We were glad to be included on the Studio Gang’s Archi-Salon panel on “outside research” at the Art Institute of Chicago on February 2. UIC’s Clare Lyster moderated a lively discussion that, true to its roots in academic theory, kicked off by questioning the premise in the first place. Are practice and research separated by anything more than semantics? Based on the turnout it seems the discussion series achieved its goal of public engagement—what can we say? We’re thrilled and a bit surprised that you all find architectural theory as stimulating as we do.
During the discussion, Paul Preissner detected a whiff of marketing in architects’ clambering to engage “outside” disciplines. You might have thought he accused them of artistic treason, based on the defensive tone that the discussion took whenever the topic popped back up.
President Obama’s second-term White House is still in transition, with Ray LaHood out and rumors of an NTSB replacement, Sally Jewell likely in as Secretary of Interior. Among the non-Cabinet-level appointments, the President appointed Michael Graves to a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, an agency “devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.” Graves, who uses a wheelchair after an illness-induced partial paralysis, has been a leader in promoting accessibility in architecture, recently designing prototype houses for wounded and disabled veterans.
This month, Graves will also be launching a new line of more than 300 products at retailer J.C. Penney, including kitchen appliances, candlesticks, and a toaster shaped like a piece of toast. The Indianapolis-born architect will return to his hometown on March 28 to give a lecture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and he recently spoke with the Indy Star about delivering papers for the publication as a child, architecture, and the new product line. An exhibition of Graves’ work, From Towers to Teakettles, is also on display at the Virginia Center for Architecture through March 31.
One of the most important components of any architecture school is its semester-long lecture series. It’s a chance for schools to bring in voices from outside their building and communicate to students a broad range of approaches and ideas percolating in the culture and profession. Many schools send out posters of these lectures to other schools across the country to announce their programing and these are posted on hallway walls for all to see even if they are thousands of miles away on another coast.
But now City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture has taken the next step and is simulcasting its lectures live online for the public to view. Old lectures will be archived and viewable any time. This semester City College is focusing its lectures on Rethinking Kahn and have scheduled a distinguished line up of Louis Kahn scholars including Stanislaus von Moos this Thursday, February 28 speaking on Kahn’s urban projects. On March 7, Ken Frampton will be speaking on monumentality in Kahn’s work. March 21 will feature Gina Pollara who will lecture on New York’s FDR Memorial on Roosevelt Island and its construction. After that Robert Twombley and William J.R. Curtis will lecture. On the Friday after William Curtis’ lecture, there will be a discussion between William Curtis and George Ranalli and Rethinking Kahn.
Registration for AN‘s Facades+PERFORMANCE conference is now open with a limited-time Early Bird pricing offer that expires on March 1. The conference is taking place in New York City on April 11 and 12 and will feature presentations and workshops from leaders in the industry who will analyze, discuss, and dispute the development, implementation, and maintenance of high-performance building enclosures. Noted architect Christoph Ingenhoven will be delivering the keynote address. Make sure to reserve your spot today before Facades+PERFORMANCE sells out!
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.