Point of View - Point of View September 2010

 

Hands-on Urban Renewal

A few days ago in Providence, RI, a peculiar take-off on the cult hit TV show Iron Chef was taking place in the middle of an old industrial complex. The place was full up for the day with a motley assortment of tattooed gear heads, various politicos (including a candidate for governor), environmentalist art-lovers with creative facial hair, and hip…

It’s a Swamp Thing.

An IV drip of espresso would have stimulated the brain less than an afternoon at CUSP, the two-day innovation conference–created and hosted by design firm smbolic–that flipped Chicago’s lid last week. Swampman kicked it off. Covered in head-to-foot, craft-store moss, former priest Mike Ivers took the stage, complaining of deadlines: “I’m swamped!” he shouted, shedding peat. Ivers, now President of…

The Road to Conversion

Bethany Seawright’s student project for an environmental law firm. Last year when I started to pursue my MFA in Interior Design in Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art and Design, I was less than enamored with green design. Not that I wanted to hurt the environment (I recycle with the best of them!), but sustainable design decisions just seemed so…limiting. But…

Living Light?

Jan Gehl, the Danish architect, author of the influential book Cities for People, and consultant to the NYC Department of City Planning, spoke recently at New York’s Center for Architecture. He focused, as he does in his public appearances, on the human experience of streets, with an emphasis on what we see at eye level. His is fond of exploring…

Framing the Gateway Arch

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is the 91-acre park that surrounds Eero Saarinen’s monumental Gateway Arch in St. Louis. While the Arch is a national icon, the park is completely cut off from the city by an Interstate  Highway in the west and a patch of wasteland across the Mississippi in the east. Crisscrossed by thoroughfares and mostly ignored by…

Preservation and Sustainability: The District Approach

In 2009, The National Trust for Historic Preservation launched its Preservation Green Lab. Based in Seattle and headed by developer and urban policy consultant Liz Dunn, the Lab’s mission is to work with cities to develop new policies that leverage the value of the existing building stock as a resource for achieving cities’ overall sustainability and climate action goals. As…

Calling All (Print) Media!

The smart folks at IDEO—in this case, the New York branch—threw their pointy hats into the digital media ring today, with the introduction of Nelson, Coupland, and Alice. We might call these “concept apps”—for lack of a better term—since they’re at this point ideas awaiting further development (and, presumably, sponsors). Nelson is the proposed news aggregator; Coupland, a book sharing…

A Sunday in Sukkah City

New York City’s Union Square is always full of people on a sunny Sunday afternoon, but it was positively buzzing with activity yesterday. Earlier this year, 600 designers responded to a call to re-invent the sukkah, which organiser Joshua Foer characterises as “a space to ceremonially practice homelessness.” Twelve finalists were chosen, and their structures were on display yesterday ,…

Solar Decathlon Plus

We’re not yet done discussing the winner of the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe, and already the heat is on for next year’s competition in Washington, D.C. The 20 competing student teams have announced their plans for the high-tech solar houses they will build on the National Mall in fall 2011. But one team of students from Parsons The New School…

Places that Work: III, Helsinki’s Temppeliaukio Church

Photo by T.P. Tukiainen. As images of a book-burning pastor and airplanes flying into buildings increased stress levels across the US this past 9/11, I decided to take a mental retreat to some tranquil, spiritual spaces I’ve known. Wooded glens close to my parents’ home in Boston, mosques in Turkey, and the interior of Calatrava’s addition to the Milwaukee Museum…

Peter Walker on the Oakland Museum

The architect Kevin Roche on the construction site of the Oakland Museum of California, circa 1969. When we featured the Ford Foundation Building two years ago, I interviewed the landscape architect Peter Walker, who in talking about the importance of that Kevin Roche/John Dinkaloo-designed structure spent as much time extolling another building by those architects: the Oakland Museum of California….

Blowing the Others Out of the Water

There is a new naval battle being fought off the coast of Britain, but not of the kind that Admiral Nelson would recognize. The ocean is turning out to be the next frontier for renewable energy, and Britain leads the world in off-shore wind energy generation – it has already installed 330 wind turbines on its seas. Now several engineering…

Water and the Living City

Water and civilization are fundamentally intertwined. The world’s cities, great and small, have developed alongside the waterways that meet our drinking needs, irrigate our crops, transport our goods, and power our industries. Sadly, dependence has not bred respect. Our cities have been unkind to the rivers, streams, lakes and bays they border, and as we settle into the 21st century, we…

The World of the Rural Studio

Last month, Metropolis editor-in-chief Susan Szenasy noted the extraordinary attention that Auburn University’s legendary Rural Studio has received, including the PBS documentary, Citizen Architect. Now, Mix ‘n’ Match, a photography exhibition that opens this week in downtown New York, shows that inventive architecture was not all that came out of that intensely creative place. At the same time that the…

Accessibility Watch: Furniture

This summer, to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, four new rules were proposed by the federal government. These amendments could make the design of objects and interfaces more accessible to people of all abilities. While some designers are already addressing such issues as making websites usable by the visually impaired, there’s much more to be done….

Q&A: Dale Dougherty on DIY

On September 24-25, an expected crowd of 45,000 will descend upon the World Maker Faire @ New York Hall of Science. The site, initially built as a pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair, was a showcase of mid-20th century American culture and technology. So the venue is appropriate for this 21st century fair that will represent a growing community of makers that…

Going Back to a Green School

Back to school shopping is serious business. From backpacks to binders, sneakers to stationery, parents drop a lot of cash to keep their kids happy in the classroom. This year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is suggesting that they spend that money wisely – and sustainably – by buying from stores that have earned an Energy Star. The EPA works…

The I.D. Legacy Lives

When I.D, the oldest product design magazine in the U.S., folded after 55 years, its publishers promised that the Annual Design Review (ADR), at least, would continue in an expanded, online avatar. The ADR was a long standing tradition at the magazine, in which the editors and industry experts pored over applications from designers in various fields, and selected the…

Q&A: The Streets of San Francisco

Bicycle parking in front of David Baker’s house, managed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition San Francisco has recently sprouted an increasing number of clever and improvisational public spaces. Every one of them was designed to be temporary, with the possibility of becoming permanent. And all of them have been discreetly carved out of the city’s 25 percent surface area…

Design Giants Turn to the Crowd

Managing crowds isn’t easy anywhere, least of all in the anarchic world of the Internet. Yet, ever since Jeff Howe first coined the word in Wired magazine, we’ve instinctively known that “crowdsourcing” would someday be the next big thing in design. The only problem was figuring out how. As Tropicana and Johnson & Johnson found out last year, crowds are…

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