Monthly Archives: May 2012

Happy 75th Birthday, Golden Gate Bridge. Learn about the festival highlights on Sunday, May 27, and check out a photo essay chronicling the bridge’s history.

The bridge’s management is planning a celebration on Sunday that includes music, art shows, lectures, a new book and a new visitor center. But one thing won’t happen: Nobody gets to cross the bridge on foot on the big day.

Chinese Architect wins Pritzker Prize. Wang Shu is the recipient of the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize, one of the most prestigious honors in architecture. He was praised
by the Pritzker jury for work that blends traditional Chinese elements with modern lines and attention to the environment.

The award has a symbolic second winner – Hyatt Hotels. The $100,000 prize is sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation, a separate entity from the business, Hyatt Hotels, which has no role in picking the winner. The company’s link to promoting Chinese culture abroad may give the Hyatt name a boost with status-conscious government officials and some of the public.

Via Washington Post


Six Firms Compete for Urban Future Award. Architects participating in Audi’s Urban Future Initiative are considering what “mobility” might look like in cities in 2030.

The 2012 firms were selected for their track records of researching the urban environment and their relationships to one of six metropolitan areas: CRIT (Mumbai); Höweler + Yoon Architecture (the Boston-Washington corridor); NODE Architecture & Urbanism (Pearl River Delta); Superpool (Istanbul) and Urban Think Tank (São Paulo); and Junya Ishigami + Associates (Tokyo).

Via Architects Newspaper

A City Rises, Along With Its Hopes. New York Times architecture critic visits Medellín, Colombia, to see the ambitious and photogenic buildings that have gone up, but also to find what remains undone.

Medellín has lately become a medical and business center with a population of 3.5 million and a budding tourist industry, its civic pride buoyed by the new public buildings and squares, and exemplified by an efficient and improbably immaculate metro and cable car system. Linking rich with poor neighborhoods, spurring private development, the metro, notwithstanding shrieks elsewhere in Colombia over its questionable construction cost, is for residents of Medellín a shared symbol of democratic renewal. –Michael Kimmelman

Via New York Times


China’s TV Headquarters Complete. The futuristic building — with two leaning towers linked with a 90-degree twist at the top — has attracted much controversy since the day its design debuted a decade ago.

The 54-story, 772-foot headquarters for China Central Television has two leg-like structures that lean toward each other, meeting in mid-air with a right-angled deck-like connecting body that hangs 528 feet above the ground. Its bold design has drawn praise and detractions and earned the nickname of “big boxer shorts” from local residents.

Via Architectural Record

HOK to Design Medical School. Helmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) has been selected to design the $375 million University at Buffalo (UB) School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences on its downtown campus in New York.

Located at the center of the region’s emerging bio-sciences corridor, this new transit-orientated medical school development will anchor a lively, urban mixed-use district on campus and bring 1,200 students, faculty and staff downtown.

NY Tech Sector Booming. A report released by the Center for an Urban Future has positioned New York City as the fastest growing tech sector in the country, outpacing Boston to become second to Silicon Valley.

The study indicates a remarkable turnaround for a city that was considered a second-rate tech center half a decade ago. Today, New York boasts thousands of tech startups across the five boroughs, drawing investment from venture capital firms across the globe and bringing high-paying jobs to the city—not to mention some of the best and brightest minds.


Changes to Eisenhower Memorial Design. Architect Frank Gehry publicly unveiled changes to the contentious design for the Eisenhower Memorial this week at a session in Washington.

Gehry made the adjustments following complaints by members of the Eisenhower family that the design put too much emphasis on the former president’s upbringing in Kansas and not enough on his accomplishments as a military and political leader.

Via Los Angeles Times

Redesign of Modernist Landscape in Minneapolis. Peavey Plaza – one of the country’s most significant modernist landscapes located in downtown Minneapolis – will soon be demolished. Originally designed by M. Paul Friedberg, the two-acre public space consisting of a terraced amphitheater-like space, fountains and reflecting pools was heralded as an “urban oasis” when it was unveiled in 1975 but in recent years, the plaza has fallen into disrepair.

Much controversy surrounds the redesign. Preservationists are urging the City Council to save Peavey Plaza by making ADA and other upgrades. Donors to the project, and the Minnesota Orchestra – which owns 25 percent of the project – support new construction over rehabilitation. The city’s public works department is set to appeal the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission’s recent denial of a demolition permit. If the permit is approved, the issue will be voted on by the City Council on May 25.

Via New York Times

2012 AIA Convention. The American Institute of Architecture (AIA) National Convention and Design Exhibition will be held May 17-19 at the Walter E. Washington Center in Washington, D.C.

This year’s convention theme “Design Connects” celebrates the uniqueness of design as the synthesis of theory and practice, the relationship of the built and natural environments, and the aspiration of architecture to serve the broader goals of humanity.” Highlights of the convention include keynote presentations given by a recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes and an architect who currently serves as a Cabinet Secretary. There will also be a special tribute honoring six architects involved in the rebuilding and memorials following September 11.

Related: If you have attended #AIAchat on Twitter in the past, be sure to check out the TweetUps while you are at the convention and connect with your Twitter contacts in person:

  • Thursday, May 17, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
    Emerging Professionals Lounge, Washington Convention Center
  • Friday, May 18, 3–4 p.m.
    AIA Town Hall, Washington Convention Center

Andrew Hawkins (@HawkinsArch), a friend of both the #AIAchat and the #AECSM chat, will be presenting Twitter best practices – don’t miss it!

If you haven’t registered, you can still RSVP via Twitter using the hashtag #aia2012.

(Walter Communications is disappointed to be missing the AIA Convention this year.)

Welcome Transparency. A New York Times architecture review says that Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new visitor center features high-contrast oppositions between growing and built.

A lot can go wrong when you try to conceal a building, or even part of one. People are clever; throwing some plants on a roof is unlikely to fool us. But Weiss/Manfredi, perhaps aware of the peril, shaped its roof with care. Even now — when the grasses and flowering bulbs are just beginning to grow in — the new construction, seen from various points in the garden, succeeds in deleting itself from the composition just enough. – Philip Nobel

Fort Mason Contest. Twenty renowned firms from four continents have been invited to participate in a design competition seeking “creative and practical design concepts” on thirteen acres of prime waterfront real estate at the historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

Local invitees include Hood Studio (Oakland), EHDD Architecture  (SF), Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (SF), CMG Landscape Architecture  (SF) and SWA Group (SF) who may compete with big firms such as James Corner Field Operations, SANAA, Studio Gang Architects and BIG.

Via Arch Daily

Prestigious Arts Prize. Spanish avant-garde architect Rafael Moneo, known for the use of light in his building designs to create diaphanous spaces, was named as this year’s recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts.

The jury hailed the universal quality of Moneo’s work, saying it enriches urban spaces “with an architecture that is serene and meticulous” adding that Moneo is an acclaimed master who combines aesthetics with functionality, “especially in the airy interiors that act as impeccable settings for great works of culture and the spirit.”

Via Fox News Latino

ImageAs designers, there are many tools to help you explain your ideas, but even with all the cool technologies and 3-D capabilities of this visual profession your ability to verbally tell your story is still essential. This was the underlying message of a panel discussion I moderated for Presenting Architecture at the AIA in San Francisco. In fact, most of the panelists presented their advice in parables.

Architects frequently tell their design stories to journalists, clients and cities; so we assembled a panel that reflects this: John King, the urban design critic for the San Francisco Chronicle; George Calys, the architecture critic for the San Francisco Examiner; Frank Doyle, a Tiburon Town Council member; Phil Woods, AIA AICP, the director of physical & environmental planning, physical planning design & construction at University of California, Merced; and Jonathan Stern, director of the development group at the Port of San Francisco.

At the end of the session, two morals emerged from their accounts.

  1. Context is king.
  2. Good story tellers will tell the same tale in very different ways depending on who is in the audience.

Jonathan Stern narrated the tale of the 8 Washington building designs. He must have flipped through 30 slides of the planned changes to city from the perspective of the average pedestrian and nearby resident before he revealed how these studies and urban designs naturally informed the architecture of the site. The right context puts the obstructers’ minds at ease and sells the design.

Similarly in Tiburon, some projects have lingered for as many as seven years, while others sailed through the City’ approval process after one presentation. The design of the house itself is less important to an audience of laypeople than the preservation of neighbor’s views or the intrusion of the natural aesthetic of the hillsides. The architects, who anticipate the concerns of the audience, illustrate their story with visuals that address these and articulate these points clearly in their presentation – instead of waiting for someone to challenge their design.

In the world of higher education, architects don’t always see that the university planners are your allies. Instead of going on and on about your very polished architecture designs, consider the bigger picture – the planning, how the architecture is incorporated into the neighborhood. Or better yet, give the university the opportunity to put their fingerprint on the project and they will help sell how wonderful it is for the city.

However, the audience is not always so obvious when you are dealing with the press. While you may want to impress the reporter with the features of your project that you feel are the strongest. The stories that will be successful in capturing journalists’ attention are the ones that appeal to their audience.

Ultimately, telling good stories requires preparation. George Calys’ words seem to be an appropriate summary of the lessons, “Have a message and be clear about it.” “Don’t make the audience read between the lines.” And finally, “The more you say, the less they hear.”

2012 National Design Winners. The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt has announced winners of the 13th annual National Design Awards, a program established to promote excellence and innovation in design.

2012 National Design Award recipients:

Via ArtDaily


 Lackluster Expo Line. Los Angeles Times’ architecture review says Los Angeles’ Expo Line is a mix of architectural goals that never fully meshes into one unifying concept.

 “The stations seemingly want to disappear into the cityscape and at the same time assert a Big Metaphorical Idea about what public transit means for Los Angeles. And in trying to do both, of course, they do neither.” – Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic

Via LA Times


Straying from Convention. Despite declining attendance and revenue, many cities are expanding convention centers or building new ones.

Dozens of cities have been building new centers or enlarging old ones. In the last year alone, Indianapolis and Philadelphia have opened sprawling new centers, while plans for such facilities are being floated in Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Boston.

Via Architectural Record


BIG Wins in Seoul. Bjarke Ingels Group’s hash-shaped residential block will contribute to the developing skyline of Seoul and become a recognizable marker of the new cultural and commercial center of the city.

“The Cross # Towers constitute a three-dimensional urban community of interlocking horizontal and vertical towers. Three public bridges connect two slender towers at different levels – underground, at the street and in the sky. Catering to the demands and desires of different residents, age groups and cultures the bridges are landscaped and equipped for a variety of activities traditionally restricted to the ground. ” -Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.

Via WorldArchitectureNews


“Invaluable” Guide for A/E. In the ArchNewsNow book review of “Social Media in Action”, Architecture Critic George Calys describes the book as “invaluable for practitioners who realize that social media is not a passing phenomenon and can play a part in their business.”

Via ArchNewsNow