#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.


GB10… the best of…

Posted in events, opinion, other architects, sustainability by DS26 on 11.18.2010

It all started bright and early when we showed up at McCormick Place in Chicago… we were directed by friendly faces to pick up our name tags (since we had registered online).

This took an entire 3 whole minutes… and truly I thought WOW!… what a change since the last time Greenbuild came by Chicago in 2007 (where they were not short of endless hours-long lines for registration).

Roaming around our 1st stop was the Bookstore… there I found my friend Marcy’s ADA book (I was so excited to see it there… I tweet-ed it). You can find her tweet-ing all about her expertise (and I suggest you listen) @abadi_access.

Next, we stopped by the merchandise shop… not that I would necessarily get anything, but pure curiosity… but there it was:

OMGB! (Oh My Greenbuild)… I LOVED IT!! (too bad I forgot to take a picture)

Eventually we made our way

The first thing we saw was a cool wind generation vertical turbine called Eddie… It was a beauty (though I still did not take a picture… boo me).

Shortly thereafter, a very cool water collection system pillow (air-less closed system) made to sit inside or outside. It was pretty ingenious.

Eventually, as we kept walking, I finally thought about the camera I was carrying (duh!), the pictures I could be taking, and the potential blog post (this one).

I made up my mind… I will blog about the best in the Greenbuild 2010 exhibit hall.

So.. now that I was enlightened, we were at the Haworth booth. They had a really nice set up, and a very friendly rep that did not hesitate to help us (though many people did not due to our very laid back outfits and very young faces)…

We found they were featuring their custom pieces/sufaces… and saw this table

Could not resist the opportunity to make our mark. ”  DS26 was here!  :)  “

The next coolest thing, and this really was cool, was the knauf insulation. Besides the fact that the insulation was innovative, what really impressed me was their business card, check out the back

Plant this card, and you will get a flower bed. Awesome!

This is truly creative. We picked up a couple, and could not help but to repeat  to everyone that is probably one of the best marketing pieces around.

To keep up with the insulation theme… of course the jeans insulation

I thought it was pretty fun that also, as innovative marketing, they had a fantastic ‘jeans’ cookie.

Also, started to see other inspired & designed booths, this one for example (notice the carpet), where the floor plane lifts into their banners.

I believe that, at this time, we met up with @hern_jenn & @matthewcarbonne … said hello for a bit.

Moving along…

We made it to where I am supposed to be. I love concrete… and I saw the tee. I MUST HAVE IT (and so I do)

In the front “Think. Harder. Concrete.”. In the back

It is debatable, the sustainability of concrete. Natural materials & life?… certainly. Very sustainable. Process?… mmmm.

Best tee shirt I got though. Or, is it?

We kept walking.

Then Boom!!… Black & white, but screaming for us to walk up to it… Interface Flooring

Brains are greater than Oil.

A fact. Anyone would agree.

I walked up to them, and told them how much I liked their marketing… they said that they were doing an on-the-spot social media marketing campaign.


So I created our own @DESIGNSTUDIO26 equation… take a walk!  (Walking is greater than driving). They tweet-ed.  :)

If you follow their #greenbuild tweets, via @InterfaceFLOR you will find us there.

Other great installations

The fresh greens installation (above) and the cool FSC lounge (below)

By the way… see that bike there? Wood crafted. Yes, and unbelievably beautiful.

And always cool, young & hip… Bluebeam.

It’s PDFin time!  (chuckle)

So, as we’re winding down… after a long day walking (though I’ve shown you a handful, we’ve covered some 600 exhibitors by now)… In the realm of cool materials check this out

Hand chiseling the USGBC logo… on Aircrete… Hebel.

They showed us the material… very neat. Not only you can chisel it, but also hand saw it, cut it, etc.

The most impressive fact, however, is that there is an hour of fire protection per inch of material… in addition to the drastic reduction in weight from your standard concrete. Impressive!

Now we are very tired… there was a severe lack of seating.

Even at spots where there was coffee, or drinks and food, no tables or chairs. Really?… We could not get more chairs and tables in there?… How much is each person paying again?…

Of the things we missed, I can I admit… I COULD NOT FIND BIG ASS FANS. What the heck happened? Were they even there?…

We found comfy leather benches at Kone… and I decided to give the reps a hard time (since we were ignored)… all in good fun.

And, when we thought it could not be more fun, my business card was drawn at the Weitz Construction booth, and I got to play the cash machine… Though I made $7 bucks (enough to get my caffeine fix) I felt like a million bucks. lol.

Afterward I finally found my friend Robyn, on twitter @robbiejep (one of the original WIAfund collaborators, along with Marcy mentioned above) after chasing her for a couple of hours…

She is presenting a class at Greenbuild on Friday morning early. Catch her if you can… she is a great ‘sustainable’ inspiration from Orange County, California.

And my buddy Lira, on twitter @liraluis, this year’s Athena Young Professional Award-ee, and whom I consider a good friend.

It took about 3 shots to get to this one…

All of us mingled for a little, spoke of Gehry in South Florida (of course), and the USGBC lawsuit… and the Living Building Challenge, from the International Living Building Institute.

Before I forget… the ILBI was kind enough to give me some cool materials for my kids at Duke this coming summer (I’m staff for the “Green Architecture” summer course in their Duke TIP program)… I like to introduce the students to it, and now they’ll have a pocket guide to the process. YAY!

But.. the button is mine!   :D

So next time Greenbuild is around, I suggest you visit. It is a wonderful place for free t-shirts, gain some info, learn, and mingle…

results are in… did they love it ?

As some of you may know, I was part of the staff this past summer for the Duke TIP program, at Duke University.

The class :

Green Architecture 2010 (we suggested to change it’s name). It included 9th through 12th graders.

(picture above is the class, and we asked them to make a structure… ha!)

The Results :

The numbers below represent the highest ranked response out of 24 students in the class.

Q1. What they enjoyed the most…

17 answered the Interactive Group Planning Activity

This is what the planning activity looked like… plan + present to the class. It was chosen random, and they did 3 or 4 different complete site plans (including developing a programmatic solution)

Q2. What is recommended to improve program next year…

6 responded they want a level II class (not many submitted an answer)

Q3. What they gained…

13 answered ‘Knowledge’

Q4. Under additional Comments…

one response read

“All of the instructors were great. Tabitha was extra personable and gave us more specifics about getting into the field of Architecture.”

a few others:


“Can I come back?”

“I came into this course not knowing how I would like the ‘green’ aspect. But now I absolutely love it because of how much I loved this course.”


As much as it was a learning experience for them, it also definitely was for me. There was magic in seeing how the untainted minds of them would think through problems, and resolve for a solution.

By the end of the two week course they completed a building project, on their own, sustainable, and had to develop a 3D Google SketchUp model, pin up, and formally present to all of us.

There was so much talk about our class, they actually gained an external audience coming in to the presentations.

Their solutions were genius. I can be certain some will stay in the A/E profession(s), and will be outstanding.

Enjoyed spending time, telling them about the profession, and even played “apples to apples” and poker endlessly.

I enjoyed every minute, and hope to return next year. We’ll see if I get invited.

For now, I can honestly say…

…  I Feel Loved !


not just another dance…

Posted in events, opinion, stuff by DS26 on 06.13.2010


the universal music icon, was selected as the official artist for the World Cup 2010, and she is one that has always stood for education.

One instance is piez descalzos , an organization founded in Colombia.

During the last few days, after the launch of the official song for the world cup, she has made a call to everyone out there to “dance” waka waka for this “1 gol” .. education for all.

the challenge

waka waka, like any other official world cup song, is a very happy dance song .. it encourages engagement from people .. & calls for a move or two.

The dance is explained through “the call”, and Shakira requests a counter- video .. a response and to benefit the “1 gol” // View instructions in Shakira’s YouTube Channel

Architects… waka waka

As a means of celebration of this year’s AIA National Convention  (+ a 6th Good Reason to attend in addition to the 5 previously addressed ), and to celebrate being in such a fun place as is Miami Beach..

Dancing just… seemed like the natural thing to do.

So we invited Architects to come out to Lincoln Road, at 4:45pm on a hot Friday afternoon ..

5 good reasons to attend the convention.. while in a recession

Posted in events, opinion, other architects by DS26 on 05.25.2010

this past weekend, in the mail, there it was… the AIA National Convention Badge.

along with it, a nice little ‘tap-n-go’ id card to be used at the exhibit hall; also it ensures you will get applicable CEU(s).



Networking with other architects can create a win-win… one meets people from near and far, and it can lead to a partnership, cross-country working relationship, or project collaboration in a new place; it can also open an opportunity for a  new project type.

If you’re an emerging professional, it gives you an opportunity to get in touch with established professionals.

Plus, many other professionals attend the convention: engineers, educators, manufacturing / sales representatives, etc.


Most of the conference are learning opportunities.

Sure one collects CEU(s) for state licensing maintenance requirements, and that’s great, but we cannot forget that this profession is in constant fast forward motion.

There are always new technologies, techniques, subjects, and professionals/specialists, and we must utilize the convention as a platform to learn, make progress, and continue our individual preparation to be better at practice.


In the past few weeks we’ve been following SANAA, and their award of the Pritzker this year.

There was a big event held, as there is every year, and there were some big names in attendance: Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, among others.

Now, who would have not wanted to be there?.. rubbing shoulders with such big Architects?..

The AIA National Convention, similarly, will have in attendance many individuals you will also want to share the event with (and possibly a word.. if you dare.. & so you should).

You will be sure to see there this year’s AIA National Firm of the Year, Pugh+Scarpa. Probably will also see many other important local Architects like Oppenheim, or Zyscovich.

After all, anyone throughout the US, with a license to practice, has to meet the CEU(s) requirements.

Would you not want to be seen ?


A quote we’ve been using lately, and seems to have caught on is : “Be proactive, not reactive”.

We pulled the quote from a great book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by S. Covey.

Being proactive is about being present, always. It also is about being ‘in action’.

If architecture is your passion, and practicing the profession is truly what you want to do with your life, then to be proactive is the one thing you owe yourself, and that no one can do for you; it will help you get there, whether there is the practice, or a better one.

Some people believe in luck, and honestly we do not really. You create your luck, and you do so by being at the right place, at the right time, and possibly speaking to/meeting the right person.

Above and beyond the being there, you must participate. Be a part, to set yourself apart…


Yes, you read correctly: Have a blast !

Think about it, busy days of events… then evenings to go out and enjoy yourself with people that are most likely a lot like you.

We breathe architecture; it is, for us, architecture all of the time, and sometimes that can be really heavy for those people outside of the profession.

How about 3 or 4 days of people that will love nothing more than to talk architecture, pritzker, design, materials, the last horrible meeting, or difficult permitting process… or about your latest success.

AND, this year, the AIA is hosting a SoBe (south beach) bar hopping night… you can’t get better.

Architects + Drinks + SoBe = A  P-A-R-T-Y !


Go Network, Learn, Be Proactive (not reactive), Be Seen, and go Party it up at this Year’s AIA National Convention.

Start with, like us, maybe updating your badge. Let those who see it see a bit of you.. it might spark a conversation.

What may seem as an expense is really an investment… An investment in yourself, in your future, and for your practice… For your benefit.

And, the ROI is sometimes so much more than you ever wanted, or even expected.