Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of May 6, 2013

An HDR engineer on the AEC's Gender Gap. Gensler's campaign to reimagine cities.  A focus on specific tools by Olin. BNIM on generous pragmatism. 130513



Gender gap in the AEC industry. Claire Shigekawa, an engineer at HDR Architecture, explores women in the engineering workforce, citing a Congressional Joint Economic Committee report that announced that women make up 14% of the engineering workforce.

Shigekawa cites the advantages to being female in a male dominated field, especially in hiring and professional programs, and some tips to help you have a successful career as a female.

Via Blink Perspectives


Reimagining cities. Mischa Ickstadt of Gensler discusses how the firm is launching the Reimagining Cities campaign as nearly 70 percent of the world’s population—some 6.29 billion people—will live in cities by 2050. This increases pressure to create urban centers that facilitate healthy human social interaction.

“Cities are growing into megalopolises, generating an entirely new set of challenges. Even in the established urban centers across Europe and North America, shifting economies are beginning to grow and merge into significantly larger hubs of social and business activity.” – Mischa Ickstadt

Via Gensleron Cities

Focus on specific tools. The OLIN Studio blog explores the benefit of focusing on select tools, mediums and methods-- if you spread your effort among too many interests it will be nearly impossible to find the time and attention to get traction in anything.

Landscape architects must know a multitude of things such as construction codes, human behavior, soils, plant species, sustainability, history, the arts. The tools are getting more complex and varied, and designers have very nearly reached a point where they must decide what tools they will spend their time on, and what their signature way of communicating will be.

Via The OLIN Studio Blog


Generous pragmatism. Steve McDowell of BNIM looks at how the real estate market is changing, and how meaningful innovation is key to how buildings and the building industry will transform to elevate human potential and greatly reduce environmental impact.

What a building does matters as much as how it looks. “Over the last decade, our design approach has moved from what had been mainly an intuitive process to one that is now described as intuitive — scientific — experiential.” – Steve McDowell

Via BNIM Blog


Innovative Social Media

More shoppers in Target stores. Target is rolling out Cartwheel, a service that combines social networking and discounts, to lure shoppers into its stores. The program relies on shoppers to use their Facebook accounts, but shoppers can only redeem the offers they choose in Target's stores, not online. With Cartwheel, shoppers select the deals they want online and then bring a barcode - either on paper or on a mobile phone - to a Target store to get the discounts. Shoppers can see what offers their Facebook friends have chosen, and earn more offers by having their Facebook friends sign up.

Via Huffington Post



Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of March 17, 2013

A survival guide for working moms (or parents) from Perkins+Will. Placemakers' take on Spiritual Zoning. An Array disaster preparedness plan. HDR on post-Katrina planning. Retail and walkability from Gensler. 130325


Working mom’s survival guide. Chika Sekiguchi, a senior associate with Perkins+Will’s Chicago office, talks about a women’s workshop focused on work/life integration and the trends working women are seeing in their practices.

Sekiguchi took six takeaways from the workshop to manage stress:

  1.  1. Move
  2. 2. Share
  3. 3. Unplug
  4. 4. Breathe
  5. 5. Nourish the soul
  6. 6. Practice gratitude

Via Ideas + Buildings


Spiritual zoning. Ben Brown, a principal and storyteller at Placemakers, discusses how a religious perspective can promote neighborliness and community, regardless of the actual religious tradition.

“People who identify themselves as religious may be more intolerant of others’ beliefs — just as many non-believers suspect — but they’re also more likely than people who aren’t religious to give money to strangers, help people outside their own households, and be more civically engaged.” – Ben Brown

Via PlaceMakers Blog


Disaster preparedness plan. Thomas Hudok, project Architect with Array, explores the importance of disaster preparedness at medical facilities – when a natural disaster occurs, hospitals must remain operational to support patients and staff.

The 1992 hurricane season in South Florida was a major turning point in how building codes adapted to address natural disasters. Hospitals in Florida immediately started to focus on hardening their buildings, adding emergency utilities and reviewing the Florida Building Code, which has since been rewritten to address the specific effects of tropical storms and acknowledges the critical need for medical care facilities to remain open during a storm.

Via Array Blog


Planning amiss post-Katrina. Mark Meaders, sustainable design project manager at HDR Architecture, recalls working on rebuilding homes after Hurricane Katrina and the importance of tenets of proper urban design: dense development with mixed-income units, commercial development with shopping options for the community and walkable neighborhoods.

Meaders says tenets of proper urban design are not being implemented in the Ninth Ward –  the development is similar to before Katrina causing a lack of businesses in the area. Residents have to drive 15 minutes to the grocery store and proper planning would have helped set up the area to truly grow and become a neighborhood again.

Via Blink Perspectives


Retail and walkable urbanism. Kathleen Jordan, a principal in Gensler’s New York office and leader in the firm’s Retail practice, examines today’s retail environment, and how department stores can definitely benefit from transit-oriented developments (light rail to shopping areas) coupled with walkable urbanism.

Transit-oriented developments and walkable urbanism “would signal a return to what made department stores so successful in the first place: the ability to offer convenience. After all, isn't living in an urban environment all about convenience? You walk to work; you have a million great restaurants at your disposal and world class cultural institutions at your fingertips.” – Kathleen Jordan

Via Gensleron Lifestyle




Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of February 4, 2013

Health architects an endangered species. Landscape architecture in China. Values in architecture. Tools at schools. And, social media ideas from the Girl Scouts. 130209

Health architects an endangered species. Bill Brinkman, executive vice president and marketing principal at HDR Architecture, writes on how physicians at HDR’s 5th Translational Health Science (THS) Colloquium in La Jolla, California, believe that the future of healthcare will be medical diagnostics done via wireless technology.

At the colloquium, Dr. Eric Topol said that core diagnostics typically done in a hospital can be done on a modified iPhone, which includes cardiograms and tests for blood, sweat, saliva, and urine. A microchip nanosensor smaller than a grain of sand can be put into your bloodstream and detect a heart attack a week or two before it happens -- and send a signal to your iPhone.

Via Blink Perspectives on Design


Landscape architecture in China. Landscape architecture education has come back into favor in China, and Chinese universities have established or reestablished nearly 200 landscape architecture programs in less than a decade.

Eight academics from the United States and China discuss the cultural exchange taking place between their countries and issues educators face in China as they try to build the profession there.

Via Landscape Architecture Magazine


Values in architecture. James Pfeiffer of BNIM explores themes from “Collaborating with the Public; Advocating for the Social” at Professional Practice Week in Halifax, Canada.

Pfeiffer points out some of the themes that emerged from the dialogue in Halifax:

  • Architecture is ultimately about the power of ideas to be transformative and impactful.
  • Architecture is a social driver:  its role is sometimes more about designing a social mix (the conditions within which architecture lives) rather than simply being about bricks and mortar.
  • We can’t over tailor our buildings anymore. More and more, our structures must embody the notion of “long life, loose fit.”
  • Constraints are drivers:  we take constraints, challenge them, and reinvent.
  • We design more than just buildings:  we design pieces of the city, community and the public realm.
  • Our work should be generous and regenerative.
  • Our respective practices require time and space to release moments for speculation.
  • Authorship is less important in a current practice:  ideas belong to everyone; the best ones ultimately “win” and are integrated into our projects.

We should strive for work that embodies the idea of doing “twice as much with half as much.”

Via BNIM Blog


Tools at schools. Design studio aruliden and Bernhardt Design launched an initiative to teach eighth graders the value of design as a problem-solving tool at The School at Columbia University.

The project immersed students in the entire design process, from research to ideation to 3D modeling and the launch. What began as a simple effort to get involved in the community grew into a much larger realization that design has a role in the classroom. Check out this video to see concepts and what students gained.

Via Cannon Design Blog


Innovative Social Media

Girl Scouts embrace social media. Girl Scouts celebrated their first National Girl Scout Cookie Day, embracing Twitter, food trucks and new package design. @GirlScouts will tweet the location of its Cookie Day Truck as it makes its way through New York City, staffed with Girl Scouts selling thin mints and other favorite cookies.

Via Diners Journal Blog

Related: Girl Scouts






Favorite Blog Posts for Week of Sept. 17

Advocating for a new sustainability. Julia Hughes, an associate principal for HMC Architects, blogs about her work with sustainable justice began in 2006 with a presentation about green juvenile facilities. Out of this evolved the AIA Academy of Architects for Justice (AAJ) Sustainable Justice Committee.

The committee has developed the Green Guide to Justice, which is designed to serve as a voluntary educational tool for early adopters of sustainable design, construction, and operations practices, and to encourage continuous improvement in the justice sector, continued leadership, and increased rigor associated with creating high performance justice environments.

Via HMC Architects Blog

Green Guide to Justice, via AIA Knowledge Network

Millennials leaving small towns. Brittany Shoot, who resides in the Bay Area, discusses her guilt on leaving her small hometown of Anderson, Indiana, and how most of her friends in the Bay Area come from small towns.

“It’s easy to find people who will sneeringly complain about how trapped they felt as teenagers. It’s harder to talk about our nuanced realizations that in such dire economic times, maybe we just got extraordinarily lucky.” –Brittany Shoot

Via The Atlantic Cities

Swiss Cakes and Shasta.  Doug Windall, president of HDR architecture, blogs about his love for junk food as HDR rolls out a wellness program for employees.

While Windall reminisces about his deep fondness for Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, he encourages people to enjoy the great things in life, but “never to the point that the great becomes ordinary. Too much of anything can take away the thrill (and in the case of junk food, put on the pounds).’’

Via Blink – Perspectives on Design Blog

Flying bicyclists. London Mayor Boris Johnson is seriously considering developing SkyCycle, a concept by landscape architect Sam Martin that proposes a network of elevated cycled paths between London’s main tube stations.

The SkyCycle would transform unused elevated rail lines and also include new infrastructure. Martin, who is director of Exterior Architecture, is already developing feasibility studies for a few open-air tunnels, which would be sided in glass or plastic. If all goes well, the sky-highways could be open by 2015.

Via The Dirt

Innovative Social Media

Favorite drinking fountains. Josselyn Ivanov of SWA blogged about how she loves drinking fountains, and how they are important as they are small urban elements that have an outsized impact, enhancing people’s lives or modifying users’ behavior in surprising ways.

Ivanov held a weekly quiz on SWA’s Facebook page featuring some of her favorite drinking fountains from around the world – people had to guess where the fountain was located.  WNPR found her articles and asked her to be part of their radio show called “For The Love of Fountains.”

WNPR http://www.yourpublicmedia.org/node/21908

SWA Social Impact Blog