To celebrate the upcoming 10th anniversary of New York City's Hearst Tower topping off, Lord Norman Foster let a drone loose inside his iconic work. In a video produced by the tower’s namesake, the Hearst Corporation, Foster marvels at how drone technology opens up an entirely new perspective on the 46-story structure. Someone needs to introduce this guy to Martha Stewart. “There are so many aspects which make this project unique,” says the Pritzker Prize–winner, dressed in a green corduroy blazer, “the idea that you’re using the most up-to-date technology, something that literally didn’t exist ten years ago to capture the building now, ten years on—that’s, I think, very symbolic.” The drone travels past James Carpenter’s cascading Ice Falls sculpture, through some editorial floors, and even into Gayle King’s office, who pretends to be on a phone call with fellow CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose.
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We know, we know, we know—the internet is being overrun with drone-photographed, time-lapse videos of cities and ruins. They are like cat videos, or BuzzFeed quizzes, or thought-pieces on Hillary Clinton's ground game in 2016: they're everywhere and they're unavoidable. But sometimes they're pretty great. This five-minute video by Victor Chu is called “Ultimate Aerial Video of NYC!," and, well, yeah, it kind of is! The video starts with a quote from (who else?) F. Scott Fitzgerald and then finds its way through the five boroughs with the help of an agile drone. Some architectural highlights include Four Freedoms Park, Hunters Point South Waterfront Park by Thomas Balsley Associates, and pre-demolition 5Pointz. The drone also travels directly through the Unisphere, which is known best from the 1964-65 World’s Fair and second best from Men In Black. [h/t Gothamist]
Attention ruin porn addicts and post-apocalyptic disaster fantasists, this video is for you. British filmmaker Danny Cooke visited Pripyat, Ukraine—an abandoned city within the radioactive hot zone created by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster—while on assignment for 60 Minutes. Using a camera-equipped drone, Cooke soars above and through the city, which once housed 50,000 inhabitants, revealing a ghostly but remarkably intact landscape, including apartment buildings, hospitals, and an abandoned amusement park with a rusting ferris wheel. While the scene is remarkably tranquil, the underlying cause is unsettling. Following a manmade calamity, nature is slowly reclaiming the city. Humans will likely never be able to return. [h/t World.Mic]
The excitement over Apple's new mega-campus in Silicon Valley continues to build. First, we got an aerial drones-eye-view of the under-construction Apple Campus 2 in Cupertino, California (check it out after the jump!). And now, we get to see the corporate auditorium where the company will show off its new products once complete in 2016. Renderings released by the Contract Division of Poltrona Frau Group (PFG Contract) depict Foster + Partner's theater. PFG Contract will supply and install 660 custom chairs and 250 lounge armchairs. A grass walkway will lead visitors and employees to a glass pavilion marked by a saucer-shaped roof, making way to the underground stage. Forbes reported there will be a secret subterranean passage to the auditorium, allowing speakers or other employees to move between the 4-story main building and the stage privately, away from the press and other visitors. Auditorium completion is expected by spring/summer 2016. In 2007 PFG Contract worked with the Apple Design Team to create seating for theater spaces in Apple retail sites worldwide. The company's first commission was for armchairs for the ocean liner, Rex, in the 1930s, and they moved into designing seating systems for theaters and auditoriums in the 1980s. This past February, Dezeen reported that furniture company Haworth had bought PFG Contract. The 2.8 million square feet circular extension of Apple's headquarters, led by Foster + Partners, will sit in an over-100-acre forest designed by landscape architecture firm OLIN. Apple's forest will be an orchard of sorts, able to supply its own food, with plum, apple, cherry, persimmon, and apricot trees on site. The new campus will hold 13,000 employees, with an underground auditorium built during the first phase of construction.
Two of the most talked about new technologies in our world today—3D printing and unmanned drones—are beginning to merge. A good example: Mobile 3D Printing, a research project in Gensler's Los Angeles office attempting to create an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) fully capable of digital fabrication—freeing the technology from the constraints of boxes, robotic arms, and X-Y-Z axes. Young Gensler architects Tam Tran and Jared Shier are spearheading the effort. Their vehicle's name—MUPPette—stands for Mobile Unmanned Printing Platform. It consists of a carbon composite hexacopter,consisting of six blades, a gimbal beneath to stabilize the printer, and the battery-powered printer itself below, enabled with PLA plastic filament, the same material used in Makerbots and other fabrication machines. When the copter, controlled via laptop, takes off, its legs retract, allowing for more maneuverability. It can shoot out a relatively limited amount of PLA and can fly for about ten minutes at a time. The project concluded its first year this spring, and the group recently received a second grant to hone the concept for another year. Improvements that the team wants to work out include adding sonar sensors to make real time flight and stabilization adjustments, adding localized GPS for greater precision, addressing the impact of blades' wind currents on the PLA projection, and teaming the vehicle with others for more efficient and complex fabrication. "It's been exciting, exhilarating, and agonizing at the same time," said Shier. "Unless you try to solve the problems you're not advancing the technology." In the future—perhaps in a third year for the project—the group hopes to advance the technology to take on construction, which could be especially useful for producing humanitarian structures or for producing buildings in areas cut off from conventional modes of transit. Mobile 3D Printing is one of over 50 research projects funded firm-wide by Gensler. "This is a frontier that we clearly hadn't entered into before," said Tran. "We want to see what can be done."
[Researchers have also turned drones into builders, here laying bricks for a parametric tower.] Look up in the sky: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope, it’s a drone. Yes, the U.S. military isn’t having all the fun… Architects are now getting into the drone game as well. In order to get a better look at their sites—particularly views from higher elevations—word has it that firms like AC Martin and Moore Ruble Yudell have developed their own drones, hovering high in the clouds and rotating in all directions. Air traffic rules for these sorts of things are still rudimentary, so flyers need to take things like etiquette and safety into their own hands. But for now it’s the Wild West. And it’s a virtual thrill that more may be taking off soon.
On a recent walk down Broadway near the AN offices in Lower Manhattan I was handed a flyer by The Granny Peace Brigade who were protesting in front of a building where several New York City Council Members have offices. The flyer claims in bold letters "High Tech Stop and Frisk: Domestic Drones Coming to Your Neighborhood?" It had an image of a LEAPP Drone made by Brooklyn Navy Yard–based Atair Aerospace who claim their powered paraglider "is a slow-flying, long endurance powered paraglider UAV [Unarmed Aerial Vehicle] platform that is used for ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] and distributive operations payload delivery missions," but that the Brigade believes could be used to monitor for loitering. The Granny's claim "Predator drones assassinate people designated as terrorists, who have never been lawfully charged nor tried. And there is a grave danger that drones will come home." They are asking the New York City Council to declare the city a "No Drone Zone," and for the public to write their City Council representative and ask them sponsor such a resolution. Given New York's controversial stop and frisk policy it is not too early to be concerned with this drone threat. It does seem inevitable that if this technology is used but the U.S. military it will someday come home to local police forces.