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The Ransom Everglades School in Miami takes a page from the corporate offices of Ideo, Google, Apple, and American Express, thanks to a new campus designed by Perkins & Will.

When the Ransom Everglades School set out to augment its Miami high school campus with a new building focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, its educators saw an opportunity. They wanted to rethink how a physical space at the school could reflect the kind of future-focused learning that would happen there.

“We wanted something that wasn’t traditional,” says Penny Townsend, head of the school. “I wanted every space to be a learning space, that in every corner of the building something was going on.”

To the architects designing the project for this well-regarded private school, the job sounded a lot like work they do for another type of client: corporate America.

“You see Ideo and Google and Apple and American Express—a lot of our clients are creating these workplace environments for both research and enhancement of collisions and collaboration,” says Pat Bosch, principal and design director of the architecture firm Perkins & Will’s Miami studio. “It’s informality about, ‘Do I need a desk? Can I just find some soft seating and do my work there?'”

The building they’ve designed for the school’s campus could just as easily have fit onto a corporate campus. With a mix of tech-rich classrooms, maker spaces, and labs for courses in robotics, chemistry, and biology, the building’s core is a broad central hallway that was intended to provide spaces for social interactions and collaborative learning. The classrooms are flexible, with walls and large doors that can open to allow for different sizes and configurations, and every learning space has glass walls looking out on the central hallway—a design choice intended to embrace students’ fundamental curiosity, according to Bosch. “That curiosity can be mined and can be a source of inspiration and a source of propelling students to being engaged,” she says.

It’s a mix of learning spaces deeply influenced by the kinds of work environments in modern corporate offices, where some spaces are oriented toward team-based work while other spaces offer a hybrid of private areas for focused work and interactive zones to spark creativity.

Bosch says this comes directly from Perkins & Will’s corporate work but was also something that came up as a desire when the designs were first being developed. “There’s a lot of physical elements from corporate America that the students were very interested in. They wanted to learn in an environment similar to where they are eventually going to work,” she says.
As a building focused on STEM education, there’s also a heavy influence from research facilities. Bosch says the design drew directly from another Perkins & Will project, the L’Oréal Research and Innovation Center in Rio de Janeiro, where the beauty company develops and tests new products. “The scientists were telling us they needed to be able to reconfigure the space in less than 30 minutes. Everything was movable; everything was a plug-and-play condition,” she says. Bosch says the labs and classrooms at Ransom Everglades School were modeled on that flexibility. “We brought all those ideas that we developed and worked on with L’Oréal.”

The central hallway inside the building is meant to be a mixture of the collaborative spaces of the corporate world and the flexibility of the research world. For good measure, it’s even got a dash of the hospitality world, Bosch says. “You can lounge, you can have a meeting, you can have a conversation,” she says. “There are the social aspects of a lobby or a hub in hospitality that allows for this informal aspect of the social learning and even collaboration.”

And with its internal walls of transparent glass, this central hub also becomes a way to blur educational boundaries. “There’s such synergy between the different disciplines,” says school head Townsend. The glass walls also double as learning spaces. They’re all writable surfaces, and they’ve become integrated into the teaching and the students’ collaborative work. “They haven’t written anything filthy yet, so that’s been good,” Townsend says.

More important, she argues, is the new building’s focus on changing the dynamic between teacher and student and broadening the ways that learning happens. “You can’t have kids sitting in rows and some teacher at the front droning on,” she says. “It’s n
Problem: How shall we impart to this sterile pile, this crude, harsh, brutal agglomeration, this stark, staring exclamation of eternal strife, the graciousness of those higher forms of sensibility and culture that rest on the lower and fiercer passions? How shall we proclaim from the dizzy height of this strange, weird, modern housetop the peaceful evangel of sentiment, of beauty, the cult of a higher life?

When Louis Sullivan wrote his famous essay “The Tall Office Building Artistically Reconsidered” in 1896, he could not have foreseen the length of its shadow. For more than a century architects have debated its assertions, but they have generally agreed with Sullivan on the main point: Tall buildings must either gracefully diminish toward the top or have a cap to define the top edge as it meets the sky. He warned, prophetically, that anything looking like a box would be an aesthetic failure.

Boxy skyscrapers were briefly in vogue when Mies unveiled the slender Seagram Tower, but generally only bland corporate sweatshops and developer cash cows stayed with the obvious diagram for maximum floor space in a given FAR. Following the 1916 New York zoning law, most cities required setbacks in tall buildings to allow light to penetrate the canyons they often created. Cesar Pelli was the architect most intent on sculpting elegant, tapered towers throughout his career, and he designed several of the most lauded tall buildings of the past 50 years. Adrian Smith, the architect of several recent supertalls, retained Sullivan’s wise model for breaking up rectangular masses into finial-like spires. And as Rafael Viñoly (and readers of the New York Times) recently learned, failing to do so could result in a creaky, wind-bent residential tower—and, eventually, expensive lawsuits.

So it is fair to ask: Why are we seeing so many new skyscraper designs that resemble teetering stacks of skewed boxes? Were the architects playing beer pong late into the night while building the models? Did Rem Koolhaas try to patent a “Pruitt-Igoe in mid-explosion” concept and get laughed out of China?

Virtually all of OMA’s recent tower designs are clumsy groups of cantilevered glass boxes plopped on their sites with little concern for context or orientation. Zaha Hadid Architects tends to add a few curvy surfaces to their buildings to hide the boxy banalities, but it is hardly immune to the trend. But why would someone like Frank Gehry, the master of signature forms, succumb to these fickle winds of fashion?

Gehry’s pair of boxy Toronto skyscrapers will dominate the city’s skyline for decades, though Canadians have generally managed to avoid the crazy hodgepodge of tower construction that has ruined cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. In fact, it was Gehry who bucked the trends in the Big Apple to give the city 8 Spruce Street, a metal-clad tower nestled politely into the fabric of Lower Manhattan. It looks like it belongs in New York and seems to have pleased the tough critics there.

Not so the Toronto monsters. Described initially by BlogTO as “cheese graters staring longingly at each other,” they were once a ménage à trois and are now a matching pair, though still 2 million square feet in floor area. Controversy dogged the project during a decade of planning review. Hence the developer funding the project recently revived it as a downtown arts center and condominium complex with a visual arts college attached—a peace offering to be sure. Perhaps he also demanded that his Toronto-born architect hew to the accepted developer vocabulary and simplify his often-wrinkled skins. The PR info says that the towers will be clad in “energy saving” new materials but does not say what they are—a familiar ploy to deflect criticism of what looks like mirror glass. The most distinctive features of the pair are rotating boxes at the top third of each building, not tapered but roughly the same dimensions as the lower portions. Mercifully, the base of one building preserves the façade of an old, beloved landmark.

Large cantilevers are difficult enough to engineer when they sit atop midrise structures, but they become wind-catchers when placed 1,000 feet in the air. They are also visually obtrusive and unbalanced, contrary to the contention that defying gravity is always exciting to humans with two feet on the ground. Since we are more aware than ev
Fenfang Lu
Six outstanding projects, all in China, win the 2020 Best of Year award for Residential Sales Center.

CIFI Sales Center “Park Mansion,” Hefei, China by Ippolito Fleitz Group

Since the building by architects LWK + Partners that houses this 13,800-square-foot sales center is close to a large lake, water became the governing motif in IFG’s design. After crossing a sunken plaza dominated by a towering artificial waterfall, visitors enter a fluid, elongated space given depth through the layering of white and blue tones and the playful use of texture and structure. The interplay of shapes and materials, from structured glass to curved ceilings, further evokes the endless flow and magic of the elemental liquid. The effect is one of soothing calm, but without any loss of vibrancy.

Project Team: Halil Dogan; Mika Dou; Gunter Fleitz; Steffen Hildebrand; Peter Ippolito; Linda Li; Yi Luo; Frank Wang; Yu Yan; Jialiang Zhou.

Junshan Cultural Center, Beijing by Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

Asked to transform a 43,000-square-foot two-story building into a clubhouse and sales center, the firm has combined traditional and contemporary architectural forms to achieve new expressive and formal ends. Wood-patterned aluminum panels on the facade soften the heaviness of the brick structure, while the existing interior courtyard is joined by a series of smaller gardens that blur the boundary between indoors and out.

Project Team: Lyndon Neri; Rossana Hu; Nellie Yang; Jerry Guo; Utsav Jain; Ellen Chen; Zoe Gao; Wuyahuang Li; Josh Murphy; Alexandra Heijink; Hwajung Song; Lara Depedro; Jason Jia; Brian Lo; Xiaowen Chen; Mona He; Cindy Sun; Jacqueline Yam.

Light of Time, Guiyang, China by C&C Design Co.

This 52,000-square-foot center incorporates model apartments, bookstores, coffee shops, and a children’s play zone. It’s located in a pair of renovated factories separated by a narrow sunlit alleyway, which C&C has transformed into a spiritual space similar, the team says, “to a small church, which we call Thin Strip of Light”—the firm’s way of redefining the memory of the city through the transformation of industrial buildings.

Project Team: Peng Zheng; Lian Yuanchao; Chen Yongxia; Liang Jingshan.

Poly Times Sales Center, Chengdu, China by Matrix Design

At 24,000 square feet, this center is the largest project of its type in the ongoing reconstruction of the old inner city. Matrix sees the facility as performing multiple functions both practical and symbolic, contemplative and dynamic. The team uses wood, metal, stone, and other materials in combination with more elusive qualities such as light, shadow, memory, and imagination to conjure spaces that recall the past while pointing toward the future.

Project Team: Guan Wang; Idmen Liu; Zhaobao Wang.

Sunac Qingyuan Heart Valley, China by Mind Design

Located in a vacation area known for its natural beauty and revivifying hot springs, this 21,000-square-foot development successfully integrates art, culture, and eco-tourism. To create a facility that does justice to the region’s unspoiled charm, Mind employs a clean, modern design language, simple shapes and materials, and an elegant, flexible style. By these means, the firm infuses the spaces with warm, humanistic feeling.

Project Team: Wang Dacheng.

Poly Galaxy Land K3, Wuhan, China by Pone Architecture

Aimed at young urban professionals, the 7,730-square-foot center seeks to be a social space that engenders positive energy and empathetic feelings. Design director Ming Leueng provides a focal point in the form of a large “meteorite” art installation that not only turns the atrium in which it hangs into a natural gathering place but also activates the whole facility with what he describes as “an invisible pulse and rhythm.”

Douglas Friedman
Hale Huna, meaning “secret house” in Hawai‘ian, is a hidden gem on the shore of the Kiholo Bay

Over dusty ranch roads through North Kona’s centuries-old lava fields, Hale Huna sits quietly—some even say stealthily—on the shore of Kiholo Bay. Built for a couple of Silicon Valley veterans, this rural retreat on the Big Island of Hawai‘i simply does not want to be found. “It’s the only house within miles, and it’s completely off the grid,” says architect Greg Warner, principal of Walker Warner Architects in San Francisco. “So we decided to really make it go away.” As such, hale huna means “secret house” in the Hawaiian language.

Inspired by the plantation heritage of the islands, Warner, who grew up in Hawai‘i, designed two low-slung bungalows (a main gathering house and another for sleeping) with crisp lines and exteriors clad in the most agrarian of materials: corrugated metal darkly stained to cloak among the ‘a‘a, or volcanic rock. Wide openings and deep lanais provide comfortable experiences at different times of day—relative to the sun and the wind, that is—while framing the best possible views.

A mauka (mountainside) lanai is snuggled against the lava, a sheltered spot from Kona’s whipping trade winds with a wide perspective on starry evenings. The main bedroom is also auspiciously oriented in the same direction to catch the sunrise over the Mauna Kea, a sacred mountain. And the living room’s full-height windows look makai (seaward), to capture the sunset as it casts colors from coral to cobalt over the coast—a line of sight that stretches to the northern tip of the island. “It’s like a painting,” says Warner. “It gives you such an appreciation of the shape of the land.”

In a way, Hale Huna’s strong and silent architecture exists to heighten Hawai‘i’s striking geography, from serrated shores to softly sloping volcanoes and all that craggy lava rock in between. The decor takes a different approach. “I did the opposite of what the architecture accomplishes so beautifully,” says Oakland, California, designer Jon de la Cruz. “Inside, things have asymmetry and softness, a little island color and a lot of ease.”

Cultural textiles anchor the home, from batik bedding to upholstery that evokes the abstract patterns of traditional Hawai‘ian tapa, or barkcloth. (In the lounge, a 2007 Richard Serra etching, Paths and Edges, also recalls the geometry and repetition of this Polynesian art form.) A bold graphic of spiky fan palms gives one guest bedroom a tropical punch, while custom clover-shaped side tables throughout the home are a subtler take on island botanicals. Designer de la Cruz created them as an homage to the leaves of the ‘ohi‘a lehua tree, a famous casualty of Pele’s wrath in Hawaiian mythology. (Pele is the goddess of fire and volcanoes in local lore.)

Against the modern architecture and sun-beaten landscape of sharp lava rock, the gentle curves of the interior design are ironically brazen. A soothing visual exhale, they also conjure the island’s legendary liquid assets: Vintage Vladimir Kagan Freeform sofas in the living room, for instance, evoke Kiholo Bay in both their crescent shape and upholstery of ocean-hued antique Japanese boro quilts. Meanwhile, the wavy silhouette of the tiered T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings Mesa table, also in the living room, is reminiscent of tide pools.

Over in the primary bedroom, a “circuit board” by San Francisco artist Windy Chien, who interpreted the slow skulk of molten lava in black rope and skillful knotting, serves as a room divider. And as a final touch, the home’s hand-textured concrete floors and banana-fiber abaca rugs from the Philippines are deliberately beachy underfoot, a way of experiencing the mana, or healing power, of the location. “You can practically feel the waves at your feet,” says de la Cruz.
To re-establish themselves on Toronto’s premiere shopping street, Holt Renfrew sought to design a facade that would give their store a unified presence and represent their iconic brand.

With a flagship store located in of the most expensive shopping streets in downtown Toronto, Holt Renfrew engaged Gensler to upgrade their window displays and disjointed facade to create a strong, unified visual presence.

The first step in the renovation process was to rationalize the store’s entire envelope and devise a strategy to unify the five separate buildings into one presence so that customers could see how large the store is from the street level. With over 270 feet in street-facing storefront, or almost the length of an entire city block, the exterior design needed to be seamless and reflective of Holt Renfrew’s brand.

“One of the greatest challenges of the project was tying the existing 5 buildings together across 260ft of street frontage in a way that made them look like a single structure,” said Gensler.

To achieve this, the team reviewed thousands of archived drawings from the original construction of the buildings, from the 50’s to the 70’s. They then turned all of those drawings into a full 3D digital model which gave the basis of their design.

The team also faced a challenge of designing a facade that was both light and intricate. The existing building was clad in marble that was uninsulated and the construction assembly attached to the building was worn and corroded. With the various small renovations that occurred over time, there were a variety of errors that caused the building to leak and perform poorly in terms of energy usage.

The new facade was constructed of limestone that was full of fossils and brought a sense of liveliness and a variation in texture between the stone panels. For the glass elements, which included the replacement of the existing dark and gloomy
window displays and the revitalization of a main entrance, large panels that allowed for minimal joints and no mullions were used. The clear glass allowed ample views into the store that displayed the merchandise inside, and also brought in natural light. The canopy structure above the main entrance is constructed from bronze anodized aluminum and creates a procession on the street level.

“During Design Development we then reviewed the model against the existing building on site constantly, working with the contractor to open up walls and areas of roof to check what we’d seen in the archives actually matched what was on site. This was critical to maintaining the high level of accuracy the design needs to look good,” said Gensler.

Overall, the project took three years and at no point was the operation of the store closed down with occupants welcomed throughout the duration of the facade’s construction. The result is the unified presence and a modernized facade that situates and establishes Holt Renfrew as a leading luxury department store.
Allison Zaucha for The Washington Post via Getty Images
What if residents on a single block could make their own decision to allow denser housing?

When Sacramento proposed changing its zoning rules to allow four homes on land that had permitted just one, something remarkable happened: The reform passed city council, unanimously, with little of the outrage over new housing that’s long haunted California politics. The public comments were overwhelmingly supportive. Politicians lined up to praise the measure, which passed this January — even San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who presides over a city where such “fourplexes” are mostly illegal. Sacramento now joins other U.S. cities, including Portland and Minneapolis, that have legalized the construction of more homes in more places.

If ever there were a moment for pro-housing, “Yes In My Backyard” reforms that allow for the development of denser housing, it should be now. In many U.S. cities, housing costs have ballooned beyond the reach of millions of Americans, and evidence suggests that restrictions on where you can build are largely to blame. Local reforms like Sacramento’s are a growing trend, although so far, they remain relatively rare among cities with expensive housing markets.

Even in cities that have passed modest reforms, the politics of local planning often stand in the way of more ambitious change. We know what helps fight high housing prices: loosening minimum lot size requirements that don’t allow homes to be built on small tracts, for instance, or allowing backyard apartments and “missing middle” housing like duplexes and triplexes. The problem is not identifying reforms to allow more homes; it’s getting them passed at the city or state level. Without such reform, in local planning meetings across the U.S. where decisions about new developments get made, the voices of opponents are frequently the loudest and most influential. What passes for community participation in America is too often limited to a privileged few with the time and resources to attain an outsize influence on the workings of government.

Take the example of Connecticut, among the priciest and most segregated states in the U.S., and one that hasn’t passed this kind of reform. In Fairfield, once home to General Electric’s headquarters, new housing projects are forced to undergo years of litigation. Desegregate CT, an advocacy group, found that a triplex or fourplex can be built without going through additional approvals in just 2% of Connecticut, while single-family homes are legal in 91% of the state. While polls show that voters want more affordable housing, suburban homeowners have successfully blocked change. These homeowners have a stake in keeping decisions at the municipality level where a few powerful and vocal individuals can block developments that are in the interests of the broader community. In opposition to a state bill to place more zoning decisions in the hands of the state, yard signs have recently appeared demanding Connecticut “Keep Planning and Zoning Local.”

But what if there’s a way to overcome the political obstacles in the way of development with support from local stakeholders? Not a substitute to state and local housing laws, but a complement: what we call hyperlocal zoning reform. Local governments would give streets and blocks the right to decide for themselves if they want to allow denser housing. Neighbors could pick from a menu of modest reforms, from reducing minimum lot sizes and green-lighting “granny flats” to allowing missing middle housing and apartments. A single street or block could simply hold a vote and reach a goal the city sets — say, a 60% “yes” from residents. One key feature is that hyperlocal zoning would be a supplement to existing zoning codes, meaning it could simply be implemented by a planning department, and wouldn’t stop cities from passing other broader reforms.

For homeowners in pricey markets like Seattle or Boston, choosing to add a granny flat or subdividing a single-family home can be a financial no-brainer. And right now, restrictive zoning prevents them from realizing those gains. They could try to get their own lots upzoned, but at the scale of hundreds or thousands of landowners — the scale at which zoning decisions are often made — negotiation and agreement are incredibly difficult. The costs of reaching agreement rise as more people are involved, as do the perceived risks as a proposal’s scope expands. This is why experts from the late economist Robert Nelson to Yale Law Sc
Merge Visualisation
The modular hotel concept, called Hytte, allows landowners and hotel operators to implement a custom configuration of Japandi-style cabins.

UK-based prefab purveyors Koto and design agency Aylott & Van Tromp have teamed up to launch Hytte—a Norwegian word for "cabin"—which provides stylish, turnkey prefabs to operators within the hospitality industry. Off-the-shelf or bespoke designs are available as individual units, and can be clustered to create the feel of a community or village.

"It’s about providing both client and consumer with something a little bit different in these strange times," says Aylott & Van Tromp and Hytte cofounder Nathan Aylott. "We wanted to give the client the ability to harness a site with minimal fuss, and create additional revenue with complete flexibility."

For the customer, Hytte seeks to provide a sense of escapism and comfort that "retains that raw feeling," says Aylott, "the lovely pared-back quality that comes from camping in the wild or being close to nature."

Hytte combines Scandinavian and Japanese elements for a minimalist aesthetic that compliments a variety of landscapes. The first design on offer is a trapezoidal, 260-square-foot cabin clad in shou sugi ban–treated larch. Inside are a luxury bathroom, kitchenette, window bench, wood-burning stove, and a king-size bed with integrated storage. Each cabin can be ordered completely furnished with a selection of curated pieces from Hytte’s design partners.

"We wanted to make each internal element of the Hytte feel considered and intentional," explains Koto cofounder Johnathon Little. "Small spaces demand a high level of design consideration to ensure that we maximize every piece of space. We have been deliberate in designing the furniture to be crafted into the fabric of the cabin. Our bed, kitchen, storage and seating has all been imagined as an extension to the structure of the cabin."

The concept for the cabins came about last year, when Aylott & Van Tromp approached Koto to coordinate a response to the shifting hospitality marketplace. "On one hand, there is a natural and personal reaction to mass market holidays, overbearing commercialism, and a growing sense of environmentalism," says the Hytte team. "Then throw into the mix COVID-19 and you have the perfect storm." The results combine Koto’s expertise in minimalist prefab design with Van Tromp’s experience in hospitality and interiors.

How companies will implement the flexible structures is yet to be seen, but the Hytte team is confident that we won’t soon return to over-commercialized and cramped accommodations. "Whether it will be shorter localized getaways reachable by car, bike or foot, or opting for an increasingly isolated accommodation, much of our newly acquired social distancing habits are here for the long haul," they say.

Hytte will initially be available in the United Kingdom, Europe, and parts of the U.S.
Sumayya Vally, the founder of South African architecture studio Counterspace, has been named on the Time100 Next list of people "poised to make history".

Vally, who is designing this year's Serpentine pavilion, is the principal of Johannesburg-based architecture studio Counterspace.

She was the only architect named on the list that aims to "highlight 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future".

This is the second annual Time100 Next list, which is published as an expansion to the long-running Time100 list.

Vally was included on the list as the editors of Time believe that she is someone that is set to have an impact on the world.

"Everyone on this list is poised to make history," said Dan Macsai, editorial director of the Time100. "And in fact, many already have."

As the principal of Counterspace, Vally's most significant project to date is her commission to design this year's Serpentine pavilion.

Vally will be the youngest architect to design the prestigious pavilion, which has previously been created by some of the world's most significant architects including Zaha Hadid, Diébédo Francis Kéré, Bjarke Ingels, Sou Fujimoto, Jean Nouvel and Peter Zumthor.

Counterspace's pavilion, which was delayed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will refer to the experiences of London's migrant communities in its design.

"The pavilion is itself conceived as an event — the coming together of a variety of forms from across London over the course of the pavilion’s sojourn," said Vally when the design was unveiled.

"These forms are imprints of some of the places, spaces and artefacts which have made care and sustenance part of London’s identity."

Other projects by Counterspace include a large-scale mirror insulation in Johannesburg, which was designed to reflect the pollution from mining waste that hangs over the city.

At the beginning of this year, Vally presented an immersive experience that explored the role of soil and land in her home community as part of The World Around summit, which was broadcast on Dezeen.

Previously Elizabeth Diller was named on Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in 2018, with philanthropist Eli Broad calling her a "visionary".
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The City of London announced yesterday that in renewing its commitment to the arts “at the heart of recovery” from the COVID pandemic, the government would undertake a major renewal of the Barbican Centre, home of the London Symphony Orchestra, and the venue for numerous other performances in music, dance, film and theater, as well as art exhibitions. The 40-year-old Brutalist structure designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon is the largest performing arts center of its kind in Europe; the statement announced a search for a world-class architect-led team for the renovation.

But buried in the announcement was the real news: the cancellation, due to the “current unprecedented circumstances,” of the ambitious plans to build a state-of-the-art new Centre for Music. The press release did not bother to name the architects—Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)—who had won a competition in 2017 to design a permanent new home for the London Symphony, beating out Foster + Partners; Gehry Partners; Amanda Levete (with Diamond Schmitt); Renzo Piano; and Snöhetta. A year later, DS+R unveiled its design for the multi-level concert hall, with an auditorium for 2,000, and numerous other amenities. But building the $370 million project was heavily dependent on private donations, according to the Architects' Journal. The concert hall would have been the first DS+R project in the UK.
Weiss/Manfredi with Reed Hilderbrand
As part of a master plan initiated in 2010, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, announced today its plans for transforming 17 acres of its botanical gardens, woodlands, and meadows. The New York firm of Weiss/Manfredi are the architects at the helm of new buildings, outdoor spaces, and refined connections between its east and west precincts, in association with landscape architect Reed Hilderbrand of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The design team’s signature addition is a 32,000-square-foot glass conservatory that appears to float on top of pools and plantings. The ethereal new West Conservatory is a modern companion to the “mineral expression,” as architect Marion Weiss says, of the traditional East and Main Conservatories—separate but connected buildings. The new structure’s pleated roofline undulates, creating forced perspectives and recalling the surrounding Brandywine Valley’s topography. The building’s hovering expression will be achieved in part by four sets of graceful tree-like steel columns. Operable glass walls and roof gills will provide passive ventilation, and a series of underground earth tubes will draw fresh air in and up through the conservatory.

Weiss and her firm partner and husband Michael Manfredi, along with Reed Hilderbrand, are also designing a new 3,800-square-foot glass house for Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx’s 1992 tropical garden; a new vaulted restaurant and event space carved behind an 18-foot-tall ivy-covered retaining wall that faces the Main Fountain Garden; a new education and administration building; and an outdoor, gallery-like bonsai courtyard. Six historic Lord & Burnham glass houses from the early 20th century are being carefully deconstructed and will be rebuilt at a later date.

The team’s plan follows a historic and additive lineage in landscape design: In Pierre S. du Pont’s instinctive sculpting of Longwood Gardenss' 1,077 acres, on his rural estate in the early 20th century, the inventor, industrialist, and conservationist was inspired by the technical innovation he saw at world’s fairs and expositions and the splendor of international gardens. From 1906 to 1954, du Pont used the latest technology to impress guests at Longwood with theatrical displays of plants, a fountain garden with a pioneering hydraulic system, and the grand East Conservatory built in 1921 and powered by underground systems that didn’t detract from the decorative fruits and flowers.

This current project has evolved from the 40-year master plan developed in 2010 by Weiss/Manfredi and West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture. “West 8 remains very much a part of our team and consults from time to time on realizing these projects,” wrote Longwood CEO and President Paul B. Redmond in an email. “One of the distinguishing factors [of the master plan] is our legacy of being a patron of landscape architecture and garden design as well as having one of the greatest collections of landscapes designed by some of the most noted landscape architects of the 20th and 21st century.” In 2017, Longwood celebrated the restoration and enhancement of the Main Fountain Garden.

As part of its decade-long involvement with Longwood, Weiss and Manfredi rethought the western portion of the gardens, which, as Weiss says, was an often-overlooked workhorse and “service wing.” The architects arrived at the current West Conservatory after rigorous study of historic glass structures and scales (attested by 40 different models in their Manhattan office). The final football field-sized structure isn’t just big for bigness’s sake. “It is the companion to the historic conservatory complex, “says Weiss. “It needed to balance things. It’s generous in scale, but you could say that the glass is sheltering a Mediterranean garden that is an inhabitable landscape.”

As part of this undertaking the team is also relocating Burle Marx’s Cascade Garden. Failing mechanical systems and leaks have made it difficult for the tropical plants to survive winters. In addition, Longwood determined that the small greenhouse containing Burle Marx’s work of botanical art was literally constraining the plants’ growth. “The idea of moving it to a slightly more central location, between the historic conservatory and new one, would give it a much more prominent sense of place and location,” says Manfredi. The task will be a
Architect Magazine
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended nearly everything we considered to be normal—and that includes how and what architects design. Read how leading firms across the nation are reimagining six major building typologies for use during and after the pandemic.

Editor's note: This cover story for ARCHITECT's January/February 2021 issue comprises a series of Q+As with leading architects and designers in six building typologies. Three typologies—corporate, multifamily and industrial—are available below. The remaining three—K–12, health care, and cultural—will be rolled out throughout February.

What’s next? A year ago, the answer that no one foresaw would be “a pandemic.” Though the COVID-19 pandemic will end, architecture cannot—and will not—simply return to its old habits and forms. The global health emergency has changed how we live, travel, and work. It has altered how we use and navigate space, what we expect regarding safety and sanitation, and the way we greet strangers and loved ones. Within the design profession, the pandemic has upended workflows and challenged architect–client rapport.

Some of these changes, like lingering side effects, will outlast the pandemic itself. But while the ground is still shifting, the future is ripe for rethinking. What will smart, safe, and beautiful design look like in a post-vaccine, post-pandemic world? And how can architects meet changing demands in an altered professional landscape that has yet to recover from the recession? Through the kaleidoscope of contingencies and unknowns, firms are listening to their clients, users, and staff more closely than ever. They’re asking new questions and they’re getting creative.

As the improvised solutions of last year give way to more permanent design responses, leading architects in six key building sectors—corporate, multifamily residential, industrial, K–12 education, health care, and cultural—share how they are positioning their practices to take on the emerging challenges and opportunities.

For starters, architects are now asked to reimagine offices to entice employees back to the formal workplace—but how? Can multifamily projects adapt to the new imperatives of working from home? As the volume of packages entering our country’s logistics and distribution systems continues to surge, how can industrial architecture meet the demand? Can designers team with school administrators to rethink educational environments that break free of traditional classroom units? How can health care architects help their clients manage infectious diseases and increase access to care for marginalized communities? Can architects design public spaces that preserve open spaces amid strained government budgets?

And, finally, as calls for equity gain support in the general public, will the pandemic accelerate the profession’s role in elevating the lives of not only elite clients, but also of everyday and underserved Americans?
da-kuk/Getty Images
There is a big problem with the popular and generally accepted construction forecasting method of consensus. When a contractor is asked in a survey how he or she sees the market six months ahead, or a year, or even more, you get an opinion—presumably an educated one. But there is no way to screen out optimism.

When many contractors are surveyed, you get more opinions—and more optimism.

There seems to be some belief that the larger number of respondents somehow implies accuracy or validates collective opinions. Some seem to think a greater number of opinions eliminates positive bias. Some may also think that negative bias balances the findings.

The media then publishes the survey opinions, lending them greater validity, and the large number of consensus surveys seem to drown out more scientific forecasts based on data.

Another problem with these surveys is that we tend to believe that majority rules. Reporting that 59% expect a market turnaround in six months, while 26% do not, and 15% are undecided, is often interpreted as that the 59% is correct.

Quite a number of contractors have told me that they tend to believe the scientific forecasts until they read so many surveys that predict the market will be just fine. They then feel compelled to go along with the (optimistic) majority.

Why is this important?

The failure rate in construction will be reduced when we accept the reality that the market is cyclical and adopt a business model that allows us to prosper during ttimes of both growth and decline. The seven major construction downturns since World War II establish conclusively that our market cycles roughly every 10 years. To prosper during both the growth and decline markets, we need to have some indication of when to expect changes in the cycle.

As soon as the market softens, competition intensifies, so a buyer’s market begins to develop and then prices and potential profits diminish. Trying to maintain volume in a declining market is, in effect, an attempt to increase market share—and increasing market share always comes at a price.

Data has been collected on US economic cycles since 1854, and the ratio of expansion periods to contraction periods has improved dramatically since then. We have enjoyed prosperity because our nation has spent a lot more time in a growing economy than in a shrinking economy. The problem for our industry is that during a down cycle, profits decline, losses occur and business failures escalate.

Business cycles in the construction industry are painful because we can’t control them.

We do not see changes coming in construction market cycles because we are not looking for them, but we can’t claim they are unexpected because they occurred on average every 10 years.

There are choices: We could train ourselves to see them coming or we could listen to research that calculates market cycle timing. A prudent construction professional should begin to expect a decline as the market approaches 10 years since the last cycle.

What is surprising is that most construction professionals I ask are not aware that the market is cyclical; despite statistical data that proves it is.

Knowing When Change Will Come

The importance of knowing when to expect a change in the construction market cannot be overstated.

To prosper during a down cycle, we must operate differently than we do in a growth period. Failure to alter how we operate in a down cycle is the primary reason the industry has consistently suffered reduced profits, losses and business failures during downturns.

We can prosper in a down market by adjusting our operations. But that involves change and we all know how difficult that is. We can’t react if we don’t see the conversion in the cycle approaching.

Extensive research has demonstrated that we can forecast the construction market because it lags the US economy. That provides adequate warning.

When the US economy cycles down, the construction market continues to grow for plus or minus one year and then cycles down again. When the US economy cycles up, the market continues to decline for the same length until economic recovery begins to stimulate construction spending.

Construction markets lag at both ends of the cycle “announcing” the timing of cycle conversions. The current and last recovery
Common Edge
Historians will be writing about, and debating, the most significant epistemic changes that occurred during the final two decades of the 20th century for a long time. Following the elections of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the influx of products from China, and the Arab oil embargo, the world economy changed dramatically. Globalization was the term most often used to describe the overturning of the old order in markets, finance, and economic policy. Thomas Friedman published several books that attempted to explain these events in laymen’s terms, but I think it was an impossible task. How was anyone expected to consider the planet while looking for a job, watching family members die in the street, and wondering whether homes would be standing the next morning?

Laying aside the collapse of the Iron Curtain, and the tinderbox in the Middle East, tech mavens noted that people began using personal computers for nearly everything beginning in the early 1980s, as Apple, Microsoft, and IBM changed the nature of information processing and business with astounding speed. I remember receiving my first Macintosh computer in about 1982 while at my first academic job. I was overjoyed. Little did I think that I would use it for anything but writing books and doing research. I kept on buying books and CDs. I kept drawing by hand.

In fact, I was so bamboozled by the technological wizardry that was swirling around me I failed to notice a third Paradigm Shift aimed right at my solar plexus. I had spent the better part of my academic life studying the arts and humanities, believing that the fate of world culture would be decided by those with the education—the literacy—to be able to advance aesthetic achievements in such pursuits and architecture and music, while other aspects of human progress carried on at a similar rate of change. It has taken me decades to recognize how naive I was about the importance of my chosen field of study.

Global over Local. Cyberspace over Personal Space. Wealth over Culture. The three astounding, world-shattering shifts that have made much of what I care about cease to matter after the millennium snuck by under the radar, not only for me but for almost every architect I know. The smartest people I worked with over the past three decades were barely aware of how destructive these forces were, only now recognizing that a crisis has beset our old and esteemed profession, and the civic art we believe we make and curate for the public.

Last week, while participating in a radio call-in with Common Edge’s Martin C. Pedersen, Richard Buday, and Duo Dickinson, it dawned on me that these accomplished, observant men were talking about not only changes in home, work, and the environment, but about the fundamental reorientation of architectural production following the Covid-19 pandemic. When I reflected further on the conversation, I recognized the outlines of an attack on things I valued as an artist and cultural historian. They weren’t new. They happened while I was in the middle of my career, right under my nose, much like the attack on the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago.

Globalization, the cyber-information society, and the capitalist substitution of monetary value for culture are facts. In a post-truth society, these facts are not disputed. Books like Thomas Piketty’s two studies of capital in the 21st century unveiled the savage inequities wrought by wealth-seeking elites under the guise of global “open” markets. Dave Eggers put substance on the studies of social critics decrying the rise of surveillance commerce under the cloak of Google emoticons in his novel The Circle. Wired magazine and Fox News boldly proclaimed the irrelevance of cultural discourse amid the tsunamis of Big Data and 24-hour media feeds to all of our devices. The message from all three arenas is clear: Architecture doesn’t matter because the public realm has become virtual, capital chases capital without touching concrete things, and we can’t look at our environments objectively while checking our backsides for viruses, boogeymen, and hackers.

Let me unpack some of that for you, and for myself as well. Architects are still educated, correctly, to believe that what we do benefits everyone in some measure, but especially the people who work and live in spaces we design. I have written recently about how important it is for architects to understand biology and bra
An outdoor amphitheater, public plazas for farmers' markets and a 350-foot-tall tower inspired by a double helix, are among the latest design proposals for Amazon's new headquarters.

The plans, made public and submitted to authorities for approval on Tuesday, will form the second phase of the tech giant's $2.5 billion HQ2 project in Arlington County, Virginia.

More than three years after Amazon announced that it was expanding beyond its current Seattle headquarters, construction at the Virginia site -- located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. -- is now well underway. Dubbed PenPlace, the newly unveiled proposal for the project's second phase will provide a further 2.8 million square feet of office space across three 22-story buildings.

The site's focal point will be The Helix, a tree-covered glass structure where a series of "alternative work environments" will be set amid indoor gardens and greenery from the nearby area, tended to by a team of horticulturalists. According to the architecture firm behind the project, NBBJ, a spiral "hill climb" will meanwhile allow employees and visitors to ascend the outside of the structure.

"We're doing a lot on the site to connect people to nature, said lead architect and NBBJ principal, Dale Alberda, adding that the design aims to symbolize both nature and science. "But with the Helix we really take that to the extreme," he said in a video interview. "We're building a series of indoor atriums and gardens that are not a conservatory or a place you just visit, but a place you can actually go and work."

Public offerings

While the Helix itself will only open to the public occasionally ("at least two weekends" per month, Amazon confirmed to CNN), other parts of the site are intended for use by the community.

The new proposal includes 2.5 acres of public space, offering art installations, communal grassy areas and a 250-seat amphitheater. Outdoor plazas will host mobile food vendors and farmers' markets, while retail space will see shops and restaurants move in at ground level.

"If we do this right, you won't necessarily even know that you're on an Amazon headquarters property," said Alberda, adding that the "vast majority" of the site will be accessible to the public, including office buildings' lobbies.

"People talk about (tech) 'campuses' all the time, and that comes with (the impression of) a place that is fenced off ... but we are moving away from the campus to what we like to refer to as a neighborhood."

Elsewhere, the proposed design features a network of walkways and pedestrianized spaces, and can accommodate over 950 bicycles. Car parking and docking will be pushed below ground, keeping the immediate area free of service and delivery vehicles.

Employees will be able to reach downtown Washington, D.C. -- where Amazon boss Jeff Bezos bought a mansion for a reported $23 million in 2016 -- within 15 minutes by subway.

The entire headquarters is expected to run on renewable energy generated at a solar farm approximately 200 miles away in southern Virigina. Other sustainable design features include a system that recycles rainwater and the use of natural ventilation, while the buildings are designed to maximize the amount of sunlight that can enter, thus reduce the amount artificial lighting needed, Alberda said.

Long-term plans

When Amazon first announced plans to build a second headquarters in 2017, it received over 230 proposals from cities and states around the US.

In late 2018, the firm announced that northern Virginia and New York City had both been selected to split the duty as its second headquarters. But a proposal for the latter -- initially set for Long Island City in Queens -- was scrapped months later amid backlash from the local community. At the time, Amazon said that "a number of state and local politicians" in New York had "made it clear that they oppose our presence."
Propel Studio
Accessory dwelling units help the city meet its density goals and extend housing options—but only after striking a short-term/long-term balance.

While producing an annual music festival for five years, Keely Montgomery found that she often missed her two young children. She and her husband Josh watched accessory dwelling units (ADUs) pop up in Portland over the course of the decade, and in 2018 they decided to take the plunge. They commissioned an ADU in their backyard with short-term Airbnb rentals in mind, and Keely quit her job.

"It wasn’t an even trade in money," Josh says, "but when you factor in what we saved in child care, plus the pricelessness of being able to be with your kids, it didn’t have a huge impact on our bottom line."

They don’t mind that these days, with COVID-19 still keeping many at home, there are no bookings. "The silver lining is Josh has an office for his work," Keely explains. And because Josh works as a nurse at a local hospital, where his risk of COVID-19 exposure is higher, she says "he also has a space for quarantine if it gets dicey."

The ADU’s 490 square feet were designed for efficiency by local firm Propel Studio. "We’ve kind of learned what’s the most efficient layout," explains principal Nick Mira. "It’s three-fifths and two-fifths—three-fifths are the living area, and two-fifths are the bedroom and bathroom. The bathroom is a natural separator to provide some distance from the living area. We prefer to push kitchens to the perimeter—preferably just one wall." Although the back wall (which faces a tall fence and busy thoroughfare beyond) is windowless, clerestories fill the unit with natural light.

Over the past decade, the city has seen a wave of ADUs constructed—from detached backyard structures to dedicated basements dwellings and above-garage apartments that are part of an existing house. Portland isn’t the only city committed to ADUs, but in most places, regulations make them difficult. As of last year, there were only four American cities—Portland, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Austin—that had built more than 1,000 units.

And even in Portland, such growth is recent. Before 2010, when Portland first began to waive system development charges (SDCs) for ADUs, there was an average of 29 constructed per year. By 2016 and 2017, that number rose to well over 500 per year.

In 2018, to encourage more long-term rentals and discourage short-term stays, the City of Portland changed the rules, requiring new ADU owners to wait ten years to go the Airbnb route—or pay the original SDC (costs range from $14,000 to $19,000). That brought numbers down, but 2019 still brought another 315 permits. A Portland State University study found that about one-third of ADUs were used for short-term rentals, and slightly more were used for either long-term rentals or to house a family member. "It’s always been one of the long-range planning goals for the city," says Tyler Mann, a city planner with the City of Portland’s development bureau.

Mann also notes the city’s new Residential Infill Project, which was passed by City Council in August, will change zoning to make ADUs "even more important in the city’s housing mix," he adds. "It accomplishes two goals. It’s a way to retain existing housing stocks, while still having the flexibility to increase density and housing options."

Portland architect Webster Wilson, who has designed several ADUs, says his clients are looking for flexibility. "I think people are interested in outbuildings that can be rented out or set up for personal use—or both. That’s what’s interesting. It’s not one or the other—it’s ‘We may want to Airbnb it for a while, but then we’ll retire, move in there, and rent the main house.’ Or it’s ‘Our daughter will live there during college, and then we’ll rent it out.’"

Last year, a new state law cleared the way for many more ADUs to be built. HB 2001 effectively eliminated single-family zoning across Oregon. "Now it’s going to allow for duplexes and multiple ADUs in all areas of the city, unless there’s an environmental constraint or flood zone," Mann adds.

Detached ADUs tend to get more attention because they’re more visible standalone structures, explains Terry Whitehill, also of the City of Portland’s development bureau. "A common mistake—especially if they’re putting it in a part of the house like the garage or the basement—is they’ll have a common space with a furnace and electrical panels, and they don’t realize th
Los Angeles Times
When the last touches of landscaping are done next month, the 232-bed Vignes Street development will have shattered the axiom that homeless housing takes years to build and is exorbitantly expensive. From start to finish in under five months and at a cost of about $200,000 per bed, it has shaved years and hundreds of thousands of dollars off a traditional homeless housing project. — Los Angeles Times

The project, delivered in collaboration with Bernards, a design and construction firm; VESTA Modular, a national modular construction company; and NAC Architecture, is a mix of both permanent and temporary structures and will be used for housing and shelter.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "The two main buildings, constructed of once-used shipping containers, will have 132 units of permanent housing. The trailers, each divided into five units, will be for interim housing. The administrative building will house dining facilities, laundry and support services such as case management and counseling to serve both the permanent and interim residents."

Additionally, "The modular construction kept the basic cost to just over $86,000 per bed for the main buildings and $50,000 per bed for the trailers. Exterior elevators, the administrative building and site preparation, including removal of underground gas tanks, brought the total to $48 million, or $206,000 per unit, not including the county’s cost of $24 million for the land," writes Doug Smith for the Los Angeles Times.
Assets America
A recent essay on Common Edge has raised the issue of why architects are so afraid of confronting the need for adaptive reuse as a primary design strategy for the current century and beyond. As someone who taught groundbreaking studios on the subject at Columbia and elsewhere (and was discouraged from doing so), I can shed some light on the subject. Indeed, my 1992 essay, “Architecture for a Contingent Environment,” documented some of that student work in one of the first issues of the Journal of Architectural Education to feature historic preservation as a theme.

The grand narrative of architectural achievement following the Modernist movement has consistently praised “new and innovative” work at the expense of normative, competent design. When Rem Koolhaas singled out “fake history” in his attacks on historic preservation 10 years ago, he clearly showed not only his ignorance, but, more important, his seething contempt for any design practice that did not result in a complete remaking of the urban landscape, just as the authors of the 1933 CIAM declaration on historic urban quarters did. “Old quarters” were seen as squalid, dirty, unhealthy places whose charm was nostalgic rather than enriching. The Dutch Master had his head buried in the past, where anything historic was associated with the ancien régime.

As Vincent Scully and Stewart Brand have pointed out, historic preservation has fostered more urban revitalization and sustainable growth than any other strategy, and was the only popular architectural movement of the last century to garner support from virtually all citizens—contrary to Koolhaas’s false accusations of elitism. Part of the problem with architects embracing it was their own view of “design” as an elite artistic practice. Anyone working with a reverence and understanding of historic buildings and places was seen as a mere repairer, a tinkerer, a technical nerd. Frank Sanchis, one of the pioneering Columbia trained architects in conservation and preservation, once admitted that he went into the field “because I wasn’t strong in design, and knew I could succeed. Preservation isn’t about innovative design.” How wrong he was, despite the sad commentary on the state of the profession in the 1960s.
By their second or third year, architectural students falsely believe that they can’t be “creative” if they are designing additions or renovations to old buildings. Only when they leave school do they think otherwise…

That negative view of working with, not against, historic contexts has persisted in all but a few architectural programs. Several years ago, when I suggested to Deborah Berke, the incoming dean at Yale, that I offer a studio on adaptive reuse to her advanced students, she demurred. “Students won’t sign up for that,” she said, echoing a comment I also heard from her predecessor, Robert Stern. By their second or third year, architectural students falsely believe that they can’t be “creative” if they are designing additions or renovations to old buildings. Only when they leave school do they think otherwise, and wish they had some experience with “legacy” building technologies (to use a software term that would apply).

So, where does this leave professors and practitioners who want to teach students the subtle, difficult art of working with historic buildings? There are certainly books on the topic of additions, but they are often little help. Paul Byard’s awful, historically blinkered tome has only perpetuated myths about making new pieces fit their time, but not their place. Stuart Cohen, now an emeritus professor in Chicago, wrote one of the most intelligent essays, “On Adding On,” in the 1980s, but it isn’t consulted as often as Rudolfo Machado’s weaker piece cited by Amir Kripper. Few students in Ivy League programs have any idea that a literature exists on successful renovations and additions, because their professors are not interested in the subject. Much good writing by Beaux Arts–trained architects was published in the early 20th century. Edwin Lutyens was a master of adaptive reuse, as many of his clients owned venerable houses and castles that needed upgrading.

Only programs at Notre Dame, Miami, Colorado, and Georgia Tech offer the kind of history-based training that might prepare young architects for these future challenges. They teach the classical language of a
Wikimedia Commons
A leader in regenerative and netpositive design, Kirstin works with owners, cities and integrated teams to create living, resilient built environments where people and ecosystems thrive together. She has led some of the most cited studies on green roof performance and cost-effectiveness for clients such as the US GSA, Walmart and City and County of San Francisco.

After over a decade at Arup delivering sustainable office, mixed-use, civic and education projects, Kirstin launched Bio Studio, an ecological design consultancy based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kirstin knows more about the economics of green roofs than just about anyone, and I was fortunate to catch her at her home office for this edition of On The Roof With.

Steven W. Peck (SWP): Kirstin, you've been involved in a number of very important economic studies about green roofs for both public and private sector clients over the past decade? Many of the benefits of green roofs are context specific, both in terms of the objectives for the green roof on the building and the policy context of the jurisdiction. Generally speaking from a private sector perspective, where does the business case for green roof investment principally lie - in savings, revenue generation or both?

Kirstin Weeks (KW): I would say that the business case depends heavily on context. All green roofs will tend to produce returns like building energy savings and protection and life extension of the roof membrane, saving money on reroofing over time. But some of the biggest potential returns come from human experience. In an average office, for example, the investment made in people’s salaries and benefits might be 100x the cost of utility bills. Studies have repeatedly shown increased satisfaction and productivity when people have views of nature. Taking a short break in a natural setting can reduce stress levels for hours afterward. So if a green roof is visible or accessible, we’ve seen that the small uptick in productivity has the potential to pay back the entire investment in the green roof in a year or less, whereas the utility savings would tend to take decades. Another scenario where green roofs can pay back quickly is in new buildings that are subject to stormwater management or open space regulations. In some policy environments and on certain sites, it is actually cheaper to build a building with a green roof than to meet the regulations without one.
MVRDV has shared its designs for the Matrix 1, an office and laboratory complex to be located in the heart of Amsterdam Science Park. Engineered to meet BREEAM Excellent certification as well as ambitious Amsterdam targets for energy performance (EPC 0.15) and water retention, the innovative building will also house the University of Amsterdam’s new SustainaLab. This will be a specialist facility for researching technologies and systems to reduce carbon emissions and develop green business models. The 13,000-square-meter building broke ground in early 2020 and is slated to open in the beginning of 2022.

Sustainability is a key design driver for the Matrix 1, a six-story structure built of steel and concrete components that can be dismantled for reuse in the future. The roof will be topped with landscaping and solar panels to contribute to biodiversity while harnessing renewable energy. The large expanses of glazing that wrap the building will minimize reliance on artificial lighting.

As a new addition to Amsterdam Science Park in Amsterdam East, Matrix 1 will build on the campus’ innovative and collaborative character with its open and social design. A spacious, zigzagging staircase — inspired by the campus’ network of paths — will form the social heart of the building and will be viewable from the outside through a curtain wall.

“It provides a balance in the building between the standardized laboratories and a playful, people-oriented architecture — an important consideration in a building where tech workers, who have high expectations for the quality of their office spaces, will share with science workers, for whom laboratories are unable to provide the same perks,” explained the architects of the spacious stairwell, which will double as a meeting place. “Matrix 1’s stairwell will thus allow scientific workers to feel pampered in the same way that has become normal in the tech sector.”

Flickr/Creative Commons License/Gabriel Caparó
Aaron Betsky on the ways the President-elect's infrastructure plan falls short.

Go big or go home? Or small is beautiful? Those are the questions that confront the Biden administration when it takes over this country in a few weeks. As we look forward to a post-pandemic world (and a better year in general), what kind of political initiatives and developments can we expect that will affect the design world?

So far, I believe the signs are not good, even taking into account the runoff victories in Georgia that will give Democrats control of the Senate. The Biden administration-in-waiting appears to be made up of too many familiar faces who have espoused discredited or tired ideas, although we do not yet know who will lead any infrastructure or design initiatives. (Debra Haaland, Biden's pick as Interior secretary, is a bit of blank slate in this arena, and it remains to be seen if Pete Buttigeig, the proposed Transportation secretary, can produce any visionary proposals to match his rhetorical gifts.)

More important is Biden’s position statement on infrastructure, which states that his priority is “creating the jobs we need to build a modern, sustainable infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future.” Throughout this campaign document, the focus is on union jobs, “new and better products,” and roads.

Of course we need well-paying jobs, but making that need the driving force behind rebuilding our infrastructure, rather than seeing such construction as necessary in and of itself, has been a recurring problem not just here but around the world. It leads to make-work programs and wasted government funds. We do not always need new structures or buildings. We need to find ways to improve those we have. And we do not just need new roads or fewer potholes, however nice that would be, but public, fine-grained infrastructure that connects big cities and smaller communities alike.

Instead, we should turn the priorities around: We should build not to create jobs, but because we should invest in technologies that will increase jobs and equity. Though that might not sounds like a significant change, it is. Biden's proposals would lead to the same waste and bad design that we saw under the Obama administration.

Rather than embracing the Green New Deal, whose romantic sweep at least had a clear focus on sustainability and equity, Biden and his team favor a New Deal-lite, which calls for investment in “zero emission” public transport (whatever that means, unless all buses will be powered by a solar- or wind-powered grid). The Biden plan also proposes to “upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over 4 years.” Even this modest and vague idea (what does “upgrade” mean?) is only in service of creating “1 million good-paying jobs with a choice to join a union.” The plan also includes “cash rebates” for energy-efficient equipment, but again only to “spur … the manufacturing supply chain.”

Biden hopes to build “1.5 million sustainable homes and housing units,” without any details about where, how, or for whom. Again, why? To create union jobs. Given the sub-par quality of most public housing in this country, whether you consider it from the perspective of sustainability, construction quality, spatial generosity, land planning, or aesthetics, the real goal should be to rethink the entire concept, not just build more tiny boxes that serve neither the inhabitants nor the neighbors.

After (and only after) the emphasis on more jobs does Biden's plan include a section on restoring our crumbling infrastructure and a call for a “second great railroad revolution.” But how will he do it? By “streamlining” the grant process and making better use of existing funds. Expect the wasteful, utopian railroad to nowhere to continue snaking its way across California’s Central Valley. Meanwhile, I do not see any hope for expanding railroads where they are really needed, like in the denser urbanized areas of the Midwest. Nor should we expect any meaningful investment in a true version of national rail.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not arguing that any of Biden’s priorities are necessarily wrong. And I am not arguing against unions. It is just that our politicians only seem capable of selling needed investments in making our country more sustainable and just by touting union jobs. That goal should be separate and distinct from the need to rebuild our infrastructure and save our planet fr
Stefano Boeri Architetti
With Covid-19 vaccinations being rolled out around the world, here are three proposals by architects to speed up the process including drive-through facilities, shipping-container clinics and pods in town squares.

Urban pods by Stefano Boeri Architetti

Italian studio Stefano Boeri Architetti has designed circular timber-and-fabric pavilions that will be set up in 1,500 squares around the country.

The off-grid pavilions have roof-mounted solar panels to provide them with energy. Large pink flowers adorn the facade and roof to symbolise the rebirth of normal life in one of the countries worst-hit by the pandemic.

"Italy's public life is in our piazzas," Boeri told Dezeen. "We need to make sure that these pavilions will be reachable, comfortable and places that the community consider, for a period of time, part of their lives in order to defeat Covid-19."

Mobile vaccination units by Waugh Thistleton Architects

UK architect Waugh Thistleton Architects has proposed building a fleet of pre-fabricated vaccination units from converted shipping containers. These would be delivered on trucks around the UK. The architect has calculated that 6,500 mobile vaccination centres could immunise the entire UK population in 16 weeks.

"Over 12 weeks, these shipping containers could be mobilised throughout the country in car parks and other public areas to vaccinate the entire population of the UK," Waugh Thistleton Architects partner Andrew Waugh told Dezeen.

"The vaccination units can be delivered into the heart of villages and remote communities or in clusters spread through towns and cities, vaccinating the local population before moving on."

Drive-through clinics by NBBJ

International architect NBBJ has developed a drive-through clinic concept that could be adapted for a mass vaccination programme.

Originally developed as a way of treating hospital patients without requiring them to leave their vehicles, the architect believes the prefabricated facilities could be set up in under-used parking facilities at both hospitals and shopping malls.

"Covid has pushed us to think about breaking out of the boundaries of a traditional healthcare space and actually providing primary care in a totally unorthodox space like a car," NBBJ partner Ryan Hullinger told Dezeen.
The last few years have seen a growing number of things be offered on an on-demand basis. Cloud computing provides organizations with computing resources on that basis, for instance, while we increasingly watch television shows that we specifically choose rather than have broadcasters choose on our behalf.

The notion of the on-demand workforce was first brought to popular attention by Dan Pink in 2001 when he published Free Agent Nation, in which he predicted a future dominated by independent workers.

It was a few years from the publication of that until sharing economy behemoths such as Uber and Lyft emerged alongside gig economy platforms such as UpWork and Etsy, but they have grown at a tremendous pace, with their ascendency causing ripples throughout the world.

Whilst the notion of contingent labor has been around since Manpower was created in 1948, it's probably fair to say that the Internet has changed the game considerably. When Pink first highlighted the "free agent" concept back in 1997, he suggested there were around 25 million Americans working in such a way.

It should be said that this figure covers all forms of independent worker, and the varied nature of such workers makes measurement notoriously difficult. For instance, official government data puts the figure at around 15.5 million, which is some way below the 57 million proposed by a recent UpWork survey.

The on-demand workforce

UpWork went on to predict that freelancers would form the majority of the workforce in the United States within a decade, but a recent analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Economic Policy Institute pours scorn on such suggestions. Indeed, they argue that little has really changed since Pink made his prediction all those years ago.

The authors suggest that there has been little real change in work trends in the last 12 years, with those working in the gig economy representing just 1% of the overall workforce.

Despite this apparent lack of movement in the contingent portion of the workforce, companies have persistently complained about a lack of skilled workers in key areas. This has been especially so in digital domains, where the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation efforts across the economy.

New research from Harvard Business School suggests that as well as helping rethink business models, digital technologies can also help organizations rethink their models for sourcing talent.

Sourcing talent

The authors highlight that whereas during the 70 years or so that Manpower have been pioneering the contingent workforce, most of that work has remained on-site in physical premises. The pandemic has opened the door, and perhaps the minds of managers, to the benefits of remote work, and therefore untethered work from a physical location in a way that promises to result in a truly global marketplace for talent as never before.

"The right talent, in the right place, at the right time, is the equation for success in today's world," the authors say. "In an era of technological change, demographic shifts, and economic uncertainty, companies can enhance their ability to compete by building a flexible work model."

The authors highlight that some pioneering firms are already relying increasingly on online talent platforms to augment their full-time staff, but surprisingly, this mindset was pretty pervasive, with 90% of survey respondents saying they were familiar with such platforms and that they would be an important part of their talent strategy in the years ahead. Indeed, 52% of executives said that their usage of these talent platforms would significantly increase.

"Organizations are crying out for access to the latest skills to complete the digital transformations that are so important at the moment," Hiruy Amanuel, co-founder of software education and talent placement firm Gebeya says. "There's a real need for organizations to be flexible and agile with regards to accessing talent as and when they need it, and the new wave of online platforms are giving them the means to do that."

Just as studies have highlighted the value on-demand cloud computing has provided in terms of affording organizations greater agility and resilience during the pandemic, so too are executives citing agility as a key factor in the shift to on-demand talent sourcing.<
The Wall Street Journal
Surveys of employees suggest that plenty of workers are adjusting to remote work—and in no hurry to return to the office

Some Americans have a new outlook on remote working: They prefer it.

In June and July, a group of 1,388 people working from home were asked for their impressions of the experience by workplace consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics and video technology company Owl Labs.

The new arrangement, it turns out, suited many of them.

While roughly 27% said they would have considered such a setup to be ideal before the coronavirus pandemic started, 80% said they would like to continue working remotely for three days of the week or more once the pandemic is over. Many of these people said they would prefer remote work all five days of the workweek.

Another set of 10,000 employees surveyed by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago say they felt the work-from-home situation was either just as productive or more so than the office. Some told the researchers that home was 30% more productive.

“On average, workers and employers have been pleasantly surprised by productivity when working from home,” says Steven Davis, one of the study authors and a University of Chicago business and economics professor. “Reality exceeded expectations.”

The end of 9-to-5

The many changes imposed by the pandemic are acting as another challenge to the 9-to-5 workday model, which was already under threat before the pandemic. In 2019, more than 87% of full-time U.S. employees averaged eight-and-a-half hours per workday, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By last June and July, a group of 2,025 full-time workers who worked remotely and non remotely told Global Workplace Analytics and Owl Labs that they were working more during Covid-19.

How much more? An average of 26 extra hours a month, according to the survey. Another estimate, from New York University Stern School of Business doctoral student Michael Impink, shows average daily work hours increasing 8-15%, depending on the day of the week. He examined data from more than 3.4 million workers, counting the time from their first daily work correspondence to their last.

Not everyone clocked more time at home. More than 40% of employees surveyed by Global Workforce Analytics and Owl Labs said their hours stayed the same while working remotely.

For those who believe a home-office setup is more productive, is it because of a lack of commute or fewer office interruptions?

Mr. Davis’s study declined to offer a single explanation, saying it is “not obvious whether offices or homes have fewer distractions and more quiet time.” There are “co-workers and water coolers” in the office, while televisions and “potentially children” serve as home diversions.

The danger is that a workweek expansion could erode work-life boundaries and contribute to employee burnout.

“The traditional 9-5, Monday through Friday, has been fading for years and the pandemic just accelerated that process,” says Cali Williams Yost, chief executive and founder at workplace consulting company Flex+Strategy Group. “Individuals and teams now need to be intentional about setting up the guardrails for themselves. What that means for the individual is, we need to be more intentional about planning: what needs to get done and when and where we do it best.”

Will remote work stick?

Employers weren’t prepared for the shift to remote work. But some did make things easier by providing employees everything from stipends for home-office equipment to better videoconferencing hookups.

The largest pickup in remote work happened at employers specializing in educational services and finance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roughly 60% of educational services and 58% of finance companies boosted telework for at least some employees as a result of the pandemic.

Service companies in food, retail and construction were among the lowest adopters, since it is more difficult to do their work remotely. In those cases, fewer than 20% of employers increased telework.

Will remote work last at the companies that embraced it in 2020? Consumer brand companies are betting the work-from-home culture is here to stay by expanding and revamping factories that make everything from coffee to casual clothes.

The key to remote-work longevity, say some observers, is whether companies can formalize guideline
National Landing Business Improvement District)
National Landing, the renamed neighborhood of Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yards in Arlington and Alexandria, will become the country’s most connected urban center sometime in the next decade, its business boosters say.

Eight major transportation projects are underway in the area, with the aim of turning what is often seen as a busy pass-through into a truly urban neighborhood where residents, office workers and visitors have easy access to local and regional amenities as well as long-distance travel.

The projects will expand heavy rail services such as Amtrak and the Virginia Railway Express; add four new miles of protected bike lanes; turn a busy elevated highway into an urban boulevard that emphasizes safety and walkability; add additional Metro entrances; extend dedicated bus lanes; widen sidewalks and create new trailheads; and construct a pedestrian bridge over the George Washington Memorial Parkway between Crystal City and Reagan National Airport.

“The collective impact of the projects are truly transformative,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the National Landing Business Improvement District, which published a report touting $4 billion in both public and private investments in National Landing. “This is a story of innovation, equity, sustainability and competitive advantage.”

The projects are in the planning, design or construction stages, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on travel patterns and the lives of restaurant, office and hospitality workers. They came together because of the arrival of Amazon’s second headquarters in Arlington, which was announced two years ago. Many of the projects had been in the discussion or planning stages earlier than that, but the Amazon decision accelerated the plans.

“Access to good-quality, multimodal transit options was one of the key drivers in Amazon’s decision to locate in Arlington,” Brian Huseman, the retail behemoth’s vice president of public policy, said in a statement. “The additional investments in transportation infrastructure from the County and the Commonwealth will make this one of the most connected and innovative jurisdictions — benefitting the community at large.”

JBG Smith, the developer of Amazon’s building projects in the neighborhood and the majority property owner in Crystal City, announced last month that it has finished construction on a ­14-story tower at 1770 Crystal Dr. that is leased to Amazon.

Amazon now leases more than 850,000 square feet of space in National Landing, the Arlington Economic Development agency said.

More than 26,000 people already live in the National Landing area, with more housing in the pipeline. Office space takes up 12 million square feet. There are more than 450 retail stores and restaurants and 5,500 hotel rooms. And it’s likely to get even busier.

Amazon has hired more than 1,000 employees of the 25,000 it expects to eventually work at its new headquarters. Its twin 22-story buildings, the first of two sites underway in Arlington, are rising from what used to be empty warehouses along South Eads Street. JBG Smith announced on Dec. 21 that it bought the former Americana Hotel directly across the street, which it plans to replace with a 500,000-square-foot multifamily development.

The county and neighboring Alexandria, expecting significant economic benefits from Amazon’s arrival, have welcomed the company, even to the extent of sharing what questions elected officials planned to ask at public hearings.

The transportation projects will be financed by $270 million of state and federal money, as well as tax increment financing in which future local development will pay the costs for construction. In selling the Amazon project to the community, local governments have emphasized these long-term capital investments will benefit all users, not just Amazon and related businesses.

Labor organizations and groups that advocate for low-income workers have resisted Amazon’s expansion in Arlington, protesting pay and working conditions in its warehouses elsewhere in the nation and accusing Amazon of tolerating labor abuses, which the company denies.

National Airport lies just one-third of a mile from Crystal Drive, the main retail street of Crystal City. Construction of a pedestrian bridge over the GW Parkway will make this
Katerra; Getty; iStock
Deal makes Japanese firm majority stakeholder in construction startup

Once bitten, twice shy? Not so for Japanese investment firm SoftBank, which despite its ill-fated bet on WeWork has agreed to pump a pile of cash into another real estate tech startup.

SoftBank plans to invest another $200 million into struggling construction startup Katerra, a move that will effectively save it from bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Under the deal, Greensill Capital, a financial services company also backed by SoftBank, will get a 5 percent stake in Katerra in exchange for erasing about $435 million in debt, the Journal said. SoftBank will also become Katerra’s majority stakeholder.

Katerra was founded in 2015 with a goal of transforming the $12 trillion global construction. But the company has had a patchy record, struggling with delays, cost overruns and mass layoffs.

Katerra’s co-founder Michael Marks stepped down as CEO in May to work full-time for venture capital firm WRVI Capital.

“I greatly respect the backing that we got from SoftBank and wish them the absolute best and hope that I can be helpful,” he told the Journal in a statement Wednesday.

Paal Kibsgaard, formerly Katerra’s chief operating officer, stepped in as CEO with a directive to get the company’s finances in order.

SoftBank said in a statement Wednesday that Kibsgaard “addressed several operational inefficiencies and improved the financial trajectory of Katerra,” adding that the firm remained “committed to the company’s long-term vision and believes the current leadership team has the ability to make this vision a reality.”
Enrico Cano via Frigerio Design Group
On the island of Capri in Italy, the new Terna electric power station is an innovative example of sustainable architecture that merges into the unique landscape of the Italian island. Designed by Italian studio Frigerio Design Group, the new station replaces the island’s original diesel-run power plant in an effort to highlight the importance of renewable energy all while making the island a safer place to live.

The project is built on a 2,700-square-meter site, and the overall design is based on a combination of geometry, greenery and light to integrate the structure with the steep Mediterranean landscape. The power station achieves an electrical connection between the island and the mainland, made possible through an investment of 150 million euros by Terna in order to provide Capri with renewable energy and reduce emissions to zero.

A new power line lies completely underwater and underground, delivering more reliability, efficiency and quality to the local electrical service. Connecting Capri to the rest of Italy’s electric grid will save the island an estimated 20 million euros per year and reduce the carbon emissions by 130,000 tons.

The building itself shares the same colors as the island’s landscape, while the materials take into account the aggressive environmental conditions of the area such as salty air, humidity and UV rays. The architectural finishing of the complex consists of geometric elements to create variable and vibrant compositions. The landscaping uses only native and local scrubs and plants that will achieve autonomous growth once the roots have had time to set, completely removing the need for landscape maintenance.

In order to respect the natural surroundings, the building’s lighting design minimizes any light pollution. Lighting devices have cut-off parabolas and are positioned to hide their lighting sources, while LED technology is adopted to reduce consumption and waste. Between the building’s railings and walls, a stunning lighting design illuminates the perforated sheets upward and walls downward at night.

Washington Post illustration; iStock
The office changed forever in 2020. What workplace experts say we should expect next year.

After a year in which the coronavirus pandemic upended the very concept of the workplace — one in which millions of white-collar workers traded office attire, business travel and lengthy commutes for comfy pants, webcams and virtual school with their kids — predicting 2021 office trends might be a perilous exercise.

But with vaccines beginning to be distributed across the country, many companies have started to imagine some return to office life next year. At the same time, remote work isn’t going anywhere. And neither — despite our fatigue with it — is Zoom.

To get a sense of what 2021 might hold — beyond continued job market uncertainty, benefits focused on child care and mental health, and the proliferation of plexiglass — The Washington Post asked human resources advisers, workplace designers, employment lawyers and compensation analysts to share predictions for a year that could bring back some normalcy while returning people to workplaces that may never be the same.

“We’re just not going to go back to five days a week in the office,” said Erica Volini, Deloitte’s global human capital leader. “The idea that we’re going to get to some new consistent way of working flies in the face of what we’ve learned in the pandemic.”

Here are six predictions for what to expect at work in 2021.

As recruiting and remote work go national, some salary ranges will too.

As work-from-home employees fled high-cost cities for cheaper locales, some employers threatened to cut workers’ pay, bringing Bay Area compensation more in line with South Bend budgets. Facebook, for instance, has said it could adjust the pay of workers to their new locales, and an October survey by advisory firm Willis Towers Watson found that 26 percent of respondents said they would base compensation on location for remote workers.

But Catherine Hartmann, WTW’s North America rewards practice leader, said she is seeing companies take a more nuanced view. Many employees, she said, will need or want to return to an office at least part of the time.

And if employees can move to other locales, employers can recruit from elsewhere too, making location-based salary less of a focus. “As talent becomes more of a national marketplace, some of my clients have been contemplating the idea of having more of a national approach” about pay decisions, Hartmann said. Hot skills and expensive markets will still get a premium, but “maybe the bottom rises a bit,” she said. “Given the number of my clients who are asking about that, it’s on the table for sure.”

More likely than pay cuts, said Brian Kropp, chief of human resources research at the advisory firm Gartner, is that people who move to cheaper markets could just see smaller raises. “If you move to a lower-cost place and your pay is already above market, you may get a slower rate of increase,” he said. “The reality of a more remote workforce is you’re going to start seeing wages for jobs that can be done remotely start to even out.”

Josh Bersin, a human resources industry analyst, also predicted that efforts to cut pay for those who depart for cheaper spots may not last if there’s fallout: “If you have an engineer making $150,000 in San Francisco pick up and move to Montana, and now you’re going to pay him $120,000, what is that guy going to do? Look for another job.”

Video chats will get smarter — and, potentially, creepier — thanks to artificial intelligence.

If 2020 was the year video conferencing truly went mainstream, 2021 could be the year it gets smarter. Some of the largest platforms will begin using artificial intelligence to recognize and track certain gestures participants make, automate to-do items and help manage the challenges of workers split between work and home.

Zoom Video Communications, for instance, announced a “smart gallery” feature it plans to roll out in June 2021 that will use cameras to make multiple people in the same on-site conference room appear as separate, equal-sized windows on their live-stream video. Those working from home will see the individual faces of each colleague rather than just a view of the whole conference room, an effort to visually shrink the differences between remote and in-person workers.

“We want to maintain the democratization of Zoom, and have everyone on the
Finding the right college for any high school student, let alone a program to pursue, is not an easy task. While students may be enthusiastic about specific professions, different institutions approach these professions with radically distinct teaching methods and emphases.

Among the accredited programs in the Western USA, SCI-Arc stands out for the quality of student work and the cutting-edge skills its graduates bring to the workplace. I wanted to investigate what makes this "school for architectural thinking" different. What would a student applying to SCI-Arc leave with? With such an active student body and faculty, what else does the school offer that we don't already know about? Archinect wanted to learn more about what makes this school's undergraduate program so successful and hopefully shed light and add some clarity to what makes this highly sought after.

I connected with Undergraduate Program Chair Tom Wiscombe and History/Theory Coordinator Marrikka Trotter to gain more insight. During the conversation, they both discussed SCI-Arc's approach to preparing undergraduates to enter the industry. They broke down what an undergraduate education needs and how it should change and spoke about dissecting the "hardened castles protecting deep systemic problems" of architectural pedagogy.

Besides its hyper-visual projects, a penchant for the digital realm, and polished student work, how does SCI-Arc currently approach architectural pedagogy? What do they hope for the future? Below they break down the program's goals and their own experiences in academia as former students, current instructors, and practitioners.

Marrikka Trotter: Too often, B.Arch programs produce graduates with an inflexible skill-set, inadvertently setting them up for a treadmill career that requires them to spend enormous effort and resources to continuously update or adapt their technical knowledge and abilities. If your skills are your primary value in the marketplace, you must do this to remain valuable and relevant. It can be exhausting and demoralizing; like Alice in Wonderland, you find yourself running fast just to stay in the same place. How does SCI-Arc seek to educate differently, with an eye toward longer-term career sustainability, growth, and even happiness?

Tom Wiscombe: Yes, architectural undergraduate education needs to be torn down and rethought. You are right; there is still the sense that we need to produce “practice-ready” students and that we exist to somehow feed the market and keep those Revit seats occupied. It’s time to think about what the role is today for architects—we are not engineers, we are not decorators, and we are not just service providers. We are civic leaders. Architects today need to be able to address and convince huge groups of stakeholders, engineers, builders, users, and our peers that what we do matters and how the vision we are proposing creates a new reality larger than the project. They need to be able to present and defend their ideas in constantly changing forms of representation and rhetoric. Maybe, they need to fill the void in leadership we see so often in the urban realm and fight its creeping banality.

SCI-Arc’s undergraduate program is really the opposite of a trade school- it is a civic space, and its students are citizens. We completely rebuilt our curriculum 5 years ago to re-focus it toward the humanities and away from applied learning, which is to say that we are preparing our students for the long game rather than short-term skill-building, which is always a millimeter away from obsolescence. I like that you connect this approach with happiness… happiness is directly tied to having an overview, valuing ethics and ideas over what’s right there in front of us, and committing to a life of curiosity and intellectual engagement.

MT: I agree that the highest and best goal for an architectural education is a combination of creative wonder -- being open to and interested in the world and what it could be -- and hardcore commitment to a set of values and an area of expertise. Expertise is different from skills in the sense that it’s a deep reservoir of knowledge that can be applied in any number of ways and with any number of different skills. It’s interesting that a humanities-based education, with its emphasis on critical thinking and imagination, is often seen as only appropriate for or
Desiree Rios for The New York Times
The Moynihan Train Hall, with glass skylights and 92-foot-high ceilings, will open Jan. 1 as an area for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road riders.

For more than half a century, New Yorkers have trudged through the crammed platforms, dark hallways and oppressively low ceilings of Pennsylvania Station, the busiest and perhaps most miserable train hub in North America.

Entombed beneath Madison Square Garden, the station served 650,000 riders each weekday before the pandemic, or three times the number it was built to handle.

But as more commuters return to Penn Station next year, they will be welcomed by a new, $1.6 billion train hall complete with over an acre of glass skylights, art installations and 92-foot-high ceilings that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who championed the project, has likened to the majestic Grand Central Terminal.

After nearly three years of construction, the new Moynihan Train Hall, in the James A. Farley Post Office building across Eighth Avenue from Penn Station, will open to the public on Jan. 1 as a waiting room for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers.

For decades, the huge undertaking was considered an absolution of sorts for one of the city’s greatest sins: the demolition in the 1960s of the original Penn Station building, an awe-inspiring structure that was a stately gateway to the country’s economic powerhouse.

The destruction of the station was a turning point in New York’s civic life. It prompted a fierce backlash among defenders of the city’s architectural heritage, the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and renewed efforts to protect Grand Central Terminal.

That the project has been completed during a period when the city was brought to a standstill is a hopeful reminder that the bustle of Midtown Manhattan will return, Mr. Cuomo said.

“This would be an amazing accomplishment at any time, but it is an extraordinary accomplishment today,” the governor said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the new hall on Wednesday. “As dark as 2020 was, to me this hall brings the light, literally and figuratively.”

The project has its detractors, who fault state officials as not going far enough in reimagining Penn Station. These critics note that the Moynihan Train Hall will serve only some of the passengers who use Penn Station, ignoring the needs of subway riders.

For nearly 30 years, elected leaders have debated transforming the Farley building from a post office to an extension of Penn Station — an idea first proposed by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was known for his innovative, if not always realistic, solutions to urban ills.

The Farley building, Mr. Moynihan argued, offered an obvious solution to Penn Station’s overcrowding: Commuter train tracks ran beneath the large post office, which was no longer a busy mail hub but still had a grandeur that echoed the original Penn Station’s. That building was demolished starting in 1963 as the Pennsylvania Railroad Company went bankrupt.

At least five versions of Mr. Moynihan’s original plan later, Mr. Cuomo broke ground for the project in 2017. Two major private developers, Related Companies and Vornado, contributed $630 million in exchange for a 99-year lease on much of the century-old Farley building; the other $970 million came from public sources.

The train hall is one of several major infrastructure projects that Mr. Cuomo has spearheaded as he seeks to make such initiatives a hallmark of his tenure.

Still, the Moynihan hall caters primarily to Amtrak passengers, who account for just 5 percent of Penn Station’s 650,000 weekday riders and will board and exit trains through the new waiting area. Long Island Rail Road commuters will be able to get to trains from the new hall, but officials expect most of them to continue to use the older Penn Station.

The station’s six subway lines run along Eighth and Seventh Avenues and Avenue of the Americas — a good distance from the new train hall. That leaves subway riders, who tend to be less affluent than Amtrak users, and New Jersey Transit commuters to the bowels of Penn Station.

“By opening Moynihan, it’s basically like opening the first-class lounge at the airport,” said Vishaan Chakrabarti, who founded Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, a New York architecture firm, and proposed a radical plan to move Madison Square Garden and open up Penn Station in 2016.

“Moynihan is a really good Phase One, it’s the appetizer,” Mr. Chakrabarti said. “But
BILDWERK Visualisierung
Measuring 265 square feet, this tiny house from Germany has a compact kitchen and an enormous bathroom (with a full-sized bathtub)!

Like the people who create them, each tiny house is a unique creation, often designed to carefully respond to the varying needs of its inhabitants. Some are built by college students testing out a mortgage-free lifestyle, while others are constructed for empty nesters looking to downsize after their children leave home. There's also a good number of smaller-sized homes built by those simply looking to consciously ditch the wasteful, over-consumerist way of life, and to find a way around the unaffordable housing market and get out of the so-called "rent trap."

And like the diverse multitudes of people they house, tiny homes come in all kinds of styles, whether that's of the more rustic bent, or of the ultra-modern flavor. Coming from Germany, Tiny Lofts is one tiny house builder that manages to mix these two polar opposites (and even add a tiny touch of luxury) in their latest model, the 265-square-foot Tiny Loft One.

From the outside, we see that the Tiny Loft One boasts a modernist look, thanks to its metal cladding from top to bottom, and its simple but bold gabled form. However, these modern, more industrial elements are balanced with the more traditional materials of cedar shingling that covers the entry and rear facades – a nice, contrasting touch.

We love how firewood storage has been incorporated into the frame around the entrance door – making it not only convenient to grab some wood when needed, but also adding an intriguing visual component.

Once inside, we see that the layout is quite different from the "typical" tiny house that might have its kitchen situated along the length of the house. In the Tiny Loft One, the kitchen is located on the short side of the house, right up against the residual spaces left by the entry corridor.

It's a departure from the oft-used layout of the kitchen "work triangle" that attempts to minimize the amount of movement and effort needed to go between stove, sink, and refrigerator – admittedly, it really does reduce the amount of space that this kitchen occupies.

In any case, everything is well-lit, there's plenty of wall-hung shelving and cabinetry to store kitchen appliances, and utensils and chairs are hung off the walls to maximize space. The addition of a fold-down dining table helps to clear off some extra floor area too.

Above the kitchen, we see a secondary loft that can be used for even more storage, or as an option, with a larger mezzanine built to accommodate a guest or for work.

The living room evokes a balance between modernity and homey rusticity, and feels open and airy, thanks to the high ceiling, and the huge patio doors leading out to the outdoor deck.
Steve Watson/Wikimedia
Earlier this month, organizers of the U.K.-based Architects Declare (AD) collective issued a statement inviting Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and Foster and Partners to re-sign the group’s agreement on addressing climate change through design. The leaders of the two high-profile firms, both headquartered in London, cited fundamental differences with AD’s approach to the global climate emergency in withdrawing from the pact earlier this year.

Architects Declare was jointly established by the 17 winners of RIBA’s Stirling Prize in the summer of 2019, a group that included Foster and Partners, ZHA, David Chipperfield Architects, and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. It has since grown to include over 1,000 British firms, as well as over 5,000 signatories from 20 different countries under the broader umbrella ‘Construction Declares.’

The declaration, which includes a list of eleven action items, acknowledged buildings’ role in generating “nearly 40 [percent] of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions,” encouraging architecture practices to jointly commit to designing “buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system.”

Architects Declare identifies itself as “a collective voice, liaising with other industry-based organizations and networks, constructively engaging with government, clients and the architectural press.” Its members have raised £15,000 to fund a paid coordinator and have begun compiling resources to guide architecture firms towards greater environmental consciousness and action.

In the first week of December, Foster and Partners became the first firm to pull out of the agreement, releasing a statement to AN that detailed its objection to the organization’s insistence that architects reconsider designing airports. Foster himself implored practitioners to “drive these positive changes through innovation rather than protest,” advocating for “a sense of proportion and serious consideration of the facts.”

The following day, Zaha Hadid Architects removed itself from the signatory list after coming to an impasse with AD over its commitment to the eleven principles outlined in the declaration. AD had issued an ultimatum to the firm of the late Zaha Hadid after its principal, Patrik Schumacher, publicly argued that economic growth and commitments to address climate change were innately incompatible.

In a statement released on December 8, AD expressed regret for “not having sought further dialogue with ZHA before suggesting that they withdraw from the declaration.” Inviting both Hadid’s firm and Foster and Partners to recommit their practices to the pact, the statement reads in full:

“Over the past 18 months, UK Architects Declare has grown into a collaborative force of more than 1000 architectural practices in the UK working towards transformative change, but last week saw the departure of two of our founding signatories, Foster + Partners and ZHA. We are saddened and disappointed that two such globally influential practices have found it necessary to withdraw.

It continues to be our goal to work collectively to bring about change while recognising that this is a journey and not a simple linear process. Different collaborative groups are needed to bring different perspectives. For example, AD’s role with practice signatories, is different to ACAN’s with individual members, and from the outset it has been AD’s policy not to publicly “call out” our signatory colleagues’ work. We recognise that practices have varying approaches to meeting the goals of the declaration. What unites us is a shared vision of a built environment that addresses the climate and biodiversity crises.

The reason we felt compelled to respond to Patrik Schumacher’s recent statements was because they appeared to represent a shift away from this shared vision and thereby undermine the principles of the declaration. Having read ZHA’s withdrawal statement, we regret not having sought further dialogue with ZHA before suggesting that they withdraw from the declaration. We would like to encourage both Foster + Partners and ZHA to consider signing the declaration again soon in order to be part of this growing collaborative network.

We believe that high ambitions for change will benefit from unity and the coming together of al
Luis Young
A 164-square-foot retreat in Litibú features a courtyard with an oculus that frames the sky.

About an hour north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is the small town of Litibú and its wealth of idyllic beaches. "There are around 100 people registered as living in Litibú, so it’s a quiet and simple town," says architect Diego Escamilla of architecture studio Palma. "We believe that with a landscape like this, architecture should take a step back, so you can feel and enjoy the power of the place."

The 164-square-foot retreat that Palma designed for an American couple does just that: A minimalist outpost surrounded by waving palm trees, it allows the tropical landscape to take the lead.

In their effort to put nature first, the architects arranged two simple volumes on either side of a connective courtyard that features an oculus carved out of the center of the roof. The residents pass through the courtyard when they move from the kitchen and living area to the bedroom and bathroom on the other side.

"The patio serves as a transition between public and private space," Escamilla says. "It forces you be outside, to look at the sky through the oculus."

Taken as a whole, the rectangular tiny house presents a void at the center—a void that welcomes a connection to shifting breezes, sunlight, and surrounding greenery. The rooms that flank the courtyard meld with the landscape, too, with wood-and-glass doors that fold completely open.

"Every room opens to the exterior and lets the outdoors in," says Escamilla. "The design looks to traditional tropical architecture in Mexico."

Smooth, gray stucco walls prevent the build-up of humidity and contrasts with the palapa roofing, which lends texture and references the surrounding flora.

"The climate was the main driver of the design," notes Escamilla. "The high, palapa ceilings let the hot air out, and natural ventilation is also facilitated by the folding doors."

Polished concrete floors, pigmented stucco walls, and built-in concrete furniture and shelving carry the understated and sculptural aesthetic of the exterior to the interior. Wood doors, cabinetry, and window frames add additional notes of texture and warmth.

Interior Design Media
This may not have been the year of in-person office unveilings—but the environments of yesteryear are quickly adapting to herald in the workplaces of the future. Here are the top 10 offices waiting patiently for its occupants to return.

1. TikTok Arrives Stateside in a Gensler-Designed Los Angeles Headquarters

It started out as a Chinese video dance app. Then kids picked it up for their 15-second bursts. Adults, of course, followed suit, and now TikTok is a global phenomenon. Gensler’s vibrant design of the company's first American headquarters is housed in a building in the Culver City sector of Los Angeles. TikTok comes stateside on three floors that incorporate two additional mezzanines to total 120,000 square feet. Naturally, a sense of movement, intrinsic to TikTok’s culture, pervades.

2. Jay-Z Taps Jeffrey Beers for the Musician’s Roc Nation Office in Chelsea

Roc Nation CEO and co-founder Desiree Perez goes back with Jay-Z to 1996, when she booked him to perform at a club she was managing. Now, overseeing a staff of 450, 52 percent of whom are minorities, she leads development and growth across Roc Nation. That includes the New York office’s move from the Garment District to Chelsea, where Perez handed over the mic to Jeffrey Beers International.

3. HOK Designs HQ that Celebrates the Senses for Shiseido Americas

Transformation is key to what Shiseido is. When CEO Marc Rey began the search for new headquarters, he had a seemingly simple goal: cohesion. “He requested a place of community where beauty and leadership could shine,” begins Bill Bouchey, principal and director of design and interiors at HOK, which won the bid to design the Shiseido Americas workplace in New York.

4. Ketra Unveils New Austin Headquarters Awash with Natural Light

“When we chose this place with Karl, we were inspired by its beautiful Louis XVI–style architecture,” Karl Lagerfeld CEO and president Pier Paolo Righi says of the fashion brand’s new global headquarters in Amsterdam. Even thought creative visionary Karl Lagerfeld never set foot in the completed headquarters, he remains ever-present there. His image is everywhere: in self-portraits, photographs, caricatures, dolls, models, and displays of clothing he designed.

6. A+I Designs New Hudson Yards Headquarters for Equinox

When Equinox opted to locate its new headquarters in Hudson Yards, the company turned to architecture, strategy, and experience design firm Architecture +Information. The plan? To create a high-performance HQ that would reflect its evolving identity as a premier, luxury lifestyle brand. The workspace is designed to increase creativity and innovation by bringing people together—featuring open floor plans and interconnected levels with comfortable corners carved out for private conversations and relaxing breaks.

7. Juan Alberto Andrade and María José Vascones Design Flexible Office for Tech Company in Ecuador

While "business as usual" hardly exists right now, there is at least business. And as companies adapt to new routines, there continues to be changing needs for client-employee dynamics. For technology services company Mendotel, located in Guayaquil, Ecuador, those needs included a new space with flexibility and privacy. Designers Juan Alberto Andrade and María José Vascones took up the challenge, creating what Alberto Andrade deems “a reconfiguration of completely sealed spaces.”

8. Pernod Ricard’s French Heritage Suffuses the Distiller’s New Paris Headquarters by Saguez & Partners

Olivier Saguez is far from convinced that the office is dead. “I don’t think you work best from home,” the Saguez & Partners founder asserts. “You don’t come into contact with others. So, you stay stuck with the same ideas. Working today is a collaborative experience and you need a place that creates connections.” The firm’s latest project—new Parisian headquarters for the Pernod Ricard wine and spirits group—is designed to do exactly that.

9. Airport Design Inspires Studio Alexander Fehre's Shared Desking System for an Open Office

Board members sharing an office? Not likely. Yet at their own insistence, the four that work at Robert Bosch Automotive Steering headquarters in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, do just that. That’s thanks to
Thomas Bruns, courtesy of BBR
The first images of the renovation of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin by David Chipperfield Architects have been revealed.

Neue Nationalgalerie released the images shortly after the scaffolding surrounding the building was removed following an extensive, five-year renovation of the museum by David Chipperfield Architects.

The images show the restored glass-walled main hall of the museum, along with some of the refurbished exhibition halls below it.

Completed in 1968 the museum for modern art was one of Mies van der Rohe's last major projects and his only building built in Germany following his emigration to the US.

The building had not undergone any major works since its completion and was renovated to modernise its services and renovate its fabric while maintaining its original appearance.

"The refurbishment does not represent a new interpretation, but rather a respectful repair of this landmark of the International Style," explained the studio.

As part of the renovation, David Chipperfield Architects deconstructed almost the entire shell of the building and stripped back the interiors to the structure.

The exterior was restored with glazing replaced and the distinctive steel structure recoated and re-welded. The damaged, supporting reinforced-concrete structure was also repaired.

In total 35,000 individual components were removed from the building, with the majority restored and returned into their original positions.

This includes the natural stone floor slabs and metal ceiling grills in the main hall.

Along with the restoration, the renovation has also updated the air-conditioning, lighting and security systems in the museum as well as adding a lift to improve the accessible access. The cloakroom, café and museum shop have also been improved.

The renovation is set to be complete by April 2021, with the museum due to open in August with an exhibition of works by American sculptor Alexander Calder.

Once the renovation is complete another major museum, designed by Swiss architecture studio Herzog & de Meuron, is planned to be built alongside the Neue Nationalgalerie and connected to it by a tunnel. The studio released renders of the Museum of the 20th Century in 2018.

Cristobal Palma.
Casa Tapihue by Matías Zegers Arquitectos is a house in a vineyard built from white stone around a courtyard with a firepit in Casablanca, Chile.

The residence is named for the valley of Tapihue between two mountains in Chile's wine-growing region.

Matias Zegers Arquitectos designed the family home to give the resident plentiful ways of enjoying the natural landscape while being protected from the area's fierce breezes.

"There will be no trees or vegetation to mediate one's scale against vastness around the building for a while, so we wanted the house to support life not only indoors but outdoors too," said the studio.

Four volumes are arranged around a square central courtyard paved in concentric rings. A dish-shaped metal fire pit sits at the centre.

"The whole program is laid out around this patio that will provide a serene atmosphere through a hand-reach landscape full of aromas and protected from the permanent winds of Casablanca," they added.

Matias Zegers Arquitectos raised the house almost a metre above ground level on a concrete plinth to elevate the views above the rows of planted vines.

A grand library occupies one side of the house. Full-height glazing overlooks the courtyard internally and the valley outside.

Open bookcases made of wood allow for views straight through from the fire pit to the mountains.

The roofs slope up on the volumes flanking the library, which has an overhanging steel roof that creates shelter and creates an unusual roofline for the house.

"Seen from a distance the geometrical shapes resemble a strange object in the landscape emerging from the vineyard field," said Matias Zegers Arquitectos.

Trees and plants cluster in organic-style flower beds around the exterior of the courtyard. Sliding doors can be opened to external terraces and allow smells from the vegetation to waft through the house.

A minimal metal water butt sits on one side, where rainwater from the roof collects and pours from a pipe into a barrel below.

Inside, the walls of chalky-white geometric stone have been left bare and contrast with poured concrete floors and warm wooden doorways and built-in furniture including shelves and low benches.