue for the city, but also a strategy for maintaining an authentic working market district. AN: How has the community been involved in the design process? What are some of the features of the final design that allow for and encourage community engagement? TL: We partnered with the City of Detroit and City Form Detroit, a local urban design and planning firm, to craft a comprehensive engagement strategy. The process included well-attended open houses hosted by the city that included short presentations, informal break-out sessions, and visual survey activities. As a sign of the city’s ownership of the process and emerging plan, representatives from the city and the Detroit Economic Growth Council gave the presentations and not members of our team; the first time one of our public agency clients has owned the content early in the planning process!
You are invited to the Architecture of Power Short Story Contest. $500 Grand PrizeWelcome to 2019; polarizing political views are an ever-present reality and it doesn't seem to be improving. Whether you live in the US or on the other side of the globe our environments are actors in the theater of influence. What happens when design becomes part of the equation? Write a short story that puts into narrative how architecture affects the lives of people in power and those on the fringes of society. Standard: $24.99 55+ and Active-duty Military: $19.99 Student: $14.99 Grand Prize: $500 + Bonus Deadline: February 28th 11:59PM PST Winner awarded: March 31st
Conservative intellectual and chair of the UK’s new Building Better, Building Beautiful commission, Sir Roger Scruton, has come out swinging against modernism. The commission’s goal is to provide housing policy recommendations that further the beautification of new developments and foster a sense of community. The controversial scholar, who has faced calls to resign over his views on race, date rape, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and more, derided modernism as destroying the urban fabric in a speech before London’s right-leaning Policy Exchange think tank. As Scruton delivered the inaugural Colin Amery Memorial Lecture on November 14, he railed against Norman Foster, Mies van der Rohe, and what Scruton described as a “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) backlash that precluded the building of new housing in dense urban areas. Calling the housing crisis an aesthetic issue, not an economic one, Scruton posited that “the degradation of our cities is the result of a modernist vernacular, whose principal device is the stack of horizontal layers, with jutting and obtrusive corners, built without consideration for the street, without a coherent facade, and without intelligible relation to its neighbors.” Scruton claims that as opponents of these non-contextual housing projects force their relocation to the outer edge of the city, it encourages an increasing amount of “void and sprawl.” The commission chair also got in his hits against the International Style Seagram Building, calling it and all of its imitators “lamentable.” Of the Foster-designed City Hall in London, he described it as an “alien object” at the center of a “growing moral void” that intentionally excluded human-scale interaction. Modernist vernacular in general, according to Scruton, is inherently inferior to the pre-modernist style of weaving together seamless street walls with heavy ornamentation, in particular those in Victorian and Georgian styles, a refrain also gathering in popularity among white ethno-nationalists. Scruton used the speech as a chance to dismiss his critics, saying that his work at the commission had been “interrupted by the half-educated having their say first.” He may have been referencing calls from architects and Labour MPs to resign over a long history of divisive comments. In a 2001 article for New York’s conservative City Journal magazine, Scruton claimed that being gay was just as bad as smoking and knocked 10 years off of the lives of LGBTQ individuals. Just this past April, Scruton suggested that one of the 9/11 hijackers, who had studied architecture in Hamburg, was “taking revenge on an architectural practice which had been introduced into the Middle East by Le Corbusier.” Scruton’s comments on Jews in Hungary forming a “[George] Soros empire” to undermine the country’s national sovereignty, and his close ties to Hungary’s Prime Minister and hardliner Viktor Orbán, have also drawn international scrutiny. Scruton, for his part, has brushed off these criticisms as wholly unfounded and a distraction from the important work he was hired to do.
A new school in Rotterdam will teach students to think critically about the links between urbanism and migration. Announced last month, the Independent School for the City will offer post-graduate students the chance to "celebrate complexity and contradiction in cities, and defend it against the forces that are making everything the same," according to Michelle Provoost, co-founder of Crimson Architectural Historians which is spearheading the new educational outlet. The school is a joint-venture between Crimson Architectural Historians, Dutch-based activist-architects Zones Urbaines Sensibles (ZUS), and DeDependance, a platform for city culture and debate in Rotterdam. Its pedagogy draws from Crimson’s and ZUS’s critical, activist approach to the city that seeks to effect real change by blurring the lines between critique and practice, as well as research and policy, and by initiating incremental change rather than large-scale city planning projects. The school builds on the belief that architectural, economic, spatial, and social strategies for the city should be based on real, first-hand empirical research into the city. Research methods will include filmmaking, journalism, history, art, graphic design, gaming, fieldwork, traveling, planning, finance, and architecture. The school will be located in Rotterdam but will be connected to an international network of cities, schools, offices, and companies. Initial course offerings include a series of masterclasses with professionals from various fields such as architect and exhibition designers Herman Kossman, urban sociologist Arnold Reijndorp, as well as designers Edith Gruson, and Gerard Hadders. Students will also learn from architect-filmmaker Jord Den Hollander and leaders from DeDependance. The first year’s topic of investigation will be migration, a subject that builds on the ongoing Crimson project City of Comings and Goings. After an initial three-month period of skill-development, the students will spend a semester abroad, expanding their research and testing their strategies in Shenzhen, Ghana, or Kiev. On their return, they will present their research in designs, strategies, or stories. The school will collaborate with CANactions in Ukraine, the Strelka Institute in Moscow, as well as ZUS and Syracuse University in New York. Special lecturers include Olly Wainright, Urban Think Tank's Alfredo Brillembourg, Assemble's Maria Lisogorskaya, Peter Barber, and Ghanaian architect/novelist Lesley Lokko.
The convulsive years that followed World War II saw extraordinary changes in architecture and design. Yet for all of its exhilarating creativity, this era was also one of unprecedented devastation. Approaches to architectural theory and practice that emerged in the aftermath of the war have ranged wildly, from the corporate imperialism of Cold War–era modernism to the grassroots communitarianism of the 1960s and ’70s, passing through postmodern pastiche populism on the way to today’s cosmopolitan globalism. In their ambitious new book, Times of Creative Destruction: Shaping Buildings and Cities in the Late 20th Century, the authors, historians Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre, chart the sometimes-erratic development of these seismic shifts while reassessing their own writing and thinking over the past five decades. Tzonis and Lefaivre have written and taught, together and independently, all around the world. They have studied and collaborated with an unexpectedly wide array of architects, designers, and personalities, from Lewis Mumford, Louis Kahn, and Aldo van Eyck to 2012 Pritzker Prize winners Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu. Their many books include The Shape of Community, which Tzonis wrote with Serge Chermayeff in 1971, and Tzonis and Lefaivre’s Architecture in Europe since 1968: Memory and Invention. Yet their greatest influence may have come via their more than 400 essays and lectures, the best of which have been translated and collected here for the first time. In addition to more than two dozen essays, many reproduced as facsimiles of the original magazine and journal articles, Tzonis and Lefaivre have included contextual introductions that reappraise, with a light touch and easy good humor, the intentions and ideas behind their writings while offering revealing insights into more than 50 years of debates, battles, and false dawns. Perhaps the most important contribution the authors have made to contemporary architectural discourse has been to grapple with the preservation and protection of local and regional cultural identities in the face of an increasingly mobile and conformist global economy. In 1981 they coauthored an essay, “The Grid and the Pathway,” included herein, in which they identified critical regionalism as an approach to design and planning that promotes “...the ecological, social and intellectual singularity and diversity of regions.” Later interpretations took this revived regionalism into unappealingly nationalist, chauvinist, and often racist directions, which Kenneth Frampton has described as “simpleminded attempts to revive the hypothetical forms of a lost vernacular.” But in Tzonis and Lefaivre’s conception, the critical regionalist approach served as a valuable bridge, helping architects and designers to recover the social and political ideals of progressive modernism from the alienation and despair that characterized 1980s postmodernism. Another crucial contribution came in the first essay that Tzonis and Lefaivre wrote together, “The Populist Movement in Architecture.” Written in the early 1970s and first published in the German magazine Bauwelt, this essay targeted the elitist hierarchy of architectural education and professional practice while also offering an appreciation of the common, nondesigned landscape of billboards and neon signs, as documented by Reyner Banham and another coauthoring couple, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Lefaivre later revisited the topic for her 1990 essay “Dirty Realism,” published in the popular British magazine Granta, in which she vividly describes late 1980s buildings and projects by the likes of Rem Koolhaas, Nigel Coates, Jean Nouvel, Bernard Tschumi, and Zaha Hadid. A 1978 essay, “The Narcissistic Phase in Architecture,” anticipates the phenomenon of “starchitecture,” combining architectural history and psychoanalysis to encourage designers to resist retreating into “a make-believe world where the architect still reigns supreme,” and instead to work to master “the complex unfolding in time of the real relations between built form and social formation.” Deeply humanist in outlook, Tzonis and Lefaivre frequently delve into art and literature to support their unabashedly utopian worldview. In the jointly written 1992 essay “Planning and Tomatoes,” originally published in the Italian journal Casabella, they channel the words and spirit of Allen Ginsberg’s mid-1950s poem, “A Supermarket in California,” to bemoan the rise of consumerism and the loss of community at a time when property developers seemed “to have assumed the initiation and control of the construction of cities and urban projects.” Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, Times of Creative Destruction is full of optimism and enthusiasm. As the authors write in the introduction to this thought-provoking and inspiring collection, “History and criticism can help find ways to arrest the blind process of creative self-destruction carried out by architects, developers, and clients, by bringing some critical planning into our future times.” Times of Creative Destruction: Shaping Buildings and Cities in the Late 20th Century By Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre Routledge $46.46
Looking ahead to this Sunday’s New York City Marathon where over 50,000 runners will traverse the city’s five boroughs, we’re thinking about the roles that topography and urbanism play in the world’s longest running courses. The Abbott World Marathon Majors is composed of six races in four countries, including three in the United States. Though all the host cities are highly-populated metropolitan areas, they vary in size and density and all feature distinct geographies that change the way runners battle through the race. TCS New York City Marathon In New York, runners cross three major bridges and power through the city’s undulating terrain, some of it flat and some of it extremely hilly due to the Manhattan schist that elevates the northernmost parts of the Big Apple. One of the features of this race, and every race within the World Marathon Majors, is that it gives people—not cars—the chance to take over streets and other major pieces of infrastructure. Now in its 48th year, the marathon starts at the edge of Staten Island. Runners get an initial high over the 13,700-foot-long Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, a Robert Moses-backed project, and run north up 4th Avenue from southern Brooklyn to Greenpoint. After a brief stint in Long Island City, Queens dotted with shiny, new towering residential properties, runners cross the Queensboro Bridge and begin a six-mile jaunt through Manhattan, the Bronx, and back into Manhattan to the end in Central Park. As one of the world’s most walkable cities, runners will have plenty architectural distractions along the 26-mile route. But with a total ascent of nearly 853 feet and a maximum elevation of 195 above sea level, the long and swelling course in New York is not for the faint of heart. Tokyo Marathon The youngest race in the World Marathon Majors, the Tokyo Marathon has existed since 2007 and features little change in elevation due to the city’s location on the coast of Japan. Rising to just 134 feet above sea level, but largely maintaining an average of 5 feet above grade, the extensive course zigzags through the heart of the city and across the Sumida River. The race begins at the Kenzo Tange-designed Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, a 48-story tower that, though surrounded by other gray-toned architecture, still maintains its identity as a landmark in Tokyo. The building resembles a giant, cathedral-shaped computer chip. The course heads directly east toward downtown Tokyo past the 19th-century Imperial Palace, then loops through Asakusa, home of the famous Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji, down to Koto, through Ginza, and the Shinagawa business district in Tokyo Bay. Runners will end the race by cutting through Hibiya Park and hitting Tokyo Station. It’s the only course in the competition where participants double loop the parts of the route. The Boston Marathon As the world’s oldest annual marathon dating back to 1897, the Boston Marathon is also New England’s largest sporting event, attracting over 50,000 spectators and 30,000 participants. The historic course runs straight through eight cities and towns in the Boston metropolitan area, starting on East Main Street in Hopkinton and following Routes 35, 16, and 30. Finishers cross into downtown Boston and end near the John Hancock Tower in Copley Square after largely descending in elevation from the top of the course. The long route allows runners to explore Boston’s Middlesex County and race by the scenery between each colonial town. Overall, the race is very hilly. The course begins at 450 feet above sea level and drops drastically, eventually resting around the 150- to 200-foot mark from miles 3.5 to 15. From Newtown to Brookline at mile 19, runners will climb the infamous Heartbreak Hill before descending to sea level in the last two miles. Bank of America Chicago Marathon Beginning and ending in Chicago’s own front yard, Grant Park, runners go through 29 neighborhoods in one large loop, with each of the city’s main stadiums set as turning points. As one of the most architecturally revered cities in the U.S., runners have the opportunity to pass by some of Chicago's stand-out structures and get a feel for its physical and cultural diversity. The 45,000 participants start the flat race in downtown Chicago, catching glimpses of Millennium Park, the mid-century Prudential Building, and the Loop. After crossing north up LaSalle Street to Lincoln Park, they’ll hit Wrigley Field at mile 8 before heading south to Old Town, which sports Chicago’s Victorian-era homes, as well as St. Michael’s Church, one of the only buildings still standing from before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In the industrial River North neighborhood, runners will fly by Merchandise Mart, home to galleries, as well as residential and design showrooms. On the West Side of Chicago, participants pass by the famous Union Station and St. Patrick’s Church, the city’s oldest public building, before hitting Little Italy, Pilsen, and all its wall murals, as well as Chinatown. Before heading back up Michigan Avenue to Grant Park, runners go by the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, which is next to Bronzeville, a place called the “Birthplace of the Blues.” In the historic Gap section of the neighborhood, Frank Lloyd Wright built a set of rowhouses. BMW Berlin Marathon Established in 1974, today’s course for the Berlin Marathon hasn’t always been in place. Before 1990, the race was held solely on the city’s west side. Just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall that June, participants were able to run through East Berlin with tears in their eyes. The course today is configured in a large loop. It starts at 38 meters above sea level and never rises above 53 meters. It’s largely flat and features very few sharp corners, making it one of the fastest long-distance routes in the world. Runners begin at the neoclassical Brandenburg Gate in the historic Pariser Platz. They then head west through Grober Tiergarten Park before crossing the river Spree. Heading into East Berlin, participants loop through Friedrichshain, Neukölln, Kreuzberg, Schoneberg, and Steglitz, eventually going into Charlottenburg, and downtown Berlin. Because of the city’s stark past, Berlin is relatively young and many major developments are less than 30 years old. Runners will start in an iconic and old part of the city, but eventually stumble upon newer structures such as Norman Foster’s Reichstag building and Potsdamer Platz, the city’s main square with a masterplan by Hilmer & Sattler, and designs by Renzo Piano and Helmut Jahn. Virgin Money London Marathon Following the flow of the River Thames, the relatively flat London Marathon attracts amateurs, charity fundraisers, and serious runners from around the world. It started in 1981 and the slithery course—which begins in Blackheath, passes through Greenwich, and ends in St. James near Buckingham Palace—has barely been altered since the original race 37 years ago. Participants travel through two of London’s major parks, visit dockyards, the Royal Artillery Barracks, and file through the neighborhoods of Deptford, Surrey Quay, and Wapping after crossing Tower Bridge. While the Tube is arguably the fastest way to get around London’s sprawling metropolis, running this annual race gives visitors a chance to see the city at their own pace. Some of the city’s most notable developments are directly on or near the River Thames, such as the near-complete London Bridge Station that’s been in the works for eight years.
Houston is a city that revels in the intersection of event and space—it certainly has an abundance of both. Adjacent to one of Houston’s meandering and often overflowing bayous in what was once an empty lot turned parking lot, Sideout Volleybar responds to the city's social pressures and urban conditions. This volleyball social club opened in the Northside neighborhood in June 2017 and combines casual sports, bright lights, and beer. AN contributor Jack Murphy and I decided to do a bit of participant observation on a recent Wednesday and headed over for burgers and beer. Sideout has three courts lined on two sides by a covered observation porch along with a bar house, a bean bag toss court, a dog area, and a food truck parked outside. “It’s like an athletic Ice House,” Jack observed, referring to the open-air beer joints that have long dotted the city. The comparison to the classic Houston outdoor bar is apt in that everything feels so provisional, as if the wood-framed decks could quickly be dismantled and the carpet of sand rolled up if business got too slow. The bar itself is not much more than a converted bungalow with a slab of wood in the space once occupied by the living room sofa. There was an effort to cover every surface with some choice of bright yellow, millennial pink, or a color I can only describe as greenish. The lighting is simply the parking lot pylons poking out of the sandy courts, which were installed on top of the parking lot surface, like a Houston version of “Sous les pavés, la plage!” This particular evening was both a trivia night and a league night, so the jarring patter of trivia questions layered over the chatter of various teams on the courts, all atop the soundtrack of greatest hits from the early 1990’s. The music of 311 was on heavy rotation. It was a ball. Sideout is a bar for beach volleyball and this seemed simple enough. The venue calls itself a “volleybar,” but the place is alive with activity: What we discovered was a veritable volleybar ball. “I think we are in the 1 percent of people not wearing an obnoxious league shirt,” Jack comments. The team players wear generic loose-fitting league T-shirts, distributed by Houston Sports & Social Club. For expediency, the graphics on every shirt are the same, so the 20-odd teams are differentiated by a range of colors that evokes a middle-school summer day camp. What is illustrative to the architect in this situation is that what is happening is really an event-based urban choreography. Houston is a city of unparalleled diversity with very few circumstances that allow for the public to appear together—but here, people come in droves. By our rough count, there must have been nearly 200 players at any given time in the complex: trivia sharks, volleyball players, dog-walkers, and even a few just plain barflies. I can’t help but imagine the league T-shirts as some type of Situationist uniform à la Constant’s Homo Ludens. Will Thomas, one of Sideout’s owners and a local musician, cited many of the Tex-Mex establishments of his youth and their “organic informality” as his inspiration for the place. Thomas is a partner in W2 Development, a company responsible for many of the recent commercial developments in the neighborhood. Nearby, there is a new metro light rail stop, the White Oak Music Hall, designed by Schaum/Shieh, a dramatic bridge over a river (a bayou, upscaled), and a hike and bike trail in the works, all set in a loose assemblage that doesn’t quite amount to an urban system until you see it activated through its events. Whether it’s an outdoor concert, a cinema screening, or, of course, league night at the Volleybar, each time you visit, you might find yourself in what feels like a different city. If you don’t mind the sartorial constraints of the league T-shirt and would enjoy the feeling of standing at the center of a sociality you can’t quite perceive the edges of, then come over to the Sideout Volleybar. If bumping, setting, or spiking isn’t your thing, then at least you will find a unique place to imbibe and watch the sun set against the Houston skyline.
The Continuous City: Fourteen Essays on Architecture and Urbanization Lars Lerup Park Books, 2017 $39.00 Lars Lerup, the Swedish-American designer and writer, has published a new book. The Continuous City (Park Books, 2017) presents his latest thoughts on architecture, cities, and the people who inhabit them by way of 14 disparate but interconnected essays. The handsome volume is bound in a matte cover featuring René Magritte’s painting Panorama Populaire (1926), which depicts buildings, a forest, and a seashore stacked atop each other, the ground plane of each upper level sawed away to reveal the strata beneath. The picture turns out to be a perfect signpost for what lies within, as its suggestion that these (and other) seemingly discrete realms are inextricably linked is precisely the crux of Lerup’s otherwise episodic inquiry. Lerup’s two previous titles—One Million Acres & No Zoning (Architectural Association Publications, 2011) and After the City (MIT Press, 2001)—took on the postindustrial car city as a subject of serious study. They look beyond the European-oriented urbanist’s dismissal of such environments as merely “sprawl” to find and examine the often-surreal juxtapositions embedded within that type of built fabric. Both books show Lerup’s fascination with Houston, where he first moved in 1993 from Berkeley, California, to take the job of dean at the Rice School of Architecture, a position he held until 2009. He is currently a professor there. Houston was to architecture in the 1980s what Dubai is to the field today—a petro-capital spending big money on ambitious development projects without paying much attention to the rules. Lerup’s championing of this subject matter in architectural academia (his has been one voice—there are others) has done much to save the discipline from self-inflicted obsolescence, an observation driven home by the fact that approximately 80 percent of currently existing global urban environments are designed and constructed around the automobile. His leadership also supported and propelled other academics who have done important work in this area, including Rice colleague Albert Pope, whose seminal volume, Ladders (Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), laid the groundwork for serious consideration of the postwar American city, and former Rice assistant professor Keith Krumwiede, whose latest book, Atlas of Another America: An Architectural Fiction (Park Books, 2016), explores speculative futures of suburbia. Another of Lerup’s preoccupations is subjectivity. In the 1970s, during a sabbatical from UC Berkeley, Peter Eisenman invited him to the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York (Rem Koolhaas was writing Delirious New York just down the hall). Lerup’s design work exhibits ties to that lineage of formal exploration and defamiliarization, but where Eisenman seeks to liberate architecture from the user, Lerup’s ambition has been to explore the problems of the urban inhabitant. For example, he did several years of research with the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., on how people in nursing homes panic and escape buildings that are on fire. The result was a series of publications compiled into Learning from Fire: A Fire Protection Primer for Architects, composed of a series of hand-drawn comic strips that depict nurses and patients reacting to infernos. In Continuous City, Lerup says hello to the Anthropocene. Quoting from the introduction: “The Anthropocene brings with it the realization that we live in a new (catastrophic) geological era of our own making. This is no longer a squabble between liberty or community, but a need to avert disaster. Lacking easy answers, we now seek opportunities for change, skirting the dark side of the new city, which the earlier books dealt with, to find in architecture a device for positive movement forward.” He argues that conceptual distinctions between urban and suburban, or urban and rural, are no longer productive. “The urban,” he writes, “is inescapable. The city is everywhere.” Lerup’s hunt for constructive examples takes the reader on a journey that spans the globe and delves into the history of human settlement. He establishes links between the plan of Teotihuacán and OMA’s Seattle library, investigates the coexistence of natural and built environments in the work of Roberto Burle Marx, considers the synergies of Herzog & de Meuron’s Miami garage, and worries the uneasy relationship between users’ topological experience and the planner’s topographic approach. His findings are as revelatory as they are perturbing. If humankind is to survive the era of global warming (the Anthropocene’s most threatening result), there remains much more work to be done.
Gowanus, the Brooklyn neighborhood known for its namesake toxic canal (which is prone to flooding), will be joining Manhattan’s Garment District as the next neighborhood to be rezoned. Following over 100 hours of community outreach after the release of the original Gowanus PLACES Study in 2016, the Department of City Planning (DCP) has unveiled the Draft Framework for a Sustainable, Inclusive, Mixed-use Neighborhood. The 188-page draft breaks down suggestions from the city and community on how to boost the neighborhood’s resiliency, replace some of the manufacturing areas with residential, and build up flood-resistant infrastructure. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants were also consulted on how to improve the area’s public housing stock moving forward. Surprising no one, a great deal of attention was paid towards the future of the Gowanus Canal proper. Plans for dredging and remediating the industrial waterway (despite the preservation concerns), preventing runoff from reaching the canal, and incentivizing private residences to remediate their contaminated sites were given top billing. Despite the fetid waters, Gowanus has seen an upsurge in luxury development in recent years (including Brooklyn’s first Whole Foods, on 3rd Avenue). The city worked with community groups such as Bridging Gowanus to develop guides for building affordably in the neighborhood. Some of those proposals include rezoning the majority industrial and commercial neighborhood to allow for mid-rise residential developments with a sizeable affordable housing component. While nods were given to reigning in development along mid-block properties, the city has proposed allowing higher-density developments along certain stretches, such as near Thomas Greene Playground and on 3rd Avenue. Some of the beefier urbanist proposals in the draft framework include bridging non-contiguous plots into walkable “superblocks,” and the creation of a unified waterfront esplanade around the canal under a Waterfront Access Plan (WAP). The WAP would also create uniformly-spaced canal crossings, new flood resistance requirements, ground-floor retail requirements along the waterfront, and lowered street wall heights on the coast. The full draft framework plan can be found here. The framework’s release will be followed by the Draft Neighborhood Plan and Zoning Proposal this winter, and then the rezoning proposal will move to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for public comment. Interested community members can attend an open house at P.S. 32 at 317 Hoyt Street on June 27 from 5 to 8:30 P.M. to share their feedback.