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.

The Revolution Within Four Walls: How Our Homes Are Changing Forever

August 10, 2015
With cities growing so fast, and the demand for affordable properties at a premium, the single-family home is radically changing its shape.

There’s a slick chart making the rounds right now that neatly summarizes 400 years of the architecture of single-family homes in America.

Made by the infographic designers Pop Chart Lab, the poster presents front-door views of typical American homes from the colonial days up to the present.

There’s a simple Dutch Colonial from the 1600s, the colonnades of Greek Revivals from the mid-1800s, a broad-porched Craftsman from the early 1900s, and an archetypal McMansion from the not-so-distant past—or, depending where you look, the present.

Architecture for Humanity Files for Bankruptcy

January 20, 2015
Though the non-profit organization is closing due to a lack of funding, chapters around the world have expressed their desire to continue to stay active.

Architecture for Humanity (AFH), the San Francisco–based non-profit organization behind a federation of chapters focusing on humanitarian and disaster relief architecture, is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The news, which broke Jan. 16 in the San Francisco Chronicle, came as a surprise to many in the architecture field, including many of the organization's card-carrying members.

How Neuroscience Can Improve Architecture

September 29, 2014
Three takeaways from discussions on brains and buildings.

The human response to architecture is usually based on subjective emotions: I like that building, I hate this space; this room is so open, this office is oppressive. But something more nuanced is happening to elicit these responses. Neuroscientists have found that distinctive processes occur in our brains—consciously and subconsciously, cognitively and physiologically—from the moment we step into a space. These processes affect our emotions, our health, and even the development of memory.

Shigeru Ban: Triumph From Disaster

August 31, 2014
Shigeru Ban, winner of the architecture world's top "Oscar," the Pritzker Prize, sets an important example: creating buildings for people, rather than glamor and prestige.

Earlier this month a brand new art museum opened in the posh mountain resort town of Aspen, Colorado. As a relatively high-profile museum, the project gathered an expected amount of attention from the architectural press. On top of that, the building drew an atypical amount of mainstream attention due to the fact that its designer, the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, had recently been named the 2014 Pritzker Prize laureate, the highest honor in architecture.

Why Architects Dream Big -- and Crazy

August 23, 2014
Can you really build farms on top of offices, in skyscrapers that look like they’ve been chopped into? Maybe not, but such outlandish designs profoundly influence how our cities will be built.

The high-density future of cities around the world, rendered crisply in photo-realistic drawings and computer models, will be one of massive skyscrapers performing wonderful tricks. They'll grow food, they'll generate renewable energy, they'll spin and twirl to cater to our whims and give us a shady spot beneath a tree, thousands of feet in the air, where we can sit quietly and ponder the urban condition evolving around us, above and below.

La Brea Housing

August 15, 2014
This 32-unit affordable housing complex in West Hollywood, Calif., designed by Patrick Tighe Architecture with John V. Mutlow Architects, packs a lot of design bang for the buck.

At the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, just across the abrupt aesthetic jumpcut of a municipal border with Los Angeles, West Hollywood’s unique architectural and urban design standards are on full display. From the hectic plaza of a vertical shopping mall on the corner, to the turquoise street lights, to the colorful, sometimes garish, palettes of new 100-unit condo buildings, the appearance of the public realm is carefully considered—if a bit overwhelming.