Point of View - Point of View August 2010

 

Places that Work: II, The Rookery

On a recent visit to Chicago, I ducked into the light court at The Rookery on the corner of Adams and LaSalle. I do this every time I’m in this city on the lake, because I love the space. As do others, apparently. While office vacancy rates are high around the country, at The Rookery only a small percentage of…

Accessibility Watch: Retrofitting

A new trend is emerging as the baby boom grows older. Some homes and communities are designed to allow residents to age-in-place, or for young people to begin their lives in a house that can, eventually, be adapted as their mobility and accessibility needs change over time. These forward-thinking models provide an excellent vision for the future of housing. They…

A Teachable Moment

Today, at noon, there were 91,700 entries posted on New Orleans five years after Katrina. Everyone from President Obama to Sandra Bullock got mentioned. But of the thousands of articles, films, blogs, newscasts I skimmed through, not one architect or designer made the media’s list of interviewees. Yet New Orleans’ land use, planning, building and rebuilding—those physical interventions that are…

Americans bring their “can-do” approach to Venice

The form of Duck-and-Cover produces the big box logo from a Google-Earth point of view, and a verdant garden at street-level, image courtesy RSAUD Starting this Sunday, August 29, when the Venice Biennale opens (and runs through November 21), there will be a lot of chatter about what feeds architecture and design thinking in 2010. Here, we’re kicking off the…

Accessibility Watch:Two Decades of Living with ADA

This summer marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), our federal government’s attempt to ensure the civil rights of U.S citizens with disabilities. It requires that all public spaces and programs be accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. This, of course, is a commendably idealistic standard. But as anyone who navigates the real world (either with…

Life at the Rural Studio

Is there a blog, a website, a magazine, a book….that hasn’t yet told the story of Auburn University’s legendary Rural Studio? In the Metropolis archives alone, there’s a piece on the new pragmatism afoot these days at the popular Design-Build Masters Program, where Krystal Chang went to study construction but found inspiration in “unanticipated gestures” like “a neighbor offering to…

Getting to Net Zero

The Living City Design Competition invites project teams from around the world to imagine how existing cities might be retrofitted to achieve all twenty imperatives of the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building standard. Like the standard itself, the competition reflects our belief that humanity has all of the necessary tools and skills to resolve the environmental,…

Places that Work: I. Grand Central Station’s Main Concourse

On a recent trip to New York, I took a train to Connecticut from Grand Central Station. What an opportunity, I thought, for me to assess why this grand space has worked for more than a century, from my environmental psychologist’s point of view. While most us can tell if a place or space makes us feel good, we rarely…

Flash Floods Severely Damage Arup-Designed School

1 School Outside The Druk White Lotus School in Shey, India, which I wrote about back in 2009, was seriously damaged in a recent flood and mudslides that took place in the remote Ladakh region of the Himalayas in last week. Preliminary estimates of the damage and repair of the buildings and infrastructure will cost over $130,000 (this does not…

Crowdsourcing Architecture Criticism

Gone are the days when you have to trawl through Wikipedia and scores of architecture blogs to reliably research a building online. OpenBuildings.com is the Web site architecture geeks like me have been waiting for: it aims to collect everything there is to know about individual buildings into one mega-resource. Even better, the information is crowdsourced, Wikipedia-style. Readers can submit…

NASA Goes Green and Platinum

In keeping with President Obama’s “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance” executive order, we’ve seen a decisive push for greener federal buildings over the past year. It even appears that different agencies are actually vying with each other for the most sustainable buildings—NASA seems absolutely thrilled that the new Propellants North Administrative and Maintenance Facility, at the Kennedy…

Redesigning City Centers, Rejuvenating Riverfronts

The proposed new State Center Complex in Baltimore Last week, the Seattle-based architecture firm Mithun announced that it will be a consultant on both the State Center Complex in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Great River Park Project in St. Paul, Minnesota. As large-scale exercises in urban redesign, the two projects couldn’t possibly be more different, so Mithun’s multidisciplinary researchers and…

IDSA + DIY

Grace Bonney and John Jay In Portland, Oregon last week the IDSA International Conference asked: DIY Design Threat or Opportunity? Why, you may wonder, would a community of makers, independent thinkers, and entrepreneurs be so apprehensive? To explore this uneasy relationship between the Do It Yourself community and industrial designers, Grace Bonney, the editor of Design*Sponge, kicked off the proceedings;…

Q&A: Thomas Heatherwick on His “Seed Cathedral” in Shanghai

Photos: Edward Lifson Great world’s fairs traditionally leave one main, indelible image in the public’s consciousness.  In 1893, Chicago gave us civic monuments around a reflecting pool, out of which sprang the golden statue of the Republic. The Eiffel Tower soared above the 1899 Paris fair; it was the tallest man-made structure at the time. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome at…

The Beauty of Ecological Tragedy

Oil Field #13, Taft, California, Edward Burtynsky In last week’s Q&A with Susan Szenasy, the organizers of the CoolClimate Art Contest spoke of the role of art in raising awareness about ecological issues. In a similar vein, Ecoaesthetic: The Tragedy of Beauty is an art exhibit that hopes to do for sustainability what war photography does for the cause of world…

Ed Mazria’s Master Class

Ed Mazria, known to American architects for his 2030 Challenge to clean up the environment through sustainable practices, recently joined select members of the DLR Group at the Island Wood campus on Bainbridge Island, Washington to help them design a fictional middle school. Six different designs would be proposed to suit six different locales in an exercise that was part…

Giving Harlem its High Line

La Marqueta, between 111th and 116th streets in Harlem, New York, was once the place to drive a bargain on plantains and avocados. But it never recovered from a slow decline in the 1970s, and several attempts to revive it have failed. Luckily for neighborhood residents, however, La Marqueta was built under the tracks of the Metro North rail line….

Vertical Farming Comes Down to Earth

Dr. Dickson Despommier’s ten-year-old vision of vertical farm facilities for urban areas received a shot in the arm last week. When the architectural firm Weber Thompson presented their design for the Newark Vertical Farm to city officials and local businessmen from Newark, New Jersey, the response was generally positive. This is probably because, unlike previous vertical-farm designs, Weber Thompson’s sane,…

Letter from Tel Aviv

The architect Guy Zucker inserted an elegant, light-filled penthouse into this 1960s-era apartment building on Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. Photo: courtesy Z-A Studio It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but during a recent 12-hour flight from New York’s JFK airport to Tel Aviv, two Midwestern evangelical tourists on their way to the Holy Land could be overheard…

Comments

comments