The Many Meanings of Architecture

By F. Jeffrey Murray, FAIA Posted on July 11, 2019

Mount Angel Abbey Library in Saint Benedict, Oregon.  Alvar Aalto, 1970 There have been many definitions of ‘architecture’; mostly written by and for architects. What matters to me is what non-architects think of architecture. Over my nearly five decades in architecture (education plus practice), I’ve recognized five fundamental definitions or meanings of architecture held by non-architects. Architecture as consumer product; about style, fashion, and entertainment (embraced by most media, and most media influenced public, and I suspect most of the public are deeply media influenced). Architecture as real estate; an investment product (embraced by real estate brokers, developers, investors, business media and most building owners). Architecture as useful tool; minimal functional shelter (embraced by many builders, engineers, and facility managers)....

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Changes to Design Awards 2019

New Categories Simplify Awards

By AIA Pittsburgh Posted on June 28, 2019

2018 People’s Choice Award winner and Architecture Honor Award winner Century Inn by Margittai Architects, photography by Breanna Kristian Photography & Pittsburgh Real Estate Media It’s rare these days for things to get simpler, but that is exactly what is happening with the new categories determined by AIA Pittsburgh’s Board of Directors for 2019 submissions.  The categories have been simplified, but changes have also been made to more closely align to AIA Pittsburgh’s organizational values. In the past award categories were siloed by type of architecture. Going forward there will be three Architecture categories differentiated by square footage and one Unbuilt category. A number of other AIA Chapters have moved in a similar direction “The intent is to simplify to...

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Architects Action Day 2019

Members advocate in Harrisburg

By AIA Pittsburgh Posted on June 14, 2019

Quintin Kittle, AIA of qkArchitecture (and AIA Pittsburgh Advocacy Committee Co-chair) and Rebecca Lowe, AIA of Desmone Architects in front of the PA State Capitol. AIA Pittsburgh members caravaned to Harrisburg to ADVOCATE for architecture, EDUCATE Pennsylvania state legislators and PARTICIPATE to make architects’ voices heard.  On Tuesday, June 11th architects from across the state, led by AIA Pennsylvania, united in Harrisburg for Architects Action Day 2019.  AIA Pittsburgh members participated in this advocacy day where they met with senators and State Representatives from their respective districts to speak directly about issues critical to advancing the profession of architecture throughout the state. 40 AIA PA members and staff comprised 9 groups that advocated in Harrisburg for Architect’s Action Day. The groups held...

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Designing the Front Door to Our Region

The Pittsburgh International Airport’s New Terminal Modernization Program

By Maya Henry, COLUMNS editor Posted on May 30, 2019

Arrivals.  Rendering courtesy Allegheny County Airport Authority Pittsburgh International Airport is undergoing a multi-year, $1.1 billion dollar modernization.  With construction to be completed by 2023, the design has been informed by a multi-year effort bringing stakeholders together to explore what designing a “world-class” facility really means to Pittsburgh. The new terminal is inspired by the beauty, tech renaissance and people of the Pittsburgh region. It is meant to be iconic, practical and affordable while also being adaptable as technological and transportation needs change. The necessity for a redesign comes as the airport transforms itself from a hub, appropriate for US Airways in the 1980s, to a destination-type airport.  The majority of travelers now originate from Pittsburgh, as opposed to passengers connecting to...

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Review of The Pritzker Architecture Prize Exhibit at the Heinz Architectural Center

By Bea Spolidoro, AIA Posted on May 23, 2019

Jean Nouvel, Competition Entry: Central Berlin, 1990, Carnegie Museum of Art. Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Influencers: The Pritzker Architecture Prize, is now on display at The Heinz Architectural Center recapping 40 years of the prestigious prize. Following a nine-month hiatus in programming due to the Carnegie International, this inspiring exhibit is a great comeback. The exhibit is smaller than others in the past with two areas of the HAC dedicated to the annual architecture summer camp for kids, rather than the exhibition alone. Still, the pieces on display are mighty, and the variety of the techniques presented is very entertaining. Founded in 1979 by the Pritzker family, the international prize is awarded annually to a living...

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Still Crazy After 31 Years

The Architects Softball League

By Maya Henry, COLUMNS editor Posted on May 16, 2019

The Cullen & Associates team in 2008.  Photo courtesy John Cullen. Imagine this. It’s 1985 and the first pick-up game of what would later become the Pittsburgh Architects Softball League is taking place.  Architects from Damianos and Associates, and L.D. Astorino & Associates are playing each other.  Syl Damianos, FAIA and Lou Astorino, FAIA are pitching for their teams, respectively… batter up! When John Cullen started the league in 1985 he never imagined it would last over 31 years, that it would foster so many friendships and that so many firms and principals would field players over the years.  It started so informally, with those first pick-up games and just a desire to get out of the office and have...

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Book Review

“I Like an Arch”

Review of You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn

By Robert Bailey, AIA Posted on May 7, 2019

Image courtesy Macmillan Several biographies of Louis Kahn have been written in the 21st century, but Wendy Lesser’s may be the most compelling. Lesser, a writer, critic and editor in the arts, founded the literary magazine The Threepenny Review, and has published both fiction and nonfiction. Lesser authored Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen Quartets, a narrative in which the quartets guide the reader through the composer’s life The Life of Louis Kahn is her first book with an architectural subject. Kahn’s story is interspersed with chapters describing what it’s like to visit five of his greatest buildings: Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Kimbell Art Museum, Phillips Exeter Library, National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, and Indian Institute of...

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Architect 2.0: Designing the Future with New Technologies

Hilda Espinal's Keynote Address at Build Pittsburgh 2019

By Maya Henry, COLUMNS editor Posted on May 2, 2019

Technological advancements allow for almost photo-realistic simulation in design. Image courtesy Hilda Espinal, AIA/CannonDesign Architecture is a very old practice. Technology by its nature heralds the new. What happens when the two come barreling towards each other? Hilda Espinal, AIA, Build Pittsburgh 2019’s keynote speaker and CannonDesign’s Chief Technology Officer, shared her insights about designing the future with new technologies to a crowded ballroom of early risers. While technology provides a number of exciting opportunities for the architecture profession, Espinal says it can also add new demands and create unrealistic expectations. She noted that clients very often want the quality of Intel, the dependability of Starbucks, the innovation of Tesla, the reliability of FedEx, the variety of Amazon, and the experience of...

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Bill Bates, FAIA Speaks with David Lewis, FAIA on Mentorship

“It’s a powerful tool.”

By Maya Henry Posted on April 18, 2019

In this interview, Bill Bates, FAIA, current President of AIA National, interviews David Lewis, FAIA about mentorship.  When the camera starts rolling, Mr. Lewis shares how his work was informed by early experiences in South Africa and the story of how the AIA helped to lay the foundation for what would become Urban Design Associates. The video, which premiered at AIA Grassroots in March, was commissioned by AIA National and shot by Pittsburgh-based Anthem Video.  Stephen Kraus of Anthem reflected on what it was like to work with Mr. Lewis: “When I first met David Lewis, it was while carrying two large rolling cases full of video equipment right through his living room. Instead of being unnerved by the micro film crew trying...

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Dossier: Hilda Espinal

Build Pittsburgh Keynote Speaker

Name:  Hilda Espinal Firm:  CannonDesign Years in practice: 23 Education: Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Masters in Information Systems from DePaul University.   Your first job: Receptionist at Laboratorios Roldan (Dominican Republic-my country of origin) Project you’re proudest of: Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago What’s the most annoying thing architects do? Design for people and display people-less spaces!  And I am guilty as charged waiting for spaces to vacate before taking that perfect picture/shot. Favorite tool (can be digital, drafting, physical,…): So hard to pick ONE, so I’ll have to say my mobile.  If there is no trace of an event in it, it very likely doesn’t exist/won’t happen  <wink> Favorite building: Taj Mahal Favorite outdoor space: Wherever the ocean...

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