Rio de Janeiro named the First World Capital of Architecture

Rio de Janeiro named the First World Capital of Architecture, Rio de Janeiro. Image via Creative Commons

Rio de Janeiro. Image via Creative Commons

UNESCO has named Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as the World Capital of Architecture for 2020. In keeping with UNESCO’s recent partnership agreement with the UIA, UNESCO designates the World Capital of Architecture, which also hosts the UIA’s World Congress. The World Capital of Architecture is intended to become an international forum for debates about pressing global challenges from the perspectives of culture, cultural heritage, urban planning and architecture.

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Rio de Janeiro. Image via Creative Commons

Rio de Janeiro. Image via Creative Commons

UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture Ernesto Ottone R, Thomas Vonier, President of the International Union of Architects (UIA), and Verena Vicentini Andreatta, Municipal Secretary of the City of Rio for Urbanism, announced last Friday that Rio de Janeiro will be the World Capital of Architecture. “The World Capital of Architecture initiative underscores the common commitment of UNESCO and the UIA to preserve architectural heritage in the urban context,” said Ernesto Ottone R. “Through the range and quality of its activities, the World Capital of Architecture in Rio de Janeiro will demonstrate the crucial role of architecture and culture in sustainable urban development.”

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Rio de Janeiro. Image via Creative Commons

Rio de Janeiro. Image via Creative Commons

As the first World Capital of Architecture, Rio de Janeiro will hold a series of events under the theme “All the worlds. Just one world,” and promote the internationally agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s 11th Goal: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” UNESCO, the UIA and local institutions will organize activities to promote projects involving architects and urban planners as well as policy makers, social institutions and professionals from other sectors including artists and writers in an open and creative space of dialogue and innovation.

The UIA2020 Rio World Congress of Architects is promoted by the International Union of Architects (UIA) – an entity based in Paris – and organized by the Institute of Architects of Brazil (IAB). For the first time, the event will be held between July 19 and 26, 2020 in Rio with activities in various locations in the central region of the city, including the Gustavo Capanema Palace, which will host exhibitions, lectures and workshops. The expectation is that 25,000 architects and architecture scholars from around the world will visit the city during the UIA2020Rio.

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Aerial Futures Explores Commercial Space Travel at the Houston Spaceport

Aerial Futures Explores Commercial Space Travel at the Houston Spaceport, Houston Spaceport. Image Courtesy of Houston Airport System

Houston Spaceport. Image Courtesy of Houston Airport System

A new video by AERIAL FUTURES explores commercial space flight through the Houston Spaceport. The video was produced as part of a broader research initiative bringing together leading thinkers, practitioners and operators to imagine the potential opened up by spaceports. The video explores the spaceport as a new kind of architectural typology, and asks what kind of impact a spaceport is likely to have on the city and its population.

Houston Spaceport. Image Courtesy of Houston Airport SystemHouston Spaceport. Image Courtesy of Houston Airport SystemThe Next Frontier. Image Courtesy of AERIAL FUTURESHouston Spaceport. Image Courtesy of Houston Airport System+ 8

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Houston Spaceport. Image Courtesy of Houston Airport System

Houston Spaceport. Image Courtesy of Houston Airport System

Reiterating Houston’s long-standing relationship with space travel, Ellington Airport is now home to the Houston Spaceport. The Spaceport is within a 15-minute drive of the central business district, making it the most urban commercial spaceport to date and positioning Houston as the most cosmically connected city in the world. The commercial sector is now driving the aeronautical industry, leading to an upsurge in spaceport construction. The implications of this new typology for urban life are huge: in support of the new spaceport and its operations, Houston City Council recently approved an $18.8 million Phase 1 infrastructure development budget. This sum of spaceport-related infrastructure funding is without parallel anywhere else in the world. New roads, drainage systems and utilities will provide a foundation for aeronautical businesses and foster engineering activities, while providing a physical and intellectual link to aerospace expertise.

Five Designs for Chicago’s O’Hare Global Terminal go to Public Vote

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Five Designs for Chicago’s O’Hare Global Terminal go to Public Vote, O'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Foster Epstein Moreno
O’Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Foster Epstein Moreno

Five design teams have been selected to present their ideas for the Chicago O’Hare Airport Global Terminal and Global Concourse expansion. The designs are on display at an exhibition opened by Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the Chicago Architecture Center. Teams include Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza, Foster Epstein Moreno, Studio ORD, SOM and Santiago Calatrava. Known as O’Hare 21, the project represents O’Hare’s first major overhaul in 25 years.

O'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Studio ORDO'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Santiago CalatravaO'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of SOMO'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza+ 6

The new terminal will replace the existing 1960s Terminal 2 with a global terminal that reflects the legacy of Chicago’s innovation, architecture and diversity. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that selecting an architect for the project is a key priority before he leaves office next May. The project calls for two satellite concourses to be built as part of the expansion. The airport’s total terminal area would grow from 5.5 million to 8.9 million square feet.

Foster + Partners, Epstein and Moreno

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O'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Foster Epstein Moreno

O’Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Foster Epstein Moreno

The joint venture led by Foster + Partners, Epstein and Moreno created a new vision for a gateway to Chicago to capture the city’s progressive spirit and its architectural legacy. Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners said: “I remember coming to Chicago as a graduate and being captivated by the energy, the extraordinary location, the music the culture, and the outdoor sculpture – all of those influences blend together in our proposal.” The proposal includes sweeping arches that merge into a single curve.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

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O'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of SOM

O’Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of SOM

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill teamed up with ARUP, Ross Barney Architects and JGMA. Their proposal includes natural landscaping around an undulating roof upon glass walls. Inside, a glass-enclosed waiting area features trees and ample open space.

Studio ORD

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O'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Studio ORD

O’Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Studio ORD

Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners is led by Chicago’s Jeanne Gang, and the team’s design was formed as a three-part terminal around a large atrium. The proposal stands apart for its signature use of wood in the ceiling of the terminal. The design was inspired by the airport’s original name, Orchard Field, and the interior of the project reinterprets this through an organic design and natural plantings.

Santiago Calatrava

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O'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

O’Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Calatrava’s plan includes the global terminal and a business complex with formal gardens that would remake the present site of parking facilities next to the terminals. The terminal is formed with a pointed form featuring a white roof overhang. The terminal’s interior features Calatrava’s white-on-white uniform surfaces with plenty of natural light.

Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza

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O'Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza

O’Hare International Airport expansion. Image Courtesy of Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza

Fentress-EXP-Brook-Garza Joint Venture Partners created a scheme where a curving, upturned roof creates a vast open space. Inside, bright white surfaces and columns meet tall glass walls. The team stated that, “Our vision is to return the romance of air travel to all who pass through Chicago’s O’Hare.”

Officials hope to complete the multi-phase O’Hare 21 project by 2026. An exhibition of the designs is on display at the Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E Upper Wacker Drive. The public are invited to view the proposals online and vote for their favorite scheme: https://voteord21.flychicago.com/home/pages/default.aspx. Voting ends on 23 January.

Chicago architects launch parody campaign to build a golden border wall for Trump

Border wall prototype at Mar-a-Lago (Mr. Trump in background).

Border wall prototype at Mar-a-Lago (Mr. Trump in background).

The architects behind the Flying Pigs on Parade project—which planned to install four golden pig-shaped balloons in front of the infamous Trump Tower Chicago sign—are back with another anti-Trump parody, this time mocking the President’s proposed border wall.

New World Projects, the Chicago-based firm known for creating visual commentary on the ridiculous nature of our current political environment, has released renderings and an accompanying GoFundMe campaign for a prototype wall that would surround the Mar-a-Lago resort and golf club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Mocking Trump’s penchant for ambitiously gaudy design, the proposal promises a 30-foot tall, gold finished picket fence on one side, that would be electrified on the other by six new coal plants built along the border. The project’s website cynically describes, “the bad guys on the other side can look through and imagine the riches and moral integrity of being American.”

Image courtesy of New World Projects.

Throughout the hypothetical scheme, the team has injected dark-humored digs at our President—such as the included detail that the project will “be built with Mexican labor and paid for by Canada.” Similarly, the renderings depict a macabre fantasy. In one, a US Border agent is shown controlling an aggravated dog in front of a full-scale version of the fence. The caption reads, “gold and shiny.”

The catalyst for the parody campaign was Brian Kolfage’s very real crowdfunding efforts to subsidize a portion of Trump’s Wall, which raised more than $20 million towards its goal of $1 billion. New World Projects has jokingly set their ambitions on $570 million, with the caveat that if they should not be able to execute their plans, all money raised will go instead to the International Refugee Assistance Program.

Foster + Partners Plan Automotive Museum on Disused Airfield in Rural England

Foster + Partners Plan Automotive Museum on Disused Airfield in Rural England, Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners have released images of their proposed Mullin Automotive Park at Enstone Airfield, now submitted for planning permission. Intended as a “world-class automotive museum in the heart of the British countryside” the scheme will rehabilitate a disused airfield to support a growing community of classic automobile collectors.

Designed as a collection of buildings arranged in a crescent, the museum draws inspiration from the concept of a rural estate, with a journey through a carefully-considered landscape towards a main focal building. As well as reflecting on the history of the automobile industry over the last century, the scheme will house an open-ended collection charting the future of mobility.

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Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

The scheme contains a small cluster of workshop-style buildings located near the entrance, housing visitor facilities such as ticket offices and cafes. From there, visitors proceed through a landscape to site’s centerpiece museum, orientated to maximize thermal performance and minimize energy consumption.

The clustered nature of the scheme’s built element allows for most of the site to remain as green parkland. The site will also feature roads designed for exercising cars from the Mullin collection, while a series of residential pavilions and landscaped lodges bring enthusiasts closer to the automotive collection.

We are delighted to be part of this exciting new development that represents the convergence of mobility and lifestyle to create a new vision for the future. The Mullin Automotive Park will be a unique cultural destination set in Cotswold countryside, that seeks to support the wider community as well as providing a special experience for classic automobile collectors.
-Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners

News of the scheme comes weeks after Foster + Partners released details of their proposed soaring towers for Shenzhen, China.

News via: Foster + Partners

There’s more to architecture than having vision. How one man’s loss is transforming perspectives

Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects with Chris Downey | LIGHTHOUSE FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED, SAN FRANCISCO. Image courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects with Chris Downey | LIGHTHOUSE FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED, SAN FRANCISCO. Image courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

For many architects, much of one’s work depends upon the visual possibilities where space can transform. Often overlooked, many designers forget what it is like to design buildings and structures for the blind or hearing impaired. Universal accessibility and inclusive design methods are being discussed more and more within the architecture community. Educators, advocates and architects like Chris Downey use their experience and skillsets to transform the perspectives of architecture for the visually impaired.

Chris Downey speaking to architecture students at the University of Arkansas Image © uark.edu
he main lobby at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center in Palo Alto, Calif., one of Downey’s first major projects after he lost his sight. Photograph courtesy of John Boerger Image © ncsu.edu

In a recent 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl, Downey shares with the public how the loss of his sight helped him become more aware of what it means to build for the blind. Having been featured in AIA’s feature “Look Up” Downey finds new ways to help transform the future of architecture one day at a time.

During his interview with Stahl, Down shares some of the groundbreaking work he has developed over the years. Embracing his blindness, Downey has spent his time specializing in designing for the blind. From Duke University Hospital’s eye center, to consultation jobs for Microsoft, the unstoppable architect has even taken significant steps towards designing a better way for the visually impaired to travel through San Francisco. Through his work and unwavering optimism, Downey uses his loss of sight as a catalyst to create design accessibility for all.

View Downey’s influential inverview on 60 Minutes here.

© CNN 60 Minutes

Venturi Scott Brown’s Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery London Receives AIA 25 Year Award

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Venturi Scott Brown's Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery London Receives AIA 25 Year Award, © Valentino Danilo Matteis
© Valentino Danilo Matteis

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected Venturi Scott Brown’s Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery of London as the recipient of the 2019 AIA Twenty-five Year Award. Designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown in an international competition, AIA commended the project for its ability to “…make its context better than it found it” – a citation borrowed from Venturi himself.

The award is presented annually to a project that has “stood the test of time by embodying architectural excellence for 25 to 35 years.”

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© Valentino Danilo Matteis

© Valentino Danilo Matteis

The Sainsbury Wing may appear conservative, but was both itself contentious and a part of a raging debate about public architecture when it was introduced. The addition to the National Gallery was initially planned in the 1980s, and was at the time to be designed by Ahrends Burton Koralek, a British practice known for their large public works across the UK and Ireland.

Their scheme however, an example of the British Hi-Tech movement (popularized by Norman Foster), ignited a massive public debate regarding the state of British architecture. In an ad-libbed speech at the 150th anniversary of RIBA, Prince Charles derided the state of the profession, calling out ABK’s proposal in particular as “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved and elegant friend.”

The ABK scheme was scrapped, and a competition for the addition was subsequently held to appease the warring factions. Venturi Scott Brown, delivered and ultimately built, in the words of architect and postmodernist expert Adam Nathaniel Furman, “one of the most—if not the most—sophisticated pieces of public architecture to have been built in the Postmodern idiom.”

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© Valentino Danilo Matteis

© Valentino Danilo Matteis

The facade of the VSB addition echoes the architectural rhythm of the main Gallery building, slowly breaking down the historic geometries until the dissolve entirely around a corner. Inside, domestically-scaled galleries create an atypically comfortable gallery experience.

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© Valentino Danilo Matteis

© Valentino Danilo Matteis

In the citation, the AIA jury noted that: “…Dr. Barnabas Calder wrote that the wing’s presence on the square was ‘politely low key and even more so on Pall Mall East.’ Many others have noted that visitors may be as unaware of the building as they are of the contentious competition that spawned it, proving that, indeed, Venturi and Scott Brown successfully designed a building that does not outshine its context.” For a building in a physical context so packed with masterpieces – and in a historic context fraught with controversy – this is high praise indeed.