Diplomacy by Design

September 5, 2014
A new generation of architects is using rail lines, shopping centers, and football fields to keep the peace from Belfast to Baghdad.

On a single day in July, when ambient tensions escalated, Palestinian militants fired more than 180 rockets into Israel, and the Israelis launched airstrikes against towns throughout the Gaza Strip. Dozens of Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed. The order of daily urban life was disrupted, yet again, by warfare.

Urban Infrastructure: What Would Nature Do?

January 29, 2013
When urban infrastructure meets nature’s designers, amazing things can happen

We humans are problem solvers. We’re doers. We encounter challenges and complicated situations and we find ways to surmount them—crafting tools, erecting bridges, programming computers. We’ve innovated and designed our way out of countless predicaments and, dammit, we will forevermore.

We are also hopelessly arrogant.

See, we humans sometimes forget that we are not the only innovators and designers out there. We’re not the only ones able to creatively adapt our way through tricky or threatening conditions. We forget about nature.

Frank Gehry on City Building

January 9, 2012
Excerpts from a Q&A with the architect.

Last summer, I was commissioned by Wallpaper magazine to interview architect Frank Gehry. The occasion was the magazine’s 15th anniversary, and part of the idea behind the interview was to look at how Gehry’s career has changed over the last 15 years. His most famous work, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, opened (that’s right!) 15 years ago.

Construction Cinema

December 16, 2009
Once bare-bones and utilitarian, architectural animation is becoming more nuanced and experiential. In part, this development can be credited to advances in 3-D technology, but at the same time architects have embraced the art of filmmaking -- not only to create more interactive presentations for clients, but also to leverage as a tool in the design process.

It’s easy to think of architecture as an interdisciplinary field. At its most basic level, art and science combine to create buildings that are both beautiful and functional. In much the same way, architects are now relying on a broad spectrum of professional fields for sharing their work. From film to video games to documentary photography, architects are stretching beyond their own circles to present and explain their projects in new and even entertaining ways.

Óbidos Technological Park Main Building

January 19, 2016
A new complex of co-working offices for startups in Portugal.

On the agricultural outskirts of Óbidos, Portugal, a small town about 50 miles north of Lisbon, a voided white square sits atop an undulating landscape near the intersection of Rua da Inovação and Rua da Criatividade. The square structure is the main building of the Óbidos Technological Park, a new complex of co-working offices for startups that aims to be, true to its purpose-built streets, the town’s center of innovation and creativity.

The Lowly Billboard Gets a Makeover on the Sunset Strip

December 13, 2015
The common billboard, reimagined by Los Angeles-based Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects.

Billboards exist to attract attention. And, thanks to clever advertising techniques and seductive imagery, they often succeed. But while the imagery of billboards is optimized to lure eyeballs, the armature that holds that imagery is pretty much invisible.

So when ACE Advertising and the City of West Hollywood commissioned architect Lorcan O’Herlihy’s to redesign a billboard on the city’s famous Sunset Strip, he decided to focus on making that armature a more integral and interesting part of the billboard.

Lorcan O’Herlihy

December 1, 2015
The Man Whose West Hollywood Architecture Reaches Beyond Its Physical Boundaries

You don’t need to look far to see the imprint of architect Lorcan O’Herlihy on West Hollywood. His L.A.-based firm, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), is one of the most prolific designers of contemporary architecture in the city—from award-winning residential projects on Formosa Avenue and Gardner Street to flashy new billboards on Sunset Boulevard. With an emphasis on design that draws both the eye and activity, LOHA’s work is helping to bring about a new form of urbanity in the city’s quiet neighborhoods and bustling corridors.

Jiangxi Nanchang Greenland Central Plaza, Parcel A

November 23, 2015
Twin skyscrapers are the new tallest buildings in Nanchang, China.

The twin towers of Jiangxi Nanchang Greenland Central Plaza, Parcel A, were about halfway built when Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) received a somewhat inconvenient request from the developer. Instead of the designed height of 289 meters (948 feet), the towers were to be adjusted, mid-construction, to reach 300 meters (984 feet). “Adding 11 meters to a building that’s already under construction is not necessarily an easy task,” says lead designer Mark Nagis, AIA, who is based in SOM’s Chicago office.

Riverfront Park & Ascend Amphitheater

November 15, 2015
A new aphitheater for Nashville's waterfront.

For more than 30 years a thermal energy plant sat just blocks from the heart of downtown Nashville, Tenn., on the Cumberland River, burning garbage. When the plant closed in 2004, city leaders wanted to give the 11-acre site a flashy new life. Various projects were proposed, including an office complex and a baseball stadium, but nothing garnered local support. In 2007, the city decided to turn the riverfront land into a park.

An Opera House for a Show on Wheels

November 12, 2015
The 80-foot-wide temporary pavilion was designed to stream video and host a live finale of a "mobile opera."

In the parking lot of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles, an 80-foot-wide donut-like structure recently appeared. With a cylindrical opening to the sky, the temporary structure is a viewing pavilion for Hopscotch, a "mobile opera" set in 24 limousines driving around L.A. Though the ticketed audience is riding around with the singers and musicians inside the limos, the viewing pavilion is an auxiliary space where non-ticketed audience members can experience the spectacle.