The journal of the american institute of architects
How the Next President Could Impact Construction
Construction is an enormous piece of the U.S. economy. Employment in the sector is a big part of what makes the country run, and the resulting buildings and infrastructure helps to define how the country then runs. So, did we learn much about how the two presidential candidates would push to improve the industry? No, not really, writes Emily Peiffer over at Construction Dive.
But Peiffer does lay down the few things that the candidates have talked about. Such as Hillary Clinton's $275 billion infrastructure plan funded by a national infrastructure bank and Donald Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan paid for through tax incentives for developers. Or Clinton's $25 billion plan to help home buyers get into new homes versus Trump's plan to grow housing by cutting regulations. Or ... well, actually and sadly, that's about it.
But Peiffer goes more in depth on each of these and more in her story over at Construction Dive.
Today the Harvard Graduate School of Design opened applications for the 2017 round of the $100,000 Wheelwright Prize. Open to U.S.–based and international applicants, the annual prize funds travel research for young designers that have graduated from an accredited architecture program in the last 15 years. According to a press release: "Applicants will be judged on the quality of their design work, scholarly accomplishments, originality and persuasiveness of their research proposal, and evidence of ability to fulfill the proposed project." Applications are due January 31, 2017.
The Progressive Architecture (P/A) Awards have often served as barometers of the profession, as architects submitting their on-the-boards projects give the field a glimpse of what's ahead. Here, ARCHITECT takes a look at a selection of past winners of P/A Awards over the last decade to gauge how proposals for living have evolved.
Click through the linked project names below to see more images and information for each past P/A winner in ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.
2009 P/A Award Porchscapes, Fayetteville, Ark. University of Arkansas Community Design Center
The AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) closed the month of August with a score of 49.7, down from the 51.5 reported in July, the Institute announced today. The result, just below the 50-point threshold separating growth in the market and contraction, put an end to a seven-month growth streak that began in February. The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity in the U.S., and reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally and regionally as well as by project type. A score above 50 represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score under 50, like this month, represents a contraction.
In contrast to the overall national contraction, however, architecture companies did report noticeable growths in both project inquiries and the signing of new design contracts. The new project inquiry index soared to a 13-month high of 61.8 in August, 4.3 points higher than was seen in July, while the design contracts index continued its second-consecutive month of growth to 52.7.
“This is only the second month this year where demand for architectural services has declined and it is only by a fraction of a point,” AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, said in a statement. “Given the solid numbers for new design contracts and project inquiries, it doesn’t appear that this is the beginning of a broader downturn in the design and construction industry."
Regional markets posted lackluster results in August, with billings in only two out of four markets growing in August. (This is the same as we saw in July, but with growth slower and contraction steeper.) The Midwest was the lone state that witnessed an increase in its billings score, from 50.8 to 52.8 in August, while the South declined to 55.2 but remained in positive territory. Billings in the West and Northeast continued to contract to 49.0 and 44.9, respectively. (Unlike the national indexes mentioned above, the regional category are calculated as a three-month moving average.)
The mixed practice sector had the best August, with billings rising to 51.8 from 51.1 in July. Billings in both commercial/industrial and institutional took a notch up to 50.8 and 50.7, respectively. Multifamily residential cooled off in August with a 11-month low of 50.9, but growth remained. (Results of the sector category are also calculated as a moving average of the past three months.)
Using a 3D-printing process called microstereolithography, researchers at MIT, in collaboration with Singapore University of Technology and Design, have created small structures that respond to temperature while remembering their original shape. Printed with a polymer mix that hardens or softens with temperature, the objects can be contorted, yet return to their initial shape. Applications for the technology include medicine, aerospace engineering, and even pharmaceuticals. “We ultimately want to use body temperature as a trigger,” says Nicholas Fang, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “If we can design these polymers properly, we may be able to form a drug delivery device that will only release medicine at the sign of a fever.” [Engadget + MIT News]
Making the best of an invasive plant species, visual artist Olafur K invented a sustainable material made of cane and bio resin. [Olafur K]
Artist and writer Ingrid Burrington's book Networks of New York (Melville House, 2016) delves into the often-unseen world of internet infrastructure. [CityLab]
Chicago has installed the first two of ultimately 500 sensor boxes that will act as a makeshift fitness tracker for urban environments, monitoring noise levels, air quality, and both automobile and pedestrian traffic. [USA Today]
A team of six researchers—including one architecture Ph.D. student— has emerged from a year-long simulation of life on Mars, which took place inside an isolated 1,200-square-foot dome in Hawaii's lava fields. [NASA]
A concept design for responsive headgear, ear coverings, and respirators protect users from physical harm before it happens. [Core77]
The annual Summer Block Party installation at the National Building Museum (NBM), designed this year by New York–based James Corner Field Operations, closes on Sept. 5, but the Washington, D.C.–based institution is already at work on the immersive temporary exhibit that will grace its massive Great Hall next summer. Today, the museum announced that Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects, led by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, FAIA, will do the honors of designing the summer 2017 iteration.
“We are delighted to embark on a new collaboration with Studio Gang over the next year,” said NBM executive director Chase Rynd in a press release. “With their creativity and impeccable design credentials, they are poised to re-imagine the possibilities of this series.”
This isn't the first collaboration between the firm and the museum. In 2010, Gang was an adviser on the NBM's "Intelligent Cities" project, following her 2009 lecture for the institution's "Women of Architecture" lecture series. Additionally, in 2003, a translucent, marble curtain-inspired installation designed by Gang was suspended in tension at the museum for its "Masonry Variations" exhibition.
Studio Gang has yet to release details as to what its NBM installation will entail, but its predecessors have set a strong precedent for a project that is immersive, interactive, and just plain fun.
The 2016 version, "Icebergs" (top image) brought a field of 30 prismatic, polycarbonate shards to the museum's internal atrium, a commentary on rising sea levels and other effects of climate change. That followed New York firm Snarkitecture's 2015 "The Beach" (above), a shore-inspired pit of roughly one million translucent plastic balls encouraging kids and grown-ups alike to jump in. And in 2014, the Denmark and New York–based Bjarke Ingels Group kicked off the Summer Block Party installation series with its 60-foot "BIG Maze" (below), whose sloping walls revealed labyrinthine paths as visitors traversed further inward.
Practicing architect and educator David Ruy has been picked to lead SCI-Arc’s new Edge Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture. The post-graduate program will launch this fall offering one-year, graduate-level degrees in four emerging areas within architecture and design: architectural technologies, entertainment and fiction, the design of cities, and design theory and pedagogy.
“The scope of what an architect can do is expanding like never before,” Ruy said in a press release. “Today, architecture is simultaneously becoming more specialized in its expertise and more diverse in its applications. It requires programs of advanced study that can be more targeted, more focused, and more innovative. Given the complexities of the contemporary world and the intense demands being made on the abilities of architects to meet problems, these programs are carefully designed to develop advanced expertise that a general professional degree cannot address.”
Ruy was the co-chair of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s 103rd Annual Meeting, held in March 2015 in Toronto, and where key topics of discussion included the future of the architectural curriculum and the role of research and experimentation therein. He has served on the faculty at Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Pratt Institute. Additionally, he co-directs his New York–based practice Ruy Klein with Karel Klein. The pair received the 2011 Emerging Voices Award from the Architectural League of New York. Ruy holds an M.Arch. from Columbia University.
The annual Architecture and Design Film Festival, now in its eighth year, is upon us. Held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 at New York's Cinépolis Chelsea, it coincides with the start of AIA New York’s month-long Archtober and will showcase more than 30 feature-length and short films curated by festival director Kyle Bergman, along with panel discussions and Q&As with the filmmakers. Attendees can even earn continuing education credits for attending some of the showings. Tickets go on sale on Aug. 31.
In the meantime, check out a few of this year’s highlights below.
Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future (2016) The festival’s opening flick from director Peter Rosen continues the father-son tradition of the Saarinen family, this time exploring the life and work of the Finnish-American modernist through the lens of his photographer son Eric. The young Saarinen used 6K and drone technology to capture his father’s body of work, including the St. Louis Gateway Arch and the General Motors Technical Center, in Michigan, in an unprecedented manner. The documentary will formally premier in December 2016 as a part of PBS’s "American Masters" series.
Amare Gio Ponti (2015) What explains our obsession with Italian architect and designer Gio Ponti, and why did he shirk the spotlight during his lifetime? So asks this retrospective from Italian filmmaker Francesco Molteni, which seeks to understand why the work of the late Ponti—a tireless innovator whose projects ranged from small details to large planning concepts—has been revived and re-examined as a marker of European and international architecture.
Workplace (2016) Making its world premiere at this year’s festival, Workplace looks into the modern office’s past, explores its present form, and considers what its future might hold. Gary Hustwit, the filmmaker responsible for other design documentaries such as Helvetica (2007), Objectified (2009), and Urbanized (2011) takes viewers inside the design and construction process for Foster + Partners’ headquarters for R/GA, in New York, where the firm and client were required to marry the digital and the physical work environments.
The Happy Film (2016) What happens when a designer takes on the ultimate project: himself? This playful, if very personal, film tells the story of Stefan Sagmeister, an Austrian graphic designer who, in the pursuit of happiness, decides to use a mix of meditation, therapy, and, yes, drugs to “re-design” his personality. How his experiment stands up to the rigors of real life turns out to be the biggest test of them all.
Pioneer (2016) Located at the Tippet Rise Art Center, in Fishtail, Mont., Pioneer is a permanent yellow cedar installation by artist Stephen Talasnick. This documentary follows the project, which is informed by the visionary architecture of the 20th century, from conception to execution, and now to its existence amid nature.
The Chicago-based Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts will award a total of $419,000 in grants to organizations to fund 31 projects that explore the role of architecture in arts, culture, and society. The winners, which include museum retrospectives, site-specific commissions, and publications from national and international organizations, were selected from more than 230 submissions representing 24 countries. The winners hail from around the world, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Mexico City, London, Istanbul, and Beirut.
A handful of the winning projects are listed below, and the full roster can be found here.
Upcoming application deadlines for the next round of grants by the foundation are: grants to individuals (Sept. 15, 2016); Carter Manny Award (Nov. 15, 2016); and grants to organizations (Jan. 25, 2017).
The potential of mass-timber for mid- and high-rise construction is becoming clearer. Two towers using the material are poised to rise in New York and Portland, Ore., and will be the tallest mass-timber buildings in the U.S.; both are winners of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Tall Wood Building Prize Competition. There are bills in the both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate calling for more research and development around this construction method. The National Building Museum, in Washington, D.C., is planning an exhibition showcasing the emerging industry and its design potential. And, most recently, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the School of Constructed Environments at the Parsons School of Design, and the Binational Softwood Lumber Council have awarded five student teams in their 2015-2016 Timber in the City: Urban Habitat Competition, which asked participants to design a mid-rise, mixed-use complex containing affordable housing, a museum, and a new home for the Essex Street Market on an existing (and recently planned) site in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood.
From the competition description:
“In 1967, New York City leveled 20 acres on the southern side of Delancey Street and removed more than 1,800 low-income largely Puerto Rican families, with a promise that they would eventually return to new low-income apartments. Competing forces within the neighborhood and the development community long debated whether the area should be used to develop affordable or market rate housing, for commercial or cultural uses, or all of the above. This debate was waged in the community halls of local public school auditoriums and other city meeting places, in newspaper columns, coop board meetings, and at private strategy sessions in individual homes, and eventually a resolution was reached, leading to the currently planned Essex Crossing development.
"The Essex Crossing development as currently planned, however, could be criticized for following a larger bulk zoning than ideal, as well as for not requiring the highest degree of innovative and environmentally proactive construction and energy use standards.”
The competition challenged participants to rethink this site with living, working, dining, retail, and public recreation spaces—all while incorporating new modes and methods of wood construction.
The competition was judged by: Jennifer Cover, national director of the architectural and engineering solutions division at WoodWorks, in Washington, D.C.; Dana Getman, AIA, associate principal at SHoP Architects, in New York; Susan Jones, FAIA, founder of architectural firm Atelierjones, in Seattle; Alan Organschi, design principal and partner at Gray Organschi Architecture, in New Haven, Conn.; and Jeff Spiritos, principal of Spiritos Properties, in New York.
The following five projects were selected from entries by more than 350 students across 52 colleges and universities. The winning projects will be on display at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, in Los Angeles, from Oct. 5 to 7, 2016.
Project team: Buddy Burkhalter, Mingjun Yin, and Connor Irick (students); Richard Mohler and Elizabeth Golden (faculty sponsors)
Stacked volumes and a core atrium emulate the method of drying out lumber, resulting in voids that allow daylight and natural ventilation in this mixed-use development concept. Double- and triple-height spaces make up the ground-floor public program, from which bars of housing rise and are alternately stacked at 90-degree angles. The market and museum are located at opposite ends of the site. The building’s structure features cross-laminated timber (CLT) box beams—each residential space comprises a single box beam stacked in a modular assembly. Load-bearing walls at the intersection of the residential bars will support splicing over long spans, while sheer panels resist lateral and wind loads.
Project team: Greg Stacy, Benjamin Wright, Alex Kendle, and Michael Meer (students); Judith Sheine and Mark Donofrio (faculty sponsors, University of Oregon) with Mikhail Gershfeld (faculty sponsor, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona)
This proposal uses an array of structural wood products in a program that weaves together the building areas for housing, the market, and the museum where their programs overlap. That includes glulam post-and-beam construction for the residential buildings with CLT shear-walls; a two-story, floor-to-ceiling truss system that suspends the museum’s ground floor over the auditorium; and a prefabricated system of laminated veneer lumber panels connecting three-pinned moment frames for the market.
Project Team: Everardo Lopez, Lauren McWhorter, and Jesce Walz (students); Richard Mohler and Elizabeth Golden (University of Washington)
This concept creates a mini-neighborhood of streets, alleys, and public spaces emphasizing pedestrian passage and public space. The streets are oriented north to south while the gathering spaces run east to west to unite the site. The proposal calls for using the existing Market and Delancey Streets as hard boundaries, with new paths imagined for easier movement within the site. The site comprises four residential towers with CLT structural members, as well as townhouses, live-work spaces, a yard, communal rooftop terraces, and more.
Project Team: Ross Silverman, Kelly Hayes, James Ko, and Caitlin Powell (students); Lisa Phillips, Li Hao, and Edgar Stach (faculty sponsors)
The proposed design of this three-story, open-air forum and site re-imagines the transportation networks of New York’s Lower East Side as public spaces, featuring planes above and below street level that offer gradations of engagement for occupants. A wood-framed storefront glazing system defines the project’s boundary with the surrounding urban environment while interior-facing, cedar louvered façades welcome natural light in the winter and reduce solar heat gain on the adjoining building during the summer.
Project Team: Zachary Jorgensen, Elizabeth Kelley, and Charles Landefeld (students); Richard Mohler and Elizabeth Golden (faculty sponsors)
A proposed break in the otherwise wrapped site reinterprets kintsugi, the Japanese concept of making fragments whole again, bridging transit points on Delancey and Essex Streets. The team located retail and dining around the site’s border, while the market makes up the lower level of the open public passageway and a faceted interior brings daylight and natural ventilation into the space. Meanwhile, an elevated boardwalk offers access to the museum and a rooftop plaza. Housing on the site extends from a 30-foot bay with courtyards offering privacy, a contrast from the activity of the site’s public spaces.
An earlier version of this article misidentified images associated with the Honorable Mention winners. ARCHITECT regrets the error.
Building on momentum gained from June's rebound, the U.S. economy added 255,000 nonfarm payroll positions in July, according to the latest monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), released this morning. July's seasonally adjusted figure—still a modest drop from June's upward-revised addition of 292,000 jobs—comes in ahead of analyst expectations. The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9 percent in July, while the labor-force participation rate changed little at 62.8 percent for the month. Average hourly wages for private, nonfarm workers continued to rise to $25.69 in July, an 8-cent gain month-over-month.
“Labor demand is holding up pretty well,” JPMorgan Chase economist Jesse Edgerton told Bloomberg. “The labor market is firming up. Wages are starting to pick up. It’s a positive for consumer spending. This will reinforce the Fed’s view that improvement in the labor market is likely to continue.”
Construction employment did an about-face in July, adding 14,000 payroll positions following a gloomy three months of decline and lining up with favorable economist forecasts previously reported by ARCHITECT. The manufacturing sector, which has been a soft spot in the economy lately, continued its recovery in July, adding 9,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the payrolls in the architectural and engineering services sector gained 6,500 positions in July, its third-straight month of growth.
From the BLS's historical data release: The BLS also releases detailed information subsets of key markets with a one month lag, in this case offering more detailed information of the architectural and engineering services category's response to the broader economy's hiring slowdown in June. The charts below highlight a monthly job-growth breakdown of the architectural services, landscape architectural services, and engineering and drafting services between June 2015 and June 2016. Details of these subcategories' July performance will be revealed in next month's historical data release.