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.



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.

growing up to be #BIG… ?

Posted in projects, sustainability by DS26 on 01.06.2011

As we quickly approach yet again another graduation, a license and legitimate practice, and the place in adulthood of no return (and no excuses)… we continue to strive to understand what it is DS26 will be.

We spend a lot of time looking at firms that we greatly admire, BIG among others.

Bjarke Ingels, a 36 year old Danish guy with fantastic architectural vision and mad skills to retain private developers as perpetual clients, has lead BIG (the Bjarke Ingels Group) to become one ‘universal’ practice. He’s being recognized for his radical aesthetics yet he insistently retains sustainability as a core value in the work… creating many instances of daylighting, endless paths for pedestrians, and must-have routes for bicyclists. BIG recently opened shop in NY.

One should have great admiration for such projects accomplished as the mountain and the 8 house.

We always joke saying “we want to be like BIG when we grow up”… but is it really this BIG?


Spontaneously the both of us continue to feel there has to be more to life than simply a design-service pratice… and more to life than design for money. That sustainability does matter a great deal. And that there must be a way we can actually have a BIG-ger impact.

We (definitely I) don’t want to deal with the everyday headaches I’ve already experienced… client-based practice, billing, contract issues… and in this market? We (definitely Bobby) would much rather experience design in its pure form, unapologetic, unbound by the mundane. See design actually change lives… that it becomes appreciated… enjoyed.

I, particularly, think education is a great part of my calling. I want to educate through Arts+Sciences. I mentioned in my “death” the High Tech Center.

So maybe we should be looking at other big ones, with a different type of architecture and maybe a bit more impact, like Samuel Mockbee

Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee (12/23/1944 – 12/30/2001) dedicated his life, as a teacher and as an architect, to creating architecture that not only elevated the living standards of the rural poor but also provided “shelter for the soul.”

He, with his Rural Studio at Auburn, managed to lift many spirits in the rural south. His architecture was BIG in other ways.

Also Michael Reynolds (aka Garbage Warrior), who in his own quirky way is slowly building what he calls ‘biotecture’.

Reynolds’ work is so radical, even the AIA banned him from his credentials at one point.

We recommend you watch the movie ‘Garbage Warrior’ because in a little bit of his madness, it actually makes sense. He builds a city with man hours in exchanged for your eventual own home. He uses garbage disposed (by the megatons) every day as building materials… and with it he is creating a completely self-sustained community. Talk about a living city

Here’s your sneak peek… Believe me it’s so worth your time…

> We think there’s something to this “helping others” and “truly sustainable practice” thing…

Corbu’s Skull..

Posted in DS26SHOP by DS26 on 01.03.2011

The Bag.

One out of many many cool items that, once in a while, are a spark of design genius out of BobbyZ’s brain…

You remember?!

Studio, all night-ers, tools, sketches, wood… endless stuff. Carrying them all always an issue.

Corbu’s Skull : get yours.




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…

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.

Hi, I’m Barbie… & I want(ed) to be an Architect

Posted in opinion, stuff, Women in Architecture by DS26 on 05.29.2010

Hi, I’m Barbie.

I wanted to tell you that I find myself very disappointed.

This year, for my 51st birthday, I wanted to be an Architect.

I thought that by 51 the architecture community would have found it acceptable for me to be recognized in the profession… All of my experiences and all.

Why didn’t you support my dreams ?

Was it because I am a woman ? .. or was it because I am a ‘Bimbo’ ?

I have been called a ‘Bimbo’, many times, but I thought I was simply the doll that all little girls wanted to role play with when they are young. I thought that, my making myself a professional, I could begin to serve as an inspiration to those little girls that maybe, one day, would’ve wanted to become Architects as well.

I might add, ‘Bimbo’ is just an adult-generated stereo-typing name that I have been given, because sometimes I go blond.

Is it that bad to be a blond ? .. or feminine for that matter ?

Truth is, here is a picture of me in 1959… See ? .. Sometimes I’m different.

My makers at Mattel wanted to give me the opportunity to be an Architect this year… in this bad economic environment.

I thought that was nice of them.

The last time they allowed me to run for Architect was in 2002. Almost a decade ago.

Don’t you think if I would’ve become an Architect maybe I could have inspired the young girls, future professionals ? .. or even some of their brothers ? .. or parents for that matter ?

I believe the general public ( you know… those that shop at the stores ? ) would’ve seen ‘Architect’ in the boxes, and maybe done some research into what you all do. Maybe gained some respect, or better perspective into the profession.

Don’t you think so ?

You know, I would’ve left the bathing suit home, and dressed appropriately.

Maybe something like this :

( by professor of architecture Despina Stratigakos; photo published by [Architect Magazine] )

And, after all… my makers and I were inspired… ‘Architect’ seemed like a great title, since this is my new home in Shanghai :

I mean… isn’t it good ?

[Barbie Store, Shanghai – archdaily]

Anyway, I thought maybe you should know.

I guess, instead, I will be another type of ‘Architect’… at least according to Monster and Careerbuilder.

I do sincerely hope next time you think about the fact that the profession of Architecture is for the benefit of the public, therefore they should be better acquainted with and informed about it. It could only help.

This profession’s self-containment is slowly, but surely, being detrimental to its future.

Also ( and this is just in case you have not seen what I can do ) check out the list of all other things I’ve been.. and ask yourself :

Did Barbie ever hurt those professions ?





  • Dentist
  • Doctor (1988, Pediatrician 1994, I can be… Baby Doctor 2008)
  • Nurse (1961)
  • Surgeon (1973)
  • Veterinarian (I can be… Zoo Doctor 2008, I can be… Pet Vet 2009)


  • Paratrooper (2000)
  • United States Army officer (1989, Desert Storm 1992)
  • United States Air Force jet pilot (1990)
  • United States Air Force Thunderbirds (1993)
  • United States Marine Corps officer (1991)
  • United States Navy officer (1991)


  • Ambassador for world peace (1986)
  • United States President (2000)
  • Presidential candidate (Barbie for President 1992, 2004,2008)
  • UNICEF Summit diplomat (1990)

Public service

  • Firefighter (1995)
  • Life guard (Baywatch 1994)
  • Police officer (1993)
  • Canadian Mountie (2005)

Science and Engineering

  • Astronaut (1965, 1985, 25th Apollo 1994)
  • Computer Engineer (I can be… Computer Engineer 2010)
  • Paleontologist (1997)


  • Flight Attendant (American Airlines 1973-75, Flight Time 1989)
  • NASCAR driver (1998, I can be… Race Car Driver 2009)
  • Pilot (1990)
  • Stewardess (American Airlines 1961-64, Pan Am 1966)


  • Artist
  • Athlete (Gold Medal Barbie 1975, Olympic Gymnast Barbie 1996, Olympic Skater Barbie 1997)
  • Babysitter (Barbie Babysits 1963)
  • Ballerina (1961-present)
  • Business executive (1960, 1978, Day to Night 1985, 1999)
  • Cat burglar (Barbie by Christian Louboutin)[1]
  • Cheerleader (1973, Pom Pom Divas 2006, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Barbie 2008)
  • Cowgirl (1981)
  • Chef (1996, I can be… Bakery Chef 2008)
  • DC Comics superheroines
  • Designer (2008)
  • Fashion Model (1959-present)
  • Guest editor of international fashion magazine
  • Hair Dresser (2008)
  • Make-up artist (Barbie loves Mac 2007)
  • McDonald’s cashier (1983)
  • News anchor (I can be… News Anchor 2010)
  • Pet stylist (I can be… Pet Stylist 2008)
  • Photographer
  • Pop singer (Barbie and the Rockers 1986, I can be… Rock Star, 2009)
  • Princess (1990s-present)
  • See’s Candy cashier (2002)
  • Secretary (2007)
  • Sea world trainer (I can be… Sea World Trainer 2009)
  • Soda fountain waitress (Coca Cola Series 1998)
  • Starfleet officer (2000)
  • TV chef (I can be… TV chef, 2008)
  • Wedding stylist (I can be… Wedding Stylist, 2009)





to Carl (& all others in the ‘angry’ boat)

Posted in opinion, other architects, stuff by DS26 on 05.27.2010

After my post “5 Good Reasons to attend the Convention…” I have noticed negative / angry comments toward the AIA.

I’d like to clarify… I was not put up to it. We gained nothing. They gained nothing.

A Carl commented on the article… and I quote “Blah, Blah, blah …”

All I want to know is the following Carl ( & all others in the ‘angry’ boat ) :

1. WHY are you waiting for the AIA to do anything for you?
2. HOW come you think that your dues should equal your livelihood?
3. WHEN did you decide that it is their fault (not the market’s, or your own for that matter ) that you are in the situation you are in?

Truth is, your dues you pay to simply belong… period.

I have seen people that have attempted to stay away from the AIA, political rebels and such, be unsuccessful…

No work ( not even in a good market ) for those people.

The AIA is the professional association that one must belong to ( like it or not ) to be taken seriously in this profession, in this country.
And I will add, the US is not the only one… also: RIBA, ‘Escuela(s)’ or ‘Colegio(s)’ ‘… de Arquitectos’ in various countries… etc.

So… I will ask a few other questions to Carl (& those in the ‘angry’ boat) :

WILL you stop it ?

CAN you be held accountable for your own actions & circumstances ?

WHY don’t you find your way back to the reasons you took on this profession in the first place, and reassess what you want out of it ?

AND, after that, why don’t you take action ? ( and i don’t mean go find a job that isn’t there… but then again, i do. When was the last time you learned a software?.. or made some true progress to meet what the profession is requiring ? – not the AIA, but the Profession… it is evolving !! )

HOW about adding some skills, or another trade ? Business ? Law ? Technology ? … all pertain.

IS it only about Money ?

DO you (still) love Architecture ? DID you ever ?


HOW ABOUT NOW.. do you still think the AIA owes you anything ? Or, do YOU OWE YOURSELF ?

*And, to all of you.. trust me I share your pain. Out of work for a year now… But, the difference between you and I ? ..

I am being “proactive” instead of “reactive”.

~ simply, food for thought !