Point of View - Point of View December 2010

 

An Arup Greeting

Of all the kind holiday greetings that flooded our inbox this year, this one was the most wonderful by far. In its 64 year-long history, the engineering and design consultancy Arup has been involved in creating some of the most iconic buildings and infrastructure in the world. But it has often had to play second fiddle to attention-seeking starchitects. So the firm…

The Best American Architecture Firms

   Pugh + Scarpa, the winner of the 2010 AIA Architecture Firm Award, will change its name for the New Year, and will be known as Brooks + Scarpa in 2011. Former partner Gwynne Pugh left the firm on September 1st to start up his own enterprise, Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio, where he wants to now focus on large scale…

Active Facade

The story of a storefront in Brooklyn’s Bushwick section, proudly inspired by Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, is in the current issue of Metropolis. The short piece made me want to know more about the security gate with its unusually memorable appearance.  So I asked architect Andre Kikoski to talk about how the system works, as well…

Q&A: Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke Ingels is known to fill up rooms where his fellow architects come to be entertained, to learn, and to bask in the young Dane’s enthusiasm and seemingly inexhaustible energy. Most recently he made an appearance at Relative Space in downtown NYC, at a pre-holiday evening organized by designerpages. There, he revealed, among other things, that BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)…

Ezra Stoller: Canonizer

Cohen House, Siesta Key, Florida, Architect: Paul Rudolph. Photo: Ezra Stoller/Esto. Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, Gordon Bunshaft—they all had their buildings “Stollerized.” To have one’s building photographed by Ezra Stoller was to practically ensure its place in the architectural canon, such was the power of the black and white images he created. Stoller worked in…

I’ve Seen Things You People Wouldn’t Believe

The 2011 TED Prize-winner is the artist who goes by the tag, JR. His enormous photographic installations obscure the facades of buildings, overlay streets, and sometimes collage to cover clusters of buildings in one massive broken image. While some shy away from calling his work “street art,” I don’t see any shame in this—especially given the clear social justice objectives…

Places that Work: A Rural Library

Library visits may be fewer in December and January as avid readers plow through their holiday cache of books. But that trend might not apply to the Round Top Family Library in rural Round Top, Texas. Here, on a recent visit, I discovered the library that dedicated townspeople have made into a place to enrich their community’s lives in many…

A New Museum for Qatar

It is going to be a while before Jean Nouvel’s celebrated National Museum of Qatar blossoms in the desert. But in the meanwhile, an architecturally modest museum with a far more ambitious mission is ready to open its doors for the New Year. The Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art aims to be a new pan-Arab center for culture and…

When SPOT Dreams of Electric Sheep

Sheep 16850 by drunkenbutterfly Scott Draves (aka SPOT) produces software art that makes my brain melt. I’m almost positive it’s doing something neurological similar to the pink beam of light fired at Horselover Fat’s brain in Philip K. Dick’s novel, VALIS. These self-generative, evolving, extremely beautiful and complex images are encoded with information words do not adequately capture. Moreover, they…

Q&A: Burke and Meinberg Burke

                          Timepiece by Carrie Meinberg Burke and Kevin Burke, Photo: Prakash Patel Kevin Burke is an architect. Carrie Meinberg Burke is an architect and industrial designer. Together, they have been the Esherick Associate Visiting Professors of Architecture at UC Berkeley for the semester that is wrapping up this…

The Politics of Building Green

In spite of some starting troubles, it turns out that the recently concluded climate-change talks at Cancun might well be a landmark event in the politics of sustainability. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has miraculously avoided the usual political blame game between developed and developing nations. The talks have ended in a near-unanimous agreement on climate change,…

Paper, Pratt and Pucci

Photo: Antoine Bootz It’s all très chic and very, very white. When veteran mannequin maker and exhibitor of fine furniture Ralph Pucci got a bunch of design students from Pratt to dress up his latest line of mannequins, he knew what he was doing. Their fantastic paper garments and sculptures briefly transformed the white interior of his New York City…

A Confusing Design Decade

Design award categories are often unfortunate anachronisms. Most awards are given in categories based on disciplines — “Furniture Design”, “Consumer Products” – and then the organizers resort to lengthy definitions to try and force today’s exciting, interdisciplinary work into these outdated boxes. And as we saw with the I.D Annual Design Review, the results are not very convincing. The recently…

Places that Work: The Swedish Embassy

The House of Sweden (Swedish Embassy) in Washington, DC is a striking manifestation of Swedish culture; in fact it may be among the best architectural embodiments of culture/brand I’ve ever visited. As the year winds down, you may see this modern building in the background of end-of-year retrospectives that feature picturesque Georgetown. On television, it might appear as the backdrop…

My Robot

Deep in suburban southern California, the future of architecture has already arrived. This future is not just about more complex forms and compound geometries. It is not simply about software but how to make what is generated with software a reality. It is about processes, ways of working, and materials. It is also about more control for the architect. This…

Design by Numbers

Leonardo Fibonacci was an Italian merchant in the 13th century who spent a lot of time with the Arabs in the North African trading post of Bejaia. From them, he learnt of a deceptively simple series of numbers – 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, … – in which each number was the sum of the…

Life, Edited.

The heyday of the McMansion has been on its way out for quite some time – perhaps more by economic circumstance than by fashion of choice – but Treehugger.com founder Graham Hill is out to actively sway our consumption preferences. His latest project, LifeEdited, is “tiny huge design contest” that calls for a crowdsourced redesign of one spatially economic, 420-square…

New Islamic Architectures

The Wadi Hanifa Wetlands, one of the winners of the 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. In a ceremony held last week at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Quatar, five projects received the 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The Award is given for “excellence in architecture and other forms of intervention in the built environment of societies…

Women: Systems Thinkers

  On the opening day of West Coast Green (which took place in San Francisco a month ago), I moderated a panel that included architects Carrie Meinberg Burke and Lynn Simon; Valerie Casey, a designer and the founder of Designers Accord; and Hunter Lovins, the founder of Natural Capital Solutions. Our topic was women and their leadership patterns. Specifically, I…

Q&A: Jasper Morrison

Last September, during London’s design week, I travelled to Hackney in East London to visit Jasper Morrison at his studio and shop, where he debuted several products: a running shoe for Spanish shoemaker Camper, a cordless telephone and the latest model of the r5.5 wristwatch for Swiss watch manufacturer Rado, and —the last which is launching at the Maison &…

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