Top Design and Urbanism Posts for March 3, 2013

HMC's world-changing innovation. BNIM teaches kids about water. A Stantec POV on urban or suburban. Catapult Design on understanding others to understand yourself. 130311

Innovation to change the world. Steve Prince, managing principal at HMC Architects, discusses the video “Making of the Social Rules Project” spearheaded by Professor Paul Steinberg, which was made in part with a $5,000 grant awarded for an innovative environmental sustainability education initiative to Harvey Mudd College from the Design Futures Foundation.

Prince interviews Steinberg on how the project came to fruition and the next steps for the video.

“The Social Rules Project itself grew organically–first as a book for the general public, then an idea for an animated film, and eventually a video game and social media website. There came a point when, with 100 students busily working on these various projects, we realized that we’d better start documenting this remarkable collaboration on film.” – Paul Steinberg

Via HMC Architects Blog


Educating kids on water. BNIM works with consultant Chris Becicka to create a curriculum for the classroom on Kansas City’s stormwater and how people impact it.

BNIM developed a five-day curriculum full of information and activities, putting their ideas and pictures into a book called “Stormwater KC to the Sea.” BNIM found all the materials the teachers would need, created a kit for them, and then piloted the program, first inviting teachers to a training session.

Via BNIM Blog


Urban core or suburbs? Joe Geller, vice president at Stantec, explores the challenges of urban development in the Boston area based on what the millennial generation wants.

Geller writes that be thinks Boston and similar cities will be seeing a lot more re-urbanization and densification and less focus on intensified suburban development.

“If people are in school longer, waiting longer to get married, not having as many kids, and are looking for a real urban experience, why would they move to the suburbs? Can these suburban developments continue to attract the high-tech employers that rely on that demographic to support their business if they now all want to live in the city? If one of the biggest challenges to future development is transportation, are suburban locations, with their limited public transportation and reliance on highway infrastructure, really well positioned to support this type of growth? Can these suburban developments create the buzz necessary to attract the expected 24/7 experience?” – Joe Geller

Via Stantec Blog


Understanding others to understand yourself. Tyler Valiquette, COO and cofounder of Catapult Design, examines people’s behavior and how they often resist changes to their accustomed behaviors. In order for designers and engineers, who are always addressing social issues, to be successful, they need to work on overcoming this behavior.

How do we attempt to tackle culturally instructed behavior? Valiquette says that contemporary psychological theories of behavior change tell us that people’s behaviors are based on attitudes, beliefs, and values and that changes in behavior rely on changes in these underlying attributes. “In the field of design for social impact the theories of behavior change and human-centered design converge and they both clearly indicate that an understanding of values is key: successful designs appeal to people’s values and so do successful behavioral change campaigns.” – Tyler Valiquette

Via Catapult Design Blog


spinningcogsAgents of change in AEC.  Thought leadership is a topic Walter Communications discusses frequently, and we would like to learn more about the prevalence of it within the Built Environment industry. We invite you to take our survey and let us know your thoughts on thought leadership and in return, we'll share our full report of findings with you.We are also profiling firms with noteworthy thought leadership programs -- you can view highlights of these discussions, such as the profile of the research program at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.




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



Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of Feb. 10, 2013

Advanced urbanism. Advocating for transparency. Playful design. Good night at a hotel. Twitter steals some hearts.



Advanced urbanism. Two MIT professors of architecture, urban design and landscape architecture are proposing a new way to approach the urban and suburban fabric of cities here and abroad.

Alexander D’Hooghe and Alan Berger are heading up MIT’s new Center for Advanced Urbanism, focusing on the planning, design, construction and retrofitting of urban environments for the 21st century.  They are also organizing the center’s first conference to be held April 9 and 10 at MIT’s Media Lab.

Via Architects and Artisans


Advocating for transparency. Haley Russell, an interior designer at Perkins+Will in Washington, D.C., explores how to build material health and transparency in the built environment.

Here are six ways to increase engagement with the transparency movement:

  1. Involve manufacturers early.
  2. Change your thinking.
  3. Step up to the challenge.
  4. Look at the life cycle.
  5. Learn from others.
  6. Have patience and be persistent.

Via Ideas+Buildings

Playful design. Denise De Leon of Lake Flato finds inspiration looking at graphics at the Children’s Museum at Pittsburgh.

As a graphic designer, I was instantly drawn to wayfinding graphics (rather hard to miss). Pentagram’s use of scale and simplicity works effectively throughout the museum. Upon entering, I was immediately greeted by a colorful mix of plexiglass panels floating above the admissions desk. As I walked through the building, I felt as though I was in a children’s book- their solutions made sense at every turn I made. – Denise De Leon

Via The Dogrun


Good night at a hotel. Stanis Smith, senior vice president of Stantec, discusses getting a quiet night’s sleep in a hotel room and a list of things that hotel designers don’t address when designing a hotel.

"I want a quiet room, far away from the elevators and ice machines, far away from the hotel nightclub, not facing the street or airport, and preferably at the end of the hall." – Stanis Smith

Via Stantec Blog


Innovative social media campaign

Twitter steals some hearts. Jody Brown of Coffee with an Architect launched a Twitter campaign on Valentine’s Day, encouraging people to tweet about their architectural love on Twitter using #ArchitectValentines. Brown got overwhelming engagement ("If loving you is wrong, then Frank Lloyd Wright" was retweeted 31 times) and posted his favorites on his web site.

Via Treehugger

Related: Coffee with an Architect







Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of January 28, 2012











Decoding landscape urbanism. Michael Mayer of OLIN Studio seeks to find out what is landscape urbanism at OLIN’s Theoretical Symposium.

While the book The Landscape Urbanism Reader defines the term as “a disciplinary realignment currently underway in which landscape replaces architecture as the basic building block of contemporary urbanism,” the symposium explored four definitions of landscape urbanism as the framework for the studio’s theories to clarify the term.

  1. Landscape urbanism as diagnosis
  2. Landscape urbanism as framework and process
  3. Landscape urbanism as green infrastructure 
  4. Landscape urbanism as landscape + urbanism

Via OLIN Studio Blog

Community building through arts education. Because of the increase of financial inaccessibility to higher education and city center exhibition and production space, creative practitioners have had to find alternative strategies to sustain creative knowledge exchange.

Sustainable Cities Collective looks at five very different and innovative London-based engagement projects that offer individual insights into alternative arts education and their positive effect on connecting the local community.

  1. Trade School Croydon
  2. Zeitgeist Arts Projects, New Cross
  3. National Portrait Gallery, Late-Shift
  4. Wide Open School, Hayward Gallery
  5. Q-Art London

Via Sustainable Cities Collective

Embarking on adaptive reuse. Tom Ito, a principal in Gensler's Los Angeles office and a leader of the firm's global hospitality practice, explores the use of adaptive reuse -- the art and design science of reinventing buildings -- in hotels.

Many important urban centers in the U.S. don’t have much buildable, open space but offer a nice supply of underperforming buildings, which could be a golden opportunity for hotel owners and developers looking to bring their brand to those sought-after cities.

Via Gensleron Lifestyle Blog

Retail serenity. The new Alchemist store, a 2,500 square-foot oasis of calm designed by Rene Gonzalez Architect, was designed to offer refuge from the frantic pace of Lincoln Road’s bars, banks, shops, theaters and restaurants.

Tucked into the ground level of an award-winning concrete parking structure at 1111 Lincoln Road (designed by the Swiss firm Herzog and DeMeuron), the new retail space will complement the original Alchemist on the fifth floor.

Via Architects and Artisans

Landscape architects vs. architects. A reader responds to an article in The Atlantic Cities about the transformation of Youngstown, Ohio, in which the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted is referred to as a ‘famed architect.’

The Atlantic Cities clarifies the distinction between architect and landscape architect, pointing out that licensed landscape architects study a quite different curriculum than architecture and typically have a choice between completing a four or five-year bachelor's degree or a two-year master's degree.

Via The Atlantic Cities


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