Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of April 15, 2013

HDR wonders about meddling with nature. Creating good places with Perkins+Will. Architects + Artisans' offers thoughts on shingle style. Studio E Architects on the new black: small. A birthday party on Facebook.


Meddling with mother nature. Mark Meaders, sustainable design project manager at HDR Architecture, talks about whether an aerial spraying of insecticide to kill mosquitoes with West Nile virus in Dallas was necessary and even effective.

Meaders asks if the decision to spray affected things we didn’t consider and longer term consequences of spraying and nature such as the bee population in Dallas. Bees contribute $14 billion to the value of U.S. crop production through their pollination efforts.

Via Blink Perspective


Creating a good place. Carl Meyer, a principal at Perkins +Will, examines the importance of third places – the informal “public places on neutral ground where people can gather and interact,” according to urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg.

Meyer ponders whether the third place is something that can be designed, and looks deeper at the idea.

“Can we design spaces that allow both interaction and anonymity? If so, what are the elements of space that encourage diversity, to include families, the young and older, extroverts and introverts?”  --Carl Meyer

Via Ideas & Buildings


Shingle style. The book “Shingle Style” written by Lucia Howard and David Weingarten looks at poets, artists and musicians of San Francisco who built their homes and clad them in shingles from nearby forests.

The book looks at 20 homes in the book, mostly between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet.  Howard and Weingarten, architects at Ace Architects in Oakland, place all of them in context as the best examples of American shingle design.

Via Architects and Artisans


Small is the new black. Studio E Architects explores the soaring popularity of tiny dwellings, and offers tips on what you should look for in a micro-flat.

In California, 160 square feet is the legal minimum size for a dwelling unit. Some people are experimenting with ultra-compacts in that range – however most developers are looking at units that average between 250 to 400 square feet.

Via Studio E Architect Blog


Innovative Social Media Campaign

Gerber celebrates 85 years. Early childhood nutrition brand Gerber is celebrating its 85th birthday this year with a virtual cake on its Facebook page for its 5.1 million fans. Gerber is giving away a daily cash prize for 85 days for those who "join the party," but eligible recipients must like the brand first. On the 85th Birthday Party tab on Gerber's Facebook page, fans are prompted to blow out a virtual candle for a chance to win the daily $585 prize. Each entry also gives participants a chance to win the grand prize of $20,085.

Via Clickz

Gerber on Facebook





Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of March 25, 2013

Evolving Library. Removing urbanity. Guide to rendering. Site and structure in Norway. Human rights social media blitz. 130401

Evolving library. David Dewane of Gensler, discusses Librii, a digitally enhanced, community-based, revenue-generating library network created for the developing world. Librii has launched a Kickstarter campaign to receive funding for the pilot library.

Dewane explores the five ways Librii is innovative.

  1. Flip the business model
  2. Shift from consumption to production
  3. Broaden the collection
  4. Rethink the network

Go boldly where no one has gone before

Via Gensleron Cities


Removing urbanity. Kenneth Caldwell of Caldwell Communications writes about his feelings of sentimentality when he sees the loss of urbanity in buildings and architecture in San Francisco.

“Every day I walk around the city. I look for the sign that a person who cared about urbanity or beauty, whether it is an architect, designer, artist, artisan, chef, or bartender, is still at work holding up the value of the human individual’s contribution. Each time a faceless corporation removes the mark of a person, we lose something beyond the artifact itself.” – Kenneth Caldwell

Via Design Faith Blog


Guide to rendering. Build LLC discusses the importance of renderings, and how they have found them to be beneficial throughout multiple phases of their design and build process.

“Not only do we benefit from renderings, but our clients do too. At meetings, after looking over a set of two-dimensional drawings, a few crisp renderings can add a level of clarity and understanding. While we never shoot for photorealism with our rendered work, (more on that later,) a rendering that starts to talk about materiality and experience is something we can get behind.”

Via Build Blog


Site and structure in Norway. David Hirzel, principal emeritus at Sasaki Associates, writes on how he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study architecture in Norway in 1963, with a particular interest in wood construction and Norway's rich history with this type of building.

Hirzel talks about what struck him when he first saw the stave churches and farm buildings was their dramatic setting in the many valleys throughout Norway and how the individual church buildings and the groupings of farm buildings related to the unique environmental characteristics and functional requirements for the location and each building.

Via Sasaki Stream


Innovative Social Media Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign's ubiquitous logo went viral last week in anticipation of two landmark marriage equality cases argued before the United States Supreme Court. Facebook reported a 120% increase in profile picture swaps to support gay marriage, as compared with an average day.

According to a post from Facebook data scientist Eytan Bakshy, 2.7 million more users swapped their photos Tuesday, March 26, than on the previous Tuesday, due to the viral marriage equality Facebook campaign started by the Human Rights Campaign.

Via Mashable


Human Rights Campaign



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 February 4, 2013

Health architects an endangered species. Landscape architecture in China. Values in architecture. Tools at schools. And, social media ideas from the Girl Scouts. 130209

Health architects an endangered species. Bill Brinkman, executive vice president and marketing principal at HDR Architecture, writes on how physicians at HDR’s 5th Translational Health Science (THS) Colloquium in La Jolla, California, believe that the future of healthcare will be medical diagnostics done via wireless technology.

At the colloquium, Dr. Eric Topol said that core diagnostics typically done in a hospital can be done on a modified iPhone, which includes cardiograms and tests for blood, sweat, saliva, and urine. A microchip nanosensor smaller than a grain of sand can be put into your bloodstream and detect a heart attack a week or two before it happens -- and send a signal to your iPhone.

Via Blink Perspectives on Design


Landscape architecture in China. Landscape architecture education has come back into favor in China, and Chinese universities have established or reestablished nearly 200 landscape architecture programs in less than a decade.

Eight academics from the United States and China discuss the cultural exchange taking place between their countries and issues educators face in China as they try to build the profession there.

Via Landscape Architecture Magazine


Values in architecture. James Pfeiffer of BNIM explores themes from “Collaborating with the Public; Advocating for the Social” at Professional Practice Week in Halifax, Canada.

Pfeiffer points out some of the themes that emerged from the dialogue in Halifax:

  • Architecture is ultimately about the power of ideas to be transformative and impactful.
  • Architecture is a social driver:  its role is sometimes more about designing a social mix (the conditions within which architecture lives) rather than simply being about bricks and mortar.
  • We can’t over tailor our buildings anymore. More and more, our structures must embody the notion of “long life, loose fit.”
  • Constraints are drivers:  we take constraints, challenge them, and reinvent.
  • We design more than just buildings:  we design pieces of the city, community and the public realm.
  • Our work should be generous and regenerative.
  • Our respective practices require time and space to release moments for speculation.
  • Authorship is less important in a current practice:  ideas belong to everyone; the best ones ultimately “win” and are integrated into our projects.

We should strive for work that embodies the idea of doing “twice as much with half as much.”

Via BNIM Blog


Tools at schools. Design studio aruliden and Bernhardt Design launched an initiative to teach eighth graders the value of design as a problem-solving tool at The School at Columbia University.

The project immersed students in the entire design process, from research to ideation to 3D modeling and the launch. What began as a simple effort to get involved in the community grew into a much larger realization that design has a role in the classroom. Check out this video to see concepts and what students gained.

Via Cannon Design Blog


Innovative Social Media

Girl Scouts embrace social media. Girl Scouts celebrated their first National Girl Scout Cookie Day, embracing Twitter, food trucks and new package design. @GirlScouts will tweet the location of its Cookie Day Truck as it makes its way through New York City, staffed with Girl Scouts selling thin mints and other favorite cookies.

Via Diners Journal Blog

Related: Girl Scouts