The Curse Of Calatrava: Newly Opened WTC Terminal Is The Most Expensive Train Station in History

Ground Zero, Manhattan: no doubt the location for some of the most complex and challenging design briefs in modern history. Libeskind, SOM, Foster, and many more have had to contend with a vast number of polarized views over what would be deemed appropriate for a site saturated with political, social, and economic significance. Indeed, David Childs’s 1 World Trade Center skyscraper has become a metaphor for the perpetual struggle between emotive design and the city’s addiction to commercial gains.

It is perhaps unsurprising then, that Santiago Calatrava’s design for a new WTC Train Station has been accompanied by contention. However, the controversies here have mounted to extraordinary, extortionate levels.

The WTC PATH Terminal under construction. Via Curbed

The Port Authority selected Calatrava for the job for similar reasons that netted Daniel Libeskind the job of master-planner for the wider site: He has a reputation for grandiose, gestural architecture, with a dedication to form that—on first viewing—can produce a dazzling, impressive display of sculptural modernism. Like Libeskind, he is a protagonist of Brand Architecture, meaning that the Port Authority had fair warning of what it could encounter on commissioning him. On the one hand, he would produce an undeniably iconic structure; on the other, he would saddle the organization with a stream of technical complications and mounting costs as the project developed.

So it proved. At the unveiling of his conceptual design in 2004, Calatrava was truly theatrical in his presentation. “Let me draw for you what I cannot say,” he said to the waiting media. Then, wrote Newsweek, “he fluently sketched a child releasing a bird—a spellbinding image that had inspired his design.”

Calatrava’s original design…

…and a rendering of the revised version.

From that moment onward, the design and the costs have steadily unravelled. Initially, the roof incorporated a series of slender steel and glass ribs, mechanically adjustable to allow increased light and ventilation to the lower concourses. However, as costs spiraled and security fears increased, these ribs were shortened, doubled in number, and lost their glass wings: Calatrava’s bird in flight had devolved into a rather more stationary stegosaurus. These compromises have undeniably diluted the architect’s original vision, and parallels can again be drawn with the design of 1 WTC: they are symptomatic of the underlying paranoia that has shackled the authorities of Manhattan ever since the tragic events of 9/11.

Rendering of the transit hub interior

The design issues, though, are minor in comparison with the eye-watering evolution of the project balance sheet. The construction budget for the Hub was initially slated as $2 billion, but after multiple delays and amendments to the scheme, the overall cost is now estimated at $3.94 billion. To put that into perspective, 1 WTC has cost approximately $3.9 billion – that’s right, this train station will cost more than the tallest all-office building in the western hemisphere. Couple this with the fact that that the station is not even one of the top 10 busiest stations in the city (if you include the subway system), and you begin to wonder who was in charge of the feasibility report for this proposal—if anyone at all!

Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences, in Valencia, Spain, also suffered from wild overspending.

Calatrava has previous experience on this front: The City of Arts and Sciences complex in his native Valencia cost around 900 million euros, almost triple what was originally budgeted, while his firm pocketed a much scrutinized 94 million euros—quite a fee for a project with multiple design defects, schedule overruns, and high, on-going maintenance costs.

It remains to be seen whether the PATH terminal in New York suffers any further from problems like these, but one thing is for sure: The Port Authority must ultimately be held accountable for Calatrava’s appointment, which appears to been a case of heart ruling over head in the emotional aftermath of this city’s tragedy.

Agree? Disagree? State your case over on The Angry Architect’s Facebook page.

Yours extortionately,

The Angry Architect

What are the best gifts for a man’s architect

Are you looking for a perfect gift for a man’s architect? `Well, this article will help. A gift is a way of showing someone is special. It should resonate with their personality. Finding the best present for architects is tricky but not impossible. They generally love something in line with their creativity or technological competence. A modern masterpiece-style gift that conforms with their occupation and passion will surely impress your architect friend. From an Apple watch strap to a mechanical pencil, there are lots of gifts you can buy for your loved one. In this post, we will share a list of the top 5 unique gifts for a man’s architect.

What are the best gifts for a man's architect

Top 5 best gifts for a man’s architect

Below are 5 innovative products you can give as gifts to an architectural man.

1. Architecture Blueprint Coffee Mug

One of the best gifts you can give to your husband, dad, or a man friend who is an architect is a blueprint coffee mug. A Blueprint mug is a fun and thoughtful gift for an architect, especially one interested in architectural history. The coffee mug is printed on famous structures such as the pantheon on all sides. Furthermore, tea and coffee are an essential part of their lives, and when they take it in such a luxury mug, they will even be happier. Architect mugs are easy to find and come in different colors and styles.

2. An Apple Watch

Time is of essence to architects when they are working. Therefore, gifting them with modern smartwatches can undoubtedly impress them. An Apple watch is a unique and valuable gift for designers and architects. It has impressive features and is built with modern technology. This smartwatch maintains time and can also receive calls, send emails and messages, keep track of your health and fitness, and many more. Plus, to personalize your Apple Watch, you can also buy stylish, high-quality watch accessories online directly from Proofwearable.

3. A multi-tool pen

A multi-tool pen can be a valuable utility for men architects. It has a compact size and can fit into a pocket. This multifunctional tool is a space saver for architects on the go and is always within reach when other tools are available. A multi-tool pen has different functions, including a ballpoint, level, ruler, screwdriver, etc. This cool gadget is readily available and comes in other functional uses.

4. A mechanical pencil

Pens and pencils are fundamental tools in architects’ lives. Their work demands the constant use of a pencil. Gifting an architect an excellent mechanical pencil is one of the best ideas. This classy pencil writes neatly and clearly.

5. A conversion Calculator

A conversion calculator is a must-have item in every architect’s toolbox. The work of architects revolves around calculation. It is complete and easy to use.

Conclusion

Finding a great gift idea for an architect man is not easy. A Blueprint mug, an Apple watch, A multi-tool pen, A mechanical pencil, and a conversion calculator are some of the best gifts for a man’s architect. They may be slightly expensive, but it’s worth it. After all, what matters is the thought of giving him a gift to show how much you value them.

5 Ways to Communicate Your Killer Concept to Clients

A seemingly never-ending debate exists regarding the authority of architects to dictate design decisions to the wider public. Given that it is those people who will ultimately inhabit and live with the structures we create, what right do we have to tell them what’s good for them? Is our lengthy architectural education enough to negate their lay perspective, assuming they will trust in our professional judgment, specialist knowledge, and theoretical standpoints? Do we really know best?

Of course, the optimistic amongst us will be confident that our thorough education and subsequent years of professional experience puts architects in the best position possible to shape the built environment for the benefit of society as a whole. However, simply producing great designs is not enough; the clear communication of those designs is critical to winning the support of our clients, local residents, city councils, and the public at large.

Zaha Hadid’s recent loss of the 2020 Olympic Stadium commission in Tokyo is a notable example of what can happen if we fail to convince each and every one of these influential parties. On the flip side, the collaborative effort undertaken by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro to realize the High Line goes to show how popular a project can become with the help of ongoing dialogue and input from the local community.

So, what can architects do to enhance their powers of persuasion? Here are five firms who utilize different mediums to communicate their ideas, sometimes to individual clients — and occasionally to a much larger audience.

5 Ways to Communicate Your Killer Concept to Clients

BIG’s diagrams for West 57th, the Meatpacking District, New York City

1. Diagrams by BIG

Bjarke Ingels has developed a sterling reputation as an architectural storyteller, and his firm is particularly well-known for its diagrams, which aim to promote clarity and remove pretension from the design process. A great example is the graphic sequence used to explain the pyramidal shape of the West 57th apartment building in Manhattan.

By now, you will no doubt have seen at least one of the studio’s step-by-step model manipulations. The simple, Sketchup-style renderings are easy to understand, giving clients and the wider public a clear idea of BIG’s project development. While they can sometimes appear formulaic, the diagrams have caught on as an accessible communication device, and dozens of firms have adopted the medium.

5 Ways to Communicate Your Killer Concept to Clients

Richard Meier Model Museum, courtesy Richard Meier and Partners.

2. Models by Richard Meier and Partners

We recently reported on the power of models to bring design concepts to life, as Allied Works Architecture prepare to display theirs for all to see in a major new exhibition in Denver. Another firm to harness three dimensions more than most is Richard Meier and Partners, which now has an entire museum dedicated to models of some of its most famous creations, including detailed renditions of the iconic Neugebauer Residence and Smith House.

By allowing people to get up close and personal to these finely crafted works of timber veneer, Meier gives everyone a chance to get under the proverbial skin of each project, and it is safe to say that the clients are much more swiftly convinced of an architect’s intentions when they lay their eyes on these miniature masterpieces.

3. Visualizations by Squint/Opera

They aren’t architects themselves, but they have quickly become indispensable to major firms around the globe with their brand of unique and often breathtaking animations of the buildings we envision. Squint/Opera’s team of digital artists create quirky architectural trailers and stills that have that rare ability to make clients smile, a fact that has spawned great success: people buy into big ideas much more easily when they are enjoying themselves!

The principle is encapsulated by the Squint/Opera’s tagline: “Great Stories Told Well.” Firms that have benefited from the studio’s animated box of tricks include the aforementioned BIG, designers of the utopian Europa City on the outskirts of Paris, and international players AECOM, which tapped Squint/Opera to bring its Rio 2016 Olympic Park masterplan to life.

4. Presentations by Heatherwick Studio

Sure, not every architect is going to rise to such prominence that they can book themselves a slot on the prestigious TED stage, but Thomas Heatherwick’s talk illustrates the potential for multimedia presentations to help tell stories and communicate our ideas to both clients and the wider world. The list of TED speakers from the architectural world is quite something: Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, and Architizer’s own Marc Kushner of HWKN have all taken to the platform in recent years.

The scale of event matters not, though: even in a meeting with developers or the board at your local town hall, these same communication skills can help support your designs. By talking with passion and enthusiasm about your project, you can show genuine belief in what you are proposing. Clients appreciate a candid pitch, and a dash of humor also goes a long way!

Heatherwick Studio

Via the “Life of an Architect” Facebook page.

5. Social Media by Malone Maxwell Borson Architects

Most architects still use Facebook and Twitter to broadcast factual news about their firms. That’s just fine, but Bob Borson of “Life of an Architect” fame has shown that we can do so much more to communicate our working process to clients and a wider audience.

Circa multiple online platforms, Bob paints a detailed picture of studio life, offering thoughts on everything from conceptual sketching techniques to real-world design details. Critic Alexandra Lange nailed it in her article on Dezeen last year, proclaiming: “Social media can do more for architecture than showcase pretty faces and soundbites. Architects need to start thinking of social media as the first draft of history.”

Top image: London 2012 Olympic Park by Squint/Opera.

6 Ways the Web Can Help Empower Architects

6 Ways the Web Can Help Empower Architects (3)

It is almost a quarter of a century since the first ever website was published by Tim Berners-Lee, the architect of the World Wide Web. Since then, the internet has become almost as integral to our everyday lives as the air we breathe. It is vital to almost every business on the planet, a key pillar of our collective workflow, and used for everything from communication and coordination to marketing and management (in between watching videos of cats, obviously).

The Web is ubiquitous, and architects know this better than anyone. The question is: are we harnessing its full potential? We can now make the internet work for us more powerfully than ever, and the overriding goals are grouped into five broad categories:

  • Self promotion
  • In-house efficiency
  • Research and resources
  • Transparency and trust
  • Education and inspiration

Using these key points as the benchmark, we look at six simple ways the internet can help empower architects in the modern digital age.

6 Ways the Web Can Help Empower Architects

Via Instagram

1. Sell yourself – Viral marketing

Good for: Self promotion; Transparency and trust; Education and Inspiration.

Over the past decade, social media has become synonymous with online promotion, and there is a myriad of ways an architectural firm can use the various platforms to leverage their portfolio and communicate their design ethos to the wider world. Facebook and Twitter have proven to be valuable platforms, both for modest firms such as Studio MM (for whom architect Marica McKeel tweets sketches) all the way up to the goliaths of the profession such as Herzog and de Meuron, owners of a Facebook page with over 186,000 followers.

Bjarke Ingels of BIG is perhaps the best-known architect currently harnessing social media to increase his studio’s reach. A personal Instagram account boasting some 75,000 followers indicates the public truly cares about what the Danish architect has to share, whether it is a work-in-progress shot of Hualien Residences … or his most recent skiing vacation.

6 Ways the Web Can Help Empower Architects

Tokyo National Stadium by ZHA

2. Make your viewpoint heard – Public relations

Good for: Transparency and trust.

The built environment has always been entwined with politics and ethics, but the Internet has made it far easier for architects to share their perspectives on the more thorny issues relating to practice. The more we communicate our opinions and communicate the reasoning behind both our designs and our business decisions, the more the public will understand and trust the profession.

One firm flexing its PR muscles more than most in recent weeks is Zaha Hadid Architects, adopting a mixture of online mediums to defend their design for the Tokyo National Stadium. While the firm’s vociferous protestations have garnered a mixed response from both critics and the general public, it is undeniably refreshing to see a firm being transparent about its processes and encouraging open debate about architecture as a whole.

6 Ways the Web Can Help Empower Architects

Via Forbes

3. Work like a well-oiled machine – Studio communications

Good for: Research and resources; In-house efficiency.

According to The Verge, “Slack is killing email.” If you are an architect and you haven’t yet considered the web’s hottest app for team communications, chances are you will soon. Slack — together with other online tools designed to improve coordination and efficiency across a host of sectors — has the capability to transform the way firms operate day to day and make it more fun in the process.

One such firm to have picked up the “Slack” for their in-house communications is Dash Marshall LLC, designers of “An Apartment for Space-Age Lovers.” Avollio outlined 10 reasons Slack is ideal for improving an architecture studio’s workflow, including the ability to create individual channels for each project in the office, the capacity to share large drawing files, and the ease with which you can synchronize all manner of calendars, schedules, and project timelines.

6 Ways the Web Can Help Empower Architects

Studio Gang’s Aqua Tower, with product spec sheet on the left

4. Perfect your products – Specification tools

Good for: Research and resources; In-house efficiency; Education and inspiration.

Online tools for specifying building components have been around for many years, but few have allowed architects to visualize the quality of materials, detailing, and finish of each individual element in built form. Thanks to the internet, that is now changing as image-driven databases such as Architizer’s Product Catalog link brands with the buildings they are a part of.

A great example of this web-based synthesis is the marriage between Steven Holl Architects and specialist glass manufacturer Bendheim, culminating in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. With spec sheets and high-res photos just a click away, architects can now specify with much greater confidence, as well as having a convenient single point of contact for a wide array of manufacturers as they compile their detailed drawing packages.

6 Ways the Web Can Help Empower Architects

One World Trade Center by SOM, designed using BIM

5. Collaborate like a pro – Building information modeling

Good for: In-house efficiency.

This will be nothing new to most firms: BIM has irrevocably altered the landscape of architectural practice, particularly since Autodesk consolidated and streamlined Revit back in 2013. The ability for architects, engineers, contractors, and other parties to share a single, intelligent project model is fast becoming the industry standard. In fact, the use of BIM will be mandatory for all UK public projects as of next year.

More recently, cloud-based applications have increased the power of BIM beyond recognition: architects are now able to access data on energy performance as the model develops using software such asSefaira. Major firms leading the way include Skidmore Owings and Merrill, which utilized BIM from the conception to the completion of One World Trade Center in New York.

6 Ways the Web Can Help Empower Architects

National Tourist Route Trollstigen by Reiulf Ramstad Architects

6. Tell the world – Articles and interviews

Good for: Self promotion; Transparency and trust; Education and inspiration.

Linking back to the opening point, increasing communication with the public and maximizing transparency across the profession only helps to breed confidence in architects and their value to society. Another way the Web has enhanced our capability to reach out to people is through online forums like Architizer. One such example is Reiulf Ramstad, who gave an in-depth interview that reflected on his design ethos and told the stories behind buildings such as University College Østfold and National Tourist Route Trollstigen.

It is important to remember that architectural journalism need not be left to journalists; architects themselves can provide extraordinary insight into the profession and might just win over a few critics along the way. So get writing, get talking, and, most importantly of all, get sharing: the online world is your oyster …

How architects can create their own bathroom style

architects can create their own bathroom style

Bathroom is one of the most important rooms in a house and for that reason deserves to be designed intelligently.

If you’re an architecture enthusiast or maybe just someone who has a keen eye for design, you know that building a bathroom is no easy feat. From materials to budget, there are many things an architect must consider before starting the build. But even so, if you want your design to be unique and original then it’s important for architects to have creativity on their side.

By following a few basic tips, even a DIY enthusiast can create an entire bathroom of their own design.

architects can create their own bathroom style

What do You need?

1. Shower Faucet Set

Buy the cheapest bathroom set you can find and purchase several colors of sprayer heads to replace the existing ones. This will alter the look of the showerhead completely, giving it a unique style. Use a tub filler faucet as your sink faucet for an instant makeover for your bathroom without spending hundreds on designer fixtures.

2. Lighting

There are thousands of different styles of lighting available at any hardware store, but you don’t need to buy an entirely new lighting fixture.

3. Mirror

Your bathroom mirror is one of the most important parts of your bathroom space. It’s your main portal to the world, so it needs to have a design that complements the rest of the bathroom

4. Tub

Bathtubs are the perfect place to start your journey into a bathroom renovation. Whether you want an old-fashioned claw-foot tub or a modern bathtub, there is an abundance of styles to choose from.

Step By Step Guide

1) Start with the basics.

The most important factor in creating a bathroom style is actually making sure you know what you want to achieve. If you don’t think you could create it from scratch, start with one of the many popular bathrooms on the market — like the one above.

2) Create a focal point.

Think about where your bathroom will hang out and what will give it life. Is that the only picture that’s going to be hung? Not likely, so try to think of another way it could be visually exciting. A big mirror is a popular option, but you don’t have to go overboard just yet — you can experiment with lighting, fabric and wallpaper later on.

3) Don’t get too fancy.

Your bathroom isn’t supposed to be a showroom, so don’t get too fancy. If you’re not sure about your collection of pillows or what kind of lighting it needs, start with a white tile floor, mirror and chrome fixtures.

4) Pick colors that match the rest of your space.

Color is one of the biggest factors in creating a bathroom style. Have you ever been in an apartment with a huge red bathroom? It’s not exactly welcoming, and it doesn’t give the space a sense of home.

Where to get the best ideas for bathroom Style?

There are many books and websites that you can visit to find design ideas for your bathroom. An excellent place to start is by visiting homelody.net.The site will help you find the best equipment to purchase and the best designs to follow.

Conclusion

If you’re an architect or have had the pleasure of doing some bathroom renovations in the past, this might not be any help at all. But if you’re like most people and don’t know much about how bathrooms are supposed to look, this article will give you a good start.All you need is to visit homelody.net and you will get all you need in creating a stylisg bathroom.

10 Summer Retreats For Architects

10 Summer Retreats For Architects

Tight deadlines, public presentations, keeping up with countless clients, consultants, and contractors … as an architect, one can get pretty burnt out during the heat of summer — I for one could do with taking off into the wilderness once in a while! Of course, when it comes down to it, I’m still a sucker for great architecture, even in the most remote of locations, so these 10 retreats are the kinds of places that I’d love to unwind.

No doubt I’ve missed a few gems, so if you have any hideaways you feel should have made the list, make it known in the usual place: facebook.

10 Summer Retreats For Architects

False Bay Writer’s Cabin by Olson Kundig Architects

Oslon Kundig Architects – get used to this name, because you’ll be seeing more of it during the course of this article. Why? Because Tom Kundig is the undisputed king of cabins in the woods. His firm’s expertise combine refined, modern detailing with rugged, reclaimed materials to spectacular effect, and the writer’s cabin at False Bay on San Juan Island is a perfect example. The timber deck on three sides folds up using one of Kundig’s famed lo-tech mechanisms, allowing the cabin to be secured when not in use – and adding a playful aspect to this secluded glass box.

10 Summer Retreats For Architects

Forest Retreat by Uhlik Architekti

Enormous boulders are usually viewed as a major site constraint by your average architect – but the work ofUhlik Architekti is far from average. Their jaunty cabin rests gently upon a stone, with stepped seating built into a raised portion to utilize the structure’s idiosyncratic internal geometry. Situated deep in a Bohemian wood, the cabin’s external walls are clad with charred timber to create a protective layer, and shutters conceal the glazing when not in use – this is architecture as object, perfected.

10 Summer Retreats For Architects

Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor

Situated in Graubünden, Switzerland, Zumthor’s acclaimed spa resort is tucked away in the Alps, allowing for immense relaxation and an architectural geek-out session to boot. More akin to a piece of archaeology than a work of contemporary architecture, the baths form a cave-like structure hewn directly from the mountain, becoming one with the surrounding land — Vals has that rare quality of timelessness, acquired the moment it was created.

10 Summer Retreats For Architects

Wild Reindeer Center Pavilion by Snøhetta

In Hjerkinn, Norway, Snøhetta showed how parametrics can be utilized without compromising on texture, warmth, and a building’s incredible connection with the surrounding landscape. The raw steel frame protects wildlife observers from the elements, while the sculpted timber seating was formed using a combination of traditional building techniques and cutting-edge 3D modeling. Truly beautiful in its simplicity: a modern classic.

10 Summer Retreats For Architects

The Exbury Egg by PAD Studio Architects

Last year, PAD Studio created this splendid wooden vessel for the artist Stephen Turner to spend a year cogitating on the River Beaulieu in Hampshire, England. One should imagine architects would get a kick out of this retreat too though, as the timber engineering is a delight to behold – the construction details took inspiration from techniques used over centuries of British boat-building.

 10 Summer Retreats For Architects

Rolling Huts by Olson Kundig Architects

Olson Kundig Architects return to this list with one of their most well-known projects – the Rolling Huts of Mazama in Washington State appear like a herd of animals in the long grass, allowing for simple cabin living in both summer and winter. As he often does, Tom Kundig adopted a modern form (a plethora of I-beams and a cantilevered roof that even Mies Van Der Rohe might be proud of), but the materials used have a muted, textured patina that allows each cabin to blend into the surrounding landscape.

10 Summer Retreats For Architects

Treehotel

Found in Harads, about 50 kilometers outside of the city of Lulea in northern Sweden, Treehotel is composed of five individually designed “tree rooms,” each of which was created in collaboration with leading Scandinavian architects.

Rooms include “The UFO,” resembling a flyer-saucer caught in the trees, “The Bird’s Nest,” a veritable explosion of twigs, and “The Mirrorcube,” which reflects the surrounding landscape in its elevations so perfectly that it appears virtually invisible … the perfect retreat for those who feel the need to disappear completely. Check out the project by Dass here.

10 Summer Retreats For Architects

A Room For London by David Kohn Architects and Fiona Banner

What about escaping from the city … right in the center of the city? David Kohn Architects made this possible with the creation of their temporary art installation “A Room For London” – this hotel for two takes the whimsical form of a boat, stranded on the roof of Queen Elizabeth Hall. The lightweight structure contrasts beautifully with the brutalist concrete building upon which it rests, and it’s even possible to do your best Titanic impression from the building’s prow – “I’m king of the wooorld!”

Delta Shelter by Olson Kundig Architects

Delta Shelter by Olson Kundig Architects

Strictly speaking, the final Olson Kundig creation to make my list is a full-on house rather than a retreat. However, its remote location and compact form means it shares many qualities of the aforementioned structures, with the addition of some beautifully crafted mechanics for good measure. Cranking the wheel in the center of the house allows the enormous, double-height Corten shutters to slide open, transforming a metal cube into a modernist gem – full-height glazing and cantilevered metal balconies allow inhabitants to connect with the stunning surrounding landscape.

Treehouse Solling by Baumraum

Treehouse Solling by Baumraum

Like the Treehotel structures of Sweden, Baumraum’s elevated structures provide a luxury, modernist take on the treehouse genre. Situated in Uslar, Germany, Treehouse Solling is elevated above a secluded pond on steel stilts, connected to the land via a timber gantry. Ok, so the firm takes liberties with the definition of “treehouse”, with each of their cabins being firmly anchored to the earth – but whatever you want to call it, the Treehouse Solling must be an ideal place to get away from it all.

Yours meditatively,

The Angry Architect

Architects Versus Engineers: A Rallying Cry to the Profession

Finally, you are an architect. You studied day and night for 5 to 8 years, giving blood, sweat and tears (sometimes literally) in order to kick-start your dream career. It’s been a long road, but you have made it through the good, the bad and the tortuous times – standing in your cap and gown at graduation, you are the proudest you have ever been. It’s been more than tough, but at least you can now relax a little, knowing you have earned the right to be part of a respected, reliable profession that will protect your status and offer continual work over the coming decade. Or will it?

In the Philippines, it appears things are not so simple. A soon-to-be architect there – who wishes not to be named for – has given an insight into a local struggle for power between architects, civil engineers and the political system, with architects falling victim to out-dated legislation passed just after the Second World War. He states:

“In our country, civil engineers can sign architectural drawings (for residential mostly), a complete bulls***. Are you aware of this?

This “trend” started after the Second World War, when there was a lack of architects in our country. To compensate for the need, civil engineers were allowed to sign architectural documents. Sadly, it still continues long after the war, until today.

I am still an architecture student, and the future is not good for us architects with other professions grabbing the opportunity that’s supposed to be ours. It really hurts to see a civil engineer in the space intended for architects.”

A Rallying Cry to the Profession

The source provided this photograph of an architectural drawing signed off by the engineer as evidence to support their claims

But, surely there are laws to protect those in the profession? Indeed: the unnamed source knows which regulation should apply, but it seems the government have been turning a blind eye for many decades:

“It’s clearly a violation of the law (RA 9266 — Architecture Law in the Philippines), but it is continuing. The law has no teeth. I just wonder if this problem also occurs in other countries?”

This source’s viewpoint is concerning, but is it an isolated case? Turns out the answer is no, as another source messaged me personally with the following distress signal:

“WELCOME TO AN ARCHITECT’S LIFE IN THE PHILIPPINES.
This is our problem: Civil Engineers, who by profession design bridges and roads, also practice architecture. They are commonly hired and commissioned to do medium-end residential and commercial buildings because of their ‘cheap’ professional fees. In fact, they already passed a law allowing them to sign and seal architectural documents.”

And behold, yet another user vented their frustration right on The Angry Architect Facebook Page:

“Here in Philippines, civil engineers kind of took over the role of architects, and the worst thing is they and the people don’t think it’s wrong.”

So, it appears the issue is widespread, and the disquiet amongst Philippine architects is not limited to lone beacons of angst. Are the assumptions about civil engineers being unfit to design architectural projects unfair? Are these comments a reflection of the arrogance and self-entitlement perceived by many outside of our profession? I would argue that the discontentment is well founded – but we must examine why, and seek ways in which to resolve the situation within discrediting others in the construction industry.

A Rallying Cry to the Profession

Via: Archylounge

In the UK, an architect is not technically required to design a building – as long as a structure passes the planning application process and complies with building regulations, it can go ahead. The key here for architects is to make clients aware of the added value an architect can bring to their project – we must make our case convincingly, so that clients choose us and understand the great benefits of doing so.

By creating a building with a well functioning layout, considered specifications and beautiful detailing, the overall value of the finished product should comfortably outweigh the cost of architects’ fees. Further to this, an architect’s input can result in more robust buildings that require less maintenance, and energy-efficient designs that reduce running costs over the lifetime of the building – these are areas where an architect’s worth becomes clear in the long-term, making us better value than those Philippine civil engineers, even with their “cheap professional fees”.

Of course, could be argued that many of these aspects – quality detailing, robust structures, and energy efficiency, for example – can be produced to a high standard by engineers in the digital age, thanks to the power of BIM. Final year architecture student, long-time Angry Architect follower and astute commentator Xander Van Helden spoke to the subject on a recent facebook post, with a well-worded and fairly derisory view on what he calls “commercialist architecture”:

“Civil engineers can indeed design building, but they tend to think rationally, in figures and fixed budgets. Any BIM-oriented tool, in the right hands of engineer, becomes a tool for “generation with standardized elements”. The result of this is a simplification of the role of architect as an independent designer. I doubt it should be called architecture.”

A Rallying Cry to the Profession

Another Philippine user sent in this image of a civil engineer’s online portfolio on social media, in which they refer to themselves as “designer” – not “architect” in the legal sense, but nonetheless explicitly claiming authorship of the entire work. It raises the question, what place do architects have in the Philippines?

Significantly, Van Helden also points out the fact that commercial clients’ decision to use engineers over architects does not achieve the one thing they want more than anything else – to reduce costs. Unless a very experienced (and more expensive) contractor is used for such projects, the absence of an architect to oversee the work, manage the design, communicate with consultants and the construction team, and keep a handle on quality control can lead to a higher final bill. Van Helden notes:

“We may say that it is right as it saves money, it makes things easier for contractors; but at the same time the progress seems to be less evident.Any progressive thinking in architecture like Parametricism struggles to get through that ‘comfort zone’, remaining expensive and complex to be built without significant attention and development from contractors.”

In conclusion, as a profession we must recognize that we are selling a service that is not necessarily so tangible to those outside of the industry, or to less design-conscious members of the public. The profession is no longer protected as it once was; we must fight to remain relevant and remind people of the qualities that the profession can bring to the built environment, and to their everyday lives.

It is up to us to communicate our value, so that those choosing to spend their increasingly tight budgets do not see architects as a luxury, but as an essential component of their project: not only are we creative, we are also dependable, organized, efficient, communicative, competent, innovative and, most of all, professional. All of these things combined make us great value, in every sense of the word. We are worth it.

Let’s get that message across, in the Philippines and across the globe.

Yours through thick and thin,

The Angry Architect

Stacking Up: London’s Skyline is Officially Out of Control

British firm Wilkinson Eyre is officially joining the high-rise party in England’s capital. Its proposal for Bishopsgate in the heart of the City has been granted planning permission, and the 40-story glass edifice is now due for construction alongside the plethora of novelty silhouettes on London’s burgeoning skyline.

Commissioned by Mitsubishi Estate London, the Bishopsgate and Leadenhall Street Tower will incorporate more than 750,000 square feet of office space together with ground-floor retail and a public viewing platform on the top floor. It has been designed as a series of stacked boxes that diminish in size further up the building, revealing sky terraces reminiscent of BIG’s recently revealed 2 World Trade Center in New York.

Bishopsgate and Leadenhall Street Tower

Bishopsgate and Leadenhall Street Tower

The renderings reveal the extraordinary proximity of both present and future buildings slated for the business district: the new building will shimmy up next to London’s galleria of nicknamed towers, with Richard Rogers’ Cheesegrater, Norman Foster’s Gherkin, and the Scalpel by Kohn Pedersen Fox all close by. It will also get incredibly intimate with a future skyscraper by PLP Architecture — Wilkinson Eyre’s computer-generated images appear out of date as they still show KPF’s long-forgotten Pinnacle directly behind the new tower.

Bishopsgate and Leadenhall Street Tower

Bishopsgate and Leadenhall Street Tower

While the architecture of the latest skyscraper is not overtly offensive, Wilkinson Eyre’s images raise questions about the collective identity of London and its increasingly jam-packed “Eastern City Cluster,” an area designated by planners for tall commercial buildings just north of the Thames. Reflecting on PLP’s “steroidal” proposal for 22 Bishopsgate, the Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright recently vented his fears for the city’s skyline, concluding a cutting write-up with near-terrifying pessimism:

“With permissions already granted for many more towers, from the Scalpel to the Can of Ham and a monstrous ‘Gotham City’ mega-block by Make, we can say goodbye to a skyline of individual spires, between which you might occasionally glimpse the sky. With developers calling the shots, while planners egg them on, the future of the City’s silhouette looks set to be a lumpy blancmange.”

London’s future skyline sans Wilkinson Eyre’s new tower. PLP Architecture’s 22 Bishopsgate office block is the tallest building pictured. Rendering via the Guardian.

Gazing across the Thames toward a rendered preview of 22 Bishopsgate, it is apparent that Wainwright’s “lumpy blancmange” will be made even more dense by Wilkinson Eyre’s new stack of glazed blocks, concealing the tapered form of Richard Rogers’ Cheesegrater once and for all. If Richard Weston’s “contextual tower” — analyzed at length in this article — is completed at 1 Undershaft, the skyline will begin to resemble a single wall of reflective glass, a gargantuan mirror into which the planners will stare and wonder: what has become of this great city?

Of course, the counter-argument is clear. This is a supply-and-demand issue: office vacancy rates in the City are now as low as five percent, and, with clients such as Mitsubishi willing to pay despite sky-high land prices, the growth of London is as rational as it is ridiculous. However, does this mean we must settle for a congealed mass of steel and glass upon the fast-disappearing horizon?

Bishopsgate and Leadenhall Street Tower

Bishopsgate and Leadenhall Street Tower

Protected viewing corridors toward certain landmarks, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, have been designed to prevent this swathe of commercial towers dominating every corner of the city’s frenetic center, but many will be asking if this is enough given the rate of change currently being witnessed just north of the Thames. How important is a skyline’s composition? How closely does it correlate with a city’s cultural identity on the global stage, impacting on tourism and the wider economy?

These are not questions that are easy to answer, but they are certainly ones worth asking on the streets of London in the coming years.

Yours overcrowded,

The Angry Architect