Gunārs Birkerts, the prolific Latvian-American architect best known for designing the “Castle of Light”—the world’s largest library in Riga, Latvia—has died aged 92. The National Library, which was first conceived in 1988 and officially opened in 2014, has become among the most significant, and controversial, contemporary public buildings in Latvia.
Throughout his career, Birkerts completed a number of large-scale projects including the Corning Museum of Glass and the Corning Fire Station in Corning, New York; Marquette Plaza in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Embassy of the United States in Caracas, Venezuela.
Born on January 7, 1925, Birkerts studied at Riga Gymnasium before fleeing Latvia in 1943, from which he would later commence studies at Stuttgart Technical College. In 1949 he moved to the USA and was subsequently based in Detroit. Birkerts spent time in the offices of Perkins and Will, Eero Saarinen, and Minoru Yamasaki. He later maintained a practice in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Visdziļākā līdzjūtība Gunāra Birkerta tuviniekiem, no leģendārā arhitekta atvadoties!
The Design Museum in London has announced the shortlist projects in the running for the 2017 edition of their prestigious Beazley Design of the Year award. Now in its tenth year, the award was established to “celebrate design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year.”
This year, a total of 62 projects have been nominated across six categories: Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Graphics, Product and Transport – including 13 projects from the Architecture category. A winner from each category and the overall winner will be announced on January 25, 2018. Previous winners of the architecture category include: IKEA’s Better Shelter last year (also the overall winner),Alejandro Aravena’s UC Innovation Center in 2015, and Zaha Hadid Architects’ Heydar Aliyev Center(overall winner in 2014).
The Plugin House is built with a proprietary building renovation system developed as a result of the challenging context of Beijing hutong areas. The price of real estate in central Beijing makes owning a house difficult for many. However, the Plugin House costs 30 times less than a typical apartment. Plugin replaces part of a previously existing dwelling and adds new functions. These prefabricated modules incorporate insulation, interior and exterior finish into one moulded part.
Warka Water / Arturo Vittori
Warka Water is a vertical structure designed to harvest potable water from the atmosphere (it collects rain, harvests fog and dew). It relies only on gravity, condensation and evaporation and doesn’t require any electrical power. At a time when a quarter of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water, Warka Water tower is designed to harvest drinkable water from the atmosphere.
Hegnhuset Memorial and Learning Center / Blakstad Haffner Architects
Response to Norwegian terrorist attacks of 2011 that struck the island of Utøya, where 69 people – mostly teenagers – were murdered in one of two politically motivated attacks by far-right terrorist. The cafe building where 13 people tragically lost their lives during the attack has been enshrined within a new learning centre. The architect’s response was to preserve one section of the cabin-like building – the rooms directly affected during the massacre – but to completely enclose it within a new pine structure. The outer layer is made up of 495 wooden slats, one for every person on the island that survived the attack, while the glazed inside layer is framed by 69 columns that pay tribute to every fatality
Wind and Rain Bridge draws on the long tradition of wooden buildings in the region. Peitian is one of a number of isolated rural villages distributed throughout the mountainous regions of southern China, which, following severe flooding in early 2014 saw much of the infrastructure linking its disparate communities destroyed. This project aims to reconnect Peitian villages to the historic network of routes that link these isolated settlements.
The museum was inaugurated by President Obama in September 2016 and is a long-awaited symbol for the African American contribution to the nation’s history and identity. The museum houses galleries, administrative spaces, theatre space and collections storage space. Sir David Adjaye’s approach created a meaningful relationship to this unique site as well as a strong conceptual resonance with America’s longstanding African heritage. The 313,000-square-foot building comprises a three-tiered structure covered in bronze plates. Designed to shade the glazed facades behind, the filigree cladding is patterned to reference the history of African American craftsmanship.
Sala Beckett Theatre and International Drama Centre / Flores & Prats
The project is a renovation and extension of the former worker’s club “Pau i Justícia”, deeply rooted in the memory of the Barcelona neighbourhood Poblenou, a space where long ago neighbours had celebrated marriages, first communions and parties, which was then abandoned for many years. The new building maintained the spatial characteristics of the original building while also expanding and adapting the space to accommodate a new programme of exhibitions and activities.
The Calais Builds Project / Grainne Hassett with students from University of Limerick
The Calais Builds Project captured the needs, culture and hopes of its residents. In 2016, architectGrainne Hassett along with students from the University of Limerick and local migrants designed and built a major community infrastructure, including a Women’s and Children’s Centre and the Baloo’s Youth Centre. These were demolished in 2016 by the French Government and its inhabitants displaced.
The strategy was not to renovate or repair the 300 year old listed building but to preserve it perfectly. The ruin is protected from the elements within a new high performance outer envelope. The new outer shell, which retains the shape of the existing cottage is clad in black corrugated iron, reflecting the common use of this material in Herefordshire for agricultural buildings.
Located in the third most populated city in Burkina Faso, the Lycée Schorge Secondary School sets a new standard for educational excellence in the region. The design for the school consists of 9 modules which accommodate a series of classrooms and administration rooms in a radial layout which wrap around a central public courtyard. The architecture not only functions as a marker in the landscape, it is also a testament to how local materials, in combination with creativity and teamwork, can be transformed into something significant with lasting effects.
Weltsadt – Refugees’ Memories and Futures as Models
The exhibition features models of buildings made by people from Africa and the Middle East who came to Germany as refugees. The buildings are homes, schools, offices, workshops and houses of prayer which are displayed as a walk-through cityscape, a ‘world city’. Made of cardboard, wood and found materials, the models reflect on the lost spaces and trusted memories but equally of new beginnings of the people who build the models. Visitors can see each of the 1:10 scale buildings up close.
Situated in Ruicheng County, Shanxi Province, the Five Dragons Temple is listed as a class A cultural relic. Built in 831 A.D. during the Tang Dynasty, it is the oldest surviving Taoist temple. In 2015, Vanke Group initiated the “Long Plan” to raise funds to revitalise the environment of the Five Dragons Temple. This plan also helped to raise the public awareness of this historical preservation project. This initiative would then go on to become the first time where the government and private funds cooperated for the preservation of cultural relics, as well as the promotion of cultural protection through the platforms of internet and the international Expo.
The new Port House in Antwerp repurposes, renovates and extends a derelict fire station into a new headquarters for the port – bringing together the port’s 500 staff that previously worked in separate buildings around the city. The waterside site offered sustainable construction benefits, allowing materials and building components to be transported by water, an important requirement to meet the port’s ecological targets. The old fire station is heritage listed so had to be integrated into the new project. ZHA’s design is an elevated extension, rather than a neighbouring volume which would have concealed at least one of the existing facades.
First constructed in 1228, and located at the foot of the Rialto Bridge across from the fish market, the Fondaco dei Tedeschi is one of Venice’s largest and most recognizable buildings. It was used as a trading post for German merchants, a customs house under Napoleon, and a post office under Mussolini. Depicted by Canaletto and other masters, and photographed countless times as the impressive but anonymous backdrop of the Rialto bridge, the Fondaco stands as a mute witness of the Venetian mercantile era, its role diminished with the progressive depopulation of Venice. The Fondaco dei Tedeschi can now unlock its potential as a major destination and vantage point for tourists and Venetians alike; a contemporary urban department store staging a diverse range of activities, from shopping to cultural events, social gatherings and everyday life. OMA’s renovation, both subtle and ambitious, avoids nostalgic reconstructions of the past and it demystifies the ‘sacred’ image of a historical building.
Known for his daring neo-futurist sculptural buildings and over 50 bridges worldwide, Santiago Calatrava (born July 28, 1951) is one of the most celebrated and controversial architects working today. Trained as both an architect and structural engineer, Calatrava has been lauded throughout his career for his work that seems to defy physical laws and imbues a sense of motion into still objects.
Born and raised in Valencia, Calatrava grew up wanting to be an artist, taking art classes at 8 years old. Encouraged by his parents who saw potential for an international future for their son, he left home to attend l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. However, when he arrived in 1968, the student protests were at their climax and, finding the classes canceled, he returned to Valencia to enroll in the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura. After graduating, he went to ETH Zurich to receive a degree in structural engineering followed by a PhD in technical science, making him one of the few architects at the time to also be fully trained as an engineer.
Starting his own practice in Zurich in 1981, Calatrava soon won a competition to design a local train station. The design, inspired by the skeleton of a dog that he had received as a gift, would be an indication of the style that would later define him, with curving concrete corridors that come together to create the semblance of a ribcage. His first American project, the Milwaukee Art Museum, went even further, featuring moving parts that required off-site fabrication, with organic forms reminiscent of a bird. It was also during his early career that he would design many of the bridges that helped to define his reputation as an architect, including his Bac de Roda Bridge in Barcelona, Spain.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced Paul Revere Williams, FAIA as the posthumous winner of the 2017 AIA Gold Medal. With a portfolio of nearly 3,000 buildings over five decades, Williams’ career was notable for breaking boundaries within the profession as the first black member of the AIA.
“This is a moment in our Institute’s history that is so important to recognize and acknowledge the work of a champion,” said Phil Freelon, FAIA, Managing and Design Director at Perkins + Will, who presented to the AIA Board of Directors on behalf of Williams. “It’s been many decades but Paul Williams is finally being recognized for the brilliant work he did over many years.”
A native of Los Angeles, Williams was known for his many schools, public buildings, and churches in a variety of styles, notably the Palm Springs Tennis Center (1946) and the space-age LAX Theme Building (1961). Eight of his buildings have been named to to the National Register of Historic Places.
“Our profession desperately needs more architects like Paul Williams,” wrote William J. Bates, FAIA, in his support of William’s nomination for the AIA Gold Medal. “His pioneering career has encouraged others to cross a chasm of historic biases. I can’t think of another architect whose work embodies the spirit of the Gold Medal better. His recognition demonstrates a significant shift in the equity for the profession and the institute.”
As the 73rd AIA Gold Medalist, Williams joins an esteemed list of winners including Frank Lloyd Wright (1949), Louis Sullivan (1944), Le Corbusier (1961), Louis I. Kahn (1971), I.M. Pei (1979), Thom Mayne (2013), Julia Morgan (2014), Moshe Safdie (2015). Last year, the prize was given to Denise Scott Brown & Robert Venturi, the first time the Gold Medal was given to a pair of architects.
Benedetta Tagliabue (born 24 June 1963) is an Italian architect known for designs which are sensitive to their context and yet still experimental in their approach to forms and materials. Her diverse and complex works have marked out her Barcelona-based firm EMBT as one of the most respected Spanish practices of the 21st century.
Born in Milan, Tagliabue graduated from the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia in 1989. In the early 1990s, she married Spanish architect Enric Miralles and the pair founded their studio Miralles Tagliabue EMBT. Together, Miralles and Tagliabue designed some of the practice’s most notable works, including the renovation of the Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona and the enormous edifice of the Scottish Parliament Building – a building which critic Charles Jencks described as “a kind of small city,” reflecting the complexity and intricacy of the Edinburgh streets which it responds to.
To this day, Tagliabue refers to her late husband as one of her greatest influences, and in 2011 she founded the Foundation Enric Miralles, with the mission of promoting and teaching the philosophies of inquiry and experiment that are fundamental to his legacy.
See all the works of EMBT featured on ArchDaily via the thumbnails below, and more coverage ofBenedetta Tagliabue below that:
As early as the 1970s, Emilio Ambasz (born 13 June 1943) initiated a discussion on sustainability through his work with green spaces and buildings which is arguably more important today than ever, and contributed to theoretical and design discourse outside of architecture through his wide variety of interest and career pursuits. Ambasz’s work has crossed several disciplines; he has been a curator, a professor, an industrial designer, and an architect, and is highly regarded in all of these varied pursuits.
Born in Chaco, Argentina, Ambasz knew from an early age that he wanted to be an architect. According toa 2009 article in Architect Magazine, so great was his determination that at age 16 he worked for an architecture firm during the day while attending high school during the night.  Ambasz also had an appetite for education graduating from Princeton with a Bachelors degree and then a Master of Fine Arts in Architecture just a year later. His jump through the ranks of architectural academia led him to a brief career as a professor, but his work quickly brought the attention of scholars and professionals alike, and by age 25 Ambasz was working as the Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design for The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.
While at MoMA, Ambasz curated several critically acclaimed exhibitions, including “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” and “Universitas.” Curatorial duties provided Ambasz with an opportunity to investigate broad societal questions in a very public setting; in “Universitas,” Ambasz organized a collection of work which asked how universities should address nature from an educational perspective. Seemingly energized by the fields he was researching, Ambasz left MoMA in 1976 to establish himself as an industrial designer.
As an independent designer, Ambasz had even greater success; the Vertebra chair, which he developed with Giancarlo Piretti, was one of the first office furniture to emphasize ergonomics over aesthetics. Ambasz’s architectural projects take a distinctive approach to design: within his works, nature must interact with the structure in a way he calls “green over the gray.”  In many of his projects, this idea manifests itself through green roofs and gardens built into the projects. His projects, such as the Cordoba House (1975) the Lucile Halsell Conservatory (1988), and the Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall (1994) combine nature with a sensitive response to clients’ needs and the architect’s desire to create compelling images. More recent works, such as the Banca dell’Occhio (2008) and Museum of Modern Art and Cinema (2010), continue this trend. By using this approach and executing it with ecologically friendly design elements, Ambasz demonstrated that sustainability could produce architecturally compelling buildings.
Unifying the many occupations Ambasz has held during his life is a deep love of creativity. Ambasz offers poignant insight into his career in a quote to Architect Magazine:
“Many years ago, Alessandro Mendini, who at the time was the editor of Domus, asked me how I would define myself professionally. And I said I would define myself as an inventor. To me, architecture is an act of the imagination. Industrial design is an act of the imagination.” 
See Emilio Ambasz’s works featured on ArchDaily via the thumbnails below:
Today, the Museum of Modern Art in New York announced a major retrospective of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work to be displayed in 2017, commemorating 150 years since the architect’s birth. Opening next June, the exhibition will feature approximately 450 works spanning Wright’s career including architectural drawings, models, building fragments, films, television broadcasts, print media, furniture, tableware, textiles, paintings, photographs, and scrapbooks, along with several works that have rarely or never been shown publicly.
The exhibition will be structured as an “anthology” of Wright’s work, separated into 12 sections dedicated to a key project or set of pieces from the Frank Lloyd Wright Archive, which was acquired in 2012 by MoMAin conjunction with the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. Models and drawings from works such as Unity Temple (1905–08), the Robie House (1908–10), Fallingwater (1934–37), the Johnson Wax Administration Building (1936–39), and Beth Sholom Synagogue (1953–59) will be on display, alongside investigations into lesser-known projects such as his proposed design for the Rosenwald School for African American children and Wright’s design for a model farm.
The exhibition will also cover Wright’s use of ornament, circular geometries and his Native American-inspired designs. Other considerations of the retrospective will be the intersection of nature, landscape, and architecture, and the contrast between the architect’s call for the democratization of the profession and his celebrity and media prowess.
A recently restored model of one of Wright’s proposed towers designed to cluster around St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, deemed too radical for the tastes of the time, will conclude the exhibition. The final section will also include the model of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, a historical analysis of drawings, and a data-visualization project illustrating the architect’s global network of clients, professional relationships, and buildings.
The exhibition is scheduled to run from June 12 – October 1, 2017.