Norwich to Design Sustainable “Tiny Houses” for Vermonters

Norwich University’s College of Professional Schools has received a $20,000 grant from the TD Bank Charitable Foundation to design affordable, green micro-houses for low-income residents
Daphne Larkin | Office of Communications

 
February 3, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Vt.–Norwich University has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, to fund the development of affordable solar houses by students and faculty in the School of Architecture + Art and the David Crawford School of Engineering.

The grant will support the Creating Affordable Sustainable Architecture (CASA) Initiative, a new program within the College of Professional Schools that will focus on research and development of affordable alternative-energy housing for low-income families in Vermont.

“In the true Norwich traditions of experiential learning and service to others, we are offering students credit to research, develop and produce a micro-solar house that offers a solution to the housing crisis in Vermont, and this generous gift from the TD Charitable Foundation is helping to make that possible,” said Aron Temkin, an architect, professor and dean of the College of Professional Schools at Norwich University.

The effort builds on lessons Norwich University architecture students and faculty learned over the course of their 2013 competition in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. Norwich’s Delta T-90 house won for affordability.

The immediate and long-term objective of Norwich’s new CASA affordable micro-house program is to develop a regionally derived, solar-powered, affordable housing model. Norwich architects and engineers ultimately aim to develop a modular system of “micro houses,” units that can stand alone or be combined to create larger, cohesive structures depending on the needs of the occupant.

“Over half of all Vermonters cannot afford a house that meets the target construction costs of the 2013 Decathlon’s Affordability Contest, regardless of energy costs,” said Cara Armstrong, director of Norwich University’s School of Architecture + Art.

“Consequently, we have committed to continuing our work with students and faculty across disciplines to design and build adaptable and sustainable housing to be affordable by a family living at 80% of Vermont’s median income level and below.”

Through seminars and a design/build studio, a team of Engineering and Architecture + Art students and faculty will design and build one “Micro House” of approximately 200 square feet, including a bathroom and kitchen, by the end of the next academic year.

“TD is a strong advocate for environmental sustainability, so we are extremely excited to support this program,” said Phil Daniels, President, TD Bank, Maine. “This initiative will greatly benefit the residents of Vermont and provide students with the opportunity to give back to their community and contribute to its improvement.”

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). www.norwich.edu

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Service” here: bicentennial.norwich.edu

A staunch commitment to active involvement in the local community is a vital element of the TD Bank philosophy. TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank® and the TD Charitable Foundation provide support to affordable housing, financial literacy and education, and environmental initiatives, many of which focus on improving the welfare of children and families.

About the TD Charitable Foundation

The TD Charitable Foundation is the charitable giving arm of TD Bank N.A., which operates as TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, and is one of the 10 largest commercial banking organizations in the United States. The Foundation’s mission is to serve the individuals, families and businesses in all the communities where TD Bank operates, having made more than $133.2 million in charitable donations since its inception in 2002. The Foundation’s areas of focus are affordable housing, financial literacy and education, and the environment. More information on the TD Charitable Foundation, including an online grant application, is available at www.TDBank.com.

About TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 8 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at approximately 1,300 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit www.tdbank.com. Find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US.

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol “TD”. To learn more, visit www.td.com.

Undergraduate Research Highlights From the College of Liberal Arts

By Isabel Weinger Nielsen | College of Liberal Arts

December 5, 2014

Students in the College of Liberal Arts, working with faculty mentors, have been involved in many exciting projects at Norwich University. Some recent highlights:

Psychology major Ali Shahidy ’17 is the first student from Afghanistan to attend Norwich University. His summer research project, under the mentorship of Criminal Justice Professor Travis Morris, was titled “How is Jihad Marketed in Kabul, Afghanistan?” Shahidy was able to develop six typologies through which Jihadi information is disseminated, and concluded that Jihadi information circulates in Kabul on a regular basis, in multiple manners, and on a large scale. However, the study could not conclude that all texts are propaganda with a specific purpose to influence and encourage people to join a Jihadi movement; some texts or speeches on Jihad are ideological concepts that are taught as part of the religious studies, and therefore they can’t be defined as propaganda. Shahidy said, “I valued the opportunity to conduct one-on-one in-depth academic works with a faculty mentor who is an expert on the subject matter. The research project is a process through which I have learned tremendously about academic research from my mentor.” Shahidy will be staffing the Undergraduate Research information table as one of its new Ambassadors.

Wren and Gwynn’s London

Shaili Patel ’16 is a double-major in architectural studies and history who was mentored by Professor Emily Gray. Patel traveled to London this past summer on an Undergraduate Research Fellowship to conduct research in the British Library. She studied two architects who conceptually redesigned the city of London: Christopher Wren in the late seventeenth century, and John Gwynn in the late eighteenth. Patel’s paper has been accepted for presentation at the Phi Alpha Theta (history honors society) undergraduate research conference in November at Roger Williams University. Patel said “working on the project was an adventure; it was a story coming to life. I spent most of my time in the British Library looking at old maps. While I walked around the city, these maps became reality, and I could imagine how London looked and felt in the 17th and 18th centuries. The project was a limitless expansion of imagination and creativity. “

Nile Journal

Frank Carissimo, a double major in history and studies in war & peace with a minor in political science, will graduate in December 2014. Mentored by History Professor Rowly Brucken, Carissimo will present a paper based on his summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at the Phi Alpha Theta conference. His paper, “War and Hardship on the Nile: The Journal of Frederick Charles Miller,” is based on a journal of Charles Miller that was donated by a Norwich alumnus to the University’s Archives and Special Collections. In 1885, Miller documented an expedition to rescue British Governor-General Charles George “Chinese” Gordon from the city of Khartoum, a subject which had never been studied by historians. Frank said, “The Miller journal of 1885, one of a collection of four, was fascinating to research, as each day brought more unstudied pages [to light]. The research was extremely rewarding as it was the first project I’ve completed thus far in which no other person or source-other than the 1885 Miller journal-could answer my questions.”

Post-WWII Japan

International studies major Jake Freeman ’17 was mentored by Dean Andrea Talentino. His summer research project, “From Destruction to Stability,” examined the methods and circumstances that led to the successful rebuilding of Japan after WWII through the national investment of social and economic resources by the United States for the purpose of developing a mutually beneficial relationship of security and economic interests.

Freeman’s study showed that economic policies promoting the middle class, combined with social institutions that continue to reinforce the outcomes of those policies, along with a mutual security interest make a successful mission. Freeman said, “The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and working closely with Dr. Talentino opened my eyes to research being a professional way to discover things no one else has and, that each person’s research is a small jigsaw piece to a [complete] picture of understanding.”

About Undergraduate Research

Norwich students have a wealth of options when it comes to learning. One of the most exciting developments in this area is the Undergraduate Research Program, which provides funding to students for summer research projects, original research, or creative work projects done during the academic year, as well as opportunities to present papers at professional meetings.

Each October, a Faculty Scholarship Celebration is held on campus featuring displays of faculty/student joint summer research fellowship projects. In December, an Undergraduate Research Symposium generates conversation about research methods across disciplines and gets students thinking about independent research. The symposium provides a collaborative forum for students to develop their research ideas and introduces them to a range of funding opportunities. In May, a Student Scholarship Celebration allows students the opportunity to display their research abstracts from the previous summer or academic year, and recipients of upcoming summer grants are acknowledged.

A recently created Ambassadors Program enlists Undergraduate Research fellows from the previous year to promote the program by visiting classes, attending department meetings, displaying their research posters in the Wise Campus Center, and providing information to future student researchers.

English Professor Amy Woodbury Tease and Criminal Justice Professor Travis Morris are the COLA representatives to the Undergraduate Research Committee.

Read more about Norwich Undergraduate Research.

Design Diaspora: Architecture Graduate Students on Summer Internships

Fanning out from California to Ghana, students interned in a host of settings, from traditional architecture firms to fabrication, construction, design-build, museum and university venues.
By Timothy Parker, 
Assistant Professor | School of Architecture + Art

 
October 22, 2014

Studying architecture while nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont has many benefits. Students may more readily focus on their work without the numerous distractions inevitably present in any urban environment. Cold winter months may further nourish the sense of common cause and solidarity that the studio setting seeks to manifest. And the palpable presence of nature in its seasons and textures may inculcate an awareness of how the real poetry of architecture remains rooted in the material richness of the earth.

But these sources of concentration, community and consciousness may also become instruments of isolation. After all, architecture is a complicated endeavor. Responsible conception and creation of the built environment involves comprehension of its global, interdependent and ever-changing nature. And an architectural education entirely limited to the academic studio culture is insufficient. This is why Norwich architecture students are encouraged to pursue study abroad opportunities, field trips are routine and a great portion of curricular activity is oriented toward providing the broader perspective that a fully formed architect needs. This is also one reason why incoming graduate students are required to spend a summer working in a firm within—or closely related to—the architecture profession.

The summer internship is more than mere work experience. For concurrent with their work in a firm, students take a six-credit course that ensures they are not only receiving practical experience but also reflecting upon it in critical, productive ways. And this all happens through NUoodle, in an online course largely designed by Michael Hoffman, associate professor and director of graduate architecture. The aim is, as Hoffman puts it, “to develop a bridge between their academic experience and professional practice.” The course brings students together in small groups for online discussion, guided by faculty prompts yet open to topics of interest as they may arise. The course requires substantial weekly written responses to readings that range across the historical, theoretical, economic, political and cultural aspects of architectural practice.

I had the privilege of teaching the course with 15 students this summer, and the educational benefits were evident. The weekly readings and writing assignments fostered a culture of research and critical reflection as complimentary to the daily routines of professional practice. Students approached all aspects of the work environment in their writing, including project delivery, financial management, legal and managerial organization, marketing and more, in light of assigned readings and their own research, in order to take fuller ownership of their own education. And they frequently addressed the relation between their academic studies and the work they were doing—or hope and plan to do in the future. Katherine Anderson saw familiar elements included in the workflow while interning at New World Design Builders in Clifton, New Jersey. “It [was] reassuring to see that academic-related activities have seeped into the work environment, or vice versa,” she said.

Beyond these valuable lessons, however, the students mirrored in microcosm the rich diversity of architecture-related professional practice. Students interned at different kinds of offices and were scattered broadly. Several remained in the northeast. But others worked in California, Texas, the District of Columbia, and as far away as West Africa—Accra, Ghana, to be precise. Many employers were more-or-less traditional architectural firms. But students also served internships at fabrication, construction, design-build, museum, university and drafting-service venues. Their size and complexity varied greatly, from sole proprietorships to multi-office, multi-industry corporations.
Students experienced certain common threads during their internships, including some surprise as how much responsibility they were given from day one. The sheer amount and variety of projects under active development concurrently, day after day, was also an eye-opener. The varying kinds of organization and the variety of management approaches in practice across employers, however, meant that each student was also presented with unique challenges and opportunities to make the most of the internship.

For Alyssa Shramek, who interned with Hudson Design Group in North Andover, Massachusetts, consultation and collaboration were highlights: “I think that working with the engineers at my firm was the most useful skill I learned. It was interesting to learn about what they look for in designs and how to explain design concepts to them and work together to achieve the design you are trying to create.”

Jayson Sterba, who interned with MulvannyG2 in Washington, DC, found a chief benefit of the course to be the writing assignments. “I really enjoyed the depth this class went into and the multitude of ideas and prompts we had to criticize and write about. It helped me hold a critical stance to this firm and the field and kept me on my toes always thinking about how the company is serving me at the same time I am serving them.”

Rachel Opare-Sem, who interned at Modula Group in Accra, Ghana, perhaps took the broadest view of all: “I think as a designer the internship was useful, because it made me aware that there are many factors, outside of merely designing on a daily basis, that contribute to successfully practicing architecture. Business management, economic climate, culture and even politics affect the profession, and I think that it is important for an architect to balance all these, and others, in order to be successful.”

And for my part, I am now able to work with all of these students again as they pursue their own research topics and, this semester, develop and complete the written portion of their year-long thesis projects. I am encouraged by their maturity in tackling complex problems, seemingly incommensurable discourses or otherwise advance their own critical thinking about their project, their field and their future profession. I am eager to see where they go from here.

In Europe, Students Research Old London, Roman Concrete Mysteries

Using summer research grants to study primary sources, undergraduates Shaili Patel and Taylor Davidson analyzed early London architecture and the stuff that made Roman buildings endure.
By Shaili Patel and Taylor Davidson

October 22, 2014

This summer, two Norwich University architecture students researched intriguing historic puzzles in London and Italy.

Undergraduate architecture and history major Shaili Patel, a rising junior, researched the influence of Enlightenment philosophies on London city planning through the work of Christopher Wren and John Gwynn, luminaries of 17th and 18th century architecture.

Patel visited the English capital to study and analyze primary sources, most of which were original engravings of city maps and plans designed by Wren and Gwynn. At the same time, she experienced modern London; in many ways the opposite of the rational London proposed by the gentleman architects she studied.

Her research culminated in an in-depth paper with visual analysis of the plans and texts she studied. Patel plans to submit her paper for presentation at the Phi Alpha Theta (the national history honor society) undergraduate research conference.

“Wren presented a visual theory with his plans, while Gwynn took the theory and made it a practical application of the rationalism of the Enlightenment that is evident in the London of today,” Patel says. Consequently, more of Gwynn’s ideas are present in present-day London.

Roman Concrete

While Roman ruins are also present in London, undergraduate architecture student and rising junior Taylor Davidson traveled to Italy this summer to research the applications of Roman concrete and related designs as part of a Norwich University Summer Research Fellowship.

His research, entitled “Concrete: Looking at the Old to Improve the New,” looks for practical techniques that can be taken from Imperial Roman concrete and applied to modern construction.

“The longevity of these structures, such as the Pantheon and Coliseum in Rome, stand as a testament to the success of Imperial Rome’s concrete and design,” Davidson says.

“If we can apply some of the techniques that proved successful in Rome, perhaps we can increase the structural longevity of our own concrete, thereby reducing costs and CO2 emissions … from concrete production.”

Davidson visited Rome and Pompeii to examine remaining examples of Roman concrete. He spent weeks documenting and examining structures to extrapolate techniques and material use that contributed to the longevity of the structures.

“Rome is a treasure of architectural wealth. The fact that these buildings, some of which are more than 2,000 years old, remain standing provides us with the richest source for examining and understanding the past,” Davidson said.

Davidson documented sites using notes, detailed drawings and detailed photographs of each site he visited, all of which contribute to his culminating research paper.
These ancient Roman architectural structures preserve a record of invaluable information about the civilization from which they arose.

Davidson hopes to answer why modern structures have such a comparatively short lifespan, a problem that faces contemporary architects, builders and society overall.
Deducing the key techniques and designs from ancient Roman can inform the construction of the future, he says. It may be possible to create structures that endure beyond what we now consider the acceptable lifespan of a building.

Robust Slate for School of Architecture + Art 2014-15 Lecture Series

Upcoming speakers include Michael Gericke, partner at global design powerhouse Pentagram, and Kill Shakespeare graphic artist Andy Belanger.
By Tolya Stonorov & Timothy Parker, Assistant Professors
School of Architecture + Art

 
October 22, 2014

Over homecoming weekend, the School of Architecture + Art kicked off its annual lecture series, supported in part by the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation, with a Norwich focus. Two students who received the prestigious Summer Research Fellowship, Shaili Patel and Taylor Davidson, each presented their research. They were followed by a lecture from Norwich architecture alumnus Jason Iacobucci, principal of Solus 4, an architecture, interior, and planning design and research firm which operates as a core group collaborative on a global platform.

The lecture series continued this October when Michael Gericke, a partner at Pentagram, self-described as the world’s largest independent design consultancy, who spoke on October 10. With offices in London, New York, San Francisco, Berlin and Austin, Pentagram markets itself by stating, “We design everything: architecture, interiors, products, identities, publications, posters, books, exhibitions, websites and digital installations.”

Co-sponsored by the Norwich University Writers Series, Andy Belanger (Andy B.), the graphic artist for the comic book series Kill Shakespeare will talk about creating art and life as a comic artist at the Chaplin Hall Gallery on Friday, Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. Kill Shakespeare is a 12-issue comic book that deals with William Shakespeare’s characters and Shakespeare himself. These famous characters are brought to life and they either long to kill Shakespeare or to protect him. The first 12 issues of Kill Shakespeare were adapted into a live staged reading format in 2011, which the Norwich Pegasus Players will perform on Friday and Saturday, November 7-8, at 7:30 p.m. in Dole Auditorium.

Later on November 14, Whitney Sander of the international-award-winning Sander Architects joins us from Los Angeles. Sander’s work includes a Hybrid House that “uses components of prefab technology to create homes that are custom designed for each client. Homes that are not only green but also very high design.” This focus on prefab and green design choreographs well with Norwich’s recent completion of the Delta T-90 Solar Decathlon house.

In February, we are thrilled to host Michael Cotton, a senior architect with Snøhetta, New York, who will discuss a newly completed project. Snøhetta’s designs are cutting edge, internationally recognized as among the best in the world. Their work varies in scope from architecture to landscape to branding.

On March 27, the School of Architecture + Art co-sponsors a symposium with the Vermont Arts Council on modern identity in architectural history, theory and practice. Prof. Vladimir Kulić, Prof. Monica Penick and Norwich Assistant Professor of History and Theory of Architecture and Art Prof. Timothy Parker are co-editors of Sanctioning Modernism: Architecture and the Making of Postwar Identities. The trio will convene and join a panel of practicing architects in a Sanctioning Modernism symposium that seeks to reflect on how modern identity touches present-day clients, architects’ own design principles and related contexts.

Norwich architecture alumnus Gavin L. Engler, an associate with Carol A. Wilson Architect in Falmouth, Me., whose work has been published and widely recognized for its excellence in design, will give the final lecture of the school year on April 10. Engler was named one of Maine’s “Forty Under 40” in recognition of his commitment to leadership, professional excellence and community involvement.

The School of Architecture + Art heartily invites you to join us for any or all of these events, which are all held in Chaplin Hall Gallery.

City Lab: Berlin – Norwich University’s International Campus

The micro-campus set in a city renowned for its experimental architecture and design offers students an outstanding study abroad experience.
By Christian Dengler, 
Director | City Lab: Berlin

October 22, 2015

Contemporary Berlin is experienced as a dynamic superposition of disrupted layers of history, unfolding on it’s way back as a global capital and intellectual and artistic center. Berlin is one of the few UNESCO cities of design and a prototype of radical urban and architectural transformations. It‘s urban form is a collage of contradictory urban typologies reflecting it’s volatile urban history: from Baroque, Classicist, 19th-century Historism, 20th-century Modernism and Avant-garde to Post-war Capitalist developments of West Berlin, communist housing blocks of East Berlin and late 20th and early 21st-century reconstructions, when Berlin became the capital of a unified Germany.

City Lab: Berlin, an international campus of Norwich University, provides an overview of the urban spaces, buildings, architects and theories that have shaped Berlin’s identity. Classes are organized with coordinated site visits that familiarize students with the historical background of the city and help them develop a critical and personal approach to looking at architecture. The buildings and urban spaces we visit have been selected for their architectural significance, as well as their reflection of the different periods of Berlin’s complex history.

As a laboratory for design experimentation, Berlin acquaints students with the production of a wide range of contemporary and iconic modern architectures within the process of rebuilding in a key European city. In the city’s inspiring and fascinating context, students combine site analysis with their talent and intuition to experience and design. Berlin offers students a wide variety of spatial, visual and cultural encounters, from the collections of images housed in its numerous museums and galleries to its breadth of architecture that has shaped Berlin’s controversial identity. As the site of a number of movements in arts and architecture, from Expressionism to Dada, Modernism to Rationalism and photomontage to film propaganda, it is a perfect place to explore the role of architecture as a form of visual production in cultural understanding.

City Lab: Berlin provides an outstanding study abroad experience, balancing a well-structured curriculum with individual independence and comprehensive experience. In its first year of operation, it has attracted students from Carnegie Mellon University and Hobart William Smith College as well as Norwich. The program demands concentration and dedication, as students learn to negotiate between the experience of living in a foreign environment (as avid consumers of knowledge) and the time they spend in studio (as diligent producers of architectural design). Students must show an open attitude towards learning in a new environment and a special commitment to producing rigorous academic work. Students will also have extensive independent time to explore Berlin, Germany and Europe on their own.

For those unfamiliar with Berlin, the encounter with a rather green city often comes as a surprise. The city’s green public spaces are found everywhere, both as large planned parks and informal public spaces scattered across the urban fabric. Not all of Berlin’s green spaces, however, are the product of innovative city planning, but rather the result of war, destruction and division. In a short period of time, the city became the focal point for migration and a melting pot for hundreds of thousands of different peoples, lives and cultures. Berlin faced the ecological problems of industrialization and damage caused by the city’s uncontrolled growth, resulting in the extreme density of its urban architecture and the apparent complexity of modern everyday life.

The superposition and layering of contrasting sounds, aesthetics, solids and voids, smells and different speeds of the city soon became the myth of Berlin and one of the most powerful symbols of Modernity itself. The complexities and damages of the city‘s uncontrolled growth necessitated professional planning to develop new urban concepts and strategies. New housing forms, known as Mietkasernen, or “rental barracks,” came to define the urban context. But it was the appearance of a new industrial architecture inaugurated by Peter Behrens’s AEG Turbine Hall in the Berlin district of Moabit in 1909 that opened the door for Modernism. During the unstable Weimar Republic, Berlin experienced an architectural renaissance fueled by the collective talent of such vanguard architects as Eric Mendelsohn, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Hans Poelzig and Bruno and Max Taut, who gradually steered design away from Expressionism towards a “new objectivity,” or Neue Sachlichkeit.

The Bauhaus, founded in 1919 and given an iconic home in Dessau by Walter Gropius in 1926, spawned a generation of architects and designers eager to advance new forms, materials and methods. Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power in 1933 forced the avant-garde underground or into exile, and the Nazis established their own reactionary design agenda. Albert Speer’s plans for a new capital called “Germania,” built within Berlin, were only partially realized before WWII began. Allied bombing raids and Soviet invasion left Berlin in ruins, and capitulation brought about a Stunde Null, a “year zero,” in the city’s—and the nation’s—political and cultural life.

With the establishment of two German states after WWII, reconstruction assumed different guises on either side of the Wall. The erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 transformed vast areas of what had been part of a dense urban fabric into devastated border zones. In Communist East Berlin, Soviet-sanctioned historicism was eventually replaced by the functional modernism of the prefabricated Plattenbau, while in West Berlin international building exhibitions attempted to address the physical and infrastructural deficiencies facing a city made an island by the Cold War.

The fall of the Wall in 1989 was the beginning of a new and exciting era of economic, cultural and social change. Physically, it revealed the scars left by a gruesome object brutally planted in the midst of the cityscape. Though most of these open lots have since been filled with office and apartment buildings, the future of many remains uncertain. After reunification and the German Parliament’s vote, in 1991, to move the capital from Bonn to Berlin, the world watched with fascination as the city began forging yet another identity. The (re)installation of government institutions in the heart of Berlin, along with the huge commercial complex grouped mainly around the Potsdamerplatz have given the city a new image. Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum, Norman Foster’s renovated Reichstag and Frank Gehry’s DG Bank are among the most high-profile projects, but many other less publicized works have emerged by talented local designers.

The shift of modernistic and hierarchic planning of cities and buildings towards the development of sustainable strategies of heterogeneity and complexity is a great challenge and commitment for future designers and architects. Art critic and early German historian of modern art Karl Scheffler said, in 1910, that “Berlin is condemned to always continue to be and never to be,” giving us a chance to reflect on how the many changes have affected the character of Berlin as a laboratory and to what extent the city is a model for urban development in the 21st century.