I’m sure you heard that the spire was added to Freedom Tower this week. They stuck a GoPro camera on it. Here’s the video. Warning: A bit queasy.
Posts tagged architecture.
Architects propose various natural systems to combat sea level rise in the Upper Bay. More via MoMA
drawing by Adolfo Arranz
A must click.
Brad Pitt’s sustainable architectural non-profit in the 9th Ward unfairly takes fire from the New Republic. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed the beloved New Orleans’ neighborhood, Pitt, who dabbles in architectural design, decided to help build homes that could withstand hurricanes and floods in the future. He started a non-profit, Make It Right, hired some incredibly talented architects, urban planners, economists, and locals and went to work.
Make It Right built over 90 homes throughout the lower 9th (a small fraction of the tens of thousands that were damaged or destroyed).
The author unfairly compares Make It Right - essentially a charity - to for-profit real estate firms and declares it a failure. It is unclear how anyone - let alone some of the best architects and planners in the country - could have predicted the recovery of a city, especially after a major hurricane.
What’s even more unclear is how the author got away with making such a lazy comparison. The New Republic got duped, in my opinion.
Most of the homes Pitt built are fantastic dream homes comprised of minimalist design and sustainable materials. The problem - so says the author - is that poor people do not deserve such ‘luxurious’ amenities. Racism aside, the fact that many families have moved away from New Orleans, with little expectation that they’ll return anytime soon, the author insists on blaming a charity for attempting to provide sustainable housing.
It’s true the economy is in the tank. But it is simply not true that one non-profit should have followed a different path. The author writes:
But there’s a Catch-22: The neighborhood doesn’t have enough residents to attract many stores and services, and prospective buyers end up elsewhere because the neighborhood doesn’t have enough stores and services.
So about 90 households, primarily elderly people like Guy, are living in futuristic homes that most Americans would covet, and yet there’s not a supermarket—or even a fast food restaurant—for miles.
It didn’t have to be this way, and it’s costing the city.
This is a flat out lie: “yet there’s not a supermarket—or even a fast food restaurant—for miles.” Utterly false. See above google map screen cap I took this morning. The lower 9th has dozens of restaurants and at least 10(!) grocery stores, including one locally owned co-op that features fresh fruits and vegetables.
And that’s just in the Lower 9th neighborhood!
The author uses the yellow home at the top (with the long stair case) as a prop for the story. This home was built 9 feet off the ground. It has solar panels, modernist features, experimental materials, and a small footprint. It cost around $300k to build, yet the author will have you believe that this is far more than anyone in the neighborhood could typically afford. Also false. A quick search on real estate site Zillow shows homes, condos, and townhouses average $250k in the 9th Ward, some top out around $750,000. See map 2. Clearly the New Republic does not employ fact checkers.
Brad Pitt’s project is still the darling of the sustainable architecture and resiliency crowds (and to climate adaptation folks like me). The New Republic will have readers believe that Pitt and his teams should have known better. That his non-profit charity work should become more profitable. This is disingenuous at best, and out right deception at worst.
The New Republic is wrong for comparing a ‘non-profit charity’ to traditional ‘for-profit’ real estate developers.
Founded in 2007, Make It Right’s mission is crystal clear: “To build safe, Cradle to Cradle inspired homes, buildings and communities for people in need.” Yet according this sloppy hit piece, it’s as if Pitt’s error was not fully adopting the commonly held philosophy by greedy developers: “build it and they will come.”
In other words, Make It Right was, is, and will always be a non-profit community development organization, not a for-profit real-estate firm. It’s like blaming an apple for not being a tuna sandwich.
The hit piece is nothing more than journalistic bedazzling. The article has that well researched, boots-on-the-ground journalistic feel. There are nice pull quotes from interviews, and the writer uses urban planning vernacular quite well. But the author used more speculatory “what if” scenarios than actual analysis, which makes the piece more in line with link-baity shlock.
For example, the writer faults Brad Pitt for not doing things that do not exist. ‘Pitt should have invested differently. Pitt could have built cheaper homes. Pitt could have rehabbed more blocks. Pitt should not include hurricanes in architectural designs.’ And, since Pitt didn’t do these things (which exist in the author’s head), the entire venture has failed. This despite the fact that Pitt’s foundation has the support from Louisiana’s politicians, some of the best urban planners, economists, and architects in North America, and the very people who live in the neighborhood.
Instead, we get paragraph after paragraph of utter speculation that serves nothing more than to stir up stern nods of disappointment:
Pitt’s foundation could have chosen to put its $45 million into a neighborhood where the compounding effects would’ve been remarkable, or at least one without the added risk and cost of building below sea level—like Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr.’s Musicians Village on the other side of the Industrial Canal.
He could also have built several hundred perfectly serviceable, weatherproof, and efficient new homes, instead of the 90 he’s completed—like Barnes and Noble founder Leonard Riggio, who’ll build 200 new homes in a concentrated area in nearby Gentilly for about the same amount.
He could even have filled in more quickly recovering neighborhoods with higher-quality traditional designs, like New Urbanist patron saint Andres Duany. Instead, Pitt got an interesting architectural experiment, lots of gushy magazine coverage, and a place for Gloria Guy to remember what life was like before it all floated away.
Use of “could haves” and “what ifs” in cultural criticism are red flags. These signal that the author has an agenda. Reader beware. These are known as straw man fallacies - create fake scenarios that no one can test - and then shoot them down, all the while not addressing the original issue.
As you can see, the intention of these “he could have” speculations serve nothing more than to solicit your disapproval. This is journalistic trickery. Perhaps the writer was under deadline and needed to fulfill their word-count requirement. But, in my opinion, any good writer will know that presenting a critical analysis of a possibly failed project (this project has indeed not failed) s/he better present their case steeped deep in a fat vat of facts, not on a buffet of empty calories.
So, word to the wise, if you’re going to write a hit piece, do your due diligence. Address a problem that actually exists and present and contrast it to similar scenarios, scenarios that serve to provide appropriate context and understanding. Avoid filling space with empty speculations and bring some solutions to the table.
If you can stomach reading a biased hit piece, go ahead and visit the New Republic - if not at least for the slideshow.
There isn’t enough capacity to refine both the Canadian oil and the Venezuelan oil,” said professor Erick Langer, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University and an expert on Venezuelan politics.
“Can Rail Fill the Gap if Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t Approved?” Thoughtful round-up and analysis via one of my favorite sites, Planetizen. Did not realize 40% of Venezuelan oil is shipped and refined in Texas.
“So if the pipeline is built, then Venezuela might be up a creek without a paddle, because they won’t have anywhere else to refine the oil.
Inspiring read on women architects who defied great odds (re: men) via ArchDaily.
- Sophia Hayden Benett was the first woman to receive an architecture degree from MIT when she graduated in 1890
- Marion Mahony Griffin, was not only one of the first licensed female architects in the world, but was the first employee of Frank Lloyd Wright
- Charlotte Perriand applied for a job at Le Corbusier’s studio in 1927. Unimpressed, he dismissed her work with the comment: “We don’t embroider cushions here.”
Minnesota sure does seem like a sleeper state. Who knew MN’s cities have invested so much in green-infrastructure?
One by one, Minnesota cities are becoming a bit more eco-friendly. The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams recently welcomed a 50th municipality, Maple Grove, to its GreenStep Cities program. Rochester, Austin, Red Wing, Northfield and Kasson are all member cities.
“I think a lot of cities like this because it’s a nice broad framework for sustainability,” said Diana McKeown, Metro director for CERTS. “For many cities, they have environmental commissions, and the GreenStep Cities program gives them ideas on what to work on.” The program, in its second year, gives cities guidelines for greening their infrastructure and work practices in order to save energy and resources.
Nigeria’s Cost & Energy-Efficient Floating Schools (by NLÉ)
The Makoko Floating School is an ambitious project that is currently under construction in the water community of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria by NLÉ, a collaborative agency whose mission is to provide architectural change for developing cities. The project seeks to create floating buildings that are designed to serve as educational classrooms for neighborhood children.
The three-story architectural structure, built as a triangular prism, is intended to float on water with a base made of 256 plastic drums. The floating construct is built with locally sourced wood, electrically powered with solar panels, and designed to house about 100 students.
While this first generation of floating buildings is being designated solely as educational center, the project is opening a new chapter in architectural design that can be applied to a variety of facilities for poor communities like Makoko to urbanize efficiently. Because of the project’s green initiatives, each building is more affordable and cost-effective. Additionally, they accommodate for the climate changes that are resulting in the rise of sea levels.
Of all the photographs I’ve taken, I think this is my favorite. I know it needs to be touched up and cropped, but man what an interesting situation in a weird part of NYC…
Paola Antonelli, MoMA’s senior curator of architecture and design, talks to Stephen Colbert about the evolving definition and scope of design. Complement with Antonelli on what makes good design and her fantastic book Talk to Me: Design and the Communication Between People and Objects.
Surprisingly good interview. I’ve soured on both Colbert and Stewart, but when I saw Antonelli’s name had to watch. Colbert hardly speaks in this interview (how rare!), so Antonelli has lots of time to explain some of her design ideas. Two of them, the Land Mine Dandelion, and the Earthquake School Desk (not official names) are both practical and beautiful objects. You can see her excitement and why MoMA chose her as curator. Good stuff!
Above, the gigantic Jirau Dam is one of 34(!) hydroelectric dams being built in the Amazon by Brazil. Thousands of people and dozens of communities and towns will be flooded by the dams. Meanwhile, environmentalists are left out of negotiations.
When it is completed in 2015, the Jirau hydroelectric dam will span the Madeira River, feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world and hold as much concrete as 47 towers the size of New York’s Empire State Building.
And then there are the power lines, draped along 2,200 km of forests and fields to carry electricity from the middle of South America to Brazil’s urban nerve center, Sao Paulo. Still, it won’t be enough.
The Jirau Dam and the Santo Antonio complex that is being built a few kilometers downstream will provide just 5 percent of what government energy planners say Brazil will need in the next 10 years.
So the country is building more dams, many more, courting controversy by locating the vast majority of them in the world’s largest and most biodiverse forest.
Excellent coverage by the Japan Times
Winter weather - http://bo.st/ZvwUqA
Food production clip from Samsara.
Quite literally architecture/design of doom.