With the ongoing attacks on American interests in the past, the US Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has moved it’s government buildings from the heart of Beirut, to the calmer suburbs of the north of the Lebanese capital, specifically Awkar. OBO is currently evaluating a group of design teams to be commissioned for the design and construction of the new US embassy in Awkar, just 7 miles north of Beirut, and in close proximity to the existing embassy. Six firms participated in Stage 2 evaluations, and the list has now been shortened to three finalists.
On September 6, 2013, Vitra announced it acquired Artek. The Finnish furniture company was established in 1935 by architect Alvar Aalto, his wife Aino, Maire Gullichsen, and historian Nils-Gustav Hahl to produce furniture that promoted modern living. Over the company’s last 80 years, it has expanded its business to include rights to Ilmari Tapiovaara’s furniture collection and collaborations with renowned designers and artists such as Shigeru Ban, Eero Aarnio, and Enzo Mari.
Artek will continue operations as a separate entity but it is anticipated the purchase will expand the furniture company’s reach further beyond Finland, where contract and residential domestic sales account for 60 percent of its business. “The international dimension, which was a clear goal already in Artek’s founding manifesto of 1935, needed to be revitalized,” said Artek’s CEO Mirkku Kullberg in a statement. “That arena is where we want to be and alliances or ownership arrangements are one way of building the future.” Read More
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) announced last week it would design a new headquarters for Dubai-based Mashreq Bank. The 32-story tower is “a quiet sculptural form within Dubai’s skyline,” SOM Design Director Ross Wimer said in a statement. Its L-shaped floor plate is cantilevered around an empty volume between the building’s eight-story podium and its top levels.
The building’s massing shields that courtyard from solar gain, while opening up views to Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa to the east. Executive offices occupy the top two floors, where the square floorplate resumes, with Mashreq’s Board Room suspended from an interior opening at the middle.
Wiels Arets Architects recently won a competition to design the “Europaallee site D” building in Zurich. The building is a pivotal component in the emerging mixed use district of “Europaallee,” a major infrastructure project which will incorporate 6,000 workplaces, 1,800 study spaces, 400 flats, one hotel, shops, restaurants, and other leisure activities. The winning entry accommodates retail activities and circulation spaces on the lower floors, while the upper volumes contain flexible office space. The building has been designed with scope for a residential component in the future.
OMA has been selected to design the Bogotá Centro Administrativo Nacional (CAN) new civic center, situated at the heart of the city’s main axis, Calle 26. Steered by partner-in-charge Shohei Shigematsu, the 680-acre mixed-use design occupies a footprint as large as Washington, D.C.’s National Mall and will operate as the city’s government headquarters with intermixed residential, educational, retail, and cultural developments, all which encourage continuous activity within separate districts. The design intends to integrate civic and public life while connecting to local destinations.
With modular homes on the rise, it seems to be time to bid farewell to long months and even years of construction and salute fast-paced, pre-fabricated systems arriving across the globe. At the Royal Academy in London as part of the Inside Out exhibition, Richard Rogers’ firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) has introduced an innovative, environmentally efficient, three-and-a-half story home called the Homeshell. It is meant to inspire discussion about affordable mass housing. The flat-packed home on display contains individually installed windows and boasts a low environmental impact. Colorful facade materials enliven the closed timber frame system.
Just as soon as they were announced, deliberation has begun on the nineteen semi-finalists in the 2013 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. In the spirit of architect Buckminster Fuller’s call for revolutionary scientific design, this international design competition summons participants to innovate sustainable, long-term solutions for “humanity’s most pressing problems.” This year, the jury has chosen projects that vary in subject and method, re-envisioning current global systems or addressing specific gaps within them. Read More
Architectural photographer, Adrian Wilson, shared this photo with AN that he snapped during a photo shoot in Mexico City today. The routine work day, this time at Casa Palacio for Jeffrey Hutchison & Associates, was abruptly interrupted by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake epicentered some 250 miles outside the Mexican capital. It was once instance, the usually-steady Wilson said, when he “couldn’t avoid camera shake…” According to news reports there was no major damage or injuries reported from the tremor.
On August 1st, LEGO released a new kit in its series of building block design sets marketed specifically to architecture enthusiasts. LEGO’s Architecture Studio Kit, from its Architecture Series of adult-catered building sets, consists of 1,200 all white and translucent plastic bricks but no instructions. The free-for-all kit is endorsed by MAD Architects of Beijing and comes with a guidebook of architecture building exercises. Michael Bleby of Business Review Weekly writes that this set “is the first in the range to focus on creativity and architectural principles, rather than a specific architectural icon.” A modernist’s dream that costs significantly less than others within the series, LEGO may possibly have caught onto a new niche market. Especially when reviews thus far of the landmark-specific Architecture Series have been mixed from architects and enthusiasts alike.
French Pritzker Prize–winning architect Jean Nouvel‘s design for Louvre Abu Dhabi has begun construction after a series of delays. The building’s most prominent feature is a 180-meter-diameter dome. The design of the dome is culturally relevant as well as utilitarian. The shape is prominent in traditional Arabian architecture. As the Louvre Abu Dhabi website describes, it is “an emblematic feature…evoking the mosque, the mausoleum, and the madrasa.” The dome’s expanse also protects the building and its visitors from the sun. Carefully formulated geometric apertures in the all-white structure allow diffused and dappled daylight inside the museum, while mitigating heat gain. Nouvel designed the dappled pattern to emulate interlaced palm fronds, which are traditionally used in Arabic countries for thatch roofs.