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 Design Blog Posts for Week of Sept. 30, 2013

Local swapping. Collaboration at Sasaki. Perkins + Will dismisses the fridge + microwave. BUILD's guide for celebrities aspiring to be architects. 131007

Swapping local. In Sarasota and other communities across the country, swappers leave their wallets at home and gather to share homemade goods that require an investment of special skills, time and energy to produce.

The food swap movement combines old-fashioned resourcefulness with a community-oriented philosophy and modern-day sensibilities to elevate the practice of "shopping local'' to an entirely new level: Swapping local.

Via CEOs for Cities


Collaboration in action. Sasaki Associates shares a fun video on what it looks like for their team to collaborate on a project.

Sasaki’s work on in Alachua County in north central Florida is a prime example of how the team collaborates: The team invited the entire firm to contribute, generating layers of innovative planning and design solutions for client Envision Alachua with all disciplines —planning, urban design, landscape, architecture, ecology, economics, and politics.

Via Sasaki Blog


Farewell microwave and fridge. David Damon, who leads Perkins+Will’s Residential Life practice, discusses Bridgewater State University’s newest residence hall, George A. Weygand Hall, which incorporates many sustainable strategies, one of which may come as a surprise to new students: the classic micro fridge and the personal microwave are no longer found in students’ rooms. 

Over the past two years, Perkins+Will has been working with the University to create a dynamic environment where students can have a new kind of interaction on campus that pushes the boundaries of sustainability. Shared refrigerators and microwaves are located in public areas on each floor of the building. It’s one thing to design an energy-saving, green-loving, tempered-by-the-earth building – it’s another thing to operate it to its fullest potential.

Via Ideas + Perspectives


Glamorous architects. As Kayne West joins Brad Pitt in the ranks of celebrity architects, BUILD shares their “Famous Person’s 5-Step Guide to Becoming an Architect.

  1. Your new wardrobe budget is $175.
  2. Your personability is too personal.
  3. Dumb-down your life experiences.
  4. You’re still too young.
  5. Less bling, more books.

Via BUILD Blog


Social Media and Publishing

The basics on book covers. Suw Charman-Anderson of Forbes gives the skinny on book covers and social media. What traditional book authors have included web site and social media network links such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on their book covers? Not as many as you would think.

Via Forbes



Top 4 Architecture and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of Sept. 23, 2013

Book reviews of the newest new media book (for designers+ builders) and A Country of Cities.Chis Choa, the documentary critic. Lake|Flato's lick list. 130930

Brave new media. James Moore, International Director of Planning at HDR Architecture, discusses Steve Mouzon’s new ebook  New Media for Designers and Builders, which looks to show how social media tools can help us not only survive, but thrive in a brave new world of design and development.

“Steve is an articulate, enthusiastic, passionate man with a graceful, easy-to-read writing style. An accomplished architect, photographer and author, he makes much of his work available online (  His technological expertise comes through extensive trial and error with almost every form of social media.” – James Moore

Via Blink Perspective

Book site:


Lick list. Josh Nieves of Lake Flato talks about how some architecture is so compelling, he wants to lick it to have a more complete experience of it.

Nieves ventures to Dallas and Fort Worth to see three museums to add to his “lick list:” Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Perot Museum.

Via The Dogrun


Cities and people. Chris Choa, a principal in AECOM’s Master planning + Urban Design practice, examines the film “The Human Scale,” a documentary that looks at how cities are better off when they put more thought into how pedestrians move throughout them.

“The Human Scale remains relatively quiet about the profound transformations due to the increasing globalization of cities. The film also focuses heavily on the physical sensations of the city but is silent about the advent of new virtual worlds enabled by social networking; this is unexplored territory that could provide other opportunities for the creation of more resilient, human-focused environments.” – Chris Choa

Via Connected Cities Blog


Urban America. Jose Luis Gabriel Cruz examines the book A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America by Vishaan Chakrabarti that was presented at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. The book looks at how architects, developers, and planners must lead a movement for a more urban America, a condition Chakrabarti equates to a better environment and economy leading to increased social-equity.

Chakrabarti makes a case for the benefits of investing efforts in a development strategy that is based on dense cities. By identifying issues in modern infrastructures, current city planning policies, and paradigms within the design and construction fields, a new urban landscape is on its way.

Via Metropolis Magazine POV


Innovative Social Media

Milestone celebration. In October, National Geographic Magazine celebrates 125 years with a photo blog and photo-based social engagement platform as it seeks new ways to document the world and interact with readers. The photo blog, Proof, was launched "to engage ongoing conversations about photography, art, and journalism" and promises "new avenues for our audience to get a behind-the-scenes look at the National Geographic storytelling process. "National Geographic says it will invite photo enthusiasts to submit images and participate in an inaugural digital assignment for the magazine as part of its newly designed photosharing-based community engagement platform, Your Shot.

Via Clickz

Proof Blog:

Your Shot:



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