Pictorial> A Nature-Dominated Office in Denver

National
Monday, August 15, 2011
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"Natural Systems Domination" in Denver. (Courtesy Tres Birds Workshop)

"Natural Systems Domination" in Denver. (Courtesy Tres Birds Workshop)

It might be the latest trend in creative modern eco-office design or, more likely, it’s a tongue-in-cheek reminder to avoid letting work take over your life. In the typical modern office with row upon row of geometric cubicles, the closest a worker might get to nature is a small potted plant, a faraway glimpse out a window, or a rainforest background on his or her computer. But a new installation in downtown Denver quite literally breaks down this man-made environment in an effort to promote outdoor activity and a connection to nature during the workday.

Continue reading after the jump. (+slideshow)

Sustainability Martyred in Name of Saint Green

International, Newsletter
Thursday, June 30, 2011
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Eco-Pantheon, Rome 126AD (Courtesy Star Strategies+Architecture)

Eco-Pantheon, Rome 126AD (Courtesy Star Strategies+Architecture)

Has the green movement gone too far? STAR Strategies + Architecture examines the prevalence of “green-washing and the abuse of sustainability” in their project O’ Mighty Green, where they posit that the notion of “green” has taken on a life of its own outside of sustainability and has become on many levels a new sort of religion. As the architects said in their introduction:

Sustainability currently shares many qualities with God; supreme concept, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; creator and judge, protector, and (…) saviour of the universe and the humanity. And, like God, it has millions of believers. Since we humans are relatively simpleminded and suspicious and need evidence before belief can become conviction, Green has come to represent sustainability; has become its incarnation in the human world. But sustainability, like God, might not have a form, nor a colour.

To demonstrate this absurdity, STAR has implemented what they call “sustainability as a photoshop filter” and clad a variety of iconic—and notorious—buildings with green walls, even invoking the spirit of St. Green, the patron saint of sustainable architects. The architects have taken a similarly snarky view of contradictions in preservation. (Via Dezeen.)

What are your thoughts? Are architects guilty of praying at the green altar?

Photos after the jump.

Johnson′s Glass House: the Anti-McMansion?

East, National, Newsletter
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
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Courtesy Philip Johnson Glass House

Courtesy Philip Johnson Glass House

Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, CT clocks in at under 2,000 square feet–tiny compared to the McMansions being built just a stone’s throw away. The transparent house is widely known as one of the earliest and most influential modernist homes in the United States, but its size is also a lesson in sustainable living.

Continue reading after the jump.

QUICK CLICKS> Model Cities, Food Deserts, McMansion Decline, Green Infill

Daily Clicks
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
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(Image via www.azcentral.com)

 

Toy Cities. Our friends at Planetizen tell us that Avondale, AZ had urban planner James Rojas over for a playdate of sorts. Citizens who took part in this re-visioning session got to use pipecleaners, Legos, blocks, and other assorted toys to build their ideal version of the city. According to Rojas, this bottom-up community planning method breaks down barriers and allows people to exercise a degree of creativity not often found at the typical charrette.

Food Oases. Streetsblog questions the much hyped notion of the “food desert”:  is it media myth or reality?  It seems that urban areas aren’t always as lacking in food stores as they seem, at least depending on your definition of supermarket. Even the USDA, who recently debuted their new food desert locator, might be a bit confused about what constitutes a food desert. (In fact, the web application says that a part of Dedham, MA is a food desert. Maybe they don’t count the Star Market that’s right near that Census tract…)

Suburban Swan Song. Slate’s architecture columnist Witold Rybczynski has penned an obit of sorts to that symbol of suburban sprawl, the McMansion. He posits that when the recession is over people will be in the mood to buy homes again, but that they may be hesitant to purchase a behemoth of a building that costs a lot to heat and cool.

Green Alert. Inhabitat takes a look at the latest in the green roof trend in the form of sloping roofs on townhomes in the City of Brotherly Love. It seems that the historic Center City has a new (and almost LEED certified) infill development called Bancroft Green. The high-end homes here sport some nifty plant covered roofs as well as geothermal heating and herb gardens that capture storm runoff and spaces designed specifically for bicycle storage.

 

Quick Clicks> IKEA Life, Gensler′s Mil, Graceland II, and a Green Empire

Daily Clicks, East Coast
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
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(image by Christian Gideon)

Hem Sweet Hem. We love this quirky story from our friends at Curbed. The Swedish-based IKEA is well on itsway to worldwide domination of the budget-furniture market — and who doesn’t love wandering through the cavernous stores and imagining life in the mini habitats arranged throughout the store? Photographer Christian Gideon sure did. His latest project documents what life might look like if you lived in one.

Subsidy Switch. LA’s Mayor Villaraigosa promised not to spend any taxpayer money to a proposed football stadium in the city, but the project’s lead architect is another matter entirely. According to LA Weekly, the mayor is sending $1 million slated for the city’s poor to lead-architect Gensler as they prepare to move their offices from Santa Monica to downtown LA.

Elvis Goes Danish. Think living at IKEA was strange enough? Well, the Historic Sites Blog hopes to top that. Apparently there is now a replica of Graceland in Denmark. Yes, Denmark. If those photos weren’t enough, the BBC has a brief video of the Danish dupe.

Empire Example. According to gbNYC, the Empire State Building plans to be in the LEED when it comes to retrefotting historic buildings. Though owner Anthony Malkin, the man behind the green curtain, didn’t set out to achieve the green label for one of the city’s highest profile building, he’s apparently changed his tune.

Quick Clicks> Benz Biome, Facebook Exodus, Code Green, and Sarah Vowell on Architecture

Daily Clicks
Friday, April 8, 2011
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Image of The Mercedes-Benz Biome (Courtesy LA Autoshow)

Nature’s Benz. LA Autoshow reveals a radically green Mercedes-Benz concept called Biome– it’s made of organic fibers, powered by the sun, and releases pure oxygen into the air! The system behind this model is called “Mercedes-Benz Symbiosis,” in which vehicles are seamless part of the ecosystem.

Facebook’s Exodus. According to the New York Times, Facebook is moving out — of the office clusters in Palo Alto — and into an insulated 57-acre corporate campus in Menlo Park, California, which is to be renovated by San Francisco-based Gensler. About 2,000 workers, including Mark Zuckerberg, will be moved in within next 10 months. These young 20-somethings don’t want a sleek corporate office, but something idiosyncratic and soulful, which the new campus aims for.

Code Green. Crain‘s reports that the New York City Council continues to green up the city’s building codes. A trio of bills looks to “create more energy-efficient roofs.” While the first bill requires more reflective and less heat-absorbent roof materials, the second removes building-height limitations from solar thermal equipment and electric collectors and the third bill will add heat and power systems to the list of allowable rooftop structures.

Well-spoken Vowell. Chicago magazine talks to Sarah Vowell about Chicago — and a little New York — architecture. “It’s what I do for fun: Go see buildings. I like architecture because it’s so nonverbal,” she said, and then goes on to discuss her personal relationship with the Carson Pirie-Scott Building. Vowell recently finished her new book on Hawaii called Unfamiliar Fishes.

Quick Clicks> Drawing, Green, Aerial, Plans

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
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Rivington Street, All the Buildings in New York, by James Gulliver Hancock

Rivington Street, All the Buildings in New York, by James Gulliver Hancock

Block by Block. Brooklyn-based illustrator James Gulliver Hancock is attempting to draw All the Buildings in New York in quite beautiful pen and ink sketches like the one above. Watch a video of the artist explaining his inspirations, style, and how a chained up wheelchair is architecture after the jump. (via Gothamist.)

Read More

Quick Clicks> Green, Trolley, Bike, and Soane Booms

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
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New York by Gehry nee 8 Spruce nee Beekman Tower (Courtesy dbox)

New York by Gehry neé 8 Spruce neé Beekman Tower (Courtesy dbox)

Green Boom. Blair Kamin takes a look at the sustainability of two billowing icons in Chicago and New York. Studio Gang’s Aqua Tower is going for LEED certification while Frank Gehry’s New York tower will not seek the USGBC’s approval but claims to be green nonetheless. Kamin notes the importance of such moves, saying of Gehry: “What he, in particular, does–or doesn’t do–can have enormous influence, not simply on architects but on developers.”

Trolley Boom. NPR has a piece on the explosion of streetcars across the country with planned or completed systems in over a dozen cities.

Bike Boom. Cycling advocate Elly Blue discusses a new study on Grist stating that bikes deserve their own infrastructure independent from autos. And not just a striped bike lane, Blue notes, but separated lanes called “cycle tracks” like one installed along Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West.

Soane Boom. The Independent reports on a planned renovation to the Sir John Soane Museum in London, that architect’s treasure trove of antiquities and architectural memorabilia from across the world. Plans include opening up a new floor that hasn’t been open to the public since Soane died in 1837.

Video> Chef Preps Sustainable Culinary Campus

International
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
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Rendering of the whimsical elBulliFoundation campus

Rendering of the whimsical elBulliFoundation campus

Our friends at The Feast bring us news that molecular gastronomy guru Ferran Adria plans to build a campus for his elBulliFoundation that’s reminiscent of a Dr. Seuss fantasy. Adria aims for this complex to be ultra sustainable, with a goal of zero emissions.

Wondering what you might expect to find inside these whimsical, Wonka-esque structures? So were we. We hear that the current plan calls for an archive and brainstorming space (yes, brainstorming). Even more exciting, there will be “coral-like ceramic caverns” for the foundation’s chef-scholars to work in.

With a kitchen this crazy, we can’t wait to see what culinary creations are sure to follow.

Watch a fantastic video of the culinary campus after the jump.

Unveiled> BIG Designs a Power Plant That Loves You

International
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
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Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhapen (Courtesy BIG)

Waste-to-Energy Plant in Copenhapen (Courtesy BIG)

Where one architect might see an incinerator, Bjarke Ingels, principal at Dutch firm BIG, envisions a ski slope. Ingels has been fond of the mountain typology and he hasn’t been all that subtle about it, giving projects names like Mountain Dwellings and emblazoning Mount Everest on the side.

In his latest competition-winning proposal for Copenhagen, BIG takes the concept one step further, with a mountain you can actually ski down.

And it blows smoke rings, too!

One Year In: Five Healthful Homes for Haiti

International
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
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Breathe House, First Place (Courtesy Archive)

Breathe House, First Place (Courtesy Archive)

One year ago, a catastrophic earthquake tore through Haiti killing 200,000 people. Today, some progress has been made to return to normality but a Goliath mountain of rubble that was once Port au Prince still must be cleared and housing built for the vast population living in ruins and tents.

Toward that end, ARCHIVE, Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments, has announced the winners of a housing competition and will build five houses that promote healthy living in Haiti this year. Winners from around the world paid special attention to limit the transmission of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, the leading deadly diseases in the country.

See the winners and learn more after the jump.

Student-Built Tiny House No Small Feat

East
Monday, January 10, 2011
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Students will sell the Tiny House in the spring (Courtesy Green Mountain College)

Students will sell the Tiny House in the spring (Courtesy Green Mountain College)

Students enrolled in a sustainable design-build course at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont closed out 2010 by building their own house – a rather tiny house. Covering a mere 96 square feet, the structure cost only $20 a foot for a total price tag well under $2,000. No small feat for a bespoke building, especially considering this tiny house has gone green in a big way.

Click through for a tiny bit more.

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