Posts tagged with "MIT":

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MIT’s visiting artist envisions floating, 3D-printed sculptures lighter than air

Thom Kubli, the current Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST) visiting artist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), came to the institution with an interest in seemingly magical devices with functions less practical than metaphysical. In collaboration with members of the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab, the artist and composer has been developing a machine that can 3D print objects light enough to float upwards once assembled. Kubli first tinkered with the concept in 2016 with Black Hole Horizon, an installation at the electronic arts festival Ars Electronica that comprised three horns that generated large soap bubbles in relation to the noise produced. Kubli's installation statement read that “visitors could walk through the room witnessing the transformation of sound into ephemeral sculptures, which last only for seconds before their material remains were deposited on the walls and floor.” Hiroshi Ishii, director of the Tangible Media Group, was in attendance during that year’s exhibition and later invited the artist to produce a more rigorous version of Black Hole Horizon using the Media Lab’s resources and knowledge base. “We at MIT do very scientific, analytical, pragmatic work,” Ishii said in a statement, “But also I strongly believe the artistic, also poetic, aspect is very critical to inspire people.” If all goes well, the final product, Orbiting, will be an “aerial archive” of helium-filled, 3D-printed objects that symbolize modern cultural and technological achievements. They will be printed from a small machine set in the center of a room, then float upwards and get caught in a thermal stream installed on the ceiling to produce a mobile-like installation that will last for a few minutes at a time before its elements gently fall back to the ground. For Kubli, the execution of the project neatly combines the dual interests in art and science that have made the Media Lab what it is today. The concept of weightlessness is one that has challenged engineers and artists alike. The dilema currently facing the design team is developing fabrication technology that can produce sophisticated geometry using a process similar to that of a bubble-blowing machine. “No one has ever made a machine that produces a floating object,” said Kyung Yun Choi, lead researcher for the project. “So from the scientific or engineering point of view, it’s really interesting and very challenging,” Previous CAST visiting artists have similarly walked the tightrope between science and design, including Tomás Saraceno, Trevor Paglen, and Diemut Strebe.
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A net-zero, cross-laminated timber apartment complex will rise in Boston

Thanks to support from the U.S. Forest Service and the Softwood Lumber Board, developer Placetailor and Boston-based architecture firm Generate have collaborated to design a carbon-neutral apartment block in Roxbury, a neighborhood in the south end of Boston. Named Model-C, the 5-story, 19,000-square-foot building will contain 14 residential units above an affordable co-working space on its ground floor. Model-C will be assembled using a cross-laminated timber (CLT) kit-of-parts and will be net-zero energy and net-zero carbon for its first decade of operation. The CLT rooftop will allow for the easy installation of solar panels, and the building’s walls will be insulated with natural mineral wool. The entire building, including bathroom “pods,” will be prefabricated in sections off-site and assembled from the ground up to reduce the need for scaffolding. Its plans have been certified by PassivHaus and meet the standards of the new Boston Department of Neighborhood Development’s “Zero Emissions Standards,” part of the city's Climate Action Plan. Once complete, Model-C will be one of the only totally timber buildings in Massachusetts, and one of the least energy-intensive buildings in America. Generate sees Model-C as a demonstration of a modular cross-laminated timber system the firm will apply to other sites in response to different topographical conditions and coding requirements. “Over the past year,” the firm's website states, “Generate has been transitioning out of the academic setting of the MIT Mass Timber Lab, and into industry by actively seeking progressive developers to deploy its first demonstration project, which they hope will serve as a catalyst in the Greater Boston area, and eventually in North America.” While mass-timber buildings are currently limited to six stories in North America, Generate is currently exploring the application of their system to buildings as tall as 18 stories tall in response to the 2021 Tall Wood building codes. The project received zoning approval last September and construction is expected to begin this June. Given the expediency of the prefabrication method developed by Placetailor and Generate, as well as the elimination of an interior framing system, the project can be completed as early as winter of next year.
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In conversation with Meejin Yoon

J. Meejin Yoon is a cofounding principal of Höweler + Yoon Architecture and, since January 2019, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University. Previously, she was the head of the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was also a professor for 17 years.

Höweler + Yoon Architecture has won numerous awards, including the Progressive Architecture Award, the Audi Urban Future Award, and the Emerging Voices award from the Architectural League of New York. The firm has built around the world; projects currently under construction include the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia and a 20,000-square-foot corporate clubhouse in Chengdu, China.

Jack Balderrama Morley, AN’s managing editor, spoke with Yoon about the state of architecture in 2019, and where the profession can—and should—go from here.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What do you think are the biggest problems in the building industry and the architecture profession in the U.S. right now? Meejin Yoon: I think many would say that the biggest design challenge of our time is climate change. But expanding that further, I would say that the critical question everyone in the field is asking is, what is the agency of architecture? Do architects have the kind of agency and ability to impact these big challenges? Agency requires broad disciplinary knowledge so that the architect can lead and coordinate across disciplines in joined efforts to address the big environmental challenges of our time, issues around rapid urbanization, and those issues’ potential impact on social equity. As a practicing architect, you come up against limits that you do not come up against within academia but these are productive in helping us frame and reframe broad questions related to agency. There are great examples of architects who, because of their social mission, are expanding beyond the traditional limits of professional practice, whether it is through developing internal research entities or turning their practices into non-profits, or partnering with NGOs and cities to address urban resiliency and adaptation questions. Thinking about agency, one of the major social issues that has come up in architecture in recent years is the relationship between architects and the people who actually build the buildings. Do architects have a responsibility to address these labor issues? I was thinking back on the most basic tenets of the profession of architecture. When we get our licenses, it's very clear that the mandate of architecture is, at the most basic level, about health, safety, and welfare. Your question reminds me that part of health, safety, and welfare is thinking through labor in a way that extends to every aspect of the building, including the means by which it is built. Of course, architects do not always get to make labor decisions, but clients do, and architects have an ability to impact labor by advocating for how important sound, ethical labor practices are. We can speak to the benefits of working with craftspeople who are adequately trained and fairly compensated for their work. Architects everywhere ought to be consistent in applying our mandate to decisions we make and influence from design through construction, and for the entire life of the building, so that we can work together toward a public good. Throughout much of the 2010s, it looked like architecture and the tech industry were moving toward some kind of marriage: Bjarke Ingels and Michel Rojkind were recruited by WeWork, and Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick started working for Alphabet, Google’s parent company. This year, though, the Sidewalk Labs development in Toronto has come under intense criticism—its glossy architecture has been accused of “design-washing”—and WeWork looks to be on the verge of bankruptcy. More generally, skepticism has grown about companies like Tesla, Amazon, and Facebook. How do you see architecture relating to big tech from now on? Historically, some of the most catalytic projects have been when design professionals work with industry. I’m thinking of IBM and the Eameses—when Charles and Ray Eames created the Mathematica exhibitions and the IBM Pavilion, they participated as designers in a disruptive moment. In recent times—when Google and WeWork hire the Bjarkes and the Heatherwicks—it’s really exciting that these big tech industries are valuing design because they elevate design to the world at a scale that smaller companies cannot. I don't think designers should walk away from opportunities to help any entity with building questions, but rather exercise our agency and use our expertise. When these larger companies partner with architects and designers, I am hopeful because I think it's not about design-washing at that point, it's really about design transformation. When a big tech company rethinks workplace design, what a corporation could be or should be, or where headquarters are sited and located, and looks into the environmental footprint of some of these options, we want architects at the table. On that note, the climate crisis is breaking into architecture discourse in a new way this year with professionals getting involved in a potential Green New Deal and the Extinction Rebellion. Do you see the profession talking about buildings’ effect on climate (and not just their response to it) in a way that goes beyond what has come before? I think that climate change is the greatest design challenge of our time, and it's a design problem that cuts across disciplines and scales, ranging from policy design to urban and ecological design, to transportation and building design, to land-use practices and individual consumption patterns. I think this means we need to work in new ways. There are many parts of the profession that are built on productive, adversarial relationships, but I think productive tensions aren't going to work at the scale of climate change design. It's much more about strategic alliances that range from the speculative to the applied, to these large scale initiatives. The scale of the problem is one that can't be resolved solely incrementally with different tactics by different industries and professions. It needs large-scale, coordinated efforts. Earlier this year, you wrote in Architect magazine: “We need to keep current and future generations of women from needing to take on both the rigorous work our field demands and the workarounds that allow them to do it. No one today should need to hide in a gutter in order to pursue, endure, and flourish in an industry that needs them more than ever.” What specific changes that you think schools or firms can make in the near future? There is a perception of a kind of exclusiveness of the profession of architecture, and I think that breeds more exclusivity. The combination of the high cost of tuition and the low starting salary might deter many people, in particular those who are traditionally underrepresented, from pursuing both a degree and the profession. The discipline cannot afford to continue to exclude that much talent. At Cornell, we have the Cornell Future Architect Award, and it's an amazing program started by previous students, working with friends in New York City. The program supports the pipeline of underrepresented minorities into the field by providing scholarships for our introductory summer program that exposes upper-level high school students to architecture. We give eight to 12 scholarships for summer programs, and we see that having an impact on the number of students that are then exposed to the profession, are equipped to put a portfolio together, and can then apply not only to our program, but to architecture programs throughout the United States. That's the pipeline side. I would say one thing we could do as a profession is support and encourage leadership among women and minorities who go to work at firms. Increasing the diversity of people in decision-making positions at all levels of architecture practices, the building industry, construction industry, development, real estate is going to have only positive effects on the profession overall. Switching gears a bit, this year, some of the giants of postmodernism (Stanley Tigerman, Charles Jencks, Robert Venturi) passed away as the movement’s bright colors, bold forms, and cheeky style are being embraced by the Instagram generation. What role do you see for postmodernism in the near future? What was essential about postmodernism was that it offered a critique of the status quo and offered concrete alternatives. What’s happening now is coming out of an extreme pluralism which values everything at the same level. And so, there’s no longer a kind of disciplinary discourse like before with the grays versus the whites. There was a productive value in that point-counterpoint debate. I heard someone recently say, “Oh, the discipline has no problems—we’re in the era of the ‘post-problematic,’ where everything is possible and nothing is wrong.” I was surprised to hear that because I think our discipline has more challenges than ever: climate change, urbanization, equity. But I think what this individual was referring to is within the disciplinary framework, the kind of internal debates and challenges are no longer there or have become so plural and horizontal that the stylistic representation proliferates in lieu of discourse. I say this knowing that some of the younger generation will challenge this idea and say that our representational world is itself discursive. But I’m not so sure it’s discursive in addressing the near future challenges we will all face together. What did you think of last year’s Chicago Biennial? There was some criticism that it didn't show enough buildings and focused too much on research. I think we need a whole ecosystem of design, and immediate and long-term applied design research, and biennials or exhibitions are a good place to showcase that work on a focused topic. The value of applied research is when it has a long-term impact on shaping, let’s say, the building industry or influencing the profession. Also, some research is more immediate; it’s already influencing the profession. And for other people, you’re looking at their research and saying, "This is a really radically different way of thinking of how to build," whether it deals with biology or computation, etc. And maybe we’ll see the impact and the influence of their work in a decade or two, but it's still important and valid. Of course, if the research doesn’t have any impact or influence on the profession, then I think that’s problematic.
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Kennedy & Violich Architecture are redeveloping the interior of MIT's Hayden Library

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Hayden Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is about to receive a significant interior renovation. To better carry out its mission as a rigorous research space at the center of campus, Boston-based firm Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA) has developed a design concept titled "Research Crossroads" that aims to renew and restore the library's multiple programs and produce the optimal environment for the internet age of research. “We asked KVA to create spaces that reflect the library of the future—participatory, creative, dynamic—while also preserving what makes Hayden such a popular study destination: quiet, restful space with beautiful views,” said Chris Bourg, director of the MIT Libraries, in a press release. “Their design will not only make the library more open and welcoming; it will invite community members to make connections between ideas, collections, and each other.” While the ground floor of the library was for decades only accessible during business hours, the renovation will transform the 10,000-square-foot space into a dynamic and flexible community space open 24 hours a day and will include a cafe, study rooms, and an event room for lectures and exhibitions. The ground floor will also receive two new double-height glass pavilion structures that will overlook the Lipschitz Courtyard on one side and the Charles River on the other. “This design puts research physically and figuratively at the center of the library,” said Bourg. “The research rooms will be visible as you enter, signaling that the library is an active and vibrant space where people are interacting with knowledge and each other.” The study spaces are designed to support a wide variety of learning and research styles to allow students to 'hack' the library's resources as they see fit. The second-floor reading room will be accessible from the first via a central staircase as well as a full-size elevator to improve the building's ADA compliance. Hayden Library was originally completed in 1951 by Voorhees, Walker, Foley & Smith and remains one of the finest examples of the post-World War II Art Moderne style in the state. While the interior will be transformed by the renovation, minimal work is being performed on the exterior. The library's northeast entrance will be refurbished while the north and south windows, as well as sections of the limestone facades, will be renovated to their original conditions. The renovation is currently in the construction phase and is anticipated to be completed in time for the start of the 2020 fall semester in September.
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The Strelka Institute announces new terraforming research initiative

The Strelka Institute in Moscow has announced its newest research initiative, a three-year intensive exploration into the possibilities and necessities for terraforming a post-climate crisis earth. The initiative, called The Terraforming, will be led by American professor and theorist Benjamin Bratton, with the aim of “exploring a renewed Copernican turn,”—a lofty goal the program deems necessary for a planet being consumed by its own beneficiaries. The tuition-free program is similar in structure to Bratton’s previous three-year venture at Strelka, an urban think tank called The New Normal, that just wrapped up its research on interdisciplinary solutions on a future for urban design. 
Bratton and some of his former New Normal faculty are reemerging for the new venture, and turning the word “terraforming” on its head—usually used in reference to adapting other planets to human life, the initiative acknowledges that human activity harming the earth and our atmosphere will necessitate "terraforming" on our own planet in the possibly near future. Original research projects and proposed solutions will pull from areas such as planetary urbanism, global energy infrastructure, and speculative design, to name a few of the more accessible vocabularies.  Partnering with both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the new program is literally looking towards the future of design as a world-building game. The program and its students will use the vast Russian rural landscape as a study site, and, according to the website, “From here, [look] out into space and then back down to Earth to orient what 'planetarity' should mean."
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Robot boats autonomously bridge a gap in Amsterdam

A joint team of researchers at the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolis Solutions (AMS) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Senseable City Lab have developed what they’re calling “the world’s first dynamic” bridge. Powered by a fleet of autonomous electric boats, roundAround will connect the Amsterdam City Center with the developing Marineterrein Amsterdam, a partly decommissioned military base that is home to the AMS Institute and a living lab for urban innovation. The project will be the first full-scale application of the Roboat project, a five-year research collaboration between the two schools. Building permanent infrastructure can be costly, complex, and a time-consuming process, particularly across the highly trafficked canals of Amsterdam. Researchers envision roundAround as a quick way to build new connections in Amsterdam and increase the use of canals to alleviate congestion as the city continues to grow and change. RoundAround employs a fleet of roboats that move in a continuous circle across the canal, like perfectly synchronized Busby Berkeley aquatic number. They move along a pre-programmed route equipped with cameras and Lidar technology that can detect obstacles or changes in the water and alter course as necessary using its four thrusters. As they approach the specialized docking platform, the roboats lock into a guide rail to provide additional stability, allowing people to board or exit without stopping. The research team estimates that the system could provide transport for hundreds of people every day, along with other benefits. “Involving citizens and visitors of the area roundAround would provide the research project with valuable continuous feedback loops,” said Stephan van Dijk, head of research & valorization at AMS. The collected data will help roboats learn and further improve their performance. But Bridges are just the beginning. The roboats were designed using a modular system that can accommodate various decks to provide different services. Researchers are hoping they will one day collect and transport garbage, provide on-demand water taxi or towing service, and securely attach to create temporary platforms for performances or “pop-up” shops. Secure connections are achieved through a novel laser-guided ball-and-socket latching mechanism. Researchers are working on improvements to the latching system, which has potential applications far beyond creating secure aquatic platforms, including cargo handling, charging stations, and even docking in space. Although autonomous cars may be getting all the headlines, Amsterdam is building its future infrastructure on the backs of autonomous boats. And what begins with one "bridge" in one city may one day connect and activate waterways worldwide.
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Hashim Sarkis announces the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale theme

How will we live together? That’s the seemingly simple, yet poignant, question posed by Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning and curator of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, and also the title of the show set to start next May. Though it’s nearly a year away, Sarkis announced that it’s time for architects to think about their role in creating a new, collective "spatial contract"—one that is inclusive and addresses two of the most pressing needs in both advanced and emerging economies today: social housing and urban connectivity.  “We need a new spatial contract,” Sarkis said in a statement. “In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together: together as human beings who, despite our increasing individuality, yearn to connect with one another and with other species across digital and real space; together as new households looking for more diverse and dignified spaces for inhabitation…and together as a planet facing crisis that require global action for us to continue living at all.” In order to build societies where we can successfully live together, according to Sarkis, architects need to engage with and enlist the expertise of those outside the design profession, such as artists, politicians, builders, social scientists, and journalists. Everyday citizens are also key to designing spaces that are truly for all people. National participants of the 2020 Biennale will be asked to introduce creative solutions made in tandem with these other stakeholders. Architects will act as both a “cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract” in the execution of these projects, as well as in the real world.  Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Architecture Biennale, said this way of thinking and of curating the summer design event has been slowly building over the last few years. “The Biennale Architettura 2018 has brought our attention on free space,” he said, “an essential element of our living that has been omitted in so many recent developments. With Hashim Sarkis we will try to expand our horizon to all these issues raised by our living together. Living together means first and foremost awareness of [the] potential crisis and old and new problems that do not get appropriate solutions, nor often appropriate attention, in the spontaneous development of our economies and societies and that require enhanced attention and an extensive and courageous planning capacity.” The purpose of the biennale is to help unify contributing countries around the new spatial contract charged by Sarkis. Since 2020 is considered by some to be a milestone year, it’s imperative, said Sarkis, that architects look to the collective imagination of leaders across every profession to prepare for the occasion.  Starting May 23rd, 2020, the National Participants of the biennale will showcase their own work in the individual Pavilions located at the Giardini and the Arsenale. A series of Collateral Events, presented by international institutions, will also be held in Venice alongside the exhibition through November 29, 2020. Interestingly enough, no information on what the U.S. will be contributing in 2020 has been released as of yet. While the design team for the American Pavilion has, in the past, been chosen in May of the year before the Biennale, the State Department waited until September 2017 to release their choice for the 16th Biennale.
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Science photographer Felice Frankel donates architecture snaps to MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries received a gift of 600 photographs by Felice Frankel, the renowned artist and scientist. Currently a researcher in the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering, Frankel has published her stunning photographs widely, and her early images of iconic architecture and landscapes are now at home in “Dome,” the library’s digital database of images and media, as well as in a collection-specific digital venue, DSpace@MIT. “Science has always been in my soul,” Frankel told The New York Times—she majored in biology and worked at a cancer research lab before her husband was sent to Vietnam. When he returned, he gave her a “good camera” as a present—Frankel emphasizes the “good.” With the tool in hand, Frankel discovered the power of photography when applied to learning and exploration. She doesn’t see her photographs as Art with a capital A—she sees her images as a learning tool, a way of documenting phenomena around her. Many of the photographs included in the new MIT collection are from a cross-country road trip, and many of her scientific images are aids for visual classroom learning, for use where an image is less intimidating than an equation. Frankel began her professional engagement with photography working as a volunteer for a public television station, and shortly after for an architect. She soon decided to pursue landscape photography independently, producing images for magazines, and eventually in her own book, Modern Landscape Architecture: Redefining the Garden. Many photos from this book are now being given a second life at MIT for direct student interaction both physically and digitally as individual elements. The photographs are discoveries Frankel wants to share with her students, and with the world. While she has recently become well known for her scientific images of cells and other miniscule things, her images gracing the covers of scholarly journals like Science, she sees a connection between the newer content and the recently gifted collection of her built environments. She says, “It’s all about capturing structured information.” Engaging with famous pieces of architecture like Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute and sculptural elements like Lawrence Halprin’s Ira Keller Fountain, Frankel fully explores her unique sense of composition. Without needing to rely on human subjects to get a great photograph, the buildings and landscapes are studies in mass, light, and color.
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TECH+ Expo returns to New York to talk the business of building

According to Dr. Andrea Chegut, there is a constant tension between securing capital investment and being inventive in the built environment. It’s something that architects have to grapple with as they make design decisions that will please the client and investors, but also adhere to their creative vision. “This tension is happening in your desktops every day,” she told attendees of AN’s third annual TECH+ conference in New York on June 13. Chegut is the cofounder and director of the Real Estate Innovation Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As the keynote speaker for the tech-focused forum, held in partnership between AN and Microsol Resources, she reminded the architects present that they are inventors and that it’s imperative to stand up for their work because smart design helps make money. Chegut’s role as a financial econometrician is to research technologies that can improve the relationship between investors and designers, advance communication, and turn design features into metrics that investors can feel good about. “Global research and development expenditures are at an all-time high,” she said, “and real estate is shifting towards R&D and scalable business models, too.” Chegut pointed out that last year, global venture investment in technology for the built environment exceeded $20 billion. That’s a major look into the future of the industry, she said. Not only that, but climate change is making the business of building and maintaining buildings even more costly. From 2000 to 2017, the United States spent $2.5 trillion on resiliency planning and recovery efforts, and $117 billion to manage chronic floods. To get ahead of these issues, Chegut believes technology can help architects and real estate stakeholders make smarter decisions about their projects. Think automation, which could transform valuations processes, accounting, and more, or robotics, such as the Mediated Matter group’s FIBERBOTS, a digital fabrication tool that can create sophisticated material architectures. Even as augmented reality advances through the integration of added sensory modalities, it can immerse and nearly alter one’s perception of the built environment. These could make working in the field substantially smoother. It’s not just tech tools still in the research stages that could change the future; there are products that exist now on the commercial market like transparent wood, view glass, as well as digital software such as Humanyze, the WillowTwin, and Skyline AI that are transforming the way architects work. Companies like Envelope City and Katerra are already leading the way in zoning analysis and material manufacturing optimization. Chegut noted that her team, in particular, has been working on a property technology that could benchmark value drivers of design for investors to get behind. Through an experiment they call Wide Data, the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab created a database with information on all buildings in New York City that was used to determine common themes across award-winning structures, specifically commercial office buildings. They found that access to daylight can lead to a direct 6.6 to 7 percent increase on the cost per square foot of a building in Manhattan if it meets the green standards set up by LEED. In essence, Chegut backed up through economic data that the value of daylight adds to the monetary value of not only a building but a company, too. “Give humans daylight and we’ll make money,” she said. It’s dedicated research to tools like this that make technology so important for the work of an architect. Everything from advances in BIM, Revit, AR, and VR to prefabrication and efficient construction techniques means that the business of building is getting better because of technology. The rest of the day’s events at TECH+ zeroed in on these innovations and how certain companies and architecture firms such as Kaiser Permanente, SOM, GeoSlam, SHoP, and Payette, among others, are doing big things with new tech. Other conversations included the unique integration of gaming technology to help tell stories through design, and the use of specific tools that helped create New York’s newest architectural landmarks: The Shed and Vessel at Hudson Yards.
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SOM and MIT shoot for the Moon with design for lunar village

While NASA is researching 3D-printed habitats for the Moon and Mars, the European Space Agency (ESA) has tapped Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to envision a theoretical lunar city. The Moon Village, which SOM will masterplan, design, and engineer, not only reflects the collaborative nature of the ESA’s mission but also lays out a plan—and base of operations—for space exploration past 2050. As Israel prepares to potentially land the first privately-funded spacecraft on the Moon, the Moon Village would take a decidedly more multinational approach and could be used by future science missions or even space tourists. Set up along the rim of the Shackleton crater on the Moon’s south pole, which receives continuous sunlight for nearly all of the lunar year, the Moon Village would rely on solar power to generate electricity. The possibility of water ice inside the crater itself, which is always shadowed, would provide the colony with another potential resource to tap. “The project presents a completely new challenge for the field of architectural design,” said SOM Design Partner Colin Koop. “The Moon Village must be able to sustain human life in an otherwise uninhabitable setting. We have to consider problems that no one would think about on Earth, like radiation protection, pressure differentials, and how to provide breathable air.” How did SOM design around those tight constraints? The village’s modules would all inflate or deflate depending on their programmatic needs. Each structure would be about three-to-four stories tall and contain living quarters, environmental controls, life support systems, and workspaces. Eventually, 3D-printed regolith shells could protect the modules from radiation, fluctuations in temperature (although Shackleton crater has a more consistent temperature than other parts of the Moon), and dust. Modules would be clustered and linked through pressurized tunnels to provide easy transportation between them. A series of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) experiments could help determine how to best use the Moon’s natural resources. Oxygen and possibly rocket fuel could be generated from the nearby ice, and food could be conceivably grown in the environment. The Moon Village has been envisioned as a three-stage development that would eventually create a long-term, sustainable Moon community. The first phase, the master plan revealed on April 9, used near-future technology; but, as Fast Company pointed out, the Moon Village would still be reliant on international cooperation, and that’s far from assured right now.
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OCEANIX and BIG unveil a floating city of the future at the United Nations

The UN has just unveiled a floating city. Or, at least a framework for how floating cities will be built. Throughout the 2010s, a certain set of statistics found their way into every article about urbanism. You know them. They said that a certain percent of people would live in cities by a certain year; “68% of the world's population projected to live in urban areas by 2050,” according to a recent UN statistic. However, it’s barely the 2010s anymore! The new hot stat for the 2020s was used today by the UN to switch gears and justify exploring the possibility of building floating cities:
By 2030, approximately 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities that are exposed to grave economic, social, and environmental pressures. Further, approximately 90 percent of the largest global cities are vulnerable to rising sea levels. Out of the world’s 22 megacities with a population of more than 10 million, 15 are located along the ocean’s coasts.
Serious stuff, all discussed at today’s high-level round table in New York hosted by UN-Habitat, the UN’s coalition on affordable and sustainable housing, along with the MIT Center for Ocean Engineering, the Explorers Club, and OCEANIX, a group investing in floating cities on this new marine frontier. Bjarke Ingels of BIG—architects of the "Dryline" around lower Manhattan—unveiled his design for a prototypical floating city today, which would be made out of mass timber and bamboo. This proposal would be “flood proof, earthquake-proof, and tsunami-proof,” according to Marc Collins Chen, co-Founder and CEO of OCEANIX. The renderings show a series of modular hexagonal islands with a productive landscape, where bamboo grown on the “islands” could be used to make glulam beams. BIG envisions the cities as zero-waste, energy-positive and self-sustaining. The necessary food to feed the population would be grown on the islands. BIG has put toether a kit of parts for each part of the man-made ecosystem: a food kit of parts, a waste kit of parts. Each island would be prefabricated onshore and towed to its location in the archipelago. What would living on one of these islands be like? "All of the aspects of human life would be accommodated," according to Ingels. They would dedicate seven islands to public life, including a spiritual center, a cultural center, and a recreation center. "It won't be like Waterworld. Its another form of human habitat that can grow with its success." Oceanix City, as it is called, features mid-rise housing around a shared, green public space where agriculture and recreation co-exist. Underground greenhouses are embedded in the “hull” of the floating city, while in the sky, drones would buzz by with abandon. The systems on each city would be connected, where waste, food, water, and mobility are connected. Because the cities are towable, they can be moved in the event of a weather event.  Land reclamation (creating new land by pouring sand in the ocean) is no longer seen as sustainable, as it uses precious sand resources and causes coastal areas to lose protective wetlands and mangroves. Could floating cities be the way forward for expanding our cities as we deal with the consequences of climate change and sea-level rise?  According to the coalition, “Sustainable Floating Cities offer a clean slate to rethink how we build, live, work, and play…They are about building a thriving community of people who care about the planet and every life form on it.” Doesn't this sound a lot like the Seasteading Institute, the infamous group of libertarian utopianists who want to break away from land and society altogether? For Collins, his floating infrastructure is less ideological, and more about infrastructure technology. These floating cities would be positioned near protected coastal areas, less ocean-faring pirate states and more extensions of areas threatened by rising sea levels. "These cities have to be accessible to everyone. We can't build broad support for this without populist thinking," said Richard Wiese, the president of the Explorers Club. The first prototypes will start small, even though they are thinking big. The 4.5-acre pods will house 300 people, while the goal is to scale the system by repeating the unit until the city can hold 10,000 people. Can floating cities be more sustainable and affordable than building on land? Would they only be for the rich? Would they be self-sufficient? Would they prevent climate gentrification and curb climate migration? Or, as has been the case in the past, will the idea prove too expensive to actually build?
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Driverless shuttles set to take over the Brooklyn Navy Yard later this year

New York City’s (and the state’s) first self-driving shuttles are arriving before the end of the second quarter, but they won’t be making life-or-death decisions on Manhattan’s busy streets. Instead, the Boston-based autonomous driving startup Optimus Ride, which was spun off from MIT, will bring driverless shuttles to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The 300-acre industrial campus is seemingly the perfect place to test autonomous vehicles (AVs) within the five boroughs. The yard is isolated, about a 15-minute walk from the nearest subway station (although a shuttle runs between the two), though a new ferry stop will open at the Yard in May. The enclosed Navy Yard also uses private streets, negating the need for city or state approval, and drastically reduces the congestion—both other vehicles and humans—that these shuttles will expect to face. Thanks to the Yard’s relative isolation, the entire area can be geofenced off or mapped down to the slightest detail ahead of the shuttles’ deployment to prevent them from leaving the bounded area. The technology has been used to great effect elsewhere, namely AV testing grounds where every variable can be controlled; the difficulty in expanding the use of self-driving cars has namely been to real-world unpredictability. According to Optimus Ride, the company's shuttles will offer the Navy Yard’s 9,000 employees a convenient way to get around the campus. The vehicles will loop from the new ferry stop and around to the public-facing Flushing Avenue side. While the company hasn’t released details on the model of shuttle it will be using, the company has previously deployed battery-powered vehicles capable of reaching speeds of up to 25-miles-per-hour elsewhere. It’s unclear what this will mean for the shuttle service that already operates on the Yard’s streets. “If this pilot abides by insurance and other non-traffic laws and remains confined to the Brooklyn Navy Yard—which is private—then it can operate,” a spokesperson for the mayor, Seth Stein, told The Verge. “The mayor has voiced his strong opposition to testing a new technology on our busy streets.” Optimus Ride also announced that it would be bringing its self-driving shuttles to the streets of Paradise Valley Estates, a private 80-acre planned community Fairfield, California. The move means that Optimus Ride will have AVs in four states, but for the time being, it seems that only self-contained, wealthier enclaves will benefit as the technology matures.