Architecture and Engineering giant AECOM has taken a big step to bolster its architecture offerings with the appointment of Ross Wimer, former partner and design director at SOM Chicago, as the leader of its architecture practice in the Americas. Wimer was known for fighting for design at SOM, and he plans to do the same thing at AECOM, where architecture can be overshadowed by much larger, and more profitable work.
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
David Ehrenberg has been appointed president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a 300-acre, former ship-building base turned city-owned industrial park. Ehrenberg is currently an executive vice president at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Over the last decade the Navy Yard has emerged as an essential zone for preserving and growing New York’s manufacturing sector, especially small businesses. The Yard currently includes 4.5 million square feet of leasable space, with an occupancy rate of 99 percent.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti last week named Global Green CEO Matt Petersen as the city’s first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer. Peterson, according to the mayor’s office, will be tasked with “making the city’s departments greener and neighborhoods healthier, and fulfilling Garcetti’s campaign promise of creating 20,000 new green jobs.” Peterson should also have his hands full, not only getting each city department to cooperate, but on thorny issues like regulation of the city’s ports and transit corridors.
Global Green, if you’re wondering, is a non-profit dedicated to “advocating for smart solutions to global warming including green building for affordable housing, schools, cities and communities that save money, improve health and create green jobs.” Since its founding almost 20 years ago it has organized design competitions, testified in congress, hosted awards, and raised money on behalf of green causes.
After a decade at the helm, Paul Gunther is stepping down as the president of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA). Under Gunther’s leadership the ICAA expanded to include 15 national chapters, and grew into a 14 person organization. In addition to holding lectures and symposia throughout the year, the Institute publishes the journal The Classicist, and it awards a summer fellowship for landscape painting. Last year the Institute held a provocative symposium reexamining postmodernism’s relationship to classicism, which drew a wide audience including senior members of the architectural community who rose to prominence in the pomo heyday of the 1980s as well as young designers drawn to the playful iconography of the period.
Parsons The New School for Design has named Brian McGrath as the new dean of the School of Constructed Environments, the university’s integrated school of architecture, interior design, lighting design, and product design, taking the place of interim dean David Lewis. Educated at Syracuse and Princeton, McGrath is the founder of the urban design consultancy, Urban-Interface, where he explores the role of architecture, design, ecology, and media in cities, and has been an associate professor of urban design at Parsons‘ School of Design Strategies.
“The School of Constructed Environments has a key role to play with respect to contributing research and practical applications of design to address the key issues of our time: rapid urbanization, globalization, social justice and climate change,” said McGrath in a statement. “We have taken an active role in recent post-Sandy discussions, and plan on expanding these efforts so that we can make a important contribution to future dialogues and debates on these topics.”
Prominent planner and architect Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk has stepped down as dean of University of Miami’s (UM) architecture school after an 18-year-long tenure. Plater-Zyberk will continue to teach at UM, whose faculty she joined in 1979. During Plater-Zyberk’s term, UM’s architecture school became closely associated with traditional and Classical design and New Urbanism. The celebrated dean and her husband, planner and architect Andres Duany, are co-founders of Arquitectonica and planners of the pedestrian-friendly Seaside, a Florida panhandle town and setting of the movie Truman Show. Associate Dean Denis Hector will serve as acting dean.
Major news in the world of architectural scholarship. Wim de Wit, Head of the Department of Architecture and Contemporary Art at the Getty Research Institute (GRI), is stepping down. He’s moving to Stanford, where he will be Adjunct Curator of architecture and design at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts. De Wit’s wife, Nancy Troy, has been a professor of art at Stanford since 2010.
Yesterday, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design officially announced the winner of the first Wheelwright Prize, a $100,000 traveling fellowship aimed at cultivating new forms of architectural research through cultural exchange. The jury awarded the fellowship to Gia Wolff, a Harvard graduate and Brooklyn-based architect, for her original proposal Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats. The young architect and professor, who currently leads her own practice, uniquely explored the cultural significance and design of the traditional parade float, which frequently transforms cities and brings people together during carnival festivals all throughout the world. The competition generated 231 submissions from 45 countries