See the best graduate work at Blueprint for the Future

Blueprint for the Future is a free, three-day showcase of the work of the brightest, most interesting and challenging architecture students graduating Part II across London, as selected by Blueprint Magazine.

rimowa taps FENDI for second luxe aluminum cabin trolley collaboration

the hard luggage case is composed of rimowa's signature durable aluminum, emblazoned with FENDI's iconic double 'F' logo.

The post rimowa taps FENDI for second luxe aluminum cabin trolley collaboration appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.


DesignCurial in Conversation: Lisa Haude of Paradigm Design Group

Having created interiors for a multitude of high-end hospitality brands, US-based Paradigm Design Group know a thing or two about luxury design. We speak to Paradigm’s co-founder, Lisa Haude, to find out more.

austin+mergold & cornell university build city of dreams from metal grain bins in new york

the 'oculi' installation aims to promote sustainability-oriented thinking amidst the architecture and design communities, requiring them to consider the environmental impact of their works.

The post austin+mergold & cornell university build city of dreams from metal grain bins in new york appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.


Philadelphia Says Goodbye to Yet Another Historic Building

Demolition of thie historic Christian Street Baptist Church in Philadelphia began last week.  (Photo by Jared Brey)

It’s a sight that Philadelphians are growing used to seeing — demolition crews peeling the bricks and mortar off of a beloved but taken-for-granted old building in the heart of a changing neighborhood, with the promise of nothing but more of the same expensive housing to take its place.

The former Christian Street Baptist Church, a small church built for a growing community of Italian immigrants in the 1890s and later owned for most of the 20th century by an African-American Baptist congregation. The church had been a flashpoint in the city’s simmering crisis of demolition during a time when officials and advocates are trying to rethink how historic preservation works in the city and make it both stronger and more inclusive, as Next City has covered. But preservationists’ attempts to save the church, which was not listed on the local register of historic places, ultimately failed. The building’s demolition began last week.

“It’s the loss of a neighborhood landmark that’s been there longer than anyone can remember, since the 1890s, and that in another climate would have been a great candidate for adaptive reuse,” says Paul Steinke, executive director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, who spent months trying to find a buyer for the church who would save it from demolition. “Losing that really kind of cuts at the heart of the character of that community. So it’s painful to see it go. And in a city that lacks any real incentives for preservation, it’s hard to compete in the housing boom.”

Preservationists first tried to intervene last fall, after the congregation had found a buyer willing to pay $1.5 million for the church, with the expectation that it would be demolished and replaced with housing. The Philadelphia Historical Commission was split over whether to designate the building historic, which would have prevented demolition. The shrinking congregation argued that they couldn’t afford to maintain the building, and listing it on the register would deprive them of the value of the sale. Ultimately not enough commissioners voted in favor of designation.

The saga dragged on for months. The buyer, Ori Feibush, said that he would sign the contract over to anyone who would save the church and pay his cost of $1.5 million, and later said he would sell it for $1 million. But Feibush says that one potential buyer who came in with a last-minute offer couldn’t show proof of funds.

Was the decision to move forward with demolition difficult?

“Yes and no,” Feibush says. “I put the property under contract initially with the expectation of demolition and the church listed it for sale with the expectation of demolition. So in that context, it was the first option and the preferred option when we began the process.”

The problem is that preservation isn’t competitive with demolition and redevelopment in the city, Feibush says. He says he thought he was “doing a good thing” by allowing time for a buyer to come forward. But ultimately he believes preservationists were just trying to buy time until his demolition permits expired. If his company hadn’t bought the property with the intention of demolishing it, he says, half a dozen others would have swept in with a similar plan. It’s convenient to blame the developer, but “the system is broken,” he says: If the city wants to prevent more demolitions like this, it has to create policies that narrow the gulf between what properties are worth with old churches on them and what they’re worth as vacant land.

“It’s a shame,” Feibush says. “Upzoning would help a lot. Substantive incentives would help a lot. People going to church more frequently would help a lot.”

Steinke faults Feibush for not accepting an offer when he had said he would. But he agrees that the problems are systemic.

“We need to expand protections, both through historic districts and individual designations,” Steinke says. “And we need to institute more incentives for preservation, including not allowing the tax abatement to be used on buildings that are on the local or national register. You should not be rewarded by the taxpayers for tearing down historic buildings.”

Some are publicly doubting that the preservation task force appointed by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will come up with any significant solutions for preservation issues in the city. Steinke says there’s still reason to hope that the group’s recommendations will be meaningful. But the task force process is slow-moving, and the building boom is frantic. And Steinke says that until new policy recommendations are released and enacted, more buildings like Christian Street Baptist Church are threatened.

“Churches are right in the bullseye of desirable sites,” he says. “They usually occupy bigger lots. They often have weak-to-nonexistent congregations. The buildings themselves often suffer from various degrees of neglect. So it’s like moths to a flame: Developers are attracted to them.”

Next City’s coverage of Philadelphia’s changing neighborhoods is made possible with the support of the William Penn Foundation.


Pew: Income Gap Now Widest Among Asian Americans

(Credit: Pew Research)

Income inequality is often presented as a study in socioeconomic or racial difference — the racial wealth gap, for example, or comparisons of household income in rural vs. urban America. But, as Pew Research Center recently pointed out, another “important part of the story of rising income inequality is that experiences within America’s racial and ethnic communities vary strikingly from one group to the other.”

Take America’s Asian population — which now has the widest gap between its top and bottom earners, according to a new report from the research center.

From the report:

From 1970 to 2016, the gap in the standard of living between Asians near the top and the bottom of the income ladder nearly doubled, and the distribution of income among Asians transformed from being one of the most equal to being the most unequal among America’s major racial and ethnic groups.

In this process, Asians displaced blacks as the most economically divided racial or ethnic group in the U.S….

Asian Americans, of course, aren’t alone. According to Pew, the income gap between ALL Americans at the top and the bottom of the income distribution widened a whopping 27 percent over that same 46 years.

But the widening gap within the country’s Asian population is part of a story of several immigration laws, according to the research organization. Immigrants accounted for 81 percent of the growth in the adult Asian population from 1970 to 2016, following the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. That law favored family reunification, and, together with the end of the Vietnam War, it brought a wave of refugees into the U.S.

“One result was that the share of new Asian immigrants working in high-skill occupations decreased from 1970 to 1990, and the share working in low-skill occupations increased,” according to the report.

More recently, however, the Immigration Act of 1990 (which sought to increase the inflow of skilled immigrants to the U.S.) coincided with a tech boom that brought a new wave of Asian immigrants from India under the H-1B visa program.

“Thus, since 1990, there has been an increase in the share of Asian immigrants employed in high-skill occupations,” according to the report.

The new data will likely be helpful for equity-focused policymakers — who haven’t always seen Asian Americans included in large research projects. Even when they are, “Asian” is itself a broad category that masks many historic ethnicities with differing median hourly wages and household incomes.

That variation, as Next City has covered, is a particular challenge for both the Asians and Pacific Islanders because of the “model minority” myth.

“On educational attainment or disconnected youth, they’re doing better as a group than others, but it’s really masking a lot,” Sarah Treuhaft, director of equitable growth initiatives at PolicyLink, told Next City in 2016. “It’s detrimental to the groups who aren’t doing as well.”

Pew’s report can be viewed here.


Park delights: Frida Escobedo’s Serpentine Pavilion & Christo’s London Mastaba

This year’s sleek Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park, designed by Frida Escobedo, aligns with the Greenwich Meridian. Floating on the lake nearby, Christo’s The London Mastaba makes a splash

Schemata Architects / Do-C, Nine Hours Capsule Hotel, Shibuya-Ku

Schemata Architects has taken a classic capsule hotel – the old fallback for Japanese workers who’d missed the last train home – and renewed the typology's reputation

Houston’s Third Ward Residents Want More Say over Development

Project Row Houses is a non-profit arts organization established by black artists and community activists in Houston's historic Third Ward. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Assata Richards is a third-generation resident of Houston’s historically black Third Ward. She credits strong organizations and institutions in the Third Ward for allowing her, as a single mother, to graduate from the University of Houston, and go on to get her Ph.D. from Penn State University. “And then come back to the community using my understanding of power, systems, inequality, social mobility as a sociologist,” she adds.

Gentrification, however, is threatening families like Richards’ who have long resided in the area, which is near Houston’s downtown. A Houston Chronicle report said that housing prices in the Third Ward went up 176 percent between 2000 and 2013.

In response, while also serving as founder of the Sankofa Research Institute, Richards has been one of the driving forces behind Houston’s Third Ward community land trust initiative, which has gained the support of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

“There is no zoning in Houston, and there are very few policy mechanisms to control what happens with the land,” Richards explains. “Because we don’t have zoning and we don’t have many regulatory processes, the community land trust means that we at least have an opportunity to determine who benefits from development in our community.”

A city-recognized network of volunteer-run civic clubs, block associations, neighborhood development organizations and other civic organizations have traditionally been local powerhouses that have determined what kinds of businesses and development would take place within Houston communities. But the civic organizations generally restrict membership to property owners. Richards points out that 70 percent of the Third Ward’s residents are renters, and the same percentage earns less than $21,000 per year. The area also has the second highest unemployment rate within the city’s urban core. These low incomes prevent the bulk of Third Ward residents from qualifying for most existing homeownership programs that help people become property owners.

The community land trust initiative grew out of recommendations developed by students from Texas Southern University’s master’s program in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy, says Jeffrey Lowe, an urban planning professor at Texas Southern University’s Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. As the neighborhood’s Emancipation Park embarked on a $34 million redevelopment, Lowe had his students examine how the park could be better connected to the northern section of the Third Ward.

“Given what we already know about parks, how [they] can facilitate gentrification, there were real concerns,” Lowe says. “In the resources being placed in this park, it pretty much turned a neighborhood park into a destination park in many ways.”

One of the recommendations the students developed was that long-time residents needed to gain more control over land use and development through a community land trust. In 2015, the Emancipation Economic Development Council was born. One of the council’s working groups focused on ensuring access to affordable housing and adopted the community land trust model for that purpose.

Kirk Jackson, another long-time Third Ward resident, has been another important player in the project. He now chairs the Emancipation Economic Development Council’s housing committee. “Developers are looking for ways to fund themselves. They aren’t looking for grants. They’re moving right along,” he says. “You can stand on a vacant lot in Third Ward, and if you don’t move, you’ll be part of the sheetrock.”

To help counter this frenzy, Jackson has hope for the Midtown Redevelopment Authority, which, he says, has about 4 million square feet of property in its portfolio, much of it in the Third Ward, and it has a mission to develop affordable, low-income housing.

“We hope that at some point when that land is released, they will release it to the [Emancipation Economic Development Council] and other faith-based or economic-development corporations in the area for the sole purpose of developing low-income and affordable housing,” says Jackson.

Yet even if that land does become available, Richards recognizes that the community land trust model challenges some core beliefs around economic security, particularly for African-Americans, many of whom have looked at homeownership as a source of protection.

“What we realize is that individual ownership has its limits for protection, that it has not securely protected communities and African-Americans,” says Richards. “We’ve lost our homes to the sub-prime lending. We’ve lost our homes to increases in taxes. We’ve lost our homes to foreclosure. We’ve lost our homes to eminent domain.”

Those historical patterns, Richards argues, mean that collective models represent a critical tool for black and low-income communities.

At the same time, the Emancipation Economic Development Council is incubating cooperative businesses so that community residents not only have housing but also sustainable incomes and dignified work.

Lowe also explains how community land trusts help democratize society.

“At least one-third of the board members are supposed to be people who are living on the land trust. Those people can be homeowners, they can be renters,” he explains. Another third would come from areas adjacent to the trust and the remaining third would come from other areas of the city — typically, with community land trusts, these “external” board members are professionals who can contribute real estate, business or financial expertise to the group.

“By doing it that way, you see how it helps build this notion of community,” says Lowe. “I think this is really important in a city that historically, until relatively recently, a renter could not be, say, an officer in one of the [civic clubs].”


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Architect Mahmood Fallahian

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