Point of View - Point of View September 2011

 

Q&A: William L. Fox

Nevada Museum of Art This week the Nevada Museum of Art will host the second Art + Environment Conference (September 29 – October 1) continuing the discussion it initiated in 2008. In downtown Reno, with long views of the Sierra Nevada outside the window, I sat down with William L. Fox, the Director of the museum’s path-breaking Center for Art…

More Than Taste

Photo courtesy of Darius Siwek Both SCI-Arc and Caltech came into this year’s Solar Decathlon competition knowing that the public acceptance of CHIP would be challenging. When you are designing something intended to be a home for an individual there is no way to please everyone. Everyone has his or her own personal tastes, lifestyles, and prejudices making the judgment…

So How Did All of These Buildings Get Here Anyway?

Modular structures – buildings that are pre-fabricated in a factory and brought to the site in modules – are not new inventions. They have been around for decades. Remember the futurist Buckminster Fuller’s energy-efficient and inexpensive Dymaxion House of the 1940’s or the Sears Homes of the early 1900’s? Both of these very different looking buildings were modular. The modular…

Installation and Assembly

The weeks leading up to the installation near the Mall in Washington DC were some of the longest work weeks of my life (this is coming from some one who has been in the construction industry professionally for a number of years prior to enrolling at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, SCI-Arc). This being an unprecedented experience, I was…

An Opportunity for Innovation

Photo: Darius Siwek CHIP (Compact, Hyper-Insulated Prototype) is a new architectural proposition for sustainable housing. It uses the platform of the Solar Decathlon (through October 2) to disseminate big ideas to a wide audience. Developed over two and a half years, the project is a result of a unique collaboration between two schools, each on the leading edge of their…

Witnessing Evolution at the Solar Decathlon

Darwin knew it when he saw it in 1837. He stepped off the HMS Beagle and observed species that had adapted to the unique environment of the Galapagos Islands; from this he proposed the theory of evolution. On the banks of the Potomac, for the next week, you too can see evolution. Not biological evolution, but rather building evolution. In…

Who’s Afraid of a Little Height?

The corner of Canal and Rampart Streets in 1954. I’d been driving past the long abandoned Woolworth’s store on the corner of Canal and North Rampart Streets since I moved to New Orleans in July. And every time past I thought, in my typical New York naiveté (if such a thing exists), “That site desperately needs a building—the bigger, the…

Genius Pro Bono

Architect Jeanne Gang on the terrace of Aqua, an 82-story skyscraper in downtown Chicago. Photo: Anna Knott. The first time we met, Tim McCormick was standing in front of the colorful community center that Jeanne Gang had designed for his thriving non-profit. The centerpiece of the ground floor was set of large steps, with dark green shag carpet cascading down…

Q&A: Adam Tihany and the CIA

Photo: Bill Hughes Adam Tihany, known for designing iconic restaurants and famous resorts from New York to Jerusalem and points in between, is the new art director for the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Tihany is set to play a key role in the aesthetics of CIA’s expansion and renovation programs. I spoke to him…

And You Call Yourself an Architect

On a Saturday morning last May, Ben and I took a tour of Louis Kahn’s Trenton Bath House, recently restored by the contractor, Kirby Wu. It was the first time either of us had visited the site, even though Ben had been an architecture student at Penn while Kahn’s legacy was still quite potent there, and I had been an…

Our Toxic World

As a writer, Sandra Steingraber has the eloquence and urgency of Rachel Carson. As a biologist, she has a fiercely acute perspective on how human health is affected by the many outputs of so many clever human inventions. Her latest book is Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis (Da Capo Press, 2011). In 10 elegantly…

The (Somewhat) Higher Cost of Good Intentions

The interior of the house designed by Ying chee Chui as part of MIT’s 1K House project. Photo: Ying chee Chui Interesting news out of Cambridge last week: MIT announced that the first prototype from its 2009 “1K House Project” was recently completed in Sichuan  Province,  China.  Designed bya recent graduate of the architecture school, Ying chee Chui, the Pinwheel…

Beyond the Mall

On September 23rd the Empowerhouse Collaborative’s building opens to the public on the National Mall in Washington DC. After a summer of non-stop construction on the Hudson River waterfront, our team, among the 19 competing in this year’s U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, is hard at work to make our design real. Ten days after the opening, when the competition…

Conversations in Context

When picturing Phillip Johnson’s Glass House, what comes to mind is the skeletal and translucent structure sitting among 47-acres of lush Connecticut landscape. The subtle color of the modernist building is so seamlessly integrated into nature that it recedes to the background and often goes unnoticed. This design decision was the work of master architectural colorists, Donald Kaufman and Taffy…

Memorials After 9/11

For all 9/11’s iconoclasm and upheaval and upset, it has produced surprising little innovation in memorials.  A remarkable number and variety of memorials have been made in the ten years that have since passed.  They demonstrate the deep importance of memorials as part of our everyday landscape, and a renewed interest in the process of memorializing.  We have all been…

Places That Work

The Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois stops you in your tracks. And this makes it a place that works. Its curving form and decorated surfaces force you to notice it. And since most visitors are not familiar with the Baha’i faith, the building can initiate discussions of meanings and practices. My fellow Northwestern graduates and today’s students are…

Memorial Events

Nineteen Rooms for September 11, by Jill Magi; part of InSite: Art+Communication In our September issue, we closely consider the task of memorializing both Ground Zero, and the events of September 11, 2001. Philip Nobel wonders if the official memorial at ground zero sufficiently addresses the memory of the event, while a photo essay documents the DIY and ad hoc…

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