Just a collection of my thoughts or links to other thoughts on architecture and design.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fw: Archinect Op-Ed: Let's Get Small

From Archinect:

by sevensixfive Over the past year, many offices in the profession have seen their projects shrink. Institutions are moving away from the all-at-once construction of a single new building. They are instead asking architects for ideas about phased, long-term master-planning - with an emphasis on step-by-step reuse, renovation, and optimization of existing space, structures, and resources. A lot of this is happening for budget reasons as available cash and credit dwindles, but it also reiterates, at a smaller scale and timeframe, the habit of postindustrial shrinking cities in general. As property becomes vacant and gaps get knocked out of the block's teeth, city planning and development agencies are stuck with outdated methods that only deal with the scale of the neighborhood and the street. "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big." -Daniel Burnham, 1880 "All of humanity now has the option to 'make it' successfully and sustainably, by virtue of our having minds, discovering principles and being able to employ these principles to do more with less." -R. Buckminster Fuller, 1980 These two quotes foreground the dangers and opportunities inherent in shifting scale. Are big moves and big things the only way to stir the blood, money, and political will that drives development and tax base expansion? Is dealing with less a kind of settling - a resignation that we must tighten our belts and diminish our expectations? These manifestos appear to be in contradiction, but if they are read as describing, not large scale objects - but large scale systems and large scale time spans, they interlock and reinforce a worldview that privileges temporal relationships over static objects: 1. "Make no little plans ..." / "All of humanity ..." Burnham's quote falls right at the end of the Post-Civil War Reconstruction, a period of change and industry. Bucky Fuller's quote is at the end of the 1970s, the last era of energy shortage and economic stagnation. If Burnham is calling for extended optimism, Bucky is playing the role of the anti-pessimist, and clearly for both architects, the stakes are high. 2. "... a noble, logical diagram ..." / "... discovering principles ..." There is the shift away from the object, and towards the diagram or principle - that is the underlying yet present system that produces and sustains it. 3. "... long after we are gone ..." / "... successfully and sustainably ..." Again there are the high stakes, but now with the reminder that a project, in Burnham's terms a plan, is not successful unless it persists and unfolds in time, that time is the arena in which the system manifests and grows. 4. "Let your watchword be order, and your beacon beauty." / "... employ these principles to do more with less." And finally that the system, the 'noble, logical diagram' must have a certain kind of consistency in order to function, and that consistency is not the least important for its emotional impact: the recognition of beauty. The purpose of every project is twofold, first to do what it is intended to do - but second, and almost more importantly - to stir the blood: to generate interest and passion and capital, all the things it needs to come into being and survive in a world where attention and resources are scarce. Everything has a form. Diagrams and principles and systems are inextricable from their formal structure - they are nothing if not clunky, self-similar, noble, logical, articulate, baroque, elegant or lean ... If aesthetics is the purposeful manipulation of form for emotional and cultural impact, then the design of systems becomes a new field in which the methods of architecture can be applied. The current scarcities in credit, energy and imagination are, in another sense, opportunities to realign the priorities of the profession: away from object aesthetics and towards system aesthetics. Think Small: small scale objects, expanding incrementally and opportunistically over large scale timeframes. Generate beauty and surplus through adaptation, flexibility, elegance and economy of means. (Developed from notes intended to be delivered at Design Conversation #2 at the Windup Space in Baltimore, MD. Thanks to Mark Cameron, Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, Dan D'Oca, and Eric Leshinsky for background, context and other ideas related to this topic)

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Economic miracle, environmental disaster

CNN's Planet in Peril series presents a shocking audio slideshow showing the environmental impact from China's recent economic boom.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stairway to Architecture

From Archinect:

By Matthew Arnold

As it known, the 'good looking' road of architecture is not really easy and smooth. Architects, and I mean the entire community, students and the teachers, interns, practitioners and licensed architects, have to prove their dedication to architecture throughout their lives. With strictly institutionalized professional codes and 'fusion models,' the road is often a long ride, always challenging the dedicated and the committed. Architecture is one of the most demanding and rigorously pursued professions. Mathew Arnold, an architect with a Cooper Union education, sent me his research initially named, The Road To Licensure and its ongoing results in the form of well designed charts, illustrating an uphill effort, likened to a "Stairway to Architecture." It could shed some light on the questions some of you might have or raise newer issues and actions, for institutions and individuals involved, helping the integration of academy and the field, adjusting the scales for the advancement of the people who are, by definition, responsible for thinking of and creating the built environment. The Road to Licensure, supported by research and documentation, directly involves a large group of Archinect readers as they struggle to start and to complete their laborious education and those who already forayed onto the road of the laborious practice. In relation to number of architecture students and graduates, large sums of per years tuition fees also make the architecture one of the most expensive studies among other majors. It is very common, the graduates of many architecture schools are up to and over $100,000.00 in debt, by the time they receive their diplomas. According to this work by Mr. Arnold, what awaits the students before, during and after their expensive schooling, needs to be studied, understood, transparent and reality based. I hope to see his diagrams continue to develop, evolve, grassroot and most of all, referred in discussions. They might eventually lead to a better implementation of the good ideas that are already documented and widening the forum for brave new models, for those who decide to stay in architecture and ultimately benefit the public. Orhan Ayyce, Senior Editor - Archinect

The year 1996 saw the publication of the Boyer Report. Commissioned by the AIA (see the abstract,) AIAS, NCARB, NAAB, and ACSI, The report, entitled Building Community: A New Future for Architecture Education and Practice, called for a reinvigoration of architectural education and a more comprehensive integration of education and practice. The issuance of the report caused a stir in the architectural community. Practitioners and educators alike acknowledged the cogency and merit of its recommendations, and many of us participated in more than a few roundtable discussions where representatives of the academy and practitioners were united in voicing commitment to their implementation. Recently, I got to wondering, how are we doing now, twelve years later. I remember, as a student, anticipating a 3-year internship; what do students today expect? How effective is the implementation of IDP? How long does IDP last? What percentage of graduates go on to become licensed, and from which schools? How long does it take to pass the ARE, and at what rates do the graduates of different schools do it? How does firm size (or type) and job-hopping correlate with successful completion of the ARE? How many test-takers pass all divisions on their first attempt? I remember avidly looking for, and finding, the answers to these questions when I was studying for the test back in the days when we brought pencils and erasers to the exam site. In the medical field, this information is easy to find, for example (see pdf file). Med schools advertise the successes of their graduates as a part of their recruiting efforts. In my role as an IDP mentor, I am acutely conscious of the extensive data collected on the NCARB forms, which I assume they are collecting for some purpose.

Area studied So I went to ncarb.org. NCARB's website includes statistical information about ARE pass rates by division. This information treats the ARE as nine separate examinations, rather than one exam with nine parts. Because licensure is not incremental, but conditioned upon passing the ARE in its entirety, the published information is not dispositive. It sheds no light on the questions that any prudent student or candidate setting out to accomplish a goal would need to know. When I asked at NCARB, I was told that the web page includes the full extent of the information that is publicly available. I began to look for other sources of information. I went to naab.org. The NAAB provides statistical information about accredited programs of architecture, but it does not include the licensure rates of the school's graduates.

Applicants, accepted, dropped out, graduated I went to the website of each accredited school. I looked for statistical data or claims about the career paths of alumni. I found no school that featured this kind of information on its website. I searched each site with the term license+architect. More than a fourth of the websites returned no results for this search. If you are aware of something I missed, please let me know, I would be delighted to correct the record. A small number of schools do link to helpful information about internship, licensure and the practice of architecture, but they are a distinct minority. A dozen years after Boyer, those results were disappointing. If the answers to those questions of mine are to be known, we will need to gain access to information that is currently occluded.

The Kindergarten Charts Consequently, I prepared a Request for Information based on the data that I could find, and have submitted it to the IDP Advisory Committee, whose members include representatives of the groups that originally commissioned Boyer. I await their response. I hope they will find the diagrams sufficiently compelling to see the imperative for completing the task in the spirit of the Boyer report. If you concur with my request, please let them know. Their contact information can be found at AIA site. The answers to the questions raised in the RFI are essential to ratifying the social contract among schools, students, faculty, and practitioners. Much about the path to licensure in architecture is currently being reassessed, including in part: NCARB: 1 (pdf) & 2 NAAB: 1 & 2

Faculty make up The document is self-explanatory; it includes diagrams for each accredited program showing the number of applicants, acceptances, and graduates. It includes a representation of the total enrollment of each architecture school. The faculty (licensed and non-licensed, full- and part time) for each school is plotted to the same scale as the student body. Also charted is the matriculation latency ratio, which illustrates the proportion of education that occurs within a given institution that ultimately leaves it in the company of a diploma.

A typical school chart The charts are arranged alphabetically within the RFI, and sorted by size of graduating class in the accompanying Figure 3. Please feel free to print and post these diagrams at your school or office, and send them on to others. Architects seem to find them interesting.

Architecture school typologies The charts reveal that there are four types of program at the institutions studied; identified as Pennant, Torch, Funnel, and Wedge. These definitions roughly conform to a 2x2 matrix of selectivity and attrition. Because NCARB has not made data available for IDP-duration or ARE pass-rates, the diagrams include only a depiction of the 'by-division' success rates of the graduates of each school that NCARB does publish. This is interesting, but inadequate for any serious analysis, as is described in Appendix 1 of the RFI.

A chart detail The diagrams would also benefit from the charting of additional data for other factors in play during internship. The incorporation of multi-year data would significantly reinforce the validity of any conclusions reached as a result of this examination. The effort required to complete this exercise is insignificant in comparison to the $700,000,000 annual tuition spent on architecture programs in the US, and would represent a miniscule fraction of the time and effort invested each year in IDP compliance and ARE preparation. Certainly this data exists -- there are 8,000 new graduates and 4,000 new architects licensed each year, each one of whom has demonstrated fitness to the documented satisfaction of multiple oversight agencies. The investigation to date has proven interesting; if completed, the results will have some value. Wisdom is not the child of ignorance. As Jim Drebelbis says, "you manage what you measure, everything else is a guess."

The RFI and accompanying charts are available at stairwaytoarchitecture.com If your school is not represented in the diagrams in the RFI and you provide the following information to me, it will be included in a supplement:

  • programs offered: 4-year (unaccredited), 5-year B.Arch, 2-year M.Arch, 3-year M.Arch, 5-year M.Arch.
  • students (each program): number of applications to the school; number of acceptances; number of graduates; total enrollment for each program (all years).
  • faculty: total, full-time and part-time, and licensed and non-licensed.

This is the data that is the basis of the diagrams in the RFI. I'm also very interested to learn the enrollment by class-year for all schools, this information is not provided to the NAAB. Please be sure to identify your school as well. I'm hoping the website we're setting up at www.stairwaytoarchitecture.com can serve as a resource and clearinghouse for this subject. Please stop by and participate in the conversation, you can also contact me via email at matt@stairwaytoarchitecture.com Who is Matthew Arnold? I maintain a private architecture and design practice in Virginia. I graduated from Cooper Union with a B.Arch in 1982. I'm a licensed architect in most of the mid-Atlantic states. I enjoy the work of Edward Tufte and recommend his books and seminars, in particular the poster of Napolean's March to Moscow. I'm currently working on a little book, Drawings that Scream -- Architectural Working Drawings in CAD, a primer.

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The McCain-Obama Mismatch on Urban Policy

How do John McCain and Barack Obama compare on urban policy and what will it mean for New York and other large cities? Gotham Gazette

Norman Foster to Redesign NYPL

Norman Foster, the eminent British architect who has made something of a specialty out of inserting contemporary designs into historic buildings, has been selected for a major renovation of the New York Public Librarys landmark 1911 main building, on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. NYT | tangent: Street Lit

Friday, October 24, 2008

Partying Helps Power a Dutch Nightclub

The dance floor at Watt harvests the energy generated by dancers and transforms it into electricity. NYT

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ShowCase: John Lewis Department Store and Cineplex

From Archinect:

ShowCase is an on-going feature series on Archinect, presenting exciting new work from designers representing all creative fields and all geographies. We are always accepting nominations for upcoming ShowCase features - if you would like to suggest a project, please send us a message.

Commissioned within a larger city centre regeneration scheme, the John Lewis department store and Cineplex challenge the conventional blank envelopes which typify these buildings and explore ways for them to connect to an urban context. image

John Lewis Department Store and Cineplex (Photo: Helene Binet)

John Lewis The department store skin has been designed as a net curtain a patterned fabric which permits interior arrangements to be changed without creating exterior clutter yet providing views and natural light to the interiors. FOAs pattern design, which resonates with Leicesters rich textile heritage and John Lewiss own tradition of producing quality fabrics, is formed of four panels of varying density which meet seamlessly across the envelope, transmitting a fabric affect. Frit in mirror onto two layers of glass curtain wall, the mirrored pattern reflects its context and in doing so, densifies and changes as the sun moves around the building. Viewed frontally from the retail floors, the double fae aligns to allow views out, whilst an oblique view from street level displaces the two patterns and creates a moirffect, reducing visibility and maximizing privacy performance, and increasing visual complexity. The resulting envelope is a translucent and reflective net curtain via which the interior and exterior engage with the context in varying ways. image

John Lewis Department Store: Entrance (Photo: Satoru Mishima)


John Lewis Department Store: Entrance (Photo: Satoru Mishima)


John Lewis Department Store: Fae Detail (Photo: Lube Saveski)


John Lewis Department Store: Interior (Photo: FOA)

Cineplex The Cineplex needs to be a sealed box, detached from natural light. This part of the building is enveloped in an opaque stainless steel mirror finish rain screen, with pleats along the perimeter introducing intricacy to the enclosure. It is clad in 10,300 small, steel shingles whose thinness transmits a quilted affect and varies and localizes surface reflections. The pleats, shingles and mirror finish provide shadow, texture and color, while the play of light on the surface creates continuously shifting patterns. The opaque envelope is therefore transformed to a theatrical curtain whose performance is relative to its exterior.


The Cineplex - Street View (Photo: FOA)


The Cineplex - Street View (Photo: Satoru Mishima)


The Cineplex - Fae Detail (Photo: Helene Binet)

imageForeign Office Architects (FOA) Foreign Office Architects (FOA) was founded in 1995 and has emerged as one of the most innovative practices of architecture and urban design in recent years, known for combining technical innovation with design excellence. FOA's award-winning projects include the Yokohama International Cruise Terminal in Japan, noted for its use of dramatic form, innovative materials, and fascination with the interplay of architecture, landscape, and nature, credited by the Design Museum as a "design sensation alive with bustling urbanity and seaside tranquility". Other award winning projects include the Spanish Pavilion at the Aichi International Expo in Japan; the South-East Coastal Park in Barcelona, Catalonia; the Torrevieja Municipal Theatre and Auditorium, the Technology Centre in Logrono, and the Carabanchel Social Housing in Madrid, Spain; the Highcross development anchor building in Leicester, UK; the Meydan Retail Centre in Istanbul, Turkey; and the Dulnyouk Publishing Headquarters in Paju, South Korea. FOA's current projects in the UK include Ravensbourne College of Art and Communication in Greenwich, Trinity EC3 office complex in the City of London, two large retail-led schemes in Southampton and Sheffield; the redevelopment of Euston Station and a new Maggie's Centre in Newcastle; in Spain FOA is building the Institute of Legal Medicine in Madrid; in Catalonia, an office complex in Barcelona; in France, Residences for Artists and Researchers in Paris and a large office complex in Toulouse; in the USA, a Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland as well as several high-rise residential towers in Korea and Malaysia. The work of FOA has been widely published and exhibited, and represented Britain at the 8th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2002; the firm has received the Enric Miralles Prize for Architecture, four RIBA World Wide Awards, the 2004 Venice Architecture Biennale Award, and the Charles Jencks Award for Architecture. Partners Farshid Moussavi is an architect and educator, and co-founder of Foreign Office Architects (FOA). Since 2006, Farshid Moussavi has been Professor in Practice of Architecture without limit of time at Harvard University. She was trained at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, University College London, and Dundeen University. She has taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna where she acted as Head of the Architecture Institute, the Architectural Association, the Berlage Institute, and the Hoger Architecture Institute, and in the United States at Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton Universities, and at the University of California at Los Angeles. She has published "The Function of Ornament" in 2006, based on her research and teaching at Harvard. Professor Moussavi serves as member of design and architecture advisory groups for the British Council and for the Mayor of London's "Design for London" imitative, and previously for the London Development Agency, the RIBA Gold and Presidential Medals, and the Stirling Prize for Architecture. In 2004, she was Chair of Master Jury of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture: since 2005, she has been a member of the Award's Steering Committee. Alejandro Zaera-Polo is a founding partner of Foreign Office Architects together with Farshid Moussavi, and occupies currently the Berlage Chair in the Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands. Prior to this current role at the TU in Delft, he has been for four years the Dean of the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, until 2005. Previously he has been also Unit Master at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, and a Visiting Professor at the University of California in L.A., Columbia University in New York, Princeton University, the School Architecture in Madrid and the Yokohama School of Architecture where he currently has an advisory role. He has also been an advisor to several committees, such as the Quality Commission for Architecture in Barcelona City and the advisory Committee for Urban Development of the City of Madrid and is a member of the Urban Age Think Tank of the London School of Economics. He has published extensively as a critic in professional magazines worldwide, El Croquis, Quaderns, A+U, Arch+ and Harvard Design Magazine amongst them, and contributed to numerous publications, such as The Endless City curated by Ricky Burdett and Dejan Sudjic.

Working out of the Box: IOMEDIA

From Archinect:

Working out of the Box is a series of features presenting architects who have applied their architecture backgrounds to alternative career paths. Are you an architect working out of the box? Do you know of someone that has changed careers and has an interesting story to share? If you would like to suggest an (ex-)architect, please send us a message.

Archinect: Where did you study architecture?

Peter: Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Ecole DEBeaux Arts Tours France, and the University of Adelaide in South Australia. I must admit that my interests while studying were very broad, from photography to supercomputing and robotics as well.

Eric: I have a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon, with a minor in Business Administration and Marketing

Eugene: I studied Industrial Design and Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University.

Ashwan: I have a Bachelor of Architecture from Sushant School of Art & Architecture in New Delhi, India and an MS in Informatics & Architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York.

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IOMEDIAs Architecture Demo Reel

At what point in your life did you decide to pursue architecture?

Peter: My junior year of High School, while I was taking a class that incorporated bridge building. It didnt seem like enough to just build a bridge that held up, I wanted it to make sense and provide some aesthetic benefit to whoever might see it someday. The arts were always important to me all along the way, music, fine art, and design my father was always a great sketch artist and my uncle builds stringed instruments for a living [an amazing talent and not an easy thing to do] so they both influenced my decision to be involved with the arts. Eric: Pretty early on around the ninth grade. Being good at both art and math and sciences, I was told by several people at the time that architecture was a logical career path. I took a class in architecture, a real studio class, while I was in high school and a 10-week summer session at Carnegie Mellon before my senior year in high school, so I was pretty sure.


Genentechs BioOncology touch screen application in use at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

Eugene: Never Well ok since we are being truthful there was a brief moment back when I was in school and I saw this show called Seinfeld. Anyway since I am sure that you probably have not seen it as it was not that popular I will explain the situation. There is this character named George who was having a tough time picking up the ladies. So in all his infinite wisdom he decided that when he was out and a woman asked him what he did for a living he would simply say that he was an architect. The next scene was of him waking up in bed with the woman. I thought to myself if this guy could get lucky by claiming to be an architect then what would happen if I was an architect. So I signed up and quickly realized the error of my ways when I suddenly had an additional year of school to complete the degree and spent the whole time in the studio without sight of a woman.

Ashwan: In high school I was very interested in design and technology and around the same time I was involved in a small construction project. Meeting with the architects and being on the site really helped me in deciding my future career path. I decided to take on Mechanical Drawing as a subject in senior high school with additional focus on science and computer technology as well. To be really sure, I did get into an economics program after finishing school, but that didnt last very long. I was very happy when I moved into the architecture program. image

Screenshots of the custom touch screen application created by IOMEDIA for Genentech BioOncology.

When did you decide to stop pursuing architecture? Why?

Peter: It didnt come as part of a plan or anything calculated, I engaged the architecture profession whole heartedly and worked with some great people right out of school. Cambridge 7 was a fascinating place to work, talents like Peter Chermayeff and Peter Sollogub while I was there were amazing conceptual designers- though what I really took away from working with them was more of their entrepreneurial spirit, something that I cant see myself ever letting go of. Moving to New York was amazing, changed my whole perspective on the profession. I worked with Chris Choa at HLW International, another entrepreneur at heart-- after he left the country following his global aspirations; I decided it was time for me to do my thing as well. My education was amazing, the people I worked for were truly inspirational, and in 1997 the profession wasnt developing that quickly within digital communications, so I took the opportunity to start IOMEDIA and try to make a change. I had the opportunity to marry the two things I enjoyed most as a professional the arts, and technology. image

Cardinal Health - Product and Information Flow

Eric: While I was pretty certain that I was going to be an architect there was no doubt in my mind really by the time I finished my first year at Carnegie Mellon, Id already had the equivalent of 4 semesters of freshman architecture studio. So, thats pretty much what my perception, at that early age, of what the profession was based on these experiences problem solving exercises based upon relatively short design charrettes and the visual representation of that design solution. As things got more real about half way through the 5 year program, I started losing interest. I also felt that while the curriculum was meant to be very well rounded, it was also very confining and because of all the required classes, it left little room for exploring other interests, which I felt was key to developing my identity as a designer and keeping things interesting. I also felt it was completely irresponsible that it wasnt until our 5th year that we had a profession practice class where we learned what architecture, the practice of versus the study of, was all about. This only after 4 years of study and half of the class had already dropped out . . . I did however practice for 3 full years after graduating, hoping that architecture practice might hold something for me that in the end architectural study didnt. Unfortunately, as a junior architect, what I found instead were stair details, exiting diagrams, redlines and lots of AutoCAD so not exactly what I was looking for in order to sustain my interest. Ive always had a somewhat short attention span and really just didnt have the patience for projects that lasted years (after 3 years, nothing that I worked on was built, which I now know is not uncommon). Maybe if Id gotten over the initial hump of being a junior designer, but probably not. At IOMEDIA, most projects last a few weeks to a few months, although in some cases we are involved periodically or off and on throughout the projects life-cycle. With computer visualization there is just much more immediate feedback and (relatively) instant feedback.


Screenshots of the New Yankee Stadium Interactive Seat Selector application created by IOMEDIA.

At Carnegie Mellon, I did get a very solid and early exposure to computer visualization and from day 1 through my 3 years in practice I actively pursued 3d Viz until I felt I couldnt go any further within a conventional firm (at least not one at that time). I spent all of my free time honing my 3d skills and learning everything I could about the industry as well as immersing myself in film and animation. Right before I left architecture, I took an intensive class in 3d graphics at NYUs Center for Advanced Digital Applications. I dont however regret for a minute having studied architecture or where I studied it as it definitely gave me the tools to do what Im doing today and there was really no course of study for design visualization, so I wouldnt have done anything differently.

Eugene: See previous answer.

Ashwan: After finishing my five year course in Architecture, I worked for about a year as an architecture intern, working on design, drawings and construction as well. Though I found this somewhat fun, it did not really satisfy my technology bug. Around the same time I started dabbling in architectural visualization which helped fulfilling that void to a great extent. I wanted to pursue a stronger relationship between computer technologies and architecture, looking around I found RPI was offering a Masters program that was exactly that. I applied for the course, got accepted, packed my bags, embarked on my first trip to the US and moved to Troy, New York from New Delhi. At RPI, I found the program exactly what I was expecting, it was set within the Architecture school and the focus was advanced computer technologies; ranging from visualization to developing software programs that helped design processes. I decided to research the field of soft computational technologies such genetic algorithms and neural networks and their applications to urban design. As RPI had a strong computer science department, I was able to pick up concepts in programming and write code. Finally, I was able to effectively work on design and computer technology at the same time! image

The Premium Seating Sales Suite for the New Yankee Stadium designed by IOMEDIA.

Describe your current profession.

Peter: President and Founder of IOMEDIA. Honestly, my role is to guide our Creative Agency into opportunities that match both our current creative and business needs. I say guide, because our staff is full of talent; people who are much like me, they can do it all. Balance art, technology, and business structure not something that just comes naturally. I completely enjoy taking on the challenges that our clients/partners or prospective opportunities bring to us. Its rarely the same thing, you learn as you go along and you find how to connect things to solve the challenges. Operationally, our company is so many moving parts that you cannot always predict the best outcome, I believe in surrounding the issues with smart people, people who are respectful of one another, and who strive to better the organization. With that said I spend equal time between developing prospects, finding artful solutions, and working with our leadership team in building a great organization. I am passionate about learning new things, like all of the science behind our Healthcare solutions, and obsessed about improving things, like the use of digital communications in Real Estate and Design. I find myself right back to accomplishing the objectives I set out for myself many years ago balancing art with functional outcomes [my high school bridge project].

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IOMEDIAs Motion Graphics Reel

Eric: Im the Creative Director for the Architecture Studio at IOMEDIA. My role encompasses business development and client or account management, as well setting the visual direction and overseeing all work output by the studio. As IOMEDIA has grown from solely being an architectural visualization company (still renderings and animation), to having independent Architecture, Healthcare (Medical), Interactive and Video studios, Ive filled just about every role along the way as a 3d animator, Photoshop artist, motion graphics artist, video editor and even medical animation director so Im well acquainted w/ every step of the process and draw from all of those experiences in every stage of the work we do. In the Architecture Studio, we have as a diverse an array of projects types, clients and deliverables as exists in the building industry. We have never focused on just one building type (say high-end condos), and work with architects, developers, construction managers and marketing agents, across all levels of the design process. I feel that it is this diversity that keeps things interesting and informs each project and keeps the output from getting stale. While we certainly do plenty of still renderings, we do even more animation, video and interactive work, where the product and the process arent always clear up front. Due to the nature of the work we are representing and the fact that we are always trying to move things forward in terms of the quality and kind of work we are producing, there is substantial design work done up front in order to determine how best serve a particular client or project. Our clients seem to come to us as much from this kind of creative up-front thinking as they do for the quality of the work we produce. image

Meadowlands Xanadu Sales Office with Interactive features designed by IOMEDIA.

Eugene: Currently I am the VP of Production here at IOMEDIA. My main responsibility is to oversee all production efforts within the company. This consists of work produced within our Architecture, Healthcare, and Interactive Studios. I oversee the staffing of all production personal in addition to developing pipelines for producing the work within the different groups. I have been here for 8 years and have been a part of the different groups along the way. Starting out in the capacity of a 3D artist and evolving to my current position.

Ashwan: I am the VP of Research & Development at IOMEDIA and also lead initiatives in the Interactive Studio. I started at IOMEDIA as a visualization artist, my skills (or lack thereof) within this group were quickly recognized, and I promptly switched gears and became the interactive group. Over the years, the interactive studio has grown and has produced some remarkable technology solutions for our clients. We have had the opportunity to work with a diverse range of clients at IOMEDIA such as architects, developers and healthcare professionals. This has allowed me to apply a vast and creative mix of technologies to their complex problems. Websites, mobile applications, virtual reality applications, bizarre exhibit media installations, we have done it all and will be doing more for sure! image

Screenshots of the custom sales & leasing tool created by IOMEDIA for Meadowlands Xanadu.

What skills did you gain from architecture school, or working in the architecture industry, that have contributed to your success in your current career?

Peter: Surrounding a challenge with potential solutions, evaluating them, and then executing. Its really not beneficial to be too quick to the conclusion in our business, its equally detrimental if you ponder about things too long, and there is no place in business for us if we cant execute on anything. While studying, I learned how to practice these concepts and now overlay them on our particular challenges in building a great organization, it could be for a project, or evaluating staff the skills you learn in balancing these principals are what is key. Eric: Ive always said that my role, in spite of all the changes that its undergone over the past 10 years as IOMEDIA has grown from an 8 person to a 50 person company, comes down to visually creative problem-solving breaking down a set of criteria and coming up with a unique and compelling visual representation where one didnt exist before. This is a direct result of having gone through 12 semesters of design studio and I cant think of another way I would have better developed this specific skill or way of thinking. That and understanding the needs of the client and/or end users needs and desires and speaking to those needs and desires through all levels and aspects of the product we are producing. Also, the process of critique and collaborative design discussion were essential skills that were developed over the course of architectural study. Oh, and of course computer graphics.

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IOMEDIAs Healthcare Demo Reel

Eugene: While I have had a brief foray into the field of architecture and industrial design there is one thing that I am truly grateful for. That is simply the problem solving mentality that is inherent in these fields. It has enabled me to help develop processes and look at alternative solutions to problems that we face every day within the production environment

Ashwan: Looking back, I believe that my study and practice of architecture design built a strong foundation to think creatively even when I am in the midst of highly technical problems. It also helps me in explaining and putting forth technology solutions to our design oriented projects. Most importantly, without my architecture experience I wouldnt be able to wear my clichblack turtleneck, introduce myself as an architect and sound cool at a bar.

Do you have an interest in returning to architecture?

Peter: On a small scale, as an art form not as a business.

Eric: No. Im perfectly happy doing what Im doing and my role, the work that IOMEDIA produces and our industry as a whole has been constantly changing and growing. I honestly cant see the same fitting within one architecture firm

Eugene: Well now that I am married and have a beautiful wife and 2 children, there is really no need for me to return to architecture.

Ashwan: My Second Life avatar will be an architect.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shopping Malls Not Below Libeskind's "Dignity"

er a decade of creating jutting projections for museums, Daniel Libeskind has attempted to redefine the look of another institution: the shopping mall. ArchRecord | Slideshow | prev.

Rome workers uncover city of dead

Workers renovating a rugby stadium have uncovered a vast complex of tombs beneath Rome that mimic the houses, blocks and streets of a real city, according to officials, who have unveiled a series of new finds. CNN

Friday, October 17, 2008

Can Accordia really be a blueprint for housing?

Yes, says Keith Bradley one of the Stirling-Prize-winning developments architects; but Alan Cherry, of the schemes developer Countryside Properties, disagrees. BD | prev.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cities, Suburbs, and the Candidates

So far, unfortunately, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama has recognized the need for a new way of thinking about and improving our cities and suburbs. NYT

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Princeton's Gehry Library Banishes Stacks, Encourages Talking

Saw-toothed glass dances in a conga line above leaping arcs of metal roof at the Peter B. Lewis Science Library at Princeton University. The signature hand of Frank Gehry is unmistakable. But where are the books? Bloomberg

Life Without Buildings Interviews Charlie Kaufman

As pointed out by LWB's Jimmy Stamp in the forum on Archintect, he has just posted a fantastic interview with Charlie Kaufman, screenwriter for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, among many other. Read

Monday, October 13, 2008

Diane Keaton - the unexpected preservationist on the lost Ambassador Hotel

LAtimes makes the case for replacing the intransigent LA Unified School Board for their complacency in razing the place where Bobby Kennedy was shot. So why do the powers that be in LA like destroying history so much? 

ShowCase: Huaxi Urban Centre Tower by EMERGENT

From Archinect:

ShowCase is an on-going feature series on Archinect, presenting exciting new work from designers representing all creative fields and all geographies. We are always accepting nominations for upcoming ShowCase features - if you would like to suggest a project, please send us a message.

Structures of contemporary high-rise buildings, though often limited by material capacities, dynamic lateral forces, and legal constraints, have recently undergone a renaissance of investigation. The list of known structural types such as moment frames, braced frames, trussed tubes, and shear wall systems has been expanded to include new morphologies and materials including non-metric cellular formations, exoskeletal lattices, and next-generation carbon fiber composite networks. image

Huaxi Urban Centre Tower

Experimentation in the realm of mechanical systems, however, is far behind. Most high-rise buildings are still outfitted with a hidden and expensive network of metal ducts which are run through structural cores or between structural beams in an ineffectual and often conflictual way. Mechanical systems have become the other of structure, relegated to dark inaccessible spaces, inevitably remaining architecturally inert. At one moment in recent history, however, architects began turning buildings inside-out for the sake of the expression of HVAC systems. That movement in architecture-- Structural Expressionism-- was nevertheless problematic from the start since projects effectively transported known HVAC systems wholesale to the exterior without any productive transformation in terms of form, organization, or atmosphere. image

Huaxi Urban Centre Tower at night


Huaxi Urban Centre Tower at night


Huaxi Urban Centre Tower at night

This project revisits the problem of architecturalizing tower infrastructural systems. Rather than expressing the literal image of technology, the goal is to create technological ambience. This ambience is defined by translucency, shrouding, and exotic lighting and color effects. But it is also the result of hybridizing mechanical systems with other building systems in a way that cross-wires traditional hierarchies and produces synergetic forms. image

Conventional High Rise HVAC vs. Huaxi Urban Center Tower #7

The point of departure for the design was to allow ductwork to migrate out of the central core toward the exterior. The glass envelope begins to take on duct behavior by delaminating to create pleats where air can flow. These pleats branch and run across the building facades, linking to floor plenums on each level at several locations along the perimeter. image

Huaxi Tower Pleat Study

A second layer of loose-fitting skin wraps the glass duct-skin, registering the pleats and shrouding the building. This shroud is made of perforated sheet metal. It acts as a sunscreen during the daytime, while nonetheless allowing views through. At night, the glass ducts glow from behind the shroud, creating elegant color and depth effects, reflections, and silhouettes. Their freeform morphology and variegation begin to create associations with the lush natural terrain of the site.

imageEMERGENT Founded in 1999 by Tom Wiscombe, EMERGENT is dedicated to researching issues of structure, tectonics, and materiality through built work. EMERGENT is a platform for experimentation, leveraging techniques and logics from fields outside architecture including biology, complexity science, aerospace engineering, and computation. EMERGENTs directive is to move beyond categorical thinking in architecture and the stratification of building systems. This involves a re-examination of heirarchies and discreetness of systems toward coherent but differentiated constructions. Ultimately, the results are understood both in terms of performance and spatial and atmospheric effects. EMERGENTs approach is informed by contemporary models of biology and systems theory as well as by the arts, toward an architecture based on structural pattern formation and emergent behavior. The work is part of a larger contemporary movement in architecture referred to by Detlef Mertins in 2004 as Bioconstructivism, where a bias toward material intelligence begins to produce an architecture characterized by its variability and responsiveness to local forces. The work questions the dialectic of excess and efficiency in architecture, in favor of a more complex understanding of both through biological thinking. The recursive process of random mutation and natural selection in nature provides a model for how a dynamic feedback between excesses and efficiencies can create innovation and elegance. This feedback logic is executed in the office using both generative and analytical algorithms as well as hands-on design techniques. Key to the work is the phenomenon of emergence which offers insight into the way apparently isolated bodies, particles, or systems exhibit group behavior in coherent, but unexpected, patterns. The animated beauty of emergent organizations, such as in swarms or hives, points to a range of real architectural potentials where components are always linked and always exchanging information, and above all, where architectural wholes exceed the sum of their parts. Biological thinking has led EMERGENT toward the exploration of new methods of systems integration, construction documentation, and fabrication. Recent co-ventures with international engineering companies, including Buro Happold and DeSimone Consulting Engineers, have begun to reveal new working methods which establish active feedback loops between engineering and design disciplines, ultimately pointing to a redefinition of AEC territories.

2008 Stirling Prize: Innovative Public Housing Wins at Last!

The Stirling Prize winners talk to the The Architects' Journal | Jonathan Glancey (FT) and Edwin Heathcote (Guardian) both applaud the fact that for the first time in [the] 13-year history of the Stirling Prize, a housing scheme is recognized.

Accordia wins the Stirling Prize

Accordia in Cambridge by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects and Maccreanor Lavington has won the 2008 Stirling Prize. BD

Archinect Op-Ed: A green lining to our financial crisis clouds

by Barry Lehrman Beyond the Malthusian gloom and doom that pervades most of the discussion about climate change and the current economic outlook, I am optimistic about the unique opportunity we have to change our behavior to preserve the environment and our future. Our consumer culture needs to shift towards living off of natures income and not natures capital. With the shreds of financial deregulations burning down our house of debt - we have become a nation that can no longer feed our material addiction. Maybe, just maybe, we have reached a tipping point where it is easier to change our behavior then maintain the Gordon Gecko greed and wonton consumption of the last 30 years. If we are to tackle the inconvenient truth of climate change and environmental degradation before its too late, we must act. Thom Friedman, and others are starting to focus on making lemonade out of the bailout and recession. As citizens of the world, we all can seize this moment to shape the future. That is just one pro-active aspect of American ingenuity that does make us the best country on around. But we also need to redefine how we live as necessity forces a return to our roots of thrift and frugality. If we can rebuild our financial institutions and economy to care about the triple bottom line and the well-being of our world - the $700b will have been well spent. If we can rebuild our government to serve the people and not wealth - the $700b will have been well spent. If we can spark innovation and pay for basic science research to create a new green economy - the $700b will have been well spent. If we can replace and repair our neglected infrastructure with state-of-the-art green pipes and systems - the $700b will have been well spent. If we can teach our children, parents, and peers that the conservation of energy and resources is the simplest step to pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps - then the $700b will have been well spent. If we take this moment to do right, to care about those without, to share our love and happiness, to appreciate life a little more then there is hope. At least I know that with this economic melt down, as the average american struggles to fill the tank of their SUV, weve gained a little more time before the polar bears drown or that we suffocate in the sauna of CO2 and mercury released from Chinese power plants. Yes, the its going to be painful - but our grandchildren and the entire planet will be significantly better off if we take the opportunity that this crisis offers. Will you? Creative Commons License
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Binary Design's Study of Desert Plants and Ancient Dwellings Leads to New Green Building Technologies

From Archinect and it is really interesting.

By Thomas Whittingslow A group of young architects in Tucson is studying desert plants and the positioning of primitive dwellings to create new techniques in environmental architecture for hot climates. They are part of a school known as Emerging Material Technologies. In Arizona they are represented by Binary Design, founded by Dale Clifford and Jason Vollen, former professors at the University of Arizona School of Architecture. Binary Design is founded on Aristotles theory of praxis[1], where theoretical knowledge is manifest as practical, hands-on solutions. Through careful observation of programmed natural forces, Binary takes the theoretical or abstract data that emerges from a particular location or building site, and then develops it into a unique kind of architecture that is both sustainable and practical. Binary has created a new genre of Green building for hot desert climates by turning conventional models of architecture inside out. image

The cooling blocks being manufactured by Binary Design and Emerging Materials Technology mimic the capillary system and porous membrane of native desert plants water-harvesting mechanisms. Researched by Matan Mayer.

Their first speculative home called Mariposa de Acero, or Steel Butterfly is located on a hillside south of Tucson and will be placed on the market in early 2009. Clifford and Vollen act as architects and work closely with Todd Wilson, the innovative developer and builder of Steel Butterfly. This working relationship is essential to ensure quality design at relatively low cost. By taking binary patterns which they learned from the hillside, then applying them to practical solutions, Vollen and Clifford have come up with some revolutionary ideas. In order to keep disruption of the soil to an absolute minimum the entire structure is mounted on bridgework of steel struts. Cool air comes down from the mountain in the evening then it is pulled through the building by an open courtyard that separates the two major elements of the house. This application is based on studies of primitive dwellings sites that were created by the Hohokam who separated family modules by breezeways. Learning from the water-harvesting mechanisms of native plants photo-chromatic coatings , the exterior courtyard surface of the Mariposa home is lined with passive cooling blocks, utilizing the same membrane/capillary principles, found in barrel cactus e.g. water trickles down the blocks and draws cool air into the house, similar in principle to an evaporative cooler. image

Model of Clifford and Vollens Mariposa de Acero or steel butterfly residence south of Tucson is perched lightly on a delicate desert hillside and takes advantage of passing and cooling thermal flows along the mountainside. Design assistance: Eddie Hall.

Currently, Vollen and Clifford are involved with Carnegie Mellon University and the Rensselear Polytechnic Institute pursuing advanced analysis, modeling and testing emerging materials for greater physical efficiencies in home construction. As part of that ongoing process, they are producing ceramic blocks, based on the thermodynamic strategies of barrel cacti and termite mounds. In keeping with Binarys philosophy of learning through work, Vollen and Clifford will manufacture the blocks themselves. They hope that these materials will soon be available in new homes. 


Scale model: Wilson Residence, or Steel Butterfly is perched lightly on a delicate hillside south of Tucson. By elevating the house on a system of steel girders, disruption of the land was kept to an absolute minimum. Its careful orientation takes advantage of passive heating and cooling thermal flows along the mountainside.

Contemporary housing strategies in southern Arizona satisfy LEED standards with high insulation and tight construction. The premise is that a highly insulated, tight house will take less energy to mechanically condition, said Clifford. Binary Design looks to surpass LEED Green Building Council certification, the current standard for the industry. Our approach is quite different: depending upon a combination of vernacular and high tech strategies that engage a specific site, we might open the house up and bring the outside in, resulting in a home that is sensitive to the changing environment of that particular location, such as we did with the Steel Butterfly. Its a different way of living. As much as possible, were using passive principles like natural ventilation, orientation and overhangs, augmented with the technology and materials that make the building more efficient. As you learn to live in this house, your energy bills will go down. Without a doubt, the same principles could work on production housing. At the outset, the builder would have to pay more attention to orientation, which would get away from monotonous siting, typical of PUDS. image

Ecotect solar insulation analysis of a new concrete block developed by M. Gindlesparger, Research Principal at Binary. The block is geometrically tuned to admit solar radiation in the winter months and shade itself in the summer. The block is not dissimilar in function to the human eyebrow. This is how the thermal block appears in the month of May.


Thermal block in November.

Clifford and Vollen not only want to impact the architectural design community, but also to change how we think about living in our homes. Vollen offered some binary advice on green construction to local home builders: The best thing that Arizona builders and developers could do is avoid building with 2x4 lumbers in a place where there are no trees. We are in an area where historically lots of masonry and ceramic products have been produced, but we dont seem to be taking advantage of that. Perhaps by training new entry-level people in the trades, we could regain some of that skill. It could be 30 to 40 percent cheaper if we build with masonry rather than wood, or a combination of wood and stucco. Clifford went on to explain that stucco was originally designed to be applied on top of masonry products not wood. When discussing ways to save energy, Clifford made some surprising observations: One thing we notice in stucco production houses is that the openings were designed for locations like Tallahassee or Chattanooga, not the Desert Southwest. By taking more time to manipulate these openings and tune them to the environment, you could have a much better house and achieve significant energy savings. If you have the right view and make the right arrangement, the value of the home is increased both aesthetically and financially.


This pod was constructed at Binarys shop in Tucson, then delivered to the site. Its size makes it ideal for a home office or studio add on in established neighborhoods.

The demand for sustainability is not just a builder or homeowner issue but it dictates the core values of half of the worlds 500 largest companies, which say they want to build and occupy real estate that reflects their values, while others are still struggling to define it. To major builders like Pulte and US Homes it is often part of a marketing campaign aimed at Green concision buyers, based on the LEED scale. To others, like Al Gore and William McDonough, it has become a moral or political issue. For a snapshot of how big the sustainable vision is, the Brookings Institute says that half of the buildings that we will live in by 2030 dont even exist today. This translates into a $25-trillion building booman opportunity so enormous that the building industry could literally change the face of how and where we live. Nowhere will this be more evident than in the Desert Southwest. Acknowledging the social contract of architects to serve those in need, Binary has also created small SEED (pods) as an alternative form of affordable dwelling for that segment of the global market that cannot qualify for a traditional home. Essentially is the smallest liveable module that that be added to as the situation or need arises. It is also applicable for those who want to add additional living space at minimal cost while maintaining sensitivity to aesthetics and sustainability. Examples of this for SEED (pod) installations can be seen in Tucson, Arizona. image

As the seedpod protects and nourishes the seed in the initial stages, the SEED (pod) provides and alternative form of equity building. The continuing rising of construction costs keeps starter homes out of reach for percentage of the market. A new model for home buying is desperately needed . With Binarys SEED (pod) the first time buyer can get into the market with the smallest livable unit, adding to the house when necessary. With a low purchase price, low square footage, the SEED (pod) can be added to in affordable increments.

Vollen is a graduate of Cranbrook Academy, a preeminent graduate school in design and architecture. Other graduates such as Carl Milles, Harry Bertoia, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll and Daniel Libeskind have had a major impact on the architecture of our time. Someday, perhaps Vollen and Clifford will join that list. [1] Praxis: (Greek): the practical application of something, as opposed to theory.

Dale Clifford: Dale is a principal in Binary Design and a cofounder of the Emerging Materials Technology Research Group at the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the UA faculty, Clifford was an Adjunct Professor the Boston Architectural Center and Portland State University. After completing his professional degree, Clifford worked with Molecular Geodesics, Inc., in Boston, a firm that designed surgical implants and instruments based on biomimetic principles. Clifford is a graduate of the Pratt Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He will soon join the faculty o architecture atf Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. Jason Vollen: Jason is an Associate Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and researcher at CASE, the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology. He is a cofounder of Binary Design and the Emerging Material Technologies Research Group the University of Arizona. Prior to joining RPI and CASE, Vollen worked as an Assistant Professor at The University of Arizona School of Architecture, with Matter practice in New York and as a fabricator with the Cranbrook Architecture Office. Vollen is a graduate of The Cooper Union and Cranbrook Academy of Art. Thomas Whittingslow: Tom is an award winning freelance writer who lives in Tucson, Arizona. His stories on travel, art and architecture have been published in numerous national and international publications.