Technology Vision

Notes On The Two Dozen List

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In 2005 I fleshed out an idea I first proposed in 2004: that a slew of midsized residential buildings would be built, all designed by celebrity architects. And so the Two Dozen List was born.

The mid 2000's in New York City have seen a unique confluence of money, skyrocketing real estate prices, hyper-demand, and cheap credit. The competition between developers, combined with a rise in interest in architectural design by the general public, has led to the hiring of our beloved celebutantes as brand novelties to distinguish one development from another. The moment is now passing: credit is tight, leading to projects down the pipeline being shut off. While the competition for buyers will certainly continue, it is likely that high-priced talent, or at least the famous names, will not be invited to create design masterpieces quite as often.

The similar size, shape, and sites give us a unique opportunity to compare these talents, and ask some great questions. How powerful were these architects in the development process? How well did they redefine what is possible in this context? How many boundaries did they push? How did they approach, and solve, the great problems of the New York Skyscraper: the slab and the curtain wall?

I will post my personal version of this list this week. Tropolism will begin to review the projects on my list that have not been reviewed to date. In addition, guest writers will post their own lists, here and elsewhere. Finally, we invite you to submit your own entries for a reader's choice list, which will of course be published here. Enjoy!

Snee-osh Cabin

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After seeing DIY houses by the dozen in all the architectural publications, it is easy to let them all kind of blur into one plywood-floored, artfully exposed CMU background.

Snapping us out of our ennui is the Snee-osh Cabin by Zero Plus Architects. With its minimially invasive structure and beautifully detailed wraparound glass, it's a prime example of the elegance one can get when you go that extra mile to marry a project to its site.

Via The Mid-Century Modernist.

Temporary Tower In France To Get Temporary Addition

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In the unlikely event you do not read Archinect, we bring you this news. The Eiffel Tower, itself a temporary structure, is going to get a temporary addition to celebrate its 120th anniversary, designed by Parisian firm Serero Architects. We're not sure if this is clumsy irony or really, a really sophisticated absurdist play. What is undeniable is that the new temporary observation continues the bolt-together Industrial Age technology with 21st Century profiles to create a unique new tower. The French don't fool around.

Tipped off by io9.

Shelby Farms Park Winners Announced

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Pruned points us to a sophisticated set of designs for Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee. We tend to see these as iterations in designs that started with Fresh Kills Park, made a big splash at Orange County Great Park, and have now continued to the Midwest/South. American landscape design is finally asking the big questions about the function of large parks in cities and suburbs, and we're happy to see the ideas keep flowing.

Passive Houses

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Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture will be showing off their set of passive solar houses at the Hem & Villa housing fair in Malmö, Sweden this summer. The passive solar concept is simple (and ancient): massive walls store the heat of the sun which keeps the house warm, as well as using smartly placed windows to directly warm the house during the day. These strategies tend to work well in dry climates with large day/night temperature swings (like the American southwest, where thermal wall technology was used by Native Americans long ago).

The architects call their designs Passive Houses. Pictured is Villa Atrium, a donut-shaped building with a tree growing in the central courtyard. The ideal climates for these designs are not specified. What is remarkable about these is that not only do they use an ancient concept to create energy efficiency, they do it while creating modern, playful houses.

Maps Of Manhattan: Culturenow.org

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Maps Of Manhattan combines two of our obsessions: the representational power of maps and the density that is our home base. The Skyscraper Museum's Manhattan Timeformations remains one of our favorite online versions of this genre (and we will dare to date ourselves by reminding you that this project existed on paper/mylar long before it was put it into a computer).

So you might imagine our delight when we came across the online home for culturenow.org's physical map of Manhattan, locating all the public artworks on this fair island. What started out as (I think) an LMDC funded map to attract tourists to Lower Manhattan has blown up into an encyclopedic go-to for public art. Of course, the only way to improve upon it is to make it a searchable database, which it what gives it a place here at Tropolism.

Koolhaas Has Officially Lost It

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Koolhaas and OMA have officially lost their marbles. One of them found its way into the new design for Dubai, as a Death Star like 44-story sphere floating on the water. This kind of lunacy we can respect. Mr. Ourousoff gives us the details.

Chicago Wavy Building Not Just Rendering Anymore

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Over the weekend Daily Dose pointed us to the crazy-wavy Chicago building called Aqua, which, despite its so-so renderings, is turning out to be completely awesome in real-life rendering. Also known as reinforced concrete.

(If concrete is poured in Chicago, does anyone notice? Sorry, I didn't want you to think I'd mellowed out too much on Chicago. I've mellowed out just a little.)

The construction photos remind us of a love child between Harrison's swoopiness at NYC's Metropolitan Opera House and Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City. Complete with plinth holding the waviness above the city grid. The project was designed by Studio Gang Architects. Check out their website for more pictures, including a great inspiration picture of an eroded boulder and some more construction photos. This may be an example of the built work being better than its renderings.

Ceramic Wicker

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From Roldan + Berengue, arqts. in Barcelona comes a very interesting assemblage inspired by the ultimate in architectural references: a Kurasawa film. Taking their cue from the opening scene of Kurasawa's 1985 Ran, where the main characters are seated in an outdoor room defined by a fabric wall, the architects have created a textile-textured wall using bent ceramic tile modules and irregularly shaped support vertical units. The project, particularly floorplans, bear the unmistakable fingerprints of another Catalan master we like. Not only that, the thing got built for this product fair.

Turning Bamboo Into Building Products

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Core 77 has a great piece on turning bamboo into building products, including a follow-up piece here. Most of this isn't news to anyone who has taken an continuing education course on the topic, but it's a great overview nonetheless.

Zaha Continues to Rock Innsbruck

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After Zaha's much trumped-up by kind of 'eh' ski lift thingy, she continues to rock out in Innsbruck, Austria (as one does) by doing a whole system full of stations. Out of concrete and swoopy white glass. Pictured. Yeah, just scroll down that link alone for pictured swoopy white glass goodness. And if that doesn't do it for you, check out the crazy light show from the grand opening of the system.

For our full coverage click Continue Reading.

1970 Pepsi Pavilion Blows Minds To This Day

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Pictured is the Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka. Greg Allen says it best:

Holy freakin' crap, why has no one told me The Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka was an origami rendition of a geodesic dome; obscured in a giant mist cloud produced by an all-encompassing capillary net; surrounded by Robert Breer's motorized, minimalist pod sculptures; entered through an audio-responsive, 4-color laser show--yes, using actual, frickin' lasers-- and culminating in a 90-foot mirrored mylar dome, which hosted concerts, happenings, and some 2 million slightly disoriented Japanese visitors?

Geodesic; mist; 4-color laser show; mirrored mylar. After those words we don't even need to know the rest of the details.

Flower Machine

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Via StrangeHarvest: pictures of flower factories. Happy Valentine's Mechanization Day!

SHoP Brick Undulation

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SHoP designed yet another building that may be eligible for the ever-outdated two-dozen list, once it's built: 290 Mulberry Street. Curbed gives us an overview today on the building's highlights. We would also like to point out a couple of great images from a lecture announcement last summer (given by their "Director of Design Technology and Research", I kid you not); the undulation looks like it's made out of prefabricated brick panels. We are looking forward to seeing this one in cover.

Florescent Field

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Pruned points us to an awesome installation by Richard Box, called Field. The project involves unwired florescent tubes arranged in a grid under high-voltage power lines. The EM field powers the lamps to an ambient glow. It's like a 00's reply to Walter De Maria's 1977 Lightning Field. Except Lightning Field for the LCD monitor generation.

PS1 Goes Agricultural, Finally

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Work Architecture won this year's PS1 Warmup Series installation with their cardboard-tube urban farm. While the New York Times gives us some back story (heavy on the Barry Bergdoll, obviously the driving force behind the change of direction), we think that Pruned says it best:

Where sightseers once splashed about in silly algorithmic frotteurism, they will be treated this summer to an $85,000 community garden, whose “rural delights” will probably not go to supplement the nutritional needs of the disenfranchised but rather will go to make bloody marys and beer for architecture students.

Seriously folks, "silly algorithmic frotteurism" pretty much says a lot about a lot these days. That, and Pruned's brilliant comparison to Wheatfield by Agnes Denes.

We see this one as the successor to PS1 Warmup Series' last successful installation, the one in 2004 by nArchitects. The intervening years can now be forgotten, just as we forgot Lindy Roy's whatever install.

UN Studio's VilLA NM Destroyed By Fire

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We start off the day with sadness; UN Studio's VilLA NM was destroyed by fire during the night of February 5th. The house was completed last year. Full story at Daily Dose.

Water Cube Beijing Opens!

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The state-sponsored craziness that we wrote about two years ago is now open! And it looks just like the rendering! The Beijing Water Cube, the National Swimming Center constructed for the Olympic Games, next to a nearly complete Herzog & DeMeuron Bird's Nest Stadium. We think it's stunningly beautiful. Except we're not sure what's crazier, the interior or the exterior.

Via Daily Dose, who has more pictures and links.

Swoopy Buildings: Dubai Autodrome

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For the swoopy building of the day, we propose HOK Sport's Dubai Autodrome. When we first saw this picture, we figured Zaha had slipped one through without us seeing. But indeed this is from 2004, and it's from HOK Sport, which undoubtedly means they hired staff from Zaha shortly after they received the commission.

One of the things we like about HOK Sport is that they don't get all high-minded about it. It's just crazy form, and in 50 years we'll still be able to love it. "The Marketing Building (also designed by HOK Sport) has been designed to create a feeling of motion and balance with the surrounding track and infrastructure." Which means we italicized all the buildings. This kind of simplicity, we can respect. We're tired of pure formalism masquerading as something else.

Via our new favorite website DTYBYWL.