Top 4 Architecture and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of Oct. 21, 2013

Making places by MIT. Self-help urbanism. HOK (with Biomimicry 3.8) on generous cities. Parks and the shape of cities. Social media comfort for a dying man.  131029

Importance of placemaking. The Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has released a white paper Places in the Making, which casts aside the idea of the monolithic expert, and argues for the importance of placemaking as a vital part of community-building.

The white paper highlights the importance of people in defining place, a critical aspect that is all too often forgotten by those in architecture, planning, and other related disciplines.  “The intense focus on place has caused us to miss the opportunity to discuss community, process, and the act of making,” the paper says.

Via Project for Public Spaces Blog


Self-help urbanism. Alissa Walker of Gizmodo discusses findings of the Participatory City: 100 Urban Trends from the BMW Guggenheim Lab, which explores the major themes and ideas that emerged from the Lab during its travels to New York, Berlin, and Mumbai from 2011 to 2013.

“Due to the influx of people moving back from the suburbs, or perhaps because of the urban dwellers who are choosing to stay put, all of a sudden we seem to feel like we need more direction when it comes to how to live in these cities. We're looking for assistance—from advice (apps) to group therapy (conferences)—to deal with the perils of contemporary urban life.” – Alissa Walker

Via Gizmodo


Generous cities. As our collective desire to live in cities increases, developers in India and China have embarked on ambitious projects aimed at promoting interactivity between people and the environment by creating “generous cities, ” which is when a natural setting guides designers as they integrate environmental, social and economic systems.

HOK's Fully Integrated Thinking (FIT) tool, which was created with Biomimicry 3.8, enables designers to inform their decision-making by crunching data from 15 categories to determine a city’s characteristics.

Via Fast Company Coexist


Shaping American cities. The Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.: Inspirations for the 21st Century symposium held in Washington, D.C., looks at Olmsted Jr.’s continuing contribution to contemporary park systems and interconnected parkways as the landscape architect helped to systematize a new approach to municipal park and recreation planning.

Louisville, Kentucky, and Birmingham, Alabama, have ambitiously expanded upon their Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.-designed park systems in ways that both reinforce this designer’s legacy and provide lessons for other communities.  Olmsted Jr. provided a finer grain of public amenity by way of community and neighborhood parks, recreation grounds, and squares.

Via The Dirt


Innovative Social Media

Strangers comfort dying man. After learning his father had terminal lung cancer, Brandon Curtis launched #SkyBluePink, a personal campaign that provides Brian Curtis with cards, tweets and photos during his illness. More than 3,500 strangers have helped to comfort Brian. The success of #SkyBluePink is a reminder that people still care, and that social platforms have the potential to bring the world together, one retweet, like, comment, and share at a time.

Via Mashable





Top 4 Blog Posts for Architecture and Urbanism

HDR on art-filled spaces. P+W discusses disabilities and design. Summer reading with SPUR Rugged history from Preservation. Nature's mutualism.


 Art filled spaces. Michael McManus, communications specialist at HDR Architecture, writes about the new HDR expansion of MultiCare Health System’s Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center in Tacoma, WA,

For the art program, designers from HDR and Bainbridge  worked with the client, an art committee, and an art broker to commission works of art by local Tacoma artists. “The artists were tasked with creating pieces that reflect Washington’s Puget Sound. The Puget Sound, which is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, is home to a wealth of coastal life, from the giant pacific octopus to curious seals and an abundance of Orcas. Each piece that was placed in the hospital captures the innate wonder of marine life.” – Michael McManus

Via Blink Perspective


Disabilities and design. Bill Schmalz and Bruce Toman of Perkins + Will, examine accommodations for those with physical disabilities and how this affects design.

For those who aren’t disabled, the temporarily-able bodied, “we don’t know when accessible design will help us, but at some point in our lives, it probably will.

That’s the attitude we should take when we design. Rather than reluctantly complying with codes and standards, or charitably giving “those disabled people” a break, let’s take the selfish approach: we’re designing accessible spaces for ourselves” – Bill Schmalz and Bruce Toman

Via Ideas  + Perspective


Favorite urbanism reads. SPUR, an organization that’s dedicated to ideas and action for a better city, provides a summer reading list of its favorite books on urban planning and policy.

Jeff Speck’s Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time, will be discussed during SPUR Reads, a book discussion series launching in San Jose this summer.



Historic with rugged charm. Lauren Walser, field editor at Preservation magazine, discusses a visit to the historic restaurant Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas, California.

While the historic building has been a restaurant for many years, current owner Ann Graham Ehringer purchased it in the early 1990s and revived much of the interior. Her approach has been one dedicated to continual maintenance, making repairs to the historic structure, ensuring the space always feels welcoming and has been a preservation steward of the property.

Via Preservation Nation Blog


Biomimicry and urban design. Biomimicry 3.8 hosted the 7th Annual Biomimicry Education Summit and first Global Conference in Boston this past weekend, keynoted by Biomimicry 3.8 cofounder Janine Beynus.

Benyus proposed a shift in thinking about how nature's communities function, arguing that mutualism, not competition, is the driving force in nature. "Together is better," she said, adding that building mutually beneficial relationships will ultimately result in surplus, not scarcity.

Via Treehugger






Top Four Architecture and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of May 27, 2013

Gensler, building for speed. Finding insight outside. School news by HMC. Lake|Flato on reinvigorating a coastline. Video contest for a free conference on biomimicry. 130603


Built for speed. Arlyn Vogelmann, Principal and Director of Gensler Boston’s Consulting and Workplace practices, discusses how the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, the world’s fastest racing car, is similar to Staples’ new Velocity Lab, an e-commerce innovation center located in the tech hub of Kendall Square in Boston.

The Velocity Lab’s singular purpose is to move at the speed of innovation. With its street-level exposure, bold graphics, and startup feel, the Velocity Lab acts a brand beacon, capturing the energy and excitement of the area while leveraging local amenities to attract top talent. An open work environment at the Velocity Lab is punctuated with collaborative meeting spaces and writeable walls throughout, fostering communication among diverse groups and supporting breakthrough ideas.

Via Gensleron Cities


Finding insights outside. Erin Leitch writes that going outside and spending time in nature triggers a cognitive shift that transitions people from distracted and linear know-it-alls to focused and inquisitive systems thinkers.

Dayna Baumeister, cofounder of Biomimicry 3.8, has been bringing clients out into wild places for the last 15 years as part of the bio-inspired design methodology. Check out some ideas from the biomimicry design methodology for planning a team meeting outside.

Via Metropolis Magazine POV

Related: Biomimicry Education Summit and Global Conference


News on school. HMC Architects has published the latest trends in K–12 education, which includes information on how to provide the best learning environments for your students, market trends and how local GO bonds make a difference.

The School News discusses workshops that were created to help schools and building team members understand one another.  A client outreach “Market Survey” was conducted to better comprehend the trends affecting the K–12 market in California.  Lastly, school districts need to be aware of the importance for districts to realize that successful campaigns do not just happen on their own.

Via HMC Architects Blog


Reinvigorating our coastline. Corey Leaman of Lake|Flato discusses her visit to the Texas coastal town of Freeport, a hub for the chemical industry that lacks economic diversity and regionally appropriate architecture.

Leaman asks is “architecture irrelevant without an economy to support it, or can it instead be the instigator that helps promote development in a city?” “What part can architecture play in creating a more diverse economy and building regionally appropriate structures that withstand the increasingly dangerous force of nature?”

Via The Dogrun


Video Contest for Biomimicry Summit and Global Conference

Video contest. If you are interested in attending the Biomimicry Summit and Global Conference in Boston on June 21-23, you have a chance to win a free pass to the event. Simply make a 60-second video that answers the question: What challenge would you like to see biomimicry solve?

The Biomimicry Summit and Global Conference will explore how biomimicry will shape innovation and education, and highlight the new science in community resilience, 3D printing and economic development.

Via Biomimicry 3.8