A Moment of Milestones for the AIA, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

Kimberly Dowdell. Image courtesy of HOK

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A Moment of Milestones for the AIA

The American Institute for Architects (AIA) has inaugurated Kimberly Dowdell as its AIA National President for 2024. Dowdell, the first Black woman to assume the role, previously headed up the National Organization of Minority Architects in 2019 and currently serves as a principal in HOK’s Chicago office. In another milestone for the organization, Greg Switzer was named the first Black president in the AIA New York Chapter’s 167-year history. He has helmed the New York studio SWITZER Architecture for the past 20 years. —Ryan Waddoups

Mercedes-Benz Places in Dubai. Image courtesy of Binghatti and Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz unveils plans for its first-ever branded residential skyscraper in Dubai.

In a joint venture with developer Binghatti, Mercedes-Benz has announced plans for a luxury residential skyscraper in Dubai. Named Mercedes-Benz Places, the 1,119-foot-tall tower will feature 225 apartments alongside amenities like restaurants, gyms, and VIP parking. The facade’s sinuous design and emblazoned Mercedes-Benz logos aim to make it a prominent addition to Dubai’s skyline, particularly given its proximity to the Burj Khalifa. The exact details and construction timeline for the project are yet to be revealed.

Artists are fighting back against AI generators with a tool that “poisons” image pixels.

Worried about AI generators and the unauthorized scraping of their work, artists are fighting back with Nightshade. This tool subtly modifies images in a way that’s invisible to humans but confusing for AI algorithms. Sneaking these “poisoned” images into training data throws the generators into chaos, churning out nonsensical outputs. This artistic protest, though unconventional, raises critical questions about copyright, data ownership, and the ethical boundaries of AI development. While it disrupts the flow of AI creativity, it also sparks a vital conversation about protecting artists in the digital age.

The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha designed by I.M. Pei. Photography by Mohamed Somji, courtesy of M+

Hong Kong’s M+ Museum is planning the first major retrospective of architect I.M. Pei.

The M+ Museum in Hong Kong is preparing to celebrate the legendary architect I.M. Pei with “I.M. Pei: Life is Architecture,” opening June 29. Dubbed the “first major retrospective” of Pei’s career, the exhibition promises a comprehensive exploration of the Pritzker Prize winner’s transformative influence, weaving together his architectural achievements with the cultural and historical context that shaped them. “[Pei’s] life and work weave together a tapestry of power dynamics, geopolitical complexities, cultural traditions, and the character of cities around the world,” the museum said in a statement, “and his transcultural vision laid a foundation for the contemporary world.”

The Golden Gate Bridge has installed suicide prevention nets after years of advocacy.

The Golden Gate Bridge has gained a new safety feature: suicide prevention nets installed around 95 percent of the 1.7-mile-long landmark. Approved after years of advocacy by bereaved families and after 2,000 people jumped to their deaths since the bridge opened, the net aims to disrupt the trajectory of potential jumpers. “The net is a proven design that deters people from jumping, serves as a symbol of care and hope to despondent individuals, and, if necessary, offers people a second chance,” the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District said in a statement. 

The former Barney’s building on Seventh Avenue is being converted into luxury condos.

The former Barney’s building on Seventh Avenue is trading its designer suits. After the luxury department store succumbed to the changing retail landscape and went bankrupt in 2019, the space stood empty for two years until a brief stint as a Spirit Halloween pop-up. The building’s new owner, architect and developer Raymond Chan, plans to transform the building into condos, much like his previous projects in Flushing, Long Island City, and the Lower East Side, along with a “ground-floor retail with a beautiful modern design.” 

The Book of Kells Experience at Trinity College Dublin. Image courtesy of Trinity College Dublin

Today’s attractive distractions:

A huge statue of pop legend Shakira is unveiled in her native Colombia.

Stanley’s big reusable water cups are stirring up both Target and TikTok.

Retailers resort to increasingly creative strategies to boot out the bots.

An artistic masterpiece of medieval Christianity has gone fully immersive.

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