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.



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.




@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/