Point of View

March 2012

Lab Report XXV

03/31/12

Lab Report XXV

When you imagine uses for open-source 3D imaging software, medical applications don’t immediately spring e to mind. But at The Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute and The Center for Integrative Biomedical Computing at the University of Utah, the focus is precisely on how to apply 3D imaging and visualization to help advance medical treatments and therapies. Even better, they have gone on to develop 15 different open- source software programs that do everything from processing images to rendering complicated 3D models. The researcher team includes biologists, bio-engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, and medical doctors among others, so it’s clear that they’ve thought about a lot of angles that might be missed by those focused in on just one research area. Here...

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Science for Designers: The Meaning of Complexity

03/30/12

Science for Designers: The Meaning of Complexity

Complexity in nature and design, as well as how it differs from complication, is often misunderstood.

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Lab Report XXIV

03/25/12

Lab Report XXIV

Architecture school. It’s where students design buildings, right? Not at Carnegie Mellon’s CoDe Lab. This is an interdisciplinary, multi-university (it also includes faculty and students from the University of Pittsburgh) research lab in the School of Architecture. Clearly, a lot of their projects come out of the environment of working on architecture projects. Posture suspenders, image via code.arc.cmu.edu Take, for example, the Posture Suspenders. Okay, it’s true, not a lot of men under 50 wear suspenders these days, especially if they are partial to baggy pants. And the suspenders do look rather ordinary, don’t they? But here’s the thing. These aren’t just any old suspenders; they are made to correct poor posture. Toward that end, the stretchy device has two layers of...

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Which Lost New York?

03/19/12

Which Lost New York?

"Lost New York" by Nathan Silver or Marcia Reiss This morning I received a strange “press release” in my inbox. It was from Nathan Silver, a frequent Metropolis contributor. Silver is the author of the seminal 1967 Lost New York, a book that was hugely influential in helping to spur the nascent historic preservation movement. Lost New York has been in print, continuously, since its publication four and a half decades ago.  An updated and expanded version appeared in 2000. Apparently, there’s now a new book with exactly the same title, on exactly the same subject, and it has the original author crying foul. Here’s Silver press release: Author Finds New Publication of His Book Title Is Not By Him Nathan Silver is an American architect and critic now working in London. His...

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Places That Work: The Power of Skylights

03/14/12

Places That Work: The Power of Skylights

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC is almost entirely under ground, yet this is a place that works. It was designed by Jean-Paul Carlhian of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott and opened in 1987. A quarter of a century later everyone in the design world knows about the psychological boost we get from being inside day-lit buildings. Placing the majority of the Sackler’s structure underground, a move that helped preserve parkland at ground level could have been a mistake in terms of human experience. But the skylights saved it from being a dull, mechanically lit place. More skylights and more daylight would be better, of course, but the rooms are still pleasant. The small water feature under the main skylight enhances the experience...

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The Prose and Kahn of Designing an Architecture of Motherhood

03/01/12

The Prose and Kahn of Designing an Architecture of Motherhood

My novel, Balancing Act, is an unusual intersection of architecture and motherhood. The primary question I pose is whether motherhood can be a life’s work in these modern times. I draw parallels between the protagonist, Tara Mistri’s, work of raising a family and Kahn’s built masterpiece, the Salk Institute. Tara’s journey is about how she chooses between career and motherhood, informed by her analysis of her own life through the lens of her architectural training. Architecture is central to the novel, both as Tara's chosen field and as a metaphor for creating balance and structure in her life. At different times, by different people, the Salk is likened to both, a jewel and a soul-less building that might contain dentists' offices. It is both sublime and profane, like life...

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