January 1, 2016

Ethics and Architectural Copyright

LEFT: Photography of Sokol Blosser winery by Allied Works Architecture (completed July 2013). RIGHT: Rendering by Anonymous Firm A (published November 2014)
The two projects shown above are for different clients, have different programs and are of vastly different scales. However, I can't help but see the concepts, carving out a dark gray box to reveal naturally colored. angled wood to be intricately related. The project on the left was completed in 2013, received an AIA Portland Honor Award last year, and has been praised for it's beautiful execution throughout the Portland design community. It is a building that most architects in the city know about and have probably visited. The image on the right is a rendering for a proposed development in NW Portland, published on a blog in Nov. 2014.

Can you copyright the design of a building? According to this article on ArchDaily.com, yes you can (http://www.archdaily.com/328870/the-10-things-you-must-know-about-architectural-copyrights/). Recently there have been some relatively high profile news stories about architecture being copied. It happened to a Zaha Hadid project in China, and also a high rise project in Miami. Over the past few days I've surprisingly come across a series of designs that make me think something similar is happening in Portland, Oregon. The images below compare projects in Portland that have been designed by some of the leading firms in town on the left, juxtaposed on the right by renderings of proposed projects all by the same firm.*

*I have decided to leave their name off this post so as not to draw attention to the specific actions of this one firm, but rather have this be a conversation about the larger theme of design ethics and architectural copyright. For the captions I have replaced the firm's name with Anonymous Firm A.

LEFT + CENTER: Photography of The Tower House by Ben Waechter (completed October 2013). RIGHT: Rendering by Anonymous Firm A (taken from their website in Nov. 2014)
Architects, often look to other prominent work for inspiration. Part of the design process is doing precedent studies, looking at how creative people solved design challenges in the past, and how they might be relevant to a current situation. I can understand looking to one of the most respected design firms in town to inform your own design decision. However, there is a fine line between inspiration and copying and there is an ethical line that should not be crossed.

You could give the benefit of the doubt to a firm if one of their designs resembles that of another project. It happens. No one designs in a vacuum and often many people could distill down their ideas into similar results. However, when a single act becomes a pattern, benefit of the doubt fades into disrespect.
LEFT + CENTER: Photography of The Skyline Residence by Skylab Architecture (completed 2011). RIGHT: Rendering by Anonymous Firm A (taken from their website in Nov. 2014)
My question is why a firm would risk their reputation emulating other people's work so closely, and more importantly who is commissioning them to do so? Shouldn't a client want a unique project that specifically responds to their needs and the context of their building?  Shouldn't the Code of Ethics that comes with Architectural Licensure and AIA membership hold people accountable for the quality of their own designs and respecting the work of others? Finally, if you are going to closely replicate the styles of other architects, why do it in your own backyard where the design community can easily identify what is happening?

LEFT: Rendering of The Radiator by Path Architecture (Under Construction 2014).  RIGHT: Rendering by Anonymous Firm A (published November 2014).
Copying can be thought of as a form of flattery. It can also reveal a lack of creativity. When repeated over and over by the same firm, I tend to lean towards the latter. What do you think? Do you have other examples of copyright infringement in Architecture? What should our profession do to combat this issue? Should the AIA enforce ethical design issues like this, perhaps revoking membership? Should our state licensure boards?

July 8, 2015

Young Architects 16 Overlay: The Architectural League of New York

Overlay joins The Architectural League of New York’s series of publications showcasing the winners of their annual Architectural League Prize. Established in 1981, the Architectural League Prize is an annual competition, series of lectures, exhibition, and publication identifying the best emerging talent in architecture and design. 

The theme for this year, Overlay, asked entrants to consider how interactive, incremental processes inform and direct their work. Through this theme, the idea was to present how the techniques developed are activated over time with layered meaning to push architectural concepts. Entries showcased a range of approaches including written, researched, and graphically rich interpretations to projects depicting the literal mapping of effects upon a surface. 

The book features works by: Young & Ayata, The LADG, SIFT Studio, Norman Kelley, Jenny Sabin Studio, Geoffrey von Oeyen Design 

Condenser, 2012
Image Credit: Young & Ayata

Play shapes are flipped and combined to produce a variety of play scenarios
Image Credit: Photograph by Matthew Messner

Installation view
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Noah Rabinowitz

Store interior
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Todd Weaver

About the Architectural League of New York: The Architectural League of New York nurtures excellence in architecture, design, and urbanism, and stimulates thinking and debate about the critical design and building issues of our time. 

For more information, please contact: Steph Leke, stephanie@papress.com

Young Architects 16 Overlay
The Architectural League of New York 
5 X 7 IN / 13 X 18 CM 176 PP / 350 COLOR PAPERBACK
ISBN 978-1-61689-369-9 $24.95 / £16.99

June 1, 2015

Play with light and shadow using perforated metal facades

Perforated metal can be used in a vast range of applications, from agriculture to street furniture. But many architects have found success using perforated metals as a finishing feature for buildings. A perforated façade is a way to add a distinctive character to the building’s overall aesthetic, because it allows you to play around with light and shadow in an innovative way. These sheets of perforated metal can be built into a new building’s design, or used as part of a refurbishment process for older buildings. So what is the final effect and are there any advantages to this building material?

Advantages of perforated metals There are a number of strictly aesthetic reasons why designers might choose to work with perforated sheet metal as a building material. One of the primary reasons is the ability to control and interact with light, both natural and artificial. This opens up new doors of creativity and allows architects to create dynamic shapes, geometric designs, and evening lighting special effects. Media or video clips can be broadcast or moving shapes can be created depending on the way the perforated façade is set up. If you’re creating a site-specific building to host special events, this can be a distinct advantage.

Practical advantages 
In addition to the aesthetic advantages offered by perforated facades, metal sheeting like this is also often a more cost-effective way to instantly upgrade an older building. You can visit the website www.actisfurio.com to get a feel for the different metal materials that can be used to create facades, including stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and brass. This provides a versatile and practical array of options. The perforated sheets can also be designed with a number of hole patterns to achieve the desired effect, whether you prefer round, square, or custom shaped patterns. Perforated panels are remarkably lightweight in comparison to solid sheets of metal, which puts less stress on the building’s existing structure. At the same time, it can help you control sunlight depending on its positioning, offering a shading solution. This can be used as part of an eco-friendly building plan.

The Bottom Line 
Control temperature and sunlight, create dazzling optical patterns, and give an older building an instant makeover with the help of perforated metal facades. These simple, unique, customizable, and cost-effective building tools are a secret weapon in any architect’s toolbox.

May 19, 2015

Fascinating Unbuilt Buildings

Unbuilt buildings represent the forgotten dreams of architects; projects that could have defined a community’s identity. At best the drawings and blueprints will now be displayed in museums, though that’s small consolation to the architects who stayed up late at night scribbling, while envisaging a skyline that would proudly display their signature style.

 At Rubberbond we’ve seen a few ambitious projects cancelled, it’s an unfortunate aspect of the trade. A few daydreams have led to discussions about what some of our grandest cities could have looked like. I doubt too many Londoners are regretting the decision not to build a pyramid mausoleum for 5 million corpses, but only the most prudish of New Yorkers wouldn’t want to see a globe tower containing 4 circuses. So with the help of our architectural colleagues, we decided to research the most interesting unbuilt buildings, and display unbuilt work from Gaudi, Wright, Foster, and many more.

April 15, 2015

Cool, Contemporary Examples of Tiny Houses

By Tim Smith

The tiny house craze is here, and I don’t see it going anywhere for a long time, especially thanks to a new generation of homeowners who’d much rather live simply than accumulate a massive amount of debt — along with all the stuff that goes inside a home. Because of the growing popularity of this housing trend, we’re seeing a lot of seriously creative and smartly designed tiny houses being built.

Tiny Enough?

With 100 square feet to get the job done, this tiny studio has all the necessary amenities while still pulling off an aesthetically pleasing environment with environmentally-friendly construction materials.

Concerns for residents of these student studios may lean away from ramen noodles for every meal and towards storage space for school supplies and other necessities. With clean lines enhancing a spacious feel, utilization of every nook and cranny to maximize storage space of some kind, and a pulley system for a laundry basket, they can't blame their living quarters for any low grades.

Unconventional Living

Putting the Single Hauz in an unconventional place like the sea, meadow, forest, lake, or even a city side-walk…

...should earn you points for innovation and style - not to mention an out-of-the-box, creative mind. This bill-board inspired free-standing home combines elements of metal, concrete, and wood to create a modern, sleek, and slim home suitable for the single person.

Living in Comfort

Downsizing can be a meaningful experience as you design a space that puts into perspective necessities versus frivolity.

Although the homeowner wants a significantly smaller living space, it doesn't mean it has to be without comfort and luxury. This tiny home includes hardwood flooring, wood-stove, full-staircase to bedroom loft, storage space, full kitchen, and half-bath. This is a tough one to beat.

"Small is Beautiful"

Via: L41

The L41home takes small living to a whole new level. Its minimalist style presents a sleek, contemporary, and uncluttered look.

Via: L41

To add to this, every space is utilized with built-in storage spaces.

Via: L41

Small is good, especially with quality control in mind. Affordability, high-design, and sustainability are all important factors homeowners are in the market for.

Creating an Island Retreat

This amazing 226 square foot recreational island house literally opens its walls to become an open pavilion. Uniquely designed, the living room naturally embraces the outside making it instantly more spacious and luxurious.

These tiny island homes house a half bath, small shower room, small kitchen, and storage space built into a compartmented service wall on one side so as not to obstruct the view. Architects designed a raised-level dining space, while the living room doubles as the sleeping area. Although it's a small space, going all-out with state-of-the-art designing ensures that you either go big or go home.

For more ideas and inspiration, please visit Modernize.com.

April 8, 2015

STITCH II: an AIA Portland Ideas Competition

Please register early as more information will be given after registration is complete. We have a folder with background information, cad drawings and photos of the site that will be emailed to you upon registration.
Density in the urban environment drives a need for the community to consider often overlooked spaces created by infrastructure as infill potential. Modern vehicle conveyance structures create a natural shelter from the elements and a typically “undesirable” area. We pass through or feel threatened by their cold and brutal existence. Consider how to re-stitch this urban fabric to create activated space from this underused resource.
This competition calls for ideas to successfully inhabit the unused land under the I-405 bridge, connecting the bustling Pearl District with the NW Alphabet neighborhood. We are looking for extraordinary, creative proposals that will spark the imagination, open up a dialogue and offer innovative solutions to this urban problem. The precise program for the competition is open to the entrants, although a mix of transitional housing, short term shelters, homeless services, public space, and other related programming is recommended. The program should respond to the neighboring context, needs of the city, and needs of the homeless population.

The site sits under I-405 between NW Lovejoy St. and NW Kearney St. and connects the Pearl District with the Alphabet neighborhood. Streetcar transit travels along the north side of the site on Lovejoy while the east and west edges are active bike routes.
Project Site: 200’-0” x 200’-0”
Image Courtesy of Google Maps 2015

$50 for professionals
$25 for students

1st Place $500
2nd Place $200
3rd Place$100
Winners and any Honorable Mentions will be displayed on the AIA Portland Website and Center For Architecture Gallery.

  • Competition Registration Starts: April 3rd
Additional information will be given as part of the registration process. Please register early to receive the supporting documents and info.
  • Submissions Due: June 1st – 5:00 PM PST
  • Jury Deliberations: June 5th
  • Winner Announcement and Celebration: June 9th at 5:30pm at the Center for Architecture

  • PDF format – AS A SINGLE FILE no larger than 10 MB
    • 11×17 (at least 150 dpi)
    • landscape format
    • name your file as: ProjectTitle_EventbriteReceiptNumber.pdf
8 Pages Max (can submit less)
    • 1st Page = Project Description
      • Project Title
      • Project Description Text
      • No identifying logos, words or graphics
    • Pages 2-7 = Project images
      • up to 6 pages of graphics to describe your design intent
      • can include diagrams, infographics, text, renderings, plans, sections, photographs, etc. – whatever you need to best illustrate your design intent.
      • No identifying logos, words or graphics on the images
    • Last Page = Identification Form
      • Name of Firm, and/or project team members
      • eventbrite receipt number
      • email address
      • phone number
      • mailing address (optional)
      • website (optional)
        * any submission that does not meet the above requirements may be disqualified at our discretion.