#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.


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.


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…


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.


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…

Congrats to the AIA!

Posted in other architects by DS26 on 10.21.2010

For winning the 2010 International Association for Public Award….

AIA Award Press

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…

milwaukee (un)expected . .

Posted in opinion, other architects, projects by DS26 on 09.19.2010

As you may or may not know that we visited Milwaukee yesterday.

Sure we visited because there is the renowned Calatrava & Saarinen that meet in the waterfront :

Later on, we took a ride to a very familiar place (in books)… one of FLW’s last projects :

I even  found what would be my home if I were ever to have a home in the city… a renovated mid-century beauty :

But as the day went by, and our camera was tired of snapping, we found our way to an unlikely and architecturally unexpected place in the city…

the Harley-Davidson Museum

What do we know about Harley-Davidson?…

It screams ‘BAD-ASS’, ‘dangerous’… and possibly ‘mid-life crisis’ (to some).

What did we not know ?… (but perhaps should have…)

That ‘BAD-ASS’ architecture would come along with…

We were stunned, even from the moment we saw it over the highway.

Big, Bold, Cool, Dark, Structural… Volumes sit, very well composed, on the site :

Surely, the Architects got to play with the coolest of Structural materials… Gigantic Steel Sections, Cross Bracing…

At this point we like it… but it turned to love when we saw this :

Can you see it? … Custom 14-15 ft tall doors. Beauties… Now we had to go in, and certainly knew we were in for a treat.

Approaching the door we find that it is a copper finish. Nice. Open and you walk into an intermediate space (foyer) and you encounter the doors projected… next in what seemed to be brushed chrome.

Inside… just great. Still Cool, Bold, and Metal. A bit Rock & Roll…

And you know you got a winner when you visit a bathroom, and you find such customization :

If you did not see it, look down. The faucet is ‘active’ via a motorcycle gas pedal (clutch). Can’t get more bad-ass, can it?

Well, we kept walking and encountering… The Cafe :

The Shop :

And one of my personal favorites… an ‘I-Beam’ for a bench on the way out :

We would like to send props to PENTAGRAM ARCHITECTS in New York for a ‘BAD-ASS’ building… the Harley-Davidson staff loves it, they told us about you and your details ( and of things like the crazy sanding of the galvanized steel members, and the smooth opaque black bricks ) and could not stop… and now us.

By the way… those cool copper doors we talked about earlier… only a paint, surely a metal-finish paint. A pretty peny.

I guess Harley-Davidson love their bikes, love their clients… and love their Architects.   :)

Architect?.. Get ‘Licensed’ or get over it !

Posted in opinion, other architects by DS26 on 09.05.2010

Alright everyone…

The omelette was the last straw.

As I was watching television last night, Denny’s the famed breakfast place advertised for you “to be your own omelette Architect”. Say what?!

I had to get close to the tv… I thought I heard wrong.

Not only do we have to deal with IT Professionals bogging down our “Architect” category at every job search engine site, but now this?

Products have been also popping up in shelves at stores near you that throw the term around like it means nothing… A razor. A mascara.

I even see some of my followers on Twitter call themselves that, or interior architects, when they shouldn’t.

The more I thought about the subject last night, after the omelette incident, I remembered one of my favorite tv shows: How I met your mother… (HIMYM)

HIMYM is a great show by CBS with an “Architect” as lead… but is he really an Architect?… my guess is not… at least not as per the United States, and his State’s Board Requirements.

They show Ted throwing the term around, and building models… even designing a sky-scraper… which then the “Owner” considers.

CBS: Could you please do the right thing and have the content step back, for the sake of the public, and give Ted a license?!… Professionals around the country would greatly appreciate it.

I am making this public statement because the show’s writers/producers went as far as to air an episode about Marshall’s BAR exam. Yet, Ted does not seem to have properly completed his professional registration.

From what has been on the show… he’d be a half-way intern at best.

I would also like to add to all manufacturers out there, and to Denny’s… our profession is not a joke.

Life Safety (as in yours every day) is part in our hands, and we work very hard to get to that. Much harder than anyone seems to care to see. It takes years of agonizing (at times) work for others, learning a ton, and quite a few “Bar” exams if you will. Seven in total.

Let’s be realistic everybody. Our profession has lost the majority of its value… when it lost control over its title.

Some may want to tell me it is out of respect… well. Not sure about all that people.

Truth is there isn’t any more respect left to have.

There’s certainly no understanding of the process even… not even when publicly placed in context.