Globalization, climate change, and digital technology have thoroughly reshaped architecture as a profession and as an art. 2014 Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban is leading the revolution.
She shared the work with her husband. She should share the prize, too.
Never mind the politics: It's clear, even to a non-fan, that Denise Scott Brown shared the work that earned her husband architecture's top prize.
An architect with a sense of the body
Architecture, by definition, lives a world of big money. Buying land. Commissioning, then giving rein to, while reining in the designer. Doling out fees for structural engineers, HVAC technicians, lighting consultants, work permits. Excavating. Selecting, procuring, shipping various building materials to the site. Paying construction workers, site overseers, project managers. It takes a lot of cash.
New Media, New Community Centers
The transition away from card catalogs hasn't killed the library: it's spurred the innovation of new community centers.
Architecture occupies a peculiar place in the life of democratic societies. Most buildings get built because some private concern, an individual or a corporate entity, commissions it. Because procuring land and constructing buildings is expensive, the private concerns that do so typically enjoy the benefits of wealth, which include social and political influence in excess of the democratic credo of one man, one vote. Yet architecture, or most of it anyway, is a public good: what any one person or institution builds, others must live with, and often for a very long time.
Don’t believe it when you read that Oscar Niemeyer, the Brazilian architect who died this week only days before he would have turned 105, was the one who took the chill off modernist design with his flamboyantly curving, white thin-shell concrete buildings. That’s the sort of nonsense that gets peddled in obituaries and haigiographies, particularly when a charismatic charmer distorts the historical record to inflate his own contribution, takes credit for the innovations of others, and outlives—by decades!—his competitors.
Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. For any number of pundits, policymakers, and scholars, the new next hot thing, in countries developed and developing, is The City—or, more expansively and more precisely, the megalopolis and its little brother, the metropolis.
Where can you find a land so sublime it instills in you an almost biblical, yearning delight? Where time slows so dramatically that the direction in which purple, wheat-colored, and yellow grasses blow becomes the indolent object of concentrated fascination?
It has a centralized, repressive government for which its citizens do not vote. Local authorities come to people’s houses in the middle of the night to arrest them on bogus charges. Censors control access to information, monitoring the Internet and approving or even writing elementary school textbooks. Corrupt government officials routinely elevate to power the obedient, the well-connected, and the cash-plentiful above the meritorious. Laborers, skilled and unskilled, work breathtakingly long hours.