Just steps away from the Space Needle, locals and visitors can see how hydroelectric power is generated, transmitted, and consumed in Seattle. Projected on the giant north facing wall of the Armory/Center House, the installation Current, by Brooklyn-based artist Adam Frank, uses light to create a real-time map of electricity distribution through the city’s neighborhoods. Frank was recently named artist-in-residence at the city’s public utility company Seattle City Light (SCL), and this is his first project. His art is part of a series of events taking place through October at the Seattle Center, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Seattle 1962 Exhibition.
How can technology and science revolutionize and restore our public spaces—particularly those disconnected and decaying districts that remain after colossal events such as the Olympics, biennials, and world’s fairs? These immense programs have shaped many an urban core, for better or for worse, from the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 to the 2004 Athens Olympics.
As part of the Seattle Next Fifty, the 50th anniversary of the Seattle 1962 World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition, the Howard S. Wright Design Ideas Competition for Public Space challenged global designers, architects, and urban planners to re-imagine the 9 acre Seattle Center site that was part of the larger 74-acre campus, which hosted the original 1962 fair.
Even in these recessionary times, there are still big buyers who can afford to expand when the market is low. In Seattle, Amazon is in the preliminary stages of purchasing three city blocks in the Denny Triangle neighborhood north of the business district from developer Clise Properties, The Seattle Times reports. The properties are bounded by Westlake Avenue to the east, 6th Avenue to the south, and Blanchard Street to the west.
Amazon is going big: intending to convert what are now parking lots into three office towers measuring one million square feet each. The total space will double the size of the largest skyscraper in Seattle, the Columbia Center.
Amazon’s current office space—over a million square feet distributed over several locations—is rented. This will mark Amazon’s first office ownership. An agreement with Clise will give Amazon the option to buy more of their holdings, which are part of a larger 13-acre site in Denny Triangle.
On October 1st, the U.S. Department of Energy unveiled the winner of the 2011 Solar Decathlon at West Potomac Park in Washington D.C., bringing together innovative solar-powered prototype residences designed and built by international student teams from universities and colleges. This year’s champion, the University of Maryland’s WaterShed house, excelled in a variety of then ten metrics used to judge the houses including affordability, energy balance, hot water, and engineering.
Tiny Homes. The average size of an American home has been decreasing since 2009 (to at 2,392 SF), the Wall Street Journal reported. With financial and environmental concerns, many homeowners are down-sizing. The book Nano House: Innovations for Small Dwellings examines dwellings under 800 feet, such as the above 215-square-foot house in Belgium.
Artificial Leaf. Researchers at MIT have created an artificial leaf that uses sunlight to convert water into oxygen and hydrogen. The device is made of silicon, that is coated with a cobalt catalyst on one side, and a nickel catalyst on the other. When dropped in water, the cobalt separates oxygen and the nickel side hydrogen. The next step: scientists are working on a way to capture the gasses. More at Inhabitat.
Sky Sculptures. Brookline, Massachusetts artist Janet Echelman uses Indian fisherman weaving techniques to create ethereal neon nets that float in urban sky-scapes. Check out images of her work, that resembles the translucent fish of the coral reef at Artist a Day.
Shrouded Silos. In Omaha, Nebraska, the educational nonprofit Emerging Terrain has wrapped grain silo elevators in giant 80 by 20 feet banners that focus on food and agricultural issues. More at Planetizen.
Wulpen Community Center
Architect: Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu
Client: Flemish Government Architect
Location: Wulpen, Belgium
The Brooklyn-based firm Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO–IL) recently won a design competition for a community center located in Wulpen, a small, coastal town in Belgium. Their design transforms an unused schoolhouse into a community center with three distinct parts: a multipurpose room in the former two classrooms, a youth space in a garden, and meeting rooms in the original teachers’ house.
Urban decay. Gizmodo’s urban photography competition last week yielded beautiful, haunting images of decaying architecture, infrastructure, and other city spaces taken over by nature. More info on the grand winner and a photo gallery here.
Lunch as art. As part of the exhibition Time/Bank: Time/Food at the Abrons Arts Center in New York City is hosting a temporary restaurant, where artists will prepare home-style meals for gallery visitors, reported e-flux. Part of the Time/Bank program, participants are awarded credit in exchange for skills and time.
Greener buildings. Barclays and Lockheed Martin intend to invest up to $650 million in green upgrades for Sacramento and Miami buildings, utilizing a tax loophole that enables property owners to upgrade structures at no preliminary cost. The New York Times has more.
Solar sintering. Student work from the Royal College of Art exhibited at the London Design Festival explored the connections between energy and design. One student chose to examine the relationship between manufacturing and nature, creating a “Solar Sintering” machine that uses sunlight to power a 3D printing process. According to core77, the machine converts sand into a glass-like substance.
“Draped” trains. Inspired by the decadence and glamour of early train travel, Carlton Varney, president of Dorothy Draper & Co., designed interiors for the Greenbrier Presidential Express cars. The train is slated to have its first run from Washington D.C. next July to Greenbrier, North Carolina, for guest of the Greenbrier Resort. More at Editor at Large.
Street math. In an effort to freshen up their brand image, the DOW recently posted a “chalkboard” billboard displaying a mathematical equation on a building at the corner of Broome and Crosby streets in Manhattan. According to PSFK, the solution tells the story.
Basketful of rain. An art installation along the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf in Buffalo, New York called Fluid Culture examines the impact of globalization on water. One piece in the exhibition, Rain Baskets, repurposed everyday items such as umbrellas, hoses, and rugs to create a rainwater harvesting system reported Buffalo Rising.
Closing Time. Seventy historic state parks across California are slated for closure this year due to budget cuts. The Los Angeles Conservancy has more information on the parks, five of which are in the Los Angeles area, including Los Encinos State Park and the Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park.
Scary Design. The art, literary, and film magazine Zeotrope: All-Story, founded by Francis Ford Coppola, has invited Rodarte fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy to design the Fall 2011 issue. The theme is “Horror,” where artists, designers, writers, and other contributors explore the scary, the Gothic, and the sublime. More info at Zeotrope.
Broad-casting. Can’t get enough Diller Scofidio + Renfro? Now you can watch the construction of DS+R’s Broad Museum in Los Angeles 24 hours a day on a live camera feed that allows viewers to track construction progress and view high resolution photography taken every 15 minutes. The museum is expected to be completed in 2013. Via the LA Times.
Tourism and The Met. The Met Press Room shared that their summer 2011 exhibition season, including the enormously popular “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” show, brought in $90.8 million for New York City. “Using the industry standard for calculating tax revenue impact, the study found that the direct tax benefit to the City and State from out-of-town visitors to the Museum totaled some $90.8 million,” according to the Met. Sixty-eight percent of museum visitors were not from New York City and stayed for an average of five days.
Living letters. Typeface designer Ruslan Khasanov created a liquid typeface by inking letters onto a porcelain sink and photographing their movement as they slid down the drain. The white on black animated GIFs reveal letters that strangely resemble those amoebas we studied under the microscope back in high school bio. More at Co.Design.
Great cities for 20 somethings. Recently graduated? Looking for a creative, liberal-minded, inexpensive city with low unemployment? GOOD magazine has published a tally of top cities for young adults. Austin, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Washington D.C. garnered top spots.
Weaving futures. The future of weaving: Austrian designer collaboration “mischer’traxler” has fused art and technology in their latest invention, a machine that weaves depending on how many people are watching. Sensors located on the basket weaving frame detect how many people are standing nearby, adding different colors per person. Co.Design called it “passive interaction.”
Show me the shoes. For shoe company Shoesme, Dutch designer Teon Fleskens has designed a flexible, interchangeable shoe display system, according to Contemporist. The main element, large white dice, can be stacked and rearranged to various table and counter-level heights and can also be used for seating.
New York vs. Paris. It seems that the Big Apple and The City of Lights are forever battling over design, architecture, fashion, and film. A Parisian graphic designer decided to take matters into his own hands, creating a website to display his witty color-block graphics that juxtapose these iconic cities. Topics are eclectic, ranging from landmarks (the Empire Sate vs. the Eiffel Tower), to architecture (5th Avenue Apple Store vs. Musée du Louvre), to food (cupcakes vs. macarons), to even car parking styles (parking lot towers vs. double parked). More at the NY Times T Magazine.
Oil from plastic. Energy company Vadxx has invented reactors that can transform plastic scraps that can’t be recycled into crude oil with the lowest sulfur content in the world, says Good Magazine. The first reactors are slated for a recycling plant in Akron, Ohio. However, this begs this question: will the amount of crude oil created offset the amount of energy needed for the conversion process?
Basket lights. A New Zealand designer, David Trubridge, has infused his lighting with the spiritual–looking to a Maori creation myth for design inspiration, writes Contemporist. The Maori believed gods gave humans three baskets of knowledge. Trubiridge designed three corresponding teardrop ceiling “baskets”: the bamboo light represents knowledge of the natural world, the polycarbonate light symbolizes knowledge of the spiritual world, and the aluminum basket signifies knowledge of the rational world.