Architecture People & Places


Aga Khan Award Shortlist Projects Announced

The Mapungubwe National Park Interpretation Centre, designed by Peter Rich Architects is shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award. Photo: AKAA / Jean-Charles Tall

The stone-domed Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre, in Limpopo, South Africa, post-tsunami housing in Kirinda, Sri Lanka designed by Shigeru Ban Architects, and The Met residential tower, in Bangkok, Thailand, along with several school and medical buildings are among the new-built structures shortlisted for the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Restoration and preservation projects at a variety of scales with locations in Yemen, Lebanon, Indonesia, India, Iran, Palestine, and Morocco, were also included in the list of 20 recently completed projects.

The Met, in Bangkok, Thailand, designed by WOHA Architects. Photo: AKAA / Patrick Bingham-Hall

The bamboo-finished Museum of Handcraft Paper in Gaoligong, China is a noteworthy multi-building ensemble project devoted to the ancient papercraft arts found in the Yunan province.

According to the Aga Khan Development Network, five to six winning projects will be selected from among the shortlist, and will be awarded at a ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal in September 2013.

Inside one of the housing units designed by Shigeru Ban Architects for post-tsunami Kirinda, Sri Lanka. Photo: AKAA / Dominic Sansoni

Harpa in Reykjavik wins 2013 Mies van der Rohe Award

Harpa is the winner of the 2013 Mies van der Rohe Award for contemporary architecture. Photo: © Nic Lehoux

Harpa – Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Center – in Reykjavik, Iceland, is the island nation's first purpose-built concert hall, designed by a collaboration between Copenhagen, Denmark-based Henning Larsen Architects and several Icelandic firms: Batteríid architect, Att Arkitektar, and Studio Olafur Eliasson.

Harpa plan drawing. Image: Henning Larsen Architects

The 28,377-square-meter (305,450-square-foot) building stands on a waterfront site on the capital's eastern harbour and was developed as part of a master plan to grown and revitalize this part of the city. Harpa is the 2013 recipient of the biannual Mies van der Rohe Prize, also known as the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture.

Inspire by nature, the facades of Harpa are alternatingly cellular or crystalline. Photo: © Nic Lehoux

Happy Earth Day! Bullitt Center Opens in Seattle

A 242-kilowatt photovoltaic roof with deep overhangs shelters the Bullitt Center, opening on April 22, 2013, in Seattle, Washington. Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

The Bullitt Center is a new six-story building in Seattle, Washington, conceived and built as a forward-looking model of building sustainability. Equipped with a deeply overhanging rooftop photovoltaic array, the building is expected to generate 100% of its energy needs on site, and water needs will be provided by harvested rainwater routed to a 56,000-gallon (212,000-liter) basement cistern.

The building was designed by The Miller Hull Partnership for the Bullitt Foundation.

Ground-floor plan drawing including adjacent McGilvra Place park. Image: Miller Hull

As much as 82% of the building's area is day-lit, contributing to an energy use intensity of just 4.7 kilowatt-hours per square foot per year (50.5 kWh/ square meter/ year, 16 kBTU/sf/yr). This EUI is in range with the energy criteria of the Passive House standard, and corresponds to a projected total energy use of 230,000 KWH/year, about equal to the anticipated annual production of the 242-kilowatt photovoltaic system.

Total energy use projected to be equal or less than the solar power production qualifies the building for the "net zero energy" title.

The building employs natural ventilation for its perimeter spaces, supplying fresh air and summer-time cooling. An array of twenty-six 400-foot-deep (122-meter-deep) ground-loop heat-exchange wells helps drive the center's radiant heat distribution system.

Looking up the main stair of the Bullitt Center. Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

Ralph Rapson at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, in Peru, through 1500.

Color sketch by Ralph Rapson, from Ralph Rapson Sketches and Drawings from Around the World, courtesy of the Afton Press.]

"Few memories can compare with my recollections of Machu Picchu. Stopping in Peru on our way to Ecuador and Chile, Mary and I boarded a small train from Cuzco with just two passenger cars headed to the ancient mountain city. Few of the passengers were tourists. 
"We followed a stream up into the mountains, took a bus up a zigzagging road, and eventually arrived at a small rundown hotel, where we checked in. Only a handful of people remained as the afternoon wore on and the sun began to set, and we not only wandered among the Inca ruins by moonlight, but also rose early the next morning to watch the sun burn the cloud cover off this ancient aerie." – Ralph Rapson

Ralph Rapson at the Spanish Steps

Piazza di Spagna, in Rome, Italy, designed by Alessandro Specchi, 1721 to 1725.

Color sketch by Ralph Rapson, from Ralph Rapson Sketches and Drawings from Around the World, courtesy of the Afton Press.

"I was fortunate to be able to spend a fair amount of time in Rome both as a tourist and a working architect. Full of history, energy, and architecture – it still seems the center of a far-flung empire. 

"There's much to see in Rome and the surrounding countryside, but I was continually drawn to the Spanish Steps. What an enchanting place! More than just a unique mix of building types, uses, materials, and colors, the steps area meeting place for people both night and day. 

MoMA to Demolish American Folk Art Museum

The American Folk Art Museum by Tod Williams Billie Tsien and Associates projects a bronze glow onto West 53rd Street in Manhattan. 
MoMA’s Act of Vandalism
by Martin Filler, New York Review of Books ... vandalism/

"When in 2011 the American Folk Art Museum was compelled to sell the decade-old building to its next-door neighbor—because the worldwide economic crash had caused it to default on $32 million in bonds used to finance the $18.4-million structure—some commentators sanctimoniously portrayed the debacle as the comeuppance of a quirky little institution’s overweening ambition. 
"Yet at that panicky moment MoMA itself came closer to economic disaster—with much greater sums in play—than has ever been publicly acknowledged. Its own financial foundering, precipitated by a considerably larger expansion extravaganza designed by Yoshio Taniguchi between 1997 and 2004, was allegedly averted only because some of its more deep-pocketed supporters resorted to emergency measures. One venerable trustee is said to have prematurely anted up what he had expected would be a posthumous bequest. 

OMA in Tokyo

A new flagship store for Coach, Inc. in the Omotesando shopping district of Tokyo, Japan, designed by OMA. Photo: Iwan Baan

A two-story shopping space on a busy corner in Tokyo's Omotesando district is home to the ninth flagship store of the Coach retailer. The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) designed the complete space, from curtain wall to product shelving, which happen to be one in the same.

Facade shelves and louvers. Photo: Iwan Baan

Inspired by the original Coach store's wooden library-style shelving, the Omotesando flagship uses a series of all-glass shelves, set into the building's exterior wall – visible from the inside and out – and in a free-standing multistory display area in the center of the space, enclosing the main stair.

Perspective Section. Image: OMA

Ralph Rapson on Le Corbusier

Notre Dame du Haut, in Ronchamp, France, designed by Le Corbusier, 1955.

Color sketch by Ralph Rapson, from Ralph Rapson Sketches and Drawings from Around the World, courtesy of the Afton Press.
"The opportunity to experience firsthand some of the early work of Le Corbusier was indeed memorable. Le Corbusier was and remains one of the greatest modern architects, and he was one of my early idols.
"Corbusier was not an easy man to get to know. I think he was quite contemptuous of most designers. We meta  few times while I was living in France in the 1950s. Once, I attended a gala evening as part of the CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne) conference held at his Unité d'Habitation near Marseilles.  
"The rooftop garden was a throng of music, conversation, and lively dancing while stars and city lights twinkled magically. The architect was surprisingly complimentary about the design I was doing for U.S. staff housing – though it was a scheme much influenced by Corbu's own work."  – Ralph Rapson

Convent of La Tourette, in near Lyon, France, designed by Le Corbusier, 1957 to 1960.

National Small Project Design Awards 2013

Johnsen Schmaling Architects designed the Nexus Home, located in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo: John J. Macaulay

A compact home in Madison, Wisconsin is one of the stand-out winners of the national-level 2013 AIA Small Projects Awards. Designed by Johnsen Schmaling Architects, the three-level home occupies a small, sloping lot in one of Madison's historic residential districts.  Angular and modern, the Nexus Home is clad in cedar planks above a bluish brick base. At the rear of the house, its upper level features a deep cantilever that partially shelters a ground-level patio.

Ground-floor living space of the Nexus Home. Photo: John J. Macaulay

A studio project for a musician is a second winner designed by Johnsen Schmaling Architects.

Other winners of the Small Projects Awards include a new, lodge-themed transit building for Tahoe City, California, a traditional shingled home in Lewes, Delaware, and a high-end pool-and-pavilion addition to a home in suburban Bethesda, Maryland. These last two projects were both designed by Robert M. Gurney, FAIA.

Inside the new Tahoe City Transit Center, in Tahoe City, California, by WRNS Studio. Photo: Bruce Damonte/WRNS Studio

CO Architects in Escondido, California

The new 11-story Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California by CO Architects. Photo: Tom Bonner

CO Architects designed the Palomar Medical Center (PMC), which recently opened in Escondido, California. The 740,000-square-foot (69,000-square-meter) hospital was conceived as a functional and flexible vertical garden facility, set within a campus configuration. The 360-bed tertiary care facility, was developed using an evidence-based design process in which individuals from all departments in the hospital were invited to participate in researching new and emerging ideas in healthcare design.

PMC also includes a 1.5-acre (0.61-hectare) rolling green roof with native plants that provides a pleasant and restorative setting for visitors, staff, and patients. The facility also integrates daylight into operating rooms.

One of numerous outdoor terraces of PMC. Photo: Tom Bonner

KieranTimberlake Upgrade Saarinen's Yale Dorms

KieranTimberlake designed a major renovation of Eero Saarinen's Morse and Stiles Colleges dorms at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Photo: Peter Aaron/ OTTO

Eero Saarinen originally designed the Morse and Stiles Residential Colleges dormitory buildings at Yale University, completed in 1962. As the final part of the university's phased plan to modernize its twelve student-housing colleges, KieranTimberlake designed a series of respectful modifications to the Modernist master's structures.

In keeping with recent trends in college housing, the dorm rooms were upgraded from stand-alone single rooms to suites. Additional space is also devoted to student recreation and living activities, including a 25,000-square-foot (2,300-square-meter) subterranean addition in the crescent-shaped main courtyard, which was also reconfigured to emphasize greenery over hardscapes.

Section rendering through courtyard, addition, and upgraded recreation areas. Image: KieranTimberlake

Patrice Bideau in Baden, France

Patrice Bideau designed this new single-family residence in Baden, France. Photo: Armel Istin

When it became evident that the metal framed, concrete panel construction of an existing 1970s home would make it impossible for the building to comply with 2005 French regulations for energy efficiency and windproofing, architect Patrice Bideau designed a new low-energy house with a total annual energy consumption of 47 kilowatt-hours per square meter (4.4 kWh per square foot).

The new three-story home, located in Baden, France, features a wood and concrete structure, and was built on the highest point of the lot, restoring the original slope of the site. The lowest floor is built into the slope, while the middle "ground floor" accesses small terraces to the west and south.

Overview from southwest. Photo: Armel Istin

Ralph Rapson's Glass Cube

The Glass Cube, in Amery, Wisconsin, designed by Ralph Rapson,

Color sketch by Ralph Rapson, from Ralph Rapson Sketches and Drawings from Around the World, courtesy of the Afton Press.

"In 1972 my wife and I purchased forty acres near Amery, Wisconsin, on which to build a vacation house. Every time I suggested a scheme, however, Mary complained that the views of the meadows, the bluffs, the pines or the Apple River would be blocked. The result was an all-glass cube. By day the views – and the sunrises and sunsets – are magnificent. At night, the house becomes a luminescent jewel." – Ralph Rapson

Overview of the Rapson Cube. Photo: Tony Soluri / Architectural Digest

Charles Correa RIBA Exhibition

Jawahar Kala Kendra arts center, in Jaipur India, by Charles Correa. Photo: Courtesy RIBA

In an exhibition designed by David Adjaye, the Royal Institute of British Architects will look back across the multidecade career of Indian architect Charles Correa. The architect has donated an archive of 6,000 drawings to the RIBA library and this work is  a particular highlight of the exhibit.

Along with numerous buildings in India, noteworthy projects in the United States and Portugal, some of Correa's designs for housing and cities, looking closely at climate change, affordable housing, and improved cityscapes, will be featured.

View of a balcony in the Kanchanjunga Apartments (1983), in Bombay, India. Photo: Courtesy RIBA

Elderly Obama & Boehner Daughters Arrive In Time Machine...

Breaking News from Climate Progress:

Elderly Obama And Boehner Daughters Arrive In Time Machine To Demand Climate Action

House GOP pass emergency bill criminalizing research into time travel even as their own grown children return from future with irrefutable evidence of climate catastrophe


In one of the epochal moments in human history, the grown-up children of our leading politicians have returned from the future in a time machine to warn humanity that the worst fears of climate scientists have come true and that we must act now to save billions of people from starvation and endless wars over land and water.

DNA testing has confirmed that the group is led by a now-elderly Sasha and Malia Obama together with Lindsay and Tricia Boehner. They emerged with dozens of others from a remarkably small blue ship that bore a striking resemblance to a 1960s-style London police box, which materialized on the National Mall.

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