Extra, extra: the newsworthy Winnipeg-based 5468796 Architecture

5468796, PART 1

5468796 Architecture has been awarded the Rice Design Alliance Spotlight Prize in recognition of the impressive body of work the young firm has designed and built since its founding in 2007 by Johanna Hurme and Sasa Radulovic. The 6th annual international award, which comes with a cash prize and an invitation to lecture at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, recognizes architects and designers in the early years of their careers.

“RDA truly believes 5648796 to be one of the most talented young design firms worldwide,” says Lonnie Hoogeboom, RDA past president and director of Planning and Design for the Houston Downtown Management District. “5468796 has been on our radar for a few years, and in that time its work and the recognition of its work has skyrocketed — and deservedly so.”

The Winnipeg-based firm takes its name from its Canadian business registration number. The wit embodied in that choice is just one of the qualities recognized by Hoogeboom and the Spotlight Prize committee, comprising Rice School of Architecture professors John Casbarian and Carlos Jiménez and University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture professor Rafael Longori. “We are mightily impressed with the caliber of architecture produced in just seven years,” says Hoogeboom. “[We] admire the breadth of design investigation, the elegance with which each element is rendered manually, digitally, or physically, and the broadening range of project types, from early-year single-family residences to complex multifamily assemblies to ‘jewel boxes’ in the urban landscape. Hurme and Radulovic are clearly building their young firm into an architectural practice of prominence and distinction.”

“We are incredibly hounoured by this prestigious recognition,” writes Hurme. “It is absolutely amazing to be receiving an award that has previously been given to such practitioners as Sou Fujimoto and Antón García-Abril. This recognition inspires and encourages us to try to live up to its promise and the expectations of the jury that selected us. Awards like [this] are invaluable in highlighting our work and, hopefully, as a result, providing us interesting and challenging opportunities in the future. We are humbled and grateful and very much look forward to visiting Houston in September.”

5648796 will formally accept the prize and give a lecture on Sept. 9, 2014, at 7 p.m., at The MFA,H. 

5468796, PART 2 

The Van Alen Institute has founded a new International Council, with 5468796 Architecture as a member. As part of the core group of 13 firms – representing practices across more than 17 cities and 10 countries – 5468796 will participate in conversations and working sessions to identify and investigate issues facing cities internationally, which will inform the Van Alen Institute’s public programming, research and design competitions.

Van Alen Institute, a New York-based organization dedicated to advancing innovation in architecture and urban design, recently convened its new International Council of leading architects, planners, and designers – with 5468796 Architecture as a member – for the first meeting, during the preview of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia. Launching with a core group of 13 firms, representing practices across more than 17 cities and ten countries, this network of accomplished design practitioners will meet twice annually to identify and investigate issues facing cities internationally, and to guide the impact of the Institute’s public programming, research, and design competitions.

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, partner and head of business development at international architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Van Alen Institute Trustee, will lead the International Council as chair and oversee its expansion as an international network.

“The International Council is a great platform to generate conversation around key urban questions with a truly global perspective, and I’m glad to see Van Alen bringing together expertise at this scale,” says Bergmann. “I’m pleased to have the opportunity to push it forward as council chair.”

International Council members will participate in conversations and working sessions to identify topics with potential for deeper exploration within the design field, which will inform Van Alen Institute’s ongoing work. Members will also meet with local governmental entities, developers, researchers, and designers. Fall meetings will take place in New York City and spring meetings will be held in other cities around the world.

“We are excited to elevate our work to an increasingly global perspective with the rigorous thinking and participation of the International Council” says David van der Leer, executive director of Van Alen Institute. “I’m honoured to begin with such a stellar list of participants, and I look forward to watching this community strengthen as a meaningful international network over the coming years.”

Van Alen’s current projects include the multi-year initiative Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Landscape, focused on how and why we escape from urban life. The Institute has hosted two seasons of public programs as part of Elsewhere, and will launch two new design competitions in the coming months. International Council members will begin development of upcoming multi-year initiatives to guide the Institute’s future work and advance new conversations in the field of design.

Participating Firms: 5468796 Architecture (Winnipeg); Aedas (Hong Kong, London, Dubai, among others); Allied Works Architecture (Portland, NYC); BIG (NYC, Copenhagen, Beijing); Jan Gehl Architects (Copenhagen, San Francisco, NYC), joining fall 2014; LAVA (Berlin, Stuttgart, Sydney, among others); Olson Kundig Architects (Seattle); Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (NYC); Snøhetta (NYC, Oslo); Studio Egret West (London); White Architecture (Malmö, London, Stockholm, among others); Wingårdhs (Göteborg, Stockholm, Malmö); 3XN (Copenhagen).

5468796, PART 3

5468796 Architecture with Storefront Manitoba celebrated the warm weather (finally!) and the power of design with Table for 1,200 – where 1,200 guests from across Canada – architects, designers, politicians and the general public gathered around world’s the longest dining table, set up on Winnipeg’s Esplanade Riel Bridge, to reveal, celebrate and discuss the significance of architecture and design. 

On this major civic landmark and against the backdrop of Winnipeg’s new Canadian Museum for Human Rights by Antoine Predock, the team joined together 150 tables of eight to create one continuous 1,200-foot-long dining table – making it one of the longest dining tables on record. Volunteer “table captains” decorated their tables to a theme of their choice, competing for prize money for the best table setting. Diners from across Canada – including representatives from prominent institutions, the city government, arts organizations and the general public – were notified of the event’s secret location only hours prior to the dinner. They were advised to dress for a “Winnipeg White Out,” visually underscoring the city’s emergence from a long winter, the feeling of solidarity at the event, as well as the impact of design. Meals were provided by local chefs from RAW:almond (Mandel Hitzer from Deer + Almond and Joe Kalturnyk from RAW Gallery) along with Ben Kramer from Diversity Food Services.

The project is the culmination of 5468796’s Table for 12: a nine-city series of intimate dining events that put the spotlight on architecture culture. The objective of Table for 12, which received the $50,000 Professional Prix de Rome in Ar
chitecture from the Canada Council for the Arts, was to research cities around the world with a thriving design culture and to gain a deeper understanding of the catalysts that have built a strong commitment to architecture. Other cities included Lisbon, Rotterdam, Tokyo and Sydney, New York, Mexico City, Edmonton and Copenhagen. This final dinner in the series brought 5468796’s research back to Winnipeg and opened up the conversation to the broader public.

According to Johanna Hurme, principal of 5468796, “We began the Table for 1,200 initiative by setting the scene, but as with all architectural projects the participants really made it their own. The table captains put a great deal of effort into their table decorations and some were quite elaborate. Many guests took special care with their white outfits. Together with the artistically prepared food, a fun visual spectacle was created for the public to both see and experience. And what was truly amazing was how everyone was smiling.” Her conclusion is that this could be the beginning of a much larger event: “We hope that Table for 1,200 will be the first of what could become a national movement to highlight the importance of building vibrant and active cities.”