OUTRAGE: The best controversies of 2016


OUTRAGE: The best controversies of 2016

As 2016 fades away, we are looking back at some of the best controversies and tricky issues of the year. Here are our most memorable, most outrageous topics of the year. We love it when our readers respond and add to the conversation! (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.)

Donald Trump, Robert Ivy, and the AIA

When Trump was elected, AIA executive vice president and chief executive officer Robert Ivy responded with a statement of collaboration on behalf of the AIA and its 89,000 members. Architects were not happy about that, and we tracked the outcry. One Maryland architect even resigned over the letter. Ivy apologized, but the dissent continued. Another resignation and another apology later, the end result was a great discussion about what architects can do and what the profession stands for, both as a building trade and a community.

Flying pigs at Trump Tower
The Trump controversy machine keeps rolling, as one architect proposed an installation to help the city of Chicago cope with the Donald.

White Dove or White Elephant?
We asked a group of architects and critics what they thought of the new WTC Oculus.

MoMA to close galleries dedicated to architecture and design
When we caught wind of the plan for MoMA to get rid of the architecture and design galleries in favor of a more cross-disciplinary curatorial agenda, the public was outraged.


Designing the Border Wall?
When an internet controversy erupted around the “Building the Border Wall?” competition, Ronald Rael responded with a short history of the complex situation at the U.S. border, and the challenges architects face.

The U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Before the designs were even revealed for the pavilion’s proposals, the activist group Detroit Resists was already speaking out against the “Architectural Imagination” and its awkward social position. When AN Editor-in-Chief William Menking saw the pavilion in person, he, too, had questions about its feasibility and its public posture. The curators fired back, and then Detroit Resists spoke up again.

Patrik Schumacher in general
Schumacher is always good for a controversy. When he was not calling for the Venice Biennale to be shut down, he was calling for a complete privatization of the world, more or less. Zaha Hadid Architects did not like these statements, and released a letter of their own, denouncing the remarks. Similarly, a group of protesters set up outside of the office to speak out against Schumacher.

How real estate speculation, ugly architecture, and gentrification shape Austin’s urbanity
Austin critic Jack Murphy looks at how the housing market in Austin has taken a turn for the worse architecturally.

Renzo Piano’s Whitney is an architectural “tourist trap”
Senior Editor Matt Shaw doesn’t like the Whitney, and some people agree while others disagree.

Education today
Los Angeles architect Peter Zellner wrote an op-ed about a more open education system, which Sci-Arc professor Todd Gannon, cultural studies coordinator at SCI-Arc, responded to these criticisms. Zellner then started a school called the Free School of Architecture.

Climate change displacement is the new gentrification
Stephen Zacks looks at the consequences of sea-level rise on vulnerable communities.

After lawsuits and mudslinging, Chicago looses the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts
Tensions ran high over the MAD Architects-designed Lucas Museum of Contemporary Arts. The city of Chicago battled a local open-space advocates only to have the plans for the museum move back to California.