On August 1st, LEGO released a new kit in its series of building block design sets marketed specifically to architecture enthusiasts. LEGO’s Architecture Studio Kit, from its Architecture Series of adult-catered building sets, consists of 1,200 all white and translucent plastic bricks but no instructions. The free-for-all kit is endorsed by MAD Architects of Beijing and comes with a guidebook of architecture building exercises. Michael Bleby of Business Review Weekly writes that this set “is the first in the range to focus on creativity and architectural principles, rather than a specific architectural icon.” A modernist’s dream that costs significantly less than others within the series, LEGO may possibly have caught onto a new niche market. Especially when reviews thus far of the landmark-specific Architecture Series have been mixed from architects and enthusiasts alike.
French Pritzker Prize–winning architect Jean Nouvel‘s design for Louvre Abu Dhabi has begun construction after a series of delays. The building’s most prominent feature is a 180-meter-diameter dome. The design of the dome is culturally relevant as well as utilitarian. The shape is prominent in traditional Arabian architecture. As the Louvre Abu Dhabi website describes, it is “an emblematic feature…evoking the mosque, the mausoleum, and the madrasa.” The dome’s expanse also protects the building and its visitors from the sun. Carefully formulated geometric apertures in the all-white structure allow diffused and dappled daylight inside the museum, while mitigating heat gain. Nouvel designed the dappled pattern to emulate interlaced palm fronds, which are traditionally used in Arabic countries for thatch roofs.
From the abandoned foundations of the ill-fated Chicago Spire to the ghosts of would-be Tribune Towers galore, Chicago’s unbuilt legacy could rival the iconic skyline it actually achieved. An exhibition on display downtown, dubbed City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future, confronts the city with its alternative skyline in the form of a panoramic wall design and a “Phantom Chicago” iPhone app. The overall effect evokes “a dream but also a nightmare,” in the words of curator Alexander Eisenschmidt. Read More
After inviting several architecture firms to participate in a design charrette this summer, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts has selected Ennead Architects to design the museum’s ambitious 175,000-square-foot expansion. This $200 million project will include new galleries, public program and education spaces, conservation and exhibition processing areas, and a restaurant.
“Ennead Architects impressed us with their creative dexterity, in-depth understanding of our institution and thoughtful design solutions for the museum’s complex architectural program. We celebrate their responsive, collaborative spirit and look forward to partnering with them to achieve a design that provides a superlative museum experience,” said Dan Monroe, PEM’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO, in a statement. Read More
Culver City firm wHY Architecture has been selected to design a new art museum in Los Angeles for Maurice and Paul Marciano, the founders of clothing empire Guess? Inc. The museum will be located inside a marble-clad, four story Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire Boulevard near Lucerne Boulevard.
When retrofitted in 2015, the austere building, originally designed by legendary artist Millard Sheets, will contain 90,000 square feet of exhibition space, showing off the Marciano’s impressive collection, which will be open for “periodic exhibitions for the public.”
wHY has also designed L&M Arts and Perry Rubenstein Gallery in LA, an expansion of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, and the Tyler Museum of Art in Texas. They’re also working on a Studio Art Hall at Pomona College outside of LA.
If design is all about the details, Alessi has developed a successful formula for making thoughtful, fresh, and functional objects that delight design lovers worldwide. A new roster of architects and industrial designers have contributed sleek new accessories and decorative wares for the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection across the Alessi, Officina Alessi, and A di Alessi collections. AN got a first look at Toyo Ito‘s newest tablewares, Mario Trimarchi’s jewelry, and much more.
Alice by Odile Decq
This year marks the French architect and designer’s first collaboration with Alessi Officina. Her angular serving tray plays on tradition with a planar twist from corner to corner that appears to originate at varying perspectives. It’s available in black (shown) or mirror-polished stainless steel.
The Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago announced the winners of its “Active Union Station” competition, which is meant to enliven the railroad hub’s underused public spaces. Although it’s the nation’s third busiest train station and gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s Union Station remains basically a waypoint on a longer trip.
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has donated two parcels of land in Arlington County, Virginia’s Courthouse area, and now the county is reaching out to the community for help in designing its first temporary pop-up park. The Departments of Parks and Recreation and Community Planning, Housing and Development have devised a survey to determine how the public would like to use the new open space on Clarendon Boulevard. Features already planned for the park include ADA accessible paths, an assortment of moveable seating, a modest grass area, and a landscaped barrier between the alleyway and open space.
Last May New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a new initiative, NYC X Design, to promote New York’s design community, an economic sector that includes more than 40,000 designers of various disciplines, according to official figures. As an outgrowth of NYC X Design, today the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) launched a new pilot project called Built/NYC, which provides $400,000 in capital funding for custom furniture, lighting, or textile designs in up to 20 city building projects. Council Speaker Quinn’s office provided the funding for the project, and at a press conference today held at the NoHo design store, The Future Perfect, Speaker Quinn argued that the initiative would support both local designers and local manufacturers and help maintain a diverse economy. Interested designers can respond to an new RFQ, which would place them on a pre-qualified list to be considered for custom pieces for projects like new libraries, community centers, or fire houses (architects for the building projects sit on the selection committee). Read More
AN‘s popular Facades+PERFORMANCE conference series is quickly becoming the most important event focused on the fast-paced changes taking place in facade technology. The two day conference and workshops, which has also taken place in San Francisco and New York City, is returning to Chicago on October 24th and 25th and will take place at Mies van der Rohe’s IIT campus with a cocktail reception to follow at Rem Koolhaas’ McCormick Tribune Campus Center.
The October 24th symposium will feature German architect Stefan Behnisch who has designed scores of major buildings in Europe and the United States and is known for this elegant, precise, and creative facades. His recently completed Law School for the University of Baltimore,for example, has a sophisticated glass and aluminum curtain wall with an extra layer of glass to reduce noise and horizontal sun shading. He will discuss this and many of his other projects at Facdes+PERFORMANCE in Chicago this October.
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.
The Eco-Porn Competition. To investigate tropes in architectural representation, Reality Cues is conducting a competition series exploring the techniques and conventions architects depend on to convey space, form, and use. The first competition of the series is called Eco-Porn. For some, the issue of sustainability has generated resourceful design, but for others has created a pressure to make architecture merely seem green. The competition aims to uncover if there is value in this deception. Three cash prizes will be awarded and the bonus round winner will receive a 6-foot tall inflatable palm tree cooler. All winners and honorable mentions will be included in Reality Cues’ premier issue of Tropes.
Registration Deadline: September 21, 2013.
Submission Deadline: September 21, 2013.
Chicago’s Loyola University has wasted no time, it seems, in taking advantage of low interest loans in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The school has spent more than $500 million on building projects since 2008, reported Crain’s Chicago Business.
At No. 106 in U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 ranking of national universities, Loyola could stand to improve its public profile. Though it gained 13 places since last year’s ranking, the school lags nearby Northwestern (12th) and the University of Chicago (4th) considerably.
The expansion includes new buildings at both the medical campus in suburban Maywood, IL. (here’s AN’s coverage of a sleek new home for the university’s nursing school) and in Chicago’s Rogers Park, where a $58.8 million Institute of Environmental Sustainability opens this month. Read the full Crain’s report here.