Enthusiasm for water and energy data collection for commercial and residential buildings has been growing strong across the U.S. in major cities such as Austin, New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. It’s no surprise to learn that Earth-friendly Seattle is ahead of the game when it comes to tracking its buildings; reports show that the city is receiving data for a whopping 87% of its commercial and multi-residential buildings over 50,000 square feet, which totals to 1,160 individual properties covering over 200 million square feet of the city.
But that’s not all. New cities are hopping on the data collection bandwagon, most recently Minneapolis – the first city in the Midwest to adopt rules for energy benchmarking and disclosure. Other cities who already have a green reputation, such as Boston, are upping their game to adopt this beneficial practice in an effort to create even healthier and more prosperous urban conditions. With the President himself expressing support for cutting energy use by constructing more energy efficient buildings at last week’s State of the Union address, water and energy data collection is finally receiving the attention and consideration it deserves.
More on tracking building energy use after the break… (more…)
Last year, Google founder Sergey Brin demoed Google Glass a new technology from the big G that puts an augmented reality display in front of your eye. The device is scheduled for early release to developers and creatives (in order to get feedback before the $1,500 product finds its way to the general public) in just a few weeks, but it has already been highly acclaimed by the media (including Best Inventions of the Year 2012 by Time).
On this video released by Google you can understand what all the hype is about. The 0.5″ display supported by a thin aluminium frame is placed in front of your right eye and thanks to its camera it serves as a two way interface with the Internet. As you can see on the video, natural language instructions (“Glass, take photo”, “Glass, record video”, “Glass, How long is the Brooklyn bridge?”) let you easily control the device and not only check emails or send messages, but also to display maps, definitions, and to share photos and videos in real time. In this aspect, the device opens a big door for architecture.
In our field, the experience is very important, and it is a dimension that hasn’t been able to be reproduced in its entirety through traditional media (plans, 2D or even 3D photos). Attempts to make immersive panoramas or the efforts of architecture photographers to embrace videos have extended the representation, but not in a significative way. And this is why travel is an important thing for the architect.
Imagine a tour broadcasted by the architects of the project, with the possibility of instant reader feedback to discuss a particular moment inside the building. Imagine finally experiencing the approach to the Parthenon like Le Corbusier did almost a century ago.
In this aspect, Google Glass will change the way we understand architecture media.
As urban populations expand, people are migrating to city centers in search of economic opportunities, which promise social mobility and access to education, health resources, and jobs. Nations once considered in the “third world” are making leaps to accommodate growing populations with thoughtful considerations in designing these new urban capitals. Population trends have shifted considerably and have contributed to some of the densest urban cities never before seen in history. The rise in the classification of cities as “mega-cities” and the problems that such high population densities face speak to the fact that our cities have reached a saturation point that needs to addressing.
Singapore, an island nation in the Asian Pacific, is the third densest country in the world. Last year the Center for Livable Cities and the Urban Land Institute participated in a summit of leading planners and policy makers to discuss the steps that Singapore was taking in its development in response to its growing urban populations. The result of the conference was a list of ten points that contribute to making Singapore a livable high dense city.
Follow us after the break for more on the 10 Points for Singapore.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has appointed HOK’s green-building leader Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, to a consulting position as a Resident Fellow. In this position, Lazarus will help guide and influence a program heavily based in sustainability and health as the AIA implements its ten-year pledge to the Decade of Design: Global Urban Solutions Challenge, a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action. The purpose of the commitment is to document, envision and implement solutions that leverage the design of urban environments through research, community participation, and design frameworks. It is a commitment based in the interest of public health with special attention to the use of natural, economic, and human resources.
More about Mary Ann Lazarus’s work and future at the AIA after the break.
After coming to the realization that architects tend to talk way too much, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture devised a lecture format that ended up revolutionizing the way we present. For the past 10 years, PechaKucha 20×20 has inspired creatives from 600 cities to informally gather in dimly lit spaces around the globe and conduct 400-second presentations to their friends and colleagues. The beauty of PechaKucha Night is that anyone can participate – as long as they stick to the 20 image, 20 second format – thus providing ample amounts of stimulating information, ideas and inspiration in just a short, booze-filled night. Who wouldn’t like that?
Cheers, PechaKucha, to ten years and many more!
As pressure mounts to solve the UK’s aviation crisis, the Mayor of London has appointed Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) alongside a world-class team of aviation experts to develop plans for a new major airport in southeast England. The team is expected to resolve the debate on how and where the capital’s next multi-runway airport hub should be constructed, a decision that will play a critical role in the future of the British economy.
Zaha Hadid said: “This work is essential to deliver the most integrated transport solutions for London and the UK. It will enable London to maintain its position as one of the world’s most important economic, commercial and cultural centers; outlining the city’s future growth and development which has always been founded on global connectivity.”
See who made the list after the break…
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows has awarded Bimal Mendis and Joyce Hsiang of the Yale School of Architecture and Plan B Architecture & Urbanism, LLC the 2013 Latrobe Prize of $100,000 for their proposal, “The City of 7 Billion.” The research will study the impact of population growth and resource consumption on the built and natural environment at the scale of the entire world as a single urban entity. An antidote to the fragmentary analyses of current practices, this project will remove arbitrary boundaries and reframe the entire world as a continuous topography of development: the city of 7 billion.
The grant, named for architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows for research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession.
More on “The City of 7 Billion” after the break…
Since the time of Vitruvius, we architects have pondered the effect that our work might have on those who use the spaces we design; unfortunately, however, we set ourselves up as universal models, judging what ‘works’ or not for the occupants, without any explicit evidence to substantiate those ideas. Of course, the profession has changed over the last three decades; the experience of the occupant is paramount, and evidence-based design – particularly when it comes to performative environments for work, health and learning – has risen substantially in importance.
But as much as we claim – as architects, interior and urban designers – to understand the people who will occupy the spaces we design, how much do we really? Where does our knowledge come from and how do we use it? Do we help contribute to the evidence? Do our clients (and, if they do, do they pay for it)?
Architectural Research Consultancy (ARC), a company that researches how the built environment affects the way people think, feel and act, is attempting to find out the answers to just these questions. And they’re conducting a brief, anonymous online survey (it takes only 2 minutes) to learn more. They’ll be publishing their data later in the year, and we’ll be sure to share those results with you.
So take the survey here, and when you’re done, let us know in the comments – how much do you feel architects know about the social and psychological needs of occupants? And how much do they actually take them into account in their designs?
Silicon Valley visual-computing pioneer Nvidia has joined the expanding list of tech moguls seeking to transform their work environment into the physical manifestation of their innovative business model. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has released the first schematic renderings – designed by Gensler - that depict a pair of 250,000 square foot triangular motherships centered around collaboration – a complete contrast to the typical, dated office building commonly found throughout Silicon Valley’s “oddly banal” landscape.
More after the break…
One thing about a recession is that it accelerates the demise of dying trends and struggling establishments. In this case, it is America’s beloved shopping malls, which have been slowly in decline since their peak popularity in 1990. Now, in the wake of the 2008 economic catastrophe, American cities are riddled with these abandoned shopping meccas, from the mall to big box stores and shopping strips, whose oversize parking lots are equally as useless as the spaces themselves. The question is, how can we effectively repurpose these spaces?
A perfect example after the break…
Approaching zero-waste is a matter of changing the way our culture thinks about use and reuse. It’s not an impossible task, and San Francisco is leading the march to establish a feasible means of enacting public policy, structuring programs and educating the public on what it means to be “zero-waste”. With a goal set for 2020, the Bay City hopes to keep 100% of its waste out of landfills. Mayor Ed Lee estimates that the leading waste management company “Recology” is diverting nearly 80% of trash from landfills to be recycled or turned into compost. This begins with a public policy that sets a standard and gains traction as citizens embrace the goals of the city. Support programs reinforce these guidelines that eventually become habits and a cultural response to treating our environment.
Read on after the break for more on San Francisco’s road to “zero-waste”.
During a time of crippling political turmoil, local leaders are stepping up to fulfill their role as pragmatic problem-solvers and combating the tough challenges – such as economic growth, environmental protection, public safety and poverty – facing our cities today. This empowering phenomenon is highlighted by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition designed to further inspire America’s mayors and local leaders to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.
Over 300 cities across the nation took the challenge and 20 finalists were selected in November. Now, it is your turn to vote on the idea you believe to have the greatest potential for impact. Five bold ideas will be selected in the coming weeks, each receiving national and local recognition. In addition, the winning city will receive a $5,000,000 grand prize and four other cities will receive $1,000,000 to help implement their ideas.
The proposals after the break… (more…)
Reflecting the strongest growth since November 2007, the January Architecture Billings Index (ABI) surged to a score of 54.2 – a sharp and welcomed increase from December’s 51.2* mark. Released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity that reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. By remaining above 50, January’s score illustrates the six consecutive month of growth for the United State’s design and construction industry. This trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, as the new projects inquiry index accelerated beyond last month’s reading of 57.9 and reached a score of 63.2.
“We have been pointing in this direction for the last several months, but this is the strongest indication that there will be an upturn in construction activity in the coming months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “But as we continue to hear about overall improving economic conditions and that there are more inquiries for new design projects in the marketplace, a continued reservation by lending institutions to supply financing for construction projects is preventing a more widespread recovery in the industry.”
Review the ABI Highlights in greater detail, after the break… (more…)
An article published in The Telegraph last week has been getting a lot of negative attention for its headline: “For safer, prettier cities pick a woman to build them.”
Oh dear. It’s certainly hard to get past that third word – prettier. The Globe and Mail lamented the word’s “sexist twinge.” A blogger for bricksandclicks suggested that the unflattering adjective “would never have headlined in an article about male architects.” And as Kristen Richards, the Editor-in-Chief of ArchNewsNow.com perfectly put it in her Newsletter: “‘prettier’?!!? this headline wins our groaner-of-the-year award.”
But, groan-worthiness aside, it seems rather unproductive to spend time poking at “pretty,” when the central thesis of the article is so darned sexist in itself – for women and men architects alike.
The 3Doodler isn’t just a small pen-like device that’s “the most affordable way to 3D print” – it’s also a Kickstarter smash. The pen reached its $30,000 goal in just a few hours, and, at the time of publication, has earned $555,301.
We’ve mentioned 3D Printing before for its exciting potential for architecture in the long-term; however, this little doodler shows how quickly the technology is progressing (and how cheap it’s becoming). Plus, it’s easy to imagine the 3Doodler becoming an integral part of any architect’s life, as the device lets you trace your drawings and then pop them to life. It’s not a 2D plan, it’s not a 3D visualization, but something – awesomely – in between.
Learn more about this 3-D Printing Kickstarter success, after the break…
Louis Kahn, the American architect known for combining Modernism with the weight and dignity of ancient monuments, was born 112 years ago today. His contemporary Philip Johnson once said of him that “he was his own artist. He was free, compared to me.”
Kahn might be categorized as a late Modernist, and a hugely influential one at that. He is perhaps best known for the Salk Institute, the National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, the Exeter Library and Kimbell Art Museum. His last completed design, for the Four Freedoms Park in New York, was also finally completed in 2012
The impression he left as an individual is equally as mythical. His sometimes esoteric but always insightful understanding of architecture led to him to being often described as a ‘mystic’ or a ‘guru’, and a complex private life inspired his son to film the Academy Award Nominated documentary “My Architect” in 2003.
On the occasion of his birthday, we think there is no better celebration than to rediscover his stunning catalog of works, and the film that not only inspects those buildings but the complex genius behind them:
While The WA100, Building Design’s annual ranking of the world’s largest architecture firms, isn’t perfect (see our controversial article here), it does reveal a lot about the state of architecture today. And for 2013, the research shows that there are finally brighter days ahead for architects – just not at home.
BD’s research reveals that China remains the world’s largest construction market (a title it’s held since 2010); that the Asia-Pacific Market is expected to be the largest by 2020 (with projected value of $4.6 trillion dollars); and that China, India, and Brazil offer the best growth potential for architectural services. Not surprisingly, the survey’s top three ranking firms – Aecom, Gensler, and IBI Group – all have a significant presence in these markets.
However, are these mega-firms really the best models to aspire to? With the economic crisis making it everyday more evident that there are more opportunities abroad than at home, where is a firm to go? China? India? Brazil?
Almost certainly not.
Find out whether/where you should go abroad, after the break…
Back in January, I had the opportunity to be part of the jury for the Young Architect Award in Estonia, which was officially announced by the President of Estonia, Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the past Thursday Feb 14th in Tallinn, at the annual meeting of the Union of Estonian Architects .
The objective of the award is to encourage innovative and creative thinking by young minds, and it gives the winner the chance to travel anywhere in the world, giving the opportunity to expand their vision and contribute back to the development of the country.
During the process I had the chance to learn more about the new generation of Estonian architecture after reviewing the works and trajectory of the 8 shortlisted young architects, a generation with very diverse backgrounds and projects, but with one thing in common: a commitment to open up architecture and make it part of the larger public.
This year the ward went to Veronika Valk, who was recognized for her built work and her efforts to raise awareness around architecture (organizing international lectures, workshops, writing articles, and more). More about Veronika and the award after the break:
Four of architecture’s finest has been shortlisted to design what Australian businessman James Packer hopes to be the most iconic building in Sydney since the Opera House. Italian Pritzker Prize-laureate Renzo Piano will compete against Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, New York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and London-based Wilkinson Eyre Architects to design a $1 billion, six-star Crown Sydney resort on a 6000 square meter site in the inner-city waterfront precinct of Barangaroo.
“Sydney deserves one of the world’s best hotels and with these amazing architects I’m confident we will see the most iconic building constructed here since the Opera House,” Packer told The Daily Telegraph. “I want this hotel resort to be instantly recognizable around the world and feature on postcards and memorabilia promoting Sydney. That’s how you attract international tourists, create jobs and put Sydney on the map.”
More after the break…
It is estimated that by 2050, 75 percent of the worlds – then 9 billion strong – population will live in cities. Urban Sprawl is already problematic and planners are faced with new challenges as they aim to build towards the sky rather than the horizon. In addition, cities are increasingly faced with climate change, resource scarcity, rising energy costs, and the possibility of future natural or man-made disasters. In response to these issues, Arup has proposed their vision of an urban building and city of the future.
In their proposal, titled “It’s Alive!”, they imagine an urban ecosystem of connected ‘living’ buildings, that not only create space, but also craft the environment. According to Arup, buildings of the future will not only produce energy and food, but will also provide its occupants with clean air and water.
More info on Arup’s vision after the break…
While Building Design’s WA 100 is far better known for its ranking of the 100 largest architecture firms, the publication (which you can find here) also includes a lot of other rankings/information - like this gem. Architects’ favorite professional associates in five categories – from building contractors to structural engineers.
While some familiar names grace the list (Arup comes in at number 1 for Service Engineers), we felt the list was a great way to spotlight many companies whose work seldom goes acknowledged (and without whom, the architecture we love would never come into being).
Check out the best architectural partners of 2012, after the break…