Point of View - Point of View June 2012

 

ValHow Valencia Turned A Crisis (And a River) Into a Transformative Park

In 1957, Valencia experienced a devastating flood that forever changed the city. The following year, the city embraced a plan to divert the Turia river.

  Valencia’s Green River, Photography by Brian Phelps. Bold ideas are easy, implementing them is hard. This is particularly true as cities around the world want to use their landscape infrastructure to address the issues they face. How can interventions be woven into the existing urban fabric? Beyond simply mustering the financial resources or political will, one must seek opportunities…

Common Boston Common Build: 2

The Fenway Victory Gardens hosted this year’s Common Boston Common Build as the site partner and client. A patchwork of plots tucked into a seven-acre corner of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, the Gardens were built during World War II on a marsh filled in with excavations from the subway extension in nearby Kenmore Square. The semi-private Victory Gardens and…

Q&A: PAX.ARQ on Starting a Young Practice

The Brazilian architects are gaining a reputation not just for their unique sensibilities of space and place, but also the openness of their own office.

Paula Sertório & Victor Paixao, founding partners of PAX.ARQ, Sao Paulo, Brazil Courtesy Paul Clemence The challenges facing a young architecture firm the world over can range from how to structure your office to how to get clients, and every detail in between. I met Paula Sertório and Victor Paixao, founding partners of PAX.ARQ in Sao Paulo and engaged them…

Introducing the #MetropolisLikes Award at NeoCon

Earlier this month, Metropolis editors called out the top spaces, products, and ideas that they really liked at NeoCon 2012.

NeoCon 2012 saw Metropolis editors scouring the halls of the Merchandise Mart for the best designs they could find. They sought out design solutions that our editor in chief, Susan S. Szenasy, describes as “unexpected and urgent—ideas that strike us as beautiful, useful and brilliant.” Each concept that “Metropolis Likes” was awarded plaques, produced by 3M Architectural Markets using 3M…

Common Boston Common Build: 1

Convincing clients about the benefits of progressive design can be difficult; convincing a skeptical public to embrace an unusual design can be almost impossible. This is certainly the case in Boston. A famous tell-tale example is I.M. Pei withdrawing his proposal to build a glass pyramid near Harvard Square for the Kennedy Library, because Cambridge residents objected to its “clashing”…

The Prudential Center: A Bright Exception to a Dark Age of Urban Planning

The story of Boston's Prudential Center is one of highway mania and sweetheart corporate preferment. But it’s emerged with a surprising ending.

An overly co-dependent couple, as any dinner party guest knows all too well, can cast an alienating pall over nearly a whole table. In the world of postwar urban planning this noxiously self-absorbed pairing was played, more often than not, by the conjoined duo of the highway engineer and the forward-thinking corporation. Whether their plans involved mass destruction or not,…

The Ways We Work: VI

    I’ve been standing on my soapbox, preaching the virtues of aligning the workplace with the goals and objectives of each organization as well as with their workers’ activities. Some of you, I suspect, disagree with that idea. But if we were to engage in a debate, we might be discussing how this shift actually plays out in reality,…

New Monograph Highlights Rogers Marvel’s “Marvelous” Interventions

The volume shows what the firm does best—tactically intervening to create space where there doesn't seem to be much of any.

Rogers Marvel Architects, Princeton Architectural Press, 2011 Buildings, adaptations, and public spaces are three different architectural categories, right? According to Rogers Marvel Architects’s (RMA) trisected monograph, published last year by Princeton Architectural Press, they seem to think so too. In reality, however, their projects aren’t so easily dragged and dropped. Working almost exclusively in New York City, the firm’s projects…

The Psychology of Getting People to Take Public Transit

It’s not enough for public transportation to be efficient. It needs to be enjoyable, fun, better than the alternative. Public transportation needs to be sexy.

If people still smoke despite knowing that smoking can kill them, why do we think that people will stop driving their cars just because they know it’s bad for the environment? This simple question was put to transportation planners everywhere by Carlos Felipe Pardo, a transportation policy specialist with a degree in psychology. The answer, most of the time, is: …

Q&A: Santiago Calatrava, the Fine Artist?

As he opens a new exhibition in St. Petersburg, Calatrava explains the different facets of his creative life, from painting and drawing to sculpture.

Santiago Calatrava Courtesy Dmitri Kasterine Santiago Calatrava, the celebrated architect and engineer, is no stranger to the museum world. His architecture and fine art has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, most notably the retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2005. His latest show, Santiago Calatrava: The Quest for Movement, will open on Wednesday at the…

Portrait of a Neighborhood Park

  Cianfrani Park is a small, scruffy but much loved park in Philadelphia – small enough that you can sometimes take in a multi-stage theater of human activity. The Cianfrani name has a connection to Henry “Buddy” Cianfrani, the late ex-state senator, who was convicted and served time on federal racketeering and mail-fraud charges. He had also scandalized the community…

Voices of Sustainability

Five years ago, Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design was published after Lance Hosey and I spent 18 months interviewing hundreds of people and trying to understand why it seemed like there was a preponderance of women doing “green” in many fields. Individual stories poured out and we assembled a suggestive but hardly conclusive collective story. We had the…

In a Hostile Context, How Can We Save Brutalist Buildings?

These buildings are now approaching their senior years, and most are showing problems that could be difficult and costly to mitigate.

Holyoke Center, Harvard University (Josep Lluis Sert, completed 1961) Courtesy Bruner/Cott Modernist buildings have been under attack in the U.S. for years now. We’re reminded of this fact every day as our team at Bruner/Cott & Associates works to keep an entire period of architecture from being lost in Boston, our hometown. News of the recent thwarted attempt—for the moment,…

The Adventure of a Straw-bale Building

Today as I was serving breakfast tacos I talked to a customer about Community Rebuilds. She is a regular at the saloon where I work. Her name is Lisa and she has big arm muscles, which she usually displays by cutting the sleeves off of her tee shirts. While making small talk about the weather, jobs, errands, we also chatted…

The Ways We Work: V

In my last post I argued for the need to enable face-to-face interactions, though I certainly didn’t mean to imply that we should require people to show up at the office every day. The big idea in the NetWork study is providing or enabling a choice of settings that support a breadth of needs. “Face-to-face” is one still-needed capability. Another…

A New York Year

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) annually presents its MASterworks Awards to recognize outstanding works of architecture or urban design completed in the prior year. The jury for the 2012 awards is a notable list in its own right: it included architects Brandon Haw of Foster + Partners, Claire Weisz of WXY Architecture + Urban Design, and Adam…

Yearnings for an Esplanade

The opening reception for Reimagining the Waterfront, the East River Esplanade design competition organized by CIVITAS, was held at the Museum of the City of New York early last week. Indicative of the civic yearnings of the Upper East Side–They want a High Line of their own! –the competition’s  results hinted at some of the unique qualities of the Upper…

Government Incentives for Greener Communities

Do government incentives work? And which types of incentives work best? We at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) wanted to know the answers, so we partnered with the National Association of Counties to find out. We have known, anecdotally, for at least ten years, that the use of green building incentives have accelerated, mostly in jurisdictions that show a…

Learning from Wright’s Work Ethic

Are historic design trends coming back to the workplace?

Are historic design trends coming back to the workplace? It’s impossible to generalize, but one thing is sure: In Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Administration Building in Racine, Wisconsin, with its neat rows of desks, there isn’t a private office in sight. It’s the same situation today, when these inner sanctums are missing in our offices. And although the rows of…

Fuller Institute Awards Alternative Green Building Standard

The BFI's annual $100,000 prize has been given to the Living Building Challenge, which takes goes further than prescriptive “best practices."

The Energy Lab at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, a certified Living Building Courtesy Flansburgh Architects Buckminster Fuller, the architect who gave us the geodesic dome and championed socially-responsible design before we even had a term for it, was a very quotable man. His line about design’s responsibility “to make the world work for 100% of humanity…without ecological offense or the disadvantage…

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