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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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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Why Color Matters

Two Projects Demonstrate the Importance of Color in Design

By Maya Henry, COLUMNS Editor Posted on November 15, 2018

Color trends may come and go, but the psychology of color is long-standing and universal.  Reds can stir up anger and passion while blues and greens are calming.  Designers who can blend these basic theories with contemporary color trends are more likely to create spaces that resonate with actual users.  People might not know why they feel better in a space, but chances are it has a lot to do with the colors the designer has chosen. Incorporating ideas of biophilia, our inherent connection to the environment, is becoming increasingly popular as new technologies allow for shapes and materials to more closely mimic nature.  Users are demanding natural building materials, ample light, and fresh air that combines to create a...

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The Diversity of Sustainability and Resilience in Design

Submissions for the 2018 Design Awards

By Maya Henry Posted on September 20, 2018

New for Design Pittsburgh 2018, any built project submitted in another Design Awards category is eligible to also be reviewed for the Excellence in Sustainability + Resiliency award category.  This award recognizes built projects that have successfully integrated sustainable and/or resilient building strategies and practices into the design. As defined by the AIA Pittsburgh Design Pittsburgh Committee, sustainability envisions the enduring prosperity of all living things, while sustainable design seeks to create communities, buildings, and products that contribute to this vision.  Resilience is the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain/regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance, while resilient design is the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in response to these...

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Striking a Balance Between Voice and Vision

Terry Schwarz's Keynote Address at Build Pittsburgh 2018

By Maya Henry Posted on April 19, 2018

Image credit CUDC/MOOS. The theme of Build Pittsburgh 2018 was “design with purpose.”  This year’s Keynote Address was given by Terry Schwarz, FAICP to a crowded ballroom of early risers who gathered to hear about design culture and community engagement from the director of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC).  Schwarz began her presentation by proposing that community design does not need to be about the community OR design (discuss!) but that placemaking could, in fact, include both facets working together.  Portions of Schwarz’s keynote address are captured here. Schwarz began by showing examples of her early fascination with Bauhaus design and then showed how residents repurposed the spare spaces in Mies van der Rohe’s Layfette Park in Detroit...

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