A Watershed Moment: Floating LilyPads use nanotechnology to fight water pollution

(Courtesy Puralytics)

(Courtesy Puralytics)

While architects often dream of floating houses and cities of the future, a new floating technology is promising to clean up our waterways. The winner of the 2014 Disrupt-O-Meter award is Puralytics, for the innovative technology that’s at the root of the LilyPad, a floating, portable water purification device that works without chemicals, consumables, or power.

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International Union of Architects pledges to eliminate carbon emissions in the built environment

Aerial view of New York City. (Flickr / Katy Silberger)

Aerial view of New York City. (Flickr / Katy Silberger)

The International Union of Architects (UIA) has made a major commitment to do its part in the fight against climate change. At its recent World Congress in Durban, South Africa, the Union—which represents 1.3 million architects from 124 countries—universally pledged to eliminate carbon emissions from the built environment by 2050. The “2050 Imperative” was created by the non-profit Architecture 2030 and approved by the UIA on August 8th.

Learn more after the jump.

Rockefeller Foundation opens its “100 Resilient Cities Challenge”

100 Resilient Cities Challenge is now open to applicants. (Courtesy 100 Resilient Cities Challenge)

100 Resilient Cities Challenge is now open to applicants. (Courtesy 100 Resilient Cities Challenge)

The Rockefeller Foundation is now accepting applications for its “100 Resilient Cities Challenge,” which will fund $100 million worth of resiliency projects in cities around the world.

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How the “Climate Penalty” will make air pollution in cities even worse

Smog over Los Angeles. (Flickr / Ben Amstutz)

Smog over Los Angeles. (Flickr / Ben Amstutz)

Scientists’ dire warnings about climate change have become as routine as they are shocking. As global temperatures shatter records and extreme weather events rip across the planet, climatologists have continued to issue study after study about how bad things are and how much worse they will get. For years, we’ve known that coastal cities are threatened by rising sea levels, but now there is even more bad news for those living in populated urban centers—whether they’re near the sea or not. It’s called the “climate penalty” and it could transform urban living.

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Lake|Flato Beats the Heat at ASU

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Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

LEED Platinum renovation reconnects the Health Services Building to the campus core.

Early in their renovation of the Arizona State University Health Services Building, Lake|Flato Architects, working with orcutt | winslow, decided to scrap the university’s initial concept in favor of a plan that would reengage the campus’s historic pedestrian corridor, the Palm Walk. Instead of building an addition to the north side of the existing facility, which included a serviceable two-story building constructed in the 1950s and another structure Lake|Flato partner Andrew Herdeg described as “a rambling one-story rabbit warren of spaces,” the architects elected to demolish the one-story wing and build a two-story addition in its place. “This initial idea that we need to look at the basic concept before we start the design, and think about it from the campus design perspective, changed everything,” said Herdeg. It allowed the design team to reduce the program by about 12 percent and reduce the footprint by 20 percent, as well as to preserve 5,000 square feet of green space for programs and stormwater mitigation. But it also presented a challenge. The renovated building’s primary identity would be on the east facade of the building, where the desert sun had the potential to undo efficiencies gained elsewhere.
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10,000 sunflowers help rehab a vacant lot in St. Louis

As part of Washington University's Land Lab program, a vacant lot in St. Louis was made into a sunflower field. (Richard Reilly)

As part of Washington University’s Land Lab program, a vacant lot in St. Louis was made into a sunflower field. (Richard Reilly)

On a long-abandoned lot in St. Louis’ near north side, 10,000 sunflowers are sucking up the heavy metals that have helped stall development there for “longer than neighbors care to remember,” reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The project is called Sunflower+. It’s one of the winners of St. Louis’ inaugural “Sustainable Land Lab” competition, which was organized by Washington University in St. Louis and city officials. Over the next two years, the design team will cultivate and harvest four rotations of summer sunflowers and winter wheat on the vacant lot, hopefully preparing it for redevelopment in the future.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bittertang Farms’ organic amphitheater sprouts from straw in Lake Forest, Illinois

Buru Buru amphitheatre at the Ragdale Ring in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Bittertang Farms)

Buru Buru amphitheatre at the Ragdale Ring in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Bittertang Farms)

Work wrapped up this summer on Bittertang Farms’ installation at Ragdale, the nonprofit artists’ community in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs, and true to its plans the straw amphitheater springs forth from a lush hillside in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bomb Trains: Vice investigates the dangers of transporting crude oil by rail

After an oil train exploded in Lac Megantic, Quebec last year. (Flickr / EliasSchewel)

After an oil train exploded in Lac Megantic, Quebec last year. (Flickr / EliasSchewel)

In a new video report, Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail, Vice News investigated the risk of crude oil–carrying trains exploding as they crisscross North America. That isn’t some hypothetical risk that could be realized down the road—it’s already happening. Last summer, forty-seven people were killed when an oil-carrying train exploded in a small town in Quebec, and in the year since, four more trains have gone up in flames in the U.S. and Canada. With so many train lines carrying oil through the hearts of American cities, Vice highlights safety concerns for urban areas and rural alike.

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Allied Works Carves a Winery Out of Cedar

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Allied Works Architecture wrapped Sokol Blosser Winery’s new tasting room in grey-stained cedar. (Jeremy Bittermann)

Allied Works Architecture wrapped Sokol Blosser Winery’s new tasting room in grey-stained cedar. (Jeremy Bittermann)

Textured wood envelope draws on the history and landscape of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Sokol Blosser Winery‘s Willamette Valley tasting room, designed by Allied Works Architecture, pays homage to its agricultural surroundings in its massing and materials. Nestled within a set of terraces scooped out of the Dundee Hills, the building plants roots with a below-grade cellar, on top of which its long, low first story spreads like grape vines along a trellis. Both exterior and interior are wrapped in locally-sourced cedar siding—rough grey boards hung horizontally on the outside, smooth clear wood laid diagonally on the inside—whose regularity recalls aerial photographs of the vineyard. “We went with wood for a number of reasons,” explained principal Kyle Lommen. “There’s a history of wood in the agrarian architecture of that region. There’s a history of wood in wineries as well. And there was a desire to create an atmosphere that is warm and had a material quality.” Read More

Michael Van Valkenburgh’s new Toronto park is a stormwater treatment plant in disguise

Corktown Common Pavilion. (Courtesy ARUP)

Corktown Common Pavilion. (Courtesy ARUP)

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has taken its talents up north to Canada with the new Corktown Common park in Toronto. The 18-acre public space—which is part of the burgeoning, 80-acre West Don Lands neighborhood—was created with Arup and developed by Waterfront Toronto, the government-funded corporation spearheading the revitalization of the city’s waterfront.

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Obit> Randall Stout, 1958–2014

Stout examines a model of the Hunter Museum of Art (RSA)

Stout examines a model of the Hunter Museum of Art. (RSA)

Noted Los Angeles architect Randall Stout has died of cancer. He was 56. Stout served long tenures at SOM in Houston and at Gehry Partners in Los Angeles, then went on to found Randall Stout Architects in 1997. The office, which gained large commissions in the United States and Europe, became known for contortions of polished steel and raw stone, and for large, luminous interior spaces intimately connected to their surroundings. Despite these unusual forms, Stout’s buildings were regarded as people friendly and practical.

“Randall was a true architect,” Richard Keating, who worked with Stout at SOM from 1978 to 1986, said. “He understood materials and budgets and made excellent buildings.” Keating attributed this combination to his extended time with SOM and Gehry. “His approach to buildings was to be artful as well as responsible.”  Read More

2014 European Solar Decathlon Announces Winners

Rhome-for-Dencity-house (Courtesy Solar Decathlon Europe/jflakes.com)

Rhome-for-Dencity-house (Courtesy Solar Decathlon Europe/jflakes.com)

The 2014 European Solar Decathlon has come to an end, and the international student competition to design cutting edge solar houses has produced a winner: Team Rhome of Universitá Degli Studi di Roma TRE. Their house, called Rhome for denCity, received a mark of 840.63 out of 1,000 maximum points, edging out the runner-up proposals by a slim margin.

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