Dig Deep into Digital Design at Facades+ Dallas

Facades+ tech workshops offer hands-on exposure to cutting-edge design software.

Facades+ tech workshops offer hands-on exposure to cutting-edge design software.

Today’s AEC professionals are more to reach for a computer mouse then they are a drafting pencil. Understanding and being able fully utilize cutting-edge digital design tools is essential to contemporary architectural practice, particularly the design of high-performance building skins. Attendees at next month’s Facades+ Dallas conference can choose among four hands-on tech workshops in a unique program designed to deliver in-depth exposure to platforms including Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Vasari, and Grasshopper.

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GLUCK+ Screens a Modern Great Camp

Architecture, East, Envelope
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
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The two main buildings at GLUCK+'s Lakeside Retreat feature sliding wooden screens over massive glass curtain walls. (Courtesy GLUCK+)

The two main buildings at GLUCK+’s Lakeside Retreat feature sliding wooden screens over massive glass curtain walls. (Courtesy GLUCK+)

Custom sliding wood shades maximize privacy and views in Adirondack Mountains retreat.

Architect-led design build firm GLUCK+ designed the Lakeside Retreat in the Adirondack Mountains on an historic blueprint: the Great Camps, sprawling summer compounds built by vacationing families during the second half of the nineteenth century. “The clients wanted to hold events there, and to make a place where their kids—who were in college at the time—would want to spend time,” said project manager Kathy Chang. “They wanted to create different ways of occupying the space.” GLUCK+ carved the hilly wooded site into a series of semi-subterranean buildings, of which the two principal structures are the family house and the recreation building. These buildings are, in turn, distinguished by massive lake-facing glass facades, camouflaged by wooden screens designed to maximize both privacy and views. Read More

Antoine Predock’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights Opens In Winnipeg

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, designed by Antoine Predock Architect, opened last Saturday. (Jessica Sigurdson/CMHR-MCDP)

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, designed by Antoine Predock Architect, opened last Saturday. (Jessica Sigurdson/CMHR-MCDP)

The Antoine Predock–designed Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened in Winnipeg last Friday with a ceremony featuring an indigenous blessing, performances by Ginette Reno, The Tenors, Maria Aragon, and Sierra Noble, plus remarks by several Canadian government officials as well as representatives of the museum. Read More

“Breaking New Ground” Competition Tackles Affordable Housing in the Coachella Valley

Architecture, West
Monday, September 22, 2014
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Resort communities and and shanty towns exist side by side in California's Coachella Valley. (Orin Zebest / Flickr)

Resort communities and and shanty towns exist side by side in California’s Coachella Valley. (Orin Zebest / Flickr)

Architectural competitions with substantial cash prizes tend to focus on monuments, museums, and other high-brow concerns. Such is not the case for Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce. Sponsored by The California Endowment, a Los Angeles–based private health organization, Breaking New Ground targets the gap between the people who come to the Eastern Coachella Valley to play and those who keep its $4 billion agriculture and tourism industries running.

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Marlon Blackwell on the Power of Everyday Design

Marlon Blackwell Architects' Vol Walker Hall and Steven L. Anderson Design Center. (Timothy Hursley)

Marlon Blackwell Architects’ Vol Walker Hall and Steven L. Anderson Design Center. (Timothy Hursley)

Marlon Blackwell, principal of Marlon Blackwell Architects and distinguished professor and department head at the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, practices in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the temptation to design according to a derivative vernacular—and the risk of descending into quaintness—is great. Blackwell seeks instead to operate in the space between the vernacular and the universal, to create buildings that are simultaneously both and neither. “What emerges is something that I like to call the strangely familiar,” he said. “We’re working with forms in a cultural context that have a first reading of being familiar, but on a second, third, or fourth reading are clearly transgressive to either the local typology or the vernacular. What we try to do is kind of de-typify things—it’s really about trying to find or develop an idea about performative surfaces.” Read More

Martha Schwartz’ Hillside Mountain Range

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Fengming Mountain Park features a series of metal pavilions imagined as abstracted mountains. (Terrence Zhang)

Fengming Mountain Park features a series of metal pavilions imagined as abstracted mountains. (Terrence Zhang)

Illuminated steel pavilions mimic Chinese peaks.

The hillside site of Fengming Mountain Park, in Chongqing, China, presented Martha Schwartz Partners with both a practical challenge and a source of inspiration. Asked by Chinese developer Vanke to design a park adjacent to the sales office for a new housing development, the landscape architecture and urban planning firm quickly gravitated toward the metaphor of a mountain journey. “That’s why in the plans you see a zig zag pattern” to the path leading down to the sales center from the car park, said associate Ignacio López Busón. Steel pavilions scattered along the walkway pick up on the theme, taking the form of abstracted mountain peaks. “That’s something the client really liked,” said López Busón. “Once the idea was clear, it was all about developing the shape of them, and trying to make them look special.”
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Old-School Meets New in Stantec’s Pew Library

Architecture, Envelope, Midwest
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Pew Library's multi-hued stone facade nods to the campus's historic brick and limestone architecture. (Courtesy SHW Group, now Stantec)

Pew Library’s multi-hued stone facade nods to the campus’s historic brick and limestone architecture. (Courtesy SHW Group, now Stantec)

Contemporary stone envelope asserts the continued relevance of book learning at GVSU.

For the new Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University, SHW Group, now Stantec, considered a brick skin to tie it to the surrounding edifices. “But at the end of the day, the library, we believe, is one of the most important buildings on campus,” said senior design architect Tod Stevens. “That’s where we started to have a conversation about the library as it moves into the 21st century. We wanted to signal the continued importance of the library to university life.” To do so, the architects designed a quartzite envelope whose random pattern of stones sits in tension with an interlaid stainless steel grid. On the building’s north facade, a 40-foot-tall glass curtain wall creates an indoor/outdoor living room on the campus’s main pedestrian axis, and reveals Pew Library’s state-of-the-art interior to passersby.
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October 30–31: Facades+ Makes its Dallas Debut

Facades+, the premier conference on high-performance building envelopes, is coming to Dallas this October. (Bart Fields / Flickr)

Facades+, the premier conference on high-performance building envelopes, is coming to Dallas this October. (Bart Fields / Flickr)

Home to MorphosisPerot Museum of Nature and Science, the Santiago Calatrava–designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and a starchitecture-studded cultural district, Dallas is increasingly an architectural destination in its own right. This fall, AEC industry professionals have one more reason to visit: the inaugural Facades+ Dallas conference, taking place October 30–31 at CityPlace Events. Read More

Red-Rock-Inspired Headquarters by ajc

Architecture, Envelope, West
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
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ajc architects outfitted Petzl North America's new headquarters with a southwestern-hued envelope. (©Dana Sohm)

ajc architects outfitted Petzl North America’s new headquarters with a southwestern-hued envelope. (Dana Sohm)

Earth-toned GFRC panels and contrasting metal wrap Petzl’s new North American hub.

When Petzl executives decided to move the climbing and caving equipment company’s North American headquarters from Clearfield to West Valley City, Utah, they sought an opportunity not just to expand, but to design a facility that would reflect the brand’s mission. “The two words we kept hearing from them were verticality and light,” recalled ajc architects founding principal Jill A. Jones. “The types of products they design really have to deal with the vertical world.” Working with a southwestern palette inspired by Petzl corporation founder and president Paul Petzl’s recent visits to Mesa Verde National Park and Machu Picchu, the architects designed a combination administrative, training, and distribution center whose mesa-like bottom stories and punctuating tower appear as if carved out of desert rock. Read More

Antoine Predock on Strata, Motorcycles, and the Building Skin

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Antoine Predock Architect’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights. (Aaron Cohen/Canadian Museum for Human Rights)

Despite his reputation for designing buildings with aesthetically and technically interesting envelopes, Antoine Predock, who will deliver the opening keynote address at next month’s Facades+ Dallas conference, does not spend a lot of time thinking about the facade as a separate entity. “I never use the term facade, because I work spatially,” he said. “I work from an inner process; then all of a sudden, whoops, there’s a facade.” Rather than designing from the outside in, Predock digs deep. “I talk about strata—like geologic strata,” he explained. “Every project has layers of meanings and understandings that finally culminate in this physical thing, but there’s all these strata below that.”

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Herringbone Whisky Bar by Taylor and Miller

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Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design crafted a playful patterned interior for former contractor and whisky bar proprietor Steve Owen. (Courtesy Taylor and Miller)

Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design crafted a playful patterned interior for former contractor and whisky bar proprietor Steve Owen. (Courtesy Taylor and Miller)

Owner-built interior explores the transition from two dimensions to three.

For his latest venture, The Montrose in Park Slope, Brooklyn, whisky bar proprietor and former contractor Steve Owen (with partners Michael Ferrie and Alex Wade) wanted a rough, industrial look evocative of an Old World distillery. “He was coming at it sort of from an antique perspective, as a pastiche,” said B. Alex Miller, partner at Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design. “We were thinking of it in a different way.” Taylor and Miller, who had worked with Owen on several projects when he was a practicing contractor, noticed the prevalence of wood herringbone patterning on the walls and floors of the spaces Owen was inspired by. “We’d done some other herringbone studies,” said Miller. “We said, ‘This is something that’s often done in a high-end scenario. Let’s pare it down to the barest of essentials, just do it out of 2-by-4 pine, do it in grain on the walls.’” Read More

HGA Updates a Minneapolis Landmark

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HGA's Nelson Cultural Center, clad in slate shingles and art glass, complements the historic Turnblad Mansion. (Paul Crosby Photography)

HGA’s Nelson Cultural Center, clad in slate shingles and art glass, complements the historic Turnblad Mansion. (Paul Crosby Photography)

Slate-clad addition to the American Swedish Institute evokes contemporary Scandinavian design.

Minneapolis-based architecture, engineering, and planning firm HGA faced a tall order when the American Swedish Institute asked them to design an addition to the building known locally as “The Castle.” The turreted Turnblad Mansion, constructed in Minneapolis’ Phillips West neighborhood in 1908 and home of ASI since 1929, lacked the kinds of multi-purpose spaces required by ASI’s cultural and educational programming—and was suffering wear and tear from a steady stream of visitors. “The project was about creating a front door that was more welcoming and inviting than the existing building, that can help protect the mansion and allow it to be used as a house museum,” said project architect Andy Weyenberg. At the same time,  “the mansion remained the focal point,” he explained. “It will always be the identity of ASI. Everything we did, we wanted to respect the mansion and keep it as a centerpiece.” HGA’s intervention honors the primacy of the Turnblad Mansion while updating ASI’s image with a contemporary facade inspired by Swedish building methods and materials.

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