Point of View

The METROPOLIS Blog

November 2012

The Green Team Part 5: Tree Tag...You're It!

11/30/12

The Green Team Part 5: Tree Tag...You're It!

How landscape architects pick the perfect tree for a site.

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The $60 Billion Question

11/29/12

The $60 Billion Question

What drives growth in the design industry?

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Previewing IMM Cologne

11/28/12

Previewing IMM Cologne

The highlights from the IMM Cologne Furniture Fair.

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11/28/12

Metropolis Likes at Greenbuild 2012

Our favorites from Greenbuild 2012.

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Excellence in Public Architecture

11/27/12

Excellence in Public Architecture

Public architecture reminds us of a hopeful era.

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The East Lansing Effect

11/26/12

The East Lansing Effect

The Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University is an iconic building, drawing attention to the museum and the school.

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Places That Work: Provide Choices for Users

11/25/12

Places That Work: Provide Choices for Users

Successful spaces give users some control of their environment.

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A Higher Altitude

11/24/12

A Higher Altitude

Drawing inspiration from the views out of airplane windows.

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Using Narratives for Design Briefings

11/23/12

Using Narratives for Design Briefings

Telling stories can help designers do better work.

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NYIT Students in Costa Rica

11/22/12

NYIT Students in Costa Rica

Students do work in Costa Rica as part of a design-build initiative.

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What if a Boat Could Fold Up?

11/21/12

What if a Boat Could Fold Up?

Foldable kayaks can make it possible for urban dwellers to take part in boating.

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11/20/12

The Stephen G. Breyer Interview

Notes on our experience interviewing Stephen G. Breyer.

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11/20/12

Show Snapshots from Greenbuild

Attention New York metropolitan area designers and architects: If you didn’t make it to Greenbuild, held this year in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, you may want to catch up on what the 25,000+ (final figures not yet released) attendees saw and heard there. Even if you were there, in that heated caldron of green activity, you like everyone in attendance, were able to see on a small part of the educational sessions and product offerings at the conference and trade show. We’re here to help. Back by popular demand, Greenbuild Show Snapshots, Metropolis’s collaboration with Davis & Warshow for the fifth year in a row, will present an overview and some topics that caught our attention this year. In the meantime, check out footage of the fun from last...

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Serious Fun

11/19/12

Serious Fun

The George Nelson exhibit at Yale School of Architecture shows how the iconic designer embraced fun in his work.

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The Role of Software for Birthing Architecture 3.0

11/17/12

The Role of Software for Birthing Architecture 3.0

Software plays a growing role in creating sustainable buildings.

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Brooklyn Nets: Say What?

11/16/12

Brooklyn Nets: Say What?

Kerrie Jacobs shares her views on the Brooklyn Nets' stadium.

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Before the Next Storm

11/16/12

Before the Next Storm

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it's important to make changes in our infrastructure to reduce damage in future disasters.

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Connecting with the Built Environment

11/16/12

Connecting with the Built Environment

With "Event Horizon" Antony Gormley invites viewers to investigate their connections to the urban environment.

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Scared, Bothered, and Bewildered

11/15/12

Scared, Bothered, and Bewildered

The blackout after Hurricane Sandy showed New Yorkers the way their perception of their surroundings was affected by lights.

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Out of the Doghouse

11/15/12

Out of the Doghouse

Created with flickr slideshow. In this month's issue, we profiled Muji creative director Kenya Hara's design venture, Architecture for Dogs. Hara paired big-name architects and designers like Kazuyo Sejima (of SANAA fame), Konstantic Grcic, and Toyo Ito with a dog breed, and challenged them to build something that puts pets and their owners on a more equal footing. But Hara had much more in mind for the initiative than a fun exercise in creating at canine scale. Today, at Design Miami 2012, Architecture for Dogs formally launched as part exhibition contest, part commercial company and part crowdsourced online project. Part one, the exhibition concept, begins with the thirteen initial designs in the collection. Part two is provided by Imprint Venture Lab, a business...

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Peace and Quiet

11/14/12

Peace and Quiet

Beginning on Veteran’s Day this past Sunday, Broooklyn-based architecture firm Matter Practice and the Times Square Alliance in collaboration with the StoryCorp Military Voices Initiative is hosting a series of live conversations between veterans and civilians right in the heart of Times Square. The pavilion where these discussions take place—located at Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th Streets and Broadway—was designed by Sandra Wheeler and Alfred Zollinger and is composed of a simple kit-of-parts plywood and glass structure, with the program titled “Peace & Quiet” because it is intended to provide not only a place of healing and shelter for housing exchanges, but a dedicated site for bridging the divide between veterans who have loyally served our country and the...

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The Night When Lower Manhattan Went Dark

11/14/12

The Night When Lower Manhattan Went Dark

When the lights went out in lower Manhattan on that evening in late October, darkness enveloped everything around me. A week later I was grateful to see what two New York photographers and filmmakers saw that night. Their work helped me understand the magnitude of the blackout Superstorm Sandy visited on my beloved city, of which I could see only a small sliver from my windows. Here Ruggero and Valentina Vanni write about what it was like to be out on the streets as they documented this frightening and beautiful short film, which turns out to be a cautionary tale of modern life.—SSS “Downtown New York, October 29, 10:13 pm.--The lights had gone out. The brunt of the hurricane just passed us. The wind fell and the rain stopped. We had to go out and see. “We have been living...

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Natural Imagination

11/14/12

Natural Imagination

Children are destined to inherit the planet – but they already inhabit our cities. So how can we nurture and protect a child's infinite capacity for play in the big city? “Grasshopper Green” Stick-let In Philadelphia, Stick-lets industrial designer Christina Kazakia has discovered a way to “reconnect urban children to nature with play” combining a transportable, minimalist design with limitless configurations. Her new color silicone kit is currently on display at the Art Alliance on 18th St. in Philadelphia as part of the 2012 Philly Works exhibition. “What was your favorite childhood memory?” she had initially asked some childhood friends at dinner. Most memories centered around the outdoors where risk taking, mischief, and pent up energy found release. “Nature...

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11/13/12

It's Alive!

How many times in the last week, or even in the last day, have you looked at your smart phone, iPad, car, television, some type of technology, and said, “I love you”? We often treat machines as if they are living things, sometimes with tender loving care, and sometimes with a good swat. But why react so strongly towards inanimate objects? We humans have an inherent desire, an urge to affiliate with other living forms, a bond called the biophilia hypothesis. This urge to bond with other living things might explain why we respond to our technologies with so much emotion as well as why we’re obsessed with creating life-like technology; the more alive it seems, the greater the potential for love. Living things not only inspire love, they also inspire knowledge, and life can even do...

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Moving Design Thinking to Higher Ground

11/13/12

Moving Design Thinking to Higher Ground

Later this month the 2012 Venice Architectural Biennale will come to a close, so perhaps now is a good time to reflect on this year’s theme of common ground. I traveled to Venice in October to check out some of the exhibits, which represented everything from abstract intellectual concepts to concrete solutions for the most stubborn challenges in planning and design in the public realm. The following are a few of the highlights: The Poland and Rumanian exhibits took a somewhat conceptual approach. In the Poland pavilion the idea of common ground is tied to our shared experience of sound. One enters the pavilion to hear brash reverberations of creaking walls and thumping footsteps. Soon we learn that these sounds are actually amplified projections of live events taking place in real...

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Icon or Eyesore? Part 7: Concrete - The Offending Material

11/12/12

Icon or Eyesore? Part 7: Concrete - The Offending Material

Our last post, “Materials and Building Components,” described modernism’s growing emphasis on monolithic concrete walls as an alternative to traditional masonry. While conservation of brick and stone are now well understood, failures in exposed concrete are presenting new challenges, both technical and aesthetic. Monolithic concrete no longer has the same hold on the imaginations of architects as it did for the Brutalist masters, and technical difficulties have contributed to the demise of its popularity. Understanding how to preserve this honest, raw material is crucial to saving a seminal style from sure extinction. Mechanical Failure An irregular hairline crack in the concrete chimney of Le Corbusier’s Dominican Monastery of La Tourette (Éveux, France; completed...

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A Way Around the Eisenhower Memorial Impasse

11/11/12

A Way Around the Eisenhower Memorial Impasse

After more than a decade of planning, the future of the presidential memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower, at least as conceived by architect Frank Gehry, is no longer certain. In September, the National Capital Planning Commission declined for the second time to review Gehry's design; construction cannot begin without its approval. This is the latest in a series of setbacks for the current proposal, which includes the suspension of its Congressional funding (now temporarily restored through a continuing budget resolution) and an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into the process used to select Gehry. The debate over his design grows more contentious as its future becomes less certain. With both supporters and opponents dug in, victory for either...

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Sustainable Urban Design, Digitally Defined

11/10/12

Sustainable Urban Design, Digitally Defined

Tablets are revolutionizing how people interact with information. We can now walk around with libraries in our knapsacks and the touch screen interface has enabled us to bridge the physical-abstract divide. The universe is now pushed and prodded, and just as the universe is expanding, so is our access to digital information. A new app by Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, called Ecological Urbanism, is the start of a deep dive into innovation research, with real prospects for finding urban sustainability treasure. Harvard Graduate School of Design: Ecological Urbanism App from Second Story on Vimeo. The app is well mixed with information; with staple projects like the High Line and Masdar, and exotic new discoveries like “Effectual Decentralization,” a project in Argentina...

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Sophisticated Computer Literacy, a Necessity in the Workplace

11/09/12

Sophisticated Computer Literacy, a Necessity in the Workplace

For today's college students, computer literacy is a necessity. Yet, many get their degrees without taking even basic programming courses. For those in search of more comprehensive lessons than offered by traditional university curricula, online resources are becoming places to learn first-rate computer literacy. Photo by Richard Perry, courtesy The New York Times In a stalled economy, the job outlook for software developers and computer programmers is far more promising than for most occupations. In fact a 30% growth is projected between 2010 and 2020. Median pay for systems software developers is about $94,000, more than double the national average salary of $42,000 for college grads. The unstable economic conditions have also led most companies to hire freelancers for their needs...

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Q&A: Jeff Stein

11/08/12

Q&A: Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein, photo by Jared Green At 42 Arcosanti, a community north of Phoenix, Arizona has been celebrated, yet generally ignored, by the world at large. Nevertheless, the place that architect Paolo Soleri and his followers buit in the desert, survives. Indeed, it can teach us enormously important lessons about cities, buildings, people, nature, and authenticity of place. Jeff Stein, AIA, is president of the Cosanti Foundation. He has taught at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), Wentworth Institute, and was dean of Boston Architectural College for seven years. He attended his first building workshop at Arcosanti in 1975. Here he gives some revealing answers about how an urban system can function as a super-organism, how historic context can shape a place and its...

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Bridging the Empathy Gap

11/07/12

Bridging the Empathy Gap

How can architects expand Western science and medicine into parts of the world with different cultural and traditional values? Western designers have been designing healthcare facilities across the world since colonial times. For centuries, the flow of medical knowledge — as with the flow of military and financial power — was one-sided. But over the past two decades, as medicine became an important Western export, the world has become flat and this knowledge transfer has turned into a two-way street. Today, we are participating in the globalization of Western medicine – its science, commerce, and philosophical underpinnings. We see evidence of the regionalization of the delivery of Western medicine with leading healthcare brands such as Johns Hopkins, Harvard Medical...

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Hurricane Sandy Foretold

11/06/12

Hurricane Sandy Foretold

Hurricane Sandy has invoked a lot of change. Whether it’s coast lines or politics, we have experienced first-hand what scientists, planners, and architects have been warning about for years, that a storm like Sandy was going to happen. “Sometime between now and 2100, a storm will dump 18 feet of seawater into lower Manhattan, flooding much of the financial district, Battery Park, and most of the subway stations south of Rector Street. Six hundred oil tanks in Bayonne, New Jersey, will be inundated. And all but a nub of Liberty State Park, the landfill opposite Ellis Island, will disappear into the harbor. That’s the grim forecast for New York.” The above quote comes from Suzanne LaBarre in her 2010 blog post, Hope Floats, where she describes MoMA’s Rising Currents exhibition...

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Inside the Design Mind III

11/06/12

Inside the Design Mind III

Paul Goldberger, Photo by James Callanan It’s rare to find someone willing to pay for opinions these days, and rarer still to be known for them. Yet, Paul Goldberger has crafted a career by objectively navigating the subjective. As an arbiter of quality in architecture and design for nearly four decades, he spends a few moments with me to reminisce about the “short break” he took from journalism that led to, among many accolades, the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and, more recently, the Scully Prize. Andrew Caruso: You’re being recognized this year by the National Building Museum with the Vincent Scully prize. Given your relationship with Scully began when you were a student at Yale, this must be a very meaningful award. Paul Goldberger: Scully was very much a teacher and mentor...

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Infinite Family's First LaunchPad

11/02/12

Infinite Family's First LaunchPad

Perkins+Will, in collaboration with Atelier Ten, volunteered their time to design the first environmentally sustainable mentoring module. Called LaunchPad, it uses a repurposed shipping container for the Infinite Family initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa where millions of children grow up without the influence of adults. Amy Stokes, the program’s founder, wants to change this. Due to the AIDS epidemic in the region, which has spread to one in ten people being infected with HIV, a disproportionate number of children and young adults are growing up without parents or without adult mentors. In response, Stokes’ Infinite Family enlists volunteer mentors from around the world to interact one-on-one via web video with at-risk youth, forming lasting relationships and helping them to...

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Ideas Emerge from the Endless Experiment

11/01/12

Ideas Emerge from the Endless Experiment

"The Lure + The Perch" Jason Austin, Jack Fanning, Sneha Patel, and Sally Reynolds/Philly Works 2012 “Philly Works is collaborative of artists, designers, and makers all working towards the goal of bettering Philadelphia. It's a tool for empowering creative individuals in Philadelphia.” That's the elevator pitch that Will McHale, Katie Winkler, and Alexandra Schmidt-Ullrich use when someone asks. “We know what it is but we don't know where it's going,” says Schmidt-Ullrich, trained as an architect. That's not an admission of confusion or drift. It's more a protective notion that what they have is bursting with ideas, potential, and momentum. To fix it in space and time might, somehow, ruin or limit it. 2009 Philly Works Exhibit at University of Pennsylvania School of...

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Examining contemporary life through design, architecture, interior design, product design, graphic design, crafts, planning, and preservation.