the way we live



i wanted to take a moment and point out a pair of great illustrators (similar to those we’ve mentioned before), one through a digital portfolio and the other through a personal blog.  amy mckay is an illustrator whose images include both the picture above and the next two below this.


her web 2.0 digital portfolio is stuffed full of wonderful little gems to stumble through.  everything from the vibrant and bold watercolor at the top to the more whimsically playful wizard sketch below.


personally, i love the playfulness of the drawings and the emotion of the colors.   i could spend a long time on her website perusing (and i have).  you should check it out for yourself.


the second digital collection of illustration is the blog depublished.  in a very different style for amy mckay, depublished has a series of brilliant architectural sketches.  i’m a big fan of the building on a hill just above.


for me, i enjoy how depublished has taken the complexity of the structures and distilled them to their core iconic components, as if stripping the building down to its soul.  have a look-see.


31 October 2007 Posted by | society, technology, web 2.0 | Leave a comment



happy halloween everyone!  i hope you’ve got yourself a great costume and have carved a ghoulish pumpkin; enjoy the candy, stay safe.


31 October 2007 Posted by | society | Leave a comment

biotech done right


speaking of elegantly simple ideas, this lowly little innovative new biosensor technology is poised to save thousands of lives. this weed, known as thales cress, has been engineered by aresa (a danish biotech company) to actually be a biological mine detector. when in the presence of land mines the plant’s flower changes color, from naturally occurring green to a vibrant warning purple-red. this color-shift is accomplished by the plant’s engineered sensitivity to nitrogen dioxide, a chemical that is present in buried land mines and other explosives. this simple plant posses the ability to save innumerable lives the world over while at the same time making the jobs of those who clear land mines that much safer. to me, it’s a wonderful example of innovative design and technology being applied to improve the way we live and the safety of lives throughout the world.

30 October 2007 Posted by | green, products, society, technology | Leave a comment

magic fireplace


available in black or stainless steel, this sleek ultramodern fireplace burns bio-ethanol as fuel (don’t let the name fool you, it’s not really an environmentally responsible or viable alternative fuel, at least the american version). the fireplace is wall hung and requires no chimney, flue, logs, or smoke and is designed by radius. personally, i think this is a piece of gorgeous design and i would love to see it installed in person (preferably in my home). all of this just in time for winter.

29 October 2007 Posted by | materials, modern, products, technology | Leave a comment

chipotle loves mies


i headed into my local chipotle today for lunch expecting nothing out of the ordinary.  only, i found the back of one employee’s t-shirt reading, “good is in the details” (it was a chipotle t-shirt).  i couldn’t help but have a good laugh.  unfortunately, i did’t have a camera with me to catch the slogan.  i have to wonder who in the marketing/advertising department had the wherewithal to pun mies’ infamous quote, “god is in the details.”

29 October 2007 Posted by | products, society | Leave a comment



here’s one of those elegantly simple ideas that can have a dramatic effect on the world around you: replate.  it’s a simple concept; if you live in an urban area where homelessness and hunger is an issue, leave your leftovers on top of a public trash can rather than throwing them away.  in doing, so those who need it most will almost certainly be able to find available food rather than letting it go to waste.


28 October 2007 Posted by | society | 1 Comment

habode prefab


i first read about the habode prefab at cubeme the other day.  designed by new zealand architect rod gibson, this 39’x22′ (850 sqft.) dwelling is an environmentally friendly prefab.  As we’ve discussed before, prefabs are inherently a more sustainable building process as a result of less waste and more quality control, but this prefab furthers the notion of responsible design by incorporating energy saving techniques into the architecture of the dwelling.  some of these design moves include ample sun shading, natural ventilation, and plenty of daylighting.


one fascinating aspect to the habode is the ability to be transported to the site (which could very well be anywhere) and almost simply unfolded.  mr. gibson’s design allows for customization of the unit in materials and fenestration as well as the ability to add solar cells, wind turbines, additional decking, or extra sun shading (in fact, there is a great little animation on the habode’s website demonstrating these features that can be found here).  the habode website says this:

“the challenge that habode has grasped with passion is to provide high quality, potentially self-sufficient, and affordable accommodation alternatives to a range of market environments in australasia, north america, asia, and the pacific rim region. this strategy seeks to generate a significant impact on the way we think about a home, especially in the niche area of re-locatable, recreational homes. this concept also provides for quality accommodation for industry, urban accommodation for the service sectors and rural accommodation, and many other applications for an economical and timely package both permanent and temporary housing.”


the one design aspect that intrigues me the most, however, is the beautiful butterfly roof.  it appears as though its a simply aesthetic choice on the part of the architect.  i really wish this naturally inward curving roof had been used to harvest rainwater that could be incorporated into a greywater system throughout the house.  considering all the other subtle design moves that were made in order to achieve such an energy efficient dwelling it seems remiss to me that this easy passive design move would be overlooked.  nonetheless, i am a huge fan of this structure.  i find it both entirely playful and extremely inviting.  in fact, i may have to investigate the habode further as a thesis case study as a function of it’s flexible nature.

28 October 2007 Posted by | architecture, green, modern, prefab, society | 1 Comment

photo friday: mtcc


this photo i took a few years back is the interior of the relatively new iit McCormick tribune campus center (mtcc, though that is not much shorter to say) in chicago. designed by rem koolhaas and opened in 2003, the building has been referred to as chicago’s living room as a result of it’s whimsical and playful nature. the interior is composed of a multitude of colors, textures, and materials, but it’s true success is in the shifting floor planes found throughout the building.


the mtcc subtly works off the campus’ established miesian grid but manages to break it apart enough to insert a dynamic rhythm between the two halves of campus. similarly, the buildings multiple layers of design extend far beyond its multiple horizontal planes. the building’s circulaiton seems to be driven by the paths of students across the site before the building existed. doors to the mtcc correspond with various important sections of campus.


the other notable feature to the mtcc is the exelon tube which wraps the ‘l’ that travels immediately above, and to an extent, through the building. i’ve heard various rationales for this move including sound attenuation and dramatic aesthetic but i’ve also heard that chicago’s cta owns the property below the tracks and the only way to build there is to completely re-enclose the track space in some way, ie. tube (though, i must admit, i’m not entirely sure how true this is). what the tube does do for the building is offset the otherwise angular geometry of the exterior, and extrapolated further, the entire modernist miesian campus.

26 October 2007 Posted by | architecture, modern, photo | Leave a comment

l.a. fires


by now we have all seen the devastation caused by the recent wildfires in california.  if you are looking to help, either by volunteering or donation i suggest heading over to architecture for humanity’s l.a. chapter’s website.  a couple of my old entrepreneurial college friends started this satellite chapter of mr. sinclair’s worldwide charitable architecture organization.  contact jack feichtner at if you would like to find a way to help.  as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, all donations are tax-deductible.

25 October 2007 Posted by | architecture, society, urban planning | Leave a comment

thesis intro



well, as i mentioned the other day, we’re trying new things around here, and since thesis is taking up so much of my time, we are going to try and incorporate it into the occasional post. as a start, the paragraphs to follow are a preliminary draft of the introduction to my thesis. this draft spells out the thesis question and the project in which these ideas will be manifested (note the picture above really has nothing to do with my thesis just that it shows chicago’s skyline from the roof of the sear’s tower, yes the roof, not the observation deck). at any rate please feel free to post your comments and critiques as this dialogue progresses, your help will be valuable to me. so without further adieu, the intro:


chicago 2016 housing: flexibility in architecture

            shelter and dwelling have always been an integral part of what it means to be human, a place to be safe and a place to be warm and dry. it is this desire to protect ourselves and our well-being that has guided our development from humble hunter-gatherers to nomadic herders to settled farmers. our dwellings have always followed suit; caves gave way to tents that allowed us to move with our herds and food sources. tents and movable structures gave way to buildings with foundations, immovable dwellings that allowed us to reside in one place for an entire generation or more.

however, after hundreds, if not thousands of years, of static lifestyles and farming communities, something has happened. something has changed. we are no longer a community of static individuals; with global communities and worldwide infrastructure we live in an era of impermanence, one of transition. no longer are we grounded in one place for an entire lifetime. rather, we move constantly, job to job, house to house, country to country in a constant ebb and flow undulating across the world as if to display that after a millennia, yes we are living breathing creatures, rational creatures who move and change their mind, creatures who develop new and ingenious technologies and alter both the landscape and the environment around us. one question is omnipresent: is it still appropriate that we continue to build such static, permanent dwellings?

in the not so distant summer of 2016 the city of chicago aims to host the olympic games. the city of chicago has a rich history of worldwide cultural gatherings beginning with the “white city” of the 1893 columbian exposition, and as the city competes worldwide for the 2016 games it becomes increasingly clear that a number of infrastructural upgrades as well as new sporting, business, and housing facilities must be built in order to host another such globally significant event. while chicago is seemingly prepared in the area of sporting venues it is certainly under-prepared in the area of olympic housing.

there are innumerable architectural situations in which impermanence and flexibility are merited, if not required. of all of these there is one that speaks to the very global phenomenon that spawned a shift back to flexibility, one architectural typology that chicago finds itself face to face with: the olympic village, more specifically, olympic housing. this thesis, in the pages to follow, will propose a flexible olympic village for the 2016 chicago summer olympic games that will be intended to house the world’s 17,000 athletes and coaches and create a thoughtful, more contemporarily significant, flexible dwelling.

25 October 2007 Posted by | architecture, thesis | 3 Comments