“The scene and its setting—an open layout with communal tables and a bullpen of desks—reveal the company’s guiding philosophy, which is predicated on principles more common to liberal-arts colleges than thriving design studios: transparency, diversity, cross-disciplinarity, and parity between men and women as well as senior and junior staff. Anyone passing by the conference table is welcome to weigh in, and at least in theory, every opinion is valued. That’s a stark departure from traditional architecture practices, where minions execute most of the work at the discretion of (and with little recognition from) the partners. Here, bonuses are doled out equally across the board to unionized staffers, and the owners earn no more than three times the salary of the lowest-paid employee.

Even on a day-to-day basis, Snøhetta’s employees are prevented from becoming too settled. In Oslo, the 70 designers switch desks regularly. Teams of four-to-six architects are assembled with diversity in mind—of disciplines (an architecture-based project might include a landscape architect and an urban planner, for instance), cultural backgrounds, and genders—rather than according to seniority or experience. Team leaders are also deployed on rotation so that, according to Gran, they will “lead in a way that they will want to be led in the next project.” And the firm invites perspective from outside friends, working not only with artists—67 to date—but with scientists and playwrights.

If Snøhetta has a leader, Dykers is it. With a round, dimpled face and a calm but genial demeanor, he upends the stereotypical image of the egotistical, bespectacled architect. The creative stress he talks about goes back to the firm’s very beginnings, when in 1989, a loose band of architects, some (including Dykers) in Los Angeles and some in Oslo, entered the competition to design Egypt’s Alexandria Library—and won. The ensuing years of planning were a logistical nightmare, with the Norway contingent temporarily relocating to L.A. before ultimately settling in Oslo. “We built up a small office, so the Norwegians were out of their element, and even I was outside of my studio space,” Dykers recalls. “Putting yourself outside of your element is what drives you to reconsider things.”’

By Belinda Lanks
Posted January 17, 2011


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This is the first draft of my thesis abstract which proposes a thesis on the crisis of tourism structures and consumerist desire.

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Product Description “Current architectural intervention has demonstrated a tendency towards the production of the superficial: Effects, ornamentation, and embellishments are applied to programs defined by social, economic, and technical conditions that fall outside of the profession. Verb Crisis tackles the conflict that marks the collision between the physical nature of the architectural commission and the demands of a world that is increasingly dense and interdependent, a world marked by undeniable environmental problems and economic inequalities. Given the shortfalls of standard professional attitudes, Verb Crisis presents projects and investigations that grant the practice of architecture an updated optimism and social relevance.”


Massive Change

Product Description “Utopianism is not dead; it has migrated from politics to materialism. This book, says Canadian industrial designer Mau (who founded Toronto City College’s Institute Without Borders), is “not about the world of design; it’s about the design of the world.” In a form that is part Apple ad, part Powerpoint presentation and part architectural pastiche à la Rem Koolhaus, Mau’s volume brings together designs and theories (mostly Western) and photographers (global) that “tap into global commons,” “distribute capacity” and “embrace paradox”: superstrong fibers modeled on gecko hairs; “sustainable business” that embraces corporate accountability; the “redesigning” of Third World property law; genetic engineering, macro- and microimaging technologies; virtual reality technology that allows collaboration over large distances; a “cyberneticized” military that paradoxically has more nonviolent options. All of these ideas (some of which are now reality) are here in words and pictures, often further explained through q&a’s with leading researchers. The result reads, intentionally, like a friendly corporate prospectus or catalogue, except that the “product” on offer is a radically hopeful vision of the future. With 250 color and 50 b&w photos in a fractally chaotic layout, and a text that speaks in affirmative sound bites, this book offers a vision of the world in a package designed to get readers excited about stoves that burn peanut shells, superlight gels that can protect flowers from flame, and plants and microbes that turn open sewers into water supplies. It succeeds beautifully.”


Architecture, Crisis and Resuscitation: The Reproduction of Post-fordism in Late-twentieth-century Architecture [Release Date: March 8, 2011]

Product Description “Studying the relation of architecture to society, this book explains the manner in which the discipline of architecture adjusted itself in order to satisfy new pressures by society. Consequently, it offers an understanding of contemporary conditions and phenomena, ranging from the ubiquity of landmark buildings to the celebrity status of architects. It conderns the period spanning from 1966 to the first years of the current century – a period which saw radical change in economy, politics, and culture and a period in which architecture radically transformed, substituting the alleged dreariness of modernism with spectacle.”


After Crisis: Post-Fordist Conditions for Architecture [Release Date: September 30, 2010]

Product Description “‘After Crisis’ concentrates around the new conditions for architectural practice and around the new epistemologies that may inform it in the next future. That is, in the period after the financial bubble has collapsed and living and working conditions have significantly changed. Essays, studies and interviews, along with a selection of indicative projects, tackle the actual issues of growth and shrinking, economy and ideology, craftsmanship and social space in the city, materiality and sustainability in architecture. In a logical sequence, they depict the current reality of architecture.”


Planning for the Unplanned: Recovering from Crises in Megacities

Product Description “How do cities plan for the unplanned? Do cities plan for recovery from every possible sudden shock? How does one prepare a plan for the recovery after a tragedy, like the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York? The book discovers the systematic features that contribute to the success of planning institutions. In cities filled with uncertainty and complexity, planning institutions effectively tackle unexpected and sudden change by relying on the old and the familiar, rather than the new and the innovative.
The author argues that planning programs institutions were successful because they were bureaucratic, and relied on standardized routines, rigorous sets of established regimes, familiar programs, and institutionalized hierarchies. Also contrary to popular perception, neither the leaders at the top of the institutions nor those workers at the grassroots level were the most important in the implementation of such routines. The key actors were middle managers, because they knew the institutional structures inside out, what the routines were and how to use them, and were successful go-betweens between national governments and grassroots community groups.

Case studies from Mexico City, Los Angeles and New York provide a deeper understanding of urban planning processes. The case studies reveal that systematic institutional analysis helps us understand what works in planning, and why. They also demonstrate the manner in which institutional routines serve as powerful and effective tools for addressing novel situations.”


Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster

Product Description “‘I’m not summoning Armageddon,” affirms Davis, a social historian and urban theorist whose 1990 NBCC-nominated, dystopian history of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, City of Quartz, is now a cult classic. Maybe so, but the portrait of a city on the brink presented in this powerful, if sometimes scattershot, follow-up volume is sure to remind readers of the Book of Revelations. The book takes Davis in a new direction?away from the politics of L.A. urban planning, toward geophysical threats to the city, ranging from earthquakes to fires, floods and killer bees. Davis’s polemic will raise as many hackles as concerns: while L.A. officials proclaim each earthquake, flood, mud slide and wildfire as an exceptional event, southern California has been actually enjoying a benign climatic and seismic period, and more serious disasters lie ahead, he argues. These natural catastrophes have been compounded by the fact that in building L.A., developers have largely disregarded the region’s topography and environment and built in areas prone to such ravages as wildfires and floods. As the population continues to spread into new areas, there will be, predicts the author, an increase in confrontations between the region’s wildlife and settlers, a situation rendered more explosive by the widespread poverty and racial problems endemic to the city, and the vast disparities of relief services. As tense as the situation has become, it will worsen as the gap between the have and have-nots widens, he says. The future Davis envisions is credible and alarming, and his argument is bolstered by prose that is machete sharp and accompanied by an archive of stunning photos. Satellite photographs of L.A. during the riots of 1993 resembled those of an erupting volcano, he shows. Which, in Davis’s blistering critique, is precisely what it is. Editor, Sara Bershtel (Aug.) FYI: Davis is a 1998 recipient of a McArthur Fellowship grant.”


Global Danish Architecture: Crisis and Tradition

Product Description “In addressing the tradition, influence and what is identified as the crisis in Danish architecture, the authors of this new title consider the many different typologies of architecture in the work of some 15 distinguished Danish practices including: BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, Utzon Arkitekter, Wohlert Arkitekter, Vandkunsten, Entasis, Henning Larsen Architects and Friis & Moltke arkitekter. Arguably unique, certainly authoritative, this book offers a penetrative contribution to understanding the historical development in Danish architecture.”


The Crisis of America’s Cities

Product Description “Bartlett (economics and urban studies, Smith Coll.; Economics and Power: An Inquiry into Markets and Human Relations, Cambridge Univ., 1989) argues that a number of mostly economic factors encourage people to congregate, resulting in the current problems of urban poverty, unemployment, and alienation. Bartlett uses examples ranging from Civil War battles to the experiences of low-income families to illustrate the “logic of location,” or why technology and economic interests have led to the current urban crisis. He goes on to recommend a more holistic approach to urban policy in order to address inequities in education finance, the disconnection between education and employment, a youth culture that does not encourage academic achievement, and the concentration of the poor in inner cities. He recommends federal investment in programs to disperse the poor and build mixed-income neighborhoods in cities and suburbs. An engaging analysis of the urban crisis from a perspective that readers will appreciate, even if they disagree.AWilliam L. Waugh, Georgia State Univ., Atlanta”


Media Strategies for Marketing Places in Crisis: Improving the Image of Cities, Countries and Tourist Destinations

Product Description “Growing competition between countries and cities over attracting infrastructure, investment, tourists, capital and national and international status mean that today, a negative image is more harmful than ever. Whatever the cause of the negative image, places perceived as dangerous, frightening, or boring are at a distinct disadvantage. Many decision makers and marketers stand by helplessly, frustrated by their knowledge that in most cases, their city’s negative image is not based on well-grounded facts. Given that stereotypes are not easily changed or dismissed, the challenge facing these decision makers is great. Analyses of many case studies show interesting examples of places that tried to change a negative image into a positive one, in order to bringing back tourists, investors and residents.

Although a great deal of knowledge about crisis communications has accumulated in recent years, very little has been written about strategies to improve places’ negative images. The aim of “Media Strategies for Marketing Places in Crisis” is to discuss the various dimensions of an image crisis and different strategies to overcome it, both in practice and theory. “Media Strategies for Marketing Places in Crisis” is based on the careful analysis of dozens of case studies, advertisements, public relations campaigns, press releases, academic articles, news articles, and the websites of cities, countries and tourist destinations.”



Product Description “This time working with a host of collaborators, architect Koolhaas, whose S, M, L, XL was that rare thing, a crossover architecture best seller, has returned with another bricklike tome. Mutations was developed in connection with Harvard Design School’s Project on the City, an ongoing graduate-level analysis of “issues related to the urban condition.” Year-long investigations have tackled such subjects as the impact of shopping on the city; Lagos, a massive, sprawling West African city that is highly functional despite a lack of infrastructure; and systematizing the structures and relationships in the prototypical Roman city. Results from these projects are gathered here along with a couple photo essays and short profiles of specific places from Pristina to Benelux. Interspersed throughout are a multitude of statistics about the current state and future of the city, presented in a captivating, highly graphical format. The whole does not cohere, and the reader will quickly turn to whatever is of greatest personal interest. But at the end of the day, the various views do coalesce into a portrait of powerful forces of our making but beyond our control: the modern city. As a result, this book is highly recommended for general cultural studies collections as well as all architecture/urban planning collections. Eric Bryant, “Library Journal”‘


Architecture’s Evil Empire: Triumph and Tragedy of Global Modernism [For Nilus]

Product Description “From Los Angeles to London, and Beijing to Bilbao, cities around the world have sprouted ‘iconic’ buildings by celebrity architects that compete for attention both on the skyline and in the media. But in recent years, much criticism of extreme ‘gestural’ buildings, with their often-exaggerated forms, has emerged. For the first time, Architecture’s Evil Empire looks at the way in which today’s cult of trademark architectural individualism stretches far beyond these isolated outrages, ultimately embracing the entire built environment. Combining historical and architectural analysis, this book examines how the ‘global Empire’ of today’s modernism emerged and explains its key organizational and architectural features, placing its most influential theorists and designers in their broad ideological context. Miles Glendinning provides an authoritative overview of contemporary architecture and its roots and explores the extravagance of ‘new Modernist’ architecture in relation to the excesses of global capitalism. Arguing against the excesses of iconic architecture, Glendinning points to a constructive utopian vision of how the shattered, alienated edifice of architecture could be remedied – a vision of modern renewal, contrasting strongly with the ‘traditional’ fantasies of the New Urbanists in the us or Prince Charles in the uk. Mingling scholarship with wry humor and, above all, passionate, polemical concern for the state of contemporary architecture, Architecture’s Evil Empire will no doubt ruffle a few feathers, but will also appeal to a wide range of people interested in the built environment, from architects, planners and historians to the concerned general public.”


Open City: Designing Coexistence

“In an age when migration is changing the face of many cities, when mass mobility and communication are altering our perception of distance and difference, when individualism has become a driving force of social life, living together in cities has become a tenuous notion. the question is no longer if we want to live together, but how to live together–and how to share the resources and opportunities cities offer.”

“The 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam launched the theme Open City: Designing Coexistence to generate concrete answers to this question. This book presents research and proposals by international experts who were asked to develop methods to facilitate access and promote coexistence in the contemporary city.”

ROAM: A Reader in the Aesthetics of Mobility

“ROAM is an unconventional reader, looking at ‘The Aesthetics of Mobility’. Ideas of what it is to ‘roam’ are explored through a range of material, from theoretical texts to design projects. Against an architectural understanding of urban spaces and mobility, ROAM also engages with discourses from art, cultural studies, design and politics […] Rather than providing a comprehensive understanding of mobility, ROMA is a provocative and personal mix of ideas that address, in very different ways, our increasingly ‘mobilized’ society.”


The Architecture of Diplomacy: Building America’s Embassies

Building Diplomacy: The Architecture of American Embassies

Building the Cold War: Hilton International Hotels and Modern Architecture

Havana: Two Faces of the Antillean Metropolis