Archinect - Architectstasy 2015-12-02T00:27:38-05:00 Chicago Architecture Biennial: Hit or Miss? A Review Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-11-01T00:01:27-04:00 >2015-11-27T15:05:28-05:00 <p><strong>INTRODUCTION</strong></p><p>Let's say you're throwing a big&nbsp;party. &nbsp;You take a few weeks to sort&nbsp;out the menu, invite all your friends - you even make sure you clean the bathroom (for <em>real&nbsp;</em>this time). &nbsp;By the time the last drink is drunk, the last dish piled up in the sink, and the last person tumbling tiredly out the door, you have a pretty good idea whether it was a good party by whether or not everyone had a good time. &nbsp;But...what if you couldn't tell&nbsp;whether anyone was enjoying themselves?</p><p><em>Chicago Architecture Biennial: Is it good or not?</em><br>Chicago is throwing that big party. &nbsp;They're calling it the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and this three-month international architecture exhibition (3 October 2015 - 3 January 2016) has multiple locations scattered across the city, most of which are free and open to the public. &nbsp;Almost 20,000 visitors attended the opening weekend, and it will probably see a steady stream until it's over. &nbsp; it a good party, or not? &nbsp;Another way to ask the question is: do...</p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: The State of the Art of Sustainability Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-10-31T21:36:00-04:00 >2015-11-06T10:59:12-05:00 <p>Chicago is hosting North America&rsquo;s inaugural Architecture Biennial this fall (3 October &ndash; 3 January).&nbsp; Titled &ldquo;The State of the Art of Architecture,&rdquo; architectural firms and practices from all six continents have been invited to display their work.&nbsp; Spanning all sizes and kinds of projects, the Biennial is showcasing solutions to design problems from spiderwebs to social housing.</p><p>U.S. buildings use around 40% of all the country&rsquo;s energy consumption. &nbsp;It is a disconcerting truth that even if every building starting tomorrow were to be net-zero energy and net-zero water, we&rsquo;d still be on a crash course draining more naturally-available resources than our one planet can permanently sustain.&nbsp; In this environment, architectural designers have a special responsibility to educate themselves about innovative sustainable design techniques, from those that have worked for thousands of years to those that, as the Biennial&rsquo;s title hopefully suggests, are state of the art.&nbsp;</p><p>So what does the Bienni...</p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: Too Long; Didn't Read Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-10-28T12:51:00-04:00 >2015-11-06T11:02:20-05:00 <p>The Chicago Architecture Biennial is an unbelievably rich, dense, colorful survey of architectural thought all over the globe. &nbsp;Everything from paper collages to massive urban revitalization projects are represented, and the ideas and conversations being had sparkle with excitement. &nbsp;Excitement...and, sometimes,&nbsp;the way the architects describe their own work is just a little too distant from how it actually plays out in the real world. &nbsp;Below are a selection of projects with two descriptions each: how the architects described them, and the too-long-didn't-read (TL;DR) synopsis.</p><p><em>(warning: some&nbsp;adult language ahead)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Sou Fujumoto, Architecture Is Everywhere; image credit Jessica A.S. Letaw</em><img title="" alt="" src=""></p><p><strong><em>Architecture is Everywhere</em></strong><br>Sou Fujimoto: "Architecture is first found and then made. &nbsp;Just as our ancestors found their habitat in caves and woods, we discover ours among the many things we encounter in the immense urban jungle. &nbsp;The notion of "found architecture" is represented by juxtaposing human fig...</p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: The 10 Most Outstanding Entries Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-10-27T10:57:00-04:00 >2015-11-06T11:03:38-05:00 <p>The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial is almost through its first month (it runs now through 3 January 2016).&nbsp; Playing off of the internationally renowned Venice Architecture Biennale but with a distinctly different flavor and approach, each of the 100+ entries, installations, kiosks, and events brings something unique to the overall Biennial experience.&nbsp; See below for the 10 strongest installations that cover the spectrum of representational type, scale, and subject.<br>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. &nbsp;Atelier Bow-Wow,&nbsp;<em>Piranesi Circus</em></strong></p><p><img title="" alt="" src=""></p><p>The building of the Chicago Cultural Center, originally constructed in 1897 with a renovation/addition in the 1970s, is organized around a central atrium which pierces the entire five-storey building, bringing natural light deep into an otherwise massive structure. &nbsp;The atrium houses mechanical equipment and is not a part of the building's occupiable space; it is therefore an unbeautiful space, even though it is visible from every floor. &nbsp;It was in this space that Atelier Bow-W...</p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: The Definitive Visitor's Guide Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-10-17T19:30:00-04:00 >2015-11-06T11:05:02-05:00 <p>As a crucible for contemporary architectural practice and thinking, there is nothing quite like a biennial, which is why it&rsquo;s so extraordinary that Chicago is currently hosting North America&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">inaugural Architecture Biennial</a>&nbsp;event. Practices from all over the world come together to showcase their responses to specific themes. It&rsquo;s a time for fast and intense idea proliferation, and the pavilions are mined and examined for useful ideas by architects for years afterwards.</p><p>Rather than national pavilions, as with the Venice Biennale, Chicago has invited individual firms to participate. Some were invited to respond in particular ways, from building a full-scale home to documenting speculations about Chicago; the rest were encouraged to share how and what they are working on right now. In this way, the organizers of the Biennal hopes the exhibit will serve as an accurate and comprehensive&nbsp;survey&nbsp;of what is happening globally&nbsp;at&nbsp;the&nbsp;bleeding&nbsp;edge of&nbsp;architecture.</p><p>The Chicago Architecture Bie...</p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: Photo Preview Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-10-09T10:10:07-04:00 >2015-10-16T23:33:25-04:00 <p>The "State of the Art of Architecture,"&nbsp;North America's inaugural architecture biennial, is now firmly under way in Chicago. &nbsp;Over a hundred practices from all over Chicago and the world are displaying projects covering the gamut of types, ideas at stake, and representational scales and modes.</p><p>An architecture event of this magnitude&nbsp;demands&nbsp;a thorough review. I will be writing a series of critical articles starting 10/26 going over the concept and execution of this Biennial as well as some of the works shown inside it. &nbsp;</p><p>Until then, here is a tiny&nbsp;peek at&nbsp;what's in store.</p><p><em>Hollow Trunk</em>,&nbsp;Plan:B Arquitectos<img src=""></p><p><br><em>House Under Construction,&nbsp;</em>Al Borde<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Piranesi Circus</em>, Atelier Bow-Wow<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>The Entire Situation</em>, Besler &amp; Sons + ATLV<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Furniture Urbanism</em>, Bureau Spectacular<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>BUILTHEFIGHT</em>, Didier Faustino<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Rock Print,&nbsp;</em>Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich + Self-Assembly Lab, MIT<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Casa A</em>, SelgasCano + HelloEverything<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Passage</em>, SO-IL<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Spider Architecture</em>, Tomas Saraceno<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>BP prizewinning lakefront kiosk</em>,<em>&nbsp;</em>Ultramoderne<img src=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>F...</em></p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: Missing Women Found Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-10-01T17:29:14-04:00 >2015-10-06T00:32:50-04:00 <p>Sound the alarm: the women are missing!</p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Equity By Design</a>&nbsp;(originally named&nbsp;<em>The Missing 32%</em>) is an advocacy group for women architects in the United States. &nbsp;It started, perhaps inevitably, in San Francisco; architects like Dr. Ila Berman, Cathy Simon, Anne M. Torney, EB Min, and others had begun puzzling over&nbsp;the numbers of women in architecture. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s a well-known fact that in architecture school programs, the number of women and men is essentially even (and in graduate school, women often have the slight balance); another well-established fact is that only around 18% of licensed architects are female. &nbsp;Which led this group to wonder&hellip;where&nbsp;<em>is</em>&nbsp;that missing 32%?</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Biennial</a>&nbsp;is providing a surprising clue.</p><p>The&nbsp;inaugural biennial boasts participants from every major world region. &nbsp;The call for submissions and jury went on&nbsp;for months; over a hundred architects, artists, urbanists, critics, and thinkers were chosen. &nbsp;Of these,&nbsp;<strong>woman-owned/woman-led practices constitute...</strong></p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: Participants By World Region Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-09-29T11:26:16-04:00 >2015-10-14T11:01:12-04:00 <p>The&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Biennial</a>&nbsp;is being held primarily at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington, Chicago), and the displays will be spread out throughout and around the entire building; a cogent spatial experience (one hopes!). &nbsp;But if you'd like to know before you go where the participants hail from, here is a list of every single one, listed out by world region*.</p><p>Happy Biennialing!</p><p>*Several studios listed multiple locations, sometimes on multiple continents. &nbsp;The location of record is always the first location listed by the practice.</p><p><strong>AFRICA</strong><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Counterspace</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Johannesburg, South Africa</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Makeka Design Lab</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Cape Town, South Africa</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Nl&eacute;</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Lagos, Nigeria</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Noero Architects</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Cape Town, South Africa</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Studio [D] Tale</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Harare, Zimbabwe</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Wolff Architects</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Cape Town, South Africa</em></p><p><strong>ASIA</strong><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">All(Zone)</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Bangkok, Thailand</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Atelier Bow-Wow</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Tokyo, Japan</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Csutoras &amp; Liando</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Jakarta, Indonesia</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Junya.Ishigami + Associates</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Tokyo, Japan</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Mass Studies + Hyun-Suk Seo</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Seoul, Korea</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Moon Hoon</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Seoul, Korea</em><br><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Onishimaki + Hyakudayu...</a></p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: Roll Call - Facebook Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-09-29T10:07:55-04:00 >2015-09-29T10:10:11-04:00 <p>The&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Biennial</a>&nbsp;is almost here, and there are over 100 participants. &nbsp;Want to check them out on Twitter before you go? &nbsp;Or, not going to be able to make it and you're looking for a virtual experience? &nbsp;Below is a list of all participants with official (not personal) Facebook accounts. &nbsp;Inject your feed with a little great architecture.</p><p>Happy Facebooking!</p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Al Borde</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Quito, Ecuador</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Atelier Bow-Wow</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Tokyo, Japan</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Baukuh + Stefano Graziani + Yellowoffice</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Milan, Italy</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Carlos Bunga</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Barcelona, Spain</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Counterspace</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Johannesburg, South Africa</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Fala Atelier</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Porto, Portugal</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Junya Ishigami + Associates</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Tokyo, Japan</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Makeka Design Lab</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Cape Town, South Africa</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Nl&eacute;</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Lagos, Nigeria</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Pedro&amp;Juana</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Mexico City, Mexico</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Plan:B Arquitectos</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Medell&iacute;n, Columbia</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Port Urbanism</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Chicago, U.S.</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Productora</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Mexico City, Mexico</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Raaaf [Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances]</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Amsterdam, Netherlands</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Rural Urban Framework</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Hong Kong, China</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Sio2Arch</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Chicago, U.S.</em></p><p><strong>SOM +&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">CAMESgibson</a></strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Chicago, U.S.</em></p><p><strong><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Sou Fujimoto Architects</a></strong>&nbsp;...</p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: Roll Call - Twitter Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-09-28T21:46:33-04:00 >2015-10-01T08:51:44-04:00 <p>The <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Biennial</a> is almost here, and there are over 100 participants. &nbsp;Want to check them out on Twitter before you go? &nbsp;Or, not going to be able to make it and you're looking for a virtual experience? &nbsp;Below is a list of all participants with Twitter accounts. &nbsp;Most are at least somewhat active. &nbsp;Enrich your stale feed: check them out, chat them up, and follow them freely.</p><p>Happy tweeting!</p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Andreas Angelidakis</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Athens, Greece</em><br><strong>@aangelidakis</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Andres Jaque/Office for Political Innovation</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Madrid, Spain</em><br><strong>@OFFPOLINN</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Aranda/Lasch</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Tucson, U.S.</em><br><strong>@ArandaLasch</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Assemble</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>London, U.K.</em><br><strong>@SugarhouseE15</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Atelier Bow-Wow</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Tokyo, Japan</em><br><strong>@yoshitsukamoto</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Baukuh + Stefano Graziani + Yellowoffice</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Milan, Italy</em><br><strong>@YellowOffice01</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Besler &amp; Sons + ATLV</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Los Angeles, U.S.</em><br><strong>@ErinBesler</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Copenhagen, Denmark</em><br><strong>@BjarkeIngels</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Counterspace</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Johannesburg, South Africa</em><br><strong>@_counterspace</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">David Schalliol</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Chicago, U.S.</em><br><strong>@metroblossom</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Design With Company</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Chicago, U.S.</em><br><strong>@designwithco</strong></p><p><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Didier Faustino</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<em>Paris, France</em><br><strong>@D...</strong></p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: "Six Degrees" Trivia Game Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-09-28T19:08:00-04:00 >2015-10-06T00:13:41-04:00 <p>In the vein of trivia, networked knowledge, and of course the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Architectstasy presents: a trivia game for architecture geeks! &nbsp;It is a mashup of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon plus the Wikipedia Game: linking one topic to the next by six degrees of separation. &nbsp;For bonus points, print out and play with your friends; see how many they can fill in. &nbsp;For extra bonus points, create your own! &nbsp;(If you send them in, I will publish all new games here and on Facebook and Twitter.)</p><p>Let the game begin!</p><p><strong>STANLEY TIGERMAN&nbsp;&rarr; YOKO ONO</strong><br><em>Mr. Tigerman is a member of the CAB advisory panel as well as the author&nbsp;of the 1977 conference paper &ldquo;The State of the Art of Architecture&rdquo; on which this biennial&rsquo;s theme is&nbsp;based.</em><br>Stanley Tigerman&nbsp;<strong>&rarr;</strong>&nbsp;published&nbsp;his book&nbsp;<em>Schlepping Through Ambivalence,&nbsp;</em>a collection of essays&nbsp;described by the publisher as &ldquo;at times humorous and humble, at times biting and cantankerous,&rdquo;<em>&nbsp;</em>in 2011<em>&nbsp;</em><br>2011&nbsp;<strong>&rarr;</strong>&nbsp;the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series<br>World Series ch...</p> The Zaha "Oh No": Architecture Deserves Better Journalism Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-09-24T11:49:00-04:00 >2015-10-06T07:28:50-04:00 <p><img title="" alt="" src=""></p><p>DRAMA IN THE ARCHITECT WORLD! Did you know?</p><p>The news:&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Zaha Hadid</a>&nbsp;has just been awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal.<br>The drama: she walked out of a radio interview with the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">BBC News</a>.</p><p>There's going to be a lot written about this today. About how much it has to do with her being a woman (or not). About the regrettable status of starchitects. About her fiery temper. About whether or not that thing about the deaths on Qatari jobsites is true (it is, but no one has died on her firm's project). About the Japan Olympics debacle.</p><p>All of these are newsworthy topics when it comes to Ms. Hadid and her history, but please don't be misled: THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS STORY IS ABOUT.</p><p>The real story here is about shoddy architecture journalism.</p><p>Sarah Montague, Ms. Hadid's interviewer ("interviewer"), is a journalism veteran. She started her career nearly three decades ago and is a respected host of the "BBC Today" program. So why did she repeat false facts (facts over which Ms. Hadid had already sued for retract...</p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: Iwan Baan's Quiet Comment Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-09-16T20:39:00-04:00 >2015-09-28T12:51:28-04:00 <p>Iwan Baan has been chosen to document Chicago for their first ever Biennial.</p><p>If you think about it, this is kind of a funny thing to say. &nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;is already articulate about its architectural identity:</p><ul><li>it has a well-established&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">architectural foundation</a></li><li>it has architecture tours (the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">river cruise</a>!)</li><li>it has its own&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">comprehensive physical model</a>&nbsp;of the city</li><li>it is one of the few cities in the United States with its own architecture critic (keep up the good work, Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Blair Kamin</a>)</li></ul><p>From its earliest years to now, Chicago's architecture has been and continues to be&nbsp;pretty thoroughly examined, explored, debated, and documented. &nbsp;This leaves Baan's assignment feeling less like news and more like parents commissioning a family portrait for a special occasion: "Now put on your best smile&nbsp;and&nbsp;square those big shoulders* to the camera, Chicago!"</p><p>Co-directors Sarah Herda and Joseph Grimes have said that their ambition&nbsp;for this first North American architecture biennial was to ...</p> "Writing Architecture": A GSD Panel on Architectural Criticism Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-09-15T19:45:00-04:00 >2015-09-27T22:09:43-04:00 <p>Our clients and education deserve the very best work that we are capable of producing, and this means doing some intellectual and philosophical heavy lifting about our projects and practices. This means understanding the formal and historical contexts in which our work finds itself and interpreting the design briefs and problems we're given within the larger body of work in which it naturally exists.</p><p>But really...who has time for all that?</p><p>Enter architectural criticism.</p><p>Critics - journalists and bloggers and academics and authors - take the time to understand the formal and historical context in which design and building is taking place. They understand and speak about the systems in which Architecture is being produced. They tell stories of who is getting it right and who is getting it tragically wrong. They bear witness in their own communities, the good the bad and (all too often) the ugly, and they do so in ways that the whole world can hear them.</p><p>In early 2015, Harvard Graduate Sch...</p> Chicago Architecture Biennial: TED Playlist Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-09-11T11:02:00-04:00 >2015-09-28T00:01:46-04:00 <p>Of the 100+ artists and architects converging on Chicago for&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">North America&rsquo;s first architecture biennial</a>, a few&nbsp;have given TED talks (some of them more than one). &nbsp;Whether you&rsquo;re looking for a TED distraction&nbsp;or wanting to dive&nbsp;into the biennial mood, here is a compilation of CAB TED-talking participants.</p><p><strong>Iwan Baan,&nbsp;<em>participant</em></strong><br>Part of what makes the&nbsp;internationally noted architecture photographer distinctive&nbsp;is&nbsp;the way he treasures how people dig into the spaces they&rsquo;re in; unlike much architectural representation which tend to be almost clinical in their treatments, his depictions are&nbsp;human, intentionally, deliciously messy. &nbsp;His talk, &ldquo;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Ingenious Homes in Unexpected Places</a>,&rdquo; is gentle storytelling about harsh realities, and yet the way he presents unexpected solutions from all around the world does more to highlight what we as humans&nbsp;have in common, rather than dwelling on regional and cultural differences.</p><p><strong>Bjarke Ingels,&nbsp;<em>participant</em></strong><br>The &ldquo;Yes Is More&rdquo; architect is the Millennial of th...</p> Chicago Architecture Biennial Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-09-03T12:48:00-04:00 >2015-09-27T23:44:20-04:00 <p>There&rsquo;s a new architecture biennial coming to Chicago.</p><p>This, friends, is a PRETTY BIG DEAL.</p><p><em>How big?</em></p><p>104 artists and architects from the Magnificent Mile to Madrid, Tel Aviv to Tokyo, will soon be converging on just a few square miles in the heart of the United States for a three-ring, five-star, seven-course tour de force of urban and architecture-flavored pavilions and projects.</p><p><em>Why does this matter? &nbsp;What the heck is a biennial, anyway?</em></p><p>By definition, a <em>biennial</em> is something that happens once every two years (as opposed to the similar-sounding <em>biannual</em>, which is a synonym for <em>semi-annual</em>, both of which mean twice a year). &nbsp;Architecture biennials are international, and they&rsquo;ve been going on for a while now. &nbsp;The best-known one in architectural circles is held on even years in Venice and was an evolution from its pre-existing art biennale. &nbsp;Starting in 1968, architecture had been a part of that event; beginning in 1980, it came into its own. &nbsp;Other biennials have been held in Asia, Euro...</p> The Obama Presidential Library: A Call for Restraint Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-08-25T14:45:57-04:00 >2015-09-11T19:57:24-04:00 <p>There's a circus coming to town.</p><p>And by &ldquo;to town&rdquo;, I mean the United States. &nbsp;And by &ldquo;circus&rdquo;, I mean the horrifically overblown pomp and circumstance that&rsquo;s going to get accorded the Obama Presidential Library.</p><p>You guys, can we just agree in advance to CHILL OUT about it?</p><p>The architects on the <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">popular short list</a> are all giants of their craft. &nbsp;Its location, on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side, was sensitively and wisely chosen. &nbsp;As usual, the project will be paid for by the President, his friends and supporters.</p><p>The maintenance, however, will fall to the National Archives and Records Association (NARA), a department of the federal government. &nbsp;And for that reason, if for no other, it behooves us to advocate loudly and often for restraint in size, in program, in operations expectations of &ndash; let&rsquo;s face it &ndash; the next paragovernmental tourist attraction: let&rsquo;s let the burden on the American people be modest.</p><p>&ldquo;Library&rdquo; is a bit of a misnomer. &nbsp;The tradition started with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, ...</p> Writing About Architecture: A Book Review Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-07-23T11:46:46-04:00 >2015-09-11T19:59:19-04:00 <p>I sought this book out because (A) as an aspiring architecture critic I thought I should know what others are saying about it, and (B) Dr. Lange is kind of funny on Twitter.&nbsp; I am enormously glad that I did.</p><p>Who should read this book: practicing architects and architectural designers; urban planners; engaged citizens. &nbsp;It behooves us all to have at least a rudimentary grasp of effective criticism, the better to understand our own worlds and that of others, and to be articulate about it in common ways.</p><p><em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Writing About Architecture</a>&nbsp;</em>is<em>&nbsp;</em>a textbook on how to write nonacademic, mainstream architectural criticism. &nbsp;For a textbook, its liveliness and accessibility are pleasant surprises; the entire text is thoughtfully structured,&nbsp;amusing, and instructive. &nbsp;The format and content are simple and clear: 6 seminal essays from the micro (Lewis Mumford on the Lever House building) to the macro (Jane Jacobs in her seminal sweeping observations on urbanism). &nbsp;I specifically found helpful&nbsp;Dr. Lange&rsquo;s r...</p> AIA, Architects, and Architecture: The Struggle for Relevance Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-07-15T13:12:00-04:00 >2015-09-11T20:19:09-04:00 <p>In a bucolic rural setting one hot Sunday afternoon this July, a group of Michigan architects gathered to discuss the future of their local AIA chapter. &nbsp;In some form or another, this conversation is happening all across the United States: a crisis in fate and faith of architects in "their" group, and the chance to choose a new path that should feel like opportunity and instead feels kind of gloomy.</p><p>Some facts:</p><ul><li>In 2013, the AIA conducted an exhaustive survey of members and nonmembers about the perceived value of the organization. &nbsp;What benefits were they offering that were of value to folks? &nbsp;What weren't they offering? &nbsp;What were they offer that was not bringing benefit?</li><li>As a result of the survey, the organization determined in 2014 to make structural changes at every level - local, state, and national - to reduce regional inconsistencies in member value.</li><li>In October 2015, all Michigan AIA chapters, or officially "components", will have to vote on whether they want to be classified as "...</li></ul> Rome had its Forum. Ann Arbor has its Library Lot. Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-07-10T00:55:37-04:00 >2015-07-16T22:42:22-04:00 <p><em>An alternate title to this article could have been, Let's All Think&nbsp;Like Architecture Critics.</em></p><p>Okay, Ann Arbor. I don't want to freak you out or anything, but we have a real opportunity to make a profound impact on the face and function of our city for a long time to come. &nbsp;The so-called "<a href=",-83.7455618,165m/data=!3m1!1e3" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Library Lot</a>," just north of the Downtown Library branch and just east of Blake Transit Center, is arguably the most central civic property in the city. The great and terrible news is: it's up for development.</p><p>So, you know. No pressure.</p><p>The City of Ann Arbor has put out an Offering Memorandum, a kind of request for proposal, for that lot. Nine teams have responded with bids. The City has rejected four, leaving 5 serious proposals to consider.</p><p>But wait - before we get out our torches and pitchforks (those of you familiar with those MLive comment threads resembling sewer ducts know what I'm talking about), think critically with me here for a second.</p><p>This lot is a big deal. This&nbsp;<em>issue</em>&nbsp;is a big deal. As enga...</p> Thom Mayne: Architecture IS About Human Connection (Despite Himself) Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-06-25T15:25:07-04:00 >2015-07-03T18:29:19-04:00 <p>Thom Mayne of <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Morphosis Architects</a> had an opportunity to give a <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">TED talk</a> in 2005. &nbsp;Before diving into the content, it's worth noting that at an event characterized by its animated, compelling, unforgettable speakers, Mr. Mayne's talk falls, well, flat. &nbsp;He mentions once or twice that he's following a tough act; if you go back and take a look at the agenda you see that his talk, "How Architecture Can Connect Us," came right on the heels of dance duo Pilobolus and their piece "<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Symbiosis</a>", and not too far after Howard Rheingold and his talk on "<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">The New Power of Collaboration</a>", two vibrant and dynamic acts for which any talk would have been a challenge to come after.</p><p>Compelling themes of integration and accord; funny, then, that the person chosen to continue the conversation was an architect long comfortable with conflict and his spiky affect (and buildings).</p><p>The first entry in Architectstasy's hall of shame, the "<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Cor-boo Awards</a>", is the Morphosis San Francisco Federal Building. &nbsp;While un...</p> Hearts of the City: Herbert Muschamp will always be one of them Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-06-17T18:06:00-04:00 >2015-09-11T20:22:33-04:00 <p>Here&rsquo;s the thing about Herbert Muschamp.</p><p>He&rsquo;s kind of like this smooth nightclub you don&rsquo;t know whether you want to be a part of. If you go, then everyone knows: you&rsquo;re &ldquo;in&rdquo;. You&rsquo;re &ldquo;cool&rdquo;. You look like you know the things everyone wishes they knew. You acquire a sort of sophisticate air just by associating with him. On the other hand, you don&rsquo;t like the drinks that much, the conversation is always a little raucous and it&rsquo;s always a little too smoky.</p><p>In <em>Hearts of the City: Selected Writings by Herbert Muschamp</em>, Herbert talks with divine &ndash; and annoying &ndash; certainty about architecture and architects, culture and culture makers, musicians and matrons and politicos galore. He makes your head spin with history shared, not dry and linear like you learned it in school, but salaciously and at breakneck speed. &nbsp;His index alone is longer than half his essays and includes callouts to everyone from Gehry to Zsa Zsa Gabor.</p><p>In one essay you&rsquo;re carried from the depths of concentration camps to some a...</p> Greg Lynn's TED Talk: Organic Algorithms in Architecture Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-06-10T12:03:44-04:00 >2015-06-14T22:34:36-04:00 <p><img alt="" src=""></p><p>Greg Lynn has occupied a prominent yet uneasy role in architecture for two decades now; crucial in developing new production processes and ways of thinking, yet always leaving the user experience as an uninteresting side effect of his designs. This talk is an illuminating long glance at his method of working, and will either whet your hunger to know more, or serve as sufficient introduction to this longtime luminary.</p><p>Watch the whole talk <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> How Buildings Collapse Jessica A.S. Letaw 2015-06-05T12:35:00-04:00 >2015-06-08T20:42:07-04:00 <p>In 1989, architectural critic Herbert Muschamp wrote an essay for the New York Times, &ldquo;How Buildings Remember&rdquo;, that was in part the first review of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. &nbsp;In it, he discussed Modernism, transparency, the uneasy intimate relationship between art and politics, wondered aloud how much a museum should be responsible &ndash; or even can be responsible &ndash; for in terms of absolution, the Holocaust Museum type, and ended on an unsettling parallel between old and new propaganda and the timeless persistence of denial. &nbsp;He describes carefully, almost tenderly, James Freed&rsquo;s formal, spatial, and material answers to the question, &ldquo;How does a building represent a catastrophe?&rdquo;</p><p>But sometimes, the building IS the catastrophe.</p><p>Bangladesh is, after China, the world&rsquo;s second largest exporter of textiles (including ready-made garments, or RMGs). &nbsp;The industry accounts for over 45% of the country&rsquo;s employment, and the furious competition to deliver orders faster and cheaper is...</p> The Ecology Center Jessica A.S. Letaw 2013-06-10T11:40:17-04:00 >2015-06-17T18:07:27-04:00 <p>She can feel like an all-chef/no-cook kitchen, but Ann Arbor wears her heart on her sleeve: you never have to guess what she&rsquo;s thinking. She speaks her mind and she takes her passions seriously. As a town founded in the wilderness, named after its hallmark greenery, Ann Arbor has a long tradition of dedicated service to the environment. Its recycling program is <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">one of the most progressive in the country</a>, its public transport is <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">anchored on sustainable fuels</a>, and it&rsquo;s even home to <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">a unique community festival</a> celebrating the pursuit of net-zero-resource use in homes and communities. The <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Ecology Center</a>, then, is arguably one of Ann Arbor&rsquo;s most central institutions.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Read the rest here: &nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a></p> All-Inclusive Bookstore Includes Great Design Jessica A.S. Letaw 2013-05-31T22:49:00-04:00 >2013-06-17T08:23:46-04:00 <p> There&rsquo;s something to be said for a bookstore whose theme of inclusivity extends to other species (I&rsquo;m looking at you, scratch-hound Duke).&nbsp; There&rsquo;s a lot to be said for a bookstore that&rsquo;s managed to survive the tribulations of Amazon and an economy that has led many of us to cut back on luxuries (although it pains me to call a book a luxury).&nbsp; But what I would most like to say about Ann Arbor&rsquo;s <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Common Language Bookstore</a> is a heartfelt thank you for creating a space that so thoroughly reflects its values and products.</p> When does "historical" begin? Jessica A.S. Letaw 2013-05-16T14:31:20-04:00 >2013-05-21T21:12:10-04:00 <p> reporter Ryan Stanton sums up my response to this proposal in <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">his droll title</a>: &ldquo;19 new Old West Side-style homes coming to Ann Arbor&rsquo;s north side&rdquo;.&nbsp; I couldn&rsquo;t agree with Mr. Stanton more.</p> <p> Read the rest here:</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a></p> "Where the old Wal-Mart used to be" Jessica A.S. Letaw 2013-05-16T10:15:14-04:00 >2013-05-16T10:15:14-04:00 <p> In the rural South, where I'm from, the big running joke is that directions are often given in landmarks, and the even bigger joke is that those landmarks don't even have to be there any more for them to be used in wayfinding. &nbsp;Perhaps the biggest joke of all? &nbsp;I still do it, knowing full well every single time I give someone an empty direction, but somehow finding myself helpless against it.</p> <p> Ann Arborites who have been here for more than a few years will remember the old Kroger shopping center on Packard. &nbsp;"Old", in this case, means that both the shopping center is old and its anchor tenant is an erstwhile one: the Kroger closed in 2009. &nbsp;Since then, this otherwise thriving part of time has been the object of intense scrutiny. &nbsp;What, we wondered, would get packed into this site that for some reason is a story and a half below street level?</p> <p> We finally have our answer.</p> <p> Read the rest here:</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a></p> The Old Fourth Ward: For Whom the Bell Tolls Jessica A.S. Letaw 2013-05-15T23:32:31-04:00 >2013-05-31T23:49:24-04:00 <p> For anyone who doubts its value, this is why urban planning is so very important.</p> <p> <img alt="" src=""></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Ask not for whom the bell tolls, friends: it tolls for the Old Fourth Ward.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> The headline for this project&rsquo;s go-ahead reads: &ldquo;City Council Approves 14-story-highrise to Avoid Potentially Costly Lawsuit.&rdquo;&nbsp; That pretty accurately sums up the attitude of those invested in the outcome: <em>We&rsquo;ll do it, but only because we have to.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Read the rest here:</p> <p> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a></p>