Search results for "bartlett"

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Renewing the Role

The Bartlett launches dean search to replace Professor Alan Penn
This past week, University College London’s (UCL) Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment announced its search for a new dean to replace Professor Alan Penn, the current Dean who will resign after two five-year terms in the role. The new dean will head the 13 schools and organizations that compose The Bartlett, one of the most prestigious centers for architecture and urban planning in the world. During his ten-year reign as head of The Bartlett, Penn has contributed to major organizational changes within the program. Under Penn’s lengthy tenure, the maximum allowed by UCL, The Bartlett’s curriculum has doubled in size, from 36 to 77 programs offered to over 3,000 students. To facilitate this rapid development, faculty income and staff numbers have increased five-fold. The physical estate of The Bartlett has expanded as well, developing from 18,000 square feet to nearly 46,000 square feet in only ten years. This includes the renovation of 22 Gordon Street and the unveiling of the Here East facility along London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which added valuable housing, teaching, research, and commercial space to The Bartlett community. “Accelerate,” the ground-breaking program designed to increase diversity in the architectural field, was also founded during this time. “I have been lucky to have been dean at a time when the central importance of the built environment to the future of society and the planet has started to be understood,” said Professor Alan Penn in a statement. “UCL has invested heavily and The Bartlett is now a research and educational powerhouse. We attract some of the best staff and students from around the world and working with them is truly inspiring.” The new dean, who will assume the position in September 2019, will have the opportunity to build on the success of Penn and continue to establish The Bartlett as a world leader in architecture and urban planning. Some of the key tasks that will be assigned to the new dean include launching a UCL Energy Impact Accelerator program, expanding opportunities for cross-disciplinary work at business and tech outlet Here East, and engendering diversity, equality, and inclusion among the students and faculty of The Bartlett. Penn will return to The Bartlett after a year’s sabbatical in order to resume his job as Professor in Architectural and Urban Computing in the school’s Space Syntax Laboratory, where he will explore the built environment’s impact on the patterns of socioeconomic behavior of communities and organizations. Details regarding the Dean recruitment process can be found on UCL’s career website.
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Data, Algorithms, and Robots

Zaha Hadid Architects exhibit presents promise and peril of parametric design
  To the late Zaha Hadid, “math was like sketching.” Since her death, this attitude to architecture and design has been continued by her firm, ZHA, chiefly through ZHCODE, a computation and design research offshoot set up in 2007, the work of which is currently on display at The Building Centre in London. Borrowing theorist Mario Carpo’s terminology, the exhibition at The Building Centre is titled Digital Turn and showcases ZHCODE’s methods and ideas while exploring how digital tools have changed our ways of making and thinking. This is the second of two in a series of exhibitions. Earlier in the year, Digital Turn had showcased the academic work of The Bartlett’s Design Computation LabDigital Turn is divided into two parts: tectonism and semiotics. The former looks at the structure and geometry of digital fabrication, while the latter examines the physical results of this and its relationship to various contexts. This setup essentially translates into parametric design versus algorithm and data-driven urbanism. Visitors to the gallery are welcomed by full-scale white EPS foam offcuts, called "foam grottos." The undulating formwork, made from robotic hot wire cutting, is indicative of ZHA’s sinuous style and serves as a threshold to the exhibition space while being a cue for what is to come. "ZHCODE have been a perfect fit for the show; they are a research team within a professional practice so the narrative worked well, offering a mix of live projects and theoretical ideas," a spokesperson for The Building Center told The Architect's Newspaper. "Inspiring exhibits such as Thallus and the Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum initially caught our attention, and in conversation with ZHCODE we realized we could display a range of ideas not yet exhibited." Part of the exhibition is dedicated to the recently completed Winton Gallery at London’s Science Museum. Building on the work of Frei Otto, ZHA’s studies into the “minimal surfaces” of 3-D objects informed the design, with a triangle-based pyramid being “reduced” (read: imploded) to a curvaceous hanging module which served as a circulation device, as shown in image at the top of the page. Wile nonetheless interesting and insightful, some physical design aspects of Digital Turn feel as if they belong in the past, in a similar vein to the most recent ZHA projects which still feel like a vision of the future from the 1990s. Robotic hot wire cutting has been around for more than two decades and though it has advanced, it’s hardly a groundbreaking fabrication method. One wonders if the visionary British-Iraqi architect were still alive, how the studio would have moved on. In response to this, The Building Center said that "parametricism isn’t the focus of the show…We also wanted to understand what was next from the practice that coined this term." Showcasing the Winton Gallery, however, also reveals how parametric design does more than just produce fancy curves. It also serves as an organizational tool. The aforementioned floating module was used in tandem with a circulation strategy derived from the airflow around a biplane. Naturally, this airflow diagram produced countless curves, but it also allowed ZHCODE to produce massing studies for objects in the gallery that align with it. This kind of design process has also been scaled by ZHA in urban studies that derive from an algorithmic input. In one example, a computer program located potential infill sites in London, identifying “end of block” plots of land, or sites that can be found at the edges of tower blocks. As a result, it proposed that housing be built on these underutilized areas. Another notable example is an exploration into modular housing. By using a uniform lattice structure, residents can customize their dual-aspect unit’s facades, adding balconies or changing the window type in the process. It’s basically Alejandro Aravena’s half houses scheme but for the wealthy. And it’s that latter notion which, when coupled with derisory remarks from the current head of ZHA, Patrik Schumacher, on social housing and desire to privatize cities, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Furthermore, the often overtly abstract nature of parametric architecture, an architecture reserved for museums, corporate headquarters, luxury hotels, and extravagant condominiums, doesn't counter this sense of elitism either. A welcome palate cleanser can be found in another exhibition at The Building Center from Royal College graduate Hannah Rozenberg, who won this year's Student Prize for Innovation. Her book, Building Without Bias: An Architectural Language for the Post-Binary illustrates how artificial intelligence isn’t always right and is even sometimes racist, as demonstrated by Microsoft’s "Tay" bot which ended up making racist, misogynistic, and genocidal remarks on Twitter. If a Twitter bot can do that, who’s to say an urban planning bot wouldn’t start redlining?  Does Digital Turn subsequently highlight that, while parametric design may be an incredibly useful design tool for both making and thinking, its urbanistic potential is something to be wary of?  The Building Center responded to this. "ZHCODE’s algorithmic design work on display in Digital Turn showcases the most advanced algorithmic design taking place today," it said. "For example, the computational study series exploring housing liveability measures shows how advanced algorithmic methods of design generate a formal outcome that guarantees multiple desired conditions are synthesized in a single solution to a particular site. The digital design method therefore provides the designer/architect with sophisticated options to site-specific problems.

"Still far from an autonomous design bot, relinquished of the architect's control, the project showcases the potential of algorithmic design. Hannah’s work recognizes the importance of these methods, but highlights that we are at a juncture where we need a robust analytical response to ensure we design and build our future for everyone."

Digital Turn  On view through September 14 The Built Environment Trust's RCA Student Prize for Innovation On view through August 29 The Building Centre Store Street London, U.K.
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Out of Order

How should we really rank architecture schools?
What are we to make of a recent survey that claims MIT, the Bartlett, and Delft University of Technology are the best architecture schools in the world?  This ranking, created by British-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) also names Stanford, New York University, and University of California, Santa Barbara, as its top schools for architecture and these institutions don’t even have standalone schools of architecture. This assessment has received a great deal of attention on social media, particularly from those associated with the top schools. But what are we to make of a listing that does not even mention SCI-Arc or the Architectural Association in London? It also lists the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales ahead of Cornell University, and Kyoto University just ahead of Princeton and the University of Michigan. I have nothing against the schools that came out on top, nor am I trying to be chauvinistic by emphasizing U.S. universities, but one has to wonder about a list that puts King Saud University in Saudi Arabia ahead of Rice University in Houston. But what criteria did the QS use in establishing the ranking? First, this firm, which calls itself a “higher education marketing company” and one of the “three most influential university rankings in the world,” looked only at universities. This means that while QS surveyed “2,122 institutions across the globe, offering courses in architecture or the built environment,” schools like Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, Cooper Union, or the Royal College of Art in London were not even considered for evaluation. QS asserts that its evaluation is based on four factors: academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper, and what it calls “H-Index citations.” An H-Index citation is a metric that attempts to “measure both the productivity and citation impact of the publications of a scientist or scholar.” It’s hard to learn more about the QS architecture ranking, and it seems rather sloppy and unscientific, but the firm also rates universities worldwide, and these rankings seem to line up fairly closely with its architecture list. Its top universities in the world are, in order, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University College London, Imperial College London, University of Chicago, and the ETH Zurich. Interestingly, Yale University came in sixteenth in the QS world ranking of universities, but its architecture school ranked a lowly 100th in the world behind the University of Kebangsaan in Malaysia, Texas A&M University, and Monash University in Australia. This QS ranking seems tone deaf to the real qualities that make a great architecture school, even while admitting the value and importance of PhD-level scholarship and research. Architecture is a craft as much as a liberal art, and therefore requires its teaching institutions to transmit a particular set of real-world skills that have to be mastered by students. For this reason, a great lab with CNC milling and robotic machines is important to contemporary design education. The students’ ability to work with their hands, render a plan, and be able to create a working section is as important as learning the history and theory of the discipline. In addition, the realities of the marketplace mean that students need the mentoring of professional working architects who make up the bulk of most design schools. The students who come out of great design schools need the refined focus of building culture, and this has been true since the École des Beaux-Arts and its workshop intern practice that is unique to the field. Furthermore, today’s architecture graduates don’t always find employment in traditional architecture offices—let alone go on to pursue PhDs as the QS ranking would suggest. In the words of cultural critic Brian Holmes, “designers, architects, and other actors in the creative fields must be multidisciplinary, open to collaboration, and motivated to find and initiate these often-amorphous work arrangements.” You can only get these in a full-blown school of architecture, and this need not be a university. There are many problems with the QS evaluation that undermines its usefulness, but one, in particular, is its disregard for educational differences between undergraduate and graduate programs—not to mention overlooking the educational content in two- and four-year degree and non-degree programs. The DesignIntelligence ranking of schools in the United States may also have shortcomings, but at least it gets the finer points of undergrad and graduate education and considers them. It identifies Cornell as the best undergraduate program in the country and the Harvard Graduate School of Design as the best graduate program, and that assessment seems more in line with real-world architecture in 2018. Finally, it may make sense to consider architecture education in a national context, rather than a worldwide one, since the licensing protocols and building requirements are so different from nation to nation.  Sorry, MIT, but this QS ranking is so myopically concerned with academic citations as to be nearly worthless as a guide for what comprises quality architecture education in all its 21st-century variety and subtlety.
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Super Shortlist

Architectural Association announces three candidates for its director shortlist
London’s venerable Architectural Association (AA), founded in 1847, has long stood as a resolutely independent-minded educational institution. But in the last few months, it seems to be going through a spasm of self-doubt about its future, current leadership and independence. The history of the institution suggests that these spasms happen every thirty or forty years, and it seems to be happening again. To make the situation worse, it is currently without a permanent director. But over the last few months, the AA has conducted a search for a new director, and today the Association has released its short list of candidates. The shortlist has several names well-known to American architects. Eva Franch i Gilabert, for the last eight years Chief Curator and Executive Director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, has made this prestigious list. Franch is also a professor at The Cooper Union School of Architecture and has taught at Columbia University GSAPP, the IUAV University of Venice, SUNY Buffalo, and Rice University School of Architecture. Also on the list is Robert Mull, a Professor and Head of the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Brighton in Brighton, England. He is a founding member of the architecture collective NATO and he was educated at London's Bartlett School of Architecture and at the AA. The third name on the shortlist is Pippo Ciorra, an Italian-born architect, critic, professor, prolific author and Senior Curator of the Architecture department at the Maxxi Museum in Rome since 2009. The Director of the AA has the potential to be one of the most important educators in the world of architecture, in part because of the uniqueness of the AA and its history of important directors, including Alvin Boyarsky, Mohsen Mostafavi, Alan Balfour, Brett Steele, and current interim director Samantha Hardingham. The schedule for the directors search, according to the website, proceeds with the candidates making presentations to the AA school community from February 20 to 23, followed by a vote by the AA community from February 26 to March 2, and the announcement of the winner in March 2018.
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Blockchain Bonanza

Berkeley is developing its own cryptocurrency to fund affordable housing
As the federal government continues to curtail funding for affordable housing development nationwide, the city of Berkeley, California is moving to create its own cryptocurrency in an effort to potentially replace outlays for affordable housing from Washington with municipally-backed crypto-bonds. The so-called “crypto-impact” proposal is the brainchild of Berkeley city councilperson Ben Bartlett and Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguín, who have partnered with the University of California, Berkeley’s Blockchain Lab and municipal public financing firm Neighborly for the effort. The proposal would create a municipally-controlled blockchain system that would back bonds issued by the city to help fund affordable or supportive housing and other city services, CityLab reports. Explaining the need for the cryptocurrency, Bartlett told CityLab, “The federal government has committed itself to [tearing] us apart, to dividing people by race and gender. And through its fiscal policies, it’s taking away the ability for cities to fund [things like] affordable housing.” Bartlett’s response is to remove some amount of fiscal control away from the federal government and place it instead in the hands of like-minded private investors with digital money. If successful, Berkeley’s Initial Coin Offering (ICO) planned for later this year would make the city the first municipality in the country to enter the risky cryptocurrency sphere. The plan would allow investors to use blockchain—a digital, crowd-sourced ledger that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin—to purchase digital currency backed by city bonds. The program, according to Bartlett would augment municipal services and could potentially be used as a day-to-day currency by residents at some point in the future, as well. The effort comes amid the recently-passed, Republican-backed tax overhaul, which public accounting firm Novogradac & Company estimates could whittle the future production of affordable housing by close to 235,000 units over the next decade, Business Insider reports. The regressive tax bill would exacerbate the regional housing crisis that has overtaken Berkeley by putting a dent in the city’s ability to develop affordable housing. The new tax bill also comes amid growing—and concerning—threats on the part of the current administration to cut off federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities like Berkeley. Bartlett told Business Insider, "We have a jobs explosion and a super tight housing crunch. You're looking at a disaster. We thought we'd pull together the experts and find a way to finance [affordable housing] ourselves." Estimates for how much total funding or how many housing units overall could be created using the proposed cryptocurrency have not been released. It is also unclear if the municipality will change its restrictive zoning policies to make room for more housing units and better instrumentalize the new funding. The risky scheme could potentially play a role, however, in taking advantage of a recently-proposed state law that would loosen density, height, and parking requirements around transit in an effort to boost housing production in the state. The law—still in its draft form—could increase zoning capacity across California to the tune of millions of new housing units. A traditionally-financed $3 billion state-issued bond initiative is currently in the works, as well, as are various municipally-led housing bond initiatives. A committee dedicated to the cryptocurrency scheme is currently working to implement the city’s ICO by May of 2018.
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ACADIA 2017

Highlights from ACADIA’s 36th conference at MIT
From November 2 through the 4, 2017, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) convened the 36th ACADIA conference in the Fumihiko Maki–designed MIT Media Lab. For three days, nearly 350 people from over 30 countries drank untold gallons of coffee and shared their ideas through an array of research and paper presentations. Leading up to the conference itself was three days of intensive workshops hosted at Autodesk BUILD Space in Boston's Seaport District. ACADIA is a unique organization advancing the computational horizons in architecture. Founded in 1981 by pioneers in the field of design computation, including Bill Mitchell, Chuck Eastman, and Chris Yessios, ACADIA has hosted over 30 conferences across North America and has grown into a wide network of academics and professionals. Welcoming the ACADIANs was Hashim Sarkis, MIT’s dean of the School of Architecture + Planning. He highlighted three "turns" driving new practices in architecture. First, said Sarkis, was the "turn of scalar problems: how technology has smoothed shifts of scale from the nanoscale to the planetary." Second, the turn of values: the open sourcing of production to design processes that empower end-users and will radically change the role of the designer. Design should be a mode of inquiry that now works hand-in-hand with fabrication, said Sarkis. Lastly, he spoke of a turn toward contingency. The traditional view of a designer is that in order to be in control, we need to exclude non-relevant elements. As computational power continues to grow, more contingency enters the process as elements that were once excluded can be brought into the fold, opening design to more variety and possibility than before. MIT Host Committee Co-Chair’s Takahiko Nakamura and Skylar Tibbets welcomed the audience and kicked off the first of 13 paper-based sessions. The sessions ranged from BIM use to Automation, Visualization to Machine Learning. A major sponsorship from Autodesk allowed the ACADIA Board of Directors to award $10,000 in student travel scholarships to paper and project presenters. Breaking up the barrage of research presentations were carefully chosen keynotes from afar and close to home. MIT’s own Neri Oxman kicked off the first day, and the ACADIA Design achievement award was bestowed on designer Thomas Heatherwick that same night. Heatherwick was singled out for his studio's provocative work worldwide, and he shared insights into his studio’s processes. "The ACADIA Design Excellence Award is recognized internationally as one of the highest honors in the field," said Jason Kelly Johnson, outgoing president of ACADIA. "It represents recognition by colleagues worldwide of extraordinary contributions and impact on the field of architectural computing and design culture." The award was most recently given to Liz Diller and the late Zaha Hadid. The next day began with two awards for educators: The Innovator Award and Educator Award, which was followed by an education panel. The Educator Award went to Heather Roberge, the new Chair of Architecture at UCLA. Roberge walked the audience through a handful of studio curricula and projects, and spoke on the crucial difference between a model and a prototype, the different kinds of skills that students learn, the difference between handcraft vs machinecraft, and demonstrated how to use molds to visualize parametric concepts and form finding. The second day closed out with a presentation from Paris-based Iconem, an organization using advanced photogrammetric techniques for heritage preservation in conflict zones. Wrapping up the conference’s final day, Nervous Systems’ Jesse Louis-Rosenberg and Jessica Rosenkrantz described their eclectic design practice, and how the studio uses generative design to create interactive forms. Kathy Velikov, the incoming 2018 president of ACADIA, discussed how ACADIA brings together a community engaged with design challenges and future-facing solutions. Much of the work shown could be brought back to the office or classroom, and either might be applicable today, or open new paths to research or near-future concepts, and tools that will change work across practices. "Next year we are excited that the ACADIA conference will be held in Mexico City," said Velikov in a statement after the conference. "We are partnering with Mexico City's Ibero-American University to host and organize the event. ACADIA is a North American organization, and while we have had several conferences in Canada, this is the first time we will be in Mexico." "Besides the obvious attraction of the vibrance, history, and design culture of Mexico City, this is a fantastic opportunity to frame conversations around computational design within a different technological and cultural context, and to be able to open conference to new communities of participants," he added. The 2018 ACADIA conference, Re/calibration: on imprecision and infidelity, will attempt to recalibrate the discourse around computational design research, and a new venue in a new country is the perfect place to shake things up. The Call for Papers is live and due May 1, 2018 The full list of award winners is as follows: Design Excellence Award Thomas Heatherwick Founder/Design Director, Ηeatherwick Studio  Digital Practice Award of Excellence Lisa Iwamoto & Craig Scott Founders, IWAMOTTOSCOTT ARCHITECTURE Society Award of Excellence Bob Martens Associate Professor, TU Wien Innovative Research Award of Excellence Wesley McGee Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning/Co-founder, Matter Design Teaching Award of Excellence Heather Roberge Chair, UCLA School of Architecture and Urban Design/Founder, Murmur design Academic Program Award of Excellence Bartlett School of Architecture, B-Pro Program
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Disciplines & Disruption

Thomas Heatherwick wins the ACADIA Design Excellence Award for 2017
[UPDATE 7/17/2017—This article has been updated to reflect that another faculty member from the Bartlett School of Architecture will be attending in lieu of Frederic Migayrou, who was previously listed below.] The Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) has announced British designer Thomas Heatherwick as the winner of the institute's 2017 Design Excellence Award. Heatherwick, who founded his eponymous studio in 1994, will receive the award at this year's ACADIA conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he will be a keynote speaker. Running under the title Disciplines & Disruption, the conference will address how technology is impacting architectural design, as well as its methods and culture. Touching on advancements in fabrication, materials, and digital tools, Disciplines & Disruption will also look at how technology has connected—or in some cases, disrupted—once distinct facets of the discipline, making numerous realms of architecture more accessible. "Distinctions between design and making, building and urban scale, architecture and engineering, real and virtual, on site and remote, physical and digital data, professionals and crowds, are diminishing as technology increases the designer's reach far beyond the confines of the drafting board," reads a synopsis in a press release. Heatherwick will headline the conference and appear alongside Ben Fry, founder of Information Design; Neri Oxman, a director at Mediated Matter Group and of MIT's Media Lab; and Jessica Rosenkrantz & Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, founders of Nervous System. Other award winners, who will each deliver a mini keynote themselves, include Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, Heather Roberge, faculty from the B-Pro program at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, Wes McGee from the University of Michigan, and Bob Martens from the Technical University of Vienna. "Thomas Heatherwick's work epitomizes the high caliber of design innovation that ACADIA has sought to foster over the years," Jason Kelly Johnson, ACADIA president and founder of Future Cities Lab in San Francisco told The Architect's Newspaper, speaking of Heatherwick's award. "From furniture to bridges to buildings, his work is consistently experimental, iterative, and well-crafted. It also synthesizes digital and analog techniques in ground breaking ways. Thomas's upcoming ACADIA talk follows in a line of incredible awardee talks and keynote speakers including Zaha Hadid, Liz Diller, Greg Lynn, Manuel De Landa, and many others." The ACADIA conference will run from November 2 through the 4th.
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Dean Wahlroos-Ritter

Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter named dean of Woodbury School of Architecture
The Woodbury University School of Architecture in Burbank, California has named Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter as its new dean, according to a university announcement. Wahlroos-Ritter was previously acting interim dean at the school of architecture, following the passing of the former dean, Norman Millar, in 2016. Her tenure as dean is set to begin on June 1st, 2017. In its statement, Randy Stauffer, senior vice president of academic affairs at the university praised the new dean by saying, “As an inspiring leader dedicated to connecting the profession to the academy, [Wahlroos-Ritter] weaves a rich tapestry of interconnected ‘crafts’ with a specific but broad theoretical lens.” Wahlroos-Ritter joined the Woodbury faculty in 2005 and has filled a variety of positions at the school—including the undergraduate and graduate architecture chairs and as an associate dean—prior to being named interim dean roughly one year ago. Wahlroos-Ritter has spearheaded several important efforts at the university, including creating a digital fabrication lab and helping to launch the university’s graduate programs in architecture and landscape architecture. Previously, Wahlroos-Ritter has taught at Yale University, Cornell University, University College of London Bartlett School of Architecture, and Southern California Institute of Architecture. She also serves currently as the director of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design’s advisory board. Wahlroos-Ritter is the third new architecture school dean appointed in the Los Angeles-area this year. Architect Milton Curry was recently selected as the new dean at the University of Southern California, replacing current dean Qingyun Ma while London-based architect Brett Steele was recently tapped as dean of the University of California, Los Angeles's School of the Arts and Architecture.
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1933 World’s Fair House of Tomorrow

Early midwestern modern landmark will be restored

Atop a tall sand dune overlooking the southern shore of Lake Michigan sits one of the last remnants of the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress World’s Fair. In severe need of restoration, the House of Tomorrow, designed by Chicago architect George Fred Keck, is set to receive an update from a team of Chicago firms.

The announcement by Indiana Landmarks named bKL Architecture as the architecture and interior design lead. Bauer Latoza Studio will offer historic preservation services and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates will be the structural engineer. Willoughby Engineering will handle mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering, and HJKessler Associates will act as the sustainability consultant.

In fall 2016, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Indiana Landmarks launched a $2.5-million campaign to restore the house after the Trust named it a National Treasure. At the time of the fair, the house was often referred to by the media as “America’s First Glass House,” and it was a beacon of modern technology for the World’s Fair’s 39 million visitors. The glass curtain walls came nearly 20 years before both Philip Johnson’s 1949 Glass House and Mies van der Rohe’s 1951 Farnsworth House, which sits only 90 miles directly to the west. Giving a view of an optimistic future, the home focused on how science and technology could improve everyday life. 

The house’s innovations include an “iceless” refrigerator, the first-ever General Electric dishwasher, and copious amounts of glass for passive solar heating. Keck would later go on to design 300 other passive solar houses, mostly in the Chicago area, throughout his long career, but the House of Tomorrow remains a standout for its uncanny design.

The 12-sided home radiates from a central hub that contains mechanical equipment. Spoke-like steel girders cantilever from the center, supporting the second and third-floor concrete slabs. This unusual structural system allows for an open floor plan, which is also rare for its time. The plan for the restoration includes removing deteriorated surfaces and revealing this steel framework. The house’s iconic glass facade will be replaced with contemporary smart glass.

The story of the House of Tomorrow after the fair is almost as eccentric as the house itself. After the closing of the World’s Fair, a Chicago developer named Robert Bartlett commissioned a fleet of barges and trucks to move the house and four other houses from the exposition to their current resting place in Beverly Shores, Indiana. Bartlett’s plan was to develop a vacation hotspot for Chicago. While this may not have worked out for him, they have become a pilgrimage point for architects and beachgoers alike as part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Though listed in the National Registry of Historic Places in the 1980s, the houses had fallen into severe disrepair by the 1990s. In order to save them, Indiana Landmarks was able to lease the homes from the National Parks Service and sublease four of them to individuals. Those sub-lessees were obliged to restore them, at their own expense, in exchange for long-term residency. The cost of restoration for the four houses was in excess of one million each, and the House of Tomorrow’s atypical materials and construction meant Indiana Landmarks would have to do the work itself.

But, with the naming of the restoration team and fundraising, the future of the House of Tomorrow is bright.

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(Small) Lot Angeles

Rios Clementi Hale Studios uses nordic detailing for Habitat 6, a new L.A. “small-lot subdivision” development

Los Angeles–based architects Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios), Riley Architects, and Integrated Development recently debuted Habitat 6, a collection of six new single-family homes in Los Angeles’s Los Feliz neighborhood.

The project is made possible by L.A.’s “small-lot subdivision” ordinance, a special land use maneuver instituted back in 2005 aimed at increasing the availability—and density—of single family housing across the city’s existing neighborhoods by allowing developers to subdivide existing lots into multiple properties to build collections of detached single-family residences. More controversially, the project is also the result of a protracted preservation struggle that resulted in the demolition of the Oswald Bartlett House, designed in 1914 by visionary Los Angeles architect Albert C. Martin. Applications for cultural monument status for the home were denied in 2014, paving the way for its demolition and replacement with RCH Studio’s units.

Bob Hale, partner at RCH Studios, described the difference between the design of a traditional single-family residence and a small-lot subdivision project: “The main issue here is that we have a single-family unit that’s part of a multi-family community, so engendering a sense of community in the overall project while maintaining sense of privacy for each of the units was one of the main objectives.”

As with most small-lot subdivision projects, Habitat 6’s site is organized around a central driveway used to access each unit’s two-car garage. In a nod to the normative tract house, each home features a small ground-floor yard. The homes range in size from 1,954 to 2,106 square feet and feature a flexible room on the ground floor, combined living room, kitchen, and dining areas along the second floor and two bedrooms, each with en-suite bathrooms, on the floor above.

Each home sits on a Douglas Fir wood-clad parking plinth, while the buildings’ exteriors are clad in expanses of white stucco interrupted by vertical bands of floor-to-ceiling punched picture windows. Some of these openings wrap the corners, while others are contained within wood-clad recessed and pop-out volumes. The units’ apertures are positioned such that neighboring homes do not face into one another. Inside, living room areas are designed with 10-foot ceiling heights (generous by Los Angeles standards), and feature clean, white walls accented with raw wood planks. Other interior finishes include marble countertops and backsplashes in the kitchen, and tile and board-formed concrete wall surfaces.

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Light Bright

A first for multi-colored ceramic fritted channel glass
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  The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is wrapping up an ambitious four-year $135-million renovation project to transform an existing downtown hospital campus into a fully dedicated, freestanding children’s hospital. The facility remained open throughout an intensive construction process involving interior demolition, relocating care units, exterior shell upgrades, and energy efficiency upgrades. A recladding concept, which extends the interior rebranding to the facade, is the most visible component of the project. The color palette is derived from a local artist’s mural on the existing structure became the basis for a rebranding strategy that seeks to improve visitor’s experience of the campus by benefitting the healing process and improving wayfinding. Colors are distributed onto the facade through a series of custom unitized channel glass assemblies that were the result of a close collaboration between Overland Partners, Bendheim Wall Systems, and Sharp Glass. The existing structure consists of five-foot concrete wings that extend out from the building envelope. With restrictive load limits and limited space for installation and maintenance, the design needed to be lightweight and convenient to assemble. Also, the team required a solution that could be manufactured in a range of custom colors, visible at long distances day and night.
  • Facade Manufacturer Bendheim Wall Systems Inc (glazing extrusions); Lamberts (channel glass)
  • Architects WHR Architects Inc. (Houston); Stanley Beaman & Sears (Atlanta); and Overland Partners Architects (San Antonio)
  • Facade Installer Sharp Glass, Bartlett Cocke General Contractors (construction manager)
  • Facade Consultants Smith Seckman Reid Inc. (engineering)
  • Location San Antonio, TX
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System ceramic-fritted channel glass units, insulated glass replacement units, interlocking metal panels
  • Products Lamberts® channel glass by Bendheim Wall Systems Inc; Centria metal panels; Lumenpulse (LED); Kawneer (insulated glazing units)
The project team developed a unitized modular strategy to consolidate three channel glass shapes into an extruded framework. Bendheim modified one of its existing systems to allow the glazer to preassemble the units in its shop so that the glass was bonded to both a head and sill extrusion. To ensure individual glass pieces did not make contact, the channels were set with a quarter-inch gap filled with a silicone backer rod and sealed with a translucent silicone. These units were harnessed together with a removable frame system developed by Bendheim in close collaboration with the architect and the glass installer. This allowed the units to be brought from the shop to the hospital, then strapped and hoisted into place by a three-person crew on each floor who would swing the unit into place. Units were lifted up into a pre-mounted head receptor and loaded onto an “elevator platform” that could be adjusted vertically to accommodate tolerance and deflection in the existing construction. This detail allows for movement over time without putting the glass units at risk. The adjustable, unitized system allowed the glazer to install, on average, an entire floor per day. Kris Feldmann, lead architect at Overland Partners, said that the value engineering presented a design management challenge to the project: “We saw the channel glass feature as something that was just as critical to the rebranding of the hospital and the work they were doing on the interior. One of the challenges of any project like this is that it is a very easy thing to remove as project budgets evolve. Having the owner’s confidence—because we had worked closely with the contractor, sub-contractor, and Bendheim—was really critical to keeping it on the project." The quarter-inch channel glass includes a ceramic frit that produces a unique translucent finish, allowing for sunlight penetration and providing a soft glow to patient rooms. At night, integrated programmable LED lights provide accent lighting for the facade. Several full-size panels were produced in a mock up to allow the team to confirm desired lighting details prior to construction. The units appear to be the same height from the exterior, but field-verified dimensions confirmed each floor height varied by several inches. This required every unit to be individually measured and coded by Bendheim to confirm a custom fit, and accurate color as specified by the architect. Beyond this colorful additive layer, most of the existing facade remained in place. The exterior shell includes replacement insulated glazing units and an interlocking metal panel exterior wall finish. Replacement windows consist of interior glazed window units to avoid having to re-scaffold the entire building as floors became open for construction. While the exterior is substantially complete, some components of the project remain under construction, including exterior gardens that feature culinary, play, and prayer programming.
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Cooler than Blue Jeans

New wearable technology lets you feel data on your skin
Imagine you are feeling your way through a maze blindfolded, informed only by what you can feel. Now imagine the maze isn’t real, but actually a digital construction. This Matrix-like scenario was recently used by the Interactive Architecture Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London to test its latest innovation, Sarotis: Wearable technology that functions as a second-skin to help heighten the user’s awareness of his or her surroundings. Combining soft robotics with depth sensors, the prosthetic technology can work in tandem with Google’s Project Tango technology. This computer vision technology uses a combination of depth sensing, motion tracking, and area learning technologies to allow a smartphone or device to “see” its environment in 3-D. Sarotis then translates this data into a tactile response, inflating or exerting pressure to guide the user. It is made from a soft fabric that wraps around the body like a second skin. Sarotis: Experimental Prosthesis from Interactive Architecture Lab on Vimeo. As an example, the lab blindfolded participants and had them navigate an empty room with an invisible path drawn in it using Project Tango. Wearing the Sarotis technology, participants were able to navigate the maze fairly easily. Then, participants had to draw the maze and were able to reproduce its form as well. Currently, the most obvious application of Sarotis is to aid those who are visually impaired. Sarotis could guide someone using gentle pressure to steer them away from curbs, walls, or other obstacles. However, the Interactive Architecture Lab predicts that 3-D vision technologies like Project Tango will be available on the majority of mobile devices and that by 2020 70 percent of the world’s population will have access to 3-D scanning, depth tracking, motion awareness, etc. on their smartphones. Combined, the Sarotis and 3-D computer vision could radically expand the possibilities in terms of navigating, gaming, and safety and other popular applications. Sarotis: Wearable Futures from Interactive Architecture Lab on Vimeo.