Architecture


Urban Infrastructure: What Would Nature Do?

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January 29, 2013
When urban infrastructure meets nature’s designers, amazing things can happen

We humans are problem solvers. We’re doers. We encounter challenges and complicated situations and we find ways to surmount them—crafting tools, erecting bridges, programming computers. We’ve innovated and designed our way out of countless predicaments and, dammit, we will forevermore.

We are also hopelessly arrogant.

See, we humans sometimes forget that we are not the only innovators and designers out there. We’re not the only ones able to creatively adapt our way through tricky or threatening conditions. We forget about nature.

Construction Cinema

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December 16, 2009
Once bare-bones and utilitarian, architectural animation is becoming more nuanced and experiential. In part, this development can be credited to advances in 3-D technology, but at the same time architects have embraced the art of filmmaking -- not only to create more interactive presentations for clients, but also to leverage as a tool in the design process.

It’s easy to think of architecture as an interdisciplinary field. At its most basic level, art and science combine to create buildings that are both beautiful and functional. In much the same way, architects are now relying on a broad spectrum of professional fields for sharing their work. From film to video games to documentary photography, architects are stretching beyond their own circles to present and explain their projects in new and even entertaining ways.

The Power of Focus

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February 27, 2014
Chasing every project may seem wise in a tight economy. But smart firms specialize. Leading practitioners and management experts share their perspectives.

In lean times, you take what you can get. For architecture firms still climbing out of a recession-sized hole, that can translate into bidding for just about any viable project that comes along, even if it’s outside their zone of expertise. That can be seen as a sign of desperation or as an instinctual survival tactic. Ray Kogan, AIA, sees it as a mistake.

World's largest concrete pour: LA witnesses 'ballet of construction trucks'

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February 14, 2014
Wilshire Grand building will put Los Angeles back in the skyscraper business as city aims to rejuvenate its centre

Hundreds of spectators lined the streets in downtown Los Angeles Saturday for what might seem a lacklustre event in a city known for its entertainment: a parade of trucks poured a load of concrete into a hole. But this was no ordinary hole. It's the site of the future Wilshire Grand, a 73-storey building filled with offices, retail and hotel rooms that will, when it opens in 2017, be the tallest building in the city, and the eighth tallest in the US.

The Seven Top Legislative Priorities for Architecture in 2014

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January 27, 2014
Student debt. Small business tax reform. Fannie and Freddie. Given the current economy, lobbying has never been more important for architecture. Legislative liaisons from the AIA, the NAHB, and other organizations share their top issues for the coming year.

The Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs Act of 2013

Piecemeal Potential

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November 20, 2013
The sky may be the limit for prefab modular towers.

There’s a detectable hint of dismay in the voice of Christopher Sharples, AIA, founding principal of New York’s SHoP Architects. “Everyone thinks we’re just stacking boxes,” he says about SHoP’s 32-story modular residential tower that is now under construction as part of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards project. When complete, the tower, known as B2, will be the tallest modular building in the world, made up of more than 910 prefabricated elements and comprising 363 units.

Working in the Age of Geodesign

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February 6, 2013
Data is becoming the designer’s new best friend. Urban designers, architects, and landscape architects – whether they’ve realized it yet, or not – will soon be integrating massive sets of data into every design they do.

These fields are entering the age of geodesign, an emerging concept that melds the geospatial data of geographic information systems, or GIS, with simulation and design evaluation techniques. Through geographic analysis of the various streams of data relating to a project and its site, geodesign creates the potential for real-time vetting of design ideas within the grander context of the site. From hydrology and habitat to traffic patterns and energy regimes, multitudes of data are now easily available and nearly as easily integrated into the designs of the built environment.

Urban Reinvestments

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January 16, 2013
The urban reinvestment and renewal efforts of the last half-century left a legacy of neglect and underinvestment in many American cities. Now that pattern is shifting.

Large-scale public housing projects and forced relocation programs created pockets of poverty in inner cities, concentrating the problems of low-income urbanites and not really doing much to effectively solve them. The concept of urban reinvestment has, understandably, developed a negative connotation over the years.

Carbon-Free Chicago

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August 22, 2011
The Windy City’s first net-zero-energy home employs a butterfly roof and other smart design ideas to help it unplug from the grid.

Homes are responsible for 23 percent of the energy used in the US and 18 percent of carbon emissions. In cities like Chicago, where the temperature can vary by 100 degrees, heating and cooling bills can be bank-breakers. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Five years ago, local architecture and urban-design firm Farr Associates was asked to solve the problem. The company built a 2,600-square-foot house that is now “very, very close” to generating all of its own power, architect Jonathan Boyer says.

Make No Small Plans

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April 28, 2011
Grounding architecture within a larger building ecology.

Regional issues such as stormwater treatment and energy production have become major elements of the design of architectural projects, even at a very small scale. As demand for natural resources rises and the impact of pollution spreads, taking these issues into consideration is likely to become a more important part of urban planning and architecture. This year’s national AIA convention recognizes the shift with its theme “Regional Design Revolution: Ecology Matters.”

But many argue that the long-term thinking of regionalism is still a burgeoning concept.