#BIG is #IN!

Posted in Architecture, events, other architects by DS26 on 05.07.2011

Yesterday, day 2 of the Architecture & Design Film Festival in Chicago, we finally met the one that we feel represents the new generation of Architecture :

Bjarke Ingels.

Bjarke, founder of BIG, flies through Chicago often, but this time was a panelist in the session “Documenting Architecture”.

BobbyZ has always admired his work, and then I learned of the practice from Bobby, to also gain admiration. The maritime youth house, in collaboration with Julien – JDS, and VM house are the 1st projects I remember, in 2004-2005.

Today, BIG manipulates digital tools in a way no one had before him. Presenting his conceptual development and models, expressing the design ideas in a new engaging way. Immediately following the panel, they showed “my playground”… following people exploiting the spaces of various of his buildings, at different stages of construction :

The entire session was very good… and one thing stood out from Bjarke’s time for me… (i’m paraphrasing here) is that he is “creating work that is expanding urban space”. That particular thought I found profound, and definitely pertinent to not just architecture, but to good architecture.

We caught up with him, after the session, to speak to him about what is like (& how it happened) that he is where he is today… especially given his age.

We got a signature in our copy of “Yess is More”, a book now almost impossible to find… and my friend Lira & myself took a snapshot with the man.

Also in the panel was Rick Valicenti from ‘thirst’ a design collaborative who, little did we know, has done work with FAU (Florida Atlantic University), our own undergrad institution. When I heard that during introductions… I had to do a double take. I was pleasantly surprised (it is after all a smaller newer school).

Rick (far left below) had worked with Archeworks in developing a new “mobile food collective”.

Last, but certainly not least, was Iker Gil from MAS Studio (in the middle above)… presenting his project, the new documented Marina City Project, coming to the Art Institute’s Modern Wing in September.

I very much appreciate and admire this particular project because MAS Studio is actually trying to portray the life that is fitted, or developed, within the architecture. That is the entire purpose of what we do (architecture)… to generate space and, hopefully, improve quality of life.

>Iker, we love the pink kitchen by the way… just thought we’d let you know.<  :)

(+ I told him all about the fun for my Epic 30th at Marina City where “Goldberg meets Mies meets Wright… meets…”   found it relevant, given the venue)

Thanks to Zoe Ryan (far right above) for bringing such an inspiring and fulfilling session to @ADFilmFestival… and it continues.



Sir #Foster’s Weight

Posted in Architecture, events, other architects by DS26 on 05.06.2011

Last night was the 1st evening, the kick-off, of the Architecture and Design Film Festival.

For the 1st time the Festival has been brought to Chicago… it is usually held in New York.

The Festival opened with

“How much does your building weigh, Mr. Foster?”

A documentary of the life, architecture journey and current practice of Sir Norman Foster.

Foster + Partners

The title was, interestingly enough, based on a question posed to Norman one day by Mr. Buckmeister Fuller (he called Bucky), about one of my favorite buildings, one I studied early while in Architecture school… falling in love with his work… the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

(borrowed from Chris Ridley)

If you know Foster’s work you know that this is one of his most modest projects. Smaller in scale. And “just a box” like Bobby said… but I fell in love with the superior performance. With the mechanical systems. The double skin. The lattice system.

I fell in love with the mundane things, more “useful” things, Norman considered to make this project Mr. Sainsbury’s “most valuable piece yet”  in the collection.

All that said, Bucky visited and asked : How much does your building weigh?… opening up a whole new dimension for Norman (in his own words) in the consideration of material performance per a given a density… and one could assume cost, and other matters related.

I did like the movie, a bit slow, but learned many things. Norman is less harsh than appears. His story of the discovery of Architecture was interesting… and maybe even a bit familiar.


3 #GC thoughts for better #Architecture

Posted in Architecture, Business of Architecture by DS26 on 04.30.2011

It is 4:29 am, and I could not stop thinking (since yesterday) about writing this post.

There are very obvious differences between the two minds that must come together, as seamlessly as possible, to make a building happen efficiently.

The Architect (the ‘creative mind’) could learn a thing or two from the Contractor (the ‘practical mind’), and vice-versa (though that post is for another day), ultimately to run a more effective practice (or project) :

1. Think Money, not Time.

Architects seem to have a single daily resource focus : time.  Contractors, in the other hand, focus every day on at least two separate though equally important resources : time & money.

There is nothing wrong with thinking of time, except we all tend to forget that “time is money”

Architects tend to function trying to beat a clock, their deadlines, continuously inflating their work within that time…  therefore minimizing significantly their yet-to-be-received or reserve money resource.  Contractors, unlike Architects, are keenly and constantly aware of their yet-to-be-received or reserve money resource, and continuously make stride to minimize their use of the time resource, which in turn inflates their money resource (and not their work).

So, think more like a Contractor, and run your practice (or project) with both resources in mind, or even better…  think Money, not Time.  You might find yourself probably being more efficient, and potentially pocketing some of that cash or buying that new printer you always wanted.

2. Think Building, not Design.

The design phase…  to some a very abstract idea.  And, what is design?

Architects all know it is the process of conceptualizing and developing better spaces, to be included in the project.  At times this is a difficult pill to swallow for people.  They cannot grasp why this may be a valid (or valuable) process.

Architects should think of their work more as Contractors think “Pre-Construction”…  what I mean by that is stop thinking about the “conceptualizing of a better environment” and start thinking of the tools for a better building.

Thinking of the end product will help you regain control of the value of your own work, and the profession.  Of course, design should always be inclusive…  but that is a given for any good architect.
Still, remember to  Think Building, not Design.

3. Think Owner, not Building.

The last and crucial piece.

Architects focus so much on the design (not even the building – see #2), that they may loose grip of the client and reasons why there is a project in the first place.  It may not seem so as you read this but think back…  Most Architects, as you may have once or twice, see Owner meetings as tedious work and designing as the fun work.

What if Architects could shift their train of thought :  Owner meetings are fun, and designing is just the project’s requirement?

By doing this, Architects could better hold on to the “Business” that is Architecture, like Contractors have held on to the business of building.  Regain the ability to deliver a tangible valuable asset to the Owner, while being  profitable, effective and efficient through this delivery process…  Think Owner, not Building.