Daily digest: Michael Gove slams steel and concrete buildings, Colorado contractors sue over vaccine mandate, and more

In The Eye Of The Beholder

Daily digest: Michael Gove slams steel and concrete buildings, Colorado contractors sue over vaccine mandate, and more

Downtown Denver. Contractors are suing the city over a vaccination mandate for working on public projects. (Andrew Coop/Unsplash)

Good morning and welcome back to another news roundup. With Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus services back online after a major outage yesterday, we can finally shift focus back to the architecture world (though it was fun to talk about while it lasted).

Here’s what’s going on today:

U.K. housing secretary Michael Gove slams concrete and steel buildings

United Kingdom housing secretary Michael Gove, who replaced Robert Jenrick on September 15 after a cabinet shakeup by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, reportedly slammed new concrete and steel buildings over their embodied carbon costs at the recent Conservative Party Conference. Gove has also indicated that he will reverse reforms planned to limit the veto powers of local authorities over new developments while moving ahead with plans to ban “ugly” new buildings. He specifically spoke out against new Modern housing developments, something that was a pet peeve for his predecessor as well. (Robert Jenrick launched the Building Better, Building Beautiful commission to create recommendations for “beautifying” new projects. The commission lives on after being renamed the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.)

H/t to the Architects’ Journal

Contractors sue Denver over its vaccine mandate

The Colorado Contractors Association is suing the city of Denver over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for construction workers, arguing that the move is unconstitutional. Construction companies working on public projects with the city that refuse to enforce vaccinations will likely be subject to fines of up to $5,000 per day that they’re not in compliance, which the association argues is much stricter than President Biden’s mandate that only businesses with 100 or more employees are required to have employees vaccinated or tested for COVID regularly. According to the association, its members are pro-vaccines, but the outreach and education process is taking more time than the city has afforded.

H/t to Construction Dive

UNESCO urges the British Museum to repatriate the Elgin Marbles

UNESCO is wading into the fight between Greece and the British Museum over ownership of the 2,500-year-old Parthenon Sculptures, arguing that they have the authority to weigh in because the matter is national. The UNESCO commission’s recommendation that Britain open up negotiations over the marble sculptures and that Greece has legal ownership of the works is the culmination of a request first submitted by Greece in 1984 and will strengthen their position going forward. That is, if Britain even comes to the negotiation table—while Greece views repatriation as a national issue, Britain has staunchly refused to discuss the matter at that level, saying the British Museum is distinctly separate from the state.

H/t to Artnet News

The National Academy of Design awards $125,000 to public art projects across the country

This morning, New York’s National Academy of Design announced that it had awarded more than $125,000 to seven public art projects across the United States. The winning murals span the gamut from new projects, to historic restorations, to mixed-media pieces, all recognized as shining examples of the medium’s power to build community. The 2021 Abbey Mural Prize winners are:

  • The History of the Packinghouse Worker Restoration, Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG), Chicago
  • Mentor Mural Program 2021, Creston Arts, Creston, Iowa
  • The Prince Street Mural Project, Richard Haas NA, Manhattan, New York
  • PSA: Collaborative Art Initiative, Shannon Levin and Marina Peng, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Visualizing a Community Connected, Ellie Balk, Long Island City, New York
  • We the Ancestors Public Mural, Kenji Hamai Stoll and Erin Shigaki, Seattle
  • Work and Serve the Hour, Lift as We Climb Public Mural, Project for Empty Space, Newark, New Jersey

The winning artists and organizations will take home grants ranging from $10,000 all the way up to $40,000 to help them continue their work.

Snøhetta reveals a split-tower design for the Duett Düsseldorf opera house

a split glass tower project on a river
(Courtesy Snøhetta)

Snøhetta has unveiled plans for Düsseldorf, Germany’s newest opera house, the Duett Düsseldorf; more than just an anchor music venue for the city, the project will hold residential units, offices, a hotel, and restaurants in two sloped towers atop the opera house base.

At ground level, Snøhetta has opted for clear glass that will allow passersby to view inside and peak a sinuous wood accent wall at the heart of the opera house. Above that, a crenelated glass facade will wrap the upper portion of the podium and the towers themselves.