The 77-year-old Montreal architect and artist Mel Charney died on September 17th in his home. Trained at McGill University and Yale as an architect, he was better known as a sculptor, architectural thinker, and academic. Charney represented Canada at the Venice Biennale twice—once for art in 1986 and once for architecture in 2000, created large-scale installations in Montreal including A Chicago Construction (1982) and Skyscraper, Waterfall, Brooks—A Construction at Place Émilie-Gamelin. Finally, he famously designed a block-long montage of photographs of buildings along Montreal’s Sherbrooke Street that had been destroyed to make way for development, which in turn was also destroyed by the city. The next print edition of AN will feature a full obituary and appreciation of Charney by David Grahame Shane.
You know low-rise skinny jeans are over when someone builds a monument to them. Oh wait, that’s the RMJM’s Gate of the East! Located in Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, the building is six times taller than the Arch de Triomphe and intended to commemorate China’s entrance into the global economic market. But as the skeletal structure began to be erected, some Suzhou citizens asked, “Um, doesn’t that look like a pair of pants?” Indeed, the almost-pointed arch evokes a cross-section of a gothic cathedral, or, to the modern eye, a pair of really tight trousers. But these aren’t just any pants. In a response published on Dezeen.com, RMJM pointed out the building’s many “feats,” including the highest swimming pool in China and the most use of steel per unit volume. “While some critics view the unfinished skeleton as a laughable pair of low-rise jeans, the gateway is a far cry from a joking matter,” said RMJM. (Hey, quit smirking!)
While many have dreamed about living underwater, until humans can inhabit on the ocean floor, perhaps it’s best to simply assist those that already reside there. In his exhibition, Urban Reef, artist and founder of the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), Jason deCaires Taylor has done just that.
In an ongoing endeavor to blend public art, architecture, and urbanism by artists Siyuan and Hwee Chong, The Doors Project subversively projects a series of doors onto public spaces in Singapore, reflecting the struggles of the urban poor and underprivileged. But while commenting on despair, the real message is one of faith, hope and empowerment. “We wanted to make a statement about life, and jolt people to think,” the artists said in an interview at Yolo. “Instead of following the light at the end of the tunnel, why not carry our own lights, and create our own doors! It’s really about rolling up our sleeves, and creating the opportunities we want for ourselves.”
Pritzker winner Peter Zumthor will be awarded the 2013 Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal, according to Building Design. Known for his meticulously-wrought projects like the thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland, the Brother Klaus Field Chapel in Eifel, Germany, the Bregenz Kunsthall in Austria, and the witch trial memorial in Norway, Zumthor is now designing a major expansion at LACMA. “We debate each of the six shortlisted candidates in turn then look at their writing and their influence in acadaemia, but there wasn’t one clear person who stood out,” RIBA president Angela Brady told BD.
Floods last spring in the United Kingdom have inspired a flood-resistant housing design that works with floodwaters instead of against them—homes that rise from their foundations with floodwaters and return to ground level once waters have dissipated. Baca Architects has proposed the first “amphibious house” in the UK, on the banks of the Thames River in Buckinghamshire, that if successful could reverse a decision to ban new construction in low-lying areas.
A fantastical sounding urban garden paradise imagined by Rotterdam-based MVRDV and made up of jasmine hotels, lily pond swimming pools, offices decked with planted interiors and bamboo parks, and an alphabetized plant library will be brought to reality over the next ten years in the city of Almere, Netherlands. Today, the Nederlandse Tuinbouwraad (NTR) chose MVRDV’s plan for Almere as the winner of the esteemed Floriade 2022 World Horticulture Expo, which takes place only once every ten years. The blanket of new city fabric draped over a 111-acre peninsula will transform it into a permanent green extension directly opposite Almere’s existing city center.
Tomorrow cities around the world will celebrate Park(ing) Day . What started in 2005 when San Francisco firm ReBar converted a parking space in San Francisco into a temporary park has exploded into a global event. Last year 975 parks were built in 162 cities in 35 countries, up from 800 parks the year before. This year will be even bigger. To get you excited here are some pictures of our favorite temporary parks from last year. And for those of you who still want to do a last-second park, according to the organizers, doing it without pemits is risky, but not out of the question: “It’s your call, but we do encourage you to look for creative ways to work with/within the law,” says the Park(ing) Day site. Read More
Rising almost 400 feet (120 meters) above Sao Paulo’s financial district, reminiscent of a ship setting sail, is the Infinity Tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. With its cutting edge technology and unique design, one of Sao Paulo’s first Class-A towers is attracting high profile tenants, including Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Bloomberg, Facebook and Louis Vuitton.
Neil Denari Architects have won the challenge everyone is talking about: the international competition to design the Keelung Harbor Service Project in Taiwan. According to Keelung’s web site the project will become the “Gateway to the Nation,” developing unused waterfront land into a passenger and cargo terminal, a transfer station, an arts plaza, and a wharf for more industrial activity.
According to images posted by jury member Michael Speaks, Denari’s plan consists of carved out metallic-skinned masses floating above narrow bases above raised plazas. Surfaces are textured with graphic components including repeating angular window patterns and lime green and powder blue colors. The curved buildings interconnect forming internal courtyards and, at one point, a huge framed view onto the waterfront. The $140 million project is meant to accelerate development in the surrounding areas, including several commercial buildings near the site. Read More
“Few people think about it or are aware of it. But there is nothing made by human beings
that does not involve a design decision somewhere.” -Bill Moggridge
Bill Moggridge, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and an outspoken advocate for the value of design in everyday life, died September 8th, 2012, following a battle with cancer. He was 69. Designer of the first laptop computer and co-founder of the renowned innovation and design firm, IDEO, Bill pioneered interaction design and integrated human factors into the design of computer software and hardware.
Bill was a Royal Designer for Industry, a 2010 winner of the Prince Philip Designers Prize, and a 2009 winner of Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement. He described his career as having three phases: first, as a designer; second, as a leader of design teams and; third, as a communicator.