LEED Gets Serious About Energy Performance

US-Energy-Consumption_xl.jpgA few weeks ago I wrote this piece about LEED and building energy performance.  LEED buildings don't measure energy performance after a building is built, and it is no secret, except to the New York Times, that some of the buildings just don't save energy.  At all.

The USGBC, the body that oversees LEED, sent out a press release (not to me!) a few days before my post announcing a set of information gathering, idea presenting, and comment having set of conferences.  The result of these conferences is to gather input to someday create a new standard for LEED, that of measuring building performance.  They're fuzzy on the details, but this goes to the point I made before: LEED is evolving and on the right track.  If this press release came out in 2011 I would say they are dragging their heels a bit, but to have it come out now suggests they are at least committed to getting it done.  Even if they are only in the "let's totally talk about it phase".  They're punting to the future a bit by gathering input, which is probably the only way to get the building owners on board: slow it down.  We're all for careful deliberation as a way to increase buy-in, but just remember, this is the easiest way for us to cut global carbon emissions.  There is no time to dawdle.

Recursiveness: Drawing P.S. 340

ps340a.jpgNothing gets me more excited than seeing architectural drawing enter the realm of space itself. And lo, Daily Dose digs up Wexler Studio's <i>Drawing P.S. 340</i>, completed in 1999.  The project was commissioned as part of New York City's Percent For Art program, which provides funds for adding art to city projects.

The City In Film: Ghostbusters

GB001 - Columbia by nycscout.jpgScouting NY does a very welcome and in-depth analysis of New York City, then and now, as seen through the classic lens of Ghostbusters.

One of the pleasures of this film is that it is shot in locations I am familiar with: Columbia University, the Upper West Side, and Tribeca.  Having seen their past captured as the sets of a 1980's film makes being in them in the present that much more thrilling.  Scouting NY's two-part dissection is a bit more precise though.

I would like to take this opportunity to request NYC then-and-now analyses of the following films: The Wiz, Klute, and The Warriors.

Mies and Japan

miesjapan.jpgWhile we're on the topic of Mies and Japan, we'd like to point out Hello Beautiful's hilarious-yet-we're-not-sure-they-meant-it-to-be hilarious comparison of Mies's work to the Ryōan-ji garden in Kyoto.  But the visual cues are fun nonetheless, and are an inspiring take on what Mies was going for.  Even if we're not sure that's what Mies was going for.

House In Hanaremaya

houseinhan05.jpgWhile we're on the subject of designboom, we loved the house by Kidosaki Architects Studio, the House In Hanaremaya.  It reminds us of Mies's early brick houses, while staying squarely within the tradition of minka-en.  Of course those two references are already hair's width apart.  Still, it's nice to see someone working in that space, because it truly never gets old.

Sleepy Lagoon Table

yamanaka.jpgToday on Tropolism: three Japan-related posts.

First is Kazuhiro Yamanaka's furniture at the 100% Design show in London this year.  My favorite is the pictured Sleepy Lagoon Table, particularly the concept sketch which reads "don't use computer to draw curves."  We couldn't agree more.

Via the shift-key-challenged designboom.

Atlantic Yards: From Great To Good

deanbig.jpgYesterday's news that Ellerbe Becket is apparently only going to be responsible for the inner workings of the stadium we so roundly hated on a few months ago is welcome.  SHoP does great work, they love New York, and they are sports guys, so it seems like a brilliant match.  As Nicolai Ourousoff commented in yesterday's Times, SHoP has done a pretty thorough job of redesigning the stadium's urban presence.  It looks swell.  It's New York again (possibly more so than Frank Gehry's design was).  And it looks city-friendly.  But as Mr. Ourousoff notes, several large pieces of Gehry's original design are missing, meaning the stadium could be built without any of the interlaced residential components in the original plan.  That is unacceptable.  Left to the future, the supertowers will never get made, and certainly never get interlaced with the stadium building. The whale will be beached.

Nicolai Ourousoff's love letter to the New York Five a few weeks ago--where he lamented the lack of heirs to the throne of Great New York Architects--seemed like a strange missive in the era of Diller + Scofidio Renfro's two huge triumphs this year, not to mention about a hundred other architects (including SHoP!) doing great work.  Yet now it seems not so missive-like, because it is difficult to see if SHoP is merely content to completely redesign Ellerbe Becket's retarded stadium barn, or if they are going to take the next step and slap Bruce Ratner around until the whole complex gets built.  We know that the folks at SHoP easily have the chops to take this on.  Will they?  Our hopes are high.

You know what separates the great architect from the good?  It isn't amazing or even excellent design.  It is the ability to redefine the context of a project.

BIG Wins Kazakhstan Library Competition

1251244471-anl-rendering-03.jpgBefore summer ended, news floated around that Tropolism favorite
BIG won first prize in the competition for the National Library in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Like OMA in Seattle, BIG chose to make the project all about a cool circulation path, which results in a mountain-like object.  I happen to think it's a very beautiful mountain-like object.

Check out ArchDaily's super-complete collection of renderings and diagrams for the project.

Video Life Of Small Urban Spaces

One of my favorite, formative books, The Social Life Of Small Urban Spaces, was of course a transcription of many written, photographic, and filmed records of how people actually use public space.  So you imagine my excitement when I saw that some of the video is now on youtube.

Slave To The Sitting

chair1.jpgI just couldn't help myself.  Chair Whore rocks my world.  It's got picture after picture of awesome chairs.  It's now encyclopedic, and not wikipedic.  It's ilikeapedic.

Giving Blood For Art

IMG_6958.JPGYesterday I did what any architect in the city would do. Worked with a structural engineer on some jobsite issues a contractor was having.  Checked in on some clients about when some new work is going to be green lit.  Finished up a long and technical reply to a building's engineer's comments about my proposed alteration.  And, gave blood in an art gallery I designed.

The piece was part of Kate Levant's piece Blood Drive.  I was the first one in as the team from New York Blood Center were setting up.  They didn't really know they were in an art gallery, and didn't know they were part of an artwork.  They didn't care; they'd done drives in art galleries before, and because they are in different spaces every single day, they never really got connected to their surroundings.  They are blood nomads, I guess, with their tackle boxes and their reclining chairs not unlike the plastic-strappy lawn chairs I reclined on in my back yard in Ohio in the late 1970s.  Already I could see what was happening.  Blood is transient.  It expires. People have to run around to collect it.  The furnishings that comprise its collection look like junk, like the installations that were hanging on Zach Feuer's walls.

There is something refreshing about having a contemporary art gallery taken over by such utilitarian concerns.  Manhattanites get a little too precious with our space and it's refreshing to see folks a little more rough and tumble come in and ignore the precious, precious whiteness of the walls.  And that the folks who had sauntered in to think about donating blood were scared and worried about it, because it will interfere with their yoga breathing or macrobiotic diet or whatnot.  People, gotta love 'em.  And, why don't we use spaces like this all the time?  Seriously, growing up in Ohio there were blood drives everywhere.  Galleries are closed or slow in August, particularly this week.  What a perfect place to set up a volunteer, life-saving organization.

The blood drive was completely devoid of political statement about the fact that gays still have to lie to give blood.  I'm thankful for that; the folks working the blood drive don't care, and it's something that needs to be handled by the FDA anyway.  But I am still conflicted for consciously lying on a form for the first time, ever.  I am hoping this admission here, THAT I LIED ABOUT NOT BEING GAY SO I COULD DONATE BLOOD YALLS, will make up for that.