People and projects in the news
And the winners are...
A jury that includes Sir David Chipperfield, Alice Rawsthorn and Oliver Wainwright has selected Denise Scott Brown as the winner of the 2018 Soane Medal. The American architect was famously snubbed by the Pritzker in 1991 when the award – which had yet to go to a woman – was given solely to her partner and husband, Robert Venturi. Chipperfield says Scott Brown was unanimously chosen, noting that her “contribution across architecture, urbanism, theory and education over the last 50 years has been profound and far-reaching. Her example has been an inspiration to many.”
The Royal Institute of British Architects has honoured Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena with this year’s Charles Jencks Award. The founder of Santiago firm Elemental has received numerous accolades since his highly acclaimed turn as curator of the 2016 Venice Biennale; he won the Pritzker that same year. One of the projects currently in the works at his firm is a major cultural centre, set to be among the largest in Qatar. New Brunswick firm Acre Architects has received the 2018 Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture from the Canada Council for the Arts. Founded by Monica Adair and Stephen Kopp in 2010, the firm is known for contextually driven work that is enhancing the presence of contemporary architecture in Atlantic Canada. More info on the prize is available at canadacouncil.ca
Movers and shakers
In late September, San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center was suddenly forced to close, just months after opening. The Us$2.2-billion transportation hub, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, was deemed potentially unsafe following the discovery of fissures in two steel beams. It has been speculated that construction of the hub – which began in 2013 – has caused the adjacent Millennium Tower to sink. In the same week the hub closed, a local judge ordered that the Transbay Joint Powers Authority pay for the legal bills Millennium’s developers have accrued defending millions in lawsuits related to construction issues. Nova Scotia architects Mackay-lyons Sweetapple have expanded into the U.S., opening an office in Denver in late summer. The Colorado outpost will help support the firm’s ongoing work in the Horizon community, which is currently under construction on nearby Summit Powder Mountain, Utah.
In the wake of the collapse of the Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa, Italy, local starchitect Renzo Piano has volunteered to donate the design of a replacement structure. The architect’s offer has reportedly been accepted by Liguria governor Giovanni Toti. The collapse, which claimed 43 lives, was a tragedy that could have been avoided, Piano says, as the bridge’s structural integrity was recently under major scrutiny, with constant maintenance underway since 2011.
Renowned architect and author Robert Venturi has died at the age of 93. Along with Denise Scott Brown, his wife, he led celebrated Philadelphia firm Venturi Scott Brown. Known for its humanist design approach, the firm’s portfolio includes such influential buildings as Philadelphia’s Guild House, the Seattle Art Museum and the Sainsbury Wing at London’s National Gallery. An innovator in the postmodern scene, Venturi rejected the Mies-influenced minimalism of the era and is credited with coining the phrase “Less is a bore.”
One of Latin America’s most significant institutions, the National Museum of Brazil, was destroyed by fire in September. Home to over 20 million items related to the history of the Americas, the museum was founded in 1818 and had marked its bicentennial in June. Though the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, firefighters were reportedly thwarted by empty fire hydrants in the area. The Institute of Architects of Brazil issued an open letter just days after the blaze, calling the loss “a result of the significant decline in investments in culture, education and science…a budget of less than 14,000 BRL a month for the maintenance of equipment is representative of the lack of understanding of its importance for Brazilian history, culture and sciences.”