One Jackson Square: Duly Undulating


One building that never made the Two Dozen list last year was One Jackson Square. It didn't qualify for two reasons. First, it's too big. I think. The fact checker didn't really track that part down, it just felt too big. Second, it's by a corporate firm, not a celebutante name designer-firm. KPF, they of the Baruch College catastrophe and 333 Wacker Drive (calling 1983, anyone?) do not routinely inspire. The renderings looked cool, but it's KPF. It will underwhelm in the end.

Yet the skeleton and initial touches look kind of sweet. Check out Tropolism's photo album. The curves work, and will certainly add to what was always a poorly defined, terribly dead corner of ChelseaVillage, a corner that could easily be the a powerfully alive hinge between two neighborhoods. We are in love with the scribble curves, and the fact that the bronze colored fascia will only accentuate them. And the floorplans (particularly for the 1-bedrooms, where the bedrooms are accessed by two doors, one a pocket door at the window wall) all look pretty wonderful. This one we'll keep our eyes on regardless of what lists they are on.

Less Stuff Is Better Design


I know I've been harping about this since I first got the idea for the Two Dozen list in 2004: the Roaring Two-Thousands created a lot of drek by designers because they were "designers", not because the designs were actually great. A lot of my writing has been focused on pushing designers to do better. What better opportunity for designers to really push design when all this money is sloshing around? Why not make things more efficient, more accessible, more inventively designed, and more beautiful, even if it costs a bit more? When the cycle downturns, we'll be happy to get scraps from the woodpile to make our stuff. Since September, most of us have been looking for that scrap pile.

Michael Cannell over at The Design Vote wrote a great article in the New York Times encapsulating these sentiments, looking quickly (as in long-blog-post quickly) at where product designers and architects are going to go from here. He champions sustainability in the production of goods and a good project by Lorcan O'Herlihy architects in Los Angeles that champions density over size of lawn. Welcome to the end of the decade, folks. We couldn't be more thrilled.

Jewelry Store In Paramus, New Jersey, Gets Lots Of Jungle


In one of our past life incarnations, we did a lot of work designing high-end retail. It's a great way to exercise design ideas that must explicitly reach beyond spatial concerns and go far into up-to-the-minute marketing ideas and branding concepts. In addition the design must be flexible enough to allow for the cycle of product iterations and ever evolving store upgrades to take place. All on a budget.

Some architects can't get this right to save their lives. Fortunately most brands can't afford to indulge an architect's natural tendency toward academic foolishness in these sorts of endeavors. Of course, in Switzerland, they apparently do things differently and let the architect do the whole darned mall, complete with a cheeky store dedicated to his books. Thank you Daniel Libeskind, you have completely missed the point yet again, slashing it with even more diagonal windows.

Through these eyes we see the new Tanishq jewelry store, in the Garden State Mall in Paramus, New Jersey. It is part of a series of stores by Pompei A.D., brandingarchitecture specialists based in New York City. We like the store concept because it looks less like a store and more like a jungle cave. In the context of the never-ending sell assault that is the space of a shopping mall, it creates a literal oasis where the senses are invited to explore. Your guard lets down, and then they pounce with the expensive jewelry you uncover in your adventure. Pay down our credit card, we're ready to go.

Unearthed on Arch Daily, who have lots of jungly pictures.

Hand Made Fonts


Designboom served it up the last few days with two pieces about hand made fonts. The first is about an Estonian firm called, yes, Hand Made Font. The second is by Dutch firm Autobahnwho made fonts by squirting stuff like ketchup and toothpaste (pictured) into letterforms and then letting them slide a little. This is a firm that is not afraid to make a mess in service of art. We thought they looked festive enough to be in keeping with the New Year theme today, and so we present them for your consideration. Until 2009!

Canadian Floating House


It's been a long time since we scoped out some floating homes, so we were excited to see this one, by MOS . The house is in Ontario, was completed in 2005, and is great because it's literally a floating house. No signs of boatness to be found anywhere.

Found floating on Arch Daily.

The High Line Construction Progress, 2008


Friends Of The High Line has sent us a year-end summary email, chock full of construction images that we hadn't seen yet. Try as we might, we were unable to find these on their website, so we have included two more after the jump. If you don't get their newsletter, stop by their website to sign up. Better yet, make a donation.

More images this way...

Tropolism Takes A Holiday


Tropolism will be quiet for a week while we observe a holiday. We leave with books, all our glorious books. And, pictured, a library to read them in: Steven Holl's crazy yet unnervingly beautiful design for the Franz Kafka Society Center in Prague.

A Tour Of Miralles's Market


One of Enric Miralles's last projects, one he never saw realized, is the spectacular Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona. It is one of our favorite projects, looks great from the air, looks great from the street, and Eikonographia's walkthrough gives us many visual and verbal details. Our favorite: what looks like the 'back' of the market includes a typical Mirallesian indulgence of sculptural bricks, concrete, and metal, where clearly none was required, on a face that I've never seen photographed in the published materials.

Flushing, Queens: Too Many Cars


Daily Dose gives us the diagram action, again, by delving into a NYC DOT study of 6 of New York's streets. The report focuses on how streets affect the character of urban areas (this is how far we've come since Jane Jacobs first put herself on the line: the DOT is sensitive to how streets affect cities). Daily Dose points out how Main Street in Flushing, Queens demonstrates the power of diagrams. In the above diagram the information is startling: for about 26 feet of sidewalk space, 100,000 people must pass from 8am-8pm. About 50,000 motorists pass in 6 lanes of one-way traffic in the same period.

Gingerbread Farnsworth


Looking for a way to help out the flood-damaged Farnsworth house? And satisfy your weekly dose of Miesian Delusions? Buy a cake! The gingerbread Farnsworth is by April Reed Cake Design in New York City; 15% of its $4,320 USD cost will go to the restoration.

Via the ever tasty materialicious.

Tropolism Books: The Favorites Of 2008


For those of you who didn't get Special Tropolism Newsletter #1.7, here it is. It is in honor of one of the features I am most passionate about on Tropolism: book reviews.

Architecture books inspire me to discover new ways of thinking, as well as new ways of representing the art of my profession in print (and, these days, PDF).

Tropolism Books, The Favorites Of 2008

1.The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century Architecture This huge book is solid for more than just its size: it exhaustively collects, presents, and cross references over 1,000 new buildings, only 4 years after a similar book catalogued 1,000 entirely different new buildings in the same way.

2.Bunker Archaeology Paul Virilio's original is back in print after over a decade of being missing. Nothing about the book has changed: the essays and photographs retain the raw power they had the day they were written.

3.Loot: The Battle Over Stolen Treasures Of The Ancient World Anyone who knows the big museums has been inspired by works from the Ancients collected in their walls.  This book blows open our understanding of those collections, and puts them on the forefront of cultural disagreements in today's headlines.

4.Transmaterial 2 Even though our review seemed to be truly the most fastidious thing I've ever done, I reiterate here that this is an important book. It maps a clear direction for the interest in the cutting edge of materials and is an invaluable reference.

5. Density Projects Like anything A+T Ediciones prints, this book contains an interesting selection of unbuilt work and analyzes them with diagrams and data for every project.

6.Marmol Radziner + Associates: Between Architecture and Construction This monograph about an architect-led design-build firm is the gold standard for monographs, in our view. It includes unique side bars from clients, craftsman, and other project stakeholders.

7.Minka: My Farmhouse In Japan At times rambling and not quite as detailed as I like, this book is still an irresistible love note to one of our favorite building types. A fascinating portrait of vernacular Japanese building, and a particular house, written by a non-architect.

Artists Subway, With Trees


The Starn Brothers, every 1989 college student's favorite artists, are back! They are finishing up construction on a large installation in the South Ferry Station of the New York City Subway called See It Split, See It Change. Their focus on unnerving closeups of nature has not changed, nor has their geeky obsession with new materials. In this case a curved, fused glass printing technique that will last a century and took a year to develop. We're gonna be the first ones there.