DS26

Pro (Save) Prentice!

Posted in opinion, other architects, projects, responsibility, sustainability by DS26 on 04.28.2011

In the recent weeks I came across the very controversial issue of the Prentice, a Goldberg-designed concrete structure, originally a women’s hospital in downtown Chicago.

I am a mid-century and concrete lover… all things cast-in-place, or raw exposed concrete, are my thing and I am with those in effort to save it.

Northwestern University, currently (and seemingly stubborn about it) are looking to demolish the place to build a new tower. A research facility. If you asked me that seems… counter-productive.

Demolition Costs + Expenditure in New Construction ≠ Gain

Plus, there is significant architectural value that is inherit of Prentice, and it adds to the significant architectural value of the city of Chicago.

As a (soon to be) builder – and aside from my design self (architecture licensing in progress) – what really hurts in this case is the disregard for the methods used in the creation of this project.

Why, you ask?… well, it is cost-prohibitive.

Meaning that the costs that are incurred in an all concrete structure or cast-in-place project, the labor costs, and its curvilinear form (which comes with formwork costs), all come together to insurmountable amounts in today’s market… not to mention the lack of craftsmanship that comes with today’s workforce.

Oh, and let me guess?

Northwestern wants a LEED certified building?… Am I right?…(yes! Probably.)

Have you not heard? :

The most sustainable building, is the building already built!!

I was reading and looking through the reuse plans that have been published, and all seem very adequate, achievable, and effective for their purpose. I especially liked the residential study (and can imagine that firm that actually came up with it – trying to add interior curvilinear value to Goldberg’s current curvilinear exterior shell).

But – and just throwing in my opinion here – a potentially more successful, and maybe a more easy model to sell, would be that of a hybrid project. An even more flexible one that those that have been presented.

I would have proposed a mixed housing + research facility, where Graduate and PhD students would want to move in to exploit this space as a live/work-share/work environment… that, as supposed to watching tv in the center of the structure.

~

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i aia

Posted in #aiachat, opinion, Women in Architecture by DS26 on 04.22.2011

In the recent weeks, the American Institute of Architects asked me to participate in an interview about SM.

Of course, I was extremely happy to do so… and even more so, to find myself in the front page.

Now, after that was published, a few friends congratulated me… others did not understand how I got there, and asked… and I came to a realization:

What one gets, or does, with one’s own profession is entirely up to… well, one’s self.

No education, peer, employer, luck or otherwise ungodly external force, will make anything happen for one’s present or future. Some may serve as inspiration, and others as guide, but none will actually get you there.

It’s interesting because though I was there, front page and interviewed, nothing really came out of it except the acknowledgment from a few.

There were no employers lining up to offer me a position, given the very obvious self-propelled enthusiasm and initiative that originally may have landed me there. There were no Social Media or #aiachat novices lining up to ask me questions…

So what then?

I can honestly say I got some time for self-evaluation, and maybe even a (slight) rude awakening.

Ultimately… I gained an understanding of the fact that if I want to be a successful building design and construction professional, then…

it is up to me to lay out the path to get there.

the Target effect…

Posted in opinion, stuff by DS26 on 01.16.2011

Architects should look closely at a certain retail giant, and take note.


If you’re now finding yourself thinking

“what the hell is she talking about?… i’m an architect for god’s sake…”

… hence my point… & I’m going to walk you through this:

> The other day, browsing the tv (which is mostly crap by the way… don’t know what they’re thinking…), we ran into a documentary about Target. Everything about its inception, founders, business strategy, today and where they’re going.

We were quite surprised at how old Target is. Not originally named such, Target’s inception came to be from Dayton Dry Goods, a company founded in 1902 in Minneapolis. A family of entrepreneurs that constantly held their post dominating retail, though slowly and inconspicuously through “affordable” stuff (the downstairs store)

For years they continued to try, and try hard, to succeed with all of the best, newest, one of a kind stuff, when deep down their “downstairs” was what was soaring (they did not realize then…)

It took about 50 years, and a couple of generations involved, to realize that it was about quality, but about affordable quality, for the masses.

So… today Target is a place that, regardless of who you are, lower to middle class, professionals, the snobby and rich… even the elite above and beyond, you love the place because it is “affordable” (not cheap) quality and aesthetic stuff. Target, like other corporations we know, is almost cult-like in terms of its customers.

We, the profession of architecture (architects), have gone in the complete opposite direction of what makes sense. The opposite direction that those designers have taken, like Isaac Mizrahi, or the beautiful products by such as Liberty of London… and now William Rast (by Justin Timberlake) or my personal favorite Mossimo (because they have the best fitting jeans and tees I’ve ever encountered… and I’ve even bought $100 jeans before).

[ Remember… Michael Graves?… tea pot now a Collector’s item ]

Why can’t we take note, and realize that we are not above and beyond others… we serve others. Like retailers do. Like the hospitality industry does. The public.

Sure, we train and become highly specialized… but we’re still ones that must sell “our business” to the public. Really! Don’t you see it?

I know you would like to say “we don’t sell a product… we sell a service…” but blah blah blah! to that. We sell a product. You cannot deny that, even though not in existence, your design is a product… the product that is your client’s eventual built environment.

Have you ever stopped to think about why Contractors do better? Get respected more? Or make more money?… Even after not receiving or enduring as much education or training (not even close) as we do? You know, they could also make the same BS statement that “they provide the service of building construction”… but they don’t. They sell their clients a product. The building.

In the same way you should be selling your client a product. The building.

If you disagree, then look around you. Why are we in such depths of disarray in this market? No one has to be. No one should be.

Did you know Target recently opened their first store in the island of Manhattan?… Do you have a project in Manhattan?… Looks to me like Target’s got you beat (bahaha… bad joke)

But honestly… re-think your practice, re-think your strategy, and I would strongly recommend you put into perspective exactly what it is (& how it is) that you’re doing  it all. Put into practice “the Target effect”.

AND… if this at all sounds interesting to you… got get yourself some additional free business skills from Barnes & Noble, for the small price (or big depending how you look at it) of a stbx cup of coffee.

let’s pray…

Posted in opinion, other architects, projects by DS26 on 01.09.2011

Today, Sunday, a day especially made of religious significance (at least in certain religions) is a day most dedicate to calm, prayer, and faith.

Most, additionally, dedicate this day to be with family, whether partaking in religious activities or not.

When I was growing up Sundays were Catholic Church days, and family gathering at or around lunch time to spend the entire day together at my house. We would be anywhere around 10-15 people or more. Every Sunday.

In lieu of this day, and events in the last one, I thought I would dedicate this post to

7 details that have made 7 of the most recognizable works of religious architecture.

In no particular order of preference (because Ando would be back to back on my two top spots.. ehe):

1. Notre Dame du Haut  (“Ronchamp”)

A famed building, and surely his most significant religious work, by Le Corbusier.

A couple of things that make Ronchamp most recognizable: its roof structure (form), and its varying punched windows. The random-nes of their sizes, widths, angles (within), create a magnificent ever-changing display of light in the space.

Both can be seen in this image and, though the stand alone differing greatly from each other, they’ve made the ‘whole’.

~

In keeping with the theme of light…

2. Church of Light

One of Tadao Ando’s most recognized buildings in Japan.

Details that are most significant in this building, as well as all of most of his other work, is not what is there but is what is created in its absence. Ando believes architecture is not about the objects, but about the void or space created. In the Church of light he creates the cross of light by subtracting it from the concrete wall. Additionally, to create a much greater definition, one can see the side wall joints approach the light cross, to give it a perceived extension.

~

In keeping with the theme of light…

3. Jubilee Church

A religious structure by Richard Meier, in which light is one of the most important design drivers.

From an inside perspective one can see one of the many skylights above. The skylights span from one double curved wall slab to the next. Though obviously not structural, it is built in to the whole building becoming a significant detail in the experience of its faithful. Casting shadows, and allowing daylighting, are these skylights’ most significant purpose.

(Please notice there are structural members from wall to wall, but they act independently from the glass)

~

In keeping with structures…

4. Thorncrown Chapel

A structure meant to bring the outside in, by E. Fray Jones.

There is something very beautiful about the repetitive pattern. The space created by a lattice linear repetition.

Don’t think this space was designed, or meant to bring any particular religious preference. It may instead connect anyone who visits to nature, therefore light, and a sense of peace.

~

In keeping with structures…

5. Sagrada Familia

A never-ending project, of magnificent proportions and detail, designed by Antonio Gaudi.

This, architecturally, is the one building everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. Whether a religious individual or not, the shear scale of this structure is something to be admired. Also, Gaudi though some regard as having been eccentric, had noble reasons for most of his work.

Aesthetically we’ve heard that there is a certain bone-like inspiration to the columns in the space. If Gaudi was alive I would ask to further give me insight to what he was thinking… I see the “bone-like”, but there are these spurs; these flashes of structure.

I admire the dedication Gaudi put into his work when he was alive, his cause the “forgotten creatures”, and the dedication now of Spain and its people to finalize this monumental work of art beyond his death.

~

In keeping with objects… though not monumentality

6. Church of Water

The second piece featured in this article by Ando.

This time he did not play with what isn’t there… unless we look at a surface for the cross to stand on.

The cross is an object he has placed into an almost god-like existence, floating on water. What I appreciate most about this structure (like any other in his work) is the minimalism that allows what is important to be so strongly perceived… in this case the symbolism of this particular detail.

~

In keeping with minimalism… though not recognized

7. Saint Benedikt

Lastly, though not recognized, this religious structure is so minimal but so perfectly thought out and executed, it could be considered a detail in an of itself.

Designed by Kunze Seeholzer in Germany.

Perfectly detailed doors, benches, even the bell location, and cross…. we call this a little & beautifully crafted ‘religious architectural gem’.

~

Let’s pray… for family… friends… this country… this world… and also for more great design…

DS26 design(ing) today

Posted in opinion by DS26 on 01.02.2011

In consideration of this economy that, unlike many opinions and statistics, is not getting better in architecture, we have taken it upon ourselves to remain as active & creative in design as possible, and in many ways through many alternative formats.

I, for example, truly do enjoy graphic design. Anything 2d print or web, any size, is a challenge for me, and I think of it the exact same way I do architecture… taking into consideration balance, cohesiveness, flow, organization, a palette, etc.

I find fast-turn-around joy in updating our twitter thumb, or creating an event poster.

Some iterations of DS26 on twitter for 2010:

You see, we have a brand/image that we’ve created, a signature gray & orange combination, and a cool acronym DS26, which stands for Design Studio 26, and does mean a couple of things to us… (we did not randomly choose a number).

And, actually, we started in gray & green (which most of you would not remember), and with our last names (old school), and realized that the whole world had turned gray & green, and that last names would not do it anymore… and acronyms were in… There! So… we moved on!

But… now the whole world turned gray & orange… ( Sigh! )

I’m also well-known for being a compulsive iWeb designer. I don’t know why, but I can’t leave my websites alone…  :/

BobbyZ today seems to be getting a kick out of designing tees. He’s created an interesting collection of DS26 tees, and other architecturally fun tees:

We sell the tees, along with other cool merchandise (like my minimal graphics stuff) on DS26SHOP.

We do this to keep busy, to keep our creative juices flowing… We’re both enrolled in Master degrees, studying for the ARE (Architect Registration Exam), and fighting our way through this currently very economically disappointing profession.

We see what is happening and we talk through, and build a strategy, on what it is that DS26 will actually be… Architecture as it has always been will not remain. It is changing, evolving, and we’re certainly trying to have the foresight to be at the forefront.

We work on design, we surround ourselves with others doing the same… and we try to get a handle on things that we CAN do today, without that license that isn’t here yet (but hopefully this year)… like

The Living City Challenge.

Yes. We are entering… and YES, we will be in practice (a new business model of a practice anyway)…

26 Resolutions

Posted in opinion by DS26 on 12.30.2010

26[at]41 for *2011

NO, I’m not about to list 26 resolutions… whaaat?… that would be silly!

Here are 7:

1. We’ll tweet everyday, at least once a day. ~ Wait!…

2. We’ll improve our appearance to look more like architects.  ~ Hey, psssst, you!… Can you help us?

3. We’ll finish our living city design competition submission.  ~ And we’ll tell you all about it too…

4. We’ll both be licensed before the year’s end. ~ I hope!

5. We’ll become better sales people, and better business people… see if we can take our venture to the next level.  ~ Yes, I want to believe I’ve already started. Don’t burst my bubble please…

6. We’ll continue to mentor younger and/or the completely clueless people out there about good design. ~ And how it does not mean more expense, a waste, unnecessary, and it means quality of life, experience, joy…

7. We’ll OPEN SHOP… that is We’ll start. Begin. Take Off. Take Flight…. We’ll rumble the engines and make noise. Throw your hands up. HOLLA! ~ I borrowed that from @modernsauce

the architecture of Apple

Posted in opinion, projects by DS26 on 12.06.2010

Remember this?

People lined up for days… hours… it was a craze.

The opening of Apple in 5th Ave, NYC.

The novelty that was the clean, transparent, glass box. The steel details. The floating crisp, white apple logo.

Wow. What a beauty.

Well… it does not end there. And, as I learned recently, there are many more impressive Apple stores out there, and this post will give you a bit of a gist.

It all started in Soho (or so I am told). The restoration of the interiors of the Soho store was taken on.

The facade and structure remain, restored, and the interiors have taken a modern life, like Apple alone can do it.

Truth is the company has created an architecture to expand and highlight their branding.

Smart.

NO doubt you have arrived to an Apple store, without even catching a logo, as soon as you see it. Certain materials and certain details announce it loud and clear.

The company has taken steps toward a more sustainable architecture including daylighting, green roofs, aluminum (highly recyclable and potentially already recycled).

Also, sustainable because they have learned (or chosen) to respect historic features and structures. You can see it at their Soho store, and others.

Something I did not know, as you probably don’t, are certain record-breaking facts.

For example, the store at NYC upper west side has a record-breaking span glass roof.

Also, the new Shanghai store. It has an impressive glass span vertically (seems like 3 stories).

I looked at this image quite closely, to make sure it was a continuous piece. It surely is.

The cylinder is an homage to the original 5th ave cube… right?!

A new underground playground for all the Apple fanatics, users, lovers in the world.

One store that impressed me was the Louvre. Did you know the Louvre had an Apple?

At first I thought it could not be real… it was so… pre-meditated.

But there it was.

A Louvre Apple!


Now… I wonder what IM Pei thinks about this new glass pyramid.

Does it (potentially) pay respect and admiration to his architecture?

I think maybe so. At least, I hope so… he is to be very well respected, and one of my faves.

The latest store I visited was really enjoyable. It is the place where, as of yet, I have found the most natural light… it was quite a refreshing space to experience.

It is the newest Chicago store, at Lincoln Park.


In this store, longitudinally arranged, the two ends are main entries, one which faces and welcomes people from the CTA red line “clybourn” stop.

Also, there is a long span skylight that runs most of the entire length of the building, plus a green roof.

I have heard many rumors about this particular store, and some are tied to some facts.

One for example is that they want to rename the red line stop to “Apple”, or the apple logo.

I cannot corroborate or deny this as a fact, but I can attest to the significant improvement to the red line entry by the creation of the plaza.

A genius here told me that, due to a union strike, the opening of this store was delayed.

I was there for it’s final stages, and visited in the recent weeks, in it’s first weeks.

Extra cool facts are, for example, that Apple’s revenues are approximately $7,000 per every single square foot of retail built space (staggering!).

Also, that Apple recently launched AutoCAD for Mac. I waited almost a decade for this… being a personal user for almost that long. I have used CAD since it was Release 14… in the early 90’s.

I am not that old, but I did listen to my dad when I was 17 and took my 1st pro class in college.

NOW  I simply hope that, after the CAD release, Jobs considers the next (newest) best thing, and that is to develop a Mac Revit series (architecture, structures, mep)…

Truthfully that could have been it… they could have skipped CAD… but then again, vectors had to happen before hand I guess.

It is obvious I LOVE APPLE, and I am not the only one… there is a whole culture out there.

My twitter friend @npann for example, keeps me informed often. He has an area (category) in his site dedicated to his Apple posts.

Also, my friend @liraluis calls herself (proudly) Miss MacGruber.

There’s Miss MacGruber, wearing electric blue, at Copenhagen’s meat packing district… friends bonding with Apple at Soho’s Architect of Record : Ronnette Riley.

( thanks for the pic lira! )

And, self, hugging “my apple” the first time I visited Chicago’s Apple store on Michigan back in 2007… First time I visited Chicago when we came for USGBC Greenbuild.

I have always been called by friends… the Mac Baby.

Maybe you should consider joining us?!

Hey, Apple… need another Senior Design Manager?! ~ sounds like whole lot of mac fun…  :)


post(ed)!

Posted in music+architecture, opinion, other architects by DS26 on 12.05.2010

In the last few weeks my good Twitter friend @anammanzo , architect in Venezuela, has been building up an outstanding series of posts by her favorite bloggers.

Lucky us, we’re one of them…   ^.^

I submitted a post to her, lucky #17, about harmony which she published in spanish  “armonias… un tema subjetivo?” and in english “harmonies… a subjective matter?”

This little post is dedicated to her, Ana, for doing such a fantastic job with her publishing, plus collecting and bringing such an enriching group of people together.. to collaborate.. about harmony and architecture.

WOOOOooooo Ana !

:)

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.

I WANT IN!

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…

Santiago.. i find myself JEALOUS !

Posted in music+architecture, opinion, other architects by DS26 on 10.02.2010

I call him by his first name since, after my visit to the U of Miami and his presentation

(+ his big signature in the front of my copy of the free handout, see below)…

I have always felt like I know him well.

Actually, more than a signature and a ‘rock-star architect’ status (given by the frenzy upon his arrival), I was very much taken back by his artistry and business/presentation skills. He had a very strong presence, and a very thick spanish accent.

A movie was played, that day, that I’ve never been able to find again. I have looked for it everywhere. It was breathtaking. The mechanisms of his buildings moving to very beautiful music…

But as wonderful as his buildings are, they all come from a distinct (the same) place… a piece of art.

Specifically a watercolor.

( see the signature?… it matches mine… )   :D

In addition to visualizing his buildings as art… he also expresses movement, live from the human body (or birds, or insects)…

this is usually the greater part of his inspiration for the project solutions.

So, why would I be JEALOUS ?

Santiago has found joy in quiet moments of solitude to carry out architecture as art.

I wish for the day I do…

The minutia of the everyday, and bureaucracy of professional practice in the United States, slowly (and surely) take my every day away… and I cannot find the quiet.

Santiago, an artist, has also found the ability and the clients to carry out art as architecture.

In being able to carry out architecture as art, and art as architecture, he has been able to find the ‘completeness’ of our beautiful profession.

And, I’m Jealous…