In a digital age, photographers Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney have created a series of photographs commemorating the traditional tool of the architect: the pencil. The images feature extravagant mechanical pencils, simple knife sharpened pencils, and the tooth-marked set of yellow pencils owned by artist David Shrigley. World famous architect Thomas Heatherwick’s pencil is embedded in an ornamental metal grip.
The images have been collected in a book titled “The Secret Life of the Pencil,” available from publisher Laurence King.
MVRDV and the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute recently completed the Tianjin Binhai Library in Tianjin, China. The library features an enormous auditorium with undulating floor-to ceiling bookcases. The layered bookshelf is a spacial device allowing for stairs and seating within the bookshelf. The concept of the design revolves around a sphere. The sphere rests in the center of the auditorium as if it has been pushed into the building creating a ripple effect. The library was designed and built in only three years. Changes were made locally against MVRDV’S advice, rending access to the upper shelves impossible. However, since its opening in early October 2017, the building has been popular serving as an urban living room to residents.
Donald Judd moved to Marfa, Texas in the 1970s. Since then, Marfa has come to be known as a pilgrimage site for those interested in contemporary or minimalist art on view at Judd’s Chinati Foundation.
Artist Robert Irwin recently completed his contribution to the Chinati Foundation’s permanent collection. Irwin worked with the Chinati Foundation and the San Antonio-based architectural firm Ford, Powell & Carson for 16 years to create an architectural monument to light and space, receiving a 2017 design award from the Texas Society of Architects.
The building, a perfectly symmetrical ‘U’ shape, sits on the foundation of the ruins of a 1919 army barracks building. The artist, architects and the Chinati Foundation had hoped to accommodate Robert Irwin’s vision within the walls of the original structure, but ultimately its reinforced concrete walls proved too inflexible and unstable. Instead, Irwin’s building references the ruins that were once on site, and eye-level windows, sheer scrims, and polished interior surfaces allow the changing desert light to act as a material itself.
Source: Texas Architect Magazine and Artnet.
Several campaigns and protests have rallied against Snøhetta’s proposed changes to the Philip Johnson-designed AT&T Building at 550 Madison Avenue in New York; this building, with a Chippendale-inspired roof line and marble and brass finishes, played a large role in bringing Postmodern architecture to America. Unveiled in late October, Snøhetta’s plans for 550 Madison include a curved glass curtain wall over the lower portion of the skyscraper. Protesters argue that the Postmodern building should be preserved in its original state, and that New York is losing its historic masonry buildings.
Designers and planners now stand on a perplexing edge. While the modern understanding of transportation is changing, and more and more people move towards ride-sharing and public transportation, most city planning codes still call for new construction to include a certain amount of parking. Competitive car manufacturers intend to have autonomous vehicles on the road by 2025. By 2030, parking needs will be vastly different.
Cities like Seattle are already planning for this future. Seattle has begun to waive some parking requirements, allowing developers to build with no allotted parking spots in neighborhoods convenient to public transit. Other projects, like the 4/C by LMN architects, are being designed specifically to allow parking to be retrofitted for new uses.
By building parking with level floor plates, higher ceilings and space for utilities, LMN architects hopes to create an adaptable building that will continue to function into the next century. It may also be the tallest building on the American West Coast.
ETH Zurich has found a way to make an extremely thin, sinuous concrete roof structure, with an average thickness of five centimeters. The thin structure was designed using digital fabrication technologies to calculate a structurally efficient shell structure using the minimum amount of material. The formwork is comprised of steel cables and fabric stretched across the cable net. This system will be used in a residential unit on top of the NEST living laboratory in Dübendorf, Switzerland.
Designed by Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa celebrated its twentieth anniversary in October. In light of this milestone, here are a few fun facts to consider: eighty percent of the building’s facade is made out of just four different panel shapes; titanium was not originally considered because the material is expensive, but a sudden change in the market allowed the team to use the expensive metal for the exterior of the building; and, careful consideration was taken in the process of combining chemicals during the metal’s rolling process to create a surface quality that seems to effortlessly transform as the sky changes.
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) recently completed the Petroleum Studies and Research Center at the University of Road, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The Center is a non-profit institution for independent research into polices that contribute to effective energy use and social well being. Designed by Zaha Hadid and Patrick Schumacher, the building received ZHA’s first LEED Platinum certification. The hexagonal prismatic honeycomb structure allows for a large amount of space with minimal structural material.
Photo Credit: Christopher D. Brazee/NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is working on documenting underrepresented historically significant LGBT sites to ensure they receive the recognition they deserve. The NYC Historic Sites Project website provides tools for those who want to gain awareness and appreciation of the impact LBGT individuals have made on American culture throughout history. One example of a notable site in LGBT history is the Little Red School House in Manhattan—one of the city’s first progressive schools—founded by Elisabeth Irwin in 1912.
Source: National Trust for Historic Preservation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides 4 free architecture courses online. The courses cover landscape, urbanism, photography, and the production of space. These courses are easily accessible and available to all. The courses are offered for undergraduate and graduate students and they are in many languages including English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Grain silos, in metal and in concrete, are not uncommon in the built landscape. They often sit empty long after the milling or grain industries have moved on. These spaces have proved challenging for architects and preservationists to re-purpose, as they typically lack one essential element of comfortable design and daily life: windows.
In the case of the new Zeitz MOCAA museum in Cape Town, South Africa, design firm Heatherwick Studios did not let themselves feel constrained by the 1920s era silos’ unique structure. The resulting design creates a gallery space highlighting unexpected shapes. Heatherwick described his process as deconstruction as much as construction, and explained that he was motivated to create an interior space visitors couldn’t resist.
In honor of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, director Johnston Marklee invited young design studios from Europe and the Americas to submit large scale, modeled towers reinterpreting the original Tribune Tower brief. The exhibition mirrors a design competition in 1922, asking architects to conceive of a home for the Chicago Tribune Newspaper. The resulting tower, a neo-Gothic structure designed by John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood, was built in 1925.
Some of the towers are abstract, others deeply detailed. Sam Jacob Studio’s design borrows elements of architect Adolf Loos’ 1922 proposal for the tower, and gives it a modern twist. The exhibition uniquely shows the evolution of design throughout the last 95 years.
The Biennial opens to the public on September 16 2017, and runs until January 17, 2018.