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 Architecture and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of Oct. 7, 2013

HOK experiences co-working space. Why Lake|Flato rides. Designing streets for people by Arup. Gensler on sense and sensability. Ford's fantastic content marketing?  


Co-working space. Mike McKeown, a senior workplace strategist with HOK Strategic Accounts + Consulting group, talks about his first day in a co-working space and studio at WELD in Dallas.

“Seating in the open work area is first come, first served, so after my tour I grabbed an open seat and settled in. Wi-Fi access was seamless. I wasn’t sure how much work space I would have so I consciously planned to travel light. The main shared work area consists of four tables that seat four people each.” – Mike McKeown

Via HOK Life


Why we ride. Corey Squire of Lake Flato discusses how the firm supports cycling as 25% of its employees regularly bike to work and those who do receive a $30 per month.

“Cycling is probably the greatest force for good in America today. Bicycle commuting can improve heath, lessen congestion, provide cleaner air, and promote safer and friendlier communities. Studies have shown that children who bike to school score better on tests and have an easier time focusing.” – Corey Squire

Via The Dogrun


Design streets for people. Ryan Falconer, a transportation planner based in Arup's Perth, Australia, office explores how cities need to encourage people to meet, socialize and engage in business so streets must be designed to embrace these.

In Perth and Melbourne, city leaders are collaborating with urban designers to develop blueprints for redesigning urban spaces and city streets for people. The Cheonggyechen project in Seoul, South Korea, has seen an elevated freeway replaced with a retreated waterway and active transport and leisure corridor.

Via Arup Thoughts


Sense and sensibility. Maeve Larkin, a member of Gensler London’s Retail and Hospitality team, explores how good interior design evokes the senses to forward a brand message in the second part of a two-part series.

Larkin examines scent, sound and taste:

  • Scent is an extremely important sense because it is wired to the emotion-processing part of the brain.
  • Sound is probably the third most considered sense after sight and touch. The fact that music has the ability to affect the mood of customers is something designers tend to use to their advantage.
  • Taste is a sense which is not applicable to most retail environments. When you think of a high-end fashion boutique or a sports store, the last thing you’d expect to find is an incorporated café.

Via Gensler on Lifestyle


Innovative Social Media

Brand ambassador tool. [Is this where content marketing is heading?] Ford Motor has created a portal called ConnectFord where Ford can share articles, videos, events, and other information that a company might normally share through PR.  ConnectFord gives bloggers a chance to get information coming directly from Ford, and not just press releases. ConnectFord is a "brand ambassador" program tool, an influencer management tool, and a content marketing tool and also allows people to share blogs, articles, or other content with Ford.

Via Social Media Today


Top 4 Architecture and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of Sept. 16, 2013

Olin Studio's hope for Philly schoolyards. Dance and arts face off with blight. HOK implores architects to embrace biomimicry. High Line catalyzes spread of public art. Social media spreads a hero's story.  130924

Transforming an urban schoolyard. Jennifer Martel, senior landscape architect for OLIN Studio, talks about her interest with the plight of urban schoolyards, and discusses a grant given to the Henry C. Lea School in West Philadelphia to install green stormwater infrastructure on its schoolyard.

This grant, one of two awarded to public schools in Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Water Department, will help to pay for large rain gardens, curb bump-outs, and an infiltration basin under a new basketball court. The hope is that these moves will catalyze the transformation of nearly an acre of asphalt into a vibrant, fun, ecological and educational green space for students and the community.

Via OLIN Studio


Creative placemaking reframes cities. Sheena Lyonnais, managing editor of Yonge Street, examines how the arts are revitalizing neighborhoods and boosting economies across the country.

Denver dance company Wonderbound moved into an old used car dealership near central downtown, a blighted property that was surrounded by three homeless missions and a notorious park crawling with drug dealers. Wonderbound, who’s mission is to transform the building into a hub for artists to rehearse and perform, turned the building into Junction Box. Passersby stop to watch dancers perform through large open garage doors.

Via CEOs for Cities


Emulating earth’s creatures. Thomas Knittel, a senior principal – design in HOK’s Los Angeles studio, looks at how architects can bridge the gap between the built and natural environments through biomimicry, an emerging field of study urging emulation of naturally occurring principles and processes.

Designers and architects at HOK, have been collaborating with Biomimicry 3.8 biologists for several years. They work together to determine what ecologies of place can tell us about the way we design, build and interact so we can offset the impact of our buildings. “This new design approach could do more than change the way our cities look and feel. It can change the way we view ourselves in relation to the Earth. Rather than remaining part of the problem, architects have the power to lead this dramatic shift in perspective and move us closer to a new sustainable future.” – Thomas Knittel

Via HOK Life


Public art on the High Line. The High Line has been adding interesting art along its length and on the billboards facing the linear park. Public art seems to be spreading outwards into neighboring Chelsea, a long-time destination for pricey galleries.

One exhibition is a former gas station on 10th Avenue that has been turned into Sheep Station, a surrealist sculptural landscape. The sheep were created by French artist François-xavier Lalannen, who died in 2008. This piece is the largest collection of Lalanne’s iconic “moutons.”

Via The Dirt


Social Media

Hailed a hero. A Minnesota Dairy Queen manager has been swarmed with dozens of offers, hundreds of comments and an influx of business and hundreds of phone calls – including one from Warren Buffett, after a story about his courageous defense of a blind man went viral on Reddit. Joey Prusak saw a woman steal $20 from a blind customer at the Dairy Queen where he works. So he gave the man his own cash. An impressed customer wrote about the incident in an email, which was printed out and stuck up on the Dairy Queen's wall — and then it went viral.

Via CBS Minnesota



Top Four Architecture and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of Aug. 12, 2013

HOK celebrates kiosks. A healing space by P+W. BUILD shows how it draws on a site. MGA offers some guidance. Seattle police, tweets and munchies.  130819


Celebrating Kiosk Museum. HOK participated in the grand opening of the Kiosk Museum in downtown San Francisco on July 24, which has been in the works for nearly a year.

The HOK team designed the case and led the installation of the street museum. The final product is a walk up museum located on the street that is accessible to anyone.

Via HOK Life


A healing space. Perkins + Will has launched a video about Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital that showcases a facility that promotes healing and addresses the needs of the widest possible audience.

The design of the building is highly innovative, and is an inspirational place to do rehabilitation and encourage movement. All of the architects used a wheelchair at the old facility to understand the use of wheelchairs and accessibility.

Via Ideas + Perspectives


Drawing on the site. BUILD discusses streamlining its design and building process by marking the construction site with the light fixture locations, a helpful exercise for architects as they see firsthand how the final build will come together at full scale.

Here are the top 5 things BUILD has learned along the way:

  1. Know your clearances
  2. Alignment is key
  3. Use it as a final check
  4. It’s about the experience
  5. Bring the right tools

Via BUILD Blog


Guiding principles for success. Industrial Brand talks to Michael Green, TED speaker and advocate for wooden tall buildings, about marketing for Michael Green Architecture (MGA) and architecture firms in general.

Green says one of the main contributors to MGA’s success is its authentic and relatable motives. MGA has a benevolent reason why it does what it does that goes far beyond growth or profits. The beliefs and values of MGA’s brand are really what attracts people, stakeholders, and potential clients. When people perceive these traits, agree with them, and see they’d enjoy working with MGA, a long term relationship is already in the works.

Via Industrial Brand Blog


Innovative Social Media Campaign

Seattle police live-tweet Doritos. Seattle Police Department used social media for two-way communication for Hempfest, the largest celebration of the pot culture. To educate citizens about the new laws, officers from the police department handed out bags of Doritos at the festival.

The bags of chips included a message with "dos and don'ts" of the new law and a link to the department's educational blog post, and humorous #OperationOrangeFingers tweets before the event and live-tweeting until the giveaway.

Via Forbes


Top 5 Blog Posts for Week of July 22, 2013

BNIM on a Kansas City Streetcar. Lake|Flato and the Boy Scouts Jamboree. AECOM notes on the Venice Biennale. HOK, biomimicry, and the Mint Museum. Data vs. delight by NBBJ.


Streetcar in Kansas City. Kansas City has not seen a streetcar since 1957, but BNIM’s proposed “streetcar starter line,” would be a reintroduction of it.

BNIM’s work on the streetcar and light rail expansion will capture the initial momentum set forth by the streetcar for an entire new generation of users. While the region has considered light rail for decades, this project builds upon the foundation of recent success downtown.

Via BNIM Blog


New home for Boy Scouts. Matt Morris of Lake Flato discusses his visit to the new Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia for the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.

The main purpose of the trip was to check out the Scott Visitor Center, which is currently under construction. The center will have a new dance porch that will host exhibits about the site, scouting and West Virginia. Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts have taken it over as a “patch trading” hub, a huge pastime in scouting where scouts set up under trees and along trails.

Via The Dogrun


Notes from the Venice Biennale. Daniel Elsea of AECOM writes about attending the vernissage of this year’s Venice Biennale held in June, an opening week of events, openings and parties that bring together the good and the great of the art world.

“For those of us who work in city-making, seeing one of the world’s most iconic cityscapes transformed into a contemporary art gallery – en masse – is a brilliant phenomenon. As it has for many decades, art today twists and turns notions of beauty; if often shocks; it overturns assumptions and it comes in dynamic forms – encompassing not just painting and sculpture, but architecture, video, sound, spoken word and performance, and three-dimensional media. It comments on the human condition today, reflecting anxieties and distorting realities. It requires an open mind.” – Daniel Elsea

Via AECOM’s Connected Cities blog


Museum inspired by biomimicry. Paul Wolford, design director in HOK’s San Francisco office, talks about how biomimicry inspired the vision for the San Francisco Museum at the Mint adaptive reuse project, which will be one of the country’s most environmentally innovative museums.

“When the city was founded in the 19th century, the San Francisco Bay’s edge and marshland area were just a few hundred feet from where the historic Old Mint building sits today. We suggested a design idea that incorporates lessons from the local biome while creating new ways to collect and store water.” – Paul Wolford

Via HOK Life


Future of workplace. NBBJ held its first salon event, Data vs. Delight, in partnership with Bloomberg Beta, to explore the changing dynamics of workplace design with the advent of big data.

Topics discussed included: What role does big data play in workplace design now that there is more of it and it’s easier to process than ever before? What degree do designers, who have typically relied on intuition to create space,a implement the technology into their practice? Is a physical office needed with more new technologies?

Via NBBJ Blog