December 26, 2011

Slideshow: Brandhorst Museum - Munich, Germany - by Sauerbruch Hutton Architekten

Sauerbruch Hutton Architekten has developed a reputation as the architects of color. However, this overshadows the fact that they make fantastic buildings. This museum has a simple form that comes alive with the materiality of the facade. The multicolored ceramic facade is beautiful to behold and is reminiscent of Joseph's amazing technicolor dream coat. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to make it into the museum, although I heard the lighting in the galleries is fantastic. Still the facade of this building really blew me away.

December 19, 2011

Slideshow: Beyeler Foundation Art Museum - Basel, Switzerland - designed by Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano's creative genius is derived from his uncanny ability to adapt his style to fit the surrounding context. This building takes a step back from the high tech aesthetic of many Piano buildings, and sits comfortably in a suburban setting, overlooking a farm field and rolling hills in the near distance. The light is carefully controlled to naturally illuminate the galleries while the materials are simple, elegant, and complement the art and natural surroundings.

December 15, 2011

Video: New Architectures - Nature and Phenomena, by Nona Yehia & Jefferson Ellinger

Nona Yehia and Jefferson Ellinger established the architectural firm, Ellinger/Yehia Design LLC in 2003 to investigate links between architecture, landscape and technology. In 2004, the firm opened an office in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to further explore these inter-relationships. Architects, artists, scientists and designers throughout the ages have been inspired by the beauty and elegance in nature; studying, imitating and attempting to recreate natural systems has shaped life as we know it. Today, the question is how natural phenomena can become instrumental in the design of new architectures that radically redefine our built environment.

Glowing Light Ball Bench - by Manfred Kielnhofer

"The “Glowing Light Ball Bench” created by Manfred Kielnhofer was present at the Light Art Biennial Austria. The bench which has a very simple design consists of three light balls and two wooden board perforates that lay over the light balls."

It's an interesting design although I would like to see if it works as well during the day. I would also worry about the wood planks standing up to changing weather. They seem pretty thin from the couple images that were shared with us. Still, a fun project. 

For more info:
RGB Light technic by
More info:

December 12, 2011

Slideshow: Architecture of Berlin, Germany - Various Architects

This is a rather long slideshow featuring a series of photographs taken during my two years living and working in the city. Berlin boasts an incredible history and collection of architecture. The juxtaposition of historic buildings, contemporary architecture, and modern designs creates a unique urban fabric. Throw in the vast ranks of soviet era housing blocks and bombed out lots and ruins, and Berlin has a little bit of everything. A Le Corbusier housing block graces the eastern edge, next to the Olympic Stadium built by the Nazi regime. Daniel Libeskind offers the first in a seemingly endless line of jagged monstrosities, just a few blocks away from a John Hejduk IBA housing project. Eisenman, OMA, Hadid, Alsop, Foster, Rossi and other giants in the history of the 20th century have all offered up buildings to help rebuild this capital after the war.

December 10, 2011

Video: The Brooklyn Bridge, as seen on "Great Spaces"

Episode two of "Great Spaces" takes us back in time to the Brooklyn Bridge. One of the most iconic pieces of New York City architecture, the Bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn with one of the most beautiful bridge designs in the world.

December 9, 2011

The Cloud: 2 luxury residential towers in Seoul, Korea by Architects MVRDV

Yongsan Dream Hub corporation presented today the MVRDV designed residential development of the Yongsan Business district: two connected luxury residential high-rises. A 260 meter tall tower and a 300 meter tall tower are connected in the centre by a pixelated cloud of additional program offering amenities and outside spaces with wide views. The towers with a total surface of 128,000m2 are expected to be completed in 2015.
The Cloud at Yongsan Dreamhub, Seoul, South Korea
The two towers are positioned at the entrance of the Yongsan Dreamhub project, a master plan designed by Studio Libeskind, extending the business district of the South Korean capital Seoul. The southern tower reaches a height of 260 meters with 54 floors, the northern tower 300 meters with 60 floors. Halfway, at the level of the 27th floor the cloud is positioned, a 10 floor tall pixelated volume, connecting the two towers. The cloud differentiates the project from other luxury developments, it moves the plinth upwards and makes space on ground floor level for public gardens, designed by Martha Schwartz.
The Cloud is located at the entrance to the Dreamhub masterplan
Usually a high-rise adds little to the immediate surrounding city life, by integrating public program to the cloud the typology adds in a more social way to the city. Inside the cloud, besides the residential function, 14,357m2 of amenities are located: the sky lounge - a large connecting atrium, a wellness centre, conference centre, fitness studio, various pools, restaurants and cafes. On top of the cloud are a series of public and private outside spaces, patios, decks, gardens and pools. To allow fast access the cloud is accessible by special express elevators.
The interior of the Sky lounge
The luxurious apartments range from 80m2 to 260m2 of which some offer double height ceilings , patios or gardens. The towers with a perfect square floor plan contain four corner apartments per floor offering each fine daylight conditions and cross ventilation. Each tower is accessed via a grand lobby at ground level; the rest of the ground floor is divided into town houses. In addition to the amenities the Cloud furthermore contains 9,000m2 of Officetel (Office-Hotel) a typical Korean typology and 25,000m2 panoramic apartments with specific lay-outs. The top floors of both towers are reserved for penthouse apartments of 1200m2 with private roof gardens.


MVRDV was set up in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) in 1993 by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries. MVRDV engages globally in providing solutions to contemporary architectural and urban issues. A research based and highly collaborative design method engages experts from all fields, clients and stakeholders in the creative process. The results are exemplary and outspoken buildings, urban plans, studies and objects, which enable our cities and landscapes to develop towards a better future.

Early projects such as the headquarters for the Dutch Public Broadcaster VPRO and housing for elderly WoZoCo in Amsterdam lead to international acclaim.

MVRDV develops its work in a conceptual way, the changing condition is visualised and discussed through designs, sometimes literally through the design and construction of a diagram. The office continues to pursue its fascination and methodical research on density using a method of shaping space through complex amounts of data that accompany contemporary building and design processes.

MVRDV first published a cross section of these study results in FARMAX (1998), followed by a.o. MetaCity/Datatown (1999), Costa Iberica (2000), Regionmaker (2002), 5 Minutes City (2003), KM3 (2005), and more recently Spacefighter (2007) and Skycar City (2007). MVRDV deals with global ecological issues in large scale studies such as Pig City as well as in small pragmatic solutions for devastated areas of New Orleans.

Current projects include various housing projects in the Netherlands, Spain, China, France, the United Kingdom, USA, India, Korea and other countries, a bank headquarter in Oslo, Norway, a public library for Spijkenisse, Netherlands, a central market hall for Rotterdam, a culture plaza in Nanjing, China, the China Cartoon and Animation Museum in Hangzhou, the ROCKmagneten museum in Roskilde, Denmark, large scale urban plans include a plan for an eco-city in Logroño, Spain, an urban vision for the doubling in size of Almere, Netherlands and Grand Paris, the vision of a post-Kyoto Greater Paris region.

The work of MVRDV is exhibited and published world wide and receives international awards. The 70 architects, designers and staff members conceive projects in a multi-disciplinary collaborative design process and apply highest technological and sustainable standards.

Together with Delft University of Technology MVRDV runs The Why Factory, an independent think tank and research institute providing argument for architecture and urbanism by envisioning the city of the future.

For information please contact public relations at MVRDV, Jan Knikker / Isabel Pagel +31 10 477 2860 +31 10 477 2860 or

December 7, 2011

Red Stair and Vent Sculpture, by Marcus O'Reilly Architects

Below is a press release from my friend, fellow Glenn Murcutt Master Class Alumni, and talented Australian Architect Marcus O'Reilly. I think it is a wonderful transformation of an urban square into an active and dynamic space. I am particularly captivated by the way the sculptures illuminate at night. 

Southbank - Melbourne CBD, Victoria

Situated along Southbank Promenade beside the Yarra River, Queensbridge Square is a major public meeting space connecting Southgate, Southbank Boulevard, Queensbridge Street, the casino, the Freshwater Place apartment tower and the Sandridge Bridge, which leads to the Flinders Street Station and its underpass.

This red stair works as a beacon, an easy to find meeting place. It is an outdoor amphitheatre for buskers and small meetings or demonstrations, and for sitting in the sun. On any given day hundreds of people descend upon the stair for a casual chat, a quick bite to eat with co-workers, access to their recommended daily vitamin ‘D’ intake, or put on a show of impressive bmx and skateboarding tricks off the canted sides of the structure.

Red plywood is backlit with LED lights, providing a glow in the dark effect. The high back wall cuts the wind and hides the roadway leading to the tunnel underneath. The back wall further functions as a book end to Queensbridge Square. This creates a sense of enclosure to the urban space effectively resulting in a modern Piazza. The iconic form and bold use of colour helps signalize a truly successful urban space. 

Across the square, a second sculptural intervention was created over a new concrete vent shaft. The splayed planks, sit in the garden area of the urban space. The planks and curved steel recall the railway tracks that were pulled up to make the space available. The entire project is an excellent case study of how underused and mundane aspects of urban life can be transformed and activated through clever design. 

The design work was done in conjunction with the client, the City of Melbourne, led by Professor Rob Adams. The project was awarded the Melbourne Prize and an Urban Design Award by the AIA.

Physical Photography - move out of the digital realm

As an architecture enthusiast and practitioner I have had the pleasure of living abroad and traveling extensively throughout the world, visiting some of the most amazing pieces of architecture along the way. As you can imagine I have thus created a vast collection of photographs taken upon my journeys. I have slowly been sorting through thousands and thousands of images to collect relevant architectural photographs into slideshows which I post on this blog. I have recently scheduled a series of slideshows to be posted every Monday morning from now until February. I am hoping to continue this schedule and post one every monday from here on out.

However, with all the digital photographs, too often they end up just sitting on my hard drive, waiting for the rare moments I have to actually sort through them. Unfortunately I hardly ever get a chance to look through photographs for fun, and I have not printed any as decoration or to show friends and family. Recently I was contacted by a representative of Easy Canvas Prints - a company that prints photographs on various sized canvases. They offered to give me a sample of their product and I figured it would be a great way to make one of my digital photographs something tangible, something that I could show in my newly purchased house. 

I was happy with the result. The image was crisp and clear with bright colors and rich blacks. I was worried that it might be washed out when printed on textured fabric but was pleasantly surprised with the end result. I would recommend checking out their website to see what products they offer. It is a perfect gift idea for the holidays and a great way to move some of your photographs out of the digital realm and into the physical world. It is an elegant product that would add a nice touch to any room. 

You can also follow them on Facebook ( and Twitter (

December 5, 2011

Slideshow: Amsterdam Architecture - Amsterdam, The Netherlands - various architects

There is a small development of commercial towers located on the southern edge of Amsterdam near the southern train station. Not all of the architecture is fantastic, but there are some interesting solutions to the issues facing tower architecture. I particularly am fascinated by the carved out exterior staircase that twists its way down one of them.

December 4, 2011

Video: UNStudio Amsterdam Pavilion - Great Spaces

The Amsterdam Pavilion, designed by UN Studio, is nice little pice of architecture calling lower manhattan home. This is the first in a series of short videos from Great Spaces - highlighting interesting architecture in the New York City area.

November 28, 2011

Slideshow: Aqua Tower - Chicago, Illinois - Designed by Studio Gang

The Aqua tower, designed by Studio Gang, has received a lot of well deserved press over the past year since its completion. However, what has failed to be discussed is the dismal condition of the podium and how the tower interacts with the street. It almost seems as if a different designer worked on the tower vs. the podium as they have no clear relationship. These images capture the undulating balconies from a variety of angles, unclose and as glimpses through the surrounding towers.

Last summer I was lucky enough to be invited to Chicago as a guest of DuPont Corian® to see their new product line and its integration with the DIRTT wall system. As part of the trip I also got to explore the city, see its amazing architecture, and visit NEOCON. This slideshow, as well as few others that will be posted in the coming weeks was a result of their generosity. Check out the Corian® Design Facebook page for more information on their new products:

November 24, 2011


BIG + Paris-based architects OFF, engineers Buro Happold, consultants Michel Forgue and environmental engineer Franck Boutte is the winning team to design the new 15.000 m2 research centre for Sorbonne’s Scientific university Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris.

The new multidisciplinary research centre, Paris PARC, located between Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe and the open green park of the Jussieu Campus will become a significant addition to the campus, strengthening the international appeal and openness of the leading French University for Science and Medicine. The facility will bring together academic scholars and the busi­ness community, while re-connecting the university physically and visually with the city of Paris. The winning team was honored as the best design among proposals from MVRDV, Lipsky Rollet, Mario Cucinella and Peripherique.

Paris PARC is located in the visual axis of the Notre Dame Cathedral in a dense context of university buildings from different historical periods. BIG proposes a building geometry that adapts to the specific conditions of all adjoining sides, optimized for daylight, views and accessibility. The three-dimensional envelope retracts from the neighboring facades, opens up towards the square of Institut du Monde Arabe and the park, and folds into a publicly accessible rooftop landscape, resulting in an adapted sculptural building volume situated between the emblematic architectural monuments of the university.

“As a form of urban experiment the Paris PARC is the imprint of the pressures of its urban context. Wedged into a super dense context – in terms of space, public flows and architectural history – the PARC is conceived as a chain of reactions to the various external and internal forces acting upon it. Inflated to allow daylight and air to enter into the heart of the facility, compressed to ensure daylight and views for the neighboring classrooms and dormitories, lifted and decompressed to allow the public to enter from both plaza and park and finally tilted to reflect the spectacular view of the Paris skyline and the Notre Dame to the Parisians.” Bjarke Ingels, Founder, BIG.

A central canyon provides daylight and a visual connection between laboratories and offices. In the atrium a cascade of informal meeting spaces lead to the public rooftop terrace and faculty club. A public stair to the rooftop offers glimpses into the activities of the laboratories which are divided by transparent walls throughout the building to ensure visual connections between the working spaces. The upper levels have panoramic views towards the Notre Dame and the skyline of Paris.

“We propose a building that creates the optimum conditions for encounters and exchange among the academics and visitors of Paris PARC. Like a scientific incubator the new building will provide the physical environment for nurturing growth of cultures and sharing of ideas - through the internal mix of laboratories, research facilities and informal meeting spaces, and through a reunification with the public life of the city.” Andreas Klok Pedersen, Partner-in-Charge, BIG.

The Paris PARC becomes the interface between campus life and city life by reuniting the Jussieu Campus with the city of Paris. The iconic view of the Notre Dame Cathedral is brought into the daily life of the building through the large panoramic windows while the façade towards the entrance square is slightly tilted, hence, a mirrored image of the Cathedral becomes visible at eyelevel on the square, connecting the building to its iconic location.

TYPE: Competition
CLIENT: UPMC University
SIZE: 15.000 m2
LOCATION: Paris, France
STATUS: 1. Prize
Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Andreas Klok Pedersen
Project Leader: Daniel SundlinArchitect: Gabrielle Nadeau
Team: Camille Crepin, Edouard Boisse, Tiina Liisa Juuti, Alexandre Carpentier

Partners-in-Charge: Manal Rachdi, Tanguy Vermet, Ute Rinnebach
Project Leader: Daniel Colin, Antonio Rovira
Team: Akram Rachdi, Olfa Kamoon

November 22, 2011

Slideshow: Bagsværd Church - Copenhagen, Denmark- by Jørn Utzon

Best known for the stunning architectural icon the Sydney Opera House, the danish architect Jørn Utzon designed one of the most beautiful churches I've visited. Bagsværd Church sits quietly in a suburb of Copenhagen and is rather unassuming from the exterior. It barely hints at the drama of the interior spaces. Tte way Utzon captures light and reflects it into the chapel through his undulating ceiling and light wells is spectacular. The concept is so clear and straight forward and the effect is dramatic. The materials are simple and understated, mostly just white washed concrete with some wood and metal accents. This is a splendid piece of modern architecture that rivals some of the more famous work of its author and his peers.

The Architecure of Genhelix - a contemporary biopharma facility

Here is a description a elegant new building built in spain, designed by Estudio SIC. I love the simplicity of the design - the architects didn't try to do too much, but rather provided a great building with a reasonable budget - this is where creativity really shines.


The biopharmaceutical facility, the first antibody monoclonal manufacturing plant built in Spain, is the expression of the complex inner manufacturing processes of the product: a technological, efficient and sustainable solution. The new biopharma facilities Genhelix is located in a place marked by the passing of the High Speed Train Madrid-Asturias, with this condition becoming the generator of the place: a dynamic and orientated “genius loci”. The building incorporates this status, taking advantage of the maximum visibility in both directions and responding to the different mobility levels that occur in the science park: HST, private vehicle and pedestrian.

The five main volumes - offices, laboratories, production, utilities and warehouse- are combined in a compact scheme, structured through the circulation between each piece, freeing each program and allowing access control to each of them. The necessity to have spaces of internal growth to future extensions, anticipated by the company in a short term of time, is incorporated as design criteria from the beginning of the process. The existing voids in east and west facades allow the growth with no volume modification or outer image affection. The facade can also grow, encompassing the new bodies.

The offices body proposes a working place related to the outside through the metallic skin and the great glass hollows - exhausting the diurnal necessity luminance- which conform the facade. In the ground floor the corporative stairs are placed as first perception of the company as well as the connection between the lower semipublic space with the collective working zone upstairs. This space works as the encounter place, informal meeting, multifunctional area and communication node of the company. In the first level two well-differentiated working places coexist: the open room, as a landscape office, and the room area separated both by a divisible meeting room. The circulations are maximized from the work space to the rest of activities, finalizing in the most distant points to the access, always in facade hollow to the corridor. This scheme allows the combination of outer distant views with the surroundings of immediate work.

The project is generated from an optimized modulated structure -6 x 7.5 meters- according to the particular conditions of load and the disposition of the program. In addition the standard and modular construction achieves a budget adjustment and a specific answer of each structural element to the request and precise efforts, generating a customized and strong identity structure: the canopy projection of the access locates the beginning of the path and the building access, being the reception point of visitors.

Those design criteria are extended to the whole construction of all the existing programs, unifying them with a constructive system formed by sandwich panel of 40 mm. and length up to 12 m. enclosing the building. The façade pace, repeated each meter of length, is defined by the curvature of the outer plate, allowing to distinguish both skins in a unique constructive solution. The façade structure is fitted between the panels, letting see the metallic mesh from the outside. The transformation of the standard and industrialized constructive systems is personalized and adapted to the project.

The façade, as an interface between the environment and the working space, expresses the underlying enterprise concept: health, hygiene and quality, generating a white, clean, aseptic and corporative architecture, which shares the communicative concepts of the company. The expanded metal skin unifies the offices and the R+D laboratories offering a unique homogenous image to all the plant. On the skin the company logo appears as an unstructured typography. An exhaustive system of decomposition the letters are disturbed according to the different perception points, simulating the movement of the enterprise logo based on the direction and the speed of the observer: the fragmented central vision takes step to lateral and fleeting visions totally constructed.

For more information on this project: estudio SIC

November 13, 2011

Video: Deadlines

A great video aimed to educate clients on why creative design solutions take time. Wouldn't it be great if they understood that the quality of the end product is correlated to how much time they allow architects/designers to work on their project? Considering they will be using/occupying the end result for years or hopefully a lifetime, perhaps a few extra days/weeks is a worthy investment.

November 7, 2011

The Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene Oregon - Designed by TVA Architects

by Kevin Young

Recently there has been a great deal of construction happening on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. Since 2009, there have been three major construction projects completed – the John E. Jaqua Academic Center, the Matthew Knight Arena, and the Ford Alumni Center - along with a new addition to the science building, Streisinger Hall. However, these buildings are not open to the public or general student body. Is this new architecture worth the investment? Do they improve campus life for the students? Do they improve life for athletes? Recently, I was fortunate enough to have a private tour of Matthew Knight Arena, and formulated some answers to the questions that many of the students on campus have about these new edifices.

Upon the arena’s conception, there was instant criticism. Everything from the $227 million construction costs, to the 65,000-pound center-hung scoreboard (the largest in college sports), to even the etched tree design on the arena floor. However, these immediate concerns are only just the tip of the iceberg – beyond the arena floor, there is a multitude of luxuries that are provided for VIP members and athletes. Touring the facility obviously reveals where the majority of the money was spent – not on the arena floor, exterior, entryway, or the gigantic scoreboard, but on the areas that the majority of the campus will probably never see, the areas dedicated to wealthy, elite donors.

The attention to detail around every corner of the interior is apparent – wood interior finishes curved and bowed slightly on the wall adjacent to the staircase giving it a ripple effect, in the VIP room the floor was painted and finished to imitate the original basketball court flooring. Even the tables and other furniture were given a great amount of attention, with important names and numbers etched into the surfaces. Every major large interior space had at least 8 large flat screen TVs, and every private VIP room (including Phil Knight’s suite) sports a large, private, lime green bathroom, an immense flat screen TV, and luxurious furnishings. Even the gyms and hydrotherapy rooms are filled with extravagant items, including a treadmill for injured players to run on while submerged in therapeutic waters. Despite the inherent beauty of the design, is all of this extravagance necessary?

For the athletes, the answer would probably be a big “yes.” It is more than likely that the student athletes greatly appreciate all of these fancy amenities, and the arena’s beautiful interiors probably attract more recruits to the University’s athletic programs. On the other hand, the luxury of the VIP rooms for honored guests, might not have been so essential. There was a long hallway of private rooms solely dedicated to the elite of the VIPs, but we were informed that majority of the time, they remain empty. Apparently, even Phil Knight’s own room has been empty for almost the entire time since the arena’s opening. The executive areas are divided into two zones, segregating the “elite” from the “super-elite,” and though both are extremely exquisite in detailing, finishes, and design, there becomes a question of time of usage, and whether or not it truly is necessary to segregate the VIPs in this fashion at all.

As for attracting athletes, there is some question as to the new facilities effectiveness. A recent talk show questioned whether all the amenities that are now available on campus truly do attract more, and better athletes. Because that is the true purpose of these facilities: to create a more inviting campus for athletes. The resulting consensus was that no matter how many new facilities Phil Knight may help build on campus, the University of Oregon will not be able to recruit to the same level as teams in other conferences (i.e. – the Big Ten), simply because of the location. The truth is, Eugene itself is not nearly as attractive as other cities, and no amount of shiny new facilities can alter that perception. It is debatable as to whether or not the Jaqua Center and the Matthew Knight Arena actually the goals they were intended for.

That being said, the Matthew Knight Arena is a well-detailed space, with great intentions, and considering the large price tag, all that money had to go somewhere. There is truly a feeling that not a single corner or space was left or forgotten by the architects, and the spectacle of the interior space is magnificent. The amount of drama that has been orchestrated shows that with great vision, one can create great spaces. The arena also has become a strong visual landmark, standing tall at the Northeast corner of campus.

The Arena does more than students probably originally thought when it comes to improving student life. The arena floor is a flexible space and allows for a multitude of events to take place directly on campus, with easy access for all students. Early on, when the arena first opened, it hosted a charity event called “Clash of the Champions,” where Roger Federer, Raphael Nadal, and Maria Sharapova all played a series of tennis matches. Soon after Elton John graced its stage, and recently there was a performance by Miranda Lambert. These non university events range from concerts and professional sports to monster truck rallies. Although the building was originally intended as a draw for potential student athletes, it has also provided the added benefit of bringing major cultural events to campus and the city.

The exterior of the building speaks to the luxury within – its sleek metal and glass finish is indicative of Phil Knight’s desire to be seen as modern and cutting edge. Along with the other new buildings – Jaqua Center, and the Ford Alumni Center – these new, Phil Knight sponsored, additions to campus represent both a disconnect from the history of the campus, as well as the current trend in architecture. As the majority of buildings on campus are clad in brick, the metal and glass edifices feel aloof. The only design trait, which helps alleviate this disconnect in aesthetics, is the proximity of the three buildings to each other, as well as their location on campus. All three are located next to each other on the North East corner of campus. Here they serve as a beacon of modern architecture while transitioning the campus onto a busy commercial strip. With Matthew Knight Arena soaring above most of the surrounding architecture, it is impossible to miss, and has easily become an identifiable landmark. In a way, the design of all three buildings represents the University of Oregon’s overall attitude towards athletes – they are held up on a pedestal, removed, and in a league of their own, separate from the rest of campus.

As a draw for athletes, the Matthew Knight Arena might not be as successful as was intended by Phil Knight and the University of Oregon athletics department. Yet, despite that intention, the building does come as an exquisitely detailed interior space, flashing great vision and great architecture despite its great price tag. Beyond this, probably the greatest effect of the arena is that it provides a flexible public space, that is easily accessibility for students and local residents. It successfully anchors the eastern edge of campus and provides a landmark along Franklin Blvd.

(Note: The building is shooting for a LEED rating. Currently, none of the sustainable features are made apparent or conspicuous for the public to see. As a result, without insider knowledge, no one would be aware of the sustainability of the building.)

October 27, 2011

Slideshow: Adidas Campus - Portland, Oregon - designed by Boora Architects

Designed by Boora Architects, the Adidas Campus in Portland, Oregon was an adaptive reuse of an old hospital. Located close the the downtown it strikes a distinguishing contrast from the suburban Nike campus outside the city. The architecture is bold and colorful giving it a distinct character and offering some playfulness to the Adidas brand.

October 19, 2011

Slideshow: The Gherkin (30 St. Mary Axe) - London, England - designed by Norman Foster

A fantastic piece of contemporary architecture, with a nickname that aptly describes the building, The Gherkin is one of the many Norman Foster designed buildings to grace the London skyline. WIth it's curving facade and spiraling tinted glass, this building sparkles within the midst of the financial district, becoming an architectural icon on par with Richard Rogers' Lloyds Buildings

October 17, 2011

Book Review: Some Ideas On Living In London and Tokyo - Steven Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa

Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo is an excellent juxtaposition of the work of two outstanding contemporary architects. It presents a series of residential projects designed by Ryue Nishizawa - one of the founding partners of the Pritzker Prize winning firm Sanaa - followed by a series of projects by London based architect Stephen Taylor.

The beauty of this publication by the Canadian Center for Architecture and Lars Muller Publishers is that it presents each design as a process. It follows the buildings from early conceptual models, sketches, renderings, and developed drawings through to images of the built conclusions. It demonstrates that great architecture is not an isolate vision by rather is a product of hundreds of iterations of a design. An idea is massaged and altered slowly through experimentation before it evolves into it's elegant and simple resolution.

Both of these architects would be classified as minimalists - they utilize clean lines, minimal decoration and pristine details. Their buildings are composed of a simple material palate with clean white interiors and large expanses of glass. Yet the seemingly simple design masks the complexity of the design process that lead to the built outcome. These iterations were on display in the exhibition this book was based on and are captured in the beautiful images presented within its pages. It is a beautiful book that is a great resource for anyone looking for inspiration for residential design.

Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo
editor: giovanna borasi
publishers: canadian centre for architecture & lars müller publishers
year: 2008
size: 160 pages, 15 x 21 cm
ISBN: 978-3-03778-150-0

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October 10, 2011

Okanagan College Centre of Excellence Sets its Sights on the Living Building Challenge

The building is expected to us 65 kilowatt-hours of energy
per square meter per year. This positions the new Center of 
Excellence as one of the most energy efficient in North 
Imagine an educational facility that is as much a teacher as the instructors standing at the front of its classrooms; a building powered by the resources of its surrounding environment; a building as full of potential as the students learning inside. That building is Penticton’s Okanagan College Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation, a world-class educational facility that will train British Columbia’s next generation of tradespeople in green construction.

Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence, which will mark its grand opening this fall, is designed to the standards of the Living Building Challenge, the most rigorous sustainability program on the planet. The challenge requires projects to meet a stringent list of qualifications, including net-zero energy and water consumption, and address critical environmental, social and economic factors. Successful Living Building Challenge projects are only certified if they prove they meet program requirements after 12 months of continued operations and full occupancy. At 6,780 square metres, the Centre of Excellence is currently one of the largest buildings to pursue Living Building certification.

The largest array of photovoltaic solar panels in Western 
Canada generates electricity for the Okanagan College 
Center of Excellence.
“From the educational community to the design team to the various government offices involved, we came together to set the sustainability bar for the Centre of Excellence extremely high,” says CEI Architecture’sTim McLennan. “The entire team worked incredibly hard to bring the building to life and the final result is perhaps the most innovative sustainability effort ever realized in the region. Designing to the standards of Living Building Challenge demanded a truly integrated design process, and buy-in from everyone involved.”

Innovative sustainability components throughout the building add up to make the Centre of Excellence one of the greenest educational facilities in the world. These include net-zero energy and water consumption made possible through features such as an in-floor radiant heating and cooling system, using an on-site water source drawn from 61 metres below the building; the largest array of photovoltaic solar panels in Western Canada; and composite concrete/wood panels in the gymnasium that contain piping for heating and cooling and are the first of their kind in North America. Nearly 100 per cent of the wood in the building is B.C.-sourced, including local pine from beetle-infested forests in the Okanagan.

For the first time in North America, the walls are built with 
composite panels, a combination of concrete and glulam
that are light and strong. These walls have heating and 
cooling piping inside with electrical conduits and ventilation 
built in. 

The Centre’s planned educational programming includes Sustainable Construction Management Technology, Carpentry, Applied Ecology and Conservation, and Green Building Design and Construction, as well as the research and development of alternative and renewable energy sources.

“The Okanagan College Centre of Excellence is a building that will help teach and spread the latest ideas and innovations in the green building movement, and that is so powerful,” says Jason F. McLennan(unrelated to Tim McLennan), CEO of the International Living Future Institute, the organization that created and oversees the Living Building Challenge. “It’s an exciting project and it will be very interesting to see how it influences others in the region, and around the world.”

Learn about one of the most sustainably built educational facilities in the world by
downloading the Center of Excellence info-graphic here: link to info-graphic


CEI Architecture is an award-winning firm offering integrated architectural, planning and interior design consulting services. The firm’s “listen-first” philosophy and team-based approach emphasizes client collaboration and public facilitation, with a proven design charrette process. CEI’s work embraces a site-specific approach to sustainable design.

Miguel Strother, 604-319-1369
Susan von Seggern, 213-840-0077


October 6, 2011

A Tribute to Steve Jobs from Norman Foster

Tribute to Steve Jobs, Chairman of Apple
6 October 2011

With my colleagues I would like to pay tribute to Steve Jobs. Like so many millions our lives have been profoundly and positively influenced by the innovations pioneered by Steve and Apple, names which are inseparable.

We were greatly privileged to know Steve as a person, as a friend and in every way so much more than a client. Steve was an inspiration and a role model. He encouraged us to develop new ways of looking at design to reflect his unique ability to weave backwards and forwards between grand strategy and the minutiae of the tiniest of internal fittings. For him no detail was small in its significance and he would be simultaneously questioning the headlines of our project together whilst he delved into its fine print.

He was the ultimate perfectionist and demanded of himself as he demanded of others. We are better as individuals and certainly wiser as architects through the experience of the last two years and more of working for him. His participation was so intense and creative that our memory will be that of working with one of the truly great designers and mentors.

Norman Foster
Chairman + Founder of Foster + Partners

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