It was overshadowed by the Pritzker announcement, but the Victoria & Albert Museum announced Monday that Amanda Levete has won the competition to create a new courtyard and gallery space for the museum along Exhibition Road in London. Levete formerly was a partner with Jan Kaplický in Future Systems, and her firm, AL_A, was one of seven shortlisted for the award after 110 firms expressed interest in the commission. “Ever since I became an architect I’ve dreamed of working on a project like this that has huge and cultural and public significance” Levete said, “and the V&A has a particular meaning for me in any case because it’s the home of art and architecture so it doesn’t really get much better than that.”
14 years ago, Daniel Libeskind was probably thinking happy thoughts about V&A after his extension for the museum (on the same site) was announced. Over the course of seven years, politics strangled Daniel Libeskind’s then-winning design. Levete said in an interview it was a “great building in the wrong place.” Not too surprisingly, her firm’s now-winning proposal shares almost nothing in common with the “downward spiral.” For starters, the AL_A scheme is mostly underground. But more importantly, Levete’s proposal will be built.
Well, well, well… it’s time yet again for another Sights & Sounds wallpaper series. This here series happens to be a short one, only because the focus of this series, Broken Social Scene, only has four albums. I’ve been a BSS fan for I don’t know how long, though I remember my friend Andrew giving me all of their albums over iChat probably, oh I don’t know, 5 years ago now. What’s amazing to me is that they started out as this nearly minimal techno band but grew into this multi-member group filled with so many talented people. You’ve got Feist, Stars, Metric, Kevin Drew, Jason Collett, The Weakerthans and more, all coming out of one collective. If that’s not genius, I don’t know what is.
The force behind this new Sights & Sounds wallpapers are the guys from Doublenaut, Andrew and Matt McCracken. I had come across them through Twitter and after looking though their portfolio I knew they’d be a great team to work with. As you may or may not know, Broken Social Scene started out in Toronto, and that’s where Doublenaut are located as well. they’ve gathered together their creative friends to create some awesome wallpapers, and that’s what you’re gonna get.
Tomorrow wer’re starting with Feel Good Lost by… someone awesome. You’ll find out later today, but for now it’s a bit of surprise. Nonetheless it’s worth mentioning that they’ve done a splendid job of interpreting the album and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Check in later today to see what greatness we’ll be up to, and a big thanks to the Doublenaut bros for doing such a great job organizing this.
Randomly enough I was searching for the song Wolfboy by the band import/export and I’m 99% sure it’s a fanmade video, but there’s something so fun and random about this video that I had to post it. import/export is run by jamie hoff and d.c. joseph, so I guess they’re the masterminds behind this beautiful randomness. I personally love this song and seeing their video made me love it even more. I love all the random costumes and different characters they created as well as the editing and the cinematography of the video. Overall it’s really positive and fun, and that’s what important to me at the moment. I hope you enjoy it as well.
Curiosity and appreciation, these are the things that MIchael Wolff (one half the founders of design firm Wolff Olins) sees as his biggest strengths. This interview just released gives you all the secrets you’ll ever need to be a good designer. I felt like what he was saying was so true in my own life, that having an intense passion for learning and paying attention to what’s going on around you is the way to succeed. He makes it all sound so simple, but I think that what he says couldn’t be more correct. I love his metaphor, that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, it’s a dinner, but it’s only through the parts that the whole gets delivered.
Stop what you’re doing and watch this over and over.
Yesterday, Thomas J. Pritzker announced the 2011 recipient of the Pritzker Prize: Eduardo Souto de Moura, a Portuguese architect who worked for and with the only other Pritzker laureate from Portugal, Alvaro Siza. I’ve been reading the announcements of his selection and below is an excerpt from the official press release, along with a few thoughts.
“During the past three decades, Eduardo Souto de Moura has produced a body of work that is of our time but also carries echoes of architectural traditions. [...] His buildings have a unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics — power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy —at the same time.”
Souto de Moura deserves praise, but what surprises me about this specific praise is its lack of specificity. You could cut-and-paste many other names in place of his and the quote would still be true: it’s like the jury was writing a letter of recommendation for Souto de Moura and recycling verbiage from the letter they wrote from Peter Zumthor, Sverre Fehn, Paulo Mendes de Rocha, or Alvaro Siza. Instead of a glossy press release, I’d rather see a transcript of the meeting where the jury sparred over who to select for the prize. Who made the strongest argument for Souto de Moura and who argued that the prize should go to someone else? Someone like Steven Holl, who is now officially (by the powers invested in me since you’re reading this), officially going to have to change his name to Steven Lucci.
This is where I have to mention that Souta de Moura is not particularly well-known outside of architecture circles. I have to mention it because almost everywhere else (LA Times, NY Times, World Architecture News, etc) has mentioned it. But he is known and well-respected among architects for good reason. A few places have read into Souto de Moura’s selection as a deliberate shift away from so-called “starchitects.” This is iffy, not only because, as Christopher Hawthorne points out in the great LA Times article, the jury for the prize can be unstable, but also because it precipitates two pretty pessimistic assumptions: (1) That the jury is more interested in sending a message to the profession than it is interested in examining evidence from the profession; (2) That something is wrong with architects who gain recognition for their work. It’s as if Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Herzog & de Meuron and Frank Gehry (all Pritzker winners) have spent careers making meaningful contributions to architecture but we still reserve a special mistrust because of their successes. I tend to doubt that the jury is trying to prod professionals away from the center and toward the middle.
By his selection for the prize, Souto de Moura is now receiving more recognition than he ever has. That might not make him a celebrity, but it’s likely that (and I hope) he will enjoy a future with important and relevant commissions. Whether these commissions gain importance by their scale, the institutions they house, or his involvement with them will determine how we describe Souto de Moura as he joins a universe of architecture luminaries. No, he’s not a starchitect, but thanks to the jury he’s shining a little brighter.
Editor’s Note: TFIB reader David Renó pointed out this great video walk through of the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego in Cascais, Portugal. It’s nice to get a sense of the space through video.