The buildings that Canadian architects talk about are inevitably the ones that come to shape Canadian cities. Many of them are on the public’s radar, as well: Daniel Libeskind’s Royal Ontario Museum Crystal addition, for example, or Frank Gehry’s Transformation project for the Art Gallery of Ontario.
But within the design business, it’s often the lesser-known buildings, many of them not in Canada, that have the most impact. What follows are a few buildings that savvy architects say are the most influential right now, either as inspiration or as cautionary tale.
A building’s influence today depends on three areas of interest, says Larry Richards, the former dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto: “new materials, sculptural experimentation and sustainability.” For new materials, he notes the extruded pink plastic on the exterior of the new Umbra store in Toronto by Kohn Shnier Architects. And the silvery aluminum mesh on the exterior of Manhattan’s New Museum of Contemporary Art by Tokyo-based Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizwa (jointly known as SANAA), which gives the structure a hard edge at a distance and an up-close softness.
Read more @ Architecture: It’s not for sissies. – National Post – Kelvin Browne
Waste-free, energy-efficient, and carbon-neutral are all terms thrown about by environmentalists to describe ideal urban development, and the recently unveiled plans for Masdar City incorporate all of those buzzwords.
Read more @ Green city only good for the rich :: The Gateway Online – Mike Otto.
A showcase for experimental gardens by top landscape designers, Cornerstone is the first outdoor gallery of its kind in the US. Visitors looking for neatly planted rows and ornamental cherubs will be disappointed. Cornerstone is highly irreverent and playful, from American landscape designer Ken Smith’s “Daisy Border” – a display of candy-coloured plastic pin-wheels that both mocks and pays homage to the classic floral border – to Mexican architect Mario Schjetnan’s “A Small Tribute to Immigrant Workers”. With its regimented boxes of vegetables and rusty metal walls, Schjetnan’s garden delivers a strong political message about the plight of immigrant workers in California. Even the upcoming installation of a 1,000 ft-long fence around the perimeter of the site is expected to defy conventions. “It’s a white picket fence with a twist,” says David Aquilina, general manager.
Read more @ FT.com – Outlandish landscapes by Chloe Veltman
When is a public square not a public square? When it’s designed and built in Los Angeles, circa 2008. Our city–which has lacked plazas and other open-air gathering spots for so long–is now building them in a number of high-profile locations. Yet none of these spaces is fully civic in the traditional City Beautiful sense. Each one is shaped, controlled or compromised by private, commercial or other interests. Arguably, of course, that makes them right at home in Los Angeles, the most private metropolis ever devised.
Next month, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will unveil the much anticipated first phase of its expansion, designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. He is probably best known for the Pompidou Center in Paris, which opens onto a square that, despite its popularity with mimes, ranks as one of the world’s great public gathering places.
Read more @ L.A. Squared – Los Angeles Times – Christopher Hawthorne
In the early days of modern architecture, its alien forms were sold to the public using science. Architect Richard Neutra’s “Health House” – designed and built between 1927-29 for physician Philip Lovell in the Griffith Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles – was featured in newspapers and magazines all over the world.
Mr. Neutra’s four-storey, steel-framed and stucco-clad house was graceful in the way it clung to its hillside site. But far outweighing any discussion of architectural merit were reports of its fresh-air sleeping porches, large areas of glass (to allow life-giving sunlight to penetrate), exercise and sports areas and the water-purification and juicing facilities in the kitchen.
Even before that, in 1923, architect Le Corbusier wrote: “A house is a machine for living in.”
Read more @ globeandmail.com: In architecture, as elsewhere, sex sells.