Tuesday 22 February 2011

Gehry’s New World Centre: not worth defending

on Tuesday 22 February 2011 - 17:45:03 | by diya
New World Center, Frank Gehry New World Center, Frank Gehry

New World Center, Frank Gehry New World Center, Frank Gehry

New World Center, Frank Gehry New World Center, Frank Gehry
(Photography: Witold Rybczynski, via Slate)

New World Center, Frank Gehry
1st Floor Plan
New World Center, Frank Gehry
4th Floor Plan
New World Center, Frank Gehry
(Drawing courtesy Gehry partners, LLP)

All that can be said about Gehry’s design for the New World Center in Miami is that it has nothing new to offer to a design-conscious generation. In plan, it could be an early 30’s recreational complex while externally it is dotted with random outbursts of post-modern Rhino afterthoughts, making it altogether a bizarre combination of old tricks, disappointingly applauded by critics as the designer’s attempt at restrain for context’s sake. What makes this an even more unfortunate appraisal is that Gehry’s work is precisely characterised by his disregard for constraints, placing him in the generation of icon creating rebels most of whom have, it appears already reinvented themselves for the contemporary. So while it is definitely healthy to rethink one’s approach and reinvent one’s style, it is not fair to label something ‘good’ just because it breaks a pattern.

The one thing the project is useful in doing is pointing out the idiocy of some of its critics. Witold Ribcyznski in Slate, for instance, concludes that it deals with an unusually complex set of functions. However, the Centre houses the New World Symphony accommodating spaces for musical functions- a concert hall, training and practice spaces, rehearsal rooms and the usual functions for such a complex, not unlike some of those in Aalto’s projects 50 years ago or Gehry’s earlier projects as well. The critic defends its mundane façade as a reflection of respect for Miami’s simple architecture. One assumes that he refers to the MiMo or Miami Modern style, a 50s response to post-war movements in the rest of the world, a vernacular resort typology evolved from the twenties Art Deco which is by no means the only architectural style in Miami nor the most exemplary to replicate in the 21st Century particularly by someone like Gehry.

The unnecessary formal pimples on the façade are mentioned as praiseworthy ‘creative confusion’ and drawing in light through slits in the ceiling are the creation of an ‘ethereal illumination in a sea of Escheresque forms’, as if everyone from Louis Kahn to Zaha Hadid never existed and Gehry himself is making his debut with confusing forms thrown in as excitement in a perfectly contextual superficial cage. The descriptions are bizarrely reminiscent of third year students lamely attempting to ‘explain’ their cultural centres section by section by section, until finally snubbed by a critic. If a project by a contemporary architect needs an essay describing how the functions are spatially distributed and have its lighting, contextual sensitivity and flaws excruciatingly explained and defended through the use of the oldest clichés in the book, then the end feels very near for criticism in general, and also unfortunately for Frank Gehry.

Ishraq Khan.

Friday 18 February 2011

Looking for inspirations? Check out the AIA Young Architects Award winners

on Friday 18 February 2011 - 19:53:16 | by admin
The easiest way to keep track of where the Architecture discipline is heading towards is to keep an eye on the winning projects of young architects in different award programs. Just after a quick look at the images of the winning architects of the AIA's Young Architects Award it looks like the future of American architecture is auspiciously promising, rooted on the ground and heading towards a sustainable future.

Reading through the articles on these young architects and the jury citations must charge your inspiration up!
Check out at this page or use these image links bellow:

AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner

AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner
AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner

AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner
AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner

AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner

AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner
AIA Young Architects award 2011 winner

For all other categories of AIA Award recipents follow this link.

[All image contents are received via AIA press releases and are of their property, not shared under CC-3.0 terms]

Saturday 03 October 2009

The Worst International Competition of the year: Fael Khair Cyclone Shelter Design Competition result amused us!

on Saturday 03 October 2009 - 10:08:36 | by NEO
We are going to talk about one of the worst example of architectural design competitions we ever dealt with. ArchSociety is regularly publishing (officially and unofficially) the news and updates of almost all the important design competitions from around the world. Many of you may have seen the post about the 'Fael Khair School-Cum-Shelter' design competition this year. Which was intended to seek for design solutions to be built in the cyclone prone areas of Bangladesh. ArchSociety unofficially published the news and encouraged the members to participate. And we know many of you participated in it.

This competition from the very beginning was a total mess in organization. None of the standard procedures of running an international competition was followed. They had no website for the competition! There was no way to pull out information other than email! And there was no standard process of registration. There were severe confusions in their literatures (like where to submit the project at the end Dhaka or Jeddah or both!). They had no clear declaration about the jury. They instructed to design in two different ways, on ‘killa’ (raised earthen platform) and on RCC stilts. Why? How do they know so surely that these are the only two options of designing cyclone shelter? If they know so well about the solutions then why to call a competition? Even there was no standard publication of results as we see in case of any other international competitions. They did not publish the details of the winning designs other than just a word file containing names and single images. Even that file may be mistakenly came to ArchSociety desk. They did not send it. 

However this was a competition organized by a reputed organization IDB (Islamic Development Bank) and they have a handsome fund of USD 130 Million for the project! Then why to take the most basic step of the project the architectural competition in such a terribly unprofessional way? We have no clue. From the first day of their press release ArchSociety officially emailed and called their contacts offering absolutely free services to help running the competition and to help in online submission or publications. They showed no interest. The responsible person in Dhaka IDB was almost never ready to cooperate for anything. Anyway they might not give us the chance to help them that's merely their wish.

But after all these if they would have selected some good designs we could forget the messes they did during running the competition. The result becomes the proof of their (organizers and the jury) ignorance about how to professionally run an architectural competition, 'a cyclone shelter' what it should be and what does 21st century architecture means.
Some of the designs might be ugly to look at however might have good design inputs inside, we don't know. And very few of them might have reached the minimum standards of a design of a cyclone shelter cum school at all. They gave an instruction about inserting some Islamic Architectural element in design. An emergency shelter has nothing to do with religious motifs. But looking at the winning designs confuse us about the intension of the jury and the organization whether they really want to help the affected people by providing them good design solutions or they want to entertain themselves with bellow standard architecture containing silly symbolic motifs. Apparently from the images they look like very uncreative, with no proper solution of dealing with cyclone, no indication of alternative energy and water sources, safety, security and other very basic design issues.
Or maybe all the submitted designs were so bad that there was no other way but to select these, in that case we would request them to publish all the submitted designs online. By the way, the winners and others are most welcome to publish the details of their designs in ArchSoceity forum by themselves.
We are sorry to show you these designs of 'cyclone shelters' we found them in their Word file: yes this is the result:

Killa Option Design Winners:

1st Prize 50,000 USD winning design: Designer: Alamgir Hossain (Bangladesh).
Fael Khair School Cyclone Shelter Program winner! Alamgir Hossain
We have to believe this is a cyclone shelter!

2nd Prize 30,000 USD winning design: Designer: Khairul Enam (Bangladesh)
Fael Khair School cum Cyclone Shelter Program, 2nd prize, Khairul Enam
This is a cyclone shelter too!

3rd Prize 1500 USD winning design: Designers: Emtiz Zafree, Md. Ahmed Rajeeb, Al Numan Md. Younus, all from Bangladesh
Fael Khair School cum Shelter Program winner 3d prize
This design may work. However we have already seen these type of solutions from long before and very often they also fail to accommodate all the crises people face during cyclone in a changed social and climatic situation.

Stilt Option Design Winners

1st Prize 50,000 USD winning Design: Designers: Mohammad Naimul Ahsan Khan, Farzana Rahman, Md. Saidur Rahman, all from Bangladesh

Fael Khair School cum Shelter Program winner 1st prize stilt option

Looks like a better design in the list. Yet the drawings could say more about the design strategy and confirm how efficient it would be in fighting with several problems of cyclone.

2nd Prize 30,000 USD winning design: Designer: Tanvir Mahmud (Bangladesh)
Fael Khair School cum Cyclone Shelter Program winner
From the image it looks like a rest house in an amusement park or forest.

3rd Prize 15,000 USD winning design: Designer: Fahim M. Tonmoy (UK)
Fael Khair School cum Cyclone Shelter Program winner
Seems to be another aparently good design. Still a single image doesn't tell us anything about the solutions achieved.

If IDB wants to waste their time and the 130 Million USD in this way then it will be memorable as one of the worst architectural design competitions taken place so far. And in future architects will deny participating in this type of competitions.
Comments are most welcome.

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