Monthly News Round-Up, September 2015 Edition

by | 01. Oct 2015


First off, Dame Zaha Hadid becomes the first woman to win RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal in her own right. Then, the Venice Architecture Biennale proposes a bold theme for next year’s event, Herzog and de Meuron’s latest design in North America, the winner of the Finlandia Architecture Prize and a new Dean for the Yale School of Architecture. Finally we’re showing a unique new perspective on the construction of BIG’s new West 57th courtscraper.


Zaha Hadid. Photo by Simone Cecchetti


Zaha Hadid to receive Royal Gold Medal for Architecture

The Royal Institute of British Architects have announced that the globally-renowned architect Dame Zaha Hadid will receive the 2016 Royal Gold Medal, the first woman to be awarded the prestigious honour in her own right.

Zaha Hadid is internationally known for her built, theoretical and academic work. Each of her dynamic and innovative projects builds on over thirty years of revolutionary experimentation and research in the fields of architecture, design and urbanism.

Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by Her Majesty The Queen and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence “either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture”. Awarded since 1848, past Royal Gold Medallists include Frank Gehry (2000), Norman Foster (1983), Frank Lloyd Wright (1941) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (1859).

Get the full story here (via the guardian)


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Alejandro Aravena. Image Courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia

Venice Biennale Theme Announcement

This month, the Venice Architecture Biennale has announced the theme of their 2016 event directed by Chilean architect, Alejandro Aravena. Titled “Reporting from the front”, the biennale will be an investigation into the role of architects in the battle to improve the living conditions for people all over the world.

As Aravena explains, “There are several battles that need to be won and several frontiers that need to be expanded in order to improve the quality of the built environment and consequently people’s quality of life. More and more people in the planet are in search for a decent place to live and the conditions to achieve it are becoming tougher and tougher by the hour. Any attempt to go beyond business as usual encounters huge resistance in the inertia of reality and any effort to tackle relevant issues has to overcome the increasing complexity of the world.”

Reporting from the Front  will be about bringing to a broader audience, what is it like to improve the quality of life while working on the margins, under tough circumstances, facing pressing challenges. Or what does it take to be on the cutting edge trying to conquer new fields.


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View of the new Vancouver Art Gallery from Queen Elizabeth Plaza. © Herzog & de Meuron.


Herzog and de Meuron designs Vancouver Art Museum

The Vancouver Art Gallery have unveiled Herzog & de Meuron’s conceptual design for a new museum building in downtown Vancouver. The 310,000-square-foot building is designed to serve the Gallery’s expanding collection and to support the work of artists from Vancouver, throughout British Columbia and across the world, and enrich educational opportunities for lifelong learning.

The architects have proposed a symmetrical, upright building with larger volumes concentrated at the top and minimal mass at the bottom. By lifting the bulk of the structure high above the street, the design allows light and air to filter down to an open-air courtyard below.

The urbanistic concept is based on the contrast between the low-rise framing along the street block and the taller and more sculptural building in the middle of an open and accessible garden and plaza. The low-rise wooden building along the street is inspired by how the streets in Vancouver were built in earlier times. Their modest, almost domestic scale will enhance the character of openness and visibility for everyone.”
/Jacques Herzog


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Puukuokka. Image courtesy of Office for Peripheral Architecture


Finland’s tallest wooden apartment block wins Finlandia Prize for Architecture 2015

Architecture firm, OOPEAA, has won the prestigious Finlandia Prize for Architecture with their all timber, high-rise apartment building, Puukuokka. The timber-framed edifice built in 2014 in Kuokkala, Jyväskylä, combines affordable housing with wood construction and the promotion of new technologies.

My goal in designing Puukuokka was to create a clearly identifiable design idiom for large-scale timber construction that combines comfort and cosiness with experience in an exciting way. In Puukuokka, wood is used in a way that highlights its best properties. The building is an integral part of Kuokkala’s centre and together with Kuokkala Church creates an identity for the district by serving as its hub. My ambition was to find a sustainable, high-quality solution for affordable housing,”
/Anssi Lassila, Founder


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Deborah Berke. Photo by Winnie Au for Deborah Berke Partners


Deborach Berke named Dean of Yale School of Architecture

Deborah Berke, architect and founder of the New York-based design firm Deborah Berke Partners, will be the next dean of the Yale School of Architecture, announced President Peter Salovey in a message to the Yale community. Her appointment is effective July 1, 2016.

“As a practicing architect and a long-time faculty member in the School of Architecture, Professor Berke is ideally positioned to lead it toward a successful future as it begins its second century,” said Salovey. “For more than 30 years, she has dedicated her career – in equal measures – to education and practice. She has taught architectural design using disciplinary approaches both integral to and less commonly associated with the world of architecture. This perspective, in her own words, helps students to understand they are part of a larger cultural conversation.”

Berke has been an adjunct professor of architectural design at Yale since 1987, and will be the first woman to lead the School of Architecture, which in 2016 is celebrating the 100th anniversary of architecture being taught as a formal discipline at the university.

She succeeds Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the School of Architecture since 1998, who will step down on June 30. President Salovey praised Stern’s tenure as dean.


Drone footage shows progress on BIG’s courtscraper

Communications firm, Darkhorse, has used a drone mounted camera to capture the progress of Danish firm, Bjarke Ingels Group’s residential ‘courtscraper’ building in New York, West 57.