AD Interviews: Aaron Jobson / Quattrocchi Kwok Architects

Credit: Technical Imagery Studio

Designing Educational districts is certainly a challenging topic for every architecture firm. In line with this topic, we would like to introduce you a California based firm who is committed to helping California school districts harness the power of the sun to generate renewable energy.

Founded in 1986, Quattrocchi Kwok Architects provides thoughtful collaborative design services to the clients they serve. They offer responsive design work that supports those who use the facilities they create through client centered design, human scale, innovation, sustainable practices and the willingness to stretch our imaginations to suit the needs of their clients. QKA’s diverse portfolio reflects our commitment to design that responds to use, climate and the community.

With a staff of 47, has provided design services for over $850 million of public and private projects. This experience includes master planning, new construction, renovations and historical restoration. While their experience is varied, each project shares a common goal: The facility must meet the needs and wishes of all the users. (more…)

WTC Transit Hub / Santiago Calatrava

Check out the latest video of Santiago Calatrava’s transit hub at the World Trade Center site, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal and funded by Brookfield Properties. Back in 2004, Calatrava first unveiled his vision for the transportation hub – a “mega-station” which will include PATH services and 12 subway lines – and it seems that we’ll still have to wait until 2014 for the project to be fully completed.   Although certain aspects of the design have been modified since 2004, the overall vision embodies Calatrava’s original conceptual ideas.  At $3.2 billion dollars, the station is an expensive, but vital, component of the new WTC complex.    Millions of commuters, tourists, and residents pass through the station every day, filtering in and out of one of the most powerful financial districts in the world.   The video’s alluring imagery of the main concourse piques our interest as Calatrava has opened the roof to allow natural light to flood the interior.  This strategy creates a more transparent and open space, which is unusual for a subway station, that can also be enjoyed from above as people in the towers look down upon the hub.  We are anxious to wait on the sleek platforms and walk down the commercial connection between the hub and the Winter Garden, but we’ll just have to patiently wait to see the final result!

Renderings versus Realized

© Herzog & de Meuron

We’ve seen tons of glitzy and glamorous renderings that immediately attract our attention.   You know the kind we mean – a picturesque snapshot where the weather is absolutely perfect, the sunlight is bursting through the glass facade magnificently, and people are laughing and strolling hand in hand.  And, sometimes, the rendering style speaks louder than the actual architecture – convincing clients and jurors, or perhaps misleading them, to invest in the project.   Of course, we love seeing the variety of presentation styles and how firms market their work, but we also enjoy seeing construction shots and finished photography to see if the realized project lives up to the idealized renderings.

More after the break. (more…)

Be a great Architect by sharing the design load

Architecture has always treasured the ideal of the lone creative genius but the reality we all work with today is that architecture is all about the team. Even Wright collaborated with the construction team and Gaudi based much of what he did on information learned from the trades.

Architecture, as always, involves a slew of stakeholders – not only the designers but also owners, operators, builders, colleagues, and partners working on various jobs like structural, HVAC, MEP or sustainability consulting.

Teamwork is the way of the world, so why should our profession be any different? And hey, whatever you think of Twitter and Facebook, this is the era of social communication. Why shouldn’t we get in on the action?

Even while collaborating, we can be architectural icons. We can still maintain our creative integrity. We might even do better work, make more money, and have more time for ourselves.

If you do want to collaborate effectively, start with a Building Information Modeling (BIM) software tool. This gives you not only the basic geometry, but packs spatial relationships, lighting, geography, quantities and properties of building components into the model. The richer the foundation, the more powerful the collaboration.


Graphisoft Archicad R14

Graphisoft ArchiCAD 14
ArchiCAD 14

Graphisoft recently released ArchiCAD 14. ArchiCAD was a pioneer in BIM, a tool that has now become standard not only in terms of design and construction, but also for the life cycle of buildings. ArchiCAD has been available for ages for the Mac users, having a large install base on that platform. Their pricing program has made it affordable for new practices.

But back to this new version. Graphisoft has added several new features aiming for better, open collaboration, something very important in terms of pushing BIM as a standard tool on which different professionals can work together. In ArchiCAD 14 we find several workflow enhancements (such as IFC integration, a neutral data model not controlled by any vendor) to successfully bridge along different CAD/BIM/MEP packages, such as and Revit, a big step towards an effective IPD (Integrated Project Delivery).

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This version also includes BIM Server to further improve teamwork collaboration (64-bit version for the Mac), and Teamwork “Pack & Go” (to allow you to keep working with your team anywhere you go).

More on ArchiCAD 14 new features after the break:

Google Earth Pro 5.2

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We’re happy to share ’s launch of the newest Google Earth Pro 5.2.  Lots of people in the profession use Google Earth for site work, bringing “geographic data to life”, and now, the latest version will make it easier to find and access the data. With three new productivity-enhancing layers, 5.2 will include demographic and parcel data in addition to daily traffic counts.  Information regarding 2010 and projected 2015 income, age, education will be available at the state, county, tract, and block group level.  Everything from use codes, and zoning data to even the sales history and average number of cars that have passed through an intersection will be link from each parcel selection.  We are excited for this new version and to work with the new levels of information it provides.

IES partners with Google SketchUp

With all the software options available, often times we jump between programs as some are suited better to certain aspects of design.   may be your software of choice for early design stages, as its ease of use does not limit schematic ideas from sprouting.  Yet, now, with a new partnership between the Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) and SketchUp, expect to use the program more frequently.

The partnership is a great balance between SketchUp’s strength for early stage design work and IES’ strength in performance analysis and simulations.  Now, users can analyze design iterations across a wide range of areas, such as energy, carbon, solar and daylight from very early in the design process, which will lead to achieving low-energy sustainable building design plus the ability to assess the economics of low/zero carbon technology and renewable energy use.

We look forward to using this new creation and we hope you do, too!

Autodesk Autocad for Mac (Sledgehammer Beta 1) on video

A few days ago we showed you a series of screenshoots of the first Autodesk Autocad for Mac Beta (codename Sledgehammer), a preview of the UI improvements that we are going to see for this platform.

This video by ItaliaMac shows more details about the User Interface and mouse (touchpad) gestures.

Many of our readers are very excited about this new version, and we hope it sees the light before the fall semester.

Autodesk Autocad for Mac, Sledgehammer Beta 1

Almost a year ago we told you of a survey Autodesk was conducting regarding the UI and printing capabilities of Autocad with users, the first confirmation of Autodesk finally working on a version for this platform.

Federico Viticci from Macstories posted several screen shoots of Sledgehammer, the first Beta of Autocad for Mac OSX, running on a 64-bit machine. The UI presents several changes from what we were used to on the Windows version, and I´m happy to see mouse gestures (supported by Macbook’s touchpad and the Magic Mouse).

Not much details out there, but we do have a meeting with an Autodesk rep in the following weeks, when we will try to get you more details.

In the meanwhile, take a look at the following screen shoots and tell us what you think: Is Autodesk going in a good direction with this new version (more than an adaptation) of Autocad for Mac? Does the UI seem usable for you? What would you add?

Peter Guthrie, Architectural Visualization

Render by

A few weeks ago, William O’brien Jr. shared with us his latest project: the Allandale House. When I opened the “photos” I was intrigued on how fast he came up with this house. But then I noticed they were renders, by one of the best digital artists out there: Peter Guthrie (who is also a reader of ArchDaily!).

I stumbled upon his work on Flickr, and then visited his blog where he has shared several tutorials that might be useful for you.

AD Recommends: Peter Guthrie, Architectural Visualization.

The future of architectural visualization

Zebra Imaging 3D brings the future of 3D , thanks to this thin holographic sheets.

Zebra Imaging makes digitally-mastered, actively-animated, true-color, full-parallax holographic images. These holographic images are available in full color, or in monochrome (green). Zebra’s holographic images can be scaled to any size, large or small. By tiling together multiple tiles, it is possible to create large city maps, full sized cars, humans, and machinery. The minimum you have to do is supply the digital data set–Zebra can do the rest.

More info here. Via Core77.

Autodesk Butterfly: Online CAD collaboration

With BIM, project collaboration was possible. But online collaboration over CAD drawings hasn’t been easy yet, with some applications that work very slow or in a limited way.

But a new project coming out of Autodesk Labs promises to make online CAD collaboration feasible: Autodesk Butterfly.

As you can see on the above video, sharing works on a very simple way over email allowing people to work on a drawing at the same time. I gave Autodesk Butterfly a try at their technology preview website (no need to sign-in, just hit Try Now) and the flash interface loaded fast. It is very intuitive to use if you have used , and the version control system allows you to go back to previous states of the drawing.

An version would be great, as it would allow you to do on-site review and annotations. Anyway, the preview looks very strong, and maybe we will have a full version of this tool available soon.

Atoms are the new bits, and its relation with architecture

Ponoko, Production chain 2.0
Ponoko, Production chain 2.0

Last weekend I had the chance to spend the afternoon with a group of entrepreneurs and , editor for Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail and Free, two books that define the new economies of the Internet (highly recommended if you haven´t read them yet, specially Free)

Chris did a little speech on his new research, which immediately made sense to me from an architect’s point of view. At this point, it is more than clear that the bit revolution turned our world in 360º, and thanks to the connected world it seems that the technology development curve is more steep than ever. And now, many rules of the online world are being adopted by the physical world, and according to Anderson “atoms are the new bits”.

First, it was the media revolution. Information became democratic, collaborative, the tools became free, and everyone is part of it. But how do we take this to the World (World 2.0?)? Actually… it´s happening and very close to our profession:


ProFORMA: From webcam to 3D

Qi Pan, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, has developed an interesting technique to model objects using a webcam.

The results are very accurate, and this technique could lead to cheaper for model scanning, extending the possibilities of how physical study models can be used in early stages of the project.

Google World Builder

The recent release of Google Sketchup 7.1 gave us powerful tools to easily create accurate models of urban contexts, with the integration of Street View for textures and better geo location of models.

And yersterday, Google released World Builder, a web based tool that enables users to easily model the buildings of 50 cities.

As you can see on the video it is very simple: you choose a regular volume to start with, and you adjust the width and height in views of the terrain from different angles, and voilá! you just modeled a part of the city, available for everyone at Google Earth and 3D Warehouse.

You can see the latest buildings modeled by users at 3D Warehouse… and if you refresh the page you will see how fast this is being populated.

Thank you Google :)

mySurface iPhone/iPod App by DuPont

Mobile Photo 14-10-2009 16 33 44

Dupont sent us an iPod Touch to try their mySurface app (available as a free download at the iTunes Store). Basically, the application is a catalog of the colors and finishes available for Corian and Zodiaq, two of their products for surfaces.

I already knew , as it is one of the best surface solutions for countertops and furniture. is a product with more resistance, as it incorporates pure quartz crystal, making it more durable and scratch resistant.

What I like about this is that you no longer have to carry the big physical samples, and it becomes  very useful when you are on site with the client discussing the finishes.

As you can see on the screenshots below, you can easily navigate through the color/finishes palette, and save your favorites for easy access. For a more accurate comparison, you can see the texture at full screen and place the iPhone/iPod over the desired surface. It also includes some sample images of projects using these products.

What do you think?

More  screenshots and my vision on how this app could be improved after the break:


Google SketchUp 7.1 now available

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This morning announced 7.1. This new version will be a  free upgrade for existing Pro users, and has emphasis on three important aspects of this easy-to-use (yet powerful and extensible) software: performance, an improved version of LayOut (2.1) and collaboration.

As for performance, the engine has been improved and you will notice that orbiting, zooming and drawing can be quicker and smoother in 7.1, for both PC and Mac editions.

LayOut 2.1, the SU componente that enables you to create presentation boards and design documents straight from your model, has now the ability to apply dimensions to scaled SU models and vector graphics. Based on my personal experience, LayOut is very good to deliver quick construction documents and has helped me a lot working with furniture manufacturers. The new dimension tool is something I was waiting for.

LayOut 2.1 also includes snap to the model, an improveed Freehand tool, lists (bullet or numbered, very useful) in the text area, improved grids and improved copy/paste, making it easier to work with other design softwares. You can see more on the video and images below.


Autodesk Assistance Program

1251390805-autodeskAlthough it seems that the economy has left behind it’s worst days, the fact is we are still going through an economic crisis. Many architecture offices and companies have had to let good people go. If you were one of them, you might be wondering how to advance your career in this challenging global job market.

In order to get ahead in the workplace, you need to invest in yourself by increasing your knowledge and expanding your skills. And the good news is that Autodesk can help you get back in the game.

With the Autodesk Assistance Program you can take action today to gain a competitive advantage in your field. The program offers free software license, free online training, reduced-cost classroom training and certification. You can go to official website to learn all the details.