DS26

Corbu’s Skull @DS26SHOP

Posted in DS26SHOP by DS26 on 08.17.2011

#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.

~

3 #GC thoughts for better #Architecture

Posted in Architecture, Business of Architecture by DS26 on 04.30.2011

It is 4:29 am, and I could not stop thinking (since yesterday) about writing this post.

There are very obvious differences between the two minds that must come together, as seamlessly as possible, to make a building happen efficiently.

The Architect (the ‘creative mind’) could learn a thing or two from the Contractor (the ‘practical mind’), and vice-versa (though that post is for another day), ultimately to run a more effective practice (or project) :

1. Think Money, not Time.

Architects seem to have a single daily resource focus : time.  Contractors, in the other hand, focus every day on at least two separate though equally important resources : time & money.

There is nothing wrong with thinking of time, except we all tend to forget that “time is money”

Architects tend to function trying to beat a clock, their deadlines, continuously inflating their work within that time…  therefore minimizing significantly their yet-to-be-received or reserve money resource.  Contractors, unlike Architects, are keenly and constantly aware of their yet-to-be-received or reserve money resource, and continuously make stride to minimize their use of the time resource, which in turn inflates their money resource (and not their work).

So, think more like a Contractor, and run your practice (or project) with both resources in mind, or even better…  think Money, not Time.  You might find yourself probably being more efficient, and potentially pocketing some of that cash or buying that new printer you always wanted.

2. Think Building, not Design.

The design phase…  to some a very abstract idea.  And, what is design?

Architects all know it is the process of conceptualizing and developing better spaces, to be included in the project.  At times this is a difficult pill to swallow for people.  They cannot grasp why this may be a valid (or valuable) process.

Architects should think of their work more as Contractors think “Pre-Construction”…  what I mean by that is stop thinking about the “conceptualizing of a better environment” and start thinking of the tools for a better building.

Thinking of the end product will help you regain control of the value of your own work, and the profession.  Of course, design should always be inclusive…  but that is a given for any good architect.
Still, remember to  Think Building, not Design.

3. Think Owner, not Building.

The last and crucial piece.

Architects focus so much on the design (not even the building – see #2), that they may loose grip of the client and reasons why there is a project in the first place.  It may not seem so as you read this but think back…  Most Architects, as you may have once or twice, see Owner meetings as tedious work and designing as the fun work.

What if Architects could shift their train of thought :  Owner meetings are fun, and designing is just the project’s requirement?

By doing this, Architects could better hold on to the “Business” that is Architecture, like Contractors have held on to the business of building.  Regain the ability to deliver a tangible valuable asset to the Owner, while being  profitable, effective and efficient through this delivery process…  Think Owner, not Building.

~

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.

HS.. thinking Architecture?

Posted in a design education, High School AEC Education, projects, stuff by DS26 on 01.27.2011

If you’re a High School student now, and are not sure but have the suspicion that maybe you would like to be an architect, there are many wonderful programs nationwide to help you explore design before you have to concretely make a decision.

I, myself, am involved in one, offered by Duke University via the Duke TIP program.

This particular program is a 2-week boarding session where we concentrate not only in Architecture, but other building industries and also matters of Sustainability.

This year, 2011, will be my 2nd time participating. 2010 was actually the founding class (picture below) and some of our students have left the class with great passion and inspiration to continue in the path to becoming architects. We also had future engineers and builders.

[ follow the link for Duke TIP Arch here ]

~

Another great program is the one led by my undergraduate school Director Aron Temkin, now professor and Dean of the School of Architecture and Art at Norwich University. Located at the Fallingwater residence designed by famed american architect Frank Lloyd Wright, this program is a 1-week boarding program that

is an interdisciplinary architecture program for students interested in exploring environmental and design related issues in the context of one of America’s most significant works of architecture

[ for more about Fallingwater HS Residency ]

~

There are other local non-boarding programs around, like the CAF (Chicago Architecture Foundation) Teens program. Offered during the summer in the City of Chicago.

[ more about CAF Teens in Chicago ]

CAF, in addition, offers a program at Taliesin, studio founded by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Or the summer Architecture program offered by IIT (Illinois Institute of Technolgy), also in Chicago, located in the famous campus with buildings designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe & Rem Koolhaas.

[ more on HS iit summer architecture ]

~

There are specialized High Schools around the country that are also tracked in Architecture, for those of you that were undoubtedly born for the art.

Like DASH (Design Architecture Senior High) in Miami.

I probably would’ve attempted to get in if I would have known it existed…

Many programs, many places, chartered schools, etc… do your homework.

Google “High School Architecture”.   :)

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 #architecture (#arquitectura)

Posted in DS26 work by DS26 on 01.08.2011

When we take on any project whether a competition, a tee shirt or a concept… our core values remain :

human scale, sustainability, efficiency (materials & cost-), improving quality of life.

we’ve updated our project gallery to show what we’ve been up to for the past 2-3 years, and we will soon be adding content (as we now are working on re-designing a downtown corridor). Stay tuned!

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…