Point of View - Point of View September 2012

 

Letter from Ecuador: Final Assessment

On their last day in Tingo Pucara, a cluster of engineers squatted around the exposed nub of a six-inch PVC pipe. One dangled a flashlight into the opening to illuminate the hollow. The vertical PVC tube joined perpendicularly into the grid of subterranean water pipes that crisscrossed the Andean village four feet below ground. Over the past week, we had…

Lil Wayne Comes Rolling Home

  Big doings in New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward last night. Hometown rapper Lil Wayne—who in recent years has incurred the wrath of locals by moving to Miami and then (in an unpardonable offense) openly rooting against the Saints during their march to the Super Bowl in 2009—made an appearance at the Lower Ninth Ward Village for the opening of…

Q&A: OHNY’s Barry Lewis on New York CIty

Barry Lewis' answers to questions about local lore, architecture, neighborhoods, money, people—everything New York.

Rockefeller Center When I found out that Barry Lewis joined the Open House New York 10th Anniversary Advisory Council, I was eager to get him to talk about his favorite city. His answers to questions about local lore, architecture, neighborhoods, money, people—everything New York—will amuse, entertain, and enlighten one and all. I, for one, am grateful to have someone of Barry’s…

Ecomimicry: What Designers Can Learn From Evolutionary Science

As building green becomes more common, we must aspire to harmonize with nature and explore evolutionary science—ecomimicry is the end of that exploration.

We all know the story of Charles Darwin. He took a tour of the Galápagos Island, conceived his brilliant idea about evolution, spent the next few decades working out the details, nearly got swiped by a young startup, raced to finalize his book on the topic, and in 1859 published On the Origin of Species, forever changing our understanding of…

Q&A: Lance Hosey on Sustainability and China

We talk to Lance Hosey about his new job as chief sustainability officer at RTK, the future of sustainable architecture, and China.

A couple of weeks ago we received news that Lance Hosey, a former director with William McDonough + Partners and author of a new book, The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design (Island Press), had been named chief sustainability officer at RTKL, the global architecture, planning, and design firm. We wondered: what is a chief sustainability officer? So we…

The Brilliance of Color

Recently I read an article about the most beautifully colored berry I have ever seen. At first I thought it was fake, one of those plastic berries you see in a sci-fi movie, the type of berry offered to the star ship captain by the scantily garbed alien, and as tasty as they are psychosomatic. Pollia condensata Berries, a little…

Q&A: Pentagram Principal Paula Scher on New York City

Paula Scher, who has continuously given her special brand of identity design to many New York institutions, talks about her favorite city and its signage.

Paula Scher is principal at the well-regarded New York City design practice, Pentagram. She’s held that august position since 1991, and during her busy tenure she even found time to redesign Metropolis magazine when we went from a large, tabloid size to a smaller format with the November 1999 issue. Paula has continuously given her special brand of identity design…

Debating the Value of Brutalist Architecture in Boston

Boston University School of Law Sert complex as seen from the Charles River upon its completion. In our previous post, the Owner/Occupant Perspective, we identified the push-pull issues between these two factions in renovating mid-twentieth century modern buildings. Here, we explore Stakeholder Equilibrium as the value of these structures is debated, and the role architects play in this mix. Our…

Q&A: P.D. Smith on the Development of Cities Around the World

We interview Peter D. Smith, the author of "City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age," on the trajectory of contemporary cities.

Reading Peter D. Smith’s latest volume, City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age, is akin to strolling through a contemporary city, wherein broad impressions are punctuated by specific and visceral encounters. The elements that make and shape cities and urban experiences, from the physical contours to the social interaction that takes place within their borders, are all explored in broad…

Crafting the Narrative of Urbanism: Mark C. Childs vs. Boyd Cohen

Mark C. Childs' new book is an accessible and inspiring tome stressing collective urban action—if only the same could be said for Boyd Cohen's writings.

The planning profession has reached something of a critical juncture. This is not, of itself, a particularly interesting revelation; to hear planners talk about it, our profession is pretty much always reaching some sort of critical juncture, crossroads, etc. This time, however, we might be onto something. I recently finished plodding my way through editor Roger Elwood’s Future City, an…

What If Half of America Moved Each Winter?

As the U.S. population becomes increasingly mobile and the need for dramatic energy policy intensifies, we must think beyond the limits of states.

When you compare those states that consume the most energy with those that consume the least, something jumps out at you. The states topping the list in terms of BTU per year are also the most populated states in the country: CA, TX, NY, FL, IL, PA and OH. This pattern holds true at the other end of the spectrum;…

Q&A: Laurie Beckelman on New York City’s Culture Scene

Laurie Beckelman, founder of Beckelman+Capaliano, shows a pragmatic understanding of her New York City.

Park Avenue Armory Explorer, photo by James Ewing. On the weekend of October 6th and 7th, Open House New York (OHNY) will celebrate its 10th anniversary of opening up our city’s great buildings, residential and public, as well showing off our parks, streetscapes, public works, signage, and views to the public at large. It’s a chance to experience the city, not just…

How Public Interest Design Can Win Over the Public’s Trust

If public interest design is going to grow into a valued field of practice, we need clear measures of performance for the profession and the public.

Doctor injecting a patient with placebo as part of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study Courtesy wikipedia originally sourced from the US National Archives For the past ten years, evidence has been collecting in publications and exhibits that a new field of practice is emerging. It uses design as a tool to serve the public, including those who cannot afford design services. And…

Tech and Sustainability Meet Up at Greenbuild

The “classic” Silicon Valley stretches from Palo Alto to south of San Jose, CA, about 20 miles south of San Francisco. Bay Area locals are mighty excited about Greenbuild coming to San Francisco in November.  The conference theme, “@ Greenbuild,” references the mindboggling array of Internet and technology companies headquartered in our backyards. You know Google, Yahoo, Twitter (co-founder, Biz…

AIA Develops New Initiative to Show How Cities Are Labs for Change

"Cities as a Lab" aims to demonstrate through research, case studies, and partnerships the power and importance of urban areas in a functioning polity.

Exterior of Brightcove’s new Global Headquarters in Boston’s Innovation District, Photo courtesy of CBT Architects; © Mark Flannery Cities everywhere are entering a new era of unprecedented collaboration as well as competition. If they are to thrive, they need to be great places. Knowing this, local governments are working with architects, urban thinkers, technology mavens, and other key players in the…

A Tale of Two Maps: Putting Ecology (& Sustainability) First

To achieve a sustainable world, we must stop building along politically defined limits and start designing in line with ecologically determined borders.

If you want to peer into the future of architecture and infrastructure, try comparing the impact of two vastly different maps of the same place. For this post, I am using a map of the United States; but you could use just about any map of any country on the planet. Map of the United States Looking at this map,…

Visiting the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan

The memorial merges design and art in a way that evokes a vacuous absence. It feels appropriate, even poignant.

All photos by Paul Clemence Last weekend I went to check out the new World Trade Center; I’ve been following its rise from my window in Brooklyn. I was prepared to deal with hoards of sightseers and extra-tight security, this being the weekend before the 9/11 anniversary. Though curious to see the National 9/11 Memorial, I had not had a…

A Taste of the Bay Area’s Green Architecture

A USGBC-sponsored tour highlighted the best forward-looking buildings to be found in and around San Francisco.

Boucher Grygier Shipping Container House, Innovation and Transition tour Courtesy Jan Grygier From giant redwoods to adaptive reuse, San Francisco is chock full of memorable sights – green buildings and beyond. At USGBC’s annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held in San Francisco this November, you can sample from two dozen tours of buildings (and much more), specially curated by San Fran…

Places That Work: Rocking Chairs in Waiting Areas

Air travel is a miserable experience these days and giving travelers some sense control makes the process somewhat less onerous. Some U.S. airports, for instance, provide rocking chairs for waiting passengers. These rockers offer another seating option to people, and having a choice, at least from a reasonable number of options, gives us a psychological boost. In St. Louis (pictured),…

Women in Green: Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens

We speak with landscape architect Lucia Athens, the chief sustainability officer for the City of Austin, Texas about SXSW Eco.

I first met Lucia Athens when I interviewed her while working on Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design with Lance Hosey. She has been a leader in the green movement for many years and is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the SXSW Eco (of which I am also a member). Athens is chief sustainability officer for…

Comments

comments