Top Four Architecture and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of July 29, 2013

Gensler's campus of the future. An Olin incremental public realm. The meaning of life according to Perkins+Will. Placemakers on the simplicity of a cottage.


Campus of the future. David Broz of Gensler writes about the “Future of the University,” focusing on the urban renaissance that has been occurring over the past few years and what the university will look like in the future.

Broz, who co-presented at the World Futures Society in Chicago with Dr. Cindy Frewen Wuellner, discusses how a leader at Xerox Corps Palo Alto Innovation Center predicted in 1975 we would be paperless in the office environment by 1995, and how digital technology is redefining higher education.

Via Gensleron Cities


Incremental public realm. The Schuylkill Banks in Philadelphia represents an important example of the power of incremental landscape infrastructure.

The armature, created by a simple paved path, has led to impactful offshoots and a networked public realm where previously there was none. The park is a prime example of the ability of landscape to provide socio-cultural value while simultaneously jump starting a powerful economic engine.

Via OLIN Studio Blog


The meaning of life. Joan Blumenfeld, Global Interior Design Director for Perkins+Will, explores the search for the meaning of life, and whether you are an architect or scientist, the process of design is our search for the true story.

“We start with what seems to be a set of random circumstances and try to hear the music of the spheres hidden within the chaos of white noise. Does it matter if the story is at least partially a fabrication cobbled together from bits and pieces? Through the strange and difficult alchemy of the design process, we create something that contains an order and a meaning that is an amalgam of what was before, that is better than what was before and that is unique. It is in the beauty of that story that we can find a personal truth.” – Joan Blumenfeld

Via Ideas + Buildings


Cottage simplicity. Hazel Borys of PlaceMakers, examines the idea of keeping it simple as she spends time at Victoria Beach, a cottage community in Manitoba, Canada.

Victoria Beach has a dirt street grid and very simple architecture on the town square, and most of the lots are not cleared keeping the costs lower and privacy higher. “The architecture of the town’s commercial buildings is nothing like anyone in my firm — or probably any of you — would design. And yet this place is so beloved that it is no longer affordable enough for me to want to buy here.” – Hazel Borys

Via PlaceMakers Blog


Innovative Social Media Campaign

Tampon marketing gets real for social media. HelloFlo, a monthly tampon delivery service, launched a new video promotional video about a tween who got her period before other girls at camp.  The humorous video, which was posted on July 29, got nearly 2.5 million views on YouTube and temporarily shut down the HelloFlo website.

Via NPR Blog


Top Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of June 3, 2013

An Olin restorative landscape. Array on Tech's influence on healthcare. Perfect shot from Stantec. Treehugger gets inspired by nature. 130610

Restorative landscape for Stamford. OLIN Studio looks at the history and restoration of Mill River Park in Stamford, Connecticut, a 14-acre park and river restoration by Army Corps of Engineers and park design by OLIN that took nearly a decade.

The plan aimed to achieve three primary goals: create a park that meets the recreational and civic needs of a diverse population, provide a natural habitat for native flora and fauna to flourish, and offer a vision that is economically viable, maintainable, and implementable in phases over time.

Via OLIN Studio


Technology’s influence on healthcare. Kristen Lambert, interior designer at Array Architects, recounts a panel discussion on technological innovation in healthcare at the Design Considerations for Technological Innovation in Healthcare Design in New York City.

The future of healthcare will be centered less around a hospital, and will become more integrated into daily life with the delivery of healthcare services reflecting the mobility that technology now offers us. “Our role as healthcare architects and designers now is to design clinical environments which support the new ways that people will give and receive care.” –Kristen Lambert

Via Array Architects Blog


Getting the perfect shot. Joe DiGiorgio, senior engineer at Stantec who has been taking photographs for 45 years, chronicles his day of taking the perfect photo at the grand opening of a wastewater treatment plant solids handling facility in Merced, California.

 “Photographers work to get the perfect picture… being there, scouting the right vantage point, and then watching and learning and seeing what matters and what works (and what doesn’t). The same approach serves me well as an engineer and I enjoy the times I can step back from the pure engineering calculations and appreciate the beauty of the bigger picture through these photo assignments.” – Joe DiGiorgio

Via Stantec Blog


Inspired by nature. Lloyd Alter, managing editor of Treehugger, tells you why you don’t want miss out on Biomimicry’s Education Summit and first Global Conference in Boston from June 21-23, 2013.

“We're seeing more examples of biomimicry every day. Over the years, we at TreeHugger have been watching the merging of those two ideas in our culture, as we learn from nature.

Day 1 is about Resilient Cities.

Day 2 is about the future of 3D Printing.

Day 3 will cover Biomimicry as an Emerging Discipline and Economic Development Framework.

Via Treehugger

Social Media

Grappling with viral photo. A picture recently surfaced on Facebook of a Taco Bell employee licking a bunch of tacos. While the circumstances surrounding the public display of taco shell affection are unclear, the photo went viral.  The company responded by saying the tacos were for training purposes and not intended to be served to customers. The employee and the photographer were both fired.

Via Huffington Post



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 10, 2013

Olin Studio considers the intersection of planning and landscape. Landscape Urbanism spots an app for street design. SWA acknowledges the designers of the Golden Gate Parks.  An interview with an HOK designer. A different model for design education in Metropolis POV. 130318

Intersection of planning and landscape. OLIN Studio hosted a symposium that explored the intricacies of the relationship between planning and landscape architecture.

Several issues were brought up, including whether design should be brought back into planning. Or should planning sensibility be folded into the world of design? How are these topics relevant today? The symposium focused on the following themes:

  1.  Projective Work
  2. Powerful Players
  3. Global Scale
  4. Education and Conversation
  5. Art and Instrumentality

Via The OLIN Studio Blog


App for street design. Sarah Kathleen Peck, editor of Landscape Urbanism, writes about an app that lets you place various street elements in different spaces and adjusts the Right-Of-Way to desired traffic levels.

The app was designed by Code for America graduates and launched to increase real-time engagement at community planning meetings and allow people to work collaboratively with one another as well as share and edit each other’s creations. The app can be tested at at StreetMix.Net.

Via Landscape Urbanism

Related: StreetMix


Designers of the Golden Gate Parks. Rene Bihan of SWA Group blogs about the important legacy left by the designers and stewards of the Golden Gate National Parks. The landscape architect is hosting a fundraiser for The Cultural Landscape Foundation in honor of these citizens next month.

“Our vibrant and tightly-packed North Beach neighborhood is offset by the not-too-far-away wide open spaces of the Golden Gate National Parks (GGNP) that hint at the what the city was like generations ago and what the landscape was like before there was a city. It is no accident that these spaces are still here. The GGNP of today is the collective result of generations of activists, environmentalists, lawyers, stewards, and designers. We owe these individuals a great deal.” – Rene Bihan

Via IdeaSWA blog

Related: You’re Invited! An Evening Honoring a Model for Stewardship Innovation and Design Excellence


Interview with HOK designer. Todd Bertsch, Design Director for HOK in Atlanta, Georgia, discusses what it’s like to be an architect in Atlanta and some of the projects he’s worked on.

“Practicing architecture is this incredible collision of solving technical problems, exploring philosophical ideas and expressing creativity. We have the opportunity to affect what our communities look like, how society operates and how people live. We can blend beauty and poetry to create these high-performance buildings that have a positive influence on the world. These challenges thrill me every day.” – Todd Bertsch

Via HOK Life


Different model for design education. Sherin Wing examines the graduate program at the Art Center College of Design’s Media Design Practices (MDP), which provides a unique foundation of theory and on-the-ground training. Advocates of the program hope the model will influence other design programs.

While “activist” design has been around for years, the Art Center model unites critical analysis with design skills. The goal is to provide useful solutions for people locally and abroad without being culturally reductive or condescending. Too often, designers try to reinvent social intervention in their haste to be in the vanguard of a “new” approach and school-based design projects. These can be equally misguided. The result can waste material resources, human capital and money, while reinforcing cultural assumptions about the “other.”

Via Metropolis Magazine POV