A Man, a Suit, and a Window: The Strange World of the Luxury Skyscraper Promotional Video

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Image via screenshot from video Image via screenshot from video

A new genre of film is emerging: the luxury skyscraper promotional video. Usually released before a new building is even finished, these filmic renderings follow an uncannily standard format: A stirring soundtrack reliably accompanies a time lapse of a city’s skyline; viewers ascend a rendered building until we reach the top floor. There, we see some variation of the most common scene found in these videos: a businessman silently overlooking the expansive city below. The figure tends to be pensive, well-dressed, white, and male. Read on to see three prime examples of this odd trend.

The New American Psycho?

The poster child for the male-centric skyscraper promotional video is an advertisement from Redrow, a luxury apartment group in London. Compared by architect Sam Jacob to American Psycho in a parody of the video, the narrated film follows a man as he rises through

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Auer Weber Among Three Finalists in Munich’s Gasteig Redesign Competition

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Courtesy of Auer Weber Courtesy of Auer Weber

After conducting a concert at Munich’s Gasteig concert hall, Leonard Bernstein offered a scathing edict for the building: “burn it down.”

The Gasteig’s behemoth structure of brick and mirrored glass never met Bernstein’s decree. Instead, it has stood for decades, garnering vitriol from those who resent its postmodern aesthetic. In a design competition hosted by the Gasteig, seventeen architecture firms have attempted to change the concert hall and cultural center’s public perception with varied renovation schemes.

Munich Gasteig, built 1984. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gasteig_Philharmonie_14.jpg'>Schlaier</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> Munich Gasteig, built 1984. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gasteig_Philharmonie_14.jpg'>Schlaier</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>

Among the three firms selected to move on to the next round of the competition is Auer Weber. They will have three months to refine their design before the final winner is chosen. The firm's current design centers around  “amphitheatre-esque steps at the crossing of Rosenheimer

Courtesy of Auer Weber
Courtesy of Auer Weber
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John Portman & Associates Wins Design Competition for “Super Tall” Tower in Wuxi, China

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Courtesy of John Portman & Associates Courtesy of John Portman & Associates

Even after the death of John Portman & Associates’ namesake architect in January, the firm continues his legacy of innovative and elegant hotel architecture. On Monday, the Atlanta and Shanghai-based firm announced that they had been selected to design a new hotel and residential tower in Xi Shui, China. Portman & Associates’ design, dubbed “Greenland Wuxi 200,” beat out international entries to a design competition hosted by the hotel developer Greenland Hong Kong Wuxi.

Courtesy of John Portman & Associates Courtesy of John Portman & Associates

The winning design features three stacked cubes, one for each of the buildings’ functions: hotel, long-term stay, and sky villas. With each cube separated by garden terraces, the three functions are readable in the facade. Gradient opacity further differentiates the building’s functionality. According to Portman & Associates, “at the lowest hotel floors, the facade expression is more solid, providing privacy from within” while “the

Courtesy of John Portman & Associates
Courtesy of John Portman & Associates
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A New Guide by Architects Explains What Makes a Space “Instagrammable”

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When you tap an Instagram geolocation, the nine most popular posts in that location float to the top. Sometimes, there's an uncanny similarity to these posts: near-identical pictures of smoothie bowls, tiled floors, or neon signs. In part, a place’s popularity on Instagram is a domino effect—one person posts a picture of a mural (Wynwood Walls, anyone?), and then everyone does. But a new Instagram Design Guide from Valé Architects suggests that some design features might be inherently more Instagrammable than others. Valé’s guide is interesting for its quasi-scientific analysis of Instagram aesthetic, but it also has real implications in the architecture world; a building’s popularity on social media (in this case, its Instagramability) can influence its perception in the non-digital world. Here are some of the traits that Valé says make a space successful on Instagram:

via Valé Architects via Valé Architects

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“Biodomes” in the UAE’s Al Hajar Mountains Will Promote Ecotourism

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Courtesy of Baharash Architecture Courtesy of Baharash Architecture The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, towers at 828 meters in the heart of Dubai’s ever-growing urban core. But just a few hours east of the metropolis, a different kind of monument is garnering tourism to the United Arab Emirates: the Al Hajar Mountains. With its peak at 3,008 meters, the mountain range’s natural elegance rivals the country’s architectural achievements. The Biodomes Wildlife Conservation Centre, a project from Baharash Architecture for the UAE’s Eco Resort Group, seeks to celebrate the mountain range through an ecotourism paradigm.
Courtesy of Baharash Architecture Courtesy of Baharash Architecture
Courtesy of Baharash Architecture Courtesy of Baharash Architecture

As tourism to natural areas increases worldwide, and as the UAE prepares to welcome an estimated 45 million visitors to the country by 2021, the Al Hajar mountains will likely see increased tourism over the coming years. And with tourism can come pollution, soil erosion, and loss of

Courtesy of Baharash Architecture
Courtesy of Baharash Architecture
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WORKac Designs an ‘Invisible’ Penthouse in a Centuries-Old Cast-Iron Building

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© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu

At first glance, The Stealth Building looks like a pristinely-restored cast iron apartment building. That’s because technically, it is. But upon closer inspection, the Lower Manhattan building is rife with innovative restoration and renovation practices by WORKac.

© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu © Laurian Ghinitoiu

What looks like original Corinthian column capitals on the facade are in fact re-imagined versions of the classical floral ornaments generated by artist Michael Hansmeyer. They mimic the scale of the original fixtures but with a modernized aesthetic. In another creative maneuvering of historical constraints, a rooftop penthouse addition takes a jagged, sculptural form that steps back from the street. In turn, the addition is entirely invisible from the street—a requirement for any rooftop addition per the New York City Landmark Commission code. Using creative massing, the architects also allowed the addition to hide behind pediments and an abandoned elevator bulkhead so that it’s

© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
© Laurian Ghinitoiu
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Odile Decq on the Importance of Bold Design and Why “Architecture Is Still a Fight”

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In the latest installment of PLANE—SITE’s short video series Time-Space-Existence, French architect Odile Decq gives this advice to young designers: be bold. “If you want to build and create the new century, you have to have people who have people who have specific personalities. I love when people express themselves strongly and very clearly.”

Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark Museum. Image © Roland Halbe Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark Museum. Image © Roland Halbe

If there’s a word to describe Decq herself, it’s bold. When she won the Jane Drew Prize in 2016, The Architect’s Journal called her "a creative powerhouse, spirited breaker of rules and advocate of equality." Reflecting on her own work in the video, she says, “I’m sure that my buildings are spicy.” Their spice, she says, comes from their complexity; at her Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, for example, “you can travel the building at different times and at different levels

MACRO Contemporary Art Museum. Image © Roland Halbe
Phantom - Opera Garnier Restaurant. Image © Roland Halbe
Saint Agne Residency. Image © Roland Halbe
GL Events Headquarters. Image © Roland Halbe
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A Floating Timber Bridge Could Connect Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Long Island City

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Courtesy of CRÈME Architecture and Design Courtesy of CRÈME Architecture and Design

If you stand in Manhattan Avenue Park in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, you’ll see the Long Island City skyline across a small creek. On the Greenpoint side of the creek, a historic neighborhood of row houses and industrial sites is rapidly growing. On the Long Island City side, high-rise apartments and hundreds of art galleries and studios line the East River. Just a stone’s throw away, Long Island City can feel like a world apart from Greenpoint. That’s in large part due to the fact that only one bridge connects the neighborhoods—and it’s meant more for cars than pedestrians or cyclists. Isn’t there a better way? Architect Jun Aizaki thinks so. For the past few years, he and his team at CRÈME Architecture and Design have been working on the so-called “Timber Bridge at Longpoint Corridor."

Courtesy of CRÈME Architecture and Design Courtesy of CRÈME Architecture and Design

The floating

Courtesy of CRÈME Architecture and Design
Courtesy of CRÈME Architecture and Design
Courtesy of CRÈME Architecture and Design
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AIA Announces Winners of 2018 Small Project Awards

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 Rear Window House / Edward Ogosta Architecture. Image © Steve King Rear Window House / Edward Ogosta Architecture. Image © Steve King

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected eleven recipients in its 2018 Small Projects Awards. Established fifteen years ago by AIA’s Small Project Practitioners, the program “recognizes small-project practitioners for the high quality of their work” and “aims at raising awareness about the value and design excellence that architects can bring to projects, no matter their size or scope.”

The winners by category are as follows:

  • Category 1 could include small project construction, an architectural object, work of environmental art or an architectural design element that cost up to $150,000 in construction
  • Category 2 could include small project construction that could cost up to $1,500,000 in construction
  • Category 3 could include small project construction, an architectural object, work of environmental art or an architectural design that is under 5,000 square feet

Category 1 

Five Fields

Five Fields Play Structure / FR|SCH Projects in collaboration with Matter Design. Image © Brandon Clifford
Studio / Bunkhouse / Cutler Anderson Architects. Image © Art Grice
 Rear Window House / Edward Ogosta Architecture. Image © Steve King
Sawmill / Olson Kundig. Image © Kevin Scott
Shadow Play / Howeler + Yoon Architecture, LLP. Image © Matt Winquist
Sonoma Residence / Alchemy Architects, LLC. Image © Geoffrey Warner
Grand Lake Pool House /  Allford Hall Monaghan Morris. Image © Timothy Soar
BI(h)OME / Kevin Daly Architects. Image © Nico Marques
Chapel at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun / FXCollaborative. Image © Chris Cooper
Principal Riverwalk Pump Station / substance architecture. Image © Paul Crosby
Rosewood Park Beach Improvements / Woodhouse Tinucci Architects. Image © Bill Timmerman
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The Often Forgotten Work of Denise Scott Brown

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Courtesy of Robert Venturi Courtesy of Robert Venturi

There’s something irresistible about Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s architectural romance. They met when they were both young professors at the University of Pennsylvania; Scott Brown held seminars in city planning, and Venturi gave lectures in architectural theory. As the story goes, Scott Brown argued in her first faculty meeting that Frank Furness’ masterful Venetian gothic library should not be torn down to build a plaza (then a dissenting opinion). Venturi approached her after the meeting, offering his support. As Paul Goldberger wrote of the couple in 1971, “as their esthetic viewpoints grew closer and closer, so did their feelings toward each other.” Architecture lovers can’t help but love the architect-lovers.

© <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Denise_Scott_Brown_1978_%C2%A9_Lynn_Gilbert.jpg#/media/File:Denise_Scott_Brown_1978_%C2%A9_Lynn_Gilbert.jpg'> Lynn Gilbert </a> licensed under <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0'>CC BY-SA 4.0</a> © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Denise_Scott_Brown_1978_%C2%A9_Lynn_Gilbert.jpg#/media/File:Denise_Scott_Brown_1978_%C2%A9_Lynn_Gilbert.jpg'> Lynn Gilbert </a> licensed under <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0'>CC BY-SA 4.0</a>

As compelling as this version of Venturi and Scott Brown’s collaborative history may

Venturi and Scott Brown's addition to the National Gallery, London. Image © Timothy Soar
© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidwilson1949/25029306930/in/photolist-E8KJWE-22ywPRb-FvpSFf-23Dhf62-23AtEBU-6N8jiS-ge8F4p-6N8jZq-7qNgbR-7qScf7-7qNfPa-7qNfwt-7qScb9-7qScsA-7qNfVi-aaXWnL-6N8k73-eS1Jmo-5bUAaY-6N49r4-5bTvJm-52D2Pj-6N8kcC-5bPwGt-52D33U-52D2TN-6N48HF-5bTF1j-5bUChh-79F8kR-3oK8o2-6N49L2-5bUnQs-6N4936-ht3nsZ-5bPVMv-Esmpk3-6N8DW3-5bTxMs-5bPKCK-ndo96p-5bVuLC-6N49Zz-5bV88E-79JYwb-6N48Lk-DyHT7J-nuBhwd-52D2HW-6N48RM'>Flickr user David Wilson</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
Courtesy of Collection of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates
© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/sashafatcat/2985295317/in/photolist-5xNqhV-4SnqTf-ea3v1-ayqPBB-9mr8mM-9LnDij-pwBwEw-J2mHTm-auENf6-69YKtP-c2x68j-9mubK9-6TqXdq-7Ce2GP-9mr8gP-62taoH-9mubxm-7YZbuC-or58n-7psei2-7Gsh16-bwQt6Y-74zJ6M-7Ce8u4-bwQsCm-bwQtiq-bwQpzq-4KPdfT-bwQnWo-bKKaJp-ffVYyq-qcHGrG-6eFNcv-5XL5Bv-osq4b7-9N8uDQ-de8cr5-36uQYT-4Eq6Lo-bwQshC-bKKa4H-8AGyag-8w5ywj-7fZ4u6-ahtnan-4vKjgt-p1CmHD-9z18cT-4KTu4d-9uT6Rx'>Flickr user Paul Joseph </a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
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Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport: Achieving Redemption Through Adaptive Reuse

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© Danica O. Kus © Danica O. Kus The story of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport never quite ends. Located just south of the city’s hip Kreuzberg neighborhood and only fifteen minutes by bike from the city center, the disused former Nazi complex—with its terminal, hangars, and massive airfield—occupies nearly 1,000 acres of prime real estate in the ever-growing German capital. In any other metropolis, this land would have been snatched up by a developer years ago, but in Berlin, creative reuse has prevailed over conventional narratives of redevelopment.
© Danica O. Kus © Danica O. Kus

Envisioned by Adolf Hitler in the thirties as part of his plan to redevelop Berlin into Germania—a regimented, neo-classical world-capital—the airport was designed by Earnst Sagebiel and completed in 1941 under the direction of head Nazi architect Albert Speer. With a sweeping semi-circular form meant to evoke an eagle in flight, the building is in many ways typical of heavy-handed fascist German

© Danica O. Kus
© Danica O. Kus
Children watch an American plane land with supplies at Tempelhof Airport during the Berlin Airlift. Image© <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:C-54landingattemplehof.jpg'>United States Air Force Historical Research Agency</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>
© Danica O. Kus
© Danica O. Kus
© Danica O. Kus
© Danica O. Kus
© Danica O. Kus
© Danica O. Kus
© Danica O. Kus
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MAU Architecture Plans an Urban and Landscape Regeneration of Fier’s City Center in Albania

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Courtesy of MAU Architecture Courtesy of MAU Architecture

In the nineteenth century, hundreds of artisans and shoppers would crowd around the Gjanica River in FierAlbania on market day. Today, the river is nearly invisible, covered in some parts by overgrown greenery and at others obscured by tall buildings illegally constructed too close to the riverbank. A plan from Italian firm MAU Architecture termed “RI-GJANICA” reimagines Fier’s waterfront as the central element of their scheme for a new city center. Their project involves reopening connections between the urban core and the river through bike paths, pedestrian bridges, amphitheaters, and integrated mixed-use buildings.

Courtesy of MAU Architecture Courtesy of MAU Architecture

Where today’s river offers few points of entry and serves as a barrier between the northern and southern sections of the city, MAU’s project hopes to forge connections between neighborhoods by creating a central civic space. The firm schematizes the various elements of their river reanimation

Courtesy of MAU Architecture
Courtesy of MAU Architecture
Courtesy of MAU Architecture
Courtesy of MAU Architecture
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Dogchitecture: WE Architecture Designs a Center That Challenges Traditional Animal Shelters

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Courtesy of WE Architecture Courtesy of WE Architecture

Copenhagen firm WE Architecture has completed a proposal for a “Dog Center” in Moscow that challenges traditional notions of animal shelters. Nestled in the countryside, the one-story pavilion will rely on a series of courtyards divided by pergolas that disappear into the landscape. The firm notes that the courtyards, which provide enclosed outdoor space for the dogs, allow the center “to avoid the 'jail-like' fencing which is often associated with dog shelters."

Courtesy of WE Architecture Courtesy of WE Architecture

WE, in collaboration with MASU Planning, hopes to create a “healthy and inspiring environment for sheltered dogs and for the different people who will visit and work at the Center.” The project accomplishes its atmospheric goals by complimenting steel pillars with wooden rafters. The rafters extend to create an exterior overhang which functions as “a sun screen in summer time and as an exterior cover/hallway on

Courtesy of WE Architecture
Courtesy of WE Architecture
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Rafael Moneo’s Beirut Souks Explored in Photographs by Bahaa Ghoussainy

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© Bahaa Ghoussainy © Bahaa Ghoussainy

When Spanish architect Rafael Moneo won the Pritzker Prize in 1996, the jury identified his ability to see buildings as lasting built entities—their lives extending beyond architectural drawings—as integral to his success. The South Souks, Moneo’s 2009 project in Beirut, Lebanon, indeed responds to a long history and anticipates a lasting future. After the city’s historic souq (outdoor marketplace) was destroyed during the Lebanese Civil War, developer Solidere began rebuilding the commercial area in 1991. As part of the project, Moneo designed an arcaded shopping district that follows the ancient Hellenistic grid and retains original street names.

Photographs of Moneo’s building by Lebanese architectural photographer Bahaa Ghoussainy reveal both the historical grounding of the space and its clear modernity. Light-imbued images feature blurred visitors as they move fluidly between outdoor and indoor commercial space, just like they would have in the original souq. Others frame Moneo’s building
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
© Bahaa Ghoussainy
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Stoss Landscape Urbanism Selected to Design Chouteau Greenway for St. Louis

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Courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism Courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Ever since the City of St. Louis approved a sales tax to fund public greenways in 2000, citizens and planners have imagined a bike and pedestrian path along the city’s main east-west corridor. Last week, that vision was brought to life as Stoss Landscape Urbanism was selected to design the Chouteau Greenway. Their proposed strip of green space and walkways will stretch from the iconic Gateway Arch at the city’s eastern end to downtown, from there extending to Foster Park, which sits adjacent to Washington University in St. Louis on the city’s western edge. 

Courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism Courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Stoss, a Boston- and Los Angeles-based firm, was selected to complete the design in a competition hosted by St. Louis-based non-profit Green Rivers Greenway. A jury of nine local and international planners, architects, and designers selected Stoss’ design, “The Loop + The Stitch,” pointing to

Courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism
Courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism
Courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism
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Contemporary Follies Open at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park

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© Charlotte Graham © Charlotte Graham The eighteenth-century English water gardens were often designed with playful intent. Picnicking visitors would be surprised as fountains spouted without notice and perplexed as they stumbled upon mysteriously evocative structures like gazebos and banquet halls. At Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park in Yorkshire, home to one of the world’s best-preserved water gardens, these historic botanic and architectural follies—or, impractical, playful forms—were once abundant. Today, they’re being reinterpreted through equally whimsical contemporary art installations. Featuring sculptural work by architects Charles Holland, Lucy + Jorge Orta, Fleafolly, and Foster Carter—a precocious local grade-school student—folly! opened on April 28 in the gardens of Studley Royal Park. Supported by Trust New Arts, a partnership between the National Trust and Arts Council England, the below installations will be on view until November 4 on the sites of the Georgian garden’s lost follies.  Polly by Charles
© Charlotte Graham
© Charlotte Graham
© Charlotte Graham
© Charlotte Graham
© Charlotte Graham
© Charlotte Graham
The Cloud by Foster Carter. Image © Charlotte Graham
© Charlotte Graham
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