2015 Architectural News – Year in Review

brady_new years2015. I couldn’t have asked for a better year. I got married, passed all of my ARE tests, and this little blog project of mine (which started with just my Grandma, me, and 2 internet robots viewing my page) has blossomed into tens of readers.|1| I wrote 47 blog posts in 2015, with my very first blog post on January 1, 2015. However, even with 47 blog posts, I still failed to encapsulate the breadth of architectural stories throughout the year.

You may have thought there wasn’t much architectural fanfare in 2015 (Frank Gehry didn’t flip the bird to any journalists this year and Rem Koolhaas only gave a handful of cantankerous interviews) but there were many other newsworthy stories starting with…

January –

… the French architect Jean Nouvel (aka Dr. Evil) issued a statement saying he would not attend the opening of his Philharmonie de Paris. Defending his firm against allegations regarding cost overruns, he claimed the Philharmonie was “not finished.” The acoustic tests were incomplete and the tanks to hold the “sharks with laser beams attached to their heads” had not yet been installed.

Thom Mayne (Morphosis) was chosen to design a hotel adjacent to Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals spa in Switzerland. The Swiss jury tasked with selecting the architect announced (following criticism of the design) that they are “dissociating themselves” from their decision. (real)

February –

Bjarke Ingels (BIG) and Thomas Heatherwick (Heatherwick Studio) were chosen to collaborate on a new headquarters building for Google in Mountain View, California. In order to build a structure that could contain both their inflated egos, they decided to design an ever-expanding bubble dome.

Frank Gehry’s new teaching and research facility for Sydney’s University of Technology opened, and was described as “a squashed brown paper bag” – expecting immediate praise for choosing paper over plastic, Gehry’s fanfare was met with little applause. Gehry was told he was 5 years too late, now you are supposed to bring your own reusable bag. However, Gehry responded by raising his middle finger in disgust, and claimed that “at Costco his groceries are placed in a box.”

Morphosis Architects released updated images of their tall, slim, glassy skyscraper that it says will mirror the surrounding landscape of the Swiss Alps in Vals, Switzerland. The former Swiss jury who selected Thom Mayne commented, “See! This is why Switzerland is a neutral country, to avoid all controversy and disagreements directed towards us.” Meanwhile, the rest of the world commented on the Swiss’ immaculate timepiece craftsmanship while also wondering in disbelief how any progress is ever made in Switzerland with such indecisiveness.

In other non-confrontational news…

March –

… German architect Frei Otto was posthumously named the 2015 Pritzker Prize laureate. Feminists, Denise Scott Brown, and everyone who proclaimed “a female architect should be recognized,” promptly retracted all statements and were like, “Oh. nevermind. Frei Otto was a good choice.”

Another acclaimed architect, Michael Graves, passed away. That’s it. No Target jokes. No Portland Building Jokes. It’s probably still too soon.

But, in other old-man architect news…

April –

…Facebook employees moved into their new Frank Gehry designed Silicon Valley headquarters. The 40,000-square-metre office building has a large rooftop park and boasts “the largest open floor plan in the world.” Gehry was immediately admitted to a full-service senior citizen care facility. His family stated, “after designing a structure that was beautiful, functional, and devoid of abstract crumpled forms, we all assumed he must have gone senile.”

Structural Engineers deemed that inflated egos and lots of “hot air” from the lungs of Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick alone could not support a giant dome over Google HQ. Previous calculations failed to include the exponential swelling of egos – which was compounded by both architects’ (illogical) increase in new winning skyscraper projects.

May –

Reports surfaced that construction of the proposed bubble-domes in Google’s new Mountain View campus will include the use of “crabots” – machines that are robot-crane hybrids.

Steven Holl became upset and wrote a scathing opinion piece criticizing the “trendy” new skinny skyscrapers inhabiting the New York city skyline. “Why can’t architecture mirror the behaviour of humans during the 1990’s?” he opined. “Fat, sprawling, and not health-conscious!” Frank Gehry also responded and wanted to reiterate that he has his groceries boxed at Costco. While Steven Holl further lamented the loss of his local Bennigan’s restaurant.

Bjarke Ingels corrected previous rumors, and claimed that Google’s campus will not be built with cra-bots, but rather “cra-cra bots”.

Speculation surrounding the Barack Obama Foundation’s choice to design the next Presidential Library points singularly towards David Adjaye – leading everyone to speculate that the color of an architect’s skin (not the quality of their work) will be the key deciding factor during the selection process. However, everyone is either too afraid to write that sentence for fear of punitive measures or they were forced to remove any comments drawn from obvious conclusions.
Note: The previous statement was removed by the author himself. He was not tortured, coerced, or told that “Remember, I failed on my promises and Guantanamo Bay is still operating!”

Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, a relatively unknown French-Japanese firm, was named the winner of the Guggenheim Helsinki competition. Unbelievably, the words Gehry or Hadid are not spelled Moreau or Kusonoki. However, the Finnish Jury wanted to be clear, if there were any complaints over their selection they will become indecisively neutral like Switzerland, and will immediately withdraw their recommendation; therefore, Bjarke Ingels will most likely end up designing the museum.

June –

Thomas Heatherwick proclaimed that designing a building is “exactly the same” as designing a Christmas card. Using his vast experience designing Christmas cards using high-quality paper products, Thomas Heatherwick proposed to redesign Google’s new Headquarters as a House of Cards.

Immediately after construction, Heatherwick’s House of Cards design for the new Google Headquarters begins to tumble down. 

Bjarke Ingels rebuilds Heatherwick’s House of Cards using his excess hair gel and unsold copies of HOT TO COLD.|2|

BIG (Bjarke Ingels) unveiled a design of seven stacked cuboids for Two World Trade Center, confirming that the skyscraper’s original architect, Foster + Partners, had been ousted. However, once it was determined by engineers that hair gel alone could not support BIG’s skyscraper plans, Bjarke issued a powerpoint presentation unveiling an exercise in post rationalization by reassembling SANAA’s New Museum of Contemporary Art.

In other news – Norman Foster doesn’t understand how fickle Finnish and Swedish representatives got appointed to the World Trade Center design selection committee.

July –

Elenberg Fraser, an Australian architecture firm, received planning approval for a 226-metre-high Melbourne skyscraper that will feature a curvaceous form mimicking Beyoncé. Not to be outdone, and to actually employ the 5 architects he hired, Kanye West plans to build two skyscrapers, one of himself, and one of Yeezus – walking together with Adidas trainer footprints in the sand.

A Minimalist Country Manor by David Chipperfield was named the Best House of the Year by AR (the UK’s Architectural Review magazine). However, after blowback over the generic house, the jury (comprised of Finnish and Swiss architects) has stepped down to remain “neutral” and will now declare no winner for house of the year. Update: Bjarke Ingels has been named AR’s House of the Year recipient.

Zaha Hadid’s controversial plans for the 2020 Olympic Stadium in Tokyo was scrapped due to spiralling costs. Wondering how this design was chosen in the first place, over Kengo Kuma, an investigation into Swiss and Finnish jury selection committee members is underway.

August –

Zaha Hadid Architects released a new movie detailing its design for the scrapped Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium. Pleading to still get her stadium constructed, Zaha launched a kickstarter campaign. The first 1 billion backers will receive the Coolest Cooler.

September –

To detract from the embarrassment of Bjarke’s hair gel glue structural collapses, Google decides to change their name to Alphabet, and incorporates Comic Sans fonts into all new logos.

Rafael Viñoly’s Walkie Talkie skyscraper in London, which melted cars and was been blamed for powerful downdrafts, was named the worst building in the UK. Questioning how the design was approved so quickly in the first place, the UK instituted mandatory policies to appoint Swiss and Finnish architects to serve on all future design selection committees.

October –

Everyone was so excited to wear the blue and black dress (or was it white and gold) for Halloween that nothing really occurred in October, except for some ill-conceived comments by Dror Benshetrit, whose New York based studio wants to develop a giant urban island off the coast of Istanbul. Dror stated that “architects are restricted by knowledge” and are “not qualified to build anything.” And to sound more like the “designer” Thomas Heatherwick (and not like a piece of furniture that holds socks) Dror further proclaimed that “clients are increasingly attracted to designers who ‘think differently’ than architects.” His use of the phrase “think differently” most likely refers to “not considering structural loads, physics, waterproofing, or details of any kind.” Furthermore, after being told that Heatherwick’s House of Cards toppled – it was asked how Benshetrit would build his giant island without architects. Dror attempted to explain his patent pending quaDror joint system, but engineers explained to him that quaDror was contrived, expensive, and not suitable for structural loads. Dror now assumes the island will become a landfill for his numerous broken Rosenthal vases.

November –

Ole Scheeren won World Building of the Year at the 2015 World Architecture Festival for The Interlace – a series of white apartment blocks stacked diagonally across one another. Scheeren, a former OMA employee, admitted he didn’t design the project, but instructions were included on the box for lego architecture studio. Furthermore, everyone now assumes that working for Rem Koolhaas must be a requirement at some point in an architect’s career.

December –

Seven firms (including Adjaye Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Renzo Piano) were picked as finalists for the Obama Presidential Center. The announcement occurred days before Christmas, to ensure there would be no outrage after inconceivably leaving Chicago architect Jeanne Gang off the final selection list. However, in efforts to prevent any future outrage the Obama Foundation is now taking steps to appoint Finnish and Swiss jury members to the final selection process.

Have a Happy 2016




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1 Although I’m pretty sure I lost my Grandma as a reader.
2 HOT TO COLD is a 700 page rainbow colored catalog full of pictures and 17 words.

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