COLUMNS

  • Renzo Piano’s Shard

    THE ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIAN Manfredo Tafuri famously claimed that “no better way exists of grasping what the American skyscraper is not than by studying how European culture has attempted to assimilate and translate [the skyscraper] into its own terms.” For him, the problem with adaptations of the skyscraper in Germany, France, the former Soviet Union, and the UK was that all operated under the erroneous assumption that the skyscraper was “architecture.” On the contrary, wrote Tafuri, skyscrapers were “real live ‘bombs’ with chain effects, destined to explode the entire real estate market.” They

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  • recent construction in Guangzhou

    A FLURRY OF NOTEWORTHY BUILDINGS recently constructed or near completion in and around Guangzhou has positioned the city as the next major Chinese metropolis to attract international critical architectural attention. Marked, overwhelmingly, by glittering facades and gaudy monumentality, these structures include the Guangzhou International Finance Center, designed by Wilkinson Eyre and slated to open this spring; Rocco Yim’s Guangdong Provincial Museum, which was completed in May; a television tower, by Information Based Architecture, which has been operational since October 1; the Zaha Hadid–designed

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  • STEALTH.unlimited

    JUST WHO MAKES and unmakes our cities? The identities of urban planner and urban designer have become increasingly blurred over the past decade. If the former was traditionally about crafting policy and the latter concerned with macroscale drafting, these previously discrete practices now mean little in isolation from each other: We are witnessing a new hybrid activity across the larger discipline of urban intervention. At the forefront of this development has been STEALTH.unlimited. Comprising principals Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen, the Serbian-Dutch practice has been quietly unraveling the

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  • “Rising Currents”

    POLAR ICE IS MELTING, warmer water is expanding, and coastal cities—confronted with projections of eroded coastlines and ever more frequent flooding—are grappling with the looming question of how to keep the water out. As early as 2004, researchers at Stony Brook University in New York were proposing the construction of three floodgates to protect New York Harbor. Sited at the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island, at the upper end of the East River, and in the tidal strait between New Jersey and Staten Island, these defensive barriers would hem in the New York metropolitan area in the

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  • OMA/AMO at the Hermitage

    IN THESE TIMES of requisite urban branding, the likes of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid must be putting in extra hours at the office. Countless cities and cultural institutions are rethinking how to make their mark on the global map—and architects and curators alike are meeting this desire with original (or not so original) marketing ideas. Herzog & de Meuron’s imminent Tate Modern extension in London, the Guggenheim and Louvre Abu Dhabi, you name it—all of these institutions are convinced that the only way forward is a radical redefinition of their spatial envelope in order to communicate a simple

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  • Beijing Olympics

    THE OLYMPIC GAMES as we know them were born out of a late-nineteenth-century marriage of classical mythology and political science fiction. They decree that every four years all the nations of the world will set aside their political struggles and come together to compete in proxy battles of sport; everyone will watch. Yet such a premise naively denies both the relentlessness of politics and the equally irrepressible need for political power to be represented, to be made into images. Having stubbornly refused to follow their script, the modern Olympics stand in collective memory as a series of

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  • Norman Foster’s Crystal Island

    IF YOU E-MAIL Norman Foster’s London-based architecture firm to request information about his design for Crystal Island, a project recently approved for construction in Moscow, you will receive, with no accompanying note, a terse list of “facts and figures.” Perhaps this response is appropriate. Overriding fatigue with the dimensional stats that have accompanied new waves of building in China, Dubai, and Russia, mainstream media outlets and hipster blogs alike obligingly repeat the numbers with apparent amazement, as the builders strive to outdo one another’s superlative expressions of size.

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  • Steven Holl

    UNTIL LAST MARCH, the main offices of New York University’s philosophy department looked out over Washington Square Park from the fifth floor of a building on the park’s east side. It is at once a tribute to the popularity of the discipline and to the excellence of NYU’s philosophers that the department had over the years outgrown this ideal location; philosophers were housed in three separate locations around the campus. This state of affairs was felt to be unsatisfactory, in part, surely, for administrative reasons, but mainly for reasons connected with the spirit of philosophical communities

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  • Steven Holl’s Bloch Building

    THE HIGHEST ART in architecture today is the building of homes for art. Museums are currently where we see design with clarity, making us conscious of where we are. Here not only is the act of building usually sufficiently liberated from economic constraints, but both aesthetics and community lie at the core of its purpose. This is the dream of architecture: to be more than a technical enterprise and to become a cultural endeavor central to society. Luckily, then, we are experiencing a boom in the construction of new museums and museum additions around the world; it would not be too much of an

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  • “Clip/Stamp/Fold”

    THE STOREFRONT FOR Art and Architecture is a small wedge of space, tucked behind Vito Acconci and Stephen Holl’s unfolding facade on Kenmare Street in Lower Manhattan. Barely fifteen feet deep, it was the perfect opening venue for “Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X–197X,” an exhibition on view there through last February and dedicated—as its title suggests—to the explosion of small publications produced in architectural circles in the 1960s and ’70s. Across one long wall was a time line featuring covers of significant issues printed on curving, backlit panels,

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  • Crown Hall and the Yale University Art Gallery

    “TO FIND OUT what architecture really is took me fifty years—half a century,” Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once admitted. Now another half century has passed since Mies completed his mature postwar buildings, and a wave of renovations is forcing us to reconsider what exactly he and his contemporaries found architecture to be and how to handle their discoveries. A convergence of age-related need, heightened historical appreciation, and persistent ignorance has produced a mixed record to date: ranging from the salutary reconstruction of Gordon Bunshaft’s Lever House and the conscientious forensic

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  • Atelier Bow-Wow

    “TO CHANGE the Japanese government, you could begin by altering the seating arrangement in parliament,” says Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, one of the partners, with Momoyo Kaijima, behind the Tokyo-based Atelier Bow-Wow. Linking grand ambition to small-scale gesture marks the ideology of these architects who, like many of their colleagues, move through the realms of art and politics with as much relish as when they build houses. For them, architecture is about rearranging the ordinary so that moments of epiphany, strangeness, and beauty can slip into a home or museum like an uninvited but welcome guest.

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