Just a collection of my thoughts or links to other thoughts on architecture and design.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Paul Goldberger's review of the overhall at 2 Columbus Circle. "Ultimately, Cloepfil has been trapped between paying homage to a legendary building and making something of his own. As a result... the building's proportions and composition seem just as odd and awkward as they ever did."
by Liz Martin This Wednesday, August 20, 2008, the Sundance Channel will premiere Architecture Schools. The docudrama follows twelve students enrolled in the Design/Build Program at Tulane University's School of Architecture as they build a sustainable, design-forward home for a family returning to New Orleans.
Series co-creators Consulting Producer Stan Bertheaud (left) and Director/Executive Producer Michael Selditch(right)
Under the creative direction of Robert Redford, Sundance Channel is the television destination for independent-minded viewers seeking something different. To architect-turned-director Michael Selditch, Sundance seemed the ideal place to pitch the shows idea of bringing the architectural process to the screen capturing the design-build experience as seen through the student's eyes. After positive feedback and interest from Sundance, almost two years later, co-creators Michael Selditch and Stan Bertheaud got the green light in August 2007. "Two years have passed since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and there is still an extraordinary amount of work to be done," commented Laura Michalchyshyn, Sundance Channel EVP of Programming and Creative Affairs. "This series provides a great opportunity for Sundance Channel to be part of the rebuilding process while presenting inspiring and compelling programming that spotlights sustainable design and the next generation of community planners." First, the creative team was given 40k to pull together a 10-minute trailer to show the intent and character of the proposed reality based design/build school project. Bertheaud pitched the idea to several architecture schools throughout the country starting with the renowned Rural Studio, however, Tulane University dealing with post-Katrina New Orleans jumped at the chance to tell their story and showcase their proactive and socially-conscious architecture curriculum. Yes, in Architecture School (and you have to love that plain-Jane title), there's a competition. But it doesn't involve a judge's panel or weekly stunt challenges. A group of, yes, Tulane University architecture students are assigned to design a low-cost house to be built in an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina; and the winning house gets built. The show walks us through the design process and workshops, explaining principles of modern affordable design along the way, as well as factoids like "shotgun house," or "stringer". There's conflict, though not the stage managed kind─not that I have anything against the Project Runway style, but this is higher education so to speak. Rather the series accurately shows the combative discussion sessions, we've all been a part of with students and professors challenging the designers on their work and how well it serves the low-income residents it's intended for. "How does your design make better the life of someone who wants to live in the house," one critic asks, "rather than stoke the ego of the architect who wants to express their nifty idea?" Ouch! As important, the show spends a considerable amount of time with New Orleans neighborhood residents, discussing the hurricane's effect on them and their hopes for rebuilding.
Tulane University students voting on a house design they will build for a low-income family in New Orleans as featured in the Sundance Channel original series "Architecture School".
In a nutshell: "Architecture School" tells the story of twelve idealistic architecture students who are bringing a social mission into the classroom by working with communities and populations that do not traditionally have access to architects. Although it's considered reality TV, the series was filmed more like an old school documentary told from a classic fly on the wall point-of-view. Selditch, who spent most of the time on-location, mic'd up each student while he asked questions, but took himself, as narrator, out of the final editing leaving the experiences of the team building the house, neighbor's opinions, the staff at housing services, and the life of the city to tell the story.
Tulane University students building a home for a low-income family in New Orleans as featured in the Sundance Channel original series "Architecture School".
Liz Martin interviews co-creators Michael Selditch (MS) and Stan Bertheaud (SB) along with Tulane faculty Professor Byron Mouton (BM) regarding the T.V. series. LM_ How was the series conceived? And what was the show's intent? SB_ Michael Selditch and I are both architects as well as filmmakers. We've talked about fusing architecture and film for many years. After visiting Auburn University and seeing what they do in Hale County with Rural Studio, we realized the arc of a design-build studio would be a good story to tell. MS_ The show touches on many different levels from the students own personal journey to the people living in that neighborhood to the individuals that are desperately trying to get a house to the bigger city issues of knocking down public housing that seems perfectly fine and so on. It comes back to the idea of Sundance really wanting to do the show in New Orleans thinking that it was the ideal place to film this series. It sounds like a cliché, but New Orleans is very much a character in the series-you see a lot of New Orleans culture with the students going to bars listening music, the food, etc. BM_ The series aim was to capture the studio experience and expose the audience to the creative process. The crew strategically organized filming based on our design-build process spanning two semesters. One of the early episodes exposes the studio learning process during a pin-up critiquing the work and the late night hours students often embrace throughout the semester. LM_How did you choose the students that were a part of the TV series? Were all students in the class a part of the actual series? BM_ The class was developed as a design studio and the topic of research was described in the course catalogue. There was no special process. Students simply selected the course of study and signed-up like any other class on campus. All students in the class are visible in the footage, but not all have primary roles.
Front row left to right: Scott Mucci, Carter Scott, Nik Haak, AmaritDulyapaibul, Alex Mangimelli , Ian Daniels, Casey Roccanova, Christina Alvarado-Suarez. Rear from left to right: Sam Richards (co-director), Byron Mouton (director), Kim Lewis, Emilie Taylor (project manager), and Adriana Camacho (kneeling)
LM_ This is being billed as a reality TV series. Was anything scripted or did the teaching style change as a result of the camera? BM_ Not really. Once in a while students and faculty were asked to repeat something that had already been said. The series is the result of some editing, but basically what you see is what you get. SB_ Nothing was scripted. Occasionally we had someone repeat a line if it was garbled the first time through. It's as real as we could make it. Series is filmed actually like a documentary in an old school "fly on the wall" sense. There's no artificial competition here. No one gets voted off the island. MS_ When we get on site, [as director] I might ask a question like. "Begin by telling us how the final design was chosen," and then the students begin to banter about their final review. That's where the directing, quote-unquote, comes in for a documentary-style project like this one. I'm never telling anyone what to do or what to say, but I'm also always thinking in my head, "What do I need to tell this story to try and accurately capture it?" So it's all happening and it's all real, but as the director you kind of influence and "edit" how to portray all these interesting events to tell the story and tie together activities from episode-to-episode.
LM_Were you able to capture the design or studio learning process on film? SB_ We spent time in the studio during work hours and after. The after hours conversations of the students were very revealing...and often funny. Watching smart students balance internal design questions with studio politics is pretty engaging...And Byron Mouton, the studio's professor, is very good on camera. He's a very comfortable guy to be around so he puts the students at ease. He's smart too... MS_ Bryon Mouton has a major presence, but he is not consistently in every episode, in fact, there is probably an episode or two where he's barely in it. We essentially followed the process of the design-build project and some students were really vocal and others were more behind the scenes; sometimes the faculty stood out and others times they were completely back ground. But there is a scene on the roof, which became Byron's scene because he'd had a very traumatic experience falling and it was a story he had told us prior to shooting that we thought was really interesting. It was an experience that had happened to him 12 years earlier, but it was a story that was a thread throughout the entire series. For example, there is one student, Carter, who wanted to do a three story house in a two story district and Bryon had a strong opinion of it and you realize it most likely had to do with his fear or trauma from his previous accident. Its one thing that I'm really proud of is that there are a few things, like Bryon's accident falling off a roof, that arc throughout the series.
LM_Bryon, you had a personal scare a few years back--falling off a roof of a building under construction--how do you deal with that experience and heading up a design-build program? BM_ Safety is a priority. Yes I had a scare in 1998; I fell from a framing platform and was unconscious for a while. In fact, I had an 'accelerated brain concussion' and was forced to spend 6 weeks attending physical and occupational therapy. I'm lucky to have walked away. That experience strongly influences the way we control the job site and establish limitations of risk. No matter what, the job site and tools are dangerous; we cannot avoid that. However, we do our best to reduce the risks. This responsibility alone justifies the need for three experienced faculty members to be involved during construction. We attempt to lead by example, but we must constantly remind the students to take care. In the end, we cannot forget that they are adults, and they are expected to respond to all situations as such. They do repeatedly rise to that challenge .But we still keep a careful watch.
LM_ Why did you choose Tulane to feature in the series? How do post-Katrina New Orleans issues affect the series? SB_ I used to teach at Tulane and Katrina had just happened. With my contacts and the national attention the storm focused on the city it was really a no-brainer. Post-Katrina Nola issues permeate the series and Nola is definitely a character. The city is still recovering. We shot in and around the city whenever we could. We spend a good bit of time with the students after hours doing "student stuff"... and it is New Orleans. MS_ Filming in New Orleans post-Katrina seemed timely. A big realization, or shock to be honest, I had while doing the original 10-minute teaser trailer was that there were a lot of horrible abandoned housing and poverty situations prior to Katrina. When I first went on a tour of the city outskirts with Bryon and Reed Kroloff, who at the time we began filming was Dean of Tulane, I was shocked and said, "the storm did all that?," and Bryon said well this area has been abandoned for almost 30-years [before Katrina]. The poverty level in some parts of New Orleans would shock the rest of the nation. Of course, there are other cities that have similar problems like if you go to Detroit, or Bronx in NY, or Watts in Los Angeles, but Katrina shed light on this phenomena in the US where not only rebuilding became really important, but also simply those who are in need. BM_ There has always been support for our design-build program, but the greatest amount of support was, in fact, provided by H.U.D.. During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while students and faculty were in exile, Ila Berman (associate dean at the time has since gone off to San Francisco) collected the works and progress of several faculty members and students in effort to assemble and submit a grant proposal. The proposal described the intention to conduct urban research at both the Macro and Micro scale of the city. The $300,000 grant was awarded, and that really propelled the program. Ila concentrated on the study of urban strategies, while I concentrated on the development of dwelling and neighborhood strategies. As with other educational design/build programs across the nation, the goal was to provide students with the opportunity to work collectively on the design, development and construction of affordable housing prototypes. However, in contrast to programs offered by other schools, students were challenged to develop progressive proposals amidst selected deteriorating neighborhoods of an existing historic urban fabric and of course, the idea of water / flooding. LM_ What do you think the students will learn from this experience that is different than a normal design studio that never leaves the studio? BM_ Students leave the program with a sense of group accomplishment rather than individual accomplishment .they learn a very important skillhow to respectfully hold their colleagues accountable for their actions and decisions while still maintaining progress in the workplace. They learn professional conduct amidst the arena of difference in opinion. SB_ Architecture is often just too abstract, so learning what happens on the job site is invaluable for students...But maybe even more important were the interpersonal lessons learned by all involved, both within the studio group and extending into the neighborhood and city. MS_ To me, building efficiency beautifully. The house is really beautiful; flawlessly made with a really smart compact planno wasted space in that house. It's on a tight little foot print, its 1200sf housesuper small and it is packed with three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living and dining room, kitchen, etc. It's an efficient floor plan with open feeling the way it's designed with multiple outdoor spaces off grade. And I think the neighbors' kind of came around, especially the ones that thought it was ugly at first, once they saw all the interesting and efficient spaces that were built by these students.
LM_ Describe one of your favorite episodes? MS_ During production, Architecture Record came and did this great little story on what we were all doing and the kids were energized by all the support. This essentially is captured in episode 5, the house designed and fully framed. Then there's open discussion on the arch record website, people start blogging in and at first they were very supportive and positive, this is great that these students are doing this for New Orleans, congratulations and blah, blah, blah and then the discussion started going south and became really harsh. One comment was "it looks like terrorists dropped a bomb, what are these kids thinking?" And it kept going and got really unnecessarily cruel. And one student, in particular, got really discouraged and took it really personally. This was one of the students that was really about the altruism of the project. Through this series of events, it comes out on film through this one student, how architects, with the best intentions, can feel completely underappreciated within not only the neighborhood and community they are so desperately trying to heal, but also their peers. If you try and do something out of the norm, it will always open you up to criticism.
Monday, August 18, 2008
125 years after construction on this giant masterpiece in Barcelona began, an influential group of Spanish artists, architects and art gallery directors are increasingly concerned the result will bear little resemblance to Gaudí's original vision of an architectural homage to God. The Guardian
Architect William McDonough draws his green-building techniques from the world around him. Before attending architecture school at Yale, he worked on a redevelopment project in Jordan and observed the clever way the Bedouins' tents utilized natural materials to protect them from the elements. Newsweek
The sprawling Beijing Olympic Village won its own gold medal today for going green. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson presented Chinese officials with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold award during a short ceremony, saying the 160-acre Olympic Village could serve as a future prototype for energy efficiency and environmentally friendly design. Bustler
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
In many American cities, public transportation infrastructure has been neglected for a long time in favor of other services, or where that is not incentive enough, for economic drivers like civic centers and ballparks. It seems things might be changing as many smaller cities in the US are reconsidering the streetcar, largely resigned to nostalgia and tourist gimics for the past sixty years. NYT
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
In his 2006 Cal Poly Lecture, architect and filmmaker Bill Ferehawk critiqued the development of prefab housing solution and combed the subject via psychological, technological, economical and socio-political conditions. This is the uncut version of his memorable lecture exclusively for elseplace.
Several months ago, we ran a quorum here about urbanization, pegged to the fact that more than half of the world's population now lives in cities. Given the economic changes of the past several months, particularly those in the housing market and in energy prices, it seemed like a good idea to run a new quorum on suburbia, even if it might cover some of the same ground. So we gathered up a group of smart people and asked them the following: "What will U.S. suburbs look like in 40 years?" NYT Freakonomics Blog
Abby Aguirre spends a day walking the landscape of the West Bank, with Raja Shehadeh, author of the recently published book Palestinian Walks: Forays Into a Vanishing Landscape. The book sketches a landscape that is rapidly disappearing-territory recognized internationally as part of a future Palestinian statecarved up by Israeli roads and settlements. NYT
San Francisco's Broadway tunnel is a highly traveled thoroughfare in the heart of the city. Over 20,000 cars, trucks, and motorized vehicles pass through it per day. Its walls are caked with dirt and soot, and lined with patches of paint covered graffiti from days gone by. It set the perfect canvas to create a beautiful work of art showcasing the talents of reverse graffiti artist "Moose," and the power of Green Worksplant based cleaner. Reverse Graffiti Project, link swiped from Kaliber
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Museum of the City of New York is cutting the ribbon on Wednesday on the first completed phase of a building project intended to give the institution, on Fifth Avenue between 103rd and 104th Streets, more space and greater visibility. "We've always been the poor sister to the city museums in London, Rome, Paris and Tokyo," said James S. Polshek, the lead architect of the project. NYT
Monday, August 11, 2008
When Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant, announced that it would open one of its trademark big-box stores on the Brooklyn waterfront in Red Hook, many in the area feared that throngs of shoppers would transform and scar a quiet neighborhood possessed of a battered industrial charm...But since the store opened, something unexpected has happened... NYT
Friday, August 8, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
From Archinect: This is cool.
ShowCase is a new feature on Archinect, presenting exciting new work from designers representing all creative fields and all geographies. We are accepting nominations for upcoming ShowCase features - if you would like to suggest a project, please send us a message.
The integration of biological and technological systems in the design of an interactive human interface is explored through an installation where plants rigged up with sensors provide a kinesthetic user experience based on movement, touch, sound and light. Human interaction with the system affects an algorithmic projection and soundscape. //Augmented Ecologies BIOLOGICAL + TECHNOLOGICAL The project explores the integration of biological and technological systems in the development of an interactive human interface. This notion is investigated through the design and construction of an interactive installation where user interactions with hybrid systems affect the light and sound-scape of the installation space. The design is suggestive of an information rich, technologically augmented landscape. Kinesthetic user/landscape relationships are forged within a mediated spatiality of light and sound. Design of an interactive installation driven by physical and virtual parametres requires the development of both hardware and software. Various tools were used to develop the necessary components and code. The principal soft/hardware used for the installation was Cycling '74 MAX.MSP/4.6 Jitter 1.6, and the Arduino Diecimila microcontroller. Both the software and hardware tools were selected for their availability, low cost, versatility and their associated, online open source communities, an indispensable source of information.
//Software Development MAX.MSP + JITTER + FLOCKING Max/Msp is a graphical programming environment which lets the user develop software through the use of a library of visual objects which can be connected together. Jitter is an extended library of objects specifically for the development of video and 3d graphics. The software has been used extensively in interactive installations, musical performance and film. The software was used to explore notions of group behaviour within virtual, algorhytmically driven ecologies. An emergent behaviour, flocking was first simulated using a computer in 1986 by Creg Reynolds. Simple rules govern the virtual flock; separation, alignment and cohesion. These rules, assigned to every individual member of the flock, result in extremely complex behaviour which simulates swarming/flocking in a realistic way. Simple software developed within the max/msp environment which simulates these types of behaviours is freely available to experiment with. Various patches were explored, through use and modification, including both simpler, 2-dimensional and more complex 3-dimensional flocks.
//Hardware Development ARDUINO + SENSORS Arduino is a physical computing platform based on a simple input/output board and a software development environment based on the Processing/Wiring language. This microcontroller board is a low cost, versatile tool that allows users to develop stand alone interactive projects as well as connecting to various software packages running on a computer. Complementary components are available to extend the board's functionality and applications. The particular model used in this project is the Arduino Diecimila which provides 14 input/output connections, 6 offering pulse-width modulation and 6 analog inputs. This allows reasonable number of sensors to be connected to the board. The data is then transmitted and interpreted within max/msp. Individual components and circuits for the installation are developed using low cost, easily available components, purchased, or hacked from common electronic appliances.
Light Sensor Kinesthetic Interaction:
Touch Sensitive Moss Pads:
Learning the System:
Biotechnological systems are deployed in the context of a previous project:
//Applications AUGMENTED LANDSCAPES The deployment of biotechnological interfaces to mediate habitation of outdoor urban spaces is explored conceptually within the context of my thesis project situated on the Chatham Waterfront, Medway, UK. In this project spatial and ecological conditions emerge from the deployment of a modular surface that responds to the surrounding context in it's variations of modular density, scale and intensity of folding. The surface is deployed so that the directionality of the modules attenuates surface flow (flood waters, precipitation, surface flow from the city) allowing diverse microhabitats to emerge between the modules. In time the landscape will gradually be populated by local species according to varying soil conditions created by the surface. Once populated biotechnological interfaces can be deployed on a large scale to transform the landscape into a vast kinesthetic garden. Habitation of the landscape is based on one's own movement and tactile relationships with the space. Pressure sensitive turfed areas respond to footsteps, long grasses chime to be stroked, artificial scents are diffused through the air at the tap of a leaf whilst vast arrays of LED's change colour in response to your movement.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Announced today, Dutch Mecanoo architecten, led by Francine Houben, have been selected to design the new £193 million Library of Birmingham. The new Library will be developed on a prime site on Centenary Square, and is scheduled to open in 2013 and promises to be the largest library in Europe. Bustler
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Given the astounding expectations piled upon the National Stadium, I'm surprised it hasn't collapsed under the strain. More than 90,000 spectators will stream through its gates on Friday for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games; billions are expected to watch the fireworks on television. At the center of it all is this dazzling stadium, which is said to embody everything from China's muscle-flexing nationalism to a newfound cultural sophistication. NYT | Slideshow | Interactive Graphic | prev. 1|2|3
Studio 360 explores Beijing's new architecture. The People's Republic of Houston?