June 08 - Blog Articles Print
Monday, 31 March 2008 19:00

These are the articles and blogs that we selected in June.

 

Week 22nd-28th of June


Book Review: Transmaterial 2
John in A Daily Dose of Architecture
Transmaterial 2: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine our Physical Environment (2008) by Blaine Brownell Princeton Architectural Press Paperback, 512 pages
Two years ago we were introduced to a catalog of materials illustrating the innovations in materials research and design. This second installment of Blaine Brownell's Transmaterial continues where the first left off, documenting about 200 more innovative materials for various architectural and other design applications. This time the emphasis is on environmentalism over technology, something observed as a general trend by Brownell, not forced by the selection of the materials and products. If anything, this emphasis is apparent but not pervasive, as if those developing and creating materials can only respond to today's "green movement" via the use of recycled materials.

All Purpose Shelters Limited
Ugo Okafor in African Architecture and Design
Their website says that All Purpose Shelters Limited operates as a consortium of Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Structural/Civil Engineers and Mechanical/Electrical Engineers. This Nigerian based firm specializes in residential, retail and architectural restoration projects.

Letters from Sweden - deliver and set
lavardera in LamiDesign Modern House Plan Blog
Its time to wrap up our series on pref-fab house building in Sweden. In previous entries we've looked at how the houses are put together, and the products and technology that have enabled the technique. Today we are going to look at the last part of the process: delivery and installation at the site. As we've hinted at before the panelized method used by the Swedes requires less shipping than a modular technique. Where modular requires a separate truck/trailer for each module box with panelized a few trucks can usually deliver all the parts. All the wall and floor panels can be loaded on one truck, roof trusses and roofing materials on another. Its a denser method of transport compared to the hollow box of modular construction. Remember, Ikea ships their goods flat-packed because it avoids shipping air!

Roots - Laura Facey
mad architect in architechnophilia
On a visit to Devon House, one of the premier Historic Sites in Kingston, Jamaica I came across a magnificent piece of artwork. The sculpture, placed at the entry to the gardens of Devon House, appears at first glance to be corten or rusted metal, resembling industrial waste left out to weather. Roots as the works are called, are actually salvaged from a massive tree trunk, and bear their own story of being carried by hand from the inner countryside of St. Ann.

ext gene 20 promotion by squint opera
lavardera in materialicious
This is a promotional video for a housing exposition in Taiwan. 20 progressive modern houses will be built and open for touring, and an exhibition of the designs will tour the world. Squid Opera has created this video about the exposition, where its presented like an action movie - great stuff. I like the idea of using the language of popular culture to reach people with design.

McGill University’s Molson & McConnell Halls
Cédric Sam in Spacing Montreal
McGill’s Molson and McConnell Halls are adjacent to each other, and both located above Molson Stadium. To outsiders, such as myself (a McGill alumni who did not live in residence), the world of student halls is a foreign one, belonging to some parallel universe. These particular staircases have always fascinated me. Sometime during my undergrad studies, I ventured up the residence area north of McGill’s main campus after dinner time. I saw students climbing these stairs, wearing hoodies or jogging pants, perhaps satisfied with their cafeteria meal, pursuing the conversations from dinner table. The image of these stairs (now deserted for the summer

House Democrats Introduce National Feed-in Tariff for Renewable Energy Projects
Timothy B. Hurst in Green Options
U.S. Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA), Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced landmark legislation [PDF] on Thursday that will provide security for investments in the renewable-energy sector by guaranteeing rates for renewable-energy generation. This policy mechanism, also known as a national feed-in tariff, may be the single most effective tool to expand renewable energy development that we know of. Feed-in tariffs have been introduced in several U.S. states, but none have the bills have been passed into law.

Community Solar Power
Philip Proefrock in Green Options
A community in Canada has an unusual form of solar power that can provide over 90% of the annual heating and hot water needs for the homes, despite being situated in a cold Alberta location where winter temperatures can reach -33 degrees C (-27 F). The Drake Landing Solar Community collects solar energy in a heat storage fluid through an array of solar panels on the roof of each home and covering all of the garages at the back of each home. The heated fluid is transferred to a neighborhood energy center, and then into the ground beneath an insulated layer, where the heat is stored in the earth.

GRID HOUSE: Maximizing Green Space in Urban Infill
Mike Chino in Inhabitat
Moto Designshop recently finished schematics for this beautiful modern residence situated on Pine street in Philadelphia. The Grid House packs a highly efficient floorplan into tight quarters, maximizing daylighting and ventilation via an abundance of open green spaces. The entire front and back façades open to infuse interior spaces with fresh air while the home’s flowing floor plan ensures a seamless transition between rooms. An elevated front garden preserves the residence’s interaction with the street while concealing an underground garage.'

Stunning Eco Home To Be First Andalusian Zero Carbon Footprint House!
Preston D K in Jetson Green
The team at Diseño Earle was kind enough to pass along some info and images of their stunning design of The Eco Home -- a knockout that's aiming to be the first 'zero carbon' footprint home in Andalucia, or even Southern Spain for that matter!  D Earle designed the home with two objectives in mind: (1) zero carbon footprint, and (2) reduce operating costs to almost a self-sufficiency level.  The 6995 sf home, which is absolutely enormous, will be built with 75% less waste than a traditional design and operate 80% more efficiently than a similar sized home.  And although the home design was constrained by the narrow, non-flat site, you can tell there was no restraint in creating the ultimate, luxury, green pad.

Michael Pollan Interview “What’s Wrong with Environmentalism”
Beth Bader in Green Options
Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, discusses biofuels, the food crisis and the future of sustainability in this interview with Yale Environment 360. The new online green magazine is published through Yale University, and edited by Roger Cohn, the former editor of Mother Jones and Audubon.

Today's archidose #218
John in A Daily Dose of Architecture
Here's a few shots of The Iberê Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil by Alvaro Siza. Photos by Arqfeevale, who has many more shots of the building.

Montreal’s hotel boom
Chris Erb in Spacing Montreal
The Gazette reported today that, within the next couple years, Montreal will be home to Canada’s first location of the prestigious Waldorf=Astoria Hotel (artist’s rendition above) to be built at the corner of Guy and Sherbrooke: Local real estate company Monit Investments will spend $200 million developing and building the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel & Residence Montreal on what is now a parking lot it owns near Guy and Sherbrooke Sts.

Art Center Puts Gehry Building Plan on Hold—Or Not
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Earlier this month, we told you about the tensions a-brewing at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and seriously flustering students, faculty, and alumni, many of them not averse to a good petition or two. Hanging in the balance were ambitious plans for the school's expansion, which were to include a $50 million design research center designed by Frank Gehry and championed by the Art Center's controversial yet charismatic president, Richard Koshalek. What a difference a week or so makes! "The Art Center thing has blown up and fizzled out, and they are not renewing Richard's contract," UnBeige editor emeritus Alissa Walker tells us. Further complicating the blowup and fizzle, the school announced that the Gehry building plan was off, only to declare yesterday that the board of trustees had confirmed "the school's commitment to going forward with its pending application to obtain zoning in Pasadena for its Hillside Campus Master Plan." We're still confused but direct you to Alissa's roundup in The Architect's Newspaper for the full scoop on the players, issues, and architecture involved.

Metal Shutter Houses / Shigeru Ban
David Basulto in Arch Daily
Starchitects are all over New York, giving an extra value to new condos in Manhattan. A few months ago i visted the Herzog & de Meuron and Bernard Tschumi projects on the lower east side, and they looked quite impressive. While most people didn’t liked the Tschumi’s Blu Condo, despite it’s iconic image, i had mixed feelings with HdM’s 40 Bond St. But on West Chelsea a new 9 unit condo is under construction, designed by japanese Shigeru Ban. The project is located on the south side of West 19th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues in West Chelsea’s art gallery district, right next to the High Line, the Hudson River Park, Ghery´s IAC Building and Jean Nouvel´s 100 11th.

Vacant space vs. New development
Merten Nefs in Projetos Urbanos
The Dutch “New Map” joins planning information of all municipalities in the Netherlands and gives a rather good idea of what the country will look like 10 years from now. Another project, called “The Old Map of the Netherlands”, gathered information on vacant lots and buildings. When these two maps are put together, one finds that most vacant spaces are actually located outside the new development of housing, offices, commerce and leisure. This means that the potential of vacant space remains unused in Dutch urban planning. It also means there is still a bright future for squatting movements, just pick up the list and go…

Bibbly-O-Tek
owen hatherley in sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy
What should a library look like? What are its functions, what spaces does it need, and what should it (sigh) symbolise? I'm writing this next to Charles Holden's Senate House. A portland stone skyscraper built in the late 1930s, it is best known as one of those urban-myth 'Hitler's headquarters' (there were a few), and was certainly the inspiration for Nineteen Eighty-Four's Ministry of Truth. Hearteningly, the actual content of this block is mainly educational, including two floors devoted to the University of London Library, which, if Market Stalinists have their way, will become fee-paying, thus shoving more people into the already cramped British Library up the road. When I was working in there on my MA, I loved the narrow alcoves, the endless Kafka corridors, the strange views - all free, unlike hoity middlebrow antiquarian arsehole-fests like the London Library.

Interesting Character, David Fisher, Wants to Build Twisting Tower in Dubai
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Sometimes where it's a slow morning for design news, we head to our go to solution: Dubai. Only there can you immediately find something strange to talk about. Case in point, it's being reported that occasional architect David Fisher, who has never designed a skyscraper before, has decided that he wants to construct an 80-story building in Dubai that will rotate and twist and spin on command and will have extra amenities like wind turbines sticking out everywhere and elevators that will lift cars all the way up to people's apartments, no matter what floor they're on. All of it sounds just completely insane, including Fisher himself, but then you remember that it's Dubai, so the building will likely exist by next year.

For whom the bell tolls
Geoff Manaugh in BLDGBLOG
Earlier this week, the Long Now Foundation looked at earthquake dampers inside skyscrapers, focusing specifically on Taipei 101 – a building whose unanticipated seismic side-effects (the building's construction might have reopened an ancient tectonic fault) are quite close to my heart.
As it happens, Taipei 101 includes a 728-ton sphere locked in a net of thick steel cables hung way up toward the top of the building. This secret, Piranesian moment of inner geometry effectively acts as a pendulum or counterweight – a damper – for the motions of earthquakes.

Canada’s Shimmering Solar Collector Sculpture
Mike Chino in Inhabitat
Earlier this week Cambridge, Canada welcomed a stunning new interactive sculpture that casts a shimmering set of lights against the night sky. Constructed atop a sun-dappled hill, Gorbet Design’s Solar Collector sweeps the skyline as a gracefully ascending corona of light-laced beams. The interactive installation serves as a conduit for both solar energy and creative input, soaking up sunlight and simple web-based controls throughout the day. Upon nightfall the installation synthesizes its stored reserves into a glimmering light show.




NYC sprouts waterfalls thanks to Olafur Eliasson

Abigail Doan in Inhabitat
Danish Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson advocates that folks learn to Take Their Time, either at his current MoMA retrospective or for the viewing of his upcoming NYC Waterfalls project. With all spigots finally a-go, this $15 million dollar environmental installation project is set to launch on the banks of NYC’s East River and NY Harbor this Thursday, June 26. The wunderkind artist plans to have four freestanding waterfall sculptures awash in cascading water that will fall from heights of 90 to 120 feet. Touted to be the next best thing (economically) for the city since Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s saffron-colored Gates Project in Central Park, we will leave up to you as to whether you think that ‘waterfall chasing’ merits extra points for NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg as he moves to green our urban shores.

Carbon-Free Home Book Review and Giveaway!
Preston D K in Jetson Green
So Chelsea Green was kind enough to pass along a copy of Stephen and Rebekah Hren's new book officially titled The Carbon-Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit.  As always, I've handled the book with care and will give it away to one lucky, random commenter below.*  To give you an idea of the quality material contained in the book, here's a review comment from the green guru Bill McKibben: "It's hard to imagine a more comprehensive, and comprehensible, guide to making your home work for you and for the planet, inside and out.  It's frugal, it's sensible, and it will help!"  I'd like to echo the comments of Bill McKibben myself, because this book is completely legit.

Will They Ever Finish Gene Simmons' Tongue?
Lynn Becker in ArchitectureChicago PLUS
Am I just being impatient, or does it seem that the rehab of the Illinois Center plaza at 205 N. Michigan is taking longer than the Sistine Chapel? The proprietors, having decided that the Miesian complex of glass boxes is a bit too dark and sober, have made a huge, floating red canopy the centerpiece of their reconstruction. It's like Calder's Flamingo, but with legs reduced to toothpicks and the body flattened in a roller.

Unbuilt
Marcus Trimble in Super Colossal
Architecture Australia has launched this year’s Prize for Unbuilt Work. The AA Prize for Unbuilt Work seeks conceptually rigorous, inventive responses to contemporary architectural issues. An initiative of Architecture Australia, the national magazine of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, the AA Prize promotes debate about architecture and architectural ideas by recognizing excellence in unbuilt projects. It offers an opportunity to discuss architectural works at the conceptual stage, and recognises projects which might contribute to the development of architectural discourse in Australia.

BEIJING: Paths for the blind
Megan Hall in Spacing Toronto • understanding the urban landscape
Spacing correspondent Megan Hall is in Beijing this summer. Over the next few weeks, she will be sharing her observations of China’s capital as it prepares to welcome the world to the controversial 2008 Olympic games in August.

Warehouse Temple: Visiting Works Partnership's Olympic Mills Commerce Center
Brian Libby in Portland Architecture
Yesterday I made a long-intended visit to the Olympic Mills Commerce Center, the circa-1927 cereal mill that has been renovated by Works Partnership Architecture and Beam Development into a series of flexible creative spaces for mostly design-based tenants. Some rough edges not withstanding, I like this building and its rehab a lot. The original structure, known since 1950 as the B&O warehouse (for the former Baggage and Omnibus Company), has an eight-story concrete grain elevator and extends to nearly a full city block with its two-story warehouse.

Infrastructure and democracy
Merten Nefs in Projetos Urbanos
The delayed construction of Heathrow Terminal 5 was the longest public inquiry in the history of the UK. This week the Planning Bill, proposed legislation to streamline decision on big projects like airports, will be voted. Environment campaigners say it will strip ordinary people of the right to object to major projects. Engineers and politicians warn for failure and lack of infrastructure aswell as unacceptable costs through delays caused by civic protests. “It took four years, with 700 people giving evidence at a cost of £80 million to come up with the decision that the vast majority of people expected in the first place.”

house in corsica, foster and partners
Justin in materialicious
The location for this house - poised on the southern tip of Corsica - is spectacular. Glazed on three sides, with sliding doors that dematerialise the boundary between house and terrace, the outdoors becomes a natural and fluid extension of the interior. Laminated beams that support the cedar shingle roof extend on the southern side to form a brise-soleil canopy that attenuates the entire roof into a supple, aerodynamic curve.

Qatar Steel Hires Designer Syd Mean to Predict the Future for Them
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Proof that we will all soon be living in a time when everyone in the world is envious of a small stretch of ocean-front land in the Middle East, PSFK is reporting that the Qatar Steel corporation has hired industrial designer and artist Syd Mead to paint a portrait of what their home town of Doha might look like in the near future. Mead, who, among a billion other projects over the years, consulted on the looks of almost every influential movie about the future, including Tron and Blade Runner, offered the company up a painting with space ships and crazy Zaha Hadid-esque skyscrapers.

The Myth of Design - A quilty passion or something
Norman Blogster in PartIV
Sorry I haven’t been around much. I’ve just noticed Charles Holland tagged me on a meme thingy, where I’m supposed to show a picture demonstrating what I’m most passionate for students to learn about, title the post something to do with “passion quilt” and then invite 5 more unsuspecting souls to do likewise. So the picture above comes from googling “the myth of design” and choosing an image from the first page. Because what I’m most passionate about students knowing is this “myth of design”. Design is all-pervading in architecture school. I don’t know for sure, but I’d be pretty certain that most schools emphasise design so that it forms the majority of the final mark, whether for Part I or II. So you can be a great scientist, philosopher, historian, critic, writer, or whatever but if you’re only average at design, your mark will only be average. But this is ok, isn’t it - because architecture’s about design, right?

Slovenia’s Gorgeous Honeycomb Housing Complex
Mike Chino in Inhabitat
This stunning seaside structure bursts free from the all-too-frequently stale stock of public housing projects with its dynamic array of brightly shaded cells. Taking its cues from the modular honeycomb clusters of a beehive, the complex was constructed as a low-income residence for young families and couples in the industrial district of Izola on the Slovenian coast. The striking development boasts beautiful views and makes smart use of solar shading and natural ventilation to regulate its interiors all year-round.

MEPCO and Tetra Pak Collaborate in Saudi Arabia’s Green Paper Revolution
Sam Aola Ooko in Green Options
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer is going green. At least in its first ecologically sustainable paper manufacturing venture. A carton paper manufacturer is making good its concerted efforts in environmental sustainability in the desert kingdom to recycle paper and raise consumer awareness about eco issues. In a joint effort, the country’s paper manufacturer, Middle East Paper Company (MEPCO) and Tetra Pak Arabia will, exchange expertise and experiences in the recycling field and MEPCO’s role will be to collect, sort and do the actual recycling work. Beverage carton recycling will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfill sites. The partnership will address the issue of recycling thousands of cartons that get discarded by households and other establishments across Saudi Arabia on a daily basis, the first of its kind in the Middle East region. The collaborators hope that apart from making a mark on the environment, they will be opening the recycled products, largely post consumer food and beverage cartons, to a wider international market, and follows successful trials conducted to demonstrate the recycling ability of Tetra Pak cartons by MEPCO.

Modern Shoestring: Contemporary Architecture on a Budget
Harry in MoCo Loco
Modern Shoestring sets out to reverse a common misconception, that the "construction of a contemporary house will cost the owner a fortune". The book features 18 custom built residential projects (no prefab) built between 2002 and 2007 on a shoestring budget, some for as little as $51.00 per square foot. The homes are presented with "emphasis on the goals of the owners, the site, and the cost in the design process. Collections determine floor plans, observatories are built for starry rural nights, and found and industrial materials such as highway construction remnants, laboratory counters, plastic water bottles, and discarded chalkboards keep costs low while imbuing structures with character.". From all over the US, from Los Angeles to Anchorage to East Hampton.

Rest in Peace
Michelle Linden in Atelier A+D
EM2N's competition design for a moturary hall in Erlenbach, Switzerland is a very simple, yet very nice solution. The simple form provides an area of sanctuary where visitors can focus on their thoughts of loved ones and commune with the outdoors. The way in which the form has been pulled apart, providing slots of light gives it an even more ethereal quality. Instead of providing a place of refuge for saddened family members, EM2N has created a structure that will encourage visitors to reflect in a positive light.

Calatrava's Chicago Spire Completed!
Lynn Becker in ArchitectureChicago PLUS
In another I-could-kick-myself moment, I've been reminded I've neglected to write about an amazing event, Brickworld 2008, where Lego freaks convene and exhibit their work. The ballroom of the Westin Hotel at 601 N. Milwaukee in Wheeling is filled with models that include some of the world's most prominent buildings.
I didn't make it, but our indefatigable correspondent Bob Johnson did, and he's provided these pictures. He also writes of meeting Lego artist extraordinaire - and Brickworld founder - Adam Reed Tucker, AIA, whose website Brickstructures includes photos of his Lego renderings of such classics as Trump Tower, 7 South Dearborn, the unbuilt project that was designed to the world's tallest building, and the Burj Dubai, which has now taken that title.

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick
admin in mirage.studio.7
I purchased the 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School  and after 10 minutes of reading, I conclude that this is a funny and by far the best architecture book - ever, this is a book that students of architecture will want to keep in the studio and in their backpacks. It is also a book they may want to keep out of view of their professors, for it expresses in clear and simple language things that tend to be murky and abstruse in the classroom. I don’t remember ever having any textbook for my design class, if I had, this would be the book, the bible for every architecture student. I recommend reading it, especially first year architecture students. From my personal point of view, every information in the book is useful, for instant it contains advice on both the technical and the intellectual. Hints for everything from lettering to post modern theory share page space with reminders as varied as ‘design in section’ to ‘if you can’t explain your design in terms your grandmother understands, you don’t understand your own design.’

The Barn House / Buro II
Nico Saieh in Arch Daily
The Belgian architectural and interior office Buro II sent us this impressive house made from an old barn. More pictures and text after the break. Together with Hendrik Vermoortel, Rita Huys runs the Belgian architectural and interior design office BURO II/BURO Interior, which was also the office commissioned for the farmhouse conversion located among the rolling hills of mid-west Flanders. For BURO II/BURO Interior, the central principle for the farmhouse conversion is the relationship between the building and its outside space, and the connection with the surrounding environment. The client was emphatic that tradition, innovation and respect for the landscape be combined in a single project. The structure of the landscape and research into rural building in Flanders stand in reciprocity to the design process and the final built environment. Crucial in this thought process is that the landscape confirms the footprint of the buildings and farmhouses in origin and as tradition. Here respect and tradition create a need for a contemporary continuity, reflected in the search for a new meaning for the farmhouse in its varying scenic mutations. The project is a spatial and architectural quest for methods to offer new perspectives in the relationship between landscape and architecture.

 

 

Week 15th - 21st of June


700 PALMS RESIDENCE: Sustainable Style in Venice, CA
Mike Chino in Inhabitat
The stunning 700 Palms Residence is a prime example of site-specific architecture. Designed by Steven Ehrlich Architects, the striking structure mixes raw industrial materials with a polished modern aesthetic, making it a monument to eponymous SoCal style and a sustainable marvel in its own right. Its breezy construction seamlessly integrates outdoor spaces with a flowing interior floor plan that was carefully considered to address the freedoms and constraints of residential design in Venice, Los Angeles.

RoboVault
Geoff Manaugh in BLDGBLOG
Yesterday, 10:20 AM
RoboVault describes itself as a Maximum Security Robotic Storage facility.
Hurricane-resistant, fully insured, and protected by biometrics, RoboVault is proposed for "an extraordinary location at the crossroads of several major roadway arteries including Port Everglades and the Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale International airport." "No one enters the storage part of the facility," we read; this has the effect of "minimizing the risk of theft or damage." Indeed, "This revolutionary concept in storage uses robotic parking garage technology, allowing you to operate your rented storage unit automatically, so you can store and retrieve your possessions when you want."

Much Larger BMW Museum Reopens
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Elsewhere in Europe, the much-anticipated BMW Museum finally reopened yesterday after a two year closure while the company completely overhauled the whole structure and had it redesigned by Atelier Brueckner GmbH and Art+Com AG. The plan is, of course, the same one held by the massive, also-new Mercedes Museum: to both show off the design legacy of the automaker, but also make you think, as you exit the museum's gift shop, "Man, I'm not sure what it is, but I really want to buy a BMW right now." Here's a bit about the building itself: BMW will showcase its 90-year history in a 5,000-square-meter (53,800-square-foot) space next to its Munich headquarters...

Marina City: in Cans, Preserved, and with Angelina
Lynn Becker in ArchitectureChicago PLUS
Yesterday, 1:01 AM
You have only until through Sunday, June 22 to view the entries in Canstruction Chicago 2008, where 80,000 pounds of canned food are used to build 20 large sculptures. For this year's winner, a team from 4240 Architecture built Marina City's twin towers out of cans of tuna, with cans of corn marking the transition from the parking to the residential floors. Lighting design firm Charter Sills & Associates recreated the House of Blues, as well as a Hotel Sax made out of Campbell's soup cans.

Zen Interview Master Aby Rosen Commissions Condo for Condos
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Thursday, 4:07 PM
People who bandy about the term "media training" should clip and laminate the full salmon-hued page that the New York Observer recently devoted to a sit-down with real estate mogul and art collector Aby Rosen, whose RFR Holding company owns such properties as Lever House and the Seagram Building. In the face of some tough questions by the Observer's indefatigable reporter Max Abelson, Rosen exhibited a Zen-like calm, offering matter-of-fact musings on even such potentially incendiary topics as Tom Wolfe's ad hominem argument against his project at 980 Madison ("It had a nasty undertone that I didn't care much for.") and the decor of his children's bedrooms ("Sure, there are Basquiats. The kids chose them."). His greatest regret? "I should have been more aggressive when I pursued the Chrysler Building."

zaha deemed awkward
AMNP
Thursday, 1:08 PM
http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/dailynews/2008/06/zahas_oxford_college_extension_branded_awkward.html
Zaha Hadid’s proposed extension to the Middle East Center at St Antony’s College in Oxford has been branded ‘awkward’ and ‘in constant competition with its neighbors’ by CABE [read the article from The Architects’ Journal by clicking the title of this post].

A Pearl for Beijing
Design Build Network
Since it opened up towards the West, China, the most densely populated country in the world, has not only been attracting western industrial companies but has also been changing the appearance of many of its major cities. An increasing number of buildings designed by international architects have appeared, heralding the dawn of a new age. In recent years, the Chinese government has invested several billion euros in spectacular projects on a grand scale, like the stadiums for the Olympic Games 2008 or the headquarters of the state TV broadcaster CCTV. The current high point in this trend is the China National Grand Theater in Beijing, the future venue for world-class opera, theater and concerts. At the beginning of 1999, the Chinese authorities extended an invitation to tender architectural proposals for this attractive and ambitious project.

Spinnaker Tower Stairs to Generate Electricity
Jorge Chapa in Inhabitat
Imagine being able to collect the energy of every person walking up and down the stairs from the Spinnaker Tower viewing platform in Portsmouth, UK. That is the proposal being put forward by David Webb, from the British consultancy of Scott Wilson. His hope is to install miniature “heel-strike” generators underneath the stairs that would capture the power generated by a person as they walk down the tower. His ultimate goal is to install them in every rail station, shopping center and even in your shoes!


Stunning New Terminal at Shenzen Bao’an International Airport
Mahesh Basantani in Inhabitat
It’s not often that we get to talk about airports but there is a lot happening in the aviation industry. One landmark development is the proposed construction of a new terminal at Shenzen Bao’an International Airport in China. Positioned as a gateway to China and designed by architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, the terminal will no doubt be a sleek transit destination. What has captured our attention is the incredible double skin canopy intended to let patterned natural light into the space, and significantly reduce energy consumption.

Nation's Largest Single-Building Solar Energy Project Planned for Atlantic City
Preston D K in Jetson Green
Atlantic City Convention Center has just signed a 20-year agreement with Pepco Energy Services to have a 2.36 megawatt solar roof installed on the building.  When completed by the end of this year, the project is projected to be the largest single-building solar energy project in the United States.  That's 13,321 photovoltaic panels covering roughly two-thirds of the building AND a savings of roughly $4.4 million in electricity costs over the 20-year deal.  Under the terms of the agreement between the convention center and Pepco, Pepco will pay for the installation and the convention center will then purchase electricity generated from Pepco.

A Floating Room and Broken Architecture: The Work of Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset
Jimmy Stamp in Life Without Buildings
Suspended from two black balloons, a sparse white room floats to the top of a repurposed Berlin train station. I’ve been haunted by this image—or rather the resulting imagined implications of it—since a trip to Berlin almost 5 years ago. It was, of course, an art installation in the German Capital’s Hamburger Bahnoff, by an artist whose name has eluded me until today. Via Le Territoire Des Sens, I’ve learned that the work, Elevated Gallery / Powerless Structures, Fig. 146, was created by Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset.

Montreal’s missing beaches
Christopher DeWolf in Spacing Montreal
Nathalie Collard has a column in today’s La Presse lamenting the lack of access Montrealers have to their waterways. “Les Montréalais habitent une île, mais n’ont pratiquement pas accès à l’eau. C’est aberrant,” she writes. It’s true: despite being surrounded by water, including a variety of lakes, basins, channels, rapids and one of North America’s great rivers, Montreal is one of the least water-accessible cities I know. Whatever local instinct we once had to head to the water has been quashed by pollution, industry and highways.

Low Impact Living: Green Prefab — Everyone’s into Modular Homes
Low Impact Living in Green Options
Editor’s note: Modular (or prefabricated) housing is hot, and our friends at Low Impact Living have the lowdown on some of the companies driving this trend. This post was originally published on Thursday, June 12, 2008. It seems everyone is “going modular” these days with the rapid growth in the movement of green prefab design and construction. The buzz in modular construction is causing a rush of new designs, innovative products, and advanced modular systems being introduced. The goal of prefab is still the same as minimizing waste while maximizing efficiency. To learn more about prefab design and what makes it a compelling form of green building, please click here. No longer are the days when just calling yourself a prefab company is considered environmentally progressive.

ROM rooftop garden preview
Matthew Hague in Spacing Toronto • understanding the urban landscape
This morning I had the opportunity to preview the Royal Ontario Museum’s new rooftop garden, known as Liza’s Garden in memory of philanthropist and business person Elizabeth Samuel. Sitting on-top of the original 1914 wing of the building, the garden was designed to be a focal point from inside the ROM’s exclusive C5 restaurant (at the top of the newly opened Michael Lee Chin Crystal). Designed by Toronto-based firm PLANT Architect Inc., winners of the competition to design Nathan Phillips Square in March, 2007, with Gardens in the Sky, Green Roof Consultant, the garden is a 9 500 square-foot composition of trees, tilted planting beds, and shallow reflecting pools.

Novel SolarDuct Creates Electricity and Heat Energy
Preston D K in Jetson Green
Conserval Engineering just announced the release of their newest product, SolarDuct PV/T, which is a rooftop solar PV system that goes beyond generating renewable energy from on-site solar power.  With the SolarDuct PV/T system, solar panels are mounted on an metal collector panels that channel excess heat from the solar array into the building's HVAC system.  As a result, this system, which is part photovoltaic and part thermal, can generate electricity and put heat to use when heat is needed in the building. Conserval Engineering estimates that its SolarDuct PV/T system can reach a total operating efficiency of over 50%, thereby reducing the ROI time frame on the entire investment.  With a faster payback, companies might just be more inclined to invest in a SolarDuct rooftop system, even without favorable state and local incentives.

Dale Chihuly, New San Francisco Treat
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
People tend to get giddy around the fantastical glass works of Dale Chihuly (perhaps this is why casinos can't seem to get enough of him), so expect Bay Area denizens to be unusually upbeat this summer. Saturday marked the opening of San Francisco's first major exhibition of the artist's work, and it's a big one. On view at the de Young Museum through September 28, the show encompasses 11 galleries of new and archival works spanning the last four decades. The artist calls it "the most ambitious show I've created to date." Besides chandeliers with such evocative titles as "Orange Hornet and Eelgrass," the show features a recreation of Chihuly's 1972 white milk-glass and neon installation as well as a 56-foot-long mille fiori garden of glass forms that only look like they're growing.

Luxurious Dining & Decor at Lucier
Brian Libby in Portland Architecture
 At the south end of Riverplace along the Willamette, beside the new Strand Standard condos, sits the new Lucier restaurant, a very high-end dining establishment with a sizable investment in its architecture and interiors. I visited Lucier last week as part of a press lunch. Hopefully it won't seem like I'm writing this post in exchange for the complimentary striped bass carpaccio with slivered foie gras, which was one of about ten different small plates we had over a four hour meal.


CENTRIA Offers AIA-Certified Continuing Education Program
Design Build Network
CENTRIA, in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), has developed a continuing education program for architects and designers about the use of metal walls in building envelope systems. "As a leader in the architectural metal wall and roof industry, CENTRIA is excited and honored to provide architects and designers with up-to-date information and real-world examples on the benefits of building wall systems with metal," said Jim Flanagan, product manager, CENTRIA. Learning objectives of the presentation include informing architects and designers about why they should use metal, analyzing the superior performance of metal, explaining how metal supports sustainable design and determining when metal may be the best solution for a project. CENTRIA is a registered provider with the American Institute of Architects Continuing Education Systems. Credit earned on completion of the program is reported to continuing education systems records for AIA members. Certificates of completion for non-AIA members are available upon request. As a registered program for AIA/CES for continuing education, the presentation does not include any content that may be deemed as an endorsement of any building material or product.

Tom Dyckhoff's Picks for the London Festival of Architecture
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
While the London Festival of Architecture finishes up its planning to have its big kick-off celebrations this Friday before its month-long run, Tom Dyckhoff over at the Times in the UK has a few pieces of advice to share. While the critic thinks the LFA, like most architecture celebrations, has sort of a negative going in ("buildings don't do festive very well") and not really being able to admire what architecture really "is" very directly, instead focusing more on the plans and what could be and who is behind it, Dyckhoff does pick out from nice bits from the fest and it should provide a nice peek at the event, should you be planning to attend, or something of a little online tour for those of us stuck several thousand miles away.

A Guided Tour of Renzo Piano's Art Institute Plans
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
A nice little sneak peek we caught the other day over at the Chicago Tribune, showing off starchitect Renzo Piano's plans for the Art Institute of Chicago's new wing, which is set to open next May. But not only does the video tour with Piano himself serve as a good feature for you architecture buffs, it also serves a purpose by giving we Chicagoans a link to send to our friends visiting from out of town who ask why the hell the biggest, most famous art museum in the city has had all of its most famous pieces moved out of it. The reason, we will tell them, is because of Renzo and his hard-hatted pal.

Town of Babylon to Provide Funds to Make 65,000 Homes Energy Efficient!
Preston D K in Jetson Green
In an innovative move, the Town of Babylon has set up an extensive program to work with citizens to pay for energy efficiency upgrades for every home in the town.  The basic premise of the program is that the town wants to help residents use less energy, so here's what they plan to do.  They're going to loan up to $12,000 at the super low interest rate of 3% to pay directly for renovation costs.  Under the program, residents get home energy audits that include recommended actions for renovations, including adding more insulation, changing out the HVAC system, etc.  The town pays for the renovations and the homeowner then makes payments to the town based roughly on the reduction in payments caused by having a more efficient home.  So it's quite the innovative system.

Welcome Home, Perkins+Will: You're No. 1! (In Chicago)
Lynn Becker in ArchitectureChicago PLUS
The Architectural Record has published the 2008 edition of its annual survey the top 150 U.S. architectural firms ranked by 2007 revenue. And while storm clouds are gathering - AR's ABI (architectural billings index) showed a nearly 27% decline from last December of 07 to March of 08, 2007 seems to have at least given firms a chance to gather their rose buds from a rather prosperous year, with revenues jumping 20% from 2006. In Chicago, the largest firm listed is again Perkins+Will, coming off several years of exile where AR classified it as an Atlanta-based company. It's $330.5 million in revenues represented a rise of over 23%. The firm dropped from 5th to 6th in the listings, right ahead of New York based, Chicago behemoth Skidmore, Owings and Merrill ($310.9 million, up 23.8%). Perkins+Wills new Holland Michigan headquarters for the Haworth company designed by Ralph Johnson and Eva Maddox, is getting rave reviews from everyone from the Trib's Blair Kamin to Metropolis Magazine.

A Beauty in Bolzano
Michelle Linden in Atelier A+D
The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Bolzano Italy has recently opened their new building by Krüger Schuberth Vandreike... I imagine the simple form allows the artwork to take center stage, even though I don't see any artwork in these photos!

Gehry On Campus and In the News
Jimmy Stamp in Life Without Buildings
Two Frank Gehry buildings—one existing and one proposed—have found their way into the news lately…and not for good reasons. ITEM 1: In NPR’s coverage of the Iowa floods, they took a look at the University of Iowa’s Advanced Technology Building, designed by Frank Gehry. Despite surrounding the signature, metal-clad building with sandbags, water has crept up to the door handles and faculty members have had to move sensitive equipment from the lower floors of the lab. Some incredibly powerful and all-too-familiar photographs accompany their report.

Global Winners Chosen for Sustainable Cities Award
Andrew Williams in Green Options
Nine ‘outstanding’ programs from around the world have been chosen as winners at the first ever Sustainable Cities Awards. According to sponsors, the Urban Land Institute and the Financial Times, the awards honour worldwide examples of initiatives that showcase new ideas and perspectives for best practice in sustainable land use. Each of the winners is incorporating initiatives that are making significant contributions in highlighting the concept of sustainability in real estate. I can’t help but be a little confused by these awards though. On the one hand, they showcase some truly inspiring projects from around the world. On the other, it seems a little suspicious that at least two of the winners are projects with high-level involvement from companies represented on the awards panel. There is also a heavy emphasis on large-scale American projects, with at least seven of the nine winners coming from the U.S. Is this simply an indication of where the main centre’s of sustainability excellence really are, or did the panel gloss over worthy candidates from elsewhere?'

The Landscape House Illustrates Smart Green Design

Preston D K in Jetson Green
This is The Landscape House, a concept designed by Maul Dwellings that won the AIA's 2006 Committee on Design competition to design "A House for an Ecologist."  Although the concept was originally planned as field residence for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it's also an example of the smart integration of design, technology, and sustainability.  The Landscape House features a double roof to enhance natural air circulation, operable louvered shutters that harvest energy, a Water Pod that houses all the efficient plumbing systems, and a solar dehumidifier unit that captures moisture from the air to produce distilled drinking water.

Walter Netsch Dies at 88
Lynn Becker in ArchitectureChicago PLUS
Blair Kamin on his Skyline blog reports that the great Chicago architect Walter Netsch died on Sunday at his home. Netsch joined Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in 1947, and his designs over his long career there include the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, the University of Illinois "Circle" campus in Chicago, and the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago. Netsch developed the design strategem he called the Field Theory, in which square forms containing core services were rotated into structural extensions of increasing geometric complexity.

Ernst & Young Headquarters, Amsterdam / Foster + Partners
David Basulto in Arch Daily
Foster + Partners just finished the first tower in Amsterdam, at the Vivaldi-park area of the new Zuidas district, south of the city. The 24-storey building is divided into two twelve metre-wide column free towers with open, flexible floor plates. The blocks are staggered in plan to admit as much natural light as possible, helping this tower to be ten per cent more efficient than the target Dutch environmental standards. Plus, it has a very nice looking lobby.

Digital Beijing Building,
Design Build Network
It might seem unusual to create a façade that graphically represents digital technology, but with the Digital Beijing Building, the Beijing-based firm Studio Pei-Zhu has done so in several ways. "Beijing's electronic ambitions extend beyond the Games." In this 57m-high structure, which will provide communication and information services during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the northern and southern sides represent barcodes. Meanwhile, the western and eastern façades replicate the look of an integrated circuit board. When vertical grooves in those facades take a diagonal jog before straightening out again, they resemble the routing of wires on a circuit board. DIGITAL BEIJING DESIGN COMPETITION To develop the building concept and win a design competition in which seven other internationally renowned firms participated, start-up design firm Studio Pei-Zhu considered the role of architecture in the information age.

greensburg 547 art center, studio804
lavardera in materialicious
This community art center in Kansas is the product of Studio804 of the University of Kansas School of Architecture. It was built with the same prefab technique as several of Studio804’s affordable dwellings. It came to the site as small lateral sections that line up to create the linear building. Its interesting to note that this differs from the modular industry which typically builds in long truck trailer length sections that are limited in width by roadway rules. Studio 804 by passes this dimensional limitation by using smaller lateral sections which allows you to make space as wide as a trailer can be long - more than enough for most small scale buildings and residences. Its an interesting twist on unitized building.


 

8-14th of June

Ambition
Chris in Brand Avenue
As a follow-up to the previous post, another fascinating essay , this time by Paul Graham on his website , explores the messages cities "send" to their inhabitants, transmitted through you-name-it: culture, form, and economics, for starters. Sweeping generalizations here, but interesting reading for anyone who cares about jurisdictional advantage : Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.... How much does it matter what message a city sends? Empirically, the answer seems to be: a lot. You might think that if you had enough strength of mind to do great things, you'd be able to transcend your environment. Where you live should make at most a couple percent difference. But if you look at the historical evidence, it seems to matter more than that. Most people who did great things were clumped together in a few places where that sort of thing was done at the time.

Luxury single family home in Las Vegas, Nevada
Mohammad Fahmi Tri Wahyudi,ST in Best House Design
A Luxury single family home located in the prestigious Spanish Hills Las Vegas, Nevada. This 11 room mansion is a breathtaking oasis of the Las Vegas, Nevada desert and includes a mix of sumptuous private suites and magical entertaining area in the Mediterranean style. Stone and travertine grace the grand entry and beautiful gallery. This estate is enhanced with the finest

Santa Barbara Green Prefab on Display this Saturday!
Preston D K in Jetson Green
Starting at 10:00 am this Saturday, June 14, a custom-made Sunset Breezehouse designed by MKD will be open to the public in Santa Barbara, California.  The open house will happen in conjunction with the Built Green Santa Barbara Expo, Conference, & Tour, but if you're not able to attend, Michelle Kaufmann has been posting photos and details of the home for the past couple weeks.  The home, in addition to having all the various green materials and products typically used in MKD homes, has a PV solar array and sustainable landscape design that fits the home just perfectly.

Dead Parking Garages Tell No Tales - Until Now
Lynn Becker in ArchitectureChicago PLUS
To combat increasing congestion, the City of Chicago, beginning in the 1950's, entered into an ambitious program to build a series of ten massive municipal parking garages throughout the center city. Only one survives. Most of these garages did not age well, fading into the urban landscape as the plug-ugly branch of the infrastructure family. Now, however, a wonderful piece written by Serhii Chrucky for the indispensable Forgotten Chicago website documents Municipal Parking Garages, their optimistic beginnings and unheralded deaths. (Seeing some of the garages gave me a start, as I realized I had never really noticed they weren't there anymore.) Just as every child is beautiful to its own mother, even a parking garage is beautiful to its architects, and in the idealistic original renderings, before the long decades of neglect

Activism, Art and Future Civic Media
Ethan Zuckerman in WorldChanging
Chris Csikszentmihalyi is an artist and provocateur as well as a programmer, inventor and professor. The projects he's most excited about within MIT's Center for Future Civic Media focus on the interface between political action, art, journalism and technology. He offers the observation that "all technology is politics," and suggests that one of the best ways to do art, as in journalism, is to follow the money. His framing talk invokes Manuel Castells, suggesting that people live within two spaces: the space of flows and the space of places. People think of themselves as living in places, but they're affected by the flows of powerful forces. The architecture of flows, Chris suggests, can be visualized like a rhizome - a plant that shares a root structure, but where the visible manifestations pop up all over the place.

Las Palmas de Leyda Spa / Cristobal Valenzuela
Nico Saieh in Arch Daily
We asked ourselves, in which way could we design an interior space, that remains completely open to the exterior that surrounds it, visually. Opening some views that the main country house didn’t seized. Mainly that the project atmosphere, was to be inside and outside at the same time. Based on these idea, we were interested in the way, that the “ramadas” (structure built for independence feasts), used eucalyptus branches, creating a skin, which constantly registers daylight, changing the perception from the interior space. Used in the project, this skin, at the same time filters daylight and gives some privacy to the project that is covered mostly by glass, as this wooden skin doesn’t let the interior to be seen from the out side, but permits full visibility from the inside to the exterior space. At the same time we took the circulation system concept from old Chilean country houses. An open corridor, that in this case connects the program in a perimetral way. Other materials, like steel for the structure, and reinforced concrete for the barbecue and fireplace, where used too.

Pandemonium
Geoff Manaugh in BLDGBLOG
Some of the coolest photographs I've seen recently are these long exposure shots of crowds in St. Petersburg, Russia. They were taken by Alexey Titarenko for a project called "City of Shadows."
What I think is so interesting about this is that an otherwise unremarkable technique – the long exposure – has the effect of transforming these assemblies of people into demonic blurs, black masses moving through the city. These look more like scenes from Jacob's Ladder or Silent Hill.
In the photograph below, for instance, the repeating glimpse of a hand pulling itself up the banister seems strangely unnerving –

ONE JACKSON SQUARE: New LEED Living in Greenwich Village
Ali Kriscenski in Inhabitat
A new project in Greenwich Village is bringing a mix of modern luxury and green building to the historic West Village district. Architect William Pederson, with international real estate firm Hines, recently announced the design for One Jackson Square. With an eye-catching glass façade and a host of environmentally sound features, the new development will be Greenwich Village’s first LEED-certified multi-unit luxury condominium.

Schadenfreude Corner
owen hatherley in sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy
Nice to know that 'creating mixed communities' has worked the other way, at least once. From yesterday's Metro, a story entitled 'Britain's Best Council Flats?' that has been doing the rounds of the rightist rags: 'They've got stunning views, en suite bathrooms and decked balconies - and they could be yours for £75 a week. These plush harbourside apartments are thought to be the most luxurious council flats in Britain. However, the properties - which sell for up to £525,000 - are causing a stink among owners say it is unfair that single parents and the unemployed can rent them. One third of the 340 homes in the development in Poole harbour, Dorset, are social housing. Karla Whiffen, 23, who lives in one with daughter Millie, said 'I pay £75 a week using my housing benefit,

ECO-BRIDGE: Chicago’s New Harborside Green Space

Bridgette Steffen in Inhabitat
Chicago’s full throttle sustainability initiatives have given us plenty of reason to think that the “Windy City” may soon upgrade its nickname to the “Greenest City.” Citywide moves like an unprecedented green roof program and a green alley project had already brought much deserved kudos to the lakeside metropolis. Now, Chicago is moving towards their new moniker with another sustainable initiative, the Eco-Bridge, adding yet one more reason for other urban leaders to follow in its lighter footsteps. The proposed Eco-Bridge will serve as a breakwater in the Monroe Harbor and create recreational space for residents and visitors.

Checking Out the 99k House Competition
Preston D K in Jetson Green
Back in September 2007, Rice Design Alliance and the Houston Chapter of the AIA announced the 99k House Competition.  The general goal of the competition was to create an innovative design for a small house that is affordable, sustainable, and energy efficient.  More specifically, the competition called for a single family house with up to 1,400 sf of space, including 3 bedrooms, 1.5-2 bathrooms, on a 50' x 100' site in a historic neighborhood of Houston.  The construction budget for each home had to be under $99,000, too.

Rafael Viñoly, Architecture's Piano Man
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Starchitect Rafael Viñoly excels at designing performance spaces (e.g., Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts), but we had no idea that he brings a musician's eye to such projects. According to Robert Hilferty's piece in today's New York Sun, when not overseeing his firm's 250 employees (scattered among offices in New York, London, Los Angeles, and soon, Dubai), Viñoly can be found playing the piano, collecting pianos (around ten at last count), and listening to others play, preferably in Carnegie Hall. But ix-nay on the obby-hay! "I never thought this was a hobby," he told the Sun. "It's not an entertainment. It's a rare combination of pleasure and suffering." For Viñoly, the "piano pavilion" that he built on his property in Water Mill, New York, is "better than a swimming pool, better than a tennis court."

Hiding Cables
Michelle Linden in Atelier A+D
Its a reality in the modern design world that we have to deal with an ever increasing amount of cables and wires... that is, until they come up with wireless electricity! The big problem with a lot of new technological advances, is that they are changing so fast, that we don't really know exactly what we'll need in the future. For this reason, it can be difficult to plan ahead with wire placement... if you locate all the wiring behind the finishes, you'll have to cut it out if you ever need to change it. But, on the other hand, if you leave them exposed, you've got a big mess. C and I are having this exact problem right now with our remodel. We've got a projector whose cables we'd like to hide...

Nobody’s Really Going Green – Most Companies Just Pay Lip Service
MC Milker in Green Options
A new report from Arthur D. Little, Sustainable Performance shatters my perception that companies are whole heartedly going green. An analysis of the report at Greenbiz.com notes this conclusion. “Sustainable Performance” from Arthur D. Little argues that regulatory and consumer pressures have not pushed corporations toward sustainability beyond superficial measures. It’s not surprising that the report concluded that, in general, companies only take steps toward going green when it impacts the bottom line. Driven by shareholder concerns companies frequently implement those green solutions that maximize short terms gain.....

modern houses, modern lives: austin mod house
lavardera in materialicious
One thing I love about reading the blogs of people building their own modern house is just getting a good taste of just how regular the whole thing is. The struggle to build, the pitfalls, the joys. People that want a modern house are not some kind of freaky weirdos. They just want a different kind of house than the marketplace is willing to serve up. One of my favorites has been the Austin Mod House blog. Their house is more or less done, but like every custom build on a budget they are still pouring sweat into it to finish. And along the way they serve up a heaping helping of regular old life. And in among the photos of their life you catch these glimpses of this great modern house, just living a regular life, just as you would expect an ordinary house to do. These are not people in white and black turtle-necks with pristine white interiors. These are people with kids, friends, dogs, messes. Just like you and me. People like that can have modern houses too!

Blackwater's Border Bypass
Bryan Finoki in Subtopia
Last month Blackwater sued city officials in Otay Mesa after they refused to issue final occupancy papers without a vote by the planning commission, even though building inspectors had already rubber-stamped the necessary permits. As you may have read, lawyers for the city said the company deceived inspectors by applying for various permits under different names of affiliated contractors instead of filing a single comprehensive application to open a counterterrorism training facility practically yards from the border. Just last Wednesday, a District Court Judge ruled in favor of Blackwater saying the company was not required to seek any sort of special approval since the neighborhood is already zoned for appropriate vocational school use....

Envisioning Solar Trees as Future Energy Stations?
Preston D K in Jetson Green
As you can see above and below, Envision Solar plans to make parking lots into beautiful power plants with their Solar Groves and Solar Trees.  Envision Solar takes the hassle out of designing structures for solar with their turn-key solutions.  Although the company is working on a next generation design for the Solar Tree, the current iteration includes 64 Kyocera solar modules laid out in total measuring 30' x 40'.  The panels sit at a five degree angle and provide shading for six vehicles, too.  Envision Solar has found success installing these parking canopies near commercial buildings and retail parking lots because the energy can be sold to businesses through power purchase agreements.

Elsewhere in Paul Rudolph Restorationville: Back to Yale
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Speaking of Paul Rudolph, Robert A.M. Stern, and Sarasota, Florida, as we were yesterday, we now offer up a two-fer. First comes a quickie, looking back at the Herald Tribune, which helps to explain just what the "Sarasota School of Architecture" is and why followers of such school would care so much about saving Paul Rudolph's Riverview High School. And second comes an interesting update from Art Daily about the ongoing restoration of Yale's Art & Architecture Building, also designed by Rudolph, and the pet project of A.M. Stern, who is doing all he can to preserve the building and make it all nice and new again. Here's a bit about what exactly they'll be doing to the building...



“I come from Brisbane, I’m quite plain”* Cities have music scenes and that’s why ICT doesn't enable decentralisation
Dan Hill in cityofsound
A while ago, I contributed two ABC Radio National shows to Speechification: documentaries on two Australian cities with two distinct and rich musical histories: Melbourne and Brisbane. In terms of the genuine 'musical scene', Brisbane emerges with one of the richest scenes in the history of Australian cities - a fierce counterpoint to the “boot stamping on a human face forever” school of governance then in play in 1970s Queensland. The Melbourne scene, as recorded in the documentary, is more focused on a particular time and place. Very particular. The 'scene' is distinct from the city's musical history, which has a longer term arc of course, or the idea of conjuring a city through music, Metropolis Shanghai and Chavez Ravine for example. Or one band's work in and about particular cities, as with this fantastic rendition of the work of Canberra-and-then-Sydney post-punk outfit, Tactics, for example. No, the scene is usually a relatively short-lived concentration of artistic activity, but one that kick-starts or exemplifies some wider creative, and usually economic, actvity. Over the years it becomes subject to furious debate and wild claims but there's something there and something powerful, no matter how intangible.

Time Regained: The Chicago Inter Ocean Building
Lynn Becker in ArchitectureChicago PLUS
There weren't as many postcard vendors as in the past at last week's Printer's Row Book Fair, but I was still able to pick up several interesting views into Chicago's architectural past, including this one of the Chicago Inter Ocean's building, completed 1900, W. Carbys Zimmerman architect, which stood on Monroe Street across from what is now the hanging gardens of Chase Plaza. Now forgotten, it was one of Chicago's major daily newspapers, beginning its life in 1865 as the Chicago Republican, and renamed the Inter Ocean in 1871, perhaps symbolic of the city's emerging global prominence. It was said to have started going downhill after being acquired by transit mogul Charles T. Yerkes, builder of the Loop "L", who used the paper as a mouthpiece in his battles against reformers' threats to the lucrative traction franchises that he had secured through wide-scale bribery.

From Sampling to Monitoring to Gulping Data Down in Great Big Chunks
Alex Steffen in WorldChanging
One of the forces facilitating the possibility of a bright green economic transformation is insight into the systems around us, particularly the kind of insight we gain through making visible the invisible and manifesting backstories. As the price of using technology to sample, monitor, sense, aggregate and communicate data continues to drop rapidly, we face a rift between the sheer dumbness of the built world and industrial systems we've inherited, and our rapidly-expanding insight into how those systems work. Along that faultline lie a million opportunities for not only making those systems more efficient and our lives more sustainable, but for whole new systems and wholly new lives within those systems. This will be a major theme in our next book.

Las Vegas CityCenter Set to Green Sin City
Evelyn Lee in Inhabitat
Las Vegas is taking the lead in green development by planning the largest privately financed development in the history of North America vying for the USGBC’s LEED certification. At 18 million square feet, the new sustainable spot on the strip called CityCenter boasts a square footage that is bigger than all current LEED certified buildings combined. Currently under construction between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo resorts, the center’s first building, Aria, is scheduled to open at the end of 2009. An $8 billion venture between MGM MIRAGE and Dubai World, CityCenter is bringing sustainability to the forefront, rightfully earning the tag of one of the world’s largest environmentally sustainable urban communities.

What's Beijing's Bird's Nest Really Made of?
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Beijing's Herzog and de Meuron-designed national Olympic stadium, nicknamed the "bird's nest," reminds us of a giant Anish Kapoor sculpture crossed with a rubber band ball, but in the summer issue of Artforum, Sean Keller notes the Swiss duo's two principal metaphors for the project: a Shang dynasty vessel(expressing "the desire for an 'archaic' form that would overcome the hodgepodge of ticket gates, snack shops, and Jumbotrons that make up a typical contemporary stadium") and the nonhierarchical structure in which the exposed steel bands support one another (Facade? Ornament? Stop, you're both right!).

A Look at the Big Look (or: Speaking Fregonese)
Brian Libby in Portland Architecture
This evening the Bright Lights Discussion Series from Portland Spaces magazine and the City Club of Portland continues with Randy Gragg's interview of planner John Fregonese.
"As most of you know, John’s leading major planning efforts across the country," Randy said in a recent email. "We’ll be talking about that work, focusing on lessons from elsewhere Portland and Oregon might learn from. But we’ll also be talking about John’s work developing a plan for the Big Look Task Force, the first major review of Oregon’s legendary landuse system since its inauguration three decades ago."

Contemporary Jewish Museum Review Round-Up
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Well, the locals and the nationals have finally gotten on board, after being beaten by the LA Times late last week in reviewing Daniel Libeskind's new Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. So we offer you a quick round-up of the various early reviews out there. John King from the SF Chronicle loves the new building and is surprised at "how smoothly it fits into the landscape - even with angled walls of brushed blue steel." Also chiming in from that paper is Steven Winn, who spends more time giving the story behind the building of the thing and talking to those people who were involved in the project, but also offers up some glowing reviews. Bloomberg has turned a report in, too, offering up another take on the building of the building, but chooses to also quote a handful of gushing people, including from Libeskind himself ("This is a building that celebrates life and is about America.")



The June 7th and 8th weekend , 2008

Unknot Tower
Design Build Network
The new Unknot Tower (also known as the GHM Hotel and Condominium) is set to be the latest architectural breakthrough for Philadelphia. The tower has been designed by CREI (Creating Real Estate Innovations) in conjunction with the groundbreaking Dutch architect Winka Dubbeldam of Archi-Tectonics (Professor of Architecture at the Penn School of Design). "Joël Robuchon will be setting up a L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon five-star restaurant in Unknot Tower." The site for the tower will be at 1,122-1,128 Chestnut Street (site is at the corner of 12th and Chestnut, and Samson Street will be at the rear of the building) in the heart of the Philadelphia commercial district. The 27-storey 279ft tower, being developed by GHM Hotels, will be used as a 145-room boutique hotel although there will also be a number of apartments (with hotel service) and retail shops in the development including a L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant and a spa. The hotel, which will occupy most of the tower, is expected to be a Setai Hotel (sister hotel to the Setai Hotel in South Beach, Miami, the only other GHM Hotel in the US). The groundbreaking for the tower is due to take place in mid-2008 and the project is scheduled for completion in 2010.

HOM Draws a Crowd at Dwell on Design [LA]
Preston D K in Jetson Green
HOM Escape in Style made its debut at Dwell on Design this weekend and drew a considerable crowd.  Apartment Therapy said HOM was their favorite home on display, and Curbed liked its interior design.  Of the three models that HOM plans for production, the (smaller) 1000 sf design was exhibited throughout the weekend in LA.  HOM designs cost in the $200 psf range, which calculates to approximately $200,000 for a 1000 sf house. In addition to providing a series of manufactured housing options, HOM has a product line of furniture, lighting, textiles, and accessories.  They're all made with natural, sustainable, non-toxic materials, such as FSC-certified woods, renewable cork flooring, and recycled leather.

Jane Jacobs Speaks
From the CBC Archives (video) of 1969Remembering Jane Jacobs. Interesting clip which reminds us that Jane Jacobs was as much or more about economics as about urban design.

House at Jardin del Sol / Corona y P. Amaral Arquitectos
Nico Saieh in Arch Daily
The basic idea of the project consists in the location of a monolithic concrete and glass volume over a timber platform located at the edge of a cliff in order to enjoy the amazing view of the 300m cliff, a 1000m long black sand beach, mount Teide and all the north coast of Tenerife island. Bedroom and service areas are located in a one storie rectangular volume which enters into a double high volume containing the living-room, studio and kitchen. Both volumes organize an L-shape around the black paddle located at the edge of the platform so water surface gets mixed with the one of the sea, so all the areas of the house enjoy the views underlined by wood and water. A gym is located in the basement with direct access from the terrace and views to the inside of the pound through a glass wall.

EURO 2008 - Swiss Container Plus.
Christoph in anArchitecture
No, it's not by MVRDV, the Swiss cross at the Swiss beach in Vienna, image by anarchitecture. The white cross in the center of a red square is definitely one of the most iconic national flag in design – and perfectly useful for buildings. Like the little container pavilion to promote the Swiss football team at the Swiss beach during the euro 2008 tournament in Vienna. Bad luck, the Swiss team has lost the opening game at the St Jacob's Park Stadium (designed by Herzog and de Meuron) in Basel 0:1.

Norman Foster, Reichstag and the Theatre of Democracy
admin in mirage.studio.7
The Reichstag building in Berlin was constructed to house the Reichstag, the first parliament of the German Empire, it dates from the 1890s and underwent a significant renovation under the lead of British architect Sir Norman Foster in year 1992. According to Wikipedia: During the reconstruction, the building was first almost completely gutted, taking out everything except the outer walls, including all changes made by Baumgarten in the 1960s. Although not undisputed for its lack of respect for the building’s original design and furniture, the reconstruction is widely regarded as a success. The Reichstag is one of the most visited attractions in Berlin, not least the building to function as a living museum of German history.

Avra Verde, Rick Joy architects
architect studio in architect studio
Seven Exclusive Desert Pavilions On Forty Acres, located At The Saguaro National Park West. This project is to promote an indoor-outdoor lifestyle merging sensory experience, artisanship, and environment sensibility; to create the most unique private residence enclave in the American Southwest. "... The simplest things can evoke the deepest feelings. The silence in great music is often more profound than sounds..." - Rick Joy


June 6th, 2008

The Museum of Nature by Ilkka Halso
Kate Andrews in Inhabitat
Finnish photographer Ilkka Halso’s photographic series ‘The Museum of Nature’ intelligently challenges how we can imagine the natural environment of the future. This collection of images capture a series of man-made structures that enclose nature, protecting it like a relic of the past. Using images of landscapes and 3D digital manipulation, this photographic collection captures a future vision of nature as a rare display. Challenging the audience’s interaction with the natural environment as endangered artifact, Halso manages to truly visualize a future we so desperately do not want to see become a reality.

(NOT) UNDER CONSTRUCTION
lebbeuswoods in LEBBEUS WOODS
The American Pavilion in Venice’s Giardini, site of the Biennale, is a piece of neo-classical design that strikes an odd note, especially among other national pavilions speaking more eloquently of modernist aspirations. America chooses to represent itself with a faux-historical architecture that frames whatever is exhibited with disingenuousness. The message it sends would be merely absurd were it not for the baleful effect of disingenuous American foreign policy in recent years. All that has had a chance to change in this year’s Architecture Biennale. Under the overall theme of “Out There: Architecture Beyond Building,” the design for the installation at the American Pavilion was addressed by Eric Owen Moss in a remarkably ingenious and straightforward design. Using ordinary construction scaffolding, he creates a lyrically diaphanous structure that serves as a carrier for two- and three-dimensional representations of a diverse selection of architectural projects, including my own. Evoking the ideas of transition and the transitory, he calls the installation “Under Construction: American architecture around the world; international architecture in America.”

Eco-Luxury Hotel for the Bahamas’ Star Island
Cate Trotter in Inhabitat
Next year, eco-luxe travel will get a new destination with the opening of a new five-star resort for Star Island in the Bahamas. In and among diving, playing tennis and drinking a cocktail or two, holidaymakers will discover that the resort is entirely energy self-sufficient, with power coming from solar, wind and micro-hydro generators. And, that the sustainability aspects of the resort’s construction, interior and grounds have also been considered in impressive detail.

House Presenhuber / AFGH
Nico Saieh in Arch Daily
This holiday house is located in the middle of the village of Vnà in the Lower Engadine. The particular challenge of the project was to bridge the divide between the old-world charm of the village and the modern flair embodied in a holiday house for an internationally successful art gallery owner. The aim was to develop a formal language which had a certain proximity to traditional Engadine architecture and yet remained immediately recognisable as contemporary without being conservatively romanticised.

 A Stunning Flatpak House in Aspen, Colorado
Preston D K in Jetson Green
This is a Flatpak house in Aspen, Colorado.  I stumbled upon these shots in Flickr, so I don't have much background on the project.  But we've featured modern Flatpak homes before in the Goodwin-Wise Flatpak and Lazor's Flatpak.  Flatpak houses each have their own particular and interesting features, but the Flatpak system is the same.  It's a menu of components for living that includes walls, cabinets, bathrooms, kitchen, and various built-ins.  The components are pre fabricated and designed to meet the needs of a various owner and/or site. You start with a 8' wide one story wall component.  Every 8', you decide what you want in that component, whether all glass, no glass, part glass, high glass, low glass, etc.  You do that throughout the home floor plate until you have a finished home.  After that, you design the exterior to your needs and choose the materials.  From there, you move on to design and pick out your interior finishouts.


June 5th, 2008

Ergonomic Eco Echo Lounge by Plug Design
Jorge Chapa in Inhabitat
We spotted a lot of great designs at ICFF this year, but one of the gems that really stopped us in our tracks was this gorgeous eco Echo Lounge Chair which boasts a customizable ergonomic cushion system and a sustainable attitude. The Echo Lounge Chair, designed by Carlos Fierro of Plug Design, is a simple, beautifully crafted metal framed chair that is built entirely without fasteners or adhesives. Timber slats fill the frame, and adjustable wool pieces inserted between each slat provide built-in cushioning. The best part is that the user can customize the profile of the woolen pieces to provide a plush, personalized fit to meet any ergonomic needs.

Spidernethewood / R&Sie(n)
Nico Saieh in Arch Daily
1) Over density of existing forest plantation (trees will be at the right level in 5 years)
3) Netting and Wrapping the trees with a plastic mesh to dig a labyrinth in the branches
4) Including an Stealth indoor 450 m² building, on two floor, plugged and over connected to this labyrinth by huge sliding glass door (7×3,5 meters)
5) The boundaries inside/outside became blur for a porosity sensation and windy refreshing
6) Life behind the indoor extension of the labyrinth, ‘’as you want”, under construction

casa camino los palquis, francisco carrió arquitecto
Justin in materialicious
This 140m2 house is located (20km from downtown) halfway between Santiago and it’s nearest ski center - Farellones in the Andean foothills - in the valley where the city’s main river originates.
The climate is not too extreme - a long dry summer with warm days and cold nights, and a mild snowy winter. Large double-paned windows protect the interior in the cold season and retract to completely open the space in summer, where it’s all about the exterior, with it’s terrace, swimming pool and the panoramic views. Main materials used were concrete, fiber-cement board, oak and double-paned windows.

Letter Puts an End to the Jean Nouvel Love Parade
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
To end this writer's day on a fun note, we pull a one-eighty on this week's Jean Nouvel love fest with this "Letter of the Day" from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: "Nouvel's 'Joke Architecture' Wows Parisians." Turns out that Nouvel doesn't have a fan in one home in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, the one owned by Bob Pratt. In his letter, he tears into the starchitect and his winning plans for the Signal Tower in Paris. But it's not just funny because he's angry (angry people are always funny, unless they're writing mean letters to poor lil' ol' us UnBeige editors), it's because he has some pretty solid critiques of Nouvel's work (at least from the A.M. Stern perspective). And he's funny about it, too. Here's a couple of our favorite quotes from the vitriolic onslaught: Nouvel, whose whimsical Darth Vader vacation-fortress exterior sketch dazzled the Guthrie brain trust into shrugging off the dimly lit, often dysfunctional interior, has produced a stacked cube design seemingly inspired by astutely observing the creative frenzy of 2-year-old children at LEGO Land.

Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city
Young in Architecture
"Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city has applied the planning concept of eco-economy, eco-residence, eco-culture, harmonious community and scientific management. By integrating advanced ecological, environmental protection, and energy-saving techniques, it will create a natural, harmonious and livable human residence, and thus commit itself to constructing an eco-city that is economically vibrant, environmentally friendly, resource-efficient and socially harmonious. The project will promote the use of clean energy and renewable energy/resources, with strengthened innovation capabilities and optimized industrial structure to achieve a highly-efficient recycling economy. An eco-culture with regional features will be formed to promote a green and healthy style of life and consumption. Focusing on coordination with the neighboring regions in terms of environment, socio-culture, economy and policy will help to realize regional integration.

Mount Baker Residense / Pb Elemental Architecture
Nico Saieh in Arch Daily
Located in the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle, this dramatic home is perched on a hill, high above the street. The design captures the territorial views of the surrounding rooftops with floor to ceiling glass and roof top deck. The 3,600 sqft home includes four bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a large open living floor with ten foot-tall ceilings and a two car garage with a 400 sqft roof deck above. Additionally, the home includes a separate, one bedroom apartment unit on the lower level, complete with a wrap-around patio. The structure was conceived as the juxtaposition of three pure volumes, each containing a unique programmatic element. In turn, each element is clad with clear cedar, cement board or concrete to emphasize the massing.

Collecting Modern Architecture a Worthwhile Investment?
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
In a piece seeming written for the least popular woman in New Cannan, Connecticut, Cristina Ross, Slate has up an interesting piece by Daniel Gross about whether or not buying famous pieces of architecture is a good investment or not. Surprise surprise, when you buy a multi-million dollar home that's likely fairly eccentric (see: the architect didn't always care so much how functional things like plumbing or privacy were in the planning process), you might have some trouble down the line unloading the thing. Working off the great expenses needed to keep the Glass House, now the pricey showpiece of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, alive and well as a model, Gross compares architecture to other expensive collectibles, like paintings, and ultimately finds: In the end, it's a real-estate transaction, and, as such, it's subject to all the whims of that market. The Kaufmann house was placed on the market, as many homes are, because the owners were getting divorced. And after all the hoopla surrounding the $16.8 million bid for it, the deal, like so many other housing deals these days, fell through.

EURO 2008 - The Final Stadium.
Ute Bauer in anArchitecture
The Ernst-Happel Stadium in Vienna is the biggest of the eight venues of the EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, and with seven matches, including the final on 29th of June, the main site. Formally called "Praterstadium" it got built in 1931 together with an open air bath, designed by the architect Otto Ernst Schweizer. At that time it was considered as the most modern stadium, with a capacity of 60.000 visitors and an evacuation time of less than eight minutes. The last national match before Second World War was carried out on 3rd of April 1938, called "annexation match"; Austria won 2:0 against Germany. In September 1939 it served a completely different purpose: more than 1,000 Jewish men were held captive in the corridors of sector B, 1,038 of them were deported to the concentration camp Buchenwald, only 70 survived. A commemoration plaque reminds this atrocity since 2003.

Jean Nouvel’s “Green Blade” Slices LA Skyline
Evelyn Lee in Inhabitat
Aptly nicknamed the “green blade,” Jean Nouvel’s newest addition to the asphalt laden City of Angels slices through the concrete jungle at 10,000 Santa Monica, adding much needed greenery to the surrounding office towers. Standing 45 stories tall and little more than 50 feet deep, this statuesque green structure is bound to make an sustainable impact that we hope others will follow.

Wentworth Commons Sets Standard for Green, Low Income Housing
Preston D K in Jetson Green
Wentworth Commons is a 51-unit, 65,800 sf affordable housing complex in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood.  As a home for at-risk and formerly homeless families and individuals, Wentworth Commons has been recognized for its trendy aesthetics and functional green design.  The $13 million project has a slew of green features, including a 33 kWh PV system that provides 25% of the building's power, a hyper efficient mechanical system, extensive use of locally sourced materials and rapidly renewable materials, and native plantings and bio-swale to reduce storm water runoff.

UK Eco-house Sold for world record £7.2m!
Cate Trotter in Inhabitat
It’s not all doom and gloom for the UK property market: in the face of the country’s slowing or depreciating prices, Sarah Featherstone’s cutting-edge green home has sold for a record-breaking £7.2million, or $14.2million USD! The building, known as Orchid House, is one of the key homes on Lower Mill Estate, a project to turn a disused gravel pit into a beautiful 450-acre nature reserve.

June 4th, 2008

the revitalization of Dudley Square
mad architect in architechnophilia
The Plaza and Public Library are the winning vision in a competition for the revitalization of Dudley Square, Boston. The proposal by Architect Gregory Minott, won for its depiction of the renovated library and was credited with keeping an appropriate scale for the neighbourhood

VERDE: Sunset’s Green Dream Home in San Francisco
Mike Chino in Inhabitat
This weekend, I attended the NEN’s Clean and Green Summit which included a wonderful green walking tour of San Francisco’s Mission district. We strolled by beautiful gardens and saw some great community initiatives, but the highlight by far was a showing of Sunset Magazine’s sustainable gem, Casa Verde. We’ve covered the zero energy super-home in the past, but here’s a first-hand look at its stunning fusion of fine modern design with an exceptional set of sustainable features.

More Architects Who Didn't Quite Make the 'Signal Tower' Cut
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Now that Jean Nouvel has beaten the venerable challenges of Lord Foster and Daniel Libeskind in the battle royale to win the contract to design and build the new Signal Tower in Paris, which we've all now see some cool photos of (including Nouvel looking as strange and "evil genius" as usual), designboom has gotten into the story by offering up a batch of new photos of the project, as well as, and maybe more interestingly, images of the projects submitted by those who didn't land the gig, including the aforementioned Foster and Libeskind, as well as two others who were also vying for the role: Jacques Ferrier and Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Personally, had we been chosen as judges, we probably would have gone with Ferrier's building. Not just because it looks cool, which it does, but because it looks like a big "H" and that's one of our favorite letters.

American Furniture Designers Respond to Alice Rawsthorn
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
In response to a New York Times article written by Alice Rawsthorn in March about the downfall of the American furniture design industry, our friends over at I.D. were kind enough to send along word of Aric Chen's piece for the magazine, getting together not just Rawsthorn, but a whole slew of prominent designers working in the US to get to the bottom of her statements. (...) Here's a bit from Rawsthorn's opening statement, sort of summarizing what she'd meant to say in her NY Times piece: My New York Times column sprang from many conversations with friends in the U.S. design scene over the years. What interested me as a non-American was that so much U.S. design is flourishing. Look at graphics, new media, games, typography - America sports world-class designers in all of those disciplines, as well as Apple as an exemplar of corporate design management, and One Laptop Per Child as a stellar example of humanitarian design. Why wasn’t the U.S. achieving the same high standards in furniture?

Ole Sheeren Talks CCTV
ArchitectureMNP
The BBC has an interview with Ole Sheeren, who headed OMA’s CCTV tower project. As the Chinese are about to unveil one of the world’s most strangely shaped buildings - the gravity defying Central Chinese Television (CCTV) Tower in Beijing - Philip talks to one of the partners of the Rotterdan based architects OMA, Ole Sheeren, who took on the project having only just turned 31.

ARPO LIBRARY: Good Green Design in the Himalayas
Jorge Chapa in Inhabitat
Green design is good design - or so we like to say here at Inhabitat - and it is always great to see a beautifully executed example that encompasses this philosophy. The Perma Karpo Library, designed by Arup for a small village in Ladahk (in the Indian Himalayas), is the perfect example of how good design, science and local knowledge have worked together to create a building that is as sustainable as it is beautiful.

Wrestling With Columbia Crossing
Brian Libby in Portland Architecture
The proposed new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River has been in the news a lot lately, with much debate not only about what form the bridge might take, but whether there should be one at all. Considering how Portland is and wants to be a pedestrian and transit-oriented city, to keep reducing our emissions, and to honor our history of fighting freeway projects such as the Mount Hood Freeway and others recommended for Portland by Robert Moses, it's natural for many to bristle at building a new bridge. If anything, the argument often goes, there should be a bridge just for pedestrians and MAX trains. But having adequate highway infrastructure, another pro-sustainability argument has been argued, is a way to encourage additional high-density development, which in itself makes a great contribution to greener living.

De Rokade / Arons en Gelauff Architecten
Nico Saieh in Arch Daily
In 2003, Groningen municipal council launched a project “The Intense City” to keep the city compact by increasing the building density of districts around the Centre. The Rokade Residential Tower Block is situated on one of the first increased density locations, and marks the corner of the Corpus den Hoorn Laan and the Sportlaan, the avenue providing access to the Hoornse Meer district.

Oceanside Glass Tile offers Beautiful, Recycled Tiles
Sarah Roe in Jetson Green
Oceanside Glass Tile offers an absolutely beautiful line of glass tiles.  Not all tiles contain recycled content, but a good amount of them do.  The recycled content is according to the tile color.  For instance, cobalt, has almost 75% post-consumer content.  The great thing is that you can see which colors contain recycled content, and how much, right on their site; there is a simple table that makes it easy to evaluate your color choice. Oceanside offers 7 collections of tiles and within those collections are a wide variety of shape, size, texture, and color.  Many of the tiles have a unique and beautiful iridescent quality.  And every tile is unique since they are handcrafted by artisans.  Their tiles would look gorgeous in any bathroom and would also be a great choice for kitchen backsplashes.   Check out their website to see all their tiles and the recycled content table.

Duke Devlin Pops Up Again in Opening Coverage of Woodstock Museum
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Okay, we promised to layoff the Woodstock Museum coverage late last week, but sometimes we lie. We do it because we love you and don't want to offend your delicate nature. But we promise to keep things quick, because we know you're probably as ready to move on as we are. First up comes some interesting coverage by the Globe and Mail of this weekend's opening of the Museum at Bethel Woods, the many-millions-of-dollars new exhibit space built to honor the 1969 music festival. The review: pretty corporate and they decided to completely skip over some of the very minor things involved in that Woodstock weekend: drugs and sex. Our favorite quote: "So what are we to glean from the fact that this official history of the Sixties seems to have been edited by Disney?" Second up comes a look at the opening from the Chicago Tribune, who stuck pretty close to the press release and doesn't offer up much opinion, but does have some interesting bits about building the place. But the best part: true to form, they both prominently feature one Mr. Duke Devlin, which we found pretty funny, as will you too, should you want to go back and review our coverage of the coverage from last week.

Winner announced for the Tour La Signal at La Defense, Paris: Ateliers Jean Nouvel
David Basulto in Arch Daily
The La Defense is a 160 ha business district in the west of Paris, currently under a renewal plan to strengthen its place among the great international business districts. The plan is managed by the EPAD (The Public Establishment for Installation of La Défense), an organization formed by local authorities, government and neighbors focused on developing the La Defense for the best interests of its 20.000 residents and 150.000 inhabitants in floating population. The renewal includes several high rise sustainable towers. One of this towers, the Tour Signal, entered an international closed competition for teams of architects/investors/developers, on which EPAD didn’t impose a site. The candidates were thus able to choose their sites either from among the entrances to the business district (South Gate and West Gate), either from sites subject to demolition operations. The Tour Signal will thus endow the business district with a new landmark in 2013.

Brad Pitt Hired as Design Consultant on Dubai Hotel
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Maybe it's just because tabloid journalism and gossip has been forcefully thrust down our collective throats for the past million decades that, when we run across one of these Brad Pitt-as-architect stories, we feel like we have to talk like idiots. So here goes: as if it weren't already hot enough in Dubai, Brad Pitt is about to turn up the thermometer a notch when he arrives in the city to help consult on the designs for an American-themed hotel with Graft, the firm he worked with on his Pink Houses project with when things were getting steamy down in New Orleans. Ahem. Alright, that's about enough. We feel dirty and need a shower. While we go do that, here's a bit: "Acting is my career, architecture is my passion," Pitt said in the statement. As "my first major construction project," the Dubai hotel will feature "environmentally friendly architecture, but also embrace my career in entertainment."

Prefab Plus
Michelle Linden in Atelier A+D
I really like Swedish design firm Claesson Koivisto Rune's body of work... Every product and piece of architecture they work on has a clear, yet delicate direction... nothing is too heavy handed. The pre-fab house they designed for Arkitekthus is particularly nice. The simple 'Plus House' manages something that most pre-fab projects don't... it has roots. The proportion of the house is based on a traditional Swedish barn house, and the materials are consistent with both new and old building in the region. Its actually quite hard to imagine this house in any setting other than the one photographed... To me, this is particularly impressive for a pre-fab designs. In my opinion, many pre-fab modern projects are lovely aesthetically, but they seem like they could be plunked down in the middle of a field anywhere. And while I guess that's the point... I miss the locale specific design. This project on the other hand, really seems indigenous to the region, and I really love that about it.

Taliesin Green Prefab Prototype Now Taking Shape
Preston D K in Jetson Green
Since mid-January, Taliesin students have been blogging on PrairieMod about their project to build a small modern home on the grounds of Taliesin West.  The students, with Dean Victor Sidy and Jennifer Siegal of OMD, designed a simple but elegant home with sustainability in mind.  At first, they were going to prefabricate the structure, but later decided to go instead with on-site, panelized construction using SIPs for the walls, roof, and floor.  Now, the exterior is certainly taking shape and the interior will be finished throughout the summer.  When done, the structure will demonstrate passive and active environmental control systems, water catchment, top-tier insulation, a gray water system, native landscaping, and a solar power system.


The June 2nd, 2008

The Urban Frontier: Karachi
ArchitectureMNP
Turning on NPR this morning while getting ready for work I listened to a new segment they’ve begun on Morning Edition entitled The Urban Frontier: Karachi. The premier focused on the profile of an ambulance driver in the Pakistan city - and while more stories from Karachi are to come, Morning Edition suggests that a number of cities from around the world may be profiled. “Land has replaced gold.” That’s how the architect and urban planner Arif Hassan sees it. He is talking about his home, the city of Karachi in Pakistan. “Everything that happened for gold now happens for land,” he says. The city’s political debates constantly return to questions about land: Who controls it, who is allowed to live on it, and even who might be killed for it.

Thailand’s Idyllic Islands Under Threat
Masimba Biriwasha in Green Options
Early night, the tide rises out of the sea like an elongated tongue and lashes a part of the shores of Kho Phi Phi island, located in Southern Thailand, throwing up an assortment of garbage, including plastic, wood, cigarette boxes, water bottles, metal, glass, paper, rope, cardboard, etc. A stone throw away from a part of [...]

Deserted
Geoff Manaugh in BLDGBLOG
I came across an article just today called "The Chinese Dust Bowl," published last October in Canada's Walrus Magazine (a great magazine – don't miss their look at New York City flood barriers).
The accompanying photographs of dust storms, ruined crops, dead forests, and hazed-over city squares, taken by Benoit Aquin, are really fantastic – and you can look at a complete PDF of the article here.
For the article, author Patrick Alleyn rode something called the K43-T69 train west from Beijing to explore the seemingly relentless process of Chinese desertification. "A few hours after the train leaves Beijing," he writes, "a lunar black mountain range welcomes passengers into a vast arid landscape."

The real and the imaginary: Mitchell Joachim
Mitchell Joachim, Ph.D. in Mitchell Joachim: Archinode Studio
Science Magazine "The real and the imaginary" by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee The event wasn't so much about science as it was about development. Among the speakers were Mitchell Joachim, a New York designer who won the 2007 Time magazine inventor of the year award for designing -- along with MIT -- a compact, stackable city car, and Blaine Brownell (left), a University of Michigan materials researcher and architect who specializes in eco-friendly building materials.
Joachim wowed the audience with the imaginary. The animation videos he presented featured not just the stackable car -- the design of the stackable car, that is -- but also ideas such as trees networked together into natural green homes.
Brownell was next, and he riveted the audience with the real.

House Müller Gritsch / AFGH
Nico Saieh in Arch Daily
House Müller Gritsch in Lenzburg. The artist couple Barbara Müller and Stefan Gritsch lived for 25 years in the former carpenter’s workshop shed of Barbara Müller’s father. The sale of the building offered the couple the possibility to construct a new house in the yard of the building complex, on condition that the building costs did not exceed the funds raised from the sale. The only feasible way to realise the substantial spatial program involved at the set price of CHF. 580,000 was to design the house in prefabricated wooden elements. The existence of a previous basement made excavation works superfluous and, after prefabrication, allowed the erection of building to be undertaken in record time. The end result was a cubic price of CHF. 480.

PSU Student Reviews This Week
Brian Libby in Portland Architecture
 The latest semester is coming to a close at Portland's architecture schools, Portland State and University of Oregon. That means final reviews will be on display, with the opportunity for members of the public to check out and support what our next-generation architects have been learning and making. PSU has eight studio reviews happening all this week at the Unitus Building at 2125 SW Fourth Avenue, on the 3rd and 4th floors, unless otherwise noted. Soon the school's architecture department will be moving back to its renovated headquarters inside Shattuck Hall, so this will probably be their last studio review at Unitus, a midcentury concrete building I'm rather fond of, but which also probably represents a kind of Brutalism others sometimes find, well...brutal.

AIA and USGBC Agree to Strategic Alliance in Advocacy, Education, & Research
Preston D K in Jetson Green
From memorandum released May 28, 2008: In early May, AIA and USGBC’s volunteer and staff leadership met to talk about how we could work together towards advancing our common goals related to the goal of carbon neutral buildings by the year 2030 and other sustainability issues. As you all may know, USGBC’s formative meeting took place in AIA’s Board Room, and USGBC acknowledges and celebrates the leadership of AIA Committee On The Environment as a fundamental component of our organization’s DNA as well as AIA’s commitment to sustainability as expressed in its education and advocacy efforts. Our long history of collaboration, our shared heritage, and the volunteer leadership roles many AIA members play within USGBC make a stronger working relationship a natural.

FLOATOVOLTAICS! Far Niente Winery’s Floating Solar Power
Jorge Chapa in Inhabitat
Last month we brought you news of the Solar Lily Pads that are being proposed for Glasgow’s Clyde River. In a perfect example of serendipity, we’ve discovered that the Far Niente winery, located in the Napa Valley region, has implemented a similar idea. Compelled by the desire to shift towards renewable energy, this forward thinking winery has created their very own floating solar power system by installing photovoltaic panels on pontoons!

Koolhaas Catches Flak for Working in China
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Who didn't see this one coming? With Coca-Cola taking heat for their sponsorship, to Steven Spielberg stepping down as an artistic adviser for the opening ceremonies, anyone in the western world who comes even close to doing anything with the Beijing Olympics is going to get an earful. So it's of no surprise that now the negative attention has turned to Rem Koolhaas for working on the new CCTV Tower, which he designed and hopes to have open by the time the games kick off. But is Rem worried? Nah, he's perfectly capable of spinning the story his way: "There is much more awareness in China that things have to change," he says. "What we are trying to do is support a more modern China," he said in a recent interview.

RIBA Award fever is out of place
Jonathan Morrison in Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog - art
The Royal Institute of British Architects awards have got troubles - like the regional way they're nominated

Monumentalism, The Fundamentals of Architecture
architect studio in architect studio
"A building that is monumental has meaning beyond its form and function. It can be monumental both in its scale and in terms of what it represents. Monuments have been constructed to celebrate important events and people for centuries. Some of these structures still exist and are a part of our culture today; think perhaps of Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza. Buildings that become synonymous with more than their function, perhaps with a city or a culture, could be described as monumental."

Despite Lancaster's Removal, Even More Architecture Mishaps in NYC
mediabistro.com: UnBeige
Well can we predict the future, or can we predict the future? After taking a wild guess that, after NY Building Commissioner Patricia Lancaster was removed from her position following last year's crane accident, that somehow, even with a new acting commissioner in place and all of these plans to move forward in the best possible way, we had our first major accident in the middle of the month when a gigantic piece of steel feel eighteen stories and now, on last Friday morning, another major crane accident on the East Side which resulted in a person's death and loads of investigations and potential legal action. So does this prove that sometimes these sorts of things aren't the fault of a commissioner? We think two big headlines about building materials falling from the sky and hurdling toward innocent passersby is your answer. Somewhere, Lancaster must be feeling pretty smug.

HOK Unveils London Olympic Stadium’s Hemp Facade
Ali Kriscenski in Inhabitat
Last week, we thought the idea of a prefab, flatpack, reusable stadium sounded like a great way to cut down on the cost and waste associated with what is basically a one-time-use showpiece. As of Friday, that was the latest plan for the London 2012 Olympic stadium, designed by HOK Sport and Peter Cook. This week’s news shines an even more interesting sustainable light on this much anticipated project. The new design has just been unveiled with a host of low-impact material choices, including a façade wrapped in environmentally friendly hemp.

Cities and floods
kosmograd in Kosmograd
What will be built in the Thames Gateway? Will it be more like Broadacre City or Carpet City? The Thames Gateway is an ideological battlefield. It is the stage upon which all architects, urban designers, theorists and doom-mongers can project their hopes, fears, visions and nightmares. Not since the heady days of the Docklands development has their been a project of this scope in the capital. There is a tantalising prospect to make a new London, build a bright new future, and reject the mistakes of the past. Thames Gateway has also become a massive investment opportunity for speculative house builders, property tycoons, and real estate magnates, clamouring for a piece of the baitball with all the decorum of a feeding frenzy.

Nano Vent-Skin Demonstrated in Concept Tower
Preston D K in Jetson Green
I was pretty impressed by Agustin Otegui's design for Nano Vent-Skin (NVS), rendered on the building above.  NVS is a building skin that uses organic photovoltaics to capture sun and micro-wind turbines to capture wind.  Otegui envisions nano-manufacturing with bioengineered organisms as the production method for NVS, and because it's organic, the wall provides the additional benefit of capturing CO2 from the air. Obviously, the concept building above would be a new design built to reap the benefits of NVS, but Otegui also thinks the skin would be perfect for making existing buildings greener.

Abby Suckle Architects | Boardman Residence
Mohammad Fahmi Tri Wahyudi,ST in Best House Design
An interior renovation project by Abby Suckle Architects on 1957 House that was originally designed by John Nickols, this is an interior renovation. The plan was reconfigured to enlarge the public space by opening the kitchen. A new master bedroom suite was created.
Innovative for its day, the challenge of this project was to give the house a makeover, respect the original 

The June 1st-May 31st Weekend


A Critique!
owen hatherley in sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy
Peter Eisenman has a new 'Six Point Plan' for architecture. It's rather interesting. Choice quote, which could nicely be adapted to the current phenomena of 'consultation': The more passive people become the more they are presented by the media with supposed opportunities to exercise choice. Vote for this, vote for whatever stories you want to hear, vote for what popular song you want to hear, vote for what commercial you want to see. This voting gives the appearance of active participation, but it is merely another form of sedation because the voting is irrelevant. It is part of the attempt to make people believe they are participating when in fact they are becoming more and more passive.

New Homes Install Solar Hot Water Heaters
Jennifer Lance in Green Options
All new homes built in Hawaii will be required to install solar hot water heaters beginning in 2010, cutting energy costs by 30%.  The state of Hawaii has a goal of at least 70 percent renewable energy use by 2030. “Achieving this goal is nearly impossible without widespread use of solar water heaters,” Hawaii Sierra [...]

Book Review: Endless City
John in A Daily Dose of Architecture
The Endless City (2008) edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic Phaidon Press Hardcover, 512 pages
The stats on the cover of Phaidon's recent tome to expanding global urbanism paint a picture of what many people know but what many people don't want to believe: the world is primarily urban and it's becoming more so every day, from 10% in 1900 to 50% last year. The next 40 years will supposedly see this situation grow to 3/4 of humans living in cities. Buried within these statistics are the environmental, social, and economic problems that are increasingly defining life for many in the 21st century: destruction, isolation, and inequality, respectively (to name but a few). While this book does not have the answers to these and other difficult challenges, it does a great job of describing various cities around the world as we enter the time of the majority of humans being urban dwellers.

Buildings and books
Geoff Manaugh in BLDGBLOG
I've got some essays coming out this year in books that might be of interest to BLDGBLOG readers; so while the blog has been a little slow over the past few months, I've been working like crazy on other projects. In any case, one of those books has already been published, and the others will be available in the next few months. The already published book is What is a City? Rethinking the Urban After Hurricane Katrina, edited by Rob Shields and Phil Steinberg. For that book, published by the University of Georgia Press, my wife and I co-wrote a chapter about New Orleans and urban flood control, citing John McPhee, China Miéville, the floating houses of Dura Vermeer, the "engineered deterrestrialization" of the lower Mississippi through the implantation of genetically modified artificial marshlands, and maybe a hundred other things, including a short history of the Army Corps of Engineers.
It was an extremely fun chapter to write, and it appears alongside some great pa


 

Selected Blogs for the month of May and Older


Related Articles:

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2008 02:03