Described as “crime scene photos,” stark images of Spain’s housing bubble landscapes depict a grim reality. But instead of a somber discourse on the evils of political corruption and real estate speculation, the Architectural League’s symposium this past Friday, The City That Never Was, looked forward and, as Iñaki Abalos aptly asked, wondered if we, “can turn shit into gold.”
Building on their research and design studios at the University of Pennsylvania, Chris Marcinkoski and Javier Arpa, the moderators, explored the future of urbanism through the lens of Spain’s economic crisis and its resulting desolate urban form. Framing the historical context of boom and bust cycles, they reveal that the Spanish situation is only unique in scale and intensity. It exists as part of a larger commodification of urbanism all over the world resulting in similar conditions in an ever simplified placeless urbanism.
Notes from The Innovative Metropolis: Fostering Economic Competitiveness Through Sustainable Urban Design
Covering ground from Sao Paulo to Copenhagen, a set of multi-disciplinary discussions were convened in Washington, DC yesterday by the Brookings Institution and the Sam Fox School at Washington University in St. Louis, to explore the synergies between urban design, policy, and finance required to realize innovation in the way we construct our environment. The discussions focused on global case studies relative to urban mobility, technology, and environmental adaptation, against the backdrop of global urbanization and climate change.
While lessons were gleamed, it was clear that what was needed was “not one urbanism,” as Dean Moshen Mostafavi of the Harvard GSD put it, but “Urbanisms,” tuned to the “logic” of a given geography, climate, and culture. While existing within larger ecologies that, as Valente Souza of Mexico City asserted, may contain “their own solutions,” cites are, as Amy Liu of the Brookings Institution emphasized “complex economic systems” and any sustainable initiatives must address consumer demands. As Alex Washburn, Chief Urban designer for New York City summarized, “all change is driven by desire.”
Watch videos of the proceedings of “The Innovative Metropolis” on the Brookings Institution website.
Tadao Ando’s architecture strives for perfection, with glass-smooth concrete walls nearly as reflective as mirrors, ideal proportion and geometry creating a sacred sense of space, and design details that reveal no part of a building is too small for consideration. In fact, as one story goes, Ando requested that a foot-thick concrete wall at his Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis be rebuilt multiple times since it didn’t meet his strict standards.
The Pulitzer, one of only a handful of buildings the Japanese architect has completed in the United States and the first in the US intended for public use, opened in 2001, demurely set behind a concrete wall in the city’s Grand Center neighborhood. This Friday and Saturday (February 8 and 9), the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and Washington University in St. Louis are hosting the free Building Pulitzer colloquium looking back at the four-year construction period of Ando’s Pulitzer Foundation.
Starting Wednesday, January 30, LA’s MAK Center and arts promoter ForYourArt will begin hosting Dialogues: Art/Architecture, Paris/Los Angeles, a series of events bringing together architects and artists from those two cities. Events include four discussions at the Schindler House in West Hollywood, an exhibition of drawings and models at ForYourArt in Miracle Mile, and the launch of a publication compiling participants’ work and discussion.
Stop by New York’s John Houshmand Showroom on Thursday, January 17 from 6:00 to 9:00p.m. to take in some art and music, part of the Soundwall exhibition. Ed Potakar’s sound sculptures, audio architecture, and handcrafted musical instruments will be on display with a special performance at 7:30p.m. More info here.
Join AN this Friday, January 11 at the Center for Architecture for the next Cocktails & Conversations discussion between AN‘s Editor-in-Chief William Menking and Snøhetta principal Craig Dykers. The program pairs a leading architect with a critic, journalist, or curator for an evening of conversation. Bartender Toby Cecchini will be preparing special cocktails inspired by the unique architecture of Snøhetta. We’re guessing it might be called the Fjord with a shot of Blue Curacao and big, craggy mountains of ice.
AIA Chicago announced their 2012 awards, to be officially presented tomorrow at the chapter’s annual meeting.
Firm of the year goes to Farr Associates, whose sustainable design credentials include seven LEED Platinum projects, two net-zero-energy buildings and three LEED-Neighborhood Developments. Farr was the first firm in the world to rack up three LEED Platinum projects. The New York Times’ Keith Schneider once called them “The most prominent of the city’s growing cadre of ecologically sensitive architects.” Eco-urbanists are in good company these days, and it seems a timely choice by AIA to highlight a firm so actively involved in the hard work of implementing smart growth and sustainable design.
CRITICAL HALLOWEEN : On Banality, on Metaphor
Saturday, October 27
10pm til Late
The Autumn Bowl
67 West Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
The second annual Critical Halloween hosted by the Storefront for Art and Architecture promises to generate a spooky skyline on Saturday. Mixing in a new theme of “Metaphor” with last year’s banner of “Banality,” guests are invited to critique and comment through costume. Judging by 2011 event (see below), it’s the ultimate cathartic carnival for all things architecture and design. Get inspired here.
Planning and transportation wonks from around the country gathered at NYU’s Kimmel Center this morning to mark the beginning of three-days of the NACTO Designing Cities conference, emphasizing new and innovative ideas for designing streets and public spaces. To jumpstart the event, the National Association of City Transportation Officials released the Urban Street Design Guide, collecting design principles, strategies, and case studies from across the country on how to best design and implement everything from cycletracks to bus rapid transit.