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.



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…

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.




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)…

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…

Vivi’s take on Architecture

Posted in interviews, opinion, stuff by DS26 on 06.07.2010

After being inspired by Bob Borson’s (@bobborson ) article “An Interview with Kate Borson..” , and seeing the fascinating and keen perspective that a child can bring about the profession, we decided to interview Vivi.

We found a few minutes, in her busy schedule, for a quick phone Q&A.

Vivi is Tabitha’s 5 year-old niece.

She’s sharp. She’s quick. She’s intuitive. She’s witty… and we can’t wait to hear what she has to say.

Here we go !


the Studio : Vivi, what do we do for a living ?

Vivi : Whaaat ? … shut up, I can’t heaaar ! (she yells away from the phone)

the Studio : [chuckle]

Vivi : it’s Carlitos… (her lil’ brother)

the Studio : It’s Carlitos ? Tell him to be quiet.

Vivi : I ammm.

the Studio : Vivi, so.. what do we do for a living ? for a profession… do you know ?

Vivi : Nooo.

the Studio : Ok.. We are Architects (without getting into the unlicensed part… that would really confuse her).            Vivi, do you know what an Architect does ?

Vivi : Yes.

the Studio : What does an Architect do ?

Vivi : I said whaaat does it do ?!

the Studio : In school they didn’t teach you what an Architect does ?

Vivi : A Archi.. A Architec ?

the Studio : An Architect…

Vivi : A Architect ?

the Studio : Yes, an Architect. I will tell you what we do, and then we’ll continue. We design buildings.

Vivi : Ok… wait a minute. I’m gonna tell Carlitos to be quiet.


the Studio : Vivi, are you back ?

Vivi : Aha.

the Studio : So… What does an Architect do ?

Vivi : Architect do ? … I dunno.

the Studio : We just told you, they design buildings.

Vivi : they make nice buildings.

the Studio : that’s right. Do you think it’s difficult, designing buildings ?

Vivi : uh-huh. Yes.

the Studio : why do you think it’s difficult ?

Vivi : I’ve never seen it before.

the Studio : How long do you think it takes to design a building ?

Vivi : I dunno.

the Studio : Let’s look at an example: your house. How long do you think it takes to design your house ?

Vivi : ahhmmm, 101.

the Studio : 101 what ? Hours ?

Vivi : 101 miiiinutes.

the Studio : And, how much do you think that person got paid to design your house ?

Vivi : mmhh. A lot. mmmh mmh $100.

the Studio : $100 ? .. Sounds like a lot of money. What can you buy with $100 ?

Vivi : you can buy 100 stuff.

the Studio : 100 stuff ?. Where can you buy 100 stuff for $100 ?

Vivi : some at target, some at walgreens, some at walmart…

the Studio : [chuckle] If you had $100 what would you buy ?

Vivi : ahhmm. I’d buy a tooooy. – I can’t heeear (she yells again at Carlitos).

the Studio : So, Vivi, for Architecture, do you think we have to go to school ?

Vivi : ahhmm. Yeap.

the Studio : And, how long do you think that took ?

Vivi : ahhmm. More days than you go to 1st grade.

the Studio : And, do you think Architecture school was hard ?

Vivi : ahhmm. Nope. – Momma tell Carlitos to be quiet.. cause, Tabi.. I can’t heeeaaar. (she tells my sister)

the Studio : Next question. Do you think it takes more people than an Architect to build a house ?

Vivi : mhh.. (long pause here) 2.

the Studio : 2 ? And what do they do ?

Vivi : make a house. They make the rooms, houses like they have bathrooms, and then my bedroom. ahhm, and stuff that you need for your house.

the Studio : What about your school ?

Vivi : they’re building a new school, but I’m only in 1st grade.

the Studio : [chuckle] No, I meant how many people it takes to build your school ?

Vivi : oh. ahhmmm.. I think like 10.

the Studio : I see, and how long do you think that would take ?

Vivi : ohmm.. that can take (pause).. 180 minutes.

the Studio : Well Vivi, good. We thank you for your answers.

Vivi : okeeey.

the Studio : Sooo… What do you want to be when you grow up.. Do you know ?

Vivi : a artist.

the Studio : An Artist ? What kind of Artist ?

Vivi : ahhm. A artist that paints.

the Studio : Wow, an Artist that paints. That’s great. ( little does she know some of us Archs start that way.. as Artists )

Vivi : I’m already gonna be an Artist, cause I already know how to paint.

the Studio : Vivi, that’s aweeeesome.

Vivi : I’m gonna be on of them right?! because I’m almost in 1st grade, and on Monday I’m gonna be there, aaand I’m gonna have a paaarty at my schooool.

the Studio : So, are you going to paint something for me ? Now that you’re an Artist ?

Vivi : yes.

the Studio : What are you going to paint for me ?

Vivi : I’m not tellin you, it’s a surpriiiiise.

the Studio : Ok. Well we love you Vivi ok ? Thank you for your time.

Vivi : Okeeeey. Bu-bye.

@TMA … by Stanley Saitowitz

Posted in opinion, other architects, projects by DS26 on 05.26.2010

Before we begin our journey at the windy city, Chicago.. and possibly the dissection of all mid-century modern that will surround us… we thought we’d give you the latest and greatest of Florida.

The new Tampa Museum of Art, by Stanley Saitowitz, was the last building we visited with analytical (and possibly judgmental) eyes.

Sitting robust, clean cut, and definitely contemporary, it is located right on the water in downtown Tampa.

We had been watching it for a while. Truth is, one rarely sees such a ‘clean box’ around Florida, and it, in fact, gave us hope.

The first surprise, getting from the parking lot, past and around the new children’s museum, is the very deep cantilever.

What a shocker !

We had seen such cantilevers before ( DS+R’s Institute of Contemporary Art, in Boston ) in person and in pictures.

But in Florida?… a first.

The clean lines continued, what seemed infinitely… and the metal skin just became more intriguing as we approached. That could be said for just about everyone arriving.

So what’s with the funky metal skin?

Yes, so we asked ourselves…

Firstly, it is a triple skin. We thought: interesting… It is glass, then metal, then metal again.

So… Any purpose to all this complexity ?

Well, we think Stan chose the second metal layer for two reasons (cost increase aside)

1. aesthetic purposes… and this is primary : to give the building a dynamic feel. It’s a static ‘box’ that seems in motion, and active.

2. only guessing here… secondary : reduction of heat gain, and light control.

Any material is better than no material, and 3 layers is definitely better than 2. So, it may work as any other dbl-skin with an air layer within… reducing interior heat gain. This makes sense since it sits in the Florida sun, completely unobstructed.

Light control, because like any other art museum, the work must be preserved. The punched metal allows plenty of light in, where needed, but it has to find its way around the two metal layers’ punches, therefore defragmenting. So, within, it becomes defused in a way… indirect.

What we found upon arrival, inside… a clean, modern, light-and-metal-filled space.

A place where anyone (even a toddler) would find comfort in roaming the halls… (meant, open lobby)

It was refreshing !

Also inside…

Another shocker !

An ORANGE elevator… and you do know how we love orange (have you seen our pics?)

That is plain and simple a BOLD statement. An orange elevator… a single item/detail in the entire building of cool metal and glass.

Now we are fairly certain that Stan is our kind of guy… most definitely.

Lastly, to demonstrate a true Architect… one that takes nothing for granted. For one that not even the smallest, or most insignificant thing should be left un-thought, unattended, or un-designed…

Throughout the interiors, where the art is displayed, every single concrete floor joint matched perfectly reflected to every single ceiling sound-absorbing panel.

No joke !

Double joints, approximately 32-36 inches apart, that met with the edges of each long panel above… plus the coolest air diffusers we’ve ever encountered in a public project in Florida.

(in the picture below, which we were not supposed to take -oops-, you should be able to see the joints bottom right…     and match them to the top.)

So next time you are in Florida… and pass by Tampa, do visit the TMA by Saitowitz.

You will be surprised from arrival, to your momentary visit to the ‘cubical subtraction’ (the terrace) in the second floor. We cannot tell you what you will find there… it’s too good to give away, and you must see it for yourself.

Drop by for the art… But definitely for the building. Be inspired, like we were… and remember that Architecture is as much an Art as all of the pictures hanging on those wall.

Architecture is an Art that, combined with the sciences, is meant (supposed) to enhance people’s lives.

~ don’t forget to have a Gelato while you’re at it… in a place where everything, even the cups, are cool !

~ Yummy !

for more about Stanley Saitowitz, you can visit his portfolio here : http://www.saitowitz.com/