President Obama’s second-term White House is still in transition, with Ray LaHood out and rumors of an NTSB replacement, Sally Jewell likely in as Secretary of Interior. Among the non-Cabinet-level appointments, the President appointed Michael Graves to a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, an agency “devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.” Graves, who uses a wheelchair after an illness-induced partial paralysis, has been a leader in promoting accessibility in architecture, recently designing prototype houses for wounded and disabled veterans.
This month, Graves will also be launching a new line of more than 300 products at retailer J.C. Penney, including kitchen appliances, candlesticks, and a toaster shaped like a piece of toast. The Indianapolis-born architect will return to his hometown on March 28 to give a lecture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and he recently spoke with the Indy Star about delivering papers for the publication as a child, architecture, and the new product line. An exhibition of Graves’ work, From Towers to Teakettles, is also on display at the Virginia Center for Architecture through March 31.
Did you miss 3-D printing guru Skylar Tibbits at this year’s TED conference? Never fear, there’s an opportunity to hear Tibbits in New York City on April 12. And not just hear but participate in a hands-on workshop that Tibbits will lead as part of Facades + PERFORMANCE, a two-day conference on high-performance building enclosures sponsored by The Architect’s Newspaper.
Earlier this week at TED, Tibbits gave 3-D printing another dimension, quite literally, when he presented the possibility of “4-D printing,” or programming materials to self-reassemble into new structures over time. Tibbits unveiled a 4-D printer concept developed with MIT that he argues could have far-reaching implications for not just manufacturing but also for architecture. Will architects one day be able to design structures that build and mend themselves? Here’s the idea, as Tibbits told TED:
“If we combine the processes that natural systems offer intrinsically—genetic instructions, energy production, error correction—with those artificial or synthetic—programmability for design and scaffold, structure, mechanisms—we can potentially have extremely large-scale quasi-biological and quasi-synthetic architectural organisms.”
MC/2* is composed of .04-thick laser-cut polypropylene and aluminum rivets. Each component is flexible, but when assembled the surface becomes rigid.
The triangular MC/2* is the latest iteration of London-based Romanian architect Vlad Tenu’s Minimal Complexities Series. With this prototype, he continues to explore the idea of creating minimal surface geometries from modular components—a thread that has been present throughout much of his work. This time, he has pushed the boundaries even further by whittling down the components.
The undulating structure, made of translucent laser-cut polypropylene and aluminum rivets, was first unveiled hanging from the ceiling of the Open House event for Digital Shoreditch Festival 2012. It was then exhibited months later, at the International Architecture and Design Showcase at the London Architecture Festival 2012. This prototype follows a natural progression in this ongoing series, which gained recognition when Tenu was named the winner of the second annual Tex-Fab Repeat Digital Fabrication Competition for his Minimal Complexity structure in 2011.
If you’ve experienced a twinge of guilt for supporting an idling, carbon-emitting vehicle while waiting on line for gourmet macaroni-and-cheese, rejoice—a new day is dawning for NYC food trucks. In late February, Mayor Bloomberg inaugurated Neapolitan Express, the first food truck fueled by compressed natural gas. The truck, (which looks a wee bit like a retirement home bus) is a showcase for kajillionaire T. Boone Pickens’ company Clean Energy Fuels. Track it @NeaExpress.
In a recent interview with the London newspaper The Observer, architect Zaha Hadid made the point that female architects are typecast. “It is thought they [women] understand interior shapes, and I am sure they do understand them better than men actually, but the idea is that they will prefer to deal with a single client, rather than with corporations and developers,” said Hadid, noting that women practitioners often ended up with residential or leisure-related projects rather than large-scale commercial work. Hadid spoke out following publication of a research report by the Architects’ Journal on gender issues in British architecture. The report, deploying a rather Shakespearian tone, claims to have uncovered a “sinister and rotten kernel of inequality.” Women “need to be encouraged and to have their confidence built up,” said Hadid, a notoriously tough boss herself. We’d like to see Hadid team up with Facebook COO turned working-woman activist Sheryl Sandberg for a road show.
One of the most important components of any architecture school is its semester-long lecture series. It’s a chance for schools to bring in voices from outside their building and communicate to students a broad range of approaches and ideas percolating in the culture and profession. Many schools send out posters of these lectures to other schools across the country to announce their programing and these are posted on hallway walls for all to see even if they are thousands of miles away on another coast.
But now City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture has taken the next step and is simulcasting its lectures live online for the public to view. Old lectures will be archived and viewable any time. This semester City College is focusing its lectures on Rethinking Kahn and have scheduled a distinguished line up of Louis Kahn scholars including Stanislaus von Moos this Thursday, February 28 speaking on Kahn’s urban projects. On March 7, Ken Frampton will be speaking on monumentality in Kahn’s work. March 21 will feature Gina Pollara who will lecture on New York’s FDR Memorial on Roosevelt Island and its construction. After that Robert Twombley and William J.R. Curtis will lecture. On the Friday after William Curtis’ lecture, there will be a discussion between William Curtis and George Ranalli and Rethinking Kahn.
Alas. One of LA’s greatest weird treasures, the Bahooka Family Restaurant, is set to close on March 10. The gem, which opened its Rosemead location in 1976, is perhaps the most ornate example of Tiki architecture in the city. Not only is it full of every Polynesian tchotchke imaginable—Easter Island heads, hula dancers, blowfish, diving bells—but most of its walls are covered with fish tanks, creating the feeling of being inside Sponge Bob’s home. The restaurant’s owners have said they’re simply ready to retire, which we certainly understand, but we must admit we’re a little sad.
Last fall Hurricane Sandy swept through New York with a vengeance, knocking down more than 8,000 trees city-wide, and over 300 in Brooklyn’s Olmsted-designed Prospect Park alone. But now, Brooklyn Botanic Garden has teamed up with tree house architect Roderick Wolgamott-Romero to give a hand full of these damaged trees a second chance at life.
A Fifth Avenue apartment designed by Paul Rudolph in 1970 has been sold to a private owner for $26 million according to the the New York Observer. Commissioned by Claire & Maurits Edersheim for whom Rudolph also renovated a Larchmont New York house and a Smith Barney office, the apartment, according to the Paul Rudolph Foundation, “features many of the characteristic elements of Rudolph’s interior architecture from the mid-Sixties through the Seventies: extensive use of mirrors and reflective surfaces, plastics and other synthetic materials, curvilinear geometry, painterly use of color, and experimental lighting.”
While it is not known if the new owners will retain any of the classic Rudolph interior, the Observer noted that the owners plan to combine the unit with another to create a larger duplex, which could mean Rudolph’s details will be lost. The interior currently has a series of Rudolph’s typical small, highly-designed spaces which look perfect for a dry martini!
Last week we reported on Gensler’s planned triangular Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, the latest addition to the architectural arms race that is Silicon Valley. (We’re seeing zoomy new headquarters for Apple, Samsung, HP, Nvidia, etc, etc.) Now there’s yet another. Google’s new project adjacent to its “Googleplex” in Mountain View, has unveiled their new designs by NBBJ. The new campus, which is being called Bay View, is comprised of nine crimped, predominantly-four-story buildings. Each building will be connected by a bridge; a connectivity that has become a staple of NBBJ’s office work around the world, including its new headquarters for Samsung nearby. The competition to out-campus the competition seems to be heating up. Who’s next?
Intrigued by parametric architecture but don’t know where to begin? Meet Mode Lab, an online network connecting creatives to everything architectural and design related including courses, talks, and workshops that help teach how to use advanced systems like Data Trees, Grasshopper, and Kangaroo. Other courses offer lessons in Organic Modeling to Parametric Pleating to Algorithmic Design. The group just launched their new website, with several upgrades that make taking courses even easier. Courses are now easily sortable by format, subject, or software; a growing community of instructors have joined the Mode Lab team; payment has been streamlines; and work by Mode Lab members is now featured on the site. Mode Lab’s growing online destination is transforming the way designers and architects interact, share, and gain the skills and knowledge to develop innovative ideas.