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


Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of April 1, 2013

BNIM's collaboration stage. Lake|Flato on the Evolution of air barns. Stantec sees common ground in ski areas and airports. Placemakers on mixed use. Innovations in education with LPA.



Setting the stage for collaboration. BNIM staff attended the firm’s annual Symposium, opting for “family” conversation that encouraged informal dialogue instead of traditional breakout sessions.

The Symposium discussions focused on five issues, with individual participants tapped to write editorials on the issues for the blog. Joe Keal starts off with the topic of collaboration:

“As design professionals, collaboration is inevitable. In many instances, we have colleagues that we have successfully coexisted with over a span of many years – working to establish trust, respect and a great deal of mind-reading. In other instances, we are looking for peers and mentors that inspire us, or do amazing work, or utilize processes that blow our minds. If we are not doing this… well, we should be.” Joe Keal

Via BNIM Blog


Evolution of air barns. Grace Boudewyns of Lake Flato discusses working on “Air Barns,”  a project that was designed to provide a habitat for a client’s string of polo ponies.

“The project started as a simple napkin sketch then evolved into a hands-on collaboration with the Contractor (Jeff Truax) and his welders during construction.  The Construction Documents were drawn by hand, on vellum, on an old drafting table that used to reside at my house.  That table now lives on as a relic of this lost art at my workspace today.” – Grace Boudewyns

Via The Dogrun


Ski areas and airports share common ground. Bruce Erickson, a senior associate at Stantec, explores how ski areas and airports have a lot in common and how planners of each property can learn from one other.

Ski areas and airports share three main “areas” from a planning perspective:

  1. Land side: Parking, shuttle, utilities etc.
  2. Air side: Runways, taxi strips, ski runs, lifts, and/or specialized maintenance equipment
  3. Inside: Base lodges and terminals

Via Stantec Blog


What is mixed use? Howard Blackson,  principal  and director of planning at Placemakers, looks at the term mixed use, which has held different meanings in various places over the past 40 years.

Blackson says mixed-use can be defined as three-dimensional, pedestrian-oriented places that layer compatible land uses, public amenities, and utilities together at various scales and intensities. This allows for people to live, work, play and shop in one place, which then becomes a destination for people from other neighborhoods.

Via PlaceMakers Blog


Innovative urban education. Kate Mraw, an associate and interior designer at LPA, continues to discuss San Diego’s e3 Civic High, a revolutionary school-within-a-library that aims to redefine the meaning of the studio. The second part of this series examines design goals and features, and as well as the administration’s emphasis on sustainable architecture and engineering.

“The design principles for the learning environment centralized around three ideas: personalization, social connections and flexibility. For learning to happen everywhere, we understood that movement mattered—regardless of the primary function, secondary uses were explored, developed and designed.” – Kate Mraw

Via LPA Blog



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 January 21, 2012

What is #2013 is to you? Resource for Design World. Perils of dismissive engagement.

Spreading ground.


What is #2013 is to you? Perkins+Will opens up the conversation to find out what the new year means for you.

Perkins+Will envisions a healthier and happier 2013,  ranging from projects such as modular classrooms that are a modern, sustainable and non-toxic solution for students anywhere to designing a women and children’s wellness center in Kenya. Join the global dialogue at #2013is.

Via Ideas + Building Blog


Resource for design world. The AIA and National Institute of Building Science (NIBS) have launched the Building Research Knowledgebase (BRIK), a site that allows design professionals both the ability to access and contribute their knowledge to a single online resource.

The Building Research Knowledgebase is available as a free tool and contains peer-reviewed research papers and case studies covering design from pre-design to post occupancy.

Via Cannon Design Blog


Perils of dismissive engagement. PlaceMakers blogs about how in the course of the public design process, practitioners are setting the stage for unfulfilled expectations by asking the question “what would you like to see here?”

Our participation is devalued when we don’t solicit the information that breeds meaningful discourse. “We need to do better. We need to more effectively play the role of psychoanalyst, drilling down to information that’s actually useful: What kinds of things would residents like to be able to do? What problems would they like mitigated? What potential byproducts of change are they afraid of? How can your city better serve you?

Via PlaceMakers


Spreading ground. Geoff Manaugh writes about Richard Mabey's "defense" of weeds, in particular the Oxford ragwort, a species native to the volcanic slopes of Sicily's Mount Etna.

Manaugh examines ragworts territorial expansion in forensic close-up which can be tracked on Google Maps.

“Within a few years the ragwort had escaped from the garden (which is sited opposite Magdalen College) and begun its westward progress along Oxford's ancient walls. Its downy seeds seemed to find an analogue of the volcanic rocks of its original home in the cracked stonework. It leap-frogged from Merton College to Corpus Christi and the august parapets of Christ Church, then wound its way through the narrow alleys of St. Aldate's.” – Richard Mabey