Technology Vision

Beautiful At Barnard

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Recently the P/A Awards were announced, by whatever magazine is announcing them these days. Our enthusiasm for these awards faded not because of some nostalgia for the days of Progressive Architecture magazine. It's simply that the cutting edge of architecture has gone blog viral. By the time the print media gets to it, it's old news. The newest of the new gets chewed up and tested by the internets, and the increase in chaff is easily matched by the increase in voices talking about design.

The one highlight in this year's P/A award comes from old-fashioned great building design, from Weiss/Manfredi. It's their Barnard Nexus project, at Barnard College in Manhattan. It's not just a pretty rendering: the details of the glass curtain wall, mimicking the brick and terracotta of Barnard's and adjacent Columbia University's main building cladding, is sophisticated, beautiful, and yes, progressive.

Pretty Picture Thursday: LEGO Edition

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Yes, that is the Sagrada Familia Cathedral by Gaudi...rendered in LEGO. From Piece of Peace exhibition in Shibuya.

More of these at DTYBYWL.

The South Pole Gets New Building

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The South Pole got a new building. Replacing the 1975 geodesic dome at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, architects Ferraro Choi designed a low-impact building that does two things really well. The building is elevated and shaped so that it creates air movement that sweeps snow away from its underside, preventing the special Antarctic building hazard death-by-snow-drift. It also is supported on columns that can be extended, so that when the snow does drift the building simply raises up. There is an awesome flash animation of this process, created with what is undoubtedly the first version of PowerPoint.

The building includes amenities such as a hydroponic greenhouse and some recreational areas. While this high-tech structure sounds like paradise for escape-from-civilization freaks, please remember that its inhabitants are in the middle of nowhere, and are only allowed two showers a week. Don't take our word for it, you can check in on the station yourself with one of the many webcams (with weather updates!) out there (seriously, do we need more than one of these?).

Lego Anniversary

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Geek Architecture News: at 1:58pm (timezone unknown) today, the LEGO brick celebrates its 50th anniversary. Via Slashdot.

Build Your Own Apple Store

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We are specifications junkies. We admit it. See the recent book review. And we would never have posted about the city colors if they hadn't included the exact pantone numbers.

And so this article about how to build your own Apple store, over at Oobject, which includes exact specifications, was destined to excite us. Add it to the list.

Radical Cartography

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To continue the thread of interesting mapping of data, we present a long-bookmarked favorite, Radical Cartography. The simple interface yields dozens of mapping exercises, from the data-filled to the unconventional. Our favorite: Area Codes.

City Colors

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One of the things we like to celebrate is color. Certain design professions have more sophisticated approaches and dialogues about color than architects: interior designers and graphic designers, to name two. The latter category, in the person of Todd Falkowsky, has created a series of color strips for each of Canada's provincial and territorial capitals. The result is interesting, particularly the observation about how intuition informs the process. What we'd like to see is a whole color pallette, not just a test strip of three, for each urban area. Huge samples that would represent each city.

Via Brand Avenue.

Olafur's Tokyo Tiles

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Olafur Eliasson is apparently conquering the world. From Archidose comes the news of an installation of around 7,000 platinum-glazed ceramic tiles in a courtyard of a house by Tadao Ando, in Tokyo. You already know of our love for golden legos; this just brings us one step closer to our dream.

The original article at Architectural Digest focuses more on the building, and has a good slideshow of the project.

Urban Age

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We have long known about the conferences sponsored by Urban Age, but only recently did we discover their wonderful website. It's a handy repository of all the data generated do date from their conferences and research. Some of this work undoubtedly shows up in their new book (note to Phaidon: send us a review copy already), but it is irresistible to flip through it online.

Not only do they have pretty, if simple, comparisons of basic information of their key cities. They also have some extensive raw data from each city collected in both PDF and protected spreadsheet formats. Happy reading.

Every 15 Minutes Of Beauty

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New York City's Standard Hotel, the gorgeous building going up in New York City's Meatpacking district, proudly straddling the High Line as it rises, now has a website to match the building's awesomeness. The construction photo updates every 15 minutes.

Via the ever-vigilant Curbed.

Buckminster Fuller Dome Destroyed

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Greg Allen directs us to the destruction of the Union Tank Car Dome of 1958 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The dome was the first geodesic dome on an industrial scale, and was demolished without notice last November.

Or was it? Greg points out that the building had had the attention of some preservationists for about ten years, yet no one bought it, even when it was going for only $500,000. That's less than half of the median price of a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Greg's observations about what is missing from the process of saving important but not-yet-landmarked modernist structures are not to be missed.

Gerhard Richter's Cologne Cathedral Window

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There have been many articles and images of Gehard Richter's design for the stained glass window in Cologne Cathedral since it was unveiled last August. Our favorite was pointed out by Greg Allen: it's by Ralf Stockmann.

Library Of Congress Images Goes Web 2.0

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Long fans of the Library Of Congress image website (which has been around for 8 or 10 years, they were one of the first free online image banks), we are now excited to see them moving to the next phase of the interwebs by creating flickr albums. This department obviously has gotten a lot of money to play with the 'net. Good for us!

Many of the images do not carry copyright restrictions, such as the pictured This girl in a glass house is putting finishing touches on the bombardier nose section of a B-17F navy bomber, Long Beach, Calif., and they all include links back to the LOC website.

Olafur's Waterfalls Revealed

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Pictures and coverage of Olafur's New York City Waterfalls were published by Bloomberg yesterday. Curbed tipped us off to this, and to a photo gallery of Olafur and the mayor doing official announcing stuff.

Our favorite part: that the waterfalls are not only powered by the river current, but they are supported by exposed scaffolding mimicking the kind used to build New York over the last century. Looks like we won't be traveling away from NYC this summer.

Eiseman's Columbus Convention Center Flooding

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At first glance of this photograph we thought that an interior designer convention was marveling that the crazy-grid carpet from 1992 had not yet been replaced. It turns out that these are structural engineers inspecting a portion of Eisenman's Columbus Convention Center for structural damage after a big flood last week.

But seriously, Columbus folks. New carpet already.

The Circus Of Delirious Shopping Carts Part 3

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Another long-lost and favorite meme of ours comes back through reader mail (keep those emails coming, folks!) in the form of some links to abandoned theme parks, many in Japan. Making the exploration of these ghost parks even more thrilling, beyond the Joel Sternfeld-like eeriness of the pictures themselves, is that they are collected on sites written in either German and/or Japanese, neither of which we read.

Our favorite is the Shiga Spiral, pictured. Happy exploring!

Observations On Unhelpful Architectural Writing

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Architectural critics, like all art critics, are stuck between bald snap judgment and the extension of art history known as architectural history. It's a strange place to be, and the critics we admire tend to create new conversations about architecture in general, through their insightful opinions (IE Paul Goldberger) or their insightful riffing on architectural history (IE Robin Evans, RIP).

Click Continue Reading for the rest of the critique of the critics.

Tokyo Architecture In Pictures

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If you are like us, with our love affair with Tokyo, and, like us, miss its special mix of stunning architecture that doubles as larger than life retail, you will appreciate these two flickr sets.

The first is by Ralf Dziminski and covers some of my favorite spots, including this corner on Omotesando, pictured above.

The second, larger set is by nouknouk and also captures the overlap of retail messiness and retail architecture.

Both pointed out by Jean Snow.

Mies Van Der Rohe's Service Station

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Continuing our favorite topic of the month, another reader tips us off to another classic 20th century gas station by a famous architect: Mies Van Der Rohe's Esso gas station on Nun's Island from 1969.

We knew about this one, but were unable to find a photograph of it. Fortunately, zadcat from flickr has posted the photograph above. Extra bonus link provided by the zadcat: a survey of "ugly" gas stations in Montreal. You know where we stand on ugly (some of our favorite buildings are ugly!). And you know where we stand on Mies and drive-through culture (neon does wonders with all that glass!). So this is probably our favorite gas station ever. That is looks like the exterior is unmodified makes us love it even more, with that big awesome gas station sign out front.

Gas Station Design Wars Continue To Rage

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In what has rapidly become our favorite new meme, yet another reader has directed our attention toward yet another beautiful gas station. This one appears to be actually functioning, and still gorgeous after 70 years, based on the photos in this great gallery. It's by Arne Jacobsen, in Copenhagen, and dates to 1937.