Technology Vision

Tropolism Buildings: The De Young Museum of Art


The new de Young Museum of Art in San Francisco by Herzog and De Meuron is an experience of unfolding, revealing a range of unexpected and captivating spaces. The building cannot be understood by a single vantage point, but rather reveals itself as one moves through it. From a distance the de Young appears uniform wrapped in a continuous copper skin. The skin is punctured in an inconsistent texture, giving a clue to the complexity which lies within.


Read more, and see more, by clicking Continue Reading...

2 Columbus Circle Has A Tenant


You are not going to believe this, but 2 Columbus Circle, the much-argued-about renovation (or preservation! depending on who you ask) project designed by Allied Works, is happening because there is a tenant who bought the building and needs the space! We were stunned. But it appears in the New York Times yesterday (sorry, two drawing sets due this week) and includes a rendering of the lobby.

About that. After creating such a lovely exterior, we are wondering which intern or rendering staff person created the generic furniture, ceiling, and off-the-shelf glass doors for this project?

Special add-on bonus: Curbed links to the hilariously killed ShameCam. Robert AM Stern's new art deco building gets in the way. See? Contextualism always wins.

SANAA's Glass Pavilion For The Toledo Art Muesum


Way back in 1990, when I was an undergraduate at Washington University, trips home to Lima, Ohio were an architectural drag, from the point of view that there was little but amazing barns to look at. No modern architecture at all, and only a tiny bit of suburban detritus to study. I love barns, but there weren't that many of them.

However, two buildings within a couple hours' drive popped up. Contemporary buildings by famous architects whose work I was studying. First, The Wexner Center. Yes, the building isn't a great art space, or even a great critique of art space, and it certainly has enough pastiche and bad detailing and bad circulation for an entire oeuvre complete. But it rocked my college brain having such a wildly absurd failure in gray Christmas-break-time winter Ohio.

Second was Gehry's addition to the Toledo Art Museum, something between his later Bilbao-esque buildings with lead coated copper scales and his earlier 80s pomo-volumes-fracturing thing. Again, not so great building, but interesting having work by an architect I otherwise admire close by. It kind of fit Ohio to have average works by famous architects sitting semi-ignored in the middle of such a diffuse population.

SANAA is about to change that. The construction photos of their glass pavilion for the Toledo Art Museum, as well as the mockup (pictured above) of the curved glass walls show a building that is both quiet and revolutionary. In Ohio. I get it.

Detroit Demolition Disneyland


Land+Living has an extensive piece on Detroit Demolition Disneyland, an Anonymous group who has begun covering abandoned structures in gallons of orange paint. The great thing about the action taken on these buildings is that is allows us to see what we normally would not: that the status quo in Detroit is decay. It seems to me that this public action can bring so much more weight and meaning to the problems in Detroit, rather than constantly repeating the words Sprawl and Revitalization. Over the course of one night these Orange buildings become a place again, instead of a place that used to be. DDD's work reminds me of Group operating in Los Angeles under the name Heavy Trash. They also have an affinity for the color orange, and are helping us see what normally we would not.

I highly recommend checking out Google Earth for Detroit. The extent of urban decay visible from the sky is almost unbelievable.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

First Spaceport In The World To Be Crap-Ass


The New York Times spreads word about a second company to enter the race for space-luxury travel, as if it's something to celebrate. A spaceport will be built in the United Arab Emirates. This, of course, is to compete with the Virgin Galactic spaceport promised for Las Cruces, New Mexico. Unfortunately for humanity, and doubly so for those who will shuck out $200,000 for a ticket, they will be flying out of the most crap-ass ground-based aeronautical terminals ever conceived. Yes, even worse than the sub-sub-sub-orbital airports FRA or MDW.

Click the link below to read about the particular grossness of each spaceport...

Hand Up


Treehugger has posted an article about this project by Elizabeth Demar called the "Hand Up Project". Demar, with the help of a paleontologist, a mechanical engineer, Auto-cad, and a laser cutter has created a small plastic shell for hermit crabs she claims is based on a design by Guiseppe Terragani. The article raises a head spinning array of questions about the designers interaction with the environment planned or otherwise, and the environments ability to adapt. Do we really need to be building tiny shells for Hermit crabs? Maybe not but Rapid Prototype, Prefab Mobile Housing for other species has got to be the next big thing if you ask me; it's got too many buzz words to pass up.

Cabinet magazine did a more in depth article a few years back.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.



If you are still attached to your computer tonight at 7:00 PST, click over to SCI-arc live. SCI_arc's lecture series is now being broadcast in real time over the web every week. SCI_arc's lectures run a wide swath of topics, and Tonight's lecturer Taft Green is no exception. A Los Angeles based sculptor recently featured in the fantastic Thing exhibition @ UCLA's Hammer museum. Taft's work is like cartography on silly putty.

I tuned in to the lecture last week and was impressed with the quality of sound and image, it's almost better than being there live. Special bonus for those of you who start at 7:00 sharp; Eric Owen Moss typically gives a baffling epic introduction occasionally focusing on the guest lecturer.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

OMA OMG: Kentucky Edition


The Office for Metropolitan Architecture is coming full circle with its Museum Plaza skyscraper in Louisville, Kentucky. You can read the local news report, some fascinating OMA archive recycleing analysis, and a link to some great process models and a video.

As usual for OMA, the building is a brilliant organization of a complex program, which ends up as an unorthodox form. Yet there's what appears to be a huge plinth/plaza in the project, and it isn't clear what the edges are like. Has OMA a brilliant solution to the plinth, too? The one part of the video that gives us a little urban chill is the one that says "Connect To Context", and a couple of stair towers appear. Uh, we tried that in the 60s and it didn't work: elevated plazas not continuous with the street level get no foot traffic. Perhaps the reality of OMA's plinth just doesn't show up on the video. We'll be looking for more.

Processing (Beta) Exhibitions


From the 'Don't Fully Get It But Your Under-25-Y.O. Readers Totally Will' Department: a basic programming language called Processing, created to aid in visual representations of information.

It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool. Processing is developed by artists and designers as an alternative to proprietary software tools in the same domain.

Of interest to the editorial staff here at Tropolism, and following our (totally pre-planned) theme of the week, is the open-source nature of this project. And, the architectural aspirations of many of the projects on the stunning Exhibitions page, with its extra-add-on-bonus-treasure-trove sidebar with even more art projects. Our favorite featured artist is the trippy and awe-inspiring Flight Patterns project by Aaron Koblin.

The Wordless Appearance, Part 2


Tropolism is happy to announce its own Flickr pool. This is a forum for Tropolism readers to share their corners of the city. The pool is public, so simply click "Join This Group" on this page, after setting up your Flickr account. I advise you to set up your account today; Friday's surprise announcement will involve this archive of photographs. Special bonus: the photograph above, our launch photograph, is posted and annotated by your editor.

Another Gold Scrim

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Continuing Tropolism's theme of, er, shiny gold buildings: 8 woningen Kettingstraat in The Hague, by the Dutch architecture office Archipelontwerpers. A shimmery, totally-doing-the-Gehry-thang scrim at a revitalized section of the historic urban fabric. What is of more interest to us, however, is the rest of the project: behind eight historical restored facades are eight modern houses. We love this kind of hybrid.

Via we make money not art.

Friday: Architectural Photography Day


Yesterday we elided over a gem of a database of freely accessible architectural photography called Galinsky. It is not unlike the Japanese one we scouted last year. Freely accessible architectural photography: truly open-source architectural experience. It's music to our eyes.

But what really turns us on is the snapshot nature of the photographs. Buildings I've seen a thousand times show up differently here. Buildings I've seen the same photographs over and over occur differently, too, because the pictures are not professionally shot, and are often of things architects would be interested in: detail.

Toyo Ito's Structural Awesomeness


The good folks at Architechnophilia have reported on yet another Zaha Hadid design that did not win a high profile international competition. Until she does another gold-brick-lego building, we're over reporting that stuff.

Of interest to us was the actual winner of the competition: Toyo Ito. Ever since his Mediatheque building in Sendai, with its airy structural tube framework, we've been thinking about how to hold up our own structures in more innovative ways. His office cranked out yet another design, this time for the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House. We're not sure what all the blobby forms do, because the house translator is still on vacation. However, it looks like another fantastic, yet buildable, structure.

The View From Above


If you know how to use a computer and log on to the World Wide Internets, you've seen the series by Olivo Barbieri called "Site Specific". Metropolis publishes, and we blog.

But we cannot pass this up. For anyone who is accustomed to seeing the world as bits of balsa wood and gobs of plaster these photos have a haunting yet familiar feel. Metropolis claims that they are real, but I still have my doubts. Check out the Santa Monica pier, it's uncanny.

Now that you're excited: here's a link on how to build your own tilt-shift-lens from DigiHack. Tropolism means why buy art when you can make it yourself?

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

Draw Something


Open-source computer-generated drawing program from artist Rob Myers. It's only a matter of time before someone turns this into a plug-in for SketchUp, or AutoCad. Click 'continue reading' to see Tropolism's first non-authored drawing.

Wood Clad Frenzy In San Francisco


Despite the complaining we read on other websites, we here at Tropolism say "Tropolism means imitation is the highest form of flattery." In this case it is both the entry we are linking to and the content of that entry (sorry to go meta on you). The entry: our entry about a new Manhattan residential building clad in wood has inspired Treough Blog to tell us about a San Francisco residential building clad in wood, too! The building: while it's difficult to see the two as inspiring each other, since they were probably designed around the same time to zero publicity, we are unable to refrain commenting on the West Coast entry. The comment: read what Treough wrote.

The New Real City, Future Architects Edition

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I went to SCI_ARC's Thesis presentations this weekend.

It appears that Maya-, Nurbs-, and Script-based form making have established a strong place in the visual language of the school. The majority of the work has a quietness, a demur sexiness. In contrast to the explosion of splines and reflections it was a few years ago, to softly lit, smoke like models and renderings. The evolution and advancement of the work in this specific area is interesting, but it has sapped much of the chaotic energy that Thesis at SCI_ARC feeds from. Selected works will be on exhibit in the SCI_ARC Gallery JAN 20th -29th.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.