Tim Winstanley

Laws Behind LA’s Flat Skyscrapers

© Wikimedia Commons / Pintaric

Ever wonder why the skyline of is peppered with flat top skyscrapers? Or for that matter, why does such a global cosmopolitan city have so relatively few skyscrapers dotting its cityscape, the majority residing in downtown LA?

The answer lies in a section of the Los Angeles Municipal Code introduced in 1974 – Sec. 57.118.12 – “Emergency Helicopter Landing Facility.” The code stipulates that “Each building shall have a rooftop emergency helicopter landing facility in a location approved by the [Fire] Chief.” The text also dictates that the helipads measure 50′x50′ in addition to a 25′ safety buffer. The resulting skyline thus far has been dominated by flat roof skyscrapers that would only make it through the planning process if in strict accordance with this code. However, a newly introduced proposal called the Hollywood Community Plan would allow skyscrapers to be constructed along the subway served “Hollywood Corridor.”  In lieu of embarking on a plan that would surely result in more box type towers, an amendment has been introduced into the plan that would exempt skyscrapers within the corridor from having to conform to Sec. 57.118.12 helipad requirements. More After the break.

2011 Skyscraper Trends

© TFP Farrells

Every January the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat conducts a review of construction and compiles all the data from the previous year. The trend since 2007 has seen record breaking years for buildings taller than 200 meters completed, with 88 skyscrapers completed in 2011. Even as the global economy is slowly recuperating from the 2008 financial crisis, it would appear as though this trend will remain relatively stable. China, leading the pack at 23 completed towers is predicted to remain at the forefront of market, followed by Middle Eastern countries in the next decade.  UAE, South Korea, and Panama City – an up and coming cosmopolitan city – rounded out the top four. Of the towers completed in 2011, 17 have made their way into the top 100 tallest buildings – Shenzhen’s Kingkey 100, at 442 meters crowning this year’s list. More after the break.

AIA’s 2012 Legislative Agenda

© 2010 CAST architecture

The AIA recently unveiled their 2012 legislative agenda, and has made it clear that creating jobs in the design and construction industry are a priority. We have been covering the numerous initiatives that the has been implementing over the past year ranging from the Stalled Building Index, the regularly updated Architectural Billing Index and their update of the 2030 Commitment Reporting Tool. Of particular importance, especially for those of us who are running small firms or contemplating breaking into this fragile market as a sole proprietor, is an emphasis on fostering our growth. With the bulk of firms falling into this category – 95% of all firms in the US employ 50 or fewer people – this initiative should put some pressure on the political machine that has the authority to reign in the tax rates on small entrepreneurs and stimulate growth through the reevaluation of private sector lending.  In tandem with this concerted effort by the AIA, it is practically imperative as a small business owner, that we take control and become much more fluid in an increasingly amorphous and uncertain environment. Whether it is by seeking out non-traditional design opportunities, or introducing new initiatives that are unique to your firm, we as a design community are certainly up to the task. (See Jennifer Kennedy’s recent article on the topic here.)

To see more of the AIA’s 2012 Legislative Agenda topics visit them here.

The Architecture of Stanley Tigerman Exhibition / Graham Foundation in Chicago

© , American, born 1930, The Titanic, 1978, Photomontage on paper, Approx. 28 x 35.7 cm, Gift of , 1984.802, The Art Institute of . Photography © The Art Institute of

The Graham Foundation in Chicago, Illinois is hosting an exhibition of the works of architect Stanley Tigerman from January 26, 2012 – May 19, 2012. Tigerman, a Chicago native and principal of Tigerman McCurry, undertook more than 400 projects, resulting in 175 built works. As an active member of the local Chicago architectural community, he was a founding member of The Chicago Seven, director of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1985-1993), and co-founded the school ARCHEWORKS with Eva Maddox in 1994 – a progressive socially oriented design. More details after the break.

Architecturally Inspired Ties

© William Mullins

We recently came across a project headed by Chattanooga architect William Mullins for architecturally inspired ties. Appropriately called Architectie, the initial run of designs feature abstracted designs based on four classics of architecture; the Notre Dame du Haut by Le Corbusier, the Yale University Art Gallery by Louis Kahn, Tomba Brion by Carlo Scarpa and the Case Study house #8 by Charles and Ray Eames. Manufactured in the USA, the ties are the first in Mullins’ series, which he hopes to expand to include other lines of ties featuring abstracted designs of modern architectural icons. To see more of the ties visit his Kickstarter site here.

Excavating Wilderness: An Urban Subterranean Dialogue

© Jeff Kamuda

The Excavating Wilderness: A [re]Orienting Trajectory Across proposal by Syracuse University graduate Jeff Kamuda investigates the tensioning between natural wilderness and the built environment. With the rise of modern civilization, a fluctuating tenet between humans and nature can be observed in its reincarnation of the urban park. Situated in New York City’s Central Park, the project introduces a set of natural phenomena through a unique and atypical approach, which in turn serves to stimulate a dialogue between the individual, the park, the city, and the cosmos. Stretching a mile across Central Park from Grand Army Plaza at 59th street to the American Museum of Natural History at 77th Street, the triparted project achieves a dramatic juxtaposition of experience combined with elevated architecture. Read more after the break.

Video: David Chipperfield Discusses German Projects

British architect David Chipperfield recently gave an interview with Crane.tv discussing his architectural philosophy and affinity for the German culture. He expands on his approach to architecture and touches on his work for the completed reconstruction of the Neues Museum in Berlin.  Be sure to check out some of his other recent works including; The Hepworth Wakefield gallery in Wakefield, England, Turner Contemporary – a visual arts venue in Margate, England, America’s Cup Building in Valencia, Spain, and the Central Public Library in Des Moines, Iowa.

References: www.crane.tv, architecturalvideos.blogspot.com

Phantom Developments of the Southwest

© Wikimedia.org / Gobeirne

During the housing boom in and the surrounding suburbs, enormous swaths of land were graded and prepared for endless subdivisions as far as the eye could see. Following the burst of the housing market and prolonged recession, these unfinished construction sites have sat vacant – remnants of unbridled optimism in the Valley of the Sun. A recent article on NPR.org discusses some of the alternative visions for re-appropriating these phantom lots that propagate the greater Phoenix area. Various methods of breathing new life into these chasms left behind include rezoning the numerous residential lots for mixed-use, or tearing up the infrastructure and letting nature take back control. For those unfamiliar with the rapid pace of development that was taking place prior to the recession, Maricopa, a small town just south of Phoenix was approving over 600 residential permits per month. With an inventory of over 16,000 dedicated to residential homes, the measures that are required to remediate the impact of such an ambitious plan need to be ingenious.

While the Southwest has suffered from the housing bust significantly more than many other states, it will undoubtedly always remain a destination for its unequaled sunny days, warm weather and amazing desert landscape.

See this article on similar circumstances in the Rust Belt region.

Photographs: Wikimedia.org User: Gobeirne
References: www.NPR.org, www.philly.com

The Psychology of Home

© www.wikimedia.org / Tysto

The psychology behind what we consider or value to be our homes presents some interesting concepts. While it is easy to answer the question “Where are you from?” when someone is asked “Where is for you?” the resulting answer may be influenced by a variety of perceptions of what really is. A recent article entitled The Psychology of Home: Why Where You Live Means So Much discusses such implications. Read more after the break.

Mine Plug: Didactic Subterranean Architecture

© Brandon Mosley

The Mine Plug proposal, by recent Louisiana Tech graduate Brandon Mosley, explores an innovative technique for appropriating a now defunct mine shaft in the once thriving city of Picher, Oklahoma. The city which peaked at a population of almost 20,000 during the mining boom of the 1900’s, has since suffered the inevitable after effects of such environmentally destructive activities. Designated as a superfund site in 1981 by the EPA, the state of Oklahoma began offering buyouts for residents to relocate in 2005. The remnants from years of lead and zinc mining have left mountains of waste called “chat” on the peripheries of the town, as well as contaminated water and over 14,000 underground voids that threaten the stability of the town above. Read more after the break.

picNYC Transforms Urban Dining

© Iwan Baan

Haiko Cornelissen Architecten recently unveiled their picNYC table with a live grass table top.  Inspired by wave of initiatives, the picNYC takes this concept into the house at a micro level. A folded lightweight aluminum table top and legs provide the necessary structure to support the stone drainage bed, soil and grass. With the grass option, spilling water while dining no longer becomes an issue, but rather a necessity. However, should one require a finely groomed lawn on top, the grass will need to be cut by hand. Other options suitable for the picNYC include an endless opportunity for planting with a wide range of greenery ranging from flowers, to fruits and vegetables.

Mediating Mediums: The Digital 3D


In the recent months we have been covering numerous topics relating to augmented reality. As this concept and form of language continues to develop, we are continually updating our library. Recently, we received a link to Harvard GSD student Greg Tran, whose thesis explored “architecture’s ability to mediate spatial and perceptual experience.” His exploration into techniques that engage and allow for an immersive experience for architects to design with presents an interesting proposal for the future of our profession. The technology, in its current state is largely unexploited and employed as a standalone object, rather than a holistic experience and progressive tool. See his video and proposal for an enlightening take on how we can use this technology for the advancement of architecture. Greg Tran is the recent Thesis Prize Winner – Harvard Graduate School of Design 2011. Be sure to check out the extended video here, and the presentation script here.

Michael Graves on Hospital Room Design


Architect Michael Graves, recipient of the 2012 Richard H. Driehaus Prize, recently gave a talk at TEDMED 2011 about his experience with a debilitating illness and his inspiration for designing improved healthcare designs that are much more suitable for individuals with limited mobility. His observations illustrated the need for a much more sensitive approach, “they didn’t make big mistakes…they just made the most frustrating mistakes you could ever imagine and made your cure more difficult. Your room should make it easier for the doctors and the aides and the patient. But instead it does just the opposite.” Armed with sketches of improved designs for furniture, rooms, and buildings, Graves collaborated with furnishing company Stryker to release improved products for hospital rooms. Check out an introduction to his talk in the video above.

Reference: TEDMED, CNN

AIA 2012 Institute Honors for Collaborative Achievement

99K House © Rice Design Alliance

The AIA recently awarded CultureNOW and Rice Design Alliance the 2012 Institute Honors for Collaborative Achievement. The award, which recognizes and encourages distinguished achievements of allied professionals, clients, organizations, architect teams, knowledge communities, and others who have had a positive impact on or advanced the profession, will be presented at the 2012 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Washington, D.C. More details after the break.

Design for Homeless Shelter in San Luis Obispo Awarded

© & garcia architecture + design

Gwynne Pugh Urban Design Studio, in conjunction with garcia architecture + designwas recently selected from a pool of sixteen firms to design the new CAPSLO Homeless Services Center located in San Luis Obispo, California. Since 1997, there have been two shelters providing services to the homeless community. However, when the county offered a site, it was determined that a consolidated center would be able to operate much more efficiently, 24 hours a day. More details after the break.

Frank Gehry: Life Beyond the Box


The THiNK 2011 festival recently held in Goa, brought together some of the most innovative minds from around the world ranging from technology, arts, literature, medicine, economics, human rights, politics and more from the US, UK, , Afghanistan, Israel, China and Pakistan. The emphasis of the festival is to share ideas and provide inspiration. Thomas Pritzker had a chance to talk in depth with about everything ranging from his design philosophy, past and current works, his opinion on the current status of the architectural environment with respect to students and architects, and project delivery and implementation.

The Journey To Licensure: NCARB & IDP

© www.flickr.com / Jakob Montrasio

A recent article discussing the disconnect between the decades old Intern Development Program and its effective reality in the current environment brings to light shortcomings that are in dire need of redevelopment. NCARB recently announced an upcoming significant overhaul of the IDP program, which in its current state requires 5,600 hours of various logged tasks in addition to the seven exams for licensure.

Digitally Connected Smart House


Openarch recently unleashed their prototype of a completely digitized smart house to the public. Designed to adapt to its inhabitants, all components of the house are connected to the internet creating a parallel on the web. Real time data feeds continuously to provide information and the ability to control any aspect of the digital house through a gestural interface – parting from the traditional mouse and keyboard.

One of the most interesting aspects of the smart house is the integrated video mapping system that incorporates sensors and cameras to display information ranging from exterior weather conditions to Twitter followers onto any surface in the home.  They have even invented their own operating system called D. OS (domestic operating system) which facilitates the exchange of the tremendous amount of information flowing through the various spaces. The smart house is conceived as the catalyst for a much larger vision of a smart city, where the exchange and interaction of information flow seamlessly.