Nick Cecchi reflects on Doors Open Denver and the future of the city’s architecture and public design
Doors Open Denver turned 11 this spring with the Denver Architectural Foundation hosting the showcase of Denver architecture and design from the recently renovated Union Station. The event ran April 25th and 26th and included open houses at some of Denver’s most notable historic buildings, as well as tours and open doors at many local firms.
Are you heading to the annual American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Meeting in Denver? AN is! Stop by Booth #415, recharge your phone, fuel up on free coffee, and pick up a free copy of the paper at the AN Lounge with furniture provided by Fermob. AN executive editor Alan G. Brake will also be on hand and he would love to hear about your new projects.
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Plate tectonics, honeycombs inspire new Denver Botanic Gardens research center.
For their new Science Pyramid, the Denver Botanic Gardens sought a design that delivered more than just aesthetic impact. “They wanted an icon, but they also wanted to show an icon can be high performance,” said Chris O’Hara, founding principal of Studio NYL. Studio NYL and its SKINS Group worked with architect Burkett Design and longtime Botanic Gardens general contractor GH Phipps to craft a structure to house the institution’s conservation and research efforts. “People think of the Botanic Gardens as a beautiful place to go, but what most of them don’t realize is what happens behind the scenes,” said O’Hara. “The whole concept was to showcase that, and to educate the public not just about what the Botanic Gardens are doing, but a little more about their environment.” Clad in a Swisspearl rain screen that serves as both roof and wall, the Science Pyramid’s biomimetic design reconsiders the relationship between the built and natural worlds.
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The original design of all grand U.S. railroad stations fit the architectural design foundation “form follows function.” Unfortunately the years have not been kind to these railroad stations. Real estate developers have coveted the rail yard property for non-transportation development. In some cases these rail yards have yielded to interstates, highways, and streets. This has transformed the depot (waiting room, ticket offices, etc.) into just “a nice old building that used to serve the traveling public.”
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has announced this year’s winners of its Professional and Student Awards, which honor “top public, commercial, residential, institutional, planning, communications and research projects from across the U.S. and around the world.” Each of the winning projects will be featured in the October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine and be officially presented by ASLA at its annual meeting and expo in Denver on November 24th. In total, 34 professional awards were selected out of 600 entries.
Whatever you may think of video games (new media art form, societal ill, lame waste of time) there was no avoiding them in downtown Denver this summer. From June 7 to July 26, three blocks of Champa Street between 14th Street and the 16th Street Mall were transformed into one big video arcade. Known as Oh Heck Yeah, the project assembled local and national arts groups and businesses to activate this stretch of turf with a variety of programming centered around a series of custom designed, family friendly video games. Designed by Denver-based creative teams Legwork Studio and Mode Set, the games were played on the Theatre District’s giant LED screens.
The Biennial of the Americas’ 2013 exposition Draft Urbanism, headed by Colorado-based curator Cortney Stell, has rounded up the most engaging art, architecture, and film dialogues from across the Americas to turn Denver into a enormous fair. The exposition kicked off last week on July 16. Now through September 2, four full-scale architecture exhibitions will tackle important urban matters throughout downtown, where new and existing billboards, posters, and other urban signage are used to exhibit art. The public is encouraged to stop by each work and to thereby transform the city itself into a living, urban museum.
Between keynote sessions, awards presentations, and interviews at the American Institute of Architects‘ (AIA) National 2013 Convention, AN‘s editors joined 20,000 attending architects in the search for the newest and most innovative products on the floor of the Colorado Convention Center’s exposition hall. Following are a few notable discoveries.
SureClad Porcelain Stone
The Tennessee-based supplier of interior ceramics has partnered with Shackerley, a British manufacturer of porcelain ventilated facade systems, for an exterior cladding solution that meets U.S. building codes, including all seismic and hurricane standards. The system (pictured above) is supported by an aluminum frame and is delivered to job sites as a prefabricated system to ensure fast and efficient installation.
Safer at night. Two design students at Carnegie Mellon University created a functional and graceful lighting system for bikers that enhances side visibility at night. The LED lights that line the wheel rims, are powered by pedaling and change colors depending on speed. Bloggers at Greater Greater Washington have posted a video of the lights in action.
Convenient Cities. What makes a city “convenient”? According to a study published by The Street, factors include walkability, public transportation, and amenity proximity. Their city ranking, using data from Walk Score, Zillow and APTA, put Boston, New York, Denver, Portland, and Chicago at the top.
Olympic Pollution. A documentary by filmmaker Faisal Abdu’Allah, Double Pendulum, examines the harmful effects of pollution on East London residents and athletes, The Guardian says. Abdu’Allah cautions that poor air quality in East London may threaten athletes’ performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Designer Chocolates. PSFK reports that researchers in a joint program between the University of Exeter, the University of Brunel, and Delam, a software developer, have created a printer that turns 3D CAD designs into ready-made chocolates. An upcoming retail site will allow the public to upload original designs.