Point of View - Point of View February 2011

 

Places that Work: IND Airport

While checking in at the Indianapolis International Airport, I was thrilled to find a number of biophilic design principles in use, particularly in the airport’s Civic Plaza. IND is the first greenfield airport built after 9/11, designed by HOK, and opened in November 2008. Biophilic designers recognize the positive influence nature has on human well-being. So the HOK architects, working…

A One Tonne Life

  From the advice I was raised on, I’m going to assume that “eat right,” “turn off the lights when you leave a room,” “only do a full load of laundry,” and “how in the world do you spend so much money on gas in a month?!” are among the most often used phrases of any parent to their teenaged…

The Home of the Solar Decathlon

The 2009 Solar Decathlon at the National Mall. Photo: Richard King. The 20 international student teams participating in this year’s Solar Decathlon can finally breathe easy today. For the last month, the teams have been up in arms because the National Park Service revoked its permit to allow the Decathlon to take place at its customary venue, Washington D. C.’s…

What is Life after Plastic?

Who can remember life before plastic? Could you imagine life after plastic? The National Building Museum organized a panel of experts as part of its popular series For the Greener Good: Conversations that Will Change the World titled “Life After Plastic.” This discussion examined the role of plastics as they are used today and how they will change in the…

Finding One Good Chair

Late last month I had the pleasure of joining three amazing women on a jury for the One Good Chair competition in Las Vegas. While it’s always confounding to talk about sustainability in windowless convention facilities, in a city that’s a manifestation of the monstrous hybrid concept writ large, we were delighted to see green moves on a small scale….

Q&A: Biomimicry

“We are nature.” So goes the new mantra in some design circles. And the word “biomimicry” comes up with increasing frequency. When we heard that Jane Fulton Suri, a partner and creative director at IDEO and author Thoughtless Acts? Observations on Intuitive Design, is working to reconcile nature with design, we couldn’t resist asking her a few questions.  She comes…

Q&A: On design, delight, and long-term sustainability

Stewart Brand wrote, “A building is not something you finish. A building is something you start.” Jean Carroon’s book, Sustainable Preservation: Greening Existing Buildings (2010, John Wiley & Sons) cites this Brand quote (and a few others—his book How Buildings Learn continues to influence many). Clearly his words retain their power as we struggle to align values and value within…

China Before Architecture

My first trip to China was in 1988. Ironically, this was the same year sweeping land reforms were instituted by the government. It was very simple, really. It was like a massive stimulus package. Though, at the time, the full ramifications of these policies were not completely understood. Basically, the laws governing land management were altered. All land was (and…

Out of (traditional) Practice

A rendering of the East River waterfront esplanade, by SHoP Architects. New York City’s architecture community braved the snow recently to hear Greg Pasquerelli of SHoP Architecture explain how he and his partners are moving beyond identified styles and developing a performance-based architecture practice. Christopher Sharples, Coren Sharples, William Sharples, Kimberley Holden and Gregg Pasquerelli started the firm in 1996, after…

The Trouble With Trade

Nearly 80% of all the world’s industrial goods will travel through the commercial shipping industry at some point in their material lives, mostly on cargo ships. A 1,000 ft (305 m) cargo container ship weighs 34,000 tons and on average carries 2,500 containers, traveling 480 miles a day. Such ships will burn 14,400 barrels of diesel fuel in one month….

Remembering “Edgar T”

“Hello, Debra, this is Edgar T. calling,” a jovial voice would chirp from my answering machine on Saturday mornings. Whether I picked up or not, he would continue: “The other Edgar was E.J., you know—Edgar Kaufmann.” Edgar Tafel, who recently died at the age of 98, was the last surviving member of Frank Lloyd Wright’s original Fellowship. To me, and…

Learning from New Orleans

Last December, Katherine Grove of William McDonough + Partners and Richard Maimon, of Kieran Timberlake, shared the stage at Ecobuild in Washington, DC. They were invited to discuss their work at the Make It Right project in New Orleans, where Cradle to Cradle provides a framework for the design of the community and of individual homes by several firms. Make It…

Places that Work: The Grainger Ballroom

The Grainger Ballroom, in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) building, is a terrific place for listening to music. It’s a room where the design works to make the audience comfortable, and this, in turn, allows us to respond emotionally to what we’re hearing. The ballroom was designed by Daniel Burnham at the turn of the century and opened 1904. Burnham…

Finland’s Musical Glass Cube

During the winter months, some days it’s hard to imagine wanting to leave your bed. But the city of Helsinki is looking 5 degree Fahrenheit winters in the face (the average annual temperature is 41 degrees). Indeed, the new Helsinki Music Hall laughs at the cold. In a feat of technical ingenuity, the city of 600,000 is building a giant…

HUD Grants Show Post-Partisan Promise

The U.S. department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced grants of nearly $100 million at the end of last year to fund community projects that forward its six livability principles, guidelines that encourage walkable development, affordable housing and environmental protection. The grants are managed by HUD’s office of Sustainable Housing and Communities and attracted applications from towns and cities…

“I Walk.”

Some good things do come out of wars, even if only indirectly. Since 2003, the U.S. Government has been spending tens of millions of dollars to develop the most advanced technology for the men and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the scientists to receive this funding, MIT Media Lab professor Dr. Hugh Herr, used the money to…

Accessibility Watch: Q&A with Josh Safdie

When news of an ideas competition, focused on designing a neighborhood based on the principles of Universal Design and sustainability, arrived recently I was jazzed. Since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by Congress two decades ago, we’ve seen a lot well meaning or uninformed attempts  and some really annoying remedies (like the Braille on hotel room doors: how…

Architecture Inspires

This year’s Maison et Objet show in Paris held a pleasant surprise for architecture geeks everwhere. The Spanish ceramics producer Lladró released a new collection of vases, boxes, and mirrors called Metropolis. Not only is that a name I’m partial to, but the collection is inspired by my latest love – urban design. The young designers working in the newly…

Bjarke Strikes Again

Leave it to Bjarke Ingels to win a competition for his proposal for a new waste to energy plant by designing a 31.000 m2 ski slope. The competition, which yielded 36 proposals in fall 2010, was the largest environmental initiative in Denmark. With a budget of 3.5 Billion DKK, competing teams designed structures to replace a 40- year-old Amagerforbraending plant…

Places that Work: Miniature Rooms

A15: New York Parlor, 1850–1870, c.1940, Mrs. James Ward Thorne, Miniature Room, Mixed Media, Interior:  12 3/8 x 17 1/2 x  21 in., Scale: 1 inch = 1 foot, Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne. The Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago celebrate the diversity of spaces that human beings can call home. They move visitors, gently, to think about…

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