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Renato Bialetti interred inside his iconic coffee maker

The creator of one of the most ubiquitous Italian industrial designs of the 20th century, Renato Bialetti, has died and was interred in one of his designs—the octagonal Moka coffee maker. Bialetti acquired the patent for the stovetop percolator in 1933 and promoted it with own image on the side. He eventually sold more than 330 million units around the world. The ashes in the coffee maker are in his family tomb in Omega, outside Milan.
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Tempting fate? Working replica of the Titanic to set sail in 2018, destination Dubai

The unsinkable can't sink twice, can it? Australian businessman Clive Palmer certainly hopes not. His replica Titanic, called Titanic II, is due to set sail in 2018 with the ship's maiden voyage taking a less treacherous path than her predecessor, sailing from Jiangsu in Eastern China to Dubai. The route through the South China and Arabian Seas and the Indian Ocean are supposedly iceberg free. https://youtu.be/QxDi_No5mNM Palmer originally floated the idea for the project in 2012, with planning beginning immediately, but the scheme has since been subject to delays, pushing the launch date to 106 years after the original Titanic's maiden excursion. Unlike the original, which used some 3 million rivet bolts to join the hull (of which some in the cold conditions broke upon contact with the iceberg), the Titanic II will have a welded hull and be approximately four yards wider. Another disparity that will be welcome news to passengers will be that it will have a 2,700 lifeboat capacity for its 2,435 member crew, unlike the original which controversially carried lifeboat capacity of 1,178 for its 2,223 passengers due to aesthetic reasons. http://titanic-ii.com/sites/default/files/videos/Grand_Staircase_Cam2.webm "The new Titanic will of course have modern evacuation procedures, satellite controls, digital navigation and radar systems and all those things you’d expect on a 21st century ship" said James McDonald, marketing director, Blue Star Lines. Like the original, first, second, and third-class tickets will be available to purchase with segregated dining and living spaces corresponding to the tiered ticketing scheme. The vessel will cost $429 million, have a top speed of 24 knots (one knot more than the original) and be able to accommodate 2,400 passengers, (an increase of 177) and 900 crew.
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JGMA wins Chicago Neighborhood Development Award, immediately donates prize money

As part of the 22nd annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), Chicago-based JGMA’s El Centro, along with projects from Chicago-based Landon Bone Baker and Gensler, were awarded Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Excellence in Community Design. Finished in late 2014, El Centro is a 56,000 square foot satellite campus for Northeastern Illinois University, located along I-90/I-94 on the north side of Chicago. JGMA lead Juan Moreno describes the buildings trademark yellow and blue fins as building promotional, psychological, and sustainable. Promotionally, they function as a billboard for the school. Psychologically, they are a point of pride for the student body. And sustainably, they are a one of the buildings sustainability systems as sunshades, along with solar panels and the darkly tinted glass. El Centro was also awarded an AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Honor Award, and the 2015 Chicago Building Congress Award. Juan Moreno’s commitment to the school goes beyond designing their building though. During moving his acceptance speech, Moreno brought the 1500 person crowd to their feet, and many to tears, as he explained his plan for the award money. Addressing Richard Driehaus, “Four years ago I was on this stage for the first time. It was in my firm’s second year of existence, and what you don’t realize Mr. Driehaus is, that in your celebration of architecture, that award money that we received kept our lights on.” Moreno continued, “I’m very much interested in paying it forward. I’d like to announce that the money we receive for this award is going straight to NEIU El Centro to start a scholarship.” Moreno went on to explain the scholarship, which would be in the name of his Colombian immigrant mother, would be used to help minority students, the majority of El Centro’s students, to travel the world. After Moreno left the stage, Richard Driehaus returned to the mic to announce that he would match Moreno’s gift to the school. Landon Bone Baker and Gensler projects were also honored with the 2nd and 3rd place awards. Landon Bone Baker’s South Side Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative was commissioned by Chicago artist and community advocate Theaster Gates. Original a series of separate buildings owned by the Chicago Housing Authority, the donated property now includes market-rate apartments for artist, public housing units, and reduced-rent units for limited income families, and community spaces for dance and music. Gensler’s Town Hall Apartments reuse a former Chicago Police station for affordable senior housing for the LGBT community. The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Excellence in Community Design is one of eight other awards given out at the CNDAs, which is organized by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC ) Chicago. The CNDAs honor architects, developers, neighborhood advocates and business leaders who work to improve the city’s neighborhoods through restate development. Aside from the Driehaus Design award, other awards are given out for community planning, non-profit real estate projects, affordable rental housing preservation, for-profit real estate projects, and community development organizations. Winners in these other categories included the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, the Oakley Square affordable housing, and the Method Products’ South Side Soapbox. The Method Products’ South Side Soapbox, a LEED Platinum soap factory which, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated in the ceremony’s closing remarks, “ is the first factory to be built on the South Side in 30 years.” The brightly adorned factory derives 50 percent of its energy from solar and wind, and includes the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world. Located near the historic Pullman neighborhood, the project has been touted as a symbol of the rehabilitation of the area, which has been economically depressed since the Pullman Palace Car Company ceased operation in the 1960s.
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Rafael de Cárdenas on the facade as an opportunity for identity and seduction

The 2800 sq. ft. flagship store opened ahead of Baccarat's 250 year anniversary.

Architecture at Large, a multi-disciplinary practice working within the architecture, interior, art, and branding fields, recently transformed a blackstone Madison Avenue facade into a flagship store for Baccarat, a French manufacturer of fine crystal renowned for their craftsmanship and innovative designs. The facade draws inspiration from said craftsmanship of the 250-year-old brand. Composed of three-layers of custom frit glass, a large-scale, faceted pattern abstracts the cutting of crystal glass into a super scale pattern.  "One of the most difficult techniques in the cutting of crystal is the diamond cut," says Rafael de Cárdenas, founder of AAL,  "and one of the key attributes that sets Baccarat apart from their competition is the level of intricacy to their cuts." Through various densities of fritting applied to the three layers, ranging in density from 25-75%, a dynamic shifting image is created for passersby and visitors to the building. The Baccarat facade affords limited views of the interior walls, lined with a disorienting blend of dark Macassar ebony wood interspersed with mirrored strips folded into a zig-zagged, corrugated surface. These walls—along with a large centralized chandelier hanging over the entryway—reflect daylight in the space. Cardenas says the sharpness of this feature wall was inspired by the brand itself. “We liked the idea of creating a mystery - of obscuring the interior to create a sense of seduction.” Specific portals utilizing clear glass were framed out on the ground level to establish storefront display zones, and selectively above to reveal the chandelier from the exterior.
  • Facade Manufacturer Pilkington Planar by W&W Glass, LLC
  • Architects Architecture at Large (design architect), Gensler (project architect)
  • Facade Installer W&W Glass
  • Facade Consultants W&W Glass, EBM Engineering (structural engineering)
  • Location New York, NY
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System point supported structural glass system with custom ceramic fritting
  • Products Pilkington Planar
The retail project was composed of a notably significant project team, pairing two architecture firms with a code consultant, structural engineer, and project manager. The team ultimately influenced the identity of the facade through performative analysis. Fritting pattern densities were adjusted, and ultimately increased during the design process to promote greater heat retention within the interior space, helping to reduce HVAC loads on the building. The existing floor plates of the building were modified to create a large, two-story entrance to the store, resulting in a significantly altered facade opening, infilled with a two-story glass storefront. Through custom frit patterns and layering of material, Cárdenas’ team was able to produce an architectural effect that behaves like crystal itself. “The tradition of having a very holistic identity that has a street presence was definitely honed in Asia,” says Cárdenas, who cites Shiro Kuramata's work with Issey Miyake in the late 1970's as triggering a particularly dynamic retail design culture. "In Asia, all of the brands have their own buildings. Here in New York, on Madison Avenue, the architecture already exists. The facade has no relationship to the interior. With this being said, we were able to create a very strong identity using only glass."
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Lautner’s Sheats Goldstein Residence has been gifted to LACMA

James Goldstein has donated his landmark house, located on Angelo View Drive, Los Angeles, and designed by prolific West Coast architect John Lautner to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In addition, the dwellings contents and surrounding estate has also been included in the donation. In Pop-Culture, the house is most widely recognized for its appearance in the film The Big Lebowski. The dwelling commonly known as the Sheats Goldstein Residence includes an "infinity tennis court" (best not to hit it out of bounds), a James Turrell Skyspace, entertainment complex, and an extensive array of landscaped tropical gardens. Included as part of the contents of the house will be architectural models of the house, artistic works, and a 1961 Rolls Royce (pictured below). "Over the course of many meetings with Michael Govan, I was very impressed with his appreciation for the history of the house and the role it has played in the cultural life of Los Angeles, as well as with his vision for continuing that tradition when the house becomes an important part of LACMA's collections," Goldstein said. "Hopefully, my gift will serve as a catalyst to encourage others to do the same to preserve and keep alive Los Angeles’s architectural gems for future generations.” https://vimeo.com/30456390 "Great architecture is as powerful an inspiration as any artwork, and LACMA is honored to care for, maintain, and preserve this house, as well as to enhance access to this great resource for architecture students, scholars, and the public," said LACMA CEO Michael Govan in a press release. "We are excited to collaborate with other arts institutions on events that speak to Jim’s interests and that connect and reach across creative disciplines—architecture, film, fashion, and art." The residence represents the unique relationship Goldstein and Lautner shared for more than three decades. Originally constructed in 1963 for Helen and Paul Sheats, Goldstein purchased the house in 1972 and began working closely with Lautner in 1979. Together they modified the house "according to Lautner’s and Goldstein’s ultimate vision," replacing all the glass to amplify the disparity between indoor and outdoor space. Other alterations saw the introduction of bespoke minimalist concrete seating (the seats we see "The Dude" aka Jeff Bridges sit on in The Big Lebowski), as well as glass and wood furnishings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShUhcBroF5Y The James Turrell Skyspace, named Above Horizon was added in 2004 and rises above the property's tropical gardens. Above Horizon also links to other works by Turrell in the LACMA domain, such as Ganzfeld Breathing Light, and the Perceptual Cell Light Reignfall.
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Aggregate knowledge: Scientists at MIT discover how concrete behaves on a molecular level, could spur material advances

Suffice to say, we certainly know how concrete behaves at structural level—the material has been dominating cities and skylines since Joseph Monier invented a reinforced concrete in 1889. But until now, how the material works on a microscopic level has eluded scientists. Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have unearthed concrete's molecular properties, claiming their findings could lead to structural advances in the future. Traditionally, concrete uses a mixture of gravel, sand, cement, and water. In this case, a compound known as calcium-silicate-hydrate (CSH or cement hydrate) forms when the cement powder mixes with water. It essentially causes all the ingredients to solidify and become one. The phenomenon that has been baffling researchers many for years is whether concrete's molecular structure is comprised of continual bonds as found in stone and metal, or rather, as a sea of aggregate particle clumps bonded by (in the case of concrete) CSH. Researchers from MIT discovered in 2012 that during the first hour of the concrete mixing process, when CSH particles form, the size at which they form is apparently random and "not in homogenous spheres." As a result, such "diversity in the size of the nanoscale units leads to a denser, disorderly packing of the particles, which corresponds to stronger cement paste." However, the question regarding whether concrete was "considered a continuous matrix or an assembly of discrete particles" still remained. Predictably, the answer was "a bit of both." In a press release, Roland Pellenq, a senior research scientist in MIT’s department of civil and environmental engineering explained that the particle distribution facilitated almost every gap in the molecular structure to be filled by even smaller grains. This seemingly iterative process continued to the extent that Pellenq and his peers could approximate the material as a continuous solid. “Those grains are in a very strong interaction at the mesoscale,” said Pollenq. “You can always find a smaller grain to fit in between [the larger grains, hence] you can see it as a continuous material.” Pollenq did however, conclude his findings by stating that concrete could never be considered a true continuous material. This is due to the fact that grains within the CSH, unlike those in metal or stone, cannot reach a resting state of minimum energy. In other words, larger molecules can cause solid concrete to "creep" which makes the material susceptible to cracking and degradation over time. "Both views are correct, in some sense,” Pellenq concluded.
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Houstonians love botanic gardens, but not necessarily in their backyards

Neighbors of the recently approved Houston Botanic Garden (HBC), designed by New York–based West 8, oppose the plans, saying that the to-be-built garden will increase traffic in their neighborhoods and prevent neighbors from criss-crossing the site on foot, as is local custom. Right now, the 120-acre site, in the southeastern area of Houston, is home to publicly-owned Glenbrook Golf Course. "The Park Place Civic Club is taking the position of formal opposition," President Larry Bowles told The Houston Chronicle. "Members feel that the garden will disrupt the neighborhood environment that we're used to here and that the open space that the current Glenbrook Golf Course provides will be in essence taken away." The HBG organizers are planning to lease the site from the city, which means that there's extra imperative to keep the public engaged. West 8's plans respond to community desires for connection to the bayou, shady walking paths, access to the outdoors, and space for community events. The master plan will connect the two "precincts" of the garden, named the Island and the South Gardens, with a bridge over Sims Bayou, one of the few bayous in its natural state, that defines the northern border of the proposed park. The bridge over the bayou is part of "Botanic Mile," a wending drive that will take visitors to the heart of the park, an arrival plaza in the South Gardens. The design had to be hurricane- and flood-proof: Landscaping will elevate the site's topography to bring it outside of the 100-year floodplain. Rounding out the program are a classic glass conservatory for exotic plants, as well as amenities like a cafe, visitor's center, lecture hall, and events pavilion.   With a goal of opening in 2020, the group has raised $5 million already, and aims to raise $15 million through 2017. Construction on the project's first phase is expected to begin in 2018. Tomorrow, a public meeting will be held to discuss plans for the HBG. Adriaan Geuze, co-founder and principal of West 8, will be on hand to answer residents' questions.  
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Product> Off The Wall: Sophisticated Wall Coverings

From recycled acoustic installations to intricate tile mosaics, the latest wall coverings are innovative, functional, and downright stylish. Xorel Artform Carnegie This high-performance wall paneling is available in over 200 colors and textures, with four different panel shapes that are each available in three sizes. Each panel is individually upholstered by hand using sustainable materials. The amount of highly personalized combinations allows for a range of uses in both residential and commercial spaces. Origami Akdo Akdo’s expertly cut marble tiles allow the veining on each piece to perfectly align with each other to create the illusion of a seamless line that looks folded like traditional Japanese origami. The patterns are offered in a choice of four warm taupe or cool gray colorways. Sakura Collection Fireclay Tile Hand painted on 70-percent recycled clay tiles, the Sakura Collection displays subtle earth toned hues that are derived from traditional Japanese landscapes, including patterns that resemble mountains, tortoise shells, and river rocks. They are available in eight-by-eight and six-by-twelve sizes. Dimensioni Collection New Ravenna Inspired by the Byzantine technique of placing gold pieces at certain angles to reflect light, the New Leaf tile mosaic is available in four color ways of metallic glass: platinum, rose gold, champagne gold, and gunmetal. In addition, the collection has two other modern mosaic designs inspired by the landscapes of Italy crafted in Italian marble. Tweed Mesh Cambridge Architectural Cambridge is known for its architectural mesh; it has recently released two new patterns, including a “tweed” mesh made with stainless steel and brass that resembles the weave of a classic wool overcoat—so much so that it has been used in several lounges for British Airways. Geo Wallpaper Direct Part of a larger collection of hyper-realistic photo paper by Ella Doran, this print is intended to capture texture and sunlight on solid architectural surfaces and adds a touch of glamour to smaller spaces without the bulk of using actual stone.
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David Umemoto’s scaled down Brutalist city scapes

Based in Montreal, architect and sculptor David Umemoto has created a number of Brutalist cubic volumes and sculptures. The forms, which derive from Brutalist principles, have been amalgamated in one work as part of a three-dimensional tessellating cube. When disassembled, the forms clearly resemble architectural elements and spaces. They can then be rearranged in any manner of compositions to create a series of both additive and subtractive volumes. Subsequently, Umemoto has repeated this process in some cases to generate modular city-scapes. Speaking of his work, Umemoto said: "This scalable modular building system is based on the theory that there is a universal order. Molecules, cycles, ecosystems, the order is the norm and chaos an accident." "Everything is connected, organized and structured; it is only a matter of place, time and scale. Thus, we can speak of a cellular system rather than modular elements that not only can be interchanged but also transformed. They obey rules in a rigid frame but with an organic development." In terms of process, the forms were created by Umemoto as reliefs using styrofoam as a placeholder for the concrete. Here the concrete, when wet, inhibits the space left within the styrofoam and once dry, can simply be removed to reveal the negative of the styrofoam form. Umemoto hasn't just used this technique for volumetric purposes, either. In one instance, a pattern using a more complex array of curves was carved onto a styrofoam sheet and impressed onto the concrete. "The work is an exploration of the patterns and codes, sometimes obvious, sometimes obscure, that govern our environment," said Umemoto.
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This online game gives you the chance to deface Corbu’s iconic Villa Savoye

Modernism made you mad? One remedy might be smashing your Lego model of Villa Savoye into tiny pieces. If you don't have such a model handy, there's now a virtual solution to defacing Corbu with an online game called Le Petit Architecte. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nG2tOD7Ts0 Creating an “absolute architectural masterpiece” is no mean feat, but that is what players of Le Petit Architecte are tasked with achieving. In the game, you play as an intern attempting to "improve" Le Corbusier's design for the Villa Savoye, situated just East of Paris in real life. The game comes at just over 50 years after Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris' (Le Corbusier's) death which has meant that copyright in the majority of European countries (but not the U.S.) covering his work is no longer valid. Theo Triantafyllidis, a student at UCLA was one of the first to take full advantage of this. Naturally, he came to the conclusion that the first thing anyone would want to do to the Villa Savoye, if given the opportunity, would be to chuck a seemingly endless amount of objects at the house. Each object, of course, has its own sound effect which bears no relevance to its purpose size or shape or life form. An equally odd (and also perfectly befitting) soundtrack accompanies the game. The game was showcased at the #Decorbuziers exhibition in Athens, Greece late last year (on the 50th anniversary of Corbusier's death). Allison Meier at Hyperallergic succinctly stated: "Le Petit Architecte is a fairly simple game — create chaos in the face of modernist serenity. Yet it’s an enjoyably absurd diversion, and provides some digital retribution perhaps for those of us who still cringe over Le Corbusier’s mural defacement of Eileen Gray’s E.1027."
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Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes closed indefinitely amid safety concerns

The Mitchell Park Domes have been an iconic and well-loved part of the Milwaukee skyline for several generations.  As of February 9th, the Domes are closed to the public amidst reports of falling concrete, and their future is unknown. Built in stages between 1959 and 1967, the three domes were designed by local architect Donald Grieb, who took inspiration from a contemporary architect and engineer, Buckminster Fuller. Fuller’s office declined to partner with Grieb, noting that they did not want to alter the design of the structures they were working on. At the Mitchell Domes, Grieb made two important innovations to typical geodesic domes of the period. First, they are considered to be the first conoidal glass domes ever built – meaning they have an elongated vertical axis (140 feet in diameter and 85 feet high), making them proportionally taller than typical half-spherical domes. Second, the substructure was made of reinforced precast concrete – as opposed to bare steel or aluminum components. The domes were built in the age some important technological advancements in concrete, and one in which the likes of Le Corbusier and Eero Saarinen were creating innovative forms out of the material. The structural ribbing consists of cast on site steel reinforced concrete units. These members are welded to steel plates, also encased in concrete, which give a monolithic appearance from the inside. Over the top of each dome is a triangulated aluminum and glass skin, connected to the concrete frame by stainless steel hubs. One disadvantage of this uninsulated concrete structure is its susceptibility to water. Water working its way into cracks in concrete, corroding its steel reinforcement, has caused expansion and spalling. The glass skin on each Dome is designed to be watertight and has an internal drainage system for condensation, yet with age water has found its way into any building – through cracks in the glass and clogged drains. The Tropical Dome maintains 80 degrees and 85 percent humidity, putting the concrete at risk from the beginning. Since 1994, the domes have undergone numerous repairs and renovations. In 2008 a major renovation involved remodeling the lobby, replacement of hundreds of cracked glass panels, and the addition internal lighting that gave the structures a more defining presence at nighttime. Milwaukee County, the owner of the domes, spent $200,000 on concrete repairs in the Tropical dome between 2013 and 2014, and in 2015 had flagged another $500,000 for a structural study and to install protective nets.  Local engineering consulting firm GRAEF USA was hired to analyze the existing structure and propose a fix. The severity of the crumbling concrete led to the closing of the Arid Dome on January 28th. A week later, the County made the decision to close the domes indefinitely, until short term and long term solutions can be evaluated. According to County Executive Chris Abele, the long term recommendation is for a complete reconstruction of the three domes, at an estimated cost between $65–75 Million. The proposed short term fix involves wrapping thousands of concrete members to contain spalled concrete, which has been reported to be as large as a man’s hand. Milwaukee County has reason to take major precautions with its infrastructure. In 2010, a massive concrete slab fell from the entrance to the County-owned O’Donnell parking structure, killing a 15-year-old boy and injuring two others. The Milwaukee County Board has announced a Public Hearing on February 24th to discuss the future of the domes. In the meantime, the issue was quick to become politicized in the upcoming race for County Executive, as Chris Abele’s challenger blames him for not investing in the city’s public infrastructure.
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Two groups renew the effort to save the all-concrete Miami Marine Stadium

Can decay on the Bay be forestalled? In 2014, a local group floated the idea of murals, and now, two nonprofits, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Dade Heritage Trust, are renewing efforts to restore the Miami Marine Stadium on Biscayne Bay. Shuttered since 1992, both organizations have had their eyes on saving the seaside stadium for years. The National Trust listed the structure, built in 1963, on its annual 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2009, and declared it a National Treasure three years later. In a bid to cement its preservation in perpetuity, the stadium has been nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. If approved, the cost of the restoration would be reduced by $6 million, as the project would qualify for federal historic tax credits. To introduce attendees to the preservation cause, the Dade Trust and the National Trust will run an information kiosk at the Miami International Boat Show, in Virginia Key, from February 11 to 15. A petition that circulating there and online asks City of Miami commissioners to prioritize the stadium's restoration this year. Already, the city has created an advisory committee to decide on future directions for Virginia Key, which includes the restoration and reopening of the stadium. An RFQ for engineering and architectural services for the stadium is out, and so far Miami has spent more than $20 million on restoring land around the stadium. Designed by Hilario Candela, a 27 year old Cuban architect, the all-concrete, 6,566 seat stadium was built to watch speedboat races. The roof, as long as a football field, was the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when it was built. The folded plate roof is anchored by eight concrete columns set back as far as physics would allow to afford almost unimpeded views of the bay. To draw attention to their cause and highlight the stadium's design, the National Trust will project vintage stadium footage in the evenings onto the structure this Friday through Sunday.