Earlier this week, we checked in with the student winners of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2011 awards and found reason to be hopeful about the future of landscape architecture. But what legacy will those students be inheriting? The ASLA has recently doled out 37 awards to professional firms from across the globe, honoring their innovation, design, and sustainability. The submissions (most of which have been built) range from the systematic redesign of streetscapes and historical residential gardens to large scale estuarine master plans.
A Call to Action for the Rights of Neighborhoods
This new social contract is based off of the historical model of the Second Bill of Rights that was delivered by Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 11, 1944.
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for rethinking the American Dream. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. Communities in need are not free communities. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
As we all know, Jane Jacobs was a visionary urban activist and author, whose 1961 publication of The Death and Life of Great American Cities had a tremendous impact on how we think about cities and urban planning today. She challenged prevailing assumptions in urban planning at a time when slum-clearing was the norm and emphasized the intricacies and sensitivities of an urban fabric. In 2007, the year after Jacobs died, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Jane Jacobs Medal, an annual award given to those who stand by Jacobs’ principles and whose “creative uses of the urban environment” renders New York City “more diverse, dynamic and equitable.”
On October 1st, the U.S. Department of Energy unveiled the winner of the 2011 Solar Decathlon at West Potomac Park in Washington D.C., bringing together innovative solar-powered prototype residences designed and built by international student teams from universities and colleges. This year’s champion, the University of Maryland’s WaterShed house, excelled in a variety of then ten metrics used to judge the houses including affordability, energy balance, hot water, and engineering.
They’re back! Positive numbers for the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) jumped up in August to 51.4 from a dismal 45.1 in July where it had been stewing in negative land for months. (Anything over 50 indicates positive growth.) Together with a sharp rise as well in Project Inquiries to 56.9 (up from 53.7), the good news seems cautiously solid. “This turnaround in demand for design services is a surprise,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. Regional averages, however, remained below the positive bar across the country indicating that firms generally are still struggling. These numbers predate the next injection of stimulus money—whatever shape it takes—which will be sure to give another jolt. Unless, of course, billings are tracking the roller-coaster antics of the stock market.
“The stock market is doing what the economy is doing which is not moving solidly in one direction, either way,” Baker said by phone. “The stop-start that we have seen over the past two years is going to stay with us. I would love to believe that these latest numbers are the start of a Grand Recovery. And maybe they are. The evidence is just not there yet to be sure.”
Tonight in New York, Gary Hustwit’s new film Urbanized will make its U.S. premiere in front of a sold out crowd at the Sunshine Theater. Hustwit has just released this trailer for the the final segment of his design-inspired trilogy which previously included Helvetica and Objectified. After New York, Urbanized heads out west to San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and more before moving back across the country in October. Check out a full listing here and don’t miss our interview with Gary Hustwit where we ask him about his film.
Sometimes it seems like our world is peopled entirely by yesterday’s and tomorrow’s Designers of the Year. But at least DesignMiami’s Global Forum for Design’s Designer of the Year Award comes with a nifty commission. This year the honor goes to David Adjaye and he will be designing a site specific installation for the entrance to the fair’s temporary structure on Miami Beach, open from November 29 through December 4.
For the fifth straight month the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has posted negative figures, with the only positive number on the chart coming from billing inquiries.
The overall number dropped from 46.3 in June to 45.1 in July (any ABI number below 50 is considered negative). AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker once again pointed to the larger economy as the source of industry woes. “The stuff that’s going on with the national level is consistent with what we’re experiencing,” said Baker, adding that given the current political situation he didn’t think another stimulus package would make it through Congress. “The politics of that is going to be tough; there’s a problem with increased spending,” he said. Even if it did, the last package didn’t really trickle down to the industry. “I have a hunch if there’s a chance it would go through, it would look a lot like the last stimulus and architects didn’t get a lot from that,” he said.
It might be the latest trend in creative modern eco-office design or, more likely, it’s a tongue-in-cheek reminder to avoid letting work take over your life. In the typical modern office with row upon row of geometric cubicles, the closest a worker might get to nature is a small potted plant, a faraway glimpse out a window, or a rainforest background on his or her computer. But a new installation in downtown Denver quite literally breaks down this man-made environment in an effort to promote outdoor activity and a connection to nature during the workday.