The first-ever Los Angeles Facades + conference, organized by The Architect’s Newspaper and Enclos, held in the shadow of Bunker Hill’s glassy towers, showcased the city’s technical and creative talent while introducing participants to the building envelope field’s latest technologies and trends.
Keynote speaker James Carpenter set a sophisticated tone, showing off richly complex work that explores both the “cinematic” and “volumetric qualities of light.” His World Trade Center 7 base, he pointed out, uses a subtle shift in plane to create an ethereal glow, while another project for Gucci in Tokyo uses prismatic light to recreate the qualities of a Japanese lantern. Other highlights included his louvered Israel Museum and his new exploration of optical aluminum, thin glasses, and computer etched glass.
What is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s position on design and public space? Does he care about design or think it is simply a prerogative of the city’s middle class populations? It is one the conundrums of the current administration that it wants to create 200,000 units of affordable housing but does not seem to care about the architecture of the buildings or or how they might affect their surrounding neighborhoods. There is much that is laudable in the mayor’s push for new affordable housing, but will all this new construction be a step back from the progressive attitude of the Bloomberg administration concerning the physical and spatial aspects of the city?
These issues—and others of great concern to the city’s design community—will be the topic of discussion tonight at the AIANY’s Center for Architecture on LaGuardia Place in a panel discussion called “A Changing Landscape: Public Space and the New Administration.”
Contemporary architectural practice, and in particular the design of high-performance facades, is as much about mastering technology as it is about grappling with aesthetics and function. Attendees at next month’s facades+ Chicago conference will have an opportunity to explore cutting-edge digital design tools during a series of hands-on technology workshops. The tech workshops, which take place on the second day of the conference, follow a day-long symposium featuring keynotes and roundtable discussions by AEC industry leaders. “If on day 1 you’re being exposed to advancements in building methods, on day 2 you can learn the technology and techniques that are behind those applications,” said Mode Lab’s Ronnie Parsons. “It’s taking the next step from someone who’s in the audience to being a participant. Not just a participant who’s watching and engaged, but one who is actively involved in shaping what happens tomorrow.” Read More
Allan Wexler: Breaking Ground
Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
31 Mercer Street, New York
Through May 3, 2014
The current Allan Wexler exhibit, Breaking Ground, at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts proves again how important is the work of architects who confine their production to the gallery. In the new exhibit, Wexler explores mankind’s first interventions into landscape with a series of photo-based images and sculpture. Wexler first builds models of his imagined landscapes out of plaster and museum board before photographing them and digitally manipulating and printing them. The Architect’s Newspaper will celebrate Wexler’s extraordinary forty five year career with a special reception at the Feldman gallery Tuesday, April, 29th from 6:00–8:00p.m.
Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, has a bone to pick with modernism and its legacy. “For the last 100 years, architecture’s been involved in a silly tension between form and function,” he said. While high modernism privileged function over form, some of today’s top designers argue that architecture is about aesthetics and not much else. REX has a different take: architecture, the firm claims, is both function and form. “We really believe that architecture can do things. It’s not just a representational art form,” said Prince-Ramus. “We talk about performance. Aesthetics are part of performance [as is function.]”
So much of design work today is solitary. It involves sitting in front of a computer—crunching data, building renderings, and running evaluations on digital models. But that’s not the full picture. AEC professionals rely on personal connections to identify projects, connect with clients, and learn new skills. Whether a business meeting or a chat over cocktails, face-to-face interactions still matter.
As most AEC professionals know, technology can be either a help or a hindrance when it comes to the design of high-performance building envelopes. Software programs like Grasshopper and Autodesk Vasari offer powerful tools for generating, modeling, and analyzing facades. But there’s a catch. Without a firm grasp of the programs’ capabilities, users can lose data, overlook important features, or otherwise negate the advantages inherent to digital design. Read More
Michael Loverich of Bittertang Farms, a firm recently announced as an inclusion in AIA New York’s New Practices New York exhibition, will be discussing his practice in a lecture affiliated with the upcoming show. The firm, or rather the farm’s unconventional name is reflected in projects that tend to stray into the realms of the organic and the sensory. Loverich partnered with Antonio Torres to form Bittertang, which has offices in New York and Southern Mexico. Entitled “Make It Squeel!!!!,” Loverich’s talk will be held on April 16th at 5:30 in the Häfele Showroom.
Register for the event, click here.
Innovations in building envelope design typically take one of two forms. The first concerns the materials themselves, and the application of developments in the science of glass, metal, concrete, wood, and plastics to architecture. The second has to do with how the facade mediates between the building interior and the environment.
In a world of extreme weather events and rapid sociological change, architects must invent new ways to marry flexibility, resilience, and sustainability in facade design.
Architect Gordon Gill has one simple rule for facade design: seek performance first, and beauty will follow. Gill, who will give the opening keynote address at next month’s facades+PERFORMANCE conference in New York, is a founding partner at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a firm known for pushing the boundaries of what architecture is and does. Gill and his team start by “establishing a language of architecture that’s based in the performance of a building,” he said. “We’re trying to understand the role of the building in the environment it’s being built in, then shape the building in order to benefit it the best way. Once we take that approach, the facades play a pretty rich role in either absorbing or reflecting the environment.”