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Megan Fowler

I just recently entered the professional world of architecture after finishing my M.Arch at Iowa State University in 2016. My undergraduate degree was a Bachelor of Design in Architecture with a minor in Housing Studies from the University of Minnesota. Throughout my academic career my focus has been on the human factor in design and I'm particularly interested in how the built environment affects the people who inhabit it and vice versa. I love to travel and try to make as many pilgrimages as I can to architectural landmarks all over the world!

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Antarctic Base McMurdo Station Receives Sustainable New Master Plan

06:00 - 4 September, 2017
Antarctic Base McMurdo Station Receives Sustainable New Master Plan, © OZ Architecture
© OZ Architecture

McMurdo Station, the American Antarctic base, was never meant to be a permanent settlement when it was built in 1956, yet today it is home to 250 people full-time in addition to approximately 1,000 summer workers each year. Consisting now of over 100 buildings spread across 164 acres, the settlement acts as a logistical base for field science but is dysfunctional for the scientists and researchers who live and work there and inefficient in terms of meeting the demands of Antarctica’s harsh climate. OZ Architecture has recently unveiled a new master plan for McMurdo that aims to turn the station into a model of American leadership in science, engineering, sustainability, and architecture, condensing the current sprawl into a 300,000 square foot campus composed of 6 buildings.

© OZ Architecture © OZ Architecture Current McMurdo Station. Image © Peter Somers Current McMurdo Station. Image © OZ Architecture + 14

EID Architecture Redefines High Density Mixed Use Development in Xi'an

16:00 - 3 September, 2017
EID Architecture Redefines High Density Mixed Use Development in Xi'an, © EID Architecture
© EID Architecture

After winning a recent international design competition, EID Architecture out of Shanghai aims to redefine high-density mixed-use development in Asia through their design for the OCT Xi’an International Center (OXIC) in Xi’an, China. The architects consider their approach an exploration of vertical urbanism; the project consists of a 320-meter tall tower for offices and a boutique hotel, a 220-meter tall apartment tower, and a 12-floor podium full of retail and entertainment spaces. Visualized as an icon and cultural landmark, the design is strategically organized horizontally and vertically to create a vibrant, permeable urban center.

© EID Architecture © EID Architecture © EID Architecture © EID Architecture + 20

Dark Arkitekter Plans to Rejuvenate Oslo with National Theatre Rehabilitation

06:00 - 28 August, 2017
Dark Arkitekter Plans to Rejuvenate Oslo with National Theatre Rehabilitation, © Dark Arkitekter
© Dark Arkitekter

Oslo-based architecture firm Dark Arkitekter hopes to jumpstart the revitalization of the city’s cultural center with their proposed rehabilitation of the National Theatre and redevelopment of the surrounding public space. The government is currently planning to renovate the 118-year-old structure, but Dark Arkitekter was unimpressed with the minimal-effort plan and so put forth their design on behalf of the Theatre.

© Dark Arkitekter © Dark Arkitekter © Dark Arkitekter © Dark Arkitekter + 12

In Residence: Inside Mattia Bonetti's Home on Lake Lugano

14:00 - 27 August, 2017

Unfortunately, I think that there is a big uniformity all over the world that makes everything very, very similar and very impersonal – very little imagination, I think. I guess it resembled me, this house, somehow.

This video from NOWNESSIn Residence series features Swiss furniture designer Mattia Bonetti in his home on Lake Lugano. Bonetti is based in Paris but maintains this home in his birthplace: Lugano, Switzerland. Designing furniture since 1979, Bonetti is known for his vibrant designs, often full of historical allusions and in contrast to his subdued persona. In the video, the artist and designer mention that some of the home’s accessories were handmade by Bonetti himself.

Continue reading to learn about Bonetti's inspirations in restoring and adding to his lakeside home.

How (and Why) to Let Weather Into Your Buildings

09:30 - 24 August, 2017
How (and Why) to Let Weather Into Your Buildings

Bringing the weather inside is usually the opposite of what you want from a building envelope. However, new research from the University of Oregon, described in an article by The Washington Post, aims to show the physical and psychological benefits of letting nature inside. Signs of nature and change are both beneficial to our well-being, yet we don’t always have access to them when inside buildings—and humans are now spending 90% of our lives inside. But even in an urban setting, where nature may be hard to come by, there’s no escaping the weather. When researchers found ways to bring things like wind and dappled reflections of the sun inside, they found that exposure to these natural movements lowered heart rates, while being less distracting than similar artificially generated movements.

By now, green buildings are a familiar concept, but the article in The Washington Post proposes moving beyond green buildings as we know them today. While green building can be great in new construction, that excludes a lot of existing buildings that could and should also benefit from an intervention of nature. Ideally, buildings should actively demonstrate their relationship with nature, moving beyond simply “doing no harm.”

© Hiroyuki Oki © Carlos Chen © Alex de Rijke © Alejandro Arango + 7

Step Into a Movie Dreamworld With "Accidental Wes Anderson" on Reddit

09:30 - 20 August, 2017
Lighthouse in Húsavík, Iceland. Image <a href='https://www.reddit.com/r/AccidentalWesAnderson/comments/6lg9c1/i_took_this_picture_of_a_lighthouse_in_h%C3%BAsav%C3%ADk/'>via Reddit user Milonade</a>
Lighthouse in Húsavík, Iceland. Image via Reddit user Milonade

If you ever have those moments where you take a step back from your life and feel like you’ve suddenly fallen into a scene from a movie, you may appreciate the subreddit /r/AccidentalWesAnderson. Director, producer, screenwriter, and actor Wes Anderson is well known for creating scenes in his films that blur the lines between the real and the unreal. His extreme symmetry and restricted color palettes can often give the impression of a surreal, self-contained world. The purpose of the Accidental Wes Anderson subreddit is for users to post photos of real-world architecture and scenes they’ve stumbled upon that look like they could be stills from one of Anderson’s movies, with Redditors finding Anderson-esque scenes around the globe in everything from bathrooms to staircases to city streets. Even a viewer unfamiliar with Anderson’s films can browse the collection of photos and easily understand his aesthetic. Below is just a small selection of some of the most evocative photos to be found on the subreddit.

Inside a tower in Pisa, Italy. Image <a href='http://i.imgur.com/m2b3P4d.jpg'>via Reddit user LaTalpa123</a> Homes in Vietnam. Image <a href='https://www.reddit.com/r/AccidentalWesAnderson/comments/6lqh6q/homes_in_vietnam/'>via Reddit user temporality</a> Tin Mal Mosque, Morocco. Image <a href='https://i.imgur.com/BeNYBsu.jpg'>via Reddit user that-there</a> Swimming Hall in Gotha, Germany. Image <a href='https://www.reddit.com/r/AccidentalWesAnderson/comments/6sswkz/swimminghall_in_gotha_germany/'>via Reddit user Teillu</a> + 12

This Unique New Technology Hopes to Turn Your City’s Streets Into Your News Homepage

09:30 - 15 August, 2017

The people of Manchester, UK, recently gained access to an entirely new way to access local news and engage with their city: OtherWorld, a pilot news experiment from startup studio Like No Other and Google’s Digital News Initiative. OtherWorld uses Bluetooth and cutting-edge beacon technology to deliver geo-located news directly to your smartphone for free, without installing an app. Referred to on the OtherWorld website as “living media,” as users walk around the city and pass by story locations, a silent notification will pop up on their phones, disappearing again as they walk out of range. Because the news you see on OtherWorld is directly related to the space you’re currently occupying, the system ensures that the news you’ll see is relevant to you. This unobtrusive method allows users to choose whether and how they will engage as well as adding an evanescent, elusive quality to the stories; you could walk right by and miss one if you aren’t paying attention.

In this way, OtherWorld illustrates the layers of our cities that are often invisible to us, bringing them into focus and allowing a deeper level of exploration into even a familiar city neighborhood. Focusing on stories that involve a real-world experience, users could become aware of an event nearby, a volunteer opportunity, a public meeting, or any number of other possibilities—thereby involving themselves in the public space and public realm in a way they would not have otherwise been able to.

This New App Wants to Answer All Your Building Code Questions

09:30 - 13 August, 2017
This New App Wants to Answer All Your Building Code Questions, © UpCodes
© UpCodes

Perhaps nothing can kill a project budget or give an owner heartburn quite like costly code fixes during (or in the worst case, after) construction. As architects, we do our best to navigate construction codes during design, but there’s no denying their complexity. Projects have to comply with multiple different codes at both the federal and local levels; different codes sometimes even contradict one another, leading to headaches for the design team.

However, a new website and mobile app hopes to make understanding and complying with building codes easier for architects and designers. “The solution we provide is a search engine tailored for architecture,” explains Scott Reynolds, co-founder of UpCodes. With his background in architecture, Reynolds has partnered with his brother Garrett Reynolds—who has a PhD in machine learning—and through UpCodes, the pair to ease some of that building code-driven frustration.

2017 Stirling Prize Shortlist Leaves Critics Divided and Underwhelmed

07:00 - 28 July, 2017
2017 Stirling Prize Shortlist Leaves Critics Divided and Underwhelmed

The 2017 winner of the UK’s most prestigious architecture award, the Stirling Prize, will be announced on October 31. Leading up to the main event, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released its list of the six shortlisted buildings, a collection that has left many critics scratching their heads. What the list left out seems to be as noteworthy as what was included, and while critics’ opinions on individual buildings differ, they seem mostly united in finding the overall list uninspiring and underwhelming. Read on to find out what they had to say.

Why Is Car Parking So Ubiquitous in the US? This Video Explains Everything

11:00 - 23 July, 2017

The next time you're cursing the price of a city parking meter, think instead about the high cost of free, off-street parking in terms of the urban environment. Urbanists these days agree that cities are at their best when they are walkable—designed for people instead of cars—but the reasons for the car-centric design of cities in the US are complex. In this video, Will Chilton and Paul Mackie of Mobility Lab describe all the problems inherent with parking in US cities and how it got to be this way: namely, off-street parking requirements, or mandatory parking minimums.

Most people know that US cities are dominated by parking, with roughly 8 parking spots per car throughout the country, but this video will give you all the information you need to win any debate about the impacts of mandatory off-street parking. Describe with confidence why cities love mandatory minimums for developers, extoll the virtues of correctly-priced parking meters, and impress your friends and colleagues with your knowledge of the other ways you pay every day for "free" parking.

When Architecture and Tourism Meet: La Grande Motte's Pyramids by the Seaside

09:30 - 21 July, 2017
When Architecture and Tourism Meet: La Grande Motte's Pyramids by the Seaside, © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ville-architecturale-de-la-Grande-Motte.JPG'>Wikimedia user Jjoulie</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>
© Wikimedia user Jjoulie licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Given a chance to realize the architect’s dream of creating his own utopian city from a blank slate, French architect Jean Balladur was inspired by lost civilizations of the past. His designs recall the architecture of grand Mayan ruins with some added flair from the 1960s, all in the form of a seaside resort village in southern France, La Grande Motte. Balladur devoted nearly 30 years to his life’s work, which today welcomes over 2 million tourists annually.

"La Grande Pyramide". Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grande_motte_02.jpg'>Wikimedia user Alain Caraco</a> licensed under <a href='http://https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> "Le Temple du Soleil". Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Temple_du_soleil_Grande-Motte_059.jpg'>Wikimedia user Dinkley</a> licensed under <a href='http://https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexbaranov/5231503058/'>Flickr user alexbaranov</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a> Public domain image <a href='https://pixabay.com/en/modern-architecture-france-beach-620035/'>via Pixabay user Jackmac34</a> + 16

11 Things You Learn at Your First “Real” Architecture Job (Lessons from a Recent Graduate)

09:30 - 17 July, 2017
© Megan Fowler
© Megan Fowler

You did it! You finished those grueling years of architecture school, perfected your portfolio and your interview pitch, and you landed your first job with an architecture firm. Everyone told you that working in a firm would be lightyears different from what you were used to doing in school, but until you get out there yourself, there is really no way to know just what that might entail. Once you’ve tackled life’s bigger questions about surviving outside of architecture school, you still have to learn to function in a day-to-day job. The learning curve is steep and it can certainly be overwhelming, but you’ve made it this far and there are a few lessons and skills you are sure to gain quickly as you start your career.

7 Game of Thrones Locations You Can Visit in Real Life

09:30 - 16 July, 2017
7 Game of Thrones Locations You Can Visit in Real Life, © <a href='http://www.geograph.ie/photo/5221846'>Geograph user Colin Park</a> licensed under <a href='http://https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>
© Geograph user Colin Park licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Is your life lacking in dragons? Do you long for the excitement and danger of a constant, treacherous struggle for governing power? If you find yourself simply biding your time waiting for new seasons of Game of Thrones to air (or for George R.R. Martin to finally write another book) one option is to spend some time traveling to the real-life locations used in the filming of the show! From Iceland to Morocco, the show’s creators have traveled all over the world to bring the mythical world Martin describes in his novels to life on screen. While much of the filming is done in a studio, and of course there’s plenty of CGI involved, many of the landscapes and buildings seen throughout the show’s 6 seasons are real places open to the public. We can’t promise you dragons or control of the Iron Throne, but what you will get are some spectacular sights that might just make you feel like a real Westerosi.

In honor of the show’s seventh season beginning later today, here’s a list of 7 Game of Thrones filming locations you can visit! (This list is mostly spoiler-free, but you may want to read with caution if you’re not caught up!)

Castle Ward: Winterfell. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Castle_Ward_Castle,_June_2011_(01).JPG'>Wikimedia user Ardfern</a> licensed under <a href='http://https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> Dubrovnik City Walls: King's Landing. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Casco_viejo_de_Dubrovnik,_Croacia,_2014-04-13,_DD_18.JPG'>Wikimedia user Diego Delso</a> licensed under <a href='http://https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/'>CC BY-SA 4.0</a> Stradun, Dubrovnik: King's Landing. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Main_street-Dubrovnik-2.jpg'>Wikimedia user László Szalai</a> licensed under <a href='http://https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> Alcázar of Seville: Sunspear and the Water Gardens. Image © Megan Fowler + 13

The World's Most Expensive Cities in 2017 (And Why They Are So Expensive)

09:30 - 3 July, 2017
The World's Most Expensive Cities in 2017 (And Why They Are So Expensive)

As anyone who has recently attempted apartment-hunting in a major urban area will know, reasonably-priced housing can be difficult to come by for many and salaries don’t always seem to match the cost of living. This gap is contributing to housing crises in developed and developing countries worldwide. People are simply being priced out of cities, where housing has become a commodity instead of a basic human right. Financial speculation and states’ support of financial markets in a way that makes housing unaffordable has created an unsustainable global housing crisis. 

Earlier this year the 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey was released for 2017, revealing that the number of “severely unaffordable” major housing markets rose from 26 to 29 this year; the problem is getting worse. The study evaluates 406 metropolitan housing markets in nine of the world's major economies and uses the “median multiple” approach to determine affordability. By dividing the median house price by the median household income of an area, this method is meant to be a summary of “middle-income housing affordability.”

Is this the “Best Drone for Architects”?

09:30 - 2 July, 2017

Architect and author of the Architect + Entrepreneur book series Eric Reinholdt recently released a video detailing the results of his research into the best drone for architects and designers. The drone he chose is the Mavic Pro from DJI, which he says balances multiple factors like cost, portability, camera quality, stability, ease of operation, and flight time. The only major negative Reinholdt mentions is the camera’s fixed aperture; he recommends counteracting this by purchasing neutral density filters, which help adjust the camera’s exposure. But why architects? Reinholdt mentions the variety of possible uses for a drone throughout a project, but most importantly, he sees video as the future of telling the story of architecture. Through video, you can simulate a user's movement through spaces and mimic the experience of architecture.

"Faith Estates" Proposes a New Approach to Religious Pilgrimage by Excavating Holy Sites

09:30 - 27 June, 2017
Machaerus religious development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi
Machaerus religious development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi

In a time of what seems to be ever-increasing religious and political conflict, Bartlett students Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, and Nasser Alamadi instead chose to focus on collaboration between religions in their thesis project entitled “Faith Estates,” which outlines a new method of mass religious tourism. In an area around the Dead Sea characterized by disputed boundaries and conflicting ownership claims, the group aims to reimagine the relationship between the world’s three monotheistic religions, but also to rethink the relationship between religion, tourism, and the landscape. The design consists of large-scale excavation sites which form tourist resorts along a pilgrimage route with the goal of forming a mutually beneficial relationship.

Dead Sea secular development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi The processional route toward Machaerus. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi Horkania archaeological development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi Dead Sea development. Image © Akarachai Padlom, Eleftherios Sergios, Nasser Alamadi + 19

This Sketchup Plugin Designs Structures Made From Plastic Bottles and 3D-Printed Joints

09:30 - 24 June, 2017
This Sketchup Plugin Designs Structures Made From Plastic Bottles and 3D-Printed Joints, The CHI'17 Pavilion. Image © Ludwig Wilhem Wall
The CHI'17 Pavilion. Image © Ludwig Wilhem Wall

The capabilities of personal 3D printing and fabrication are only beginning to be tested, but a new system is pushing the boundaries for feasible, structurally-sound large scale structures. Unlike other structures created by 3D printing systems, Trussfab doesn’t require access to specialized equipment, nor specific engineering knowledge, to print and build large-scale structures capable of supporting human weight. Phd researcher Robert Kovacs with his team from the Human Computer Interaction Lab at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany created Trussfab as an end-to-end system allowing users to fabricate sturdy, large-scale structures using plastic bottles and 3D-printed connections, making them easy and relatively quick to construct.

A detailed view of the CHI'17 Pavilion construction. Image © Stephanie Neubert The CHI'17 Pavilion. Image © Ludwig Wilhem Wall A 3D printed hub with embossed ID numbers. Image © Hasso Plattner Institute Digital model of the CHI'17 Pavilion in the Trussfab editor in Sketchup. Image © Robert Kovacs and Oanh Lisa Nyugen Xuan + 13

A Simple Guide to Using the ADA Standards for Accessible Design Guidelines

09:30 - 6 June, 2017
A Simple Guide to Using the ADA Standards for Accessible Design Guidelines, Obstructed high forward reach. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice
Obstructed high forward reach. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice

Only a special few architects can truly say they enjoy reading building codes. There’s no doubt that it’s daunting and it can certainly pose challenges to your design. Over time you’ll likely become familiar with the types of things you need to look out for on a project, but even the most experienced architects may still need to double-check a code question or two during the design process (or have an intern check it for them.) Unfortunately, many code documents are unwieldy to say the least, and there are few cases in which this is more true than the 279-page ADA Standards for Accessible Design. However, once you understand the layout and how to use a code book or the ADA guidelines, they become more manageable.

This guide aims to describe each chapter in the ADA 2010 guidelines to give a foundation for navigating them. Luckily for designers in United States, the documentation for the ADA Standards for Accessible Design is available online. Keep reading for a quick summary (all information and diagrams are directly from the guidelines). Check out the whole document here if you need it—or for convenience, each subheading in this article links directly to the relevant section in the PDF!

Golf facility standards. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice Accessible route clear width. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice Required door clearances. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice Signage standards. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice + 16