Daily digest: Massive architect shortages hit the U.K., OMA’s first ground-up Japanese building, and more

Mirror Mirror

Daily digest: Massive architect shortages hit the U.K., OMA’s first ground-up Japanese building, and more

The Tenjin Business Center in Fukuoka was intended as an icon of a new business district without being an overpowering, towering presence. (Tomoyuki Kusunose/Courtesy OMA)

Good morning and welcome back to the start of another work week. If you’re on either coast, you may have noticed that fall has begun proper; let’s see how long it lasts.

Here’s what you need to know today:

Brexit and the pandemic have left the U.K.’s architecture industry severely short-staffed

There’s something of a labor crisis going on in America at the moment, as workers fed up with low wages and long hours quit en masse or threaten to strike (Reddit’s r/antiwork subforum dedicated to quitting has ballooned over the last few weeks). Overseas, the United Kingdom is similarly struggling to attract architecture talent, with a full 18 percent of firms reportedly having problems attracting the workers they need. Fewer designers are applying, firms can’t recruit from outside of the U.K. as easily as they could pre-Brexit for obvious reasons, and pay demands are rising. Unfortunately, this is putting the squeeze on existing workers at those firms who are being forced to fill the gap, and could lead to a vicious negative feedback loop.

H/t to The Architects’ Journal

OMA completes the Tenjin Business Center, its first ground-up building in Japan

OMA’s first wholly new Japanese project, an office tower built from tessellating mirrored glass cubes, is now open for business in Fukuoka, Japan. The 640,300-square-foot Tenjin Business Center is intended as the first piece of what will ultimately become a new business district for the Tenjin neighborhood, and the bulky mid-rise is accordingly distinct. OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu led the project team, and coincidentally (though likely not) is originally from Fukuoka. The Maeda Corporation and Nihon Sekkei served as executive architects.

Looking up at mirrored glass modules
(Tomoyuki Kusunose/Courtesy OMA)

The blocky, pixel-like massing is broken up at ground level by the building’s most distinctive feature—a six-story corner atrium wrapped in clear glass, allowing views (and natural light) to penetrate the subterranean retail and transportation concourse below the center.

WeWork and Saks partner for shopping center/co-working hybrid

Neither co-working nor brick-and-mortar retail is really thriving at the moment, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic (in WeWork’s case, the startup’s problems began well before 2020). Is the solution to smash the two models together?

WeWork and Saks Fifth Avenue seem to think so and have partnered to build out SaksWorks, a new co-working-slash-high-end-retail venture. Two of the new hybrid workspaces opened in Manhattan last month, one at the flagship Midtown Saks’ store and the other in the Financial District. Saks is banking on memberships from New Yorkers fed up with having worked at home for the last two years and who want to change up the scenery.

H/t to the New York Times

Construction disputes are holding up projects across the country

Speaking of labor issues, a new report from The Real Deal found that construction disputes across the United States are causing headaches for major projects, with changes in scope being the biggest cause (among supply chain-induced delays and other issues). With COVID still causing unforeseen delays, developers are feeling pinched when contractors disagree over who should pay what when changes in scope occur.

H/t to The Real Deal

Sotheby’s launches its own Metaverse, a platform for digital art

The NFT “gold rush” continues, and auction house Sotheby’s is the latest big art world player to try to cash in. With the launch of the Sotheby’s Metaverse, the company is cutting out the middleman and offering NFTs hand picked by the house’s curators for sale through a proprietary digital marketplace. The Metaverse will kick off with the second iteration of Sotheby’s Natively Digital sale with 53 pieces from 19 artists on offer, from October 18 through 26.

H/t to Artnet News

In Texas, Perkins&Will builds out a new technical campus for Collin College

A long college building with a massive overhang
The new center will provide vocational training for everything from nursing to automotive repair. (Courtesy Perkins&Will)

The Dallas office of Perkins&Will has completed the new Technical Training Center at Collin College in Allen, Texas, a vocational training hub that will anchor the college’s technical campus. The low-slung center uses an industrial palette within, but from the outside, the building’s most obvious feature is its massive cantilevering overhang.