April showers bring May flowers. The AIA’s latest numbers for May’s Architecture Billings Index have fortunately showed renewed strength with a score of 52.9, an increase from April’s low score of 48.6, which marked a surprising setback into negative territory for the first time in nine months. (Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.)
“This rebound is a good sign for the design and construction industry and hopefully means that April’s negative dip was a blip rather than a sign of challenging times to come,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, in a statement. “But there is a resounding sense of uncertainty in the marketplace—from clients to investors and an overall lack of confidence in the general economy—that is continuing to act as a governor on the business development engine for architecture firms.”
The Denver Architectural League asked architects and designers from across the world to reimagine the micro-apartment on a riverfront site by designing an eight-unit structure that diverges from the uninspired design of multi-family housing elsewhere in the community. Their Micro Housing Ideas Competition generated over 100 entries and a jury selected ten proposals for special distinction. The competition was inspired by a concern regarding a shortage of innovation present in Denver’s multi-family housing market. Members of the design community were given the opportunity to rework and establish the future of this specific sector.
Readers enjoying Architectural Record’s free online content got a wake-up call in late May: a paywall for articles older than 30 days. Now to access “the archive,” one must subscribe to the publication or sign up for an online subscription ($20/year). Thus, Record, one of the oldest surviving publications on architecture, joins the ranks of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, which in recent years have asked readers to pony up for full online access. Record’s move sent a jolt through the Twitterati of the architecture and design world, who speculated on what other pubs might follow. No paywall plans for us, Metropolis and Architect cheerfully tweeted back. Thanks to its high volume of online traffic, Record can afford to experiment with paid content, even if it means stymying some potential readers. On Reddit’s architecture site, a recent post that asked “What design do you like best?” and included a link to Record received the reply: “I like the one that doesn’t link to the F—ING PAYWALL.”
Getting excited for NeoCon? AN is. In fact, AN product editor Emily Hooper was so eager to see the latest design products for commercial interiors that she prepared this preview of some of best chairs, casegood systems, and acoustical panels that will be on view this year in Chicago.
To meet the needs of the nomadic workforce, Coalesse tapped Milan-based Toan Nguyen to design the Lagunitas line. Made to accommodate a solitary task session, a working lunch, or a brief touchdown to check emails, the collection features more than 50 combinations of seating, tables, and privacy screens perfect for laidback productivity.
Are you eager to put your architectural design skills to the test? Here are some exciting upcoming competitions that will be sure to present you with the type of challenge you’ve been waiting for. AN‘s editors have combed through our online listing of architecture and design competitions to bring you five of the most interesting competitions happening right now. If you’d like your competition to be included in the listing, please submit it here.
Architecture at Zero. A competition for zero net energy architecture, Architecture at Zero is open to students and professionals in pursuit of energy efficient design. Presented by Pacific Gas and Electric Company and AIA San Francisco in partnership with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, the competition invites designs for a new, 150 unit mixed-use residential apartment building in San Francisco that is as close to zero net energy as possible. The structure must consist of affordable and market rate housing, and include a ground floor neighborhood-serving grocery store. $25,000 in prize money will be awarded. There will be at least one award for a student entry and one for a professional entry.
Submission Deadline: October 1, 2013.
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has announced five finalists for the Urban Open Space Award, a competition identifying exceptional examples of flourishing public open spaces that have encouraged economic and social rejuvenation within their neighborhoods. To qualify for the competition, projects must have been open to the public for a minimum of one year and a maximum of fifteen years. The open spaces must also be situated predominately outside, offer ample and diverse seating, sun and shade, and plantings, among other specific requirements.
Tight spaces shouldn’t dictate a sacrifice in style or function, particularly when it comes to outfitting the kitchen. Our round-up of sleek and compact kitchen products below proves good things do come in small packages.
G925 Door in Moka Glass
Small kitchens and baths call for innovative wall surfaces. Porcelanosa’s semi-custom kitchen includes the G-925 (above), a flat surface door finish with the company’s Moka Glass and walnut veneer. The cabinets come in a choice of nine colors and feature integrated handles, which give them a seamless look that can be re-configured to fit any space.
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ]
We liked Minneapolis—it ended our sojourn in the wilderness of South Dakota, we saw some nice things, met a lot of cool people and the biking there is great!
On our journey plan we had highlighted the fact that the city was host to a bevy of starchitects—Herzog and de Meuron with the 2005 Walker Art Gallery extension, Jean Nouvel with the Guthrie Theater of 2006, and Frank Gehry at the Weisman Museum which opened in 2011.
With gay marriage rippling across the country and even the Boy Scouts opening their doors to gays, it’s hard to believe that during Liberace’s lifetime, coming out was career suicide. The mystery is how anyone, particularly his adoring blue-haired female fans, could have ever thought otherwise. His flamboyant, over-the-top more –is-better excess in décor and fashion, both on stage and off, screams “queen” louder than his proficient, versatile piano playing. “The Impossible Dream” indeed.
“I call this palatial kitsch” says Michael Douglas playing Liberace, known as Lee, to Matt Damon’s Scott Thorson, his soon to be paramour in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra. This is shortly after Scott enters the Las Vegas spread where he asks the friend who’s brought him: “Is this a palace?” which prompts the reply “Lee thinks he’s King Ludwig II.” Scott: “ Who’s he?” “The Liberace of Bavaria.” (Ludwig [1845-1886], also gay, commissioned extravagant palaces, patronized composer Richard Wagner, and was deposed as “mad.”)