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Articles on this Page
- 10/15/13--10:30: _An Architect's Defe...
- 10/18/13--11:13: _Google's Secret Pro...
- 10/21/13--11:33: _The Disney Concert ...
- 10/25/13--12:45: _World Famous Archit...
- 10/31/13--13:59: _The Most Amazing Un...
- 11/11/13--18:29: _This Movable City D...
- 11/22/13--10:35: _Architects Behind N...
- 11/25/13--12:46: _The Best Architectu...
- 11/29/13--10:24: _People Need To Stop...
- 11/29/13--11:03: _There's A Split In ...
- 12/07/13--06:21: _These Cooper Union ...
- 12/09/13--11:28: _This Couple Built T...
- 12/20/13--08:36: _These Amazing House...
- 12/20/13--11:11: _10 Buildings That S...
- 12/30/13--07:35: _27 Ways New York Ci...
- 01/13/14--07:04: _This Radical New Pr...
- 01/24/14--09:31: _The 70 Best New Bui...
- 01/30/14--11:52: _This McDonald's Was...
- 01/30/14--14:30: _The People Have Vot...
- 02/03/14--13:19: _A Wal-Mart Corporat...
- 10/15/13--10:30: An Architect's Defense Of Kanye West
- 10/21/13--11:33: The Disney Concert Hall Hasn't Had The Desired Effect On Downtown LA
- 10/31/13--13:59: The Most Amazing Unknown Buildings In The World
- 11/11/13--18:29: This Movable City Design Could Actually Be A Great Idea
- 11/25/13--12:46: The Best Architecture Photos Of The Year
- Communication: Harvard University; Yale University; University of Southern California;Columbia University; University of Michigan
- Design: Harvard University; Yale University; Columbia University; Southern California Institute of Architecture; University of Southern California
- Research & Theory: Harvard University; Columbia University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Yale University; Princeton University
- Construction Methods & Materials: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; Auburn University; Kansas State University; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; University of Southern California
- Sustainable Design Practices & Principles: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; University of California, Berkeley; Auburn University; University of Oregon; University of Southern California
- 12/09/13--11:28: This Couple Built Their Own 124-Square-Foot 'Tiny Home'
- 12/20/13--11:11: 10 Buildings That Show Concrete At Its Most Awesome
- 12/30/13--07:35: 27 Ways New York City Could Be Totally Different By 2050
- 01/24/14--09:31: The 70 Best New Buildings Of The Year
- 01/30/14--11:52: This McDonald's Was Just Named One Of The Best Buildings Of The Year
I may be in the minority among my peers, but I want Kanye West to keep talking. Despite the many who despise, disparage or dismiss him — unwilling or unable to properly digest what he’s saying, consuming bite-sized quotes and late-night parodies instead of engaging him in intellectual discourse — I want him to keep talking.
As a black man and an architect (one of about 2,000 in this country who can claim membership to both those groups), I am particularly cognizant of the Truman Show wall that exists between architects and recognition, and between black architects and acceptance. West’s recent interview with Zane Lowe administered reflections on design, architecture and the creative process in a dosage too high for most to swallow. I am tripping over myself with fear and excitement at the prospect of having such a powerful mouthpiece for a generation of black architects and designers who share his frustration and connect with his message.
Why? Because when Kanye West talks, people listen.
Architecture is both a profession with an illustrious history and a discipline with a distinguished tradition. Our biggest challenge has always been, as Philip Johnson explained in his interview with Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, that we are so desperate to have our beautiful creations built that we are willing to do it for almost nothing.
This completely contradicts Mr. West’s expressed desire to see “people make things as dope as possible and by default make money from it.” For architects, however, as opposed to rappers, it’s not as easy to sell out. It’s much more common for us to be usurped by tangential industries, like construction management and BIM consultancy, than to receive royalties on top-selling, radio-ready designs. The architect has become an afterthought; a devalued, overpriced luxury item, accessible only to the privileged few.
Black people in America have made improbable strides forward in the perceptibly short timespan since the Civil Rights movement; cracking the surface of political ceilings, directing the pace of popular culture, and leaving permanent dents in the body of major professions. Architecture remains an Old Boys’ Club.
The recent appeal to the Pritzker Prize committee on behalf of Denise Scott Brown gives a bit of insight on the established attitude towards women in the profession. The black community, through the efforts of groups like NOMA (The National Organization of Minority Architects), has long sought acceptance in the same arenas— awards recognition, faculty appointments, employment, and student enrollment. Whereas women have made gains in each of the above, blacks are still left behind struggling to put together numbers large enough to be relevant.
In various ways, at various times and in various forums, the questions of why this is the case and how to change it have been asked. The consensus opinion points past discrimination and towards early education. If there are no role models in architecture to look up to (in the public sphere or in everyday life), or no encouragement from parents to harness their creative potential, children are more likely to pursue medicine or law, sports or entertainment. Architecture won’t make you rich or cool.
Enter Kanye. Now comes the shift from talking to ourselves to talking to the world. Now black architects have a fighting chance at influencing the public consciousness in the way black artists, musicians, politicians and athletes have. Now the architecture of the hip-hop generation can take its rightful place alongside hip-hop music, dance, art and design. All this is made possible through the transposition of discourse from the academic halls of universities and conferences into the realm of Twitter, blogs, YouTube and other platforms of his choosing.
Some will suggest that direct engagement with the profession presents the best chance at easing his angst — that architects will be much more open to collaboration than fashion designers. By all accounts Mr. West has been doing that. The work that he has done through DONDA and in collaboration with 2×4 and OMA is more than some design professors have in their portfolios. He has been connecting with graduate architecture students at Columbia University according to a report on CC:. Yet, none of this got any real attention until he began talking about architecture to The New York Times and BBC Radio One.
Other affirmative actions, such as exclusively hiring black architects to design his offices and residences, and encouraging friends in the entertainment and sports industries to do the same, would have a phenomenal impact. (Imagine MTV Cribs showcasing the work of talented black architects instead of McMansion developers.) But that would only elicit short-term gains and subvert the competitive process necessary for good design.
What gets me most excited is the vision of a whole new generation of kids personally inspired to explore all aspects of their creativity; who have discovered the unlimited potentials of the architectural discipline because they listened to something Kanye West said with passion and conviction.
But they are not the only ones listening. We all are. Many may not hear the depth and complexity of his meaning. Many will find it easier to point and laugh at a Jimmy Kimmel skit than to catalyze change. There remain us few — a marginalized subset of a marginalized profession — who are listening and are hungry for more.
Google’s secret development department, Google X (responsible for Google’s very cool, although non-core initiatives, such as Google Glass and driverless cars) is reportedly working on a new technology that could transform the construction industry—as well as architecture itself. It goes by the name of “Genie.”
According to Globes, a report from Genie’s development team, addressed to Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, describes the invention as a cloud-based collaboration platform with “planning applications to help architects and engineers in the design process, especially for skyscrapers and large buildings. The platform includes planning tools of expert architects and engineers and advance analytics and simulation tools.”
The report also emphasized Genie’s potential to transform the conservative construction industry, one of the most profitable and the most wasteful, by making it more efficient and environmentally friendly at the level of design, construction, and maintenance. The report suggests the invention could save 30-50% in construction costs and 30-50% of the time spent between planning and market; moreover, it could generate $120 billion a year.
Globes reports that a successful prototype of Genie has been released and well-received by architects and industry professionals; it is now being developed not under Google X, but under a spinoff company: Vannevar Technology Inc.
With the rapid urbanization of the world meaning that the world’s housing inventory will need to double by 2050, Genie seeks to position itself as the answer – not just to meeting the ever-increasing demand for construction, but also to lessening construction’s negative impact on the earth. While the details still seem to be fuzzy (could it just a souped-up SketchUp, after all?), it’s encouraging to know that Google’s commitment to sustainability goes beyond promoting healthy building materials and into the structure of the very industry itself. The construction industry currently consumes more global resources and raw materials (50%) as well as global energy supplies (48%) than any other; it also produces 40% of the earth’s solid waste and 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Could Genie be the solution?
On October 23rd, the Walt Disney concert hall, the project that almost never was, will celebrate its ten-year anniversary. Throughout these ten years it has had all manner of transformative power attributed to it. But has it really transformed LA? What would the city have been like if it had never been built? Would it be fundamentally different?
The answer? No.The city wouldn’t even be that different in the immediate vicinity of Grand Avenue.
LA does in fact have a downtown, and in the past ten years it has seen somewhat of a building renaissance and an uptick in gleeful boosterism. But this can’t be attributed to Frank Gehry’s building, no matter how glaringly brilliant it is. After all, the real catalyst for change there was Arata Isozaki’s Museum of Contemporary Art. That’s what got people coming. Even so, for being in the middle of downtown, it’s a relatively sleepy area – like a suburban bedroom community, but with taller buildings.
This is not to say, however, that the concert hall hasn’t done anything for downtown. Like the Museum of Contemporary Art, it has played an important role in drawing the imagination (and cars) of the populace “down” to where they normally wouldn’t think of going. Before the museum it was the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion that was the draw.
If you are from Los Angeles you might even wonder why the concert hall is located where it is. Frank Gehry himself has said that if it had been his decision, he would have sited the Disney on busy Wilshire Boulevard, along Museum Row. He would have put the Museum of Contemporary Art there, too. His logic is based on the notion that Los Angeles, being a linear city that rushes down its boulevards, avenues, and freeways, doesn’t need a downtown. He would have put it where most of the people are and where it’s easy to drive to and park.
Grand Avenue has never functioned like a major thoroughfare. For much of its reach it is one way, running away from the center. If you drive in LA you don’t turn down Grand because it dumps you into this one-way chasm through the congested streets of offices, fast food, and bars. The 110 Freeway dominates just west, flowing around. Grand is often so quiet that is appears forgotten, or perhaps less forgotten than feared (congestion, one-way, expensive parking).
Ostensibly, the Disney is there because it fits into a larger urban scenario whereby Grand is the supposed anchor for the revival of downtown. But this is a relatively old vision for how to revitalize downtown. In reality, the revival is happening elsewhere, on other streets, in other districts, where no landmarks are present. In Los Angeles the landmarks seem to follow rather than catalyze. And though it has many, Los Angeles has never cared for landmarks. It has always loved houses more.
So why is the concert hall really there? Three years before the concert hall opened, Verso published Mike Davis’ polemical rant, “City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles.” In it he states how the concert hall fits into the larger picture of property speculation and downtown development.
As Davis notes, the boards of elite cultural institutions are littered with philanthropic developers and investors, like Eli Broad. They are big players in local political campaigns where each successive wave of office holder, whether for mayor or city council, offers big visions for downtown development. Like MOCA before it, the concert hall has been good for property values along Grand. This explains why the few smallish, low-rise cultural institutions on the Grand Avenue axis (MOCA, Disney, the Dorthy Chandler, and currently under construction, Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Broad Museum) are surrounded by super tall corporate high-rises. “Culture fertilizes real estate.”
Davis further describes how “L.A. 2000: A City for the Future” (1988) became “the manifesto of a ‘new regionalism’” that hoped to bring mega-developers and the haute intelligentsia together in order to maintain the momentum of development triggered by the 1984 Olympics. Just four years later, in 1992, construction on Disney hall would commence. 1992 would also see the Los Angeles riots, a reminder that not all was well in the city of the future.
Even so, Gehry’s original “blooming flower,” the prototype for the building that would instigate the so-called “Bilbao effect,” could not produce such an effect in the spread-out polyglot city of Los Angeles. Why? Because the Disney does little to enliven the street. It does, somewhat, but not enough. As for the energy of the office towers? It rarely spills out onto the street unless it is for lunch or to go home (a home well outside of downtown). Despite the materialization of LA’s future in the form of the concert hall, Grand Avenue remains an archipelago of solitude and, as Davis describes, a “Potemkin Village” of real estate speculation.
So, ten years in, what is the concert hall to the city? Perhaps that is the crux of the issue. It doesn’t have anything to do with the city, per se. It needn’t be anything more than what it is: a magnificent place to listen to magnificent music—and go to the gift shop.
But, despite this, calls for a vision for Grand Avenue continue to consider the Disney as key. Once again Frank Gehry is part of the plan. He is currently involved in a major development being proposed by mega-developer Related, with philanthropist Eli Broad kicking in funds to support the design efforts. An earlier design, conceived by Gensler and AM Stern, failed to wow city officials and stalled out.
Broad said, “I’m convinced with what Frank and Related and others are going to do on Grand Avenue, this is going to be a great tourist attraction and it’s going to bring a great economic benefit to our city.” What history tells us about Grand Avenue, however, is that it is of great economic benefit for a few select individuals rather than the city as a whole. Maybe this time it will be different and the massive scale of this new project will create the critical mass necessary to make Grand a real place. Or it could just end up being another mall.
Perhaps visionaries and investors should cease projecting the ability to transform the city onto singular iconic buildings. But, of course, this would run counter to the logic of culture anchoring development. Will Grand Avenue finally turn around? Most likely not until they make it a two-way, add more trees, bike lanes, and pedestrian amenities. Buildings alone can’t do it, no matter how daring, novel (or expensive) the architecture.
So when it comes to the Disney, and its role in our city, maybe it’s really been here these past ten years to teach us one thing. LA ain’t Bilbao. Fine by me.
For more on the long history of flawed efforts to remake Grand Avenue read the book, “Grand Illusion”, based on a research studio conducted at the USC School of Architecture.
Guy Horton is a writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to authoring “The Indicator”, he is a frequent contributor to The Architect’s Newspaper, Metropolis Magazine, The Atlantic Cities, and The Huffington Post. He has also written for Architectural Record, GOOD Magazine, and Architect Magazine. You can hear Guy on the radio and podcast as guest host for the show DnA: Design & Architecture on 89.9 FM KCRW out of Los Angeles. Follow Guy on Twitter @GuyHorton.
Krumbach, a small Austrian village of 1000 inhabitants, is not the place you’d expect to find structures from a variety of architecture’s biggest names.
But thanks to Verein Kultur Krumbach, a new association dedicated to encouraging culture in the village, that’s exactly what’s happening, with seven international architecture firms agreeing to design bus stops for Krumbach.
With a small budget for their BUS:STOP project, all that Kultur Krumbach had to offer the designers was a free holiday in the region and the freedom of a design typology stripped to its bare essentials: a small, pavilion-like shelter.
This proved enticing enough that within four weeks, the project had attracted Alexander Brodsky, RintalaEggertsson Architects, Architecten de Vylder Vinck Taillieu, Ensamble Studio, Smiljan Radic, Sou Fujimoto, and Amateur Architecture Studio (Wang Shu‘s Practice).
These practices were chosen for the fact that, despite being well known in the architecture world, they were still “just small offices with sculptural interest.” Working in collaboration with local architects, they have designed shelters using local materials and making “comparisons between different vocabularies and schools of thought, between east and west, north and south.”
What makes a building world-famous?
The answer is most likely some combination of magnificence, size, and historical importance.
But it’s far from an exact science, and many of the world’s most impressive architectural landmarks are therefore not very well known outside of their own locations.
Thankfully, this post on Quora sheds some light on the lesser-known architectural landmarks on the planet.
Read on to find out which marvels you may have missed…
The first thing which you might notice is that one part of the world is extremely over-represented on this list: India accounts for about half of all the world’s “little known landmarks” on the list. ArchDaily has previously discussed the forgotten and neglected state of India’s stepwells, and one of the largest and grandest, Chand Baori, tops the Quora list. There are also Indian temples such as the Airavateswarar Temple and palaces such as the one in Kanadukathan.
Another trend in “forgotten architecture” is for Eastern European landmarks, whose history is heavily affected by the area’s socialist history. There is a particularly interesting history of Stari Most, a bridge that was the namesake for the town of Mostar in Herzegovina. Built in 1566 and destroyed in 1993 in the Bosnian War (part of the breakup of Yugoslavia), the bridge was finally rebuilt in 2004 and is once again the center of the town’s community.
Also from Eastern Europe is Romania‘s Parliament Palace. Built in the 1980s by Communist dictator Nicholae Ceausescu, you would think this would be hard to forget about; it is generally regarded as one of the largest buildings in the world (it’s floor area is only exceeded by the Pentagon in the USA and the recently opened Century Global Center in Chengdu). Built in a neoclassical style from a million cubic meters of marble, it may still be the world’s heaviest building.
Finally, there are buildings which, whilst impressive, are perhaps forgotten because they are overshadowed by far more famous twins. This is the case for Choquequirao (“The Other Machu Picchu”), Taj of the Deccan (“a poor man’s Taj Mahal”) and the “Great Wall of India” at Kumbhalgarh.
Are there any other little-known architectural wonders that you know of? Let us know in the comments below.
In a world where people live more mobile lifestyles than they have for centuries, cities are facing a problem they rarely planned for: their citizens move away. When jobs and resources start to decline, modern cities, such as Detroit, suffer difficult and often wasteful processes of urban contraction.
In contrast to this, Manuel Dominguez’s “Very Large Structure,” the result of his thesis project at ETSA Madrid, proposes a nomadic city that can move on caterpillar tracks to locations where work and resources are abundant.
Of course this is not the first time that the idea of a nomadic city has been proposed. Ron Herron’s Walking City is one of the more recognizable Archigram designs from the 1960s, and has been influential to architectural theory ever since.
The design for the “Very Large Structure” expands on the Walking City by including strong proposals for energy generation on board the city.
Dominguez admits that the impulse to design the “Very Large Structure” came from his desire to stand out from his peers: “knowing that all final thesis are ‘Utopical’, I decided to do a self-consciously utopical one, utopic for real.”
Dominguez also felt it was important that his design be theoretically feasible, however, which is why he looked to the world of heavy engineering to inspire the structure’s colossal steel frame and caterpillar tracks. With all these additions, Dominguez’s design seems less of a fantasy than Herron’s giant shell on stilts.
Moreover, the Very Large Structure, despite its enormous size, has much less of an impact on its surrounding ecosystem. Its mobility is proposed as a way to encourage reforestation of the static cities which it replaces, and part of its day-to-day function is the management of this environment.
The specific social conditions of the Spanish territory it is designed for also add to its relevance: it provides work for the high number of unemployed citizens in Spain.
Although almost 50 years have passed since a moving city was first proposed, when one considers how many western cities are currently experiencing devastating slowdowns, both economically and in terms of their population, Manuel Dominguez’s intriguing, fantastical proposal begins to seem far less absurd – and far more relevant – than it may at first seem.
The Strelka Institute has announced the winner of the two-stage international competition to design Zaryadye park, Moscow’s first park in over 50 years: Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Zaryadye Park, 13 acres of land just a minute’s walk from the Kremlin and the Red Square, is hoped to “project a new image of Moscow and Russia to the world.” See the renderings from Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s winning proposal for Moscow’s new and most important public space:
UPDATE: The video detailing Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s winning proposal for Moscow’s Zaryadye Park has just been released. In it the three partners discuss the central idea behind the proposal — “Wild Urbanism” — in which plants and people are of equal importance and “nature and architecture are merged into a seamless whole.” They explain how each of Russia’s varied landscapes — its tundra, steppe, forest, and wetland — will be imported to the park and overlapped into ”enfolded nodes” that will house sustainable, artificial micro-climates that will allow for year-round use of the park.
A distinguished panel of architects and editors that included Catherine Slessor, Eva Jiricna, Zaha Hadid, Ivan Harbour and Graham Stirk were asked to look beyond architecture and into composition, atmosphere and scale to ultimately judge four categories of images: Interiors, Exteriors, Sense of Place and Building In Use.
Their selections reflect this vision admirably.
The competition aims to draw attention to the expertise of the architectural photographer, “translating the sophistication of architecture into a readable two dimensions to explain and extol the character, detail and environment of the project.
“The experience of architecture for the majority of people is via images,” reads a statement by Arcaid Images, “The architecture itself is the focus and the image regarded only as the medium.”
Overall Winner: Trollstigen, Norway by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekten
Category: Sense of Place — Images should show buildings or spaces in their wider context and environment. Photographer: Ken Schluchtmann.
Overall Runner-Up: Dalian Congress Centre, China by Coop Himmelblau Architects
Category: Sense of Place — Images should show buildings or spaces in their wider context and environment. Photographer: Duccio Malagamba.
The Blue Planet, Denmark by 3XN
Category: Exteriors — Images should be of the exterior of a building communicating the nature of that building. Photographer: Adam Mork.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
When Kanye West spoke with students at my alma mater on Sunday evening, he said “I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be ‘architected.’”
In the social media frenzy that followed, a recurring response that I saw on architecture-centric sites was to snicker at West’s use of the word “architect” as a verb. For many, this was symbolic of West’s ignorance and hubris as he presumed to talk about something without knowing anything.
Except, of course, that “architect” is well recognized as a verb. Dictionaries say so, architects say so, and academics say so.
If you’re architect Doug Patt and call yourself howtoarchitect on YouTube, you get a contract from MIT Press to write a book—called How to Architect.
If you are the French philosopher Louis Marin, you can suggest that “the castle and gardens of Versailles ‘architect’ the Prince to make him not only the absolute of political power, but the center of the cosmos in its entirety,” and you will be counted among the most eminent semioticians of the twentieth century.
If you are Harvard architecture theorist K. Michael Hays, you might stand up at an academic conference and say, “There are only certain things that can be done at this moment. Not just anything can be architected at this moment, right? There are limits.” When you do, people will nod and applaud.
But if you are Kanye West and you suggest that “everything needs to actually be ‘architected,’” it disqualifies you to speak about architecture.
Apparently, not only are there only certain things that can be architected at this moment, but there are only certain people who can architect. To put this in context, in 2012 blacks and African Americans made up 11% of the total American workforce but only 1% of its architects, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As Derek Thompson reported in The Atlantic, there are more minority CEOs (90.6% white) than architects (91.3% white).
My aim is not so much to validate West’s language against an ivory standard. Instead, my point is this: when we acknowledge that some people have the right to use certain words and others do not, we are keeping people in their place. We are pre-judging who has the right to use language to shape ideas. It is an indictment of our time that social media will allow millions to hear one of the world’s most famous artists speak, but that our prejudices limit how much we’re willing to listen.
West is a polarizing figure and if you don’t like him, you are free to turn down the volume on his music or paparazzi coverage. But disliking is different from attacking or dismissing a person’s qualifications. Although hosted by a student group rather than the institution, West’s appearance at Harvard GSD was not out of place when recent visitors include other artists such as Marina Abramović, Philip Glass, Walid Raad, and Robert Wilson.
Diversity in architecture is growing and many groups, including Harvard Graduate School of Design’s African American Student Union, which invited West, are working hard to broaden the profession’s base and reach—but we still need more voices.
As designer and Harvard GSD faculty member Teman Evans commented by email: “Since when do we as architects get the right to edit whose voices we want to hear in the larger conversation about design? …For some reason there are those out there who feel the need to jealously guard the architect’s territory while professing to be champions of the built environment at the same time.”
Architectural theorist Timothy Hyde had a different take: “Kanye is not just a black musician, but a rapper—someone who does things with words for a living. So shouldn’t our immediate response to a rapper’s appropriation of a word not be that he got it wrong, but instead to wonder whether we have been using it wrong all along?”
SEE ALSO: An Architect's Defense Of Kanye West
In Design Intelligence's annual rankings of US Architecture Schools, released earlier this month, plenty will be said about what is shown immediately by the statistics, and rightly so – but just as interesting is what is revealed between the lines of this report, about the schools themselves and the culture they exist within.
By taking the opinions of professional architects, teachers and students, the Design Intelligence report exposes a complex network which, when examined closely enough, reveals what some might see as a worrying trend within architectural education.
One of the more revealing sections of the report is where schools are ranked in different aspects of architectural education. These rankings are based on the opinions of hiring professionals and are split into top fives across eight sectors: Analysis & Planning, Cross-Disciplinary Teamwork, Communication, Design, Computer Applications, Research & Theory, Construction Methods & Materials, and Sustainable Design Practices and Principles.
Five sectors of architectural education
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that these five lists are split into two sets which are very different: while the first set is dominated by Harvard, and features Yale and Columbia prominently, the second set is dominated by Cal Poly, and features Auburn prominently.
The two sets are very nearly mutually exclusive, with only the University of Southern California bridging the gap.
What the trend means
What this shows is that there are two fundamentally different ways of teaching taking place in US architecture schools. On the one hand are the Ivy League schools, with a focus on design and theory; on the other are schools focusing on the practical aspects of construction and sustainability. Both types of architectural teaching are finding success, with Harvard being first overall for its Graduate program, and Cal Poly first overall for its Undergraduate program.
Should we be surprised that Ivy League schools are finding success in the traditionally ‘academic’ aspects of training, while a Polytechnic is leading in teaching technical expertise? Perhaps not. What is more intriguing is that while professionals are obviously highly appreciative of both styles of teaching, in the case of the Ivy League schools this admiration seems to be one way traffic.
In the survey of students, the responses by those attending Harvard and Columbia (the only Ivy League schools with published student survey results) showed a body of students which tended to be ambivalent to architecture’s professional institutions, and the profession as a whole. Asked if they plan to become a licensed architect in the future, only 73% of Harvard and 61% of Columbia said yes, compared to a national average of 83.4%.
Nationally, 63% of students either already are, or plan to become LEED accredited. At Columbia, this drops to 44%, and at Harvard just 37% – and this in a profession which, as the report demonstrates, values sustainability very highly.
Finally, this ambivalence towards the profession of architecture manifests in fewer graduates being happy to work for others: asked what they plan to do after graduation, only 1.8% of students nationally predicted self-employment. At Columbia, this rises to 5%, and at Harvard to a colossal 12%. Let me reiterate that: Harvard graduates, despite being hugely coveted by architecture firms, are almost seven times as likely as other students to go it alone.
This smacks of an unhealthy relationship. Clearly, there is a type of architect – the type often produced by Ivy League schools – that is dissatisfied with the business of architecture. While they have a lot to offer the profession, they do not respect it and they get little in return from it.
Like most unhealthy relationships, correcting this problem will require compromises from both sides. The profession has to find a way to position itself closer to the Ivy League graduate’s conception of architecture, and Ivy League schools really ought to be educating students in a way that doesn’t leave them alienated by the realities of making buildings.
How might schools do this? The answer may lie in those “very nearly mutually exclusive” lists from earlier. The University of Southern California seems to be producing uniquely balanced architects, appearing on four of the five lists highlighted and six of the eight lists in total, with their undergraduate program ranked 7th overall. Sadly, the statistics can’t tell us exactly how they achieve this balance – but this university may be one to watch in the future.
With the news earlier this year that The Cooper Union in New York will, for the first time in 155 years, begin charging tuition fees to students in 2014, the existing students at its Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture are taking steps to ensure that it stays true to the meritocratic principles on which it was founded.
To achieve this, they have launched the One Year Fund, an attempt to crowdsource $600,000 in order to cover the tuition fees of the incoming students in 2014.
From their campaign, it is clear the students feel that not having to pay tuition is fundamental to the nature of Cooper Union, and gives an important aspect to their education as architects. “Charging tuition adds money to the equation and changes the relationships that are already in place,” says one student. In their press release, they state ”it is imperative to ensure that future students are educated under the same meritocratic conditions as they are today and have been for the past 155 years.”
Raising $600,000 in 40 days may be an ambitious goal, but it is a vital step in preserving what they see as a vital element of the education of future students. This first step is a temporary solution, simply aiming to provide “one full year to develop and put into action another financial model to preserve the Cooper Union and its fundamental principles.”
If the principle of a free, meritocratic education for architects is an idea you would like to support, you can donate on their fundraising page. you can also connect with the One Year Fund via Facebook and Twitter.
In the wake of the housing crisis and Recession, the “American Dream” of a super-sized home in the suburbs has lost its appeal; today, it’s the “tiny house” that seems more aligned with America’s readjusted ideals.
Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller, a couple out of Colorado, are just one example of people taking the “tiny” leap – they began the construction of their 124 sq ft. home back in 2011, and their journey has been documented in a new film called “TINY: A Story About Living Small,” which premiered on Al Jazeera America last Sunday.
The Tiny House, only 124 sq ft. (although with an 11-foot ceiling), contains a small galley kitchen, a bathroom and sleeping loft. There is also a small closet, two built-in bookshelves, one built-in desk and a dining table made from the scraps of the reclaimed hardwood flooring.
Building the house, Smith and Mueller began to realize how living with less can free up time, energy, and money to focus on things that mattered to them. As Smith describes, the characters in the film (all tiny house owners) have started their own businesses, gotten involved in their communities, and spent more time with family and friends as a result of downsizing.He goes on to state that, “The concept of “home” is something our film explores a lot. And it is probably different for everyone. For me it is about the people you surround yourself with, and how it feels to spend time there. It has something to do with place, but that is not the only thing that determines what home is. Tiny Houses are great lenses through which to examine home, because everything is distilled down to the essentials in such a small space. It’s a question that our film really encourages people to think about.”
French developer Christian Bourdais has enlisted eight architects to develop vacation homes on a 50-hectare nature reserve about two hours south of Barcelona. So far, so normal. However, each participant in the “Solo Houses” experiment was given what every architect dreams of (and hardly ever receives): carte blanche. The results, from the likes of Sou Fujimoto, Pezo von Ellrichshausen, and more, are stunning.
Casa Faustino / Didier Faustino
This 2,260 sq ft house by French-Portuguese architect Didier Faustino, better known for his experimental installations, consists of a star-burst of boxes, each one’s large apertures drawing in light and framing a different view of the surrounding landscape.
According to Faustino, the “house presents itself as a shelter protected from the elements but turned towards its natural surroundings. Offering an exploded view on the landscape, the house receives the sunlight which is then refracted into its very center, thus creating a new experience of space: the wooden floors bring weightlessness to the body; traditional points of reference (up and down, right and left) vanish.”
Casa Fujimoto / Sou Fujimoto
Very similar to his Serpentine Gallery Pavilion as well as, conceptually, to his House NA (although far more viscerally tree-house-like), Casa Fujimoto employs a nebulous latticework structure of timber in order to create a “geometric forest.”
The home features a glass structure as its core; according to Fujimoto, this is to provide protection while still maintaining a sense of open-ness to the elements, especially to light and wind. The wooden lattice also enables users to climb the structure like a tree to access a roof terrace that overlooks the valley.
Casa Johnston Marklee / Johnston Marklee
The home designed by Los Angeles-based architects Johnston Marklee sits in the middle of an almond grove “like a singular object.“ All rooms are connected; sliding doors allow either for privacy or for the interior to become a completely open space. A roof terrace offers panoramic views as well as a swimming pool.
Casa Mos / MOS Architects
Casa Mos, by Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, exists off-the-grid, utilizing passive systems, such as solar chimneys for cooling. It consists of four structures, each shaped like an upside down T, each with a gardened roof terrace, placed among a natural march of vegetation.
A fifth structure “is inverted and has been embedded in the ground, becoming a pool,” Meredith told CNN, ”We are interested in a play between the towers as individual objects and as a group of things, the materiality of rough concrete offering an abstract tectonic scalelessness. It presents an image of a ruin, scattered rough concrete towers casually strewn within the landscape.”
Casa Office KGDVS / Office Kersten Geers David van Severen
Brussels-based architects Kersten Geers and David Van Severen, inspired by winding their way upon the plateau of the site, designed a ring-shaped home (“as little house-like as possible”) that almost disappears into the landscape. The façades may be opened entirely, further abolishing the boundary between inside and outside.
Van Severen told CNN that the simplicity of the site served as inspiration: “It is not immediately about comfort, but maybe more about bare essence. The stunning nature of the place and the fact of the ‘off-grid’ condition of each Solo House brings things back to basics. This is what we liked as a start. You don’t need lots of extras.”
Casa Pezo / Pezo von Ellrichshausen
The first house to be built, and purchased, is Casa Pezo by Chilean architect Pezo von Ellrichshausen. The home, a sculptural and monolithic structure, consists of an elevated “perimeter ring, a panoramic rotunda” divided by 16 columns and occupied by a sequence of rooms (however, the only “interior” room has no roof). The rooms overlook an open-air courtyard with a swimming pool, “a volume of water as deep as the height that separates the house from the natural ground.”
“This Solo experiment is in between art and architecture,” Pezo told CNN, ”It might sound pretentious but, as an intention, this initiative is an optimistic attempt at somehow stating a confidence in the power of pure architecture.”
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To celebrate the launch of ArchDaily Materials, our new product catalog, we’ve rounded up 10 awesome projects from around the world that were inspired by one material: concrete.
1. Vitra Fire Station / Zaha Hadid
One of the first realized projects in Zaha’s career, the Vitra Fire Station in Germany uses concrete planes that bend, tilt, and break according to the conceptual, dynamic forces connecting landscape and architecture.
2. Cathedral of Brasilia / Oscar Niemeyer
The structure of this Brazilian cathedral, created by one of the great concrete masters, is made up of sixteen parabolic concrete columns reaching up towards the sky. The columns integrate with the stained glass windows, which are different shades of blue, white and brown.
A German crematorium comprised of simple boxes and columns of concrete. The building includes a slat-steered casing of glass and allows light to filter into the ceremonial halls from the concrete column tops.
4. Bagsværd Church / Jørn Utzon
The unassuming exterior of this church in Denmark merely hints at the stirring forms inside. It is clad in white precast concrete panels and glazed white tiles attached to a frame. Utzon positioned the reflective glazed tiles to relate to the sinuous concrete curves of the interior sanctuary.
5. Salk Institute / Louis Kahn
The Salk Institute in California is one of the great architectural masterpieces, both an “intellectual retreat” and an inspiring environment for scientific research. The concrete was poured using a technique studied in Roman architecture. In order to attain a warm glow in the concrete, Kahn allowed no finishing touches once the concrete was set.
6. Brufe Social Center / Imago
This Portuguese social center was designed as a building that is turned inside out. That concrete block form is carved out by openings that illuminate the interior space and courtyard within.
7. Tama Art University Library / Toyo Ito
The randomly placed concrete arches in this library, located in the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan, were designed to allow individuals to easily flow through different spaces and have a variety of views.
8. Igualada Cemetery / Enric Miralles + Carme Pinos
A new type of cemetery found in Spain that was designed as an earthwork blending into the landscape. The gabion walls and the worn/aged concrete evoke the hard and rough landscape of the surrounding hills.
9. Grisons College of Education / Pablo Horváth
A concrete structure in combination with roughly-cut formwork make up this college in Switzerland. The column-free space and smooth white surfaces allow light to reflect far into the interior.
10. Sunset Chapel / BNKR Arquitectura
Clients asked that this Mexican chapel take full advantage of spectacular views and that the sun set exactly behind the altar cross. The team worked the concrete form to make the chapel look like “just another” colossal boulder atop the mountain.
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Arup’s New York office, we’ve spent the past few months talking with people inside the engineering and design firm and beyond about the future of the city.
We asked them to come up with blue-sky ideas about the New York of 2050 without worrying too much about financial or political feasibility. Circumstances can change a great deal over almost four decades, after all, and tomorrow’s constraints might look very different than today’s.
Then we worked with graphic designer Josh Levi to synthesize and visualize the results — view the large version here. Our main goal: to spark conversations about long-term priorities for the city and possible ways to achieve them.
What would you add to the list? How would you change it?
1. Nature in the infrastructure
Nature’s dramatic ecological, social, and public health benefits make it a top priority for the local government and design community.
“People are starting to realize that as cities develop, green infrastructure isn’t just something nice to have — it’s absolutely essential,” said Tom Armour, landscape architecture leader in our London office. “If our cities are going to be resilient to population growth and climate change, working in partnership with nature and ecosystems is a key consideration. Nature allows us to create environmentally better, more livable, and healthier places.”
Designers and governments are increasingly embracing the need for green infrastructure to cope with issues such as climate change and storm water management. Critical as this is, however, the benefits of nature extend far beyond engineering — a point that must be made loudly and often, Armour asserts. People have to be convinced that people need nature in cities, and at a scale that will respond effectively to the challenges ahead.
A growing body of evidence supports this claim. Researchers have demonstrated a wide variety of social and economic benefits of urban nature: faster hospital recoveries, better workplace productivity, improved social cohesion, reduced crime, improved public health, reduced obesity, improved childhood development, better air quality, better urban micro climates, and more.
2. Green borders
Raised green waterfronts mitigate flooding and sea-level rise.
Earlier this year, the city released projections that local sea levels would rise between four and eleven inches by the 2020s.
As a result, by 2050 “there may be a band of green space wherever the most vulnerable flood zones are,” said Arup civil engineer Vincent Lee. “Waterfront parks and wetlands will give back the land to Mother Nature. It’s a tough challenge, because we are regenerating our waterfront to meet the housing demands we have in NYC. In the future, any buildings and infrastructure within the most vulnerable areas will need to be resilient to live with water. But the majority of the waterfront can be reimagined and raised to provide multiple uses, restore the ecology, and be a means for flood protection.”
In the worst-case scenario, some parts of the city may empty naturally as residents tire of extreme weather events and sea-level rise.
3. Free-range roofs
Community gardens cover half of the city’s flat roofs; the rest are devoted to solar energy generation.
New York has over 30 square miles of roof space. It is also home to over 1,000 community gardens, 80% of which produce food. What if the city could figure out a way to turn 50% of all flat roof surfaces into community gardens then cover the rest with solar technologies to generate energy?
In addition to generating energy, this scheme would bring fresh, homegrown food to every neighborhood, a significant achievement from a public health perspective. It would also provide a broad spectrum of benefits associated with green roofs: cooling the atmosphere, reducing storm water runoff, and absorbing air pollution — not to mention giving New Yorkers more opportunities to connect to nature. A skyline full of this? Yes, please.
“With green roofs, there’s great biodiversity value, social value, community value,” said New York-based Arup sustainability consultant Cameron Thomson. “It’s somewhere where you can go and feel a bit more human.”
4. Table to (rooftop) farm
The city’s compostable waste helps rooftop gardens thrive.
New York sends 1.2 million tons of food waste to landfills each year, paying nearly $80 per ton and contributing to the production of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This year, the Bloomberg administration has announced plans to collect compost from across the city, following the successful rollout of pilot programs to test public willingness to save food scraps.
If rooftop farms were to cover the city, however, using each building’s compostable waste on its own or nearby roofs would eliminate most hauling costs and support the growth of truly local produce.
5. Biogas from non-compostable waste and sewage
All sewage and non-compostable organic waste is converted to biogas.
Waste in all its forms poses challenges for New York.
“You only have to walk around Manhattan at night to smell and see the piles of garbage and recycling deposited every evening,” said Tom Wilcock, who leads our New York advanced technology and research practice.
Converting non-compostable organic waste and sewage to biogas would go a long way toward addressing these issues and provide a significant new source of energy to replace natural gas. Several years ago, the government announced plans to partner with National Grid to produce enough biogas to heat 2,500 homes. The New York Times recently reported that the city intended to seek proposals for a food-to-biogas plant in the near future.
Incorporating pneumatic garbage collection technologies that move waste more efficiently and smart trash cans that use sensors to help separate garbage and optimize collection could further improve New York’s waste outlook.
6. Flourishing fish
Clean waterways support popular beaches and a flourishing aquatic ecosystem.
New York has invested substantially in improving the quality of its waterways in recent years, putting over $10 billion into improving harbor water quality since 2000. These efforts have paid off: the harbor is now healthier than it has been in a century.
However, issues such as combined sewage overflows and contaminated sediments continue to pose major challenges.
Cities like Copenhagen serve as inspiration to keep pushing ahead. Over the past two decades, the Danish capital turned its sewage- and industrial pollutant-contaminated harbor into a favorite recreational destination.
“Fish, web-footed birds and benthic vegetation have returned, and the people of Copenhagen have taken over the port for bathing, yachting, limited sports fishing, cafés and parks,” according to the Danish Ministry for the Environment.
7. Recycled water
All water is recycled, preparing the city for unknown effects of climate change and eliminating the need for costly upstate infrastructure projects.
New York prides itself on its tap water. One of only five US cities whose surface drinking water supply is of a high enough quality to make filtration unnecessary, it draws around a billion gallons of drinking water each day from a network of reservoirs and lakes stretching 125 miles to the north and west.
While the system meets current needs well, the picture may look different in a few decades. A recent study found that New York is one of the US cities most at risk for water scarcity due to climate change.
To address this and other challenges, “there’s no reason why a city like New York couldn’t recycle all its water,” said Cameron Thomson.
Successful projects in Singapore, El Paso and other cities have demonstrated the feasibility of recycling water on a large scale. Closer to home, the Bank of America Tower is often cited as a a successful example of a local building-scale water recycling project.
8. Tidal test bed
Researchers come from around the world to work at New York’s test site for sea-based renewable energy.
Sea power holds the potential to supply a significant amount of the US’ energy needs. The industry is still relatively young, however.
“If you look across the spectrum of energy generation technologies, there’s still a long way to go on wave power and tidal power,” said Tom Wilcock. “It’s not too late for New York to become a major player on that front.”
New York is already home to one of the most significant tidal power research projects in the United States, the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently granted the project the United States’ first commercial license for tidal power.
The city could build on this effort to create the world’s premier testing center for sea-based renewable energy, developing new technologies that could help reduce fossil fuel dependence both locally and globally.
9. Living lab
Residents of the Living Lab Co-op help researchers test new ideas about building design and social and economic models of housing.
New Yorkers tolerate housing that many Americans consider ridiculously overpriced, unworkably small, or simply crazy. What if we took advantage of this flexibility to test ideas that could improve living conditions for all of the city’s residents?
There’s no shortage of theories about ways to make housing healthier, greener, and more affordable, but finding a way to apply them in the real world is a different story.
Having a development dedicated to evaluating new ideas within a rigorous framework, populated with a diverse group of residents who have opted into the giant research project, could spark multidisciplinary innovation and improve public understanding of the physical, technological, and social factors that go into making great urban environments.
10. Timber construction
Large, modular, timber-based transit oriented developments in the outer boroughs house many New Yorkers.
To deal with the projected million-person increase in population over the next few years, PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s long-term sustainability and resilience strategy, spells out the city’s intent to encourage the development of new affordable housing in areas served by mass transit.
Affordability is key. According to the city comptroller, housing costs have risen sharply over the past decade: “While it is not altogether surprising that City tenants have been burdened with significantly higher housing costs than the rest of the nation, recent data points to a continued decrease in affordability. This raises questions about long-term growth prospects in the City.”
If New York is to retain its celebrated diversity and vitality over the coming decades, it must help low- and middle-income people find and retain high-quality, conveniently located housing at a reasonable price.
One way to make it easier to build below-market-rate housing is to lower initial costs by building modular and using cross-laminated timber. This new structural wood product allows for fast, relatively inexpensive construction (in addition to numerous other benefits), and has been successfully employed on mid rise developments around the world.
11. A+ buildings
The city government rates restaurants; why not buildings? Low scorers get design help and loans to improve performance and resilience.
Since 2010, the city has required restaurants to undergo cleanliness evaluations and prominently display the resulting grades.
What if we developed a similar program for building performance and resilience, addressing issues such as energy, waste, and water? Buildings receiving less than ideal grades could receive free consulting services and loans to improve.
New York’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan currently provides some of this functionality. Signed into law in 2009, the plan requires all buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to periodically undergo energy audits and retro-commissioning.
Audit results are published on the city’s website. Because buildings currently account for three quarters of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, programs such as this have enormous implications for New York’s future.
12. Regenerating materials
Self-healing materials reduce maintenance and prolong lifespans of buildings and infrastructure.
Self-healing materials have been a hot topic over the past few years, with breakthroughs in the development of concrete, plastics, and metals capable of repairing their own cracks. These and other innovations hold the possibility of revolutionizing the building industry in the coming decades by keeping buildings and infrastructure in better shape longer.
13. Power generating surfaces
City surfaces like photovoltaic paint and energy-harvesting pavement generate power.
An installation of power-harvesting street tiles near the finish line of the Paris marathon earlier this year harvested enough energy to power a laptop for two days. As this and other technologies mature, new applications may turn many of New York’s sidewalks, streets, walls, and more into multifunctional power plants.
14. Air-scrubbing surfaces
Building materials capture pollution to improve air quality.
Air pollution plays a role in about 6% of the deaths occurring in New York City each year and leads to thousands of hospital admissions. Children, the elderly and residents of low-income residents suffer disproportionately from its effects.
Getting internal combustion engines off the streets and halting the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and heating purposes would significantly reduce the problem. Installing pollution-absorbing surfaces throughout the city could also help. One material that has earned a significant amount of interest in this arena, titanium dioxide, has already been used in projects around the world.
15. Digital democracy
User-friendly digital voting, polling and feedback systems contribute to high levels of political participation.
“Facilitating digital voting is aimed at getting people more involved with the formal elements of the city, and, in doing so, diluting the influence of minority power groups within the democratic system,” said Tom Wilcock.
New Yorkers vote less than their counterparts in other large American cities. Turnout has been falling for decades, reaching a historical low during the November 2013 mayoral election. Improving the city’s built environment and making it more responsive to citizen needs will require more and better political engagement.
As digital literacy becomes ubiquitous and the Internet becomes more deeply entwined with every aspect of our lives (and bodies?), digital voting and other kinds of computationally mediated government–citizen exchanges will seem increasingly natural.
16. NYC WPA
Government-supported artists and designers bring together different communities to work on city improvement projects.
New York is home to more professional artists than any other US city. Its status as one of the world’s great cultural capitals brings countless benefits to its residents, from social vibrancy to cash; the Alliance for the Arts estimates that $3.8B cycle through the city’s nonprofit arts organizations alone each year.
As rents rise ever higher, however, questions about whether artists can still make it in New York seem to be growing. The city government currently provides substantial support to the arts.
What if it went further, however, creating a local version of the Works Progress Administration, the New Deal-era program that hired people directly to create projects for the public good — everything from bridges to photographs? Project directives could be loose enough to provide creative freedom but specific enough to target city priorities.
One particularly interesting area to explore through such a program is data visualization, a topic of increasing interest in the engineering community. Revealing the impact of a particular behavior in real time, the theory runs, can help change habits for the better.
One of the biggest hurdles to realizing these benefits on a mass scale, however, may be psychological, not technical. Getting people to pay attention to these tools will require creativity, craft, and the ability to engage imaginations — resources that artists have spent their careers developing.
17. Digital model of the city
A publicly editable digital model of the city gives New Yorkers access to dynamic data from train schedules to neighborhood demographics.
The young field of smart city design relies on ubiquitous sensors to optimize traffic flow and energy use, provide data that allow government agencies to operate more efficiency, and much more. The model city idea, however, focuses on making citizens themselves smarter.
A highly visual, user-friendly, publicly editable digital model that both collects and displays multidimensional information about every aspect of the city that people care to know about could empower average New Yorkers to make better decisions about both their own lives and the larger community.
18. Crisis communiqués
Disaster-proof communications networks keep citizens informed during emergencies.
Disaster preparedness requires a strong focus on both soft and hard infrastructure. Keeping people informed, in particular, is one of the most important services the city can provide. By 2050, the city should ensure that all citizens can access the information they need at any point before, during, or after an emergency.
19. Smart power
A smart grid with multiple micro grids saves money and increases resilience and efficiency.
New York’s electricity is currently distributed via a vast and aging electricity network that provides little flexibility and is prone to occasional failure. In the future, power delivery will be regulated by smart grids that provide two-way communication between utilities and loads.
They will automatically isolate areas experiencing power failures and redirect electricity (renewably generated, of course) where it is needed. The grid could be segmented into microgrids that can operate independently of the larger network during emergencies for added resilience.
Smart grids can also save money by providing demand response when the grid is overloaded. Instead of ramping up expensive and inefficient standby generation during times of peak demand, smart grids can signal buildings to automatically reduce loads.
20. No gas, no oil
No more fossil fuels — all buildings run on renewably generated electricity.
A recent study published in the journal Energy Policy determined that it would be theoretically possible to power New York State solely with renewable energy by 2030. (By contrast, 24% of the state’s energy came from renewables in 2011.)
New York City and State are both moving to wean themselves off fossil fuels — and, for the sake of the planet, must continue to do so. A promising recent step: Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement of the development of the city’s largest solar energy project, projected to increase its renewable energy capacity by 50%.
21. Wind farms
Vast offshore wind farms provide most of the city’s energy.
Wind power, which currently supplies about 2% of New York State’s energy, is increasing in popularity around the world. Several recent studies indicate that wind could be used to meet most of New York’s energy needs.
The aforementioned Energy Policy paper called wind the most likely candidate to provide the majority of the state’s renewable power in the future. The Urban Green Council estimated that New York City could run primarily on wind turbines occupying 35 to 40 square miles offshore or upstate.
The city has been exploring a plan to lease federal offshore territory outside Lower New York Bay for wind generation; an application was submitted to the US Department of Interior in 2011.
Importing wind and other renewables from places with ample spare capacity could also help the city move beyond fossil fuels. A proposed transmission line carrying wind and hydroelectric power from Quebec is now u
22. Autonomous vehicles
Autonomous electric taxis provide clean, efficient transportation throughout the city; private passenger vehicles are banned.
Autonomous electric vehicles hold the potential to dramatically reshape car travel. Substituting artificial for human intelligence should keep people safer.
“Human error is behind almost 100% of car crashes,” as researcher Dr. Ralf Herrtwich told the Wall Street Journal.
The cars could be significantly cheaper to operate due to the elimination of labor (i.e., driver), fuel, and maintenance costs (electric motors require far less upkeep than their internal combustion counterparts). Emissions would disappear, improving public health. Children, the elderly, and the disabled would have greater mobility. Traffic congestion would fall due to the vehicles’ ability to travel close together and find the most efficient routes.
Can all this come to pass by 2050? Arup transport planner William Baumgardner thinks so.
“There’s a lot of debate about when we’ll reach what’s called full level-4 autonomy," he said, "which is when the human is no longer the backup system. Twenty-five to thirty-five years out is pretty much the back end of that range. So I think it’s safe to say that vehicles will be able to operate fully autonomously by then.”
In dense environments like New York, a logical next step might be to allow only shared autonomous vehicles on the streets.
“A regular car sits idle 85 to 90% of the time,” said Gary Hsueh, also a transportation planner with Arup. “That’s a really strong incentive to use vehicles more efficiently. And that’s how taxicabs are used — they drive hundreds of thousands of miles, but they carry people all the time. So some people envision a future where the taxi fleet is autonomous and they just circulate all day. But because they’re smarter they’re instantaneously matching supply with demand, so you also could have fewer taxis.”
23. More plants, less parking
Stormwater green streets replace much of the space formerly devoted to street parking.
The pipes that carry New York City’s sewage also take in anything that flows into street drains. During storms, the aging system can’t handle the volume, and untreated human waste and polluted storm water are emptied directly into the nearest body of water. The system sends 30 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater into New York’s waters each year.
If private cars disappear, a great deal of parking space will be freed up on New York City’s 6,000 miles of streets. It could be replaced with planted areas that accept and filter stormwater runoff from the street, reducing stress on the city’s water infrastructure while providing numerous other amenities.
Although stormwater green streets are being implemented now in some parts of the city, says civil engineer Vincent Lee, they are limited by existing infrastructure and the need for parking. “If there’s an opportunity to replace parking, then we can put them in the street. If there’s a radical shift in transportation and the way people move, it opens up the street for other opportunities to clean our waterways.”
24. The five-borough express
New deep subway lines simplify travel in all five boroughs and link directly to airports.
With New York’s population predicted to grow by a million over the coming decades, the government expects growing demand for transit, as well as increasingly complex travel paths and times driven by changes in employment patterns and locations.
Meeting these targets will be a challenge. Much of the current subway infrastructure was cobbled together from separate, privately operated lines that opened more than a century ago, making comprehensive upgrades difficult. Many lines are already at capacity. Climate change impacts such as frequent storms and sea level rise pose serious threats to the system.
What if the city created a new deep-ring subway line that could provide express service between the boroughs and local connections within them? The new system would allow for the development of dense transit-oriented developments relatively deep in the boroughs and provide convenient connections to the city’s three airports. It could also provide opportunities for moving goods.
Engineering advances made since the majority of existing lines were created make it possible to create tunnels and stations far beneath the ground. Going deep would minimize disturbance to the streets above during construction and allow the tunnel boring machines to drill through solid rock rather than more challenging sediment while passing under the rivers.
25. Better commutes on the ferry
Live music, art installations, socializing, scenic views — just a normal trip on an NYC ferry.
Traveling by boat is arguably the most pleasant way to get around the city. What if you could combine great ferry views with New York’s incredible cultural offerings by means of a turbocharged, ferry-specific Arts for Transit program?
Rotating art installations, live performances, fun classes, and more could turn commuting into the best part of the day for travelers headed to terminals scattered around five boroughs, New Jersey, and beyond. In a city where many people don’t know their immediate neighbors, let alone strike up conversations with strangers on the subway, the program might even encourage people to get to know one another better.
26. Bike autobahn
Cyclists zip safely around the city on separated, uninterrupted bike paths.
New York has made tremendous advances in cycling in recent years, installing of over 300 miles of bike lanes and the launching the shared CitiBike program. However, many people — particularly groups that don’t typically travel by bike, such as women and people with children — are still nervous about riding directly next to traffic.
By 2050, however, we will have had time to follow the example set by the Netherlands, which has spent decades fostering both a culture and an infrastructure that make cycling simply a normal way for all kinds of people to get around.
As a BBC journalist put it, “Cycling is so common that I have been rebuked for asking people whether they are cyclists or not. 'We aren’t cyclists, we’re just Dutch,' comes the response.”
By educating New Yorkers about cycling and reshaping our streets so that grandparents, businesspeople, and schoolchildren alike feel comfortable biking, we can achieve similar results. The city should strive to create fully protected routes, connecting the outer boroughs and regional areas to key public transportation nodes, business districts, and recreational hubs. (A similar initiative is underway in London.) The environmental, economic, and public health benefits will be well worth it.
27. Network of footbridges
A network of pedestrian and bicycle bridges connects Manhattan to New Jersey and the boroughs.
Cycling may be on the rise in New York, but the city is already the nation’s most walkable, according to WalkScore. We could further encourage both modes of transit — the healthiest, most environmentally friendly, and least expensive available — by building dedicated bicycle and pedestrian bridges over the city’s rivers.
Demand for people-powered bridge crossings clearly exists; according to the Department of Transportation, more than 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge each day. Increased infrastructure would encourage even more people to walk and bike between boroughs, to New Jersey, and to other islands.
“Melbourne can be looked to as a model for active transportation river crossings,” said Vincent Riscica, an Arup transportation planner.
In addition to improved connectivity, the construction of pedestrian and bike bridges in that city provided opportunities to protect the natural and recreational environment along the banks of the Yarra River, bring people closer to the city’s waters, revitalize blighted areas, and expand culturally and artistically significant spaces.
A recent topic that has been receiving attention among architects is the issue of designing prisons. The increased awareness of the problem has been spearheaded by Raphael Sperry, founder of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, who has been campaigning to have the AIA forbid members from designing execution chambers or solitary confinement units. At the other end of the scale, Deanna VanBuren, a principle of FOURM Design Studio and a member of ADPSR herself, has championed ‘restorative justice’, an approach to the justice system which emphasizes rehabilitation and reconciliation in order to prevent people from re-offending.
Now Glen Santayana, a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, has used his thesis project to add to this debate, designing PriSchool– a prison which both integrates with a school of criminology and is embedded within the community. Could this radical approach to prison design really be an answer to the stretched prison system in the US (and elsewhere)?
The circumstance which makes this unusual design possible – and needed – is the USA’s spiraling prison population. Santayana’s thesis explains how, since the “war on drugs” began in the states in the 1970s, the population of the American prison system has swelled by 500%. Ninety-two percent of the current prison population is incarcerated on non-violent charges. To make this problem worse, the US has 67% recidivism within three years after release.
PriSchool is designed precisely for those non-violent offenders who struggle to stay on the right side of the law when released. Situated in a Brooklyn neighborhood surrounded by “million-dollar blocks” – city blocks with such high crime that the state is spending over a million dollars a year to incarcerate their residents – the prison/school hybrid rethinks what a prison can achieve, positing it as a place where prisoners and students can learn from each other, and where criminals can be rehabilitated in preparation for their return to society.
The complex is split into four buildings, consisting of (from West to East) the school of criminology, the prison itself, a ‘pre-release’ building and a community center. The form of these buildings is warped to show where the functions of each building intertwine, with bridges between them. Prisoners and students get the opportunity to take part in lessons together, giving students the chance to get a sense of the real-life situations which they study, and offering the prisoners intellectual stimulation and a deeper understanding of the legal structure in which they are entangled. This promotes a sense of dignity and empowerment which can reduce their chances of re-offending.
In the pre-release building, inmates whose sentences are nearing an end get the opportunity to learn new skills, gaining access to metal and wood workshops, computer labs and a range of other environments where they can learn hands-on, employable skills. Finally, the community center is posited as a peace offering to those members of the wider community who are skeptical about being in a neighborhood arranged around a prison; it is hoped that the benefits to the community will be greater than the stigma of the prison, and that this stigma will also eventually recede over time.Santayana’s thesis is a sensitive and heavily researched proposal which looks at the current U.S. prison system from a completely different angle, and might be a viable solution to a problem which is only getting increasingly desperate. You can investigate his proposal further via his website and his thesis presentation booklet here.
Great architects know how to meld personality and functionality in the astounding buildings they design.
Our friends at ArchDaily are determining the best new buildings from around the world. After receiving nominations from more than 3,500 projects featured on its site in the past year, the publication is asking readers to vote for their favorites.
We're taking a closer look at the nominees grouped by categories from commercial architecture to housing. Vote for your favorites at ArchDaily through January 29.
COMMERCIAL ARCHITECTURE: Fuel Station + McDonalds, Georgia
Architect: Giorgi Khmaladze
Coach Omotesando Flagship, Japan
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In one of the newly urbanized areas of Batumi, Georgia, on the Black Sea Coast, architect Giorgi Khmaladze built an award-winning McDonald's.
Combined with a fuel station and recreational areas, this efficient structure just won distinction as the best commercial building of the year from architecture website ArchDaily. The architectural news outlet had its readers vote for the best buildings in 14 categories, choosing from hundreds of new buildings constructed in 2013.
The building has a small footprint to allow vehicle circulation that doesn't disrupt city traffic.
The building is surrounded on three sides by a reflective pool lined with stones.
The McDonald's sits in a newly urbanized area of Batumi.
This "ecological shield" of vegetation keeps fumes from the gas station out of a dining area.
The gas station sits underneath the canopy that holds one dining area.
The entrance to the gas station is on the opposite end of the building from the McDonald's.
Here's a look at how the space is organized inside the building.
SEE ALSO: The Best New Buildings In North America
Some structures will take your breath away.
Our friends at ArchDaily set out to determine the best buildings from around the world that blend beauty, intelligence, creativity, and service to the community.
After receiving nominations from more than 3,500 projects featured on its site in the past year, the publication asked readers to vote for their favorites among 14 categories. Sixty thousand people voted.
From the teeny-tiny town hall in Newbern, Alabama, to the futuristic McDonald's halfway around the world in Georgia, here are the winners od ArchDaily's Building of the Year Awards.
BEST COMMERCIAL ARCHITECTURE: A combination fuel station and McDonald's in Batumi, Georgia.
Architect: Giorgi Khmaladze
BEST CULTURAL ARCHITECTURE: The Danish National Maritime Museum in Helsingor, Denmark.
BEST EDUCATIONAL ARCHITECTURE: Braamcamp Freire, a secondary school in Lisbon, Portugal.
Architect: CVDB arquitectos
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The architecture news website had its readers vote for the best buildings in 14 categories, choosing from hundreds of spaces constructed in 2013.
Brazilian architects at Estudio Guto Requena designed the Walmart office based on interviews with company employees, who answered questions about digital culture, the Walmart.com brand and Brazilian identity. That led to an office filled with primary colors and inspired by the outdoors.
The Walmart.com headquarters in São Paulo occupies five floors and close to 11,000 square feet.
Each floor has a different color scheme. The yellow floor has Walmart's logo hanging from the ceiling.
Each floor uses a different predominant wood: Pine, OSB, Eucalyptus or Masisa Zurich.
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