Tag Archives: architecture

Update: MVRDV Project Will Be Built

Well that didn’t take long. One day after I posted the articles about The Cloud, this release comes out saying the project will be built as-is. This blog entry from Architizer seems to be on the ‘inflammatory, offensive’ side of the argument.


Good for the developer, I say. Its a shame we don’t see truly innovative projects in America lately. When you look down on the buildings like in the image below, tell me, [a] would you ever put 2 and 2 together from that image and [b] you can’t say that’s not a very cool concept.


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MVRDV Slammed for Seoul project design

I started this conversation on Facebook and had to bring it here…designers and non-designers alike, what do you think?

Please read the link below via LA Times. MVRDV is a very well respected, progressive Dutch firm who us designers know of very well. Personally, I can’t make the connection to think these guys did anything premeditated to draw connections to the twin towers. The project is in Seoul. Vertical, high density building typologies are common place. There is nothing new about the concept of an elevated horizontal connector between two volumes. This is part of a larger project which is headed up by Daniel Libeskind – the master plan architect for the reconstruction of Ground Zero.

Does it look a bit inappropriate from the American perspective? Probably. Keep in mind, these guys are not American, nor is the project in America. The Dutch are far from politically controversial. Given how bright these guys are, maybe they should have seen this coming. After all, we are in fact a bit hyper sensitive over here. I’m all for maintaining sensitivity towards an obviously terrible moment for our country, but I have a hard time jumping all over MVRDV here. After this fire storm, this will never be built. But this raises some real questions about how architecture can be influenced by so many forces – international public opinion being one of them.




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KSU Arch in the News

© Victoria Capranica

I took a trip up to good old Kent State in May for some student reviews. As I pulled in to the lots near the Architecture buildings, I noticed this amoebic form surrounding the main sidewalk. I left my car and walked right to it, through it, and back through it the other way. It is an inherently intriguing form. Turns out, a group of KSU Archies built this as part of a competition. It also made ArchDaily, a huge architecture and design website. Check it out:


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The Masterbuilder

If there ever could be a single essay that described my philosophy as a design professional, this is it. I don’t ever have to even write it myself. This guy wrote it for me. It is thoughtful and perfectly true. The role of masterbuilder that Mr. H. Robert Dinsmore, Jr. writes in this article is exactly who I want to become, the role I am lucky enough to be learning right now. I have a long way to go, but everything you need to know about Bob’s career goal is right here.

Read this.


Please comment as well. I’ll probably make a series of posts about this article, I’m just so pumped about it right now I need some time to think about how to break this down.

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Don’t Forget to Sprinkle

I hate to invest a lot of energy on the topic of sprinkler systems, but come January 1, 2011, anyone building a new home will need to be a lot more familiar with them, and so will designers. Pennsylvania has aligned itself with the Uniform Construction Code, which means that in 2011 all new homes must contain a full sprinkler system. This article/video talks a bit about the pros and cons of such a mandate.


You may disagree, but I think this is a terrible idea. Yes, we are overbuilt and do not need home builders building more sprawled suburban McMansions anyways. However, it sure does add some serious cost to a process that is already extremely difficult to finance. It does nothing to help jump start the new housing market for sure. Now you’ll see more sprinkler contractors all over – what happens after that one year labor warranty expires and one of those sprinkler heads leak? Homeowner’s is there to save the day for your wallet, maybe, but not your valuables and anything else that may be ruined.

I fully understand the importance of sprinklers in commercial projects and even attached multi-family residential projects. Do we really need them in a detached typical American home though? Really? As a mandate? I vote no.


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Design Within Reach – The Atlantic Magazine


Image Credit: Donn Fogg via The Atlantic Magazine


I was forwarded this fantastic article about Chris Downey, an architect who lost his sight in 2008. A true problem solver, Chris found a way to become an inspiring, innovative, and unique designer who uses tactile drawings in braille to visualize and communicate his architecture.

Just two posts ago I wrote about how we can influence people’s senses in a space – Chris Downey takes this to a whole different level.

Design Within Reach – Magazine – The Atlantic.

A few other past articles about him:



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Weddings + Architecture

Professor Justin Hilton told me in my first year of architecture school that we were all in the program because something in us was a control freak. We could control virtually all of a person’s senses by the way we crafted space. We control the way people circulate, what they see, what they hear, what they feel, smell – about everything but taste, unless they feel like licking some hardwood floor.

I now pass this saying along to my students, as I feel it is critical to understand the effect a designer can have on an occupant of space even at a subconscious level. This brings me to my real topic: have we over controlled space?

I bring this up because I got married last Saturday. It was the most beautiful day a person could ever ask for outside, and it ended up being the best day of my life. The only hitch in the entire day happened during the ceremony, which I will get to in a few.

Think about all of the common interior spaces people hold a marriage ceremony- a beautiful cathedral, a neighborhood church, a Vegas chapel, a city courthouse. These spaces evoke different emotions and actions, and are very controlled. The environment is created by the architecture itself, and occupants react accordingly – subconsciously or consciously.

Exterior spaces however present an element of the unknown…nature. Sure, a beach setting for a wedding ceremony will bring the gentle crashing of waves, the distant sounds of boats cruising along the shoreline, and the rustle of palm trees in the breeze. At any moment though, those sounds change. An airplane might fly over the gazebo at the most inopportune moment. Its a part of the elements – and where true character is found.

Now, back to my wedding ceremony. We got married at a local mansion, where we used the exterior areas for the ceremony. An angry neighbor decided that it would be fun to throw a child’s birthday party facing over top of our exterior ceremony site, inflatable jump and all. Despite the fact the children were saying ‘Shhhh its a wedding!!’, the angry neighbors egged them on to scream even louder at the beginning of the ceremony. Now on top of being nervous and emotional from seeing my beautiful bride, I am now increasingly frustrated with the lack of respect these people are showing towards our big day. They suddenly quieted right as we said our vows [because the police showed up] so ultimately it worked out wonderfully.

Looking back on it now, I feel like I will remember my ceremony a bit more distinctly that this happened than if it was held in a controlled environment. We had character. Its a story to tell. It gives me a renewed sensitivity to how beautiful nature is, how beautiful the character of a city is. Whether it comes at an inopportune time or not, sometimes the character of the unknown is refreshing.

So I sit and think, do we control space too much? In an era where character is diminishing all around us, should we let more of our surroundings in and enjoy it, good or bad, while we still have it to enjoy? For me, I now get to enjoy life and all of its unknowns with my love – and there’s no sense in not enjoying everything life brings.

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