New Work: 20 Launceston Place


William Russell has undertaken a sensitive and careful remodelling of a Grade 2 listed building in Kensington London.

The building had been extended organically over the last hundred years to the point where little of the original remained barring the staircase. The project involved stripping away and cleaning up the space in order to create a four-bedroom home with large entertaining spaces.

More pictures of the house after the jump.

New Work: Vertical Zoo


The word “zoo” was first coined in the 19th century, but the concept of a man-made landscape of fauna is as old as human domination of the earth. The ancient Greeks had menageries, as did the Chinese and Roman empires, but the first historical reference to a “vertical zoo” might have been the medieval one in the Tower of London. Today 80 percent of the world’s zoos are located in cities, and a vertical zoo seems as inevitable as a vertical farm. A new competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina asked architects to design a vertical zoo for a location in a natural reserve on the city’s riverfront. Organized by Arquitectum and TodoObras magazine, the brief was to design a structure that would become a new urban landmark, one that would accentuate a growing area of the city and at the same time complement the natural character of the reserve. James Biber has designed a vertical zoo that is an urban take on Charles Darwin’s evolutionary tree of life, a phylogenic arrangement of species in vertical formation.

desigNYC: A New Design Resource for New York


In the midst of the financial crisis our friend Ed Schlossberg of ESI Design gathered a group of designers and design thinkers together to consider how to connect the NYC “design-impoverished” with all the designers who wanted to contribute in some meaningful way to the city. It was, at its core, a group looking for ways design could make NY a better place. At the time it seemed the least we could do and, in spite of the “recovery,” it still is.

Design is one tool for solving problems, but often it is characterized as the decoration on top of the cake (or even on top of the icing on top of the cake). For us it is, to stretch a simile nearly to its breaking point, the whole cake; recipe, layers, presentation and taste. With a sense of optimism that seemed almost anachronistic we met over a period of months in the ESI offices to formulate ideas for New York.

desigNYC was the result.

desigNYC is fundamentally a tool for connecting those organizations in need of design with those designers in need of an outlet for their sense of civic pride and engagement.

desigNYC is our attempt to put design back in the set of tools a city has to solve problems.

desigNYC is aimed at creating a civic design resource for New York.

desigNYC is in its beta testing now and we encourage all organizations in need of design to apply here. The deadline is November 30.

Monica Pidgeon, 1913-2009


Monica Pidgeon, who with Pentagram co-founder and architect Theo Crosby edited and transformed the journal Architectural Design (AD), died on September 17 at age 95. Before, during and after the current partners of Pentagram Architects were in architectural school, AD was the most avant-garde of the British architecture magazines. Among the first to publish the work of James Stirling, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Ove Arup; enthusiast for Archigram; promoter of all things A.A. (the Architectural Association, then London’s equivalent of today’s Sci-Arc), AD defined British architectural radicalism.

Crosby was the technical editor to Monica Pidgeon’s editor from 1953 to 1962, when the pair transformed AD from a free trade publication to a potent advocate of modern thought, design and art. Crosby and Pidgeon also collaborated on the book An Anthology of Houses (1960) featuring the 1950s work of a huge assortment of international modern architects. Crosby curated the influential This Is Tomorrow exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery while working with Pidgeon at AD.

New Work: Riverways


Manhattan is an island—some would say a landlocked island—and grew to prominence because of its harbor, but like many American cities, New York seems to avoid its waterways. Over the past decades, ferry and water taxi service has made an impressive reappearance on the city’s rivers—but along the way an evident problem has arisen. By definition, ferry landings are located at the edge of the city, usually in windy, exposed waterside sites that offer an unpleasant and discouraging experience for passengers waiting for a ferry or for connecting surface transit.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival in New York harbor and discovery of the Hudson River. Over the past few years, under the leadership of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial, a consortium of New York civic groups—including the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and the Hudson River Foundation—have been developing plans for a system of “Quad Landings”: floating docks designed to allow access to and from the water for a wide variety of vessels, from ferries and water taxis to sailboats, kayaks, and other craft.

Building on this initiative, James Biber of Pentagram Architects and James Sanders of James Sanders + Associates have developed Riverways, a practical, economical, and flexible system of elements that allow water access where there is currently none, or enhance ferry and water-taxi landings that already exist. Though relatively small in scale, these elements are intended to provide crucial points of linkage, integrating the region’s water and land transportation into a single unified system, and opening the city’s waters for recreation to the immense populations adjacent to them. The proposal is designed to increase access to the water for communities frustrated by their proximity to magnificent waterways that can be seen but not touched.

Download a PDF of the complete proposal here.