From fireworks to kayaks, step inside the well-produced world of renderings

Some more birds and some more kayaks. (Courtesy SCAPE)

Lots of birds and lots of kayaks. (Courtesy SCAPE)

In the idealized world of architectural renderings, everything is absolutely perfect. There are no dirty windows, no rust, no clutter, no dead leaves, no mud, no rain. There are crowds, but nothing is crowded. There are cars, but there is no traffic. The scalies dropped into these polished scenes are as happy  as can be—why wouldn’t they be? Every day is spent walking hand-in-hand down a boardwalk with a loved-one giggling about a Jeff Koons sculpture over there. Life is good, they think, as fireworks explode behind them. Life is good.

When you spend as much time as we do here at AN sifting through these highly-planned digital worlds, some trends start to appear over and over. Here’s a sample of what we see again and again.

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Herman Miller Goes Shopping: Buys Design Within Reach

The new Design Within Reach store in Manhattan (photo: Michael Biondo)

The new Design Within Reach store in Manhattan (photo: Michael Biondo)

Two of the biggest names in American design are joining forces. Famed furniture manufacturer Herman Miller has bought a controlling stake in Design Within Reach (DWR), the modern furniture retailer. According to a release, Herman Miller has purchased an 84 percent stake in DWR for a price of $154 million. DWR’s CEO John Edelman and president John McPhee will continue to lead the retailer, which currently has 38 locations in North America, as well as e-commerce and the popular catalogue. DWR has recently been upgrading their stores and refocusing on architects and interior designers as well as consumers. A new Manhattan flagship store opened this spring.

Continue reading after the jump.

Obit> Randall Stout, 1958–2014

Stout examines a model of the Hunter Museum of Art (RSA)

Stout examines a model of the Hunter Museum of Art. (RSA)

Noted Los Angeles architect Randall Stout has died of cancer. He was 56. Stout served long tenures at SOM in Houston and at Gehry Partners in Los Angeles, then went on to found Randall Stout Architects in 1997. The office, which gained large commissions in the United States and Europe, became known for contortions of polished steel and raw stone, and for large, luminous interior spaces intimately connected to their surroundings. Despite these unusual forms, Stout’s buildings were regarded as people friendly and practical.

“Randall was a true architect,” Richard Keating, who worked with Stout at SOM from 1978 to 1986, said. “He understood materials and budgets and made excellent buildings.” Keating attributed this combination to his extended time with SOM and Gehry. “His approach to buildings was to be artful as well as responsible.”  Read More

Steven Holl Wins Japan’s Praemium Imperiale

Steven Holl (courtesy Mark)

Steven Holl. (courtesy Mark)

Steven Holl has been awarded the 2014 Praemium Imperiale, the annual award of the Japan Arts Association and one of the world’s most important cultural prizes. The New York–based architect is known for his formally inventive buildings with sophisticated use of natural light and careful consideration of site and context. Among his many notable projects are the Campbell Sports Center at Columbia University, the expansion of the Nelson- Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, the Linked Hybrid in Beijing, and the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki. Read More

Antoni Gaudi Could Become Patron Saint of Architects

Antoni Guadi, the soon-to-be patron saint of architects?

Antoni Guadi, the soon-to-be patron saint of architects?

For years, the Pritzker Prize has been the gold-standard in architectural recognition. It’s like the Super Bowl ring, or the Oscar for Best Picture, or whatever Joey Chestnut wins for downing 60-some hot dogs at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. (It’s gotta be a sash, right? It’s probably a sash.) This is the hallowed ground where the Pritzker lives. But it could soon be trumped in a big way. In a big enough way that even knighthood can’t quite compare. Hear that, Sir Norman Foster?

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2014 European Solar Decathlon Announces Winners

Rhome-for-Dencity-house (Courtesy Solar Decathlon Europe/jflakes.com)

Rhome-for-Dencity-house (Courtesy Solar Decathlon Europe/jflakes.com)

The 2014 European Solar Decathlon has come to an end, and the international student competition to design cutting edge solar houses has produced a winner: Team Rhome of Universitá Degli Studi di Roma TRE. Their house, called Rhome for denCity, received a mark of 840.63 out of 1,000 maximum points, edging out the runner-up proposals by a slim margin.

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Navy Pier redesign gets $20 million private donation

The $20 million donation helps fund the redesign of Gateway Park, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Chicago's new "front door." (James Corner Field Operations)

The $20 million donation helps fund the redesign of Gateway Park, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Chicago’s new “front door.” (James Corner Field Operations)

Chicago’s Navy Pier is currently undergoing major changes courtesy of a design team led by James Corner Field Operations. That work got an infusion of cash Thursday, as local benefactors from the Polk Bros. department store chain announced a donation of $20 million. It’s the single largest private gift ever made to Navy Pier, Illinois’ most-visited tourist attraction. Read More

Sustainability Expert Juan Betancur Talks Integrated Facades

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture's Federation of Korean Industries office tower. (©Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture/Namgoong Sun)

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s Federation of Korean Industries office tower. (©Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture/Namgoong Sun)

In a high-performance building, argues Juan Betancur, director at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the envelope must never be an afterthought. Rather, it should be a material expression of the overall environmental strategy. “The key to what we’re doing with energy and sustainability is: how do the systems become the facades themselves?” he said. “If we make it part of the building, it’s an integrated systems solution.” Read More

Thursday> The Architecture Lobby brings its manifesto to New York City

Architecture, Art, East
Thursday, July 17, 2014
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billevent

The Architecture Lobby is a new organization that advocates for the value of architecture in the general public but also to raise awareness inside the profession of working conditions for the majority of its practitioners. It also focuses on working conditions for young designers as they leave school and enter the profession—most with little awareness of the actual conditions of their labor and pay. The lobby has just staged two actions where it publicly read its manifesto of architectural labor-first at the Venice Architecture Biennale and recently at the AIA’s national convention in Chicago. In Chicago, the lobby was thrown off the convention floor by testy AIA officials who don’t want to think about the meaning of the Lobby’s protest.

More after the jump.

Mayor de Blasio Goes All In on Urbanism in Downtown Brooklyn

Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. (Flickr / sbest2048)

Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. (Flickr / sbest2048)

In the decade since it was rezoned, Downtown Brooklyn has grown up in a big way. Just look at its skyline and the new apartment towers and hotels that call it home. The open air between those buildings will soon be filled because development isn’t slowing down—it’s just getting started. But the next decade of change in Downtown Brooklyn could offer much more than the first. That’s because as new buildings rose, the area’s street-level never kept pace: public space is still scarce and underused, streets are hard to navigate and dangerous, and educational and cultural institutions have been disconnected. Today, however, Mayor de Blasio announced strategies to change all that by injecting the booming district with new (or refurbished) parks, redesigned streetscapes, new retail, and better connections between its many cultural and educational institutions.

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2014 New Cities Summit Calls for Re-Imagining the Urban Environment

The Summit workshop "Dallas: A Case Study in Re-imagination and Transformation," June 17, 2014, at the Winspear Opera House. (Courtesy New Cities Foundation)

The Summit workshop “Dallas: A Case Study in Re-imagination and Transformation,” June 17, 2014, at the Winspear Opera House. (Courtesy New Cities Foundation)

Nearly a month has passed now since the more than 800 people from all of the globe who attended this year’s New Cities Summit in Dallas, Texas, packed up their bags, and returned home. Each is now equipped—if the Summit proved its purpose—with a slew of practical ideas on how to positively transform the urban environment, or at least a more robust list of contacts in the fields of government, business, and urban design. For those of you who missed it, the New Cities Foundation has just released an ebook recapitulating what was discussed in its many keynote speeches, workshops, and panel discussions. The foundation has also produced a four-minute highlights movie (embedded below), which captures some of the enthusiastic spirit of this international gathering of urban thinkers and doers, which is now in its third year.

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Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects Bends Billboards On The Sunset Strip

Art, City Terrain, Design, West
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
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LOHA billboard on the Sunset Strip. (Laurence Anderson)

LOHA billboard on the Sunset Strip. (Lawrence Anderson)

Are you an architect seeking a growth sector? How about billboards? A trailblazing firm in this field is Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), who recently designed a new 68-foot-tall sign at Sunset and La Cienega on the Sunset Strip for the City of West Hollywood and Ace Advertising. Instead of the usual featureless, boxy armature, LOHA has designed a blue, wishbone-shaped, steel structure that one could even call (gasp) sexy.

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