It’s been a hot and highly stimulating few days at the Venice Biennale. David Chipperfield’s theme, “Common Ground,” which sought to establish connections across architecture culture, has proven surprising divisive. Some loved the elegant progression of projects in the Arsenale, which included everything from expressionist displays by Zaha Hadid, to neo-postmodern confections by FAT, to a hand built house by Anupama Kundoo, all of which managed to mingle thanks to Chipperfield’s tasteful curation.
Some formalists griped that the show was regressive, while more socially engaged architects thought it too estheticizing. Still, every Biennale must crown its winners. This year’s Golden Lion for the international exhibition went to Torre David/Gran Horizante by Urban-Think Tank (Alfredo Brillembourg and Herbert Klumpner) and Justin McGuirk, an investigation, featuring photography by Iwan Baan, of an informal community built in an abandoned, unfinished skyscraper in Caracas. The team created an bar inside the Arsenale which featured food, music, drinks, and neon lights to showcase their work and transform the atmosphere of the overall exhibition.
Perhaps trying to regain its mojo after a difficult summer on the stock market, Facebook has selected Frank Gehry to design an expansion to its Menlo Park Campus in California. The project, scheduled to break ground next year, will include a quirky 420,000-square-foot warehouse topped by a sprawling garden. The cavernous space will contain open offices for as many as 2,800 software engineers, according to Everett Katigbak, Facebook’s environmental design manager. The firm wouldn’t reveal the project’s price tag.
|Brought to you with support from:|
A 100 percent PET plastic garden grows in London
If you were fortunate enough to visit the London Olympics this summer and happened to walk through Victoria Park or the main quad at University College London (UCL) on your way to the games, then you experienced BLOOM, a big, bright, architectural garden created by complete strangers who gathered over the course of the two weeks to piece together 60,000 plastic game pieces, all dyed official Olympic hot pink. Designed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez, two architecture professors from UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture, BLOOM was selected by the Greater London Authority for a series of events and installations mounted in two locations during the games with a third location in Trafalgar Square to follow for the upcoming Paralympics.
Andrasek and Sanchez had been developing the idea for an open-ended, crowdsourced game that would encourage interaction between people in a large public space when the opportunity to be involved with the Olympics arose. The timing was perfect. Here was a moment in the city’s history when locals and tourists alike would be in the same location to celebrate athletics, and Andrasek and Sanchez hoped to capitalize on that spirit of camaraderie. The game starts with the pink game pieces, called cells. Each 16 inch-long cell is made of 100% PET plastic and has three points of entry, or notches used to connect the pieces together. Once Andrasek and Sanchez created a design for the cells, they were injection molded at Atomplast, a Chilean plastics fabricator that Andrasek and Sanchez had worked with previously. The cells are flexible, durable and can be bent and twisted into different configurations without warping or breaking. There were also several structural steel components on hand for using with the cells to build benches, tables, forts and other larger formations. Read More
Big Ass Fans are, as their name suggests, a producer of very large fans. They’re used everywhere from dairy barns to art galleries to outdoor public installations like Wendy, HWKN’s star-shaped pavilion for MoMA PS1’s summer Warm Up series. They also make residential models, like Haiku, the latest product in their line up. Once you get over the eye roll-inducing slogan—Haiku: Poetry in Motion—it’s a really incredible product. According to Energy Star it’s the world’s most efficient residential ceiling fan, and even exceeds their efficiency requirements by 450 to 750 percent. Whereas most fans use 90 to 100 watts, the Haiku uses just two to 30 watts, costing an average of $5 per year.
Last January, Florida welcomed Michael Maltzan Architecture’s stunning proposal for the St.Petersburg Pier, featuring a new tidal reef, a civic green, raised walking paths, a waterpark and many other attractions. Recently however, local marine scientists have concluded that the tidal reef element of the design is simply too good to be true, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times. Named “The Lens,” Maltzan’s scheme calls for a figure-8 spatial organization, in which a loop provides a view into the clear water below. But Tampa Bay’s estuary waters are murky—not because of pollution but simply because of sediment—making the water too foggy for any kind of tidal viewing. Maltzan’s ideal emerald waters are expected to remain a fantasy, but scientist and architects are still trying to find others ways to provide an underwater view in the Lens.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this morning on his morning radio show that New York City’s forthcoming CitiBike bike-share program—already mired with delays caused by software problems—would be further delayed until at least next spring, confirming rumors that the system’s bugs weren’t being worked out quickly enough. On his radio show, the mayor delivered the bad news, “The software doesn’t work, duh.” He maintained that, “we are not going to put out the system until it works.” The highly anticipated program is set to become the largest is North America when it opens and was a signature piece of the mayor’s bike infrastructure plan for the city.
Brooklyn Navy Yard and Steiner Studios have come up with a gigantic plan for a media hub to be spread across 50 acres of the former ship yard. According to the New York Times, the $400 million project depends on an influx of $35 million from the state and $2.5 million from the federal government to build out water, sewers, and electric infrastructure.
Navy Yard CEO AndrewKimball gave a pointed shout out to the governor and mayor in the Times piece, indicating yet another project making a mad dash to get on the boards before Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure comes to an end in 2013. Though the Navy Yard lost out on its bid to be the locale for the city’s new tech campus that ended up on Roosevelt Island, it does occupy an all-important corner to the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, where nearly 10,000 people work in that sector.
For those heading north on the New York State Thruway, the Yonkers Raceway emerging on the right is just another part of the landscape. But Studio V Architects is about to change all that with their massive porte-cochère that serves as the iconic tour de force for the $45 million expansion of the Empire City Casino. The curved lattice canopy will be clad in ETFE foil—a polymer membrane often used for roofing—that will reflect LED lights resting atop the steel frame.
Behind the canopy, a four-story, 300-foot-long glass wall will serve as a clear backdrop to the canopy, mimicking its curve, while allowing visitors to see the action inside. “The sculptural steel and foil shell grow out of the landscape,” explained Studio V founder and principal Jay Valgora. That landscape will eventually get the Ken Smith treatment. AN took a trip up to Yonkers to check out the construction and all seems on track for opening this fall. We’ll keep you updated on its progress and more from Studio V.
|Brought to you with support from:|
Machine collaborates on your design as you make it
Earlier this summer Design Hub Limburg mounted “The Machine,” an exhibition that anticipates what the Netherlands-based design collective is calling the designers’ industrial revolution, a movement that sees more and more designers developing and building machines specially suited to their particular needs, like the Computer Augmented Craft project (CAC) by German designer Christian Fiebig. He was commissioned by Design Hub Limburg to create an interactive machine with a digital interface that makes suggestions to the designer during the fabrication process. Using custom-made sensors, the computer tracks the making process and instantly generates formal possibilities based on the designer’s chosen parameters, bridging hi-tech with traditional craftsmanship.
Fiebig enlisted the help of product and interaction designer David Menting and his company, Nut & Bolt, to devise a system of sensors specifically for spot welding strips of metal. First, Menting used an off-the-shelf CNY70 reflective infrared sensor to detect the position of the metal strips and created an adapted pair of digital calipers to measure the length. A custom-made circular infrared sensor was then created to measure the angle at which two different strips meet. The values read by the sensors are registered by an Arduino, a microcontroller chip that enables a computer to communicate input and output components, in this case the sensors. The Arduino checks whether the infrared sensor can detect the light from a ring of LEDs on the workstation at a rate of approximately a thousand times per second. If not, it knows the light is being blocked by a strip of metal, which it measures the length and angle of, and then sends that information to the computer.