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Microsoft: The Latest Architecture and News

The Week in Architecture: Blue Monday and the Aspirations of a New Year

12:00 - 27 January, 2019
The Week in Architecture: Blue Monday and the Aspirations of a New Year, Courtesy of Pritzker Prize. Image © Hisao Suzuki
Courtesy of Pritzker Prize. Image © Hisao Suzuki

For those in the northern hemisphere, the last full week in January last week kicks off with Blue Monday - the day claimed to be the most depressing of the year. Weather is bleak, sunsets are early, resolutions are broken, and there’s only the vaguest glimpse of a holiday on the horizon. It’s perhaps this miserable context that is making the field seem extra productive, with a spate of new projects, toppings out and, completions announced this week.

The week of 21 January 2019 in review, after the break: 

LocHal / Mecanoo. Image © Ossip van Duivenbode © TMRW, courtesy of Gensler ©Jaime Navarro The Week in Architecture: Blue Monday and the Aspirations of a New Year + 11

Microsoft is Investing $500 Million in Seattle Affordable Housing

11:00 - 21 January, 2019
Microsoft is Investing $500 Million in Seattle Affordable Housing, Seattle WA. Image © Shutterstock
Seattle WA. Image © Shutterstock

Microsoft has unveiled plans to commit $500 million to advance affordable housing solutions across the city of Seattle, Washington. The money, to be distributed as loans and grants, will kick-start new solutions to the city’s housing crisis, where income increases have lagged behind rising housing prices.

The investment breaks down as $225 million committed to subsidize middle-income housing construction in six targeted cities, $250 million to support low-income housing across the King County region, and $25 million to philanthropic grants to address homelessness in the greater Seattle region. The tech giant has targeted the region in close proximity to the site of its Redmond headquarters expansion, expected to accommodate 8,000 new employees.

Microsoft is Looking for Architects to Partner With for the Future of Smart Cities

11:00 - 19 October, 2018
Microsoft is Looking for Architects to Partner With for the Future of Smart Cities

Toronto-based WZMH Architects has been recruited into Microsoft’s global Internet of Things (IoT) Insiders Labs, a program aimed at “transforming how people, devices, and data interact in every sphere of life.” The firm’s Intelligent Structural Panel (ISP) offers a “plug and play infrastructure” allowing a wide range of spaces and devices to be adapted, remotely-controlled, and optimized.

WZMH is the first architecture firm to be accepted into the program, which takes applications from organizations developing IoT and/or AI solutions.

How Microsoft Is Making Data-Driven Decisions to Craft its New Workplace Design Language

10:30 - 21 February, 2018
How Microsoft Is Making Data-Driven Decisions to Craft its New Workplace Design Language, The “Design Language for Place” guidelines emphasize craftsmanship, authentic materials, and locally inspired design details. In Buildings 31 and 32 on Microsoft’s Washington Redmond campus, this means evoking the outdoor culture and woodsy aesthetic of the Pacific Northwest. Image © Aaron Locke
The “Design Language for Place” guidelines emphasize craftsmanship, authentic materials, and locally inspired design details. In Buildings 31 and 32 on Microsoft’s Washington Redmond campus, this means evoking the outdoor culture and woodsy aesthetic of the Pacific Northwest. Image © Aaron Locke

This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "The Big Ideas Behind Microsoft’s New 'Design Language.'"

Microsoft is undertaking an ambitious overhaul of its 800 offices around the world and uncovering great insights about the intersections of technology and workplace design in the process. The technology giant’s global director of workplace strategies, Riku Pentikäinen, speaks to Metropolis’s Avinash Rajagopal about the company’s new workplaces, collaborating with designers and furniture manufacturers, and how his team takes a data-driven approach to office design.

The design of Microsoft’s 106,000-square-foot London office (pictured) and the flagship Milan office was informed by a new tool called space-utilization technology. Using data points collected over 180 days through Wi-Fi, Microsoft can now analyze how people use its office spaces. Image © Hufton + Crow In Microsoft's Milan office, designed by DEGW in Herzog & de Meuron’s Feltrinelli building, space-utilization technology was applied to optimize the square footage. Image Courtesy of Microsoft Nowhere is this better exemplified than in two conference rooms tucked among the fir trees. The log-cabin aesthetic notwithstanding, both are fully equipped with Wi-Fi. Image Courtesy of Microsoft The landscape design was optimized to invite people to step outside, while a series of decks, plazas, and play areas—fitted out with colorful furniture from Loll Designs and Blu Dot, among others—allows them to socialize or work together with equal ease. Image © Aaron Locke + 11

The Next Hyper-Efficient Data Centers May Be Located Underwater

14:10 - 24 February, 2017
The Next Hyper-Efficient Data Centers May Be Located Underwater, The Data Center being lowered into the water. A shot of the underwater data center. Screenshot via Microsoft
The Data Center being lowered into the water. A shot of the underwater data center. Screenshot via Microsoft

From giant squids to sunken treasure, the ocean has a way of hiding secrets better than any other place on Earth – so why not hide your personal information down there too?

That scenario may soon be our reality, as Microsoft has unveiled that, for the past year and a half, they have been testing a prototype data center that is completely submerged underwater. Devised by Microsoft engineer Sean James, the theory argues that placing the massive server farms underwater could dramatically reduce both construction and cooling costs, as well as provide a reliable source of renewable energy and even improve their performance.

Trimble's SketchUp Viewer Allows You To Manipulate Hologram Models in the Real World

12:30 - 7 November, 2016

SketchUp developer Trimble has launched SketchUp Viewer, a new virtual and mixed reality app for the Microsoft HoloLens that will allow users to inhabit and experience their 3D designs in a completely new way. Using the holographic capabilities of the HoloLens, SketchUp Viewer creates hologram versions of models that can be placed in real-world environments –allowing architects to study and analyze how their buildings will react to their context while still in the design stage.

At today’s Trimble Dimensions keynote, architect Greg Lynn presented SketchUp Viewer for the first time, demonstrating the technology using his re-imagining of the Packard Plant in Detroit, commissioned as part of the “Architectural Imagination,” the U.S. Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale exhibition.

"Trimble mixed-reality technology and Microsoft HoloLens bring the design to life and bridge the gap between the digital and physical. Using this technology I can make decisions at the moment of inception, shorten the design cycle and improve communication with my clients,” said Lynn.

Microsoft Unveils the Surface Studio, a 28-Inch Touch-Screen Drawing Board

14:46 - 26 October, 2016

Today, Microsoft announced the latest in their Surface family of personal computers. Called the Surface Studio, the device is essentially a 28-inch touchscreen drawing board which the company is targeting specifically at creative professionals, potentially placing it at the top of many architects' wish lists.

How Minecraft is Inspiring the Next Generation of Young Architects

10:30 - 5 February, 2016
How Minecraft is Inspiring the Next Generation of Young Architects, Courtesy of BlockWorks
Courtesy of BlockWorks

For many architects, an obsession with design came at a very young age - often, an architectural career begins with toys such as wooden blocks or that old classic, LEGO. In recent years though, a new contender has emerged to inspire young architectural minds: Minecraft. In this article, originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "Minecraft Architecture: What Architects Can Learn From a Video Game," Kim A O'Connell looks into the growing influence of Minecraft in architectural design and education, including the growing presence of the global "Blockworks" team.

Since it burst onto the gaming scene in 2009, Minecraft has become one of the world’s most popular video games—so much so that Microsoft bought the game and its parent company for a whopping $2.5 billion in 2014.

Today, the world-building platform has also garnered the attention of architects and designers. Could a video game actually change the way architecture is taught and practiced?

Built as an entry to the Planet Minecraft “Industrial Revolution” competition, the BlockWorks team was able to show their work process in the form of a Minecraft build. Image Courtesy of BlockWorks Built for the Planet Minecraft “Underwater Wonderland Contest,” the Faberzhe Palace blends fantasy and Slavic architectural styles. Image Courtesy of BlockWorks A Neverland-themed build. Image Courtesy of BlockWorks Asked by the Guardian newspaper “to build a modern vision of urban living in a clean and sustainable city in Minecraft,” BlockWorks created Climate Hope City using existing green technologies and prototypes for a sustainable design that is also achievable. Image Courtesy of BlockWorks + 6

6 Designs By And For Architects that Made TIME's 25 Inventions of the Year

09:30 - 26 November, 2015
6 Designs By And For Architects that Made TIME's 25 Inventions of the Year

In this day and age, innovation is occurring at a faster rate than ever before. And while a majority of ideas may make a small impact before fading away, some inventions are able to slip through the cracks and become a real game changer in their field. Our field, of course, is architecture, and this year there have been no shortage of inventions that may change the way we live and work forever. In TIME magazine’s annual release of inventions of the year, at least 6 may have an impact on the world of architecture, encompassing inventions within the field of architecture itself and developments that could change how we design and experience space. Read on for those projects and what they might mean for our future.

ThyssenKrupp and Microsoft's MAX Elevator Will Save Users Years of Waiting

14:00 - 1 November, 2015
ThyssenKrupp and Microsoft's MAX Elevator Will Save Users Years of Waiting, © ThyssenKrupp
© ThyssenKrupp

German mechanical company ThyssenKrupp, in collaboration with Microsoft, has launched its newest innovational elevator, MAX. Together, the companies have created an elevator that could create time savings for elevator passengers “equivalent to 108 centuries of new availability in each year of operation."

Bringing Design to a Broad Audience: The 7th New York Architecture and Design Film Festival

12:00 - 16 October, 2015
Bringing Design to a Broad Audience: The 7th New York Architecture and Design Film Festival, Still from "Concrete Love" showing Gottfried Böhm's Neviges Mariendom. Image Courtesy of New York Architecture & Design Film Festival
Still from "Concrete Love" showing Gottfried Böhm's Neviges Mariendom. Image Courtesy of New York Architecture & Design Film Festival

October has become a busy month in the design world. If you’re living in the United States, New York specifically, it means Archtober: a portmanteau that means the city is flooded with architecture activities, programs and exhibitions, piled onto an already rich design calendar. One of these events is the New York Architecture & Design Film Festival, which started on Tuesday night and runs through Sunday October 18th, and will screen 30 films from around the world in 15 curated, themed programs.

This week, I was able to visit the festival to absorb the atmosphere and speak to the festival's director Kyle Bergman, to learn the ins and outs of this year’s festival, how things got started, and where it will go in the future.

12 Excel Formulas Every Architect Should Know

10:30 - 19 May, 2015
12 Excel Formulas Every Architect Should Know, © Studio_G via Shutterstock
© Studio_G via Shutterstock

It may not be the most exciting piece of software an architect will ever use, but Microsoft's Excel is a powerful tool which can help architects with the less glamorous parts of their work - and if you learn how to use it correctly, it can help you get back to the tasks that you'd rather be doing much more quickly. In this post originally published by ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly gives his short rundown of formulas that every architect should know - and a brief explanation of how to use each one.

Excel is more than just digital graph paper. It’s a serious tool for analyzing and computing data. In order to access this power, however, you need to understand formulas.

If you’re like me, you started using Excel as a way to create nice looking tables of data – things like building programs or drawing lists. Lots of text and some numbers. Nothing too crazy. If I was feeling a little bold, I’d add a simple formula to add or subtract some cells. That’s about it.

I knew I was using only about 10% of the software but I wasn’t sure what else it could do or how I could access the other functions. I’d heard about formulas but they seemed really confusing. Plus, I was an architect, not a bean counter.

Microsoft Reveals Holographic Features for Windows 10

00:00 - 21 January, 2015

At their Windows 10 Event today in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft unveiled features for its forthcoming operating system that it feels could revolutionize computing, particularly for people who want to design, make or fix something in the real world: holographics. The company revealed both the Windows Holographic features that will be built into Windows 10 and HoloLens, an in-house designed headset that will be capable of placing holographic elements into the world around you - think of it as a combination of the flat augmented reality overlay in Google Glass, and the immersive yet virtual-only presentation of Oculus Rift.

The video trailer above shows the far-reaching implications for a variety of designers, both professional and amateur (including a nod to the architecture profession at the 50-second mark), with TechCrunch explaining how the technology "offers a way for architects to survey and present their designs alongside clients even when separated by great distances."