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



Weekly Design and Urban Blog Post Roundup for Week of April 29, 2013

HOK on utilizing space smartly. Cities, water, and drinking fountains. Shanley in The Dirt on protecting our coasts. Earth day, the P+W way. Social media campaign worth noting: Bare Essentials. 130506


Smart space utilization. As clients seek to use their office space effectively, Mike McKeown, a senior workplace strategist with HOK Strategic Accounts + Consulting group, looks at ways to improve the workplace experience.

McKeown makes several recommendations in approaching workplace studies such as examining goals and key performance indicators, and keeping time, technology and privacy factors in mind. “Establishing goals and KPI’s early on will help determine how long to conduct a study as well as how high-tech or low-tech you want to make your approach. In some cases the client may have data to provide you as a reference point, such as badge swipe statistics for days and times employees are coming and going.” – Mike McKeown

Via HOK Life


Urban water. Josselyn Ivanov, a landscape and urban designer in San Francisco, discusses the benefits of public water and her love of drinking fountains.

“Sources of water are inherently magical. Especially in a city, sealed in concrete, water connects us with nature, engages our senses, and physically connects us with place. Free water sources in public spaces, historically provided by philanthropists or cities themselves, were one of the major progressive steps forward for civilization.” - Josselyn Ivanov

Via Landscape Urbanism


Protecting our coasts. Kevin Shanley, CEO of SWA Group, talks about protecting our coasts in the wake of increasingly damaging storms and sea-level rise brought on by climate change.

Shanley talks about real-world lessons from Hurricane Sandy, soft green infrastructure in New York City, the impact of sea level rising and wetland parks in China.

Via The Dirt

Honoring Earth Day.  Perkins+Will celebrated Earth Day by having its offices honor the planet in different ways throughout the week.

Perkins+Will, which is committed to sustainability, is carbon neutral and actively seeks to reduce carbon emissions through green operations and has

212 LEED certified projects. Earth Day activities included planting an herb garden in the Washington, D.C., office café,  showing a slideshow that outlined several ways to minimize negative environmental impact on the climate in the Boston office, and participating in the 2013 Earth Day Rideshare in Chicago.

Via Ideas + Buildings


Innovative Social Media Campaign

Bare Escentuals' bareMinerals, kicked off its nationwide #GoBare tour on Twitter by revealing their secret indulgences for a chance to see them brought to life. The #GoBare Twitter initiative comes as the brand embarks upon its Go Bare tour, a six-month six-city tour of the U.S. that includes a "pop-up boutique-meets-lounge and a traveling team of complexion experts devoted to helping women discover their best skin ever." A camera crew will be stopping in cities across the country to surprise select Twitter users that share their secret indulgences

Via Clickz

Bare Escentuals


Top Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of April 8, 2013

Gensler on types of urban interface. Manaugh looks at Arctic instruments. Preservation Nation features church like no other. Earth day with Ayers Saint Gross and Living Classrooms. The Dirt shows the power of flowers.



Urban interface. Sarah Mathieson, an architectural assistant from the Gensler London office, discusses how the London office explored how education campuses interact with their immediate surroundings, or what they call the Urban Interface, as part of the Education Practice Area Next Gen Initiative.

The group identified a series of Urban Interface typologies that define these current and future campus trends:

  •  Suburban/Rural: Has dedicated facilities separated from the surrounding environment, allowing for multiple interactions between educators and students; establishes a clear institutional identity but offers less real estate flexibility and less accessibility if the student is off campus.
  • Urban Cluster: Offers real estate flexibility, allowing for interaction with educators and accessibility both on and off campus. As students are more dispersed, however, interactions between them are fewer, and the sense of institutional identity isn’t as strong.
  • Urban: Has dedicated facilities allowing for interactions between educators and students and is accessible on and off campus, as it is based in the community. It offers less real estate flexibility.
  • Virtual: Possesses no real estate but is accessible from anywhere. As the institutional identity is digital, it is thus not part of the greater community.
  • Global: Real estate accessible in multiple locations exports the institutional identity and allows for interactions between educators and students. This reach could be seen as diluting the offer (exclusivity).

Via Gensleron Cities


Arctic instruments. Geoff Manaugh writes about at a trip students from the University of Lund School of Architecture took to the Arctic island of Svalbard last autumn led by David Garcia.

Students flew up to visit "the far north, beyond the Polar Circle, to Svalbard, to study the growing communities affected by the melting ice cap and the large opportunities for transportation and resources that the northeast passage now offers," researching first-hand the "urban structures in the extreme cold" with Arctic instruments.

Via BLDG Blog


Historic church gets mural makeover. Graffiti artist Alex Brewer, also known as HENSE, took to Washington, D.C.’s city streets last year to transform an abandoned, historic church into a work of art.

In several weeks, HENSE dove into his imagination and conjured up the beautiful, vibrant mural that now envelopes the church.

“Most of the tools I use in my murals and paintings are the same tools I learned to use by working in the street in the early years. I use rollers, brushes, spray paint, inks, acrylics, mops, enamels, paint sprayers and other various mediums and tools… Recently I've been experimenting in treating my exterior works similarly to my paintings.”

Via Preservation Nation Blog


Living classrooms. In honor of Earth Day, 14 volunteers from Ayers Saint Gross had the unique opportunity to help build 23 floating wetlands that will be planted and launched into the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 20..

Spearheaded by Living Classrooms and Biohabitats, the project will support the city of Baltimore’s effort to make The Harbor swimmable, healthy and fishable by 2020.

Via Ayers Saint Gross Blog


Flower power. Tyler Silvestro, a master’s of landscape architecture candidate at the City College of New York (CUNY), examines the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), one of the Earth’s greenest buildings and the latest addition to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Richard Piacentini, executive director of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, says the primary drive behind the Center for Sustainable Landscapes is to function “as elegantly and efficiently as a flower.” While the merits of this approach can be questioned, the pure essentials of this poetic gesture are there.

Via The Dirt




Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of Feb. 25

Cannon tells us where science is headed. Perkins+Will on the telecommuting debate. Design schools and future cities in The Dirt. Luckett + Farley and achieving the best medical outcomes. Oreo's social media campaign extends the cookie vs. creme debate.  Untitled-1

Where is science headed? Mark Whiteley, global science and technology practice leader at Cannon Design, published the article “Top Ten Trends For Design Led Science in 2013,” in the Huffington Post, which examines the direction science and research are headed.

The article lists the following 10 trends as the key drivers for science in 2013:

  1. New Business
  2. New Cultures
  3. New Learning
  4. New Senses
  5. New Personalization
  6. New Shortages
  7. New Magnetism
  8. New Geographies
  9. New Partnerships
  10. New Spaces

Top Ten Trends For Design Led Science in 2013 via Huffington Post

Via Cannon Design Blog


The telecommute debate. Rachel Casanova of Perkins+Will writes about Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision requiring all employees to work in the office each day, exploring how it has sparked varied responses.

Many organizations believe that when people are in close physical proximity, employees establish relationships that lead to faster decision making and better results. That said, the most successful workplace designs incorporate a variety of settings and technologies that enable connection and collaboration, both locally and globally. Casanova shares some ideas that may be helpful in developing a successful workplace. This includes looking at culture, workforce management, work-life blending and collaboration.

Via Ideas+Buildings


Design school and cities. Jared Green of The Dirt looks at the role of the design academy in dealing with today’s challenges — urbanization, climate change, biodiversity loss, population growth – which was discussed in a keynote speech at the Innovative Metropolis conference.

Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) Dean Mohsen Mostafavi said that design schools “construct knowledge, conduct research, and disseminate information,” but also “advance alternative possibilities, new ideas.” In a review of how urban design and planning have evolved, Mostafavi outlined the new directions the GSD program is proposing for cities, with its drive towards new theories of landscape urbanism and ecological urbanism.

Via The Dirt


Achieving best medical outcomes. Thomas Hammer, an Associate and Senior Project Manager at Luckett + Farley, writes about Evidenced-Based Design (EBD) for healthcare, the deliberate attempt to base building decisions on the best available evidence, with the goal of achieving the best possible outcomes for patients, family and staff.

“There’s growing evidence suggesting the physical design of a healthcare environment can unintentionally contribute to negative outcomes.  However, on the other hand, a carefully choreographed EBD facility can help the patient, family and staff come together to enhance the experience, increase safety and deliver a higher quality of care.” Thomas Hammer

Via Luckett + Farley Blog


Innovative Social Media Campaign

Cookie vs. Creme. Fans of Oreo cookies often love to separate Oreo cookies, eating just the top or the creme. The company, which has been monitoring this debate on Facebook and Twitter, has turned to four inventors to create high-tech, robotic-like machines that divide the two sets of Oreo consumers. As an expansion of its "Cookie vs. Creme" campaign — which launched on Instagram earlier this month, encouraging people to share pictures — Oreo is posting videos to YouTube over the next two weeks that show an innovative way to eat the snack. With this latest effort, Oreo aims to boost its YouTube subscriber base — which totals about 9,000 — as well as engagement.

Via Mashable