Blog Post Favorites for Week of Oct. 1

Vancouver bears fruit. HDR reviews Ecology of Commerce. Doyon on resilient communities. Gensler on London's airport infrastructure.

Picking your own apple. Vancouver is looking to add more fruit- and nut-bearing trees to its urban tree inventory. As part of a plan to plant more than 150,000 trees by 2020, the city is considering making food-producing trees a major part of that effort.

Vancouver has announced this plan as cities maintain their tree populations – periodic trimming and culling as needed and not spending the sort of time watching over trees that they'd need to in order to help a fruit crop grow. The city already has an inventory of about 600 street trees that produce fruits and nuts. Another 425 are located in city parks and community gardens.

By Nate Berg

Via Atlantic Cities

Simply replacing is simply not sustainable. Mark Meaders of HDR blogs about the book Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken, which explores how business and commerce need to change how they function and operate in order to truly act in a sustainable manner and being concerned with how actions affect future generations.

The book discusses paper companies and their logging activities and the fact that paper companies own more land than any other entity.

“This book has caused me to think differently… One of the things that Mother Nature likes is diversity. She likes a forest that has many different types of trees. Some trees are quick growers, some take a long time, some have leaves year-round, and others have leaves that fall off in the fall.

Now, the problem with the paper companies is that they stop part of this cycle from naturally occurring. They plant specific trees in specific areas—they are not in favor of the diversity of trees. They cut the trees down before they die. The trees don’t help feed the soil. Beetles and other creatures do not come to that area and live in the trees and do their job. Part of Mother Nature’s cycle has stopped. How has this affected other things in that forest?”

Via Blink – Perspectives on Design Blog

Keys to a stronger community. Scott Doyon blogs about the seven keys to supporting the social resilience of our communities.

Doyon says to build strength of your community, especially in these times of limited resources, that the following areas provide the greatest returns: good governance; walkable, connected, mixed-use character; parks and gardens; partnerships; programming; neighborhood-responsive schools; and tree culture.

Via Placemakers and Placeshakers

Planning London’s transport future. Ian Mulcahey, Co-Managing Director of Gensler London, blogs on how many cities are finding challenges with original 1940’s airports which have grown far beyond original expectations of the city planners in the immediate post war period.

Throughout history, access to transportation has been the key to consistent economic expansion. London is yet again at this crossroads. How can it maintain its global trading position without a significant expansion and improvement in its airport hub capacity? The problem for London’s planners is not unique, there isn’t an obvious place to put such a significant and, for many people, disruptive piece of infrastructure

Via GenslerOnCities

Innovative Social Media

The Beauty Inside. Intel and Toshiba teamed up again to create an online video advertising campaign that follows the success of the “Insider Experience, ” which was a groundbreaking and runaway success: It generated over 6 million views in three weeks. Intel and Toshiba were able to create something that audiences hadn't seen or experienced before – it had heavy audience interaction and blurred the lines between branded content and Hollywood filmmaking.

"The Beauty Inside" also puts the audience experience first by creating a premise that automatically throws audiences into the center of the action. One of Intel and Toshiba's goals with "The Beauty Inside" is to reach a younger, hipper audience -- a consumer base that goes on Facebook every day, watches viral videos, and thrives in social media. The campaign captured audience attention by reaching out to them across these social mediums and by making them the star of the campaign.

Via iMedia Connection

Blog Post Favorites for Week of September 10

10,000 unwanted books on the streets - Urban living fuels design of cities - A school’s greenovation - Cutting the mustard

10,000 unwanted books on the streets. The Spanish art collective Luzinterruptus has embarked on in a traffic-stopping installation in Melbourne, Australia, commissioned as part of the Light in Winter Festival to encourage reading.

Similar to the installation in New York City and Switzerland, the streets contained 10,000 books that had been collected by the Salvation Army after being discarded from public libraries. Artists have been allowed to expand upon the project, growing it for a month and making it their largest installation to date.

Via Architizer Blog

Urban living fuels design of cities. Dan Winey of Gensler blogs about his observations from abroad as he is seeing a highly accelerated demand for urban living that has fueled the design and creation of new cities.

Winey says what’s troubling is that too many emerging cities in China and other parts of the world are adhering to an outdated urban planning model that will ultimately prove to be unsustainable. However, super tall buildings like Gensler's Shanghai Tower, which is currently under construction, can help urban planners think in vertical terms instead of horizontal ones.

Via Gensler on Cities

Architect enters the chicken coop fray. Peter Strzebniok,  a pioneer of prefab for people with Nottoscale, is bringing the best of green modern prefabricated modular flat pack construction to the burgeoning chicken coop market.

Strzebniok has created the Moop (modular coop), which is the "architect designed prefabricated modular chicken coop for the design minded urban chicken." The Moop is compact enough to fit in most backyards while being modern enough to make any chicken happy and every owner proud.

By Lloyd Atler, Via Tree Hugger

A school’s greenovation. Lindsey Engels, Executive Director of the U.S. Green Building Council in Orange County and project coordinator at LPA, guest blogs about partnering with Davis Magnet School to make the school more green.

LPA monitored temperature, light levels, energy usage per circuit and CO2 monitors for air quality to find solutions to make the school energy efficient. With the completed retrofitted classroom, LPA and the school will be able to see a real-time comparison between the “greenovated” classroom and the control classroom.

Via LPA Blog

Innovative Social Media

Society of good taste. Grey Poupon launched an online marketing campaign on Facebook this week in which the mustard company will screen fans who attempt to like the page to see if they have good enough taste to become one of the company’s Facebook fans.

Fans of the brand will have to apply for membership to the "Society of Good Taste" on the Grey Poupon Facebook page, where an algorithm will determine whether or not they "cut the mustard". The algorithm searches and judges users' profiles based on their proper use of grammar, art taste, check ins, book and movie selections, and so forth, and gives them a percentile score based on their refinement. However, if the algorithm detects poor taste in music or text-speak, for example, they could be rejected. Those who do not qualify will have their "like" deleted, and be asked to refine their profile before trying again.

Via Ad Age

Blog Favorites for Week of July 23

London 2012 Olympic Park opens. After six years of planning, preparation and construction, the Opening Ceremony on July 27 will mark the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The $1.1 billion Olympic Park contains several of the 2012 Games' biggest sporting venues, including the Olympic Stadium and the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre, as well as the Olympic Village. And towering over the Olympic Park is Anish Kapoor's controversial ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower, which is made from recycled steel and has received mixed reviews from observers.

Via Inhabitat


Park in Singapore shows what a river can do. Singapore is heavily dependent on Malaysia for its water supply but is now creating new sustainable parks designed to reduce its reliance.

Atelier Dreiseitl has designed a 62-acre Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park that recreates nature, transforming a 2.7-kilometer concrete-channel lined river into a 3-kilometer natural meandering system. At the same time, the new system slows down and stores some of the rainfall that hits the city-state. The park is a model for how cities can transform outmoded, broken systems into natural systems.

Via The Dirt

We need another kind of place. Tim Pittman blogs about how most of our current workplaces are designed around connection, and how mobile technology has affected our work and home lives.

“That invasion has collateral damage. The victim, as I see it, is the ‘third places’ that make our neighborhoods and cities vibrant, pleasant, and engaging places to live. These places, originally defined by Ray Oldenberg as places that are non-work and non-home, allow us to maintain time and space (both mentally and physically) outside the formal responsibilities of our daily lives. These are the spaces that let our minds wander and push us to develop productive social connections.” – Tim Pittman

Via Gensler on Cities

Transforming NYC’s High Line to public space. Mayor Mike Bloomberg this week announced the City’s acquisition of the High Line at the rail yards from CSX Transportation, Inc., a historic milestone for the High Line.

The elevated railway viaduct, originally built in 1934 to carry freight trains, now marks the latest step in a long history of CSX’s visionary support for the transformation of the High Line into a public park.

Via the High Line blog

Buildings that evolve with the city. Resilient cities need infrastructure that lasts and planning teams that are willing to step up to the plate. Developing cities that thrive through the ebb and flow of time are not simply about creating infrastructure that can persist, but about designing buildings that evolve as cities evolve.

The Tempe Transportation Center in Tempe, Arizona, has been constructed to adapt to the City’s needs for approximately 100 years. The longevity of the structure is depicted in its fundamental design plan as it focuses on combining resilient building materials with the natural benefits of a desert environment to create heat and water systems that are more energy efficient and spaces that provide natural sunlight and shading.

Via Sustainable Cities Collective

Weekly Roundup for Week of June 25

ImageTop earning architecture firms. Architectural Record has released its 2012 “Top 250 Architecture Firms” list, which ranks U.S. companies based on architectural review from the previous year.

Gensler  – a global architecture company working on more than 3,000 projects every year – ranked No. 1, reaching $764 million in revenue. Gensler replaces AECOM, who had a record at $445 million last year. Gensler’s impressive 632-meter Shanghai tower is one of the projects that proves the firm is capable of an extensive creative and architectural outlook.

List of top 10 architecture firms

1. Gensler  

2. AECOM Technology Corp.

3. Perkins+Will 


5. HDR Architecture Inc.

6. Jacobs

7. HOK 

8. URS Corp.

9. HKS Inc.

10. Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP

Via Freshome

Botanical Capital of the World. Grant Associates and Wilkinson Eyre are modeling their $545 million, 54-hectare Gardens by the Bay project after Singapore’s national flower the orchid.

With this massive project, which was built on reclaimed, restored land, Singapore aims to become the “botanical capital of the world.” Many elements, including 225,000 plants and new themed gardens that "showcase the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry" are part of the project.

Via The Dirt

London’s Cable Car Opens. An air tram cable car system that opened this week in London provides commuters and visitors a new mode of travel across the Thames.

Sponsored by Emirates Airlines, the UK's first urban cable car system has the capacity to transport 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction, which is equivalent to 50 buses in the same time frame. The Emirates Air Line project was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and provides spectacular views of the London skyline at 90 meters in the air as it efficiently connects visitors traveling from the city's Olympic venues to existing public transit lines.

Via Inhabitat

Golden Lion Winner. Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira has been awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

“Secured by his isolated location, he exudes worldly wisdom. Experimenting with forms of extreme geometry he manages to produce buildings of great rigor. Developing an architectural language that is uniquely his, he seems to speak to all of us. While his work exudes the security of judgment, it is clearly intensified through cautious reflection. While we are dazzled by the lightness of his buildings, we feel the seriousness of their substance.” -- Biennale Board Director Paolo Baratta and Director David Chipperfield

Via Architects Newspaper Blog



Mega-firms and Giants: The new landscape of large-firm practice

John Parman is one of those people who can turn casual conversation over a cup of coffee into a polished analysis of a current trend in our industry. We were chattting about our experiences within two of the largest and fastest growing firms in architecture and engineering and before I knew it I had agreed to collaborate with him and his former boss, Ed Fredriechs on an essay about our assessment of the firms behind the consolidating A/E industry for the ZweigLetter. Mega-firms and giants: The new landscape of large firm practice