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Events

Architecture and the City Festival
September 1–30, 2014
The American Institute of Architects, San Francisco chapter (AIA San Francisco) and the Center for Architecture + Design announce the 11th annual Architecture and the City festival, the nation’s largest architectural festival of its kind. Taking place in San Francisco every September, the month-long celebration features behind the scenes and walking tours, films, exhibitions, lectures and more, providing opportunities for participants to engage with the local architecture community and experience design in a myriad of ways throughout the city. The 2014 Architecture and the City festival theme, Home: My San Francisco, will examine the shifting nature of home, the different elements that contribute to its definition, and its relation to the urban fabric. Over 40 festival programs will explore the cultural richness and diversity of our local architectural and design community as well as provide a platform for conversation about our changing landscape and its implications for a city in a time of rapidly intensifying housing needs.

Gearing Up for Better, Healthier, and More Efficient Homes
September 19, 2014
The USGBC will present, Gearing Up for Better, Healthier, and More Efficient Homes, at the upcoming AltCar Expo on Friday, September 19th at 9:30am.   Designed for building & design professionals, the lecture addresses the need to erect higher performing buildings and the push towards zero net energy buildings. Panelists include:  Tim Kohut, AIA Architect, Green Dinosaur; Lena Ashby Senior Sustainability Coordinator, Green Dinosaur; and Joel Cesare, Sustainable Building Advisor, City of Santa Monica.

10th Annual KAYAK and SUP Coastal Cleanup Day Event
September 20, 2014
On Saturday, September 20, from 8:15am–1:30pm, The Bay Foundation (TBF) will host its 10th Annual Marina del Rey Kayak Cleanup Day Event as part of the greater annual Coastal Cleanup Day (CCD) which draws over 14,000 volunteers from across Los Angeles County to hundreds of events. As the longest-running kayak and SUP cleanup site, the TBF event is immensely popular each year and spaces fill up early.

San Francisco Living: Home Tours
September 20–21, 2014
AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design are excited to announce the 12th annual San Francisco Living: Home Tours, a two-day open house event featuring a select number of modern residences. The popular weekend showcases a wide variety of architectural styles, neighborhoods and residences, including single-family homes, contemporary renovations and multi-family residences, and is the first tour series in the Bay Area to promote residential design from the architect's point of view. Throughout the weekend, tour participants can see some of the city's latest residential projects from the inside out, meet design teams, explore housing trends, and discover innovative design solutions that inspire unique San Francisco living.

Detroit Design Festival
September 23–28, 2014
Presented by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), and supported by the Knight Foundation, the fourth-annual Detroit Design Festival spans all design disciplines and brings together commerce, culture, education, and entertainment with a full, varied program of exhibitions, openings, installations, shows, talks, open studios, fashion shows, product previews, performances and workshops.

Archtoberfest San Diego 2014
October 1–30, 2014
Archtoberfest San Diego 2014 is a collaboratively-operated initiative aimed at establishing an annual, month-long program of public events and activities pertaining to architecture, design, planning and sustainability.

Westedge Design Fair
October 16–19, 2014
The curated fair features over 150 leading and emerging, domestic and international furnishings brands. Catering to both trade and consumers, the event offers a complete experience for attendees, including panel discussions and workshops, culinary activities, custom installations, and a series of special events.

4th Annual Found L.A.
October 19, 2014
On Sunday, October 19, 2014, the non-profit L.A. Commons (www.lacommons.org) will host its 4th annual Found L.A: Festival of Neighborhoods, and its first based on a mayoral theme, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Program. Angelenos will explore the main arteries of neighborhoods around the city, developed and not so, and meet the people in the center of activity there.

New Urbanism Film Festival
November 2014
The primary goal of the New Urbanism Film Festival is to renew the dialogue about urban planning with a broader audience. The Festival brings in movies, short films, speakers, on the topics of architecture, public health, bicycle advocacy, urban design, public transit, inner-city gardens, to name a few. 

 

 

 

 

 

Competitions

Deadline: October 31
Show Us Your Baldwin
Baldwin

Deadlne: November 30
Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award
International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA)

Deadline: December 8

2015 Diversity Scholarship
Gensler

Deadline: December 31
Kitchen Design Contest
Wolf and Sub-Zero 

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Monday
Jun232014

Exhibition Review: Underwhelmed by the Venice Biennale

A recreation of the Do-mi-no house, Le Corbusier's conceptual design of 1914,stands at the entrance of the Central Pavilion at this edition of the Venice Binnale. Photograph Michael Webb.

By Michael Webb

Any pretext to revisit La Serenissima is welcome, and the Biennale offers a recurring excuse. It allows you to wander around the crumbling brick halls and still waterways of the Arsenale—arguably the most fascinating place in the city—and admire the zoo of architectural curiosities in the Giardini. The tide of mass tourism doesn't extend this far, though the obscenely large yachts moored along the quay are evidence of another kind of predator. This year's architectural Biennale was directed by Rem Koolhaas who insisted that it open in early June and run six months, as does the art exposition. Hopes ran high that his prestige and creative imagination would generate a memorable show.

Elements is an exhibition of basic elements in building, created by Rem Koolhaas and features one space devoted to vintage balconies. Photograph Michael Webb.

The Central Pavilion fulfills that promise. Flanking the entrance is a full-scale recreation of Le Corbusier's Do-mi-no House, a century-old symbol of modernity. Fifteen rooms of the labyrinthine pavilion are dedicated to the elements of building: a wonderfully idiosyncratic assortment of roofs and floors, doors and windows, staircases and ceilings, ranging from the earliest Chinese examples to the latest European products. Visually arresting, the displays need few labels, and they are introduced by a masterly compilation of how these elements have been depicted in the movies. 

Another of the exhibits in Elements features vintage windows. Photograph Michael Webb.

Koolhaas's other major contribution, Monditalia, exemplifies the major failing of this and earlier Biennales: a didactic emphasis on research and documentation at the expense of visual allure. Forty-one projects explore the inner rot of Italy: a country prey to corruption (the Mayor of Venice was arrested for embezzlement on the eve of the opening), organized crime, uncontrolled immigration, and the neglect of a cultural legacy that comprises more monuments than the rest of Europe combined. In a short video, an elderly restoration specialist at Assisi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, complains that he used to work with art historians and scholars, but "today, except for a few lucky monuments, restoration is contracted out like tiling and plumbing."

The illuminated portal of Monditalia, a display in the Corderia of 41 research projects on postwar Italy. Photograph Michael Webb.

Too much of this material belongs in a book, not a gallery. Jazzing it up with dance merely distracts from the theme. Visitors gazed open-jawed as group of seniors shuffled though a eurhythmics class. Their connection to architecture was left unexplained. The one exhibit with real punch is narrated by Stefano Boeri, architect of the hugely costly conference center that was rushed to completion on La Maddalena, an island off Sardinia, for the 2009 G8 summit. At the last minute, Berlusconi transferred it to L'Aquila, so that he could grandstand before the world's leaders in the earthquake-devastated city. La Maddalena, formerly an arsenal, is still a toxic site so the center has been abandoned, and L'Aquila remains a shambles.

Dominating the French Pavilion is a model of a Modernist house created in a studio for Jacques Tati's M. Hulot's Holiday. Photograph Michael Webb.

The Giardini displays are wildly uneven. Jean-Louis Cohen addresses Koolhaas's theme head-on in the French Pavilion. "Modernity, 1914-2014: Promise or Menace?" chronicles 101 key buildings, one from each year, with a lively overlay of film clips. The centerpiece is a model of the dysfunctional modern house designed for Jacques Tati's M. Hulot's Holiday. The US Pavilion is as exciting as the lobby of a trade fair: racks of printed dossiers on 700 buildings that American architects have built abroad over the past hundred years. It would take hours merely to skim the mass of information on display; far better to skip the pavilion and wait for the four books Lars Müller is about to publish, following his brilliant volume on the building elements of Venice.

The Macedonian exhibit comprises a rotunda constructed from traditional three-legged stools. Photograph Michael Webb.

A few free spirits treat the theme irreverently. The Dominican Republic recalls a wildly ambitious exposition of 1955 celebrating Rafael Trujillo's 25-year rule—a tin-pot dictator's failed bid for self-glorification. Macedonia has constructed a rotunda from traditional three-legged stools, Bahrain from bookshelves. Morocco covers the floor with sand and juxtaposes models of casbahs with contemporary proposals for high-density living. The Russian pavilion is a clever hoax: a mock trade show, featuring stands of fake companies that represent conflicting tendencies in Russia today. Britain presents "A Clockwork Jerusalem": a tongue-in-cheek chronicle of postwar styles including Thamesmead, where Kubrick filmed A Clockwork Orange. An exhibit from Hong Kong, across the street from the Arsenale illustrates the challenge and expense of finding a resting place for funerary urns in an impossibly overcrowded city-state. 

In the Moroccan display, conceptual models of high density living are juxtaposed with models of traditional casbahs. Photograph Michael Webb.

The architectural Biennale has been preaching to the choir for the past 10 years. Visitors should lower their expectations and allow plenty of time for serendipitous encounters and discoveries, taking frequent breaks for Prosecco. Venice is a place of enchantment and one should ignore the pointy-headed academics, who try to turn this event into an earnest trudge through the problems of contemporary society.

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