#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.



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.


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…

“Chi-rrette” … WIAfund Award # 2

Posted in Women in Architecture by DS26 on 08.01.2010
Do you remember the post [ Meet Marla St. John… ] ?

Well, a new award has been announced as of this morning.


the WIAfund asks :  Can you connect and activate the space ?

On their website they post :

We all know Chicago is an Architecture ‘mecca’.

From Mies to FLW, and SOM, Gehry, Piano, Ando, and the new Krueck+Sexton, Gang…  all have created quite the compilation of architecture within the city’s fabric.

Now, you are next !!

For this award the WIA (Women in Architecture) fund calls you, emerging ladies, to design the next big thing (or small) on Chicago’s waterfront.

Download Award #2 Requirements or international form here

It is a “charrette” as the title quasi-depicts. The deadline for submission is 08/20/10… in just about 20 days.

Good luck ladies !


a musical gehry

Posted in music+architecture, opinion, other architects, projects by DS26 on 07.31.2010

CHI(natown) Toys !

Posted in stuff by DS26 on 07.24.2010

So, yesterday, due to my little sister being here (and somewhat because she is a perfectly quartered venezuelan, italian, german, chinese girl) we went to Chinatown in Chicago.

( if you noticed in [ Ivonne & Architecture ] … her eyes are slightly asian-ised.. Ha! )

One exit away from our house… it is just about a skip away on the red.

Even though it was scorching… we walked the path, lively buildings on both sides of the street.

But, what I was most amused by were the Toys…

Toys. Toys. Toys.

Dolls, swords, little things… Buddhas… dresses… bamboos… all sorts of things for sale… at every store.

It was wonderful. Colors. Patterns. All things one would want (& does not necessarily need) Asian.

Take these beauties, for example… (BobbyZ thought they were a little too real)

And, right behind… the little boy toys. I loved these. Metal made, crazy nick-nack-y Rex… nuts, bolts…

who the heck wouldn’t want that?

So many buddhas.. so little time..

Are you looking for health? money? love? luck?… Chinatown has a buddha pho ju !


Plus… these are some of my faves.

The really modern dolls. Usually see these in cool perfume bottles at the store. (Can’t remember the name now… have never bought them, but always amused by packaging/bottle design)

This one that looks like she’s riding CTA :

And this one was definitely happy to be in front of the camera :

There were also toys for all ages…

Example, the yard type toys for adults would be ones that JadaZ would be definitely scared of when walking by…

And other wonderful things…

We always love the ‘lucky’ bamboo.

But no matter how many toys we saw, how many stores, how many markets, here is the best part of it all :

people that are working really hard, day to day, to make ends meat.

People that, with pride and joy, enjoy a craft (like this guy we found at the front counter of his own store)… he was sculpting away like no one was watching.

Best of all was definitely the people…

Horse sculpture, anyone?


meet our new neighbors ! ( & yes, you can eat them all )

Posted in opinion, stuff by DS26 on 07.12.2010

Finally, we arrived in Chicago after great ordeal that involved a few thousand miles with a 60 lbs. pup in the passenger’s seat,  and two weeks of 20+ architecture/engineering/construction inclined teenagers.

How exactly did we get here ? … mmmh!… ?

In any case, after one week in the City, we find ourselves more alive than ever. At every corner.

Architecturally, culturally… in my particular case, even ethnically ( I find that every time we stumble upon a wonderful food ‘parlor’, I immediately succumb to their heritage… )

For those of you that are local, you’re lucky and may know them well… If you aren’t… sorry?!

Meet our new neighbors !

1. Bridgeport Coffee Company

A small, but very popular ( and very good ) coffee joint we found down our street, at the corner of Morgan & 31st. Bridgeport Coffee Company definitely sets a high standard.

Our favorite thing about this place ( besides our complimentary 1st-time-in espresso shots ) is that the staff is awfully friendly, the coffee is extremely good, and the breakfast sandwich ( not having had lunch there yet ) is one of a kind… I tried the ‘everything’ bagel with eggs, cheddar, mayo, mustard, jalapeños, pickels, tomatoes, s&p… yummy.

We also loved the old ceiling, the mason jars for H2O, 2 available wi-fi(s), and the very happy day-lighting by the window… lovely space.

2. Zaytune Mediterranean Grill

A newly opened ( we assume by all other online posts ) small place, close by the coffee, where one can get a very nice, fresh, lunch.

At Zaytune we particularly loved the yogurt cucumber dill salad, and the home-made flat breads. Nice.

3. La Palapa Mariscos

This one place… man oh man. 5 Stars !

If you want a very beach-y, spanish, seafood flavor… and if you are not scared of B.Y.O.B…. this place is for you.

When we went to La Palapa, we ran into it accidentally on our way to Target. It was busy busy with people… always a good ‘food’ sign.

So we said, what the heck… let’s try it.

Inside my order was not what I requested, but chose to stick with it… and was blown away. Believe me, I am not one to be very happy when my orders are wrong ( out in a restaurant ), but I can admit it was delicious.

A piece of South America + Florida (shark at the top and all) for me here in Chicago.

So next time you drop by Bridgeport… Feel free to eat up our new neighbors.

Well worth it !