Facades+ Dallas Co-Chair on the Big D’s Coming-of-Age

As Dallas comes of age, its built environment is a subject of debate among designers, city leaders, and residents. (David Herrera / Flickr)

As Dallas comes of age, its built environment is a subject of debate among designers, city leaders, and residents. (David Herrera / Flickr)

Dallas is growing up. And just like the rest of us, the city is doing some soul-searching on its way from adolescence to adulthood. “Growing up doesn’t necessarily mean growing out; bigger isn’t necessarily better,” said Heath May, director of HKS LINE and co-chair of the upcoming Facades+ Dallas conference. “People are starting to understand that it’s time to start thinking about public policy and the way it relates to placemaking.”

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Pratt Students Raise an AAC Wall

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School of Architecture students designed and fabricated a portion of an AAC facade for display in the lobby of Higgins Hall. (Courtesy Lawrence Blough)

School of Architecture students designed and fabricated a portion of an AAC facade for display in the lobby of Higgins Hall. (Courtesy Lawrence Blough)

Installation investigates the future of facade design and fabrication.

Unlike some student projects, AAC Textile-Block v2.0 was shaped by both practical and speculative concerns. In back-to-back courses at Pratt, undergraduates designed and fabricated a prototype section of a screen wall system made from autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC). Co-taught by Lawrence Blough and Ezra Ardolino, the design studio and prototyping seminar encouraged students to look beyond their computer screens to real-world constraints including block size and light and air circulation. “The idea was that we wanted to make something that has an application later on,” said Blough. “It was more than a run-of-the-mill digital fabrication project,” added Ardolino. “It was really a comprehensive fabrication project.” Read More

Video> Knight Architects create folding fan-like bridge in London

The Merchant Square Footbridge. (Edmund Sumner via Knight Architects)

The Merchant Square Footbridge. (Edmund Sumner via Knight Architects)

The UK-based firm Knight Architects has created a pedestrian bridge in London that opens and closes like a Japanese folding fan. The Merchant Square Footbridge is comprised of five steel beams that sequentially open with the help of hydraulic jacks. The structure spans about 65 feet across the Grand Union Canal in the new mixed-use Merchant Square development in Paddington.

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Grappling with Glare in High-Performance Facade Design

Portions of Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall were sandblasted after construction to reduce glare. (Pedro Szekely / Flickr)

Portions of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall were sandblasted after construction to reduce glare. (Pedro Szekely / Flickr)

Frank Gehry‘s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Scott Johnson‘s Museum Tower in Dallas, and Rafael Viñoly‘s Vrada Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas have at least one thing in common. All three provoked the ire of their neighbors when glare from their reflective facades raised sidewalk temperatures, blinded drivers, or—as in the Museum Tower case—jeopardized the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center’s collections. Glare is increasingly a problem in facade design, says Curtainwall Design Consulting president Charles Clift, in part because of the tools contemporary architects have at their disposal. “The conclusion I came to is that the digital age of architecture has allowed designers to create anything they can imagine, but with that comes some unintended consequences.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Chicago’s big building owners embrace the smart grid

Chicago is one of 10 cities targeted by philanthropies for energy efficiency savings. (josh*m via flickr)

Large downtown buildings make up a disproportionate share of the built environment’s energy usage. (josh*m via flickr)

The members of Chicago‘s Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) control nearly 80 percent of downtown Chicago’s rentable building area. That makes them critical to local energy efficiency initiatives that aim to reduce the nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy that is consumed by buildings. Read More

Buffalo breaks ground on largest solar panel facility in the Western Hemisphere

A model of SolarCity's plant.  (New York Governor's Office)

A model of SolarCity’s plant. (New York Governor’s Office)

Manufacturing is returning to Buffalo, New York in a big way. In late September, SolarCity broke ground on a 1.2-million-square-foot solar panel manufacturing plant that will be the biggest facility of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The company, which Elon Musk chairs, is investing $5 billion into the project that will rise on the site of a former Republic Steel factory. When fully operational, the panels produced at the factory are expected to generate one gigawatt of energy, that’s roughly enough power to power 145,000 homes.

Continue reading after the jump.

Mayor de Blasio announces $28 million plan to install solar panels on New York City schools

East, Sustainability, Technology
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Mayor de Blasio looking at solar panels in the Bronx. (Twitter/billdeblasio)

Mayor de Blasio looking at solar panels in the Bronx. (Twitter/billdeblasio)

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his plan to reduce New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent over 2005 levels by 2050. Needless to say, that’s a pretty ambitious target, but this mayor seems to like ambitious targets—his plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade comes to mind. But back to his latest plan, the climate plan.

Continue reading after the jump.

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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VIDEO> Repairing and Replacing Two New York City Region Bridges

The New Tappan Zee Bridge. (COURTESY TAPAN ZEE CONTRACTORS)

The New Tappan Zee Bridge. (COURTESY TAPAN ZEE CONTRACTORS)

Bridges. They can be grand and majestic, awe-inspiring symbols of engineering ingenuity, city-defining pieces of infrastructure, and, as you may have heard by now, at serious risk of collapsing. To stop that from happening, engineers basically have two options: repair or replace. Both of those strategies are currently pursued in the New York City region.

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Product> Liquid Assets: Best Water Management Tools

SkyScape-Pregrown-Modular-System

(Courtesy Firestone Building Products)

Water has been called the oil of the 21st century. Whether too much (Exhibit A: Hurricane Sandy) or too little (Exhibit B: California, Texas, and the Southwest), conserving, cleaning, and controlling it has never been a higher priority for architects and their clients. From rooftops to underground, these innovative systems and products work to make the most of every drop. 

COntinue reading after the jump.

Swedish professor creates a playable 3-D printed saxophone

International, Newsletter, Technology
Friday, September 12, 2014
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3D Printed Saxophone (Courtesy Lund University)

3D Printed Saxophone (Courtesy Lund University)

As the world of 3-D printing advances, it’s becoming possible to create more and more complex shapes and systems. Now, the technology is making waves in the music world. Olaf Diegel, a professor of product development at Lund University in Sweden, recently produced the first ever 3-D printed saxophone.

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Zaha Hadid to design mathematics wing at London’s Science Museum

The Mathematics gallery. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

The Mathematics gallery. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

In an effort to make math appear exciting, London‘s Science Museum has tapped Zaha Hadid to design its new mathematics gallery. According to the museum, the new multi-million dollar, Hadid-ian space will “tell stories that place mathematics at the heart of our lives, exploring how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped to shape the world from the turn of the 17th century to the present.” If that doesn’t sound absolutely riveting to you, well maybe some math-themed architecture can help.

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