the way we live

100 11th ave.

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this afternoon cubeme, another personal favorite blog of mine, had an excellent review of the latest jean nouvel project.  until today i had yet to see pictures of the project, but after seeing them the building surely lives up to the hype.  at a modest 23 stories, 100 11th ave. will house 72 dwelling units ranging in typology from one-bedroom, 860 square foot units, to four-bedroom, 4,675 square foot units, and costing between $1.6 million and $22 million respectively.

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cubeme has more interior photos, but suffice it to say that they all follow the sleek, clean, minimalism see in this image (above).  apparently mr. nouvel got his inspiration for the interiors from the neighboring west chelsea art galleries and their über minimalism.  regardless, i am very fond of these spaces; they certainly seem wonderfully detailed and brilliantly crafted.

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the building’s skin however, is the most striking component of the structure in my eyes.  composed of some 1,700 differently sized pieces of glazing and arranged in an ever-changing and customized curtain-wall system, the skin virtually takes a life of its own.  similar to many of mr. nouvel’s former projects the diaphanous qualities presented in the ever-changing curtain-wall will most assuredly lead to a wonderfully beautiful display of reflected and diffused light throughout the day and into the night.  personally, this patchwork of glazing, and consequently luminous, artistry makes this project such a excellent example of jean nouvel’s work.  so much of mr. nouvel’s work is ephemeral and it is exactly that quality that makes his projects so successful and so lively.

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10 April 2007 Posted by | architecture | 2 Comments

superuse

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architechnophilia, a wonderful blog we’ve mentioned before, had another great link the other day. superuse is a website that celebrates the unique and creative reuse and recycling of objects and products. i love the ingenuity presented on this site. some of my favorite examples are the “billbirdhouse” (pictured above) in which road and street signs were reused in order to make brilliantly colored birdhouses and the “airconditioning” (pictured below) in which old air ducts were reclaimed in order to make an very interesting office desk. it isn’t just the fact that superuse documents recycling projects that makes it so great, it’s the fact that they celebrate the artistic ingenuity and creativity of reusing materials. head over and check it out.

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9 April 2007 Posted by | materials, products, society | 1 Comment

thin-film solar farm

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germany has just opened the world’s first thin-film solar farm.  what sets thin-film apart from traditional photovoltaics cells is in how they create the cell.  traditional pv cells require ultra-high quality crystalline silicon wafers to be grown which is both highly labor intensive and time consuming.  thing-film pv cells, originally developed by first solar, do not require this ultra-high quality silicon.  additionally, as the name suggests, they are extremely flexible and plyable (see below).  in fact, recent advancements in pv technologies have allowed some thin-film pv cells to actually be printed on otherwise non-pv surfaces.  this technology can allow for traditional roofing materials, windows, or standard walls to become photovoltaic cells without requiring special materials, obstucting views, or alter aesthetics.

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nonetheless, the new plant in germany has 90,000 solar modules and will generate 5.7 million kilowatt hours every year on only 16.5 acres of land (718,740 square feet); this is enough power for 1,900 homes.  juwi solar, the company who has produced this solar farm, already has a 40 megawatt facility under construction that will house 550,000 modules and be operational in 2009.

8 April 2007 Posted by | green, society | Leave a comment

intern architects in hell

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this is probably one of the funniest blogs i’ve ever come across.  called intern architects in hell, the site documents some ridiculously funny situations/conversations between an intern architect and the rest of the firm’s employees trough a sketched cartoon medium.  really, it’s worth scrolling through the backlog of old cartoons.  i couldn’t help but laugh at how true some of the conversations are.  this site seems more accurate than the banana republic advertising we discussed was.  there are more “guide” sites here.

8 April 2007 Posted by | architecture | Leave a comment

big brother is watching

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a while ago i found this great article about london and its growing fetish with closed circuit television cameras (cctv, used for security and surveillance).  according to the article within 200 yards of the flat george orwell resided in until his death in 1950, are 32 cctv cameras.  london, as a whole, boasts some 4,200,000 cctv cameras, one for every 14 people, which is roughly 20% of the entire world’s total.  it is estimated that the average londoner is caught on camera more than 300 times a day.  as if the surveillance of the area surrounding orwell’s flat wasn’t ironic enough it was just announced the other day that the u.k. would begin installing talking cctv cameras.  in fact, according to gizmodo this morning, they were previously holding a secret contest to find the voice of “big brother.”  of course, things aren’t so different on this side of the pond.  in the most recent issue of good magazine there was a brilliant diagram describing the cctv situation in new york city, in which they mapped the city showing it to be virtually impossible to get from point “a” to point “b” without being watched.  it’s fascinating to me to see the wildly ubiquitous implementation of these cameras.  it seems as though almost every new piece of architecture is more concerned with security than it is with aesthetics or the experience of the user.  voyeurism as a concept for design does not lead to the same wonderful openness as the idea of the democracy of design that gunter behnisch talked about.  it is interesting how wildly close we have come to orwell’s seminal piece, 1984, in which the posters on the streets read, “big brother is watching.”

4 April 2007 Posted by | society | Leave a comment

the epa and greenhouse gas

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on monday the us supreme court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the environmental protection agency, or epa, has the authority and the responsibility to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the clean air act.  according to the chicago tribune the high court, “rejected the administration’s contention that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are not pollutants covered by the landmark law.”  this definition of greenhouse gases as pollutants opens the door for a number of states to challenge the epa’s inaction in courts.  i don’t think there is anyone out there still arguing that the greenhouse gases generated by the burning of fossil fuels are not the cause of global warming, and thus contaminating our air and our planet.  i’m glad to see the court made the connection and asserted the fact that greenhouse gases are, in fact, pollutants when generated by man.  read the tribune article here and the new york times article here.  now, if we can only get buildings to be carbon neutral.

3 April 2007 Posted by | society | Leave a comment

the all terrain cabin

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this afternoon one of my favorite blogs, architechnophilia, had a post about this great prefab. called the all terrain cabin, or atc for short, this prefab is built on the ubiquitous standard shipping container platform. what sets this design apart from the rest is its attention to sustainability. according to bark’s website, the nonprofit design firm of the atc,

  • “the atc is designed to travel by train, truck, ship, plane, or helicopter. it can literally go anywhere – and it is self contained: a generator running on biodiesel is included and an “inverter” changes dc into ac. the atc operates off the grid. plumbing is similarly environmentally friendly – filtering and re-use of grey water, composting toilet, tanks of fresh water, rain collection, etc.”

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once the unit has arrived on site, the walls simply fold down and effectively triple the prefab’s livable area. no water, waste piping, external power, or other hook-ups are necessary. built to house a family of four, the atc is an ingenious, sustainable, and efficient prefab.  did i mention it looks great too?  currently the atc is in vancouver on tour throughout canada. check out bark’s website for more photos including additional interior shots.

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2 April 2007 Posted by | architecture, green, prefab | 2 Comments

goldsmith at the arts club

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for those of you living in chicago there is a wonderful exhibit of myron goldsmith’s work, both built and unbuilt, at the arts club of chicago. the exhibit is free and is located at 201 e. ontario, which is the southeast corner of ontario and st. clair, one block east of michigan ave. i had a chance to go see the exhibit this past friday and must admit it is striking. stunning black and white photographs of mr. goldsmith’s work hang larger than life on expanses of white exhibition hall walls. mr. goldsmith studied under mies van der rohe and quickly became a master of modernism in his own right. working for skidmore, owings, and merrill (som), myron goldsmith produced some of the best examples of modernism i have ever seen. his works include the university of arizona’s observatory (seen above) chicago’s brunswick building (seen below), and the illinois institute of technology’s keating hall as well as some wonderfully delicate, and sadly unbuilt, bridges in california.

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i thought one of the most interesting touches to the exhibit was the inclusion of 20 or so works by students who learned under goldsmith (and mies) at the illinois institute of technology. it was very interesting to see how the work of the master found its way into that of the pupil. nonetheless, if you’re in chicago head on over to the arts club and check it out. the exhibit runs until the 14th if on not mistaken.

1 April 2007 Posted by | architecture | Leave a comment

2007 pritzker prize

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it was announced the other day, as i’m sure many of you know, that london architect richard rogers has won the 2007 pritzker prize.  the pritzker prize is like the nobel prize of architecture; it has been given out annually since the award’s creation in 1979 (philip johnson won the first award).  the laureate list is a veritable who’s who of architecture including, koolhaas, herzog and de meuron, piano, murcutt, utzon, ando, and barragan.  rogers’ medal (and $100,000 prize) will be presented in london on june 4th.

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rogers is most notably known for his lloyd’s of london building (seen above), the millennium dome, and the channel 4 headquarters in london (seen below) to name a few.  known for his technology saavy brand of architecture rogers work has become increasingly sustainable as of late without losing his well-known, and much admired, aesthetic.

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congratulations to mr. rogers on this prestigious award.  a daily dose of architecture has more and you can see rogers firm’s website here.

1 April 2007 Posted by | architecture | 1 Comment

buildings and climate change

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the un recently released a report on the issue of buildings and climate change in which they noted the staggering possibilities in terms of reducing emissions and greening our world, to which the post headline on archinect read, “wow, architects are cooler than al gore!”  the report said, “buildings can play a key role in climate change.”  this is something we’ve discussed before.  commercial buildings alone produce some 34% of greenhouse gas emissions.  meanwhile, 72% of the greenhouse gases produced by buildings is a result of simply lighting, heating, and cooling.  nonetheless, this reported suggested a host of simple fixes including technologies and architectural design strategies that have been used for centuries, seemingly forgotten over the last few decades, including, sun shading, effective use of natural ventilation, and the accommodation of natural diffused light.  i’m glad to see this report is being taking seriously.  i don’t think it’s a shock to anyone that we have to start building differently and building responsibly.

1 April 2007 Posted by | architecture, green, society | 2 Comments