“Casablanca presents one of the best models of modernism”

The cohesive core of Casablanca, Morocco, is unmatched by few city centres and shows how modernism can be used to its full potential on a large scale, says recent visitor Aaron Betsky. At the corner, the white box fractures. A bay window at the base, framed with stone, in the floors above turns into an

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“Revisiting Postmodernism is a careening joyride through 20th-century architecture”

Postmodernism proponents Terry Farrell and Adam Nathaniel Furman should broaden their range of influences and definition of the style to help the controversial architecture movement remain relevant, says Aaron Betsky. Revisiting Postmodernism, a rereading of that particular movement by pomo prince Terry Farrell and young pretender Adam Nathaniel Furman is, like its subject, a strange

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“Will Amazon’s HQ2 actually be good for whatever city wins the race?”

North American cities are fiercely vying to secure Amazon’s second headquarters, but will the retail giant really improve the culture and infrastructure of the area it finally chooses? Aaron Betsky doesn’t think so. As the competition for the second Amazon headquarters heats up and the Republican’s war on cities intensifies, we have to wonder whether

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“Is Phoenix doomed to fall back into the ashes?”

If sprawling desert metropolises like Phoenix, Arizona, are going to survive an increasingly scorching climate, they will require a different kind of sustainable urbanism than typical cities, says Aaron Betsky. Is Phoenix doomed to fall back into the ashes? In his 2015 book, The Water Knife, the author Paolo Bacigalupi imagines a future Valley of

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“The architecture of the Americas is not white”

The Pacific Standard Time exhibitions in Los Angeles show that arts and culture from south of the border have shaped an architectural identity for the region that is much more interesting than what’s found in the Northeast US, says Aaron Betsky. As a longtime denizen of the Southwest (if California, in addition to Arizona, counts),

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“Chicago Biennial shows us how we might find building blocks for a new architecture”

This year’s Chicago Biennial doesn’t provide a blueprint for the future of architecture, but it does offer clues for how to create one, says Aaron Betsky. The fear of what the future might hold looms heavily over the second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Make New History, which opened in that city on 15

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“We have much to learn from the ‘timber constructivists'”

Architects designing for America’s future suburbs should look back to the country’s unsung modernists, who created site-appropriate and liveable timber homes across the USA, says Aaron Betsky in this Opinion column. Drive around the suburbs that arose around most American cities immediately before and after the second world war and you can spot them immediately:

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“Rei Kawakubo is an architect of clothes”

The Met’s Comme des Garçons exhibition demonstrates how forward-thinking designers like Rei Kawakubo are using new digital crafts to manipulate both the body and architectural space, says Aaron Betsky in his latest Opinion column. There is a mix of architecture and fashion in the exhibition of Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in

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“There should be no top 10 prizes for sustainable architecture”

Awards should not be bestowed on buildings that boast sustainable credentials but lack other design merits, says Aaron Betsky in this Opinion column. If a thoroughly mediocre building uses less energy and is made in ways that are more “sustainable”, should it receive an award? The American Institute of Architects (AIA) apparently thinks so. This

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“Perhaps architects should work on Trump’s wall”

For some architects, the decision not to bid for Donald Trump’s US-Mexico border wall is easy. But Aaron Betsky questions whether working the project is as unethical as it first seems in this Opinion column. “For us it is very simple. We are a small firm and we all agree. We are not going to

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“Should we resurrect dead buildings?”

In light of plans to bring the neoclassical Penn Station and Frank Lloyd Wright’s lost pavilions back to life, Aaron Betsky argues that architects should focus on renovating existing buildings rather than replacing new with old, in this Opinion column. It is a standard plot twist in science fiction films: a loved one has died,

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“Sublime images are just mirages that are destined to remain in books”

Although projects by OMA and BIG have come close, we’re still a way off realising “sublime” architecture through generic forms, says Aaron Betsky in this Opinion column. Can the absolutely normal and everyday be beautiful? Two recent books claim it can be. They take standard, interchangeable building blocks of the kind we see everyday –

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“Architecture that constructs a better world, not better bubbles, is the true task in this new year”

With Donald Trump’s presidency looming, Aaron Betsky’s latest Opinion column stresses the need for architecture that will bring America’s isolated communities together, and not just benefit the world of pick-up-truck drivers. We live in a pick-up nation, and we have elected a president who represents that particular mobile bubble. Those of us who live in

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“How Donald Trump will solve America’s infrastructure problems is completely unclear”

Hillary Clinton’s plans to improve infrastructure in the USA weren’t ambitious enough, but at least she had plans, says Aaron Betsky in this Opinion column. America needs a lot of work. Its roads and bridges are crumbling. Its airports are a mess. It has virtually no long-distance public transportation system. Below the surface, sewers and

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“Installation art has finally taken over the last bastion of architecture”

Opinion: colossal public artworks like Thomas Heatherwick’s interlinking staircases for New York are the architectural monuments of our time, says Aaron Betsky. The infamous Bilbao Effect might have been the last gasp of great architecture giving us a thrill. Gone are the days of the Eiffel Tower and the Parthenon, the Mall in Washington and More

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“After decades of Detroit ruin porn, America’s Biennale exhibition runs riot”

Opinion: the imaginative but unrealistic proposals for Detroit on show at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale have left Aaron Betsky wondering if there is hope for architectural projects among the city’s ruins. “In this era of media and migration, can architecture still ignite a collective imagination?” That was the question Cynthia Davidson asked herself when More

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“Railroad stations are our contemporary architecture of democracy”

Opinion: the golden age of airports is over, says Aaron Betsky. Railways have trumped air travel with better-designed terminals that are the epitome of contemporary democracy. We are living in a new Terminal Age. Not since trunk lines erected their ornate termini in European cities in the third quarter of the 19th century have we More

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“Let’s hear it for temporary architecture”

Opinion: temporary architecture is having a “moment” in Europe, and it has some serious lessons to offer architects that are still obsessed with permanence, says Aaron Betsky. Architecture is going pop. It is finally sloughing off its ridiculous obsession with eternity, and learning to live in and for the moment. Pop-up architecture, temporary structures, and More

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“Nobody plays with form as well as Bjarke Ingels”

Opinion: when it comes to headline-grabbing proposals, Bjarke Ingels and BIG are becoming increasingly hard to beat – and increasingly divisive among critics. Aaron Betsky explains why he’s part of the BIG fan club. Nobody plays with form as well as Bjarke Ingels. It is the reason why he is the architect my students love more than More

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“We face calls for safe houses, safe communities and safe spaces”

Opinion: there are concrete tactics that architecture can use to make people feel mentally and socially safe, says Aaron Betsky, but the real question is how we apply them to public buildings and spaces. Fear and paranoia are gripping much of western society, and architecture is no exception. Architects have become good at preventing bodily harm, More

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“Experimental architecture emerged to question Postmodernism’s jokes”

Pomo summer: amid the joy and humour of the Postmodern movement, a serious and experimental form of architecture developed to offer both seductive and frightening versions of reality, says Aaron Betsky in his first Opinion column for Dezeen. Postmodernism wasn’t all fun and games. It was serious research and criticism, especially in the schools. In the […]

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