Metropolis Magazine - Metropolis Magazine December 2004

 

Improv Theater

Architects often espouse the idea of adaptability, but they rarely give it center stage. David Serero and Elena Fernandez of Brooklyn-based Iterae Architecture do just this with their Solar Parametric Open Air Theater (SPOAT) concept. Made up of 13 units of modular bleacher seating, SPOAT is intended to expand or retract to accommodate between 75 and 500 spectators in a…

A Backup Plan

When his study of leading task chairs revealed that most of them force the sitter into unhealthy postures, industrial designer Jeff Jenkins decided to start with healthy postures and work backward. “If you look at the commentators on CNN, they’re all perched forward,” he says. “If you’re intensely working on the computer or in a conversation with someone, you’re not…

Polidori’s Metropolis

Robert Polidori may be the greatest architectural photographer of his time—but don’t tell him that. “I don’t photograph architecture,” he says. “I photograph habitats. Rooms are metaphors of soul life, our prenatal life. When human beings build a house or a room, they’re actually recreating a womb.” That urge, he says, comes out of Christian metaphors about being unhappily naked…

Flower Power

U.S. cities are contending with the legacy of industrialization in the form of vacant lots too polluted for development. To deal with this problem in the former textile hub of New Bedford, Massachusetts, planners sought help from the landscape-architecture studio StoSS. “Essentially the city came to us and said, ‘We have all these brownfield sites—what do we do with them?’”…

Building Blocks

When, as a student of industrial design at Rhode Island School of Design, Roberta Wright was asked to conceive a profitable industry using waste from the local landfill, she uncovered a pattern in the messy heap. Plastics account for almost ten percent of the waste stream and construction debris nearly 50 percent, the vast majority of the latter coming from…

Up Against the Wall

The Maxalot Gallery, in Barcelona, promotes graphic design as fine art, giving designers a place to stretch. “Normally they work for commercial industries within serious boundaries,” gallery co-owner Max Akkerman says. “But on the side they’re always free-styling on their Web sites, making amazing things that they can never release commercially.” Maxalot’s goal is to provide a commercial outlet for…

Boutique Living

Boutique hotels offer all the amenities of large upscale hotels with more personalized service. They have distinctive styles of architecture and intimate settings that distinguish them from their standardized brethren. Since the introduction of the first boutique hotels—such as the Blakes Hotel, in London, and the Bedford, in San Francisco—the genre has become entrenched in the hospitality industry, and has…

Parental Rites

After being approached to design a child-friendly restaurant, Frank Tjepkema had a counterintuitive idea: Why not create it for the parents instead? “There are already a lot of places for children—like McDonald’s—but nothing for parents,” says Tjepkema, an Amsterdam-based designer, “especially parents who go to trendy places, because those places are not meant for kids. And the children’s places aren’t…

Universal Cooking: Setting Up the Kitchen

Though it is not overtly flashy, Jane Langmuir’s universal-design kitchen for John and Alison Hockenberry is the culmination of 20 years work. She began looking at universal design in the 1980s and, for five years in the 90s, directed Rhode Island School of Design’s Universal Kitchen project, which was featured at the Cooper Hewitt’s 1998 show Unlimited By Design. The…

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