March 29, 2012

Everything You Need to Know About LEED

Just a couple weeks ago I took and passed the LEED Green Associate exam. In honor of that, here is an info graphic highlighting some of the facts, figures, and accomplishments of the LEED system. 

We want to thank our friends at http://www.turtlemat.co.uk/ who provided this great graphic. 

March 27, 2012

Paris: The Inspiration for New York’s High Line Park

by Kevin Young

The High Line Park in New York City, designed by James Corner Field Operations, project lead, with  Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Piet Oudolf,  is considered to be a remarkable and amazing modern urban park, which is heralded as being an incredible way to reinvent an elevated freight railroad spur. However, the High Line Park is not as original as many people think. The Promenade Plantée in Paris, France runs for 2.8 miles – 1.8 miles longer than High Line Park – elevated above the streets of Paris, and has been a vital pedestrian greenway through the city for nearly 20 years. It too renovated an old elevated rail line and turned it into a pedestrian escape from the hustle of the city.

The elevated Viaduct des Arts was originally a railway until 1969, and was later brought back to life in 1986 as a renovation project. The top was transformed into a park, much like High Line Park in New York, and the arcades beneath the viaduct were transformed into spaces for art galleries and artisan workshops, forming an active street façade at ground level. Its services are two fold – providing a place for people to walk or run, and enjoy the park setting removed from traffic, while also providing many amazing shops, galleries, and even some cafes, forming an active edge along the street below. 

It is a gorgeous experience from above and below, and is the essential green belt in Paris. Often overlooked, it is one of the first elevated parks ever built, and is certainly the first one that was converted from an old rail line. It has an interesting way of connecting to the history of Paris by utilizing an old structure and giving it a fresh look, feel, and use. 
 Arguably, Paris’ Promenade Plantée is more successful than High Line Park as it engages the city on more than one level. Be that as it may, High Line Park is equally as important to the urban landscape of New York as a green belt that has lead to an explosion of real estate developments in the surrounding neighborhoods, and acting as a catalyst for similar developments across the United States. Both can be used as case studies to show that inspiring, innovative, parks and public spaces an integral part of redeveloping overlooked infrastructure in our urban environments.

Conspicuous Consumption: The “Prius Effect” for Solar Panels

by Kevin Young

Economists have a term relating to the purchase of sustainable technologies and environmentally sensitive vehicles. It’s called “conspicuous consumption.” Defining this in laymans terms, it means to display one’s wealth or worth to others through their material goods – think of royalty flaunting fine garments, or a banker driving a Ferrari. People invest in these things not because they are necessarily better in quality or more reliable, but rather for the purpose of displaying one’s wealth to others.

What does this have to do with environmental technologies? Well, through several recent studies, it has been revealed that amidst the recent concern for the environment and mitigating the effects of global climate change, consumers are more willing to invest in cars and technologies to showcase that they are being environmentally sensitive. Think of it as the “Prius Effect.” The Prius is the clearest example of this phenomenon – multiple studies have shown that there are other cars that are equal in sustainable benchmarks, such as the Toyota Camry Hybrid, but still the Prius claims approximately half of the hybrid car market. The Prius out sells all of the other cars for one primary reason – it looks like a hybrid car. 

Solar panels are an even more fascinating issue. Solar panels have been a large part of the California market, and a recent study was conducted in the San Diego area on the application and use of these solar panels. Two interesting things were discovered. One, large portions of California where sales of solar panels were high are not ideal for the use of solar panels. Furthermore, sunnier areas of California, in communities that are not as concerned about the environment have drastically fewer solar panels on residential rooftops. Second, there were several cases in which solar panels were actually placed on the wrong side of the house, not as a simple mistake but rather because homeowners wanted to display their solar panels to the street. It is fascinating that people care more about the image of being sustainable than making any lifestyle changes to actually be more environmentally conscious. 


On one hand, it’s very discouraging to know that a technology is being misused. Yet seen in another light, this has interesting implications moving forward. If the environmentally conscious consumer wishes to display their “green-ness,” what if there was a way to design and group appropriate technologies so that they are made more visible? What if sustainable technologies were integrated into the design and became completely revealed for all to see? What if we celebrated these technologies rather than trying to hide them within our traditional design language? Furthermore, the tax advantages associated with solar energy are getting better each year, allowing solar users to take advantage of credits and deductions when they file their income taxes for the year. This way, a homeowner could proudly show their latest sustainable gadgetry, and gain the maximum amount of benefit from it, both economically and environmentally. It would be fascinating to see how talented designers can come up with creative solutions that push this idea further.

March 23, 2012

Video: Great Spaces - LOT-EK x Van Alen Books - "Packs a Colorful Punch"

This is the last episode of Great Spaces for the first season. They made some wonderful short films about some fantastic architecture. I look forward to seeing how the show grows into its second full season.

March 22, 2012

Competition Winners of the [Amsterdam] Iconic Pedestrian Bridge

1st Place:

2nd Place:

3rd Place:

Honorable Mentions:







There are some interesting ideas are presented here. I am also particularly fascinated with seeing the graphic presentations for these competition entries. It great to see how different people stress renderings vs cad drawings vs. sketches. I also find that the presentations with more white space and less saturated renderings are much more visually stimulating.

The competition was hosted by [AC-CA] Architectural Competition www.ac-ca.org.
They are currently hosting a new competition: [BUENOS AIRES] New Contemporary Art Museum

March 6, 2012

Hope for a Young Designer

by Pierce Atkinson

It's been a year and a half now that I've graduated from the Interior Design program at Dawson College here in Montreal, Quebec Canada. To say I'm passionate about design is an understatement. My friends are always teasing me because no matter where we are I'm constantly taking pictures or feeling things, always interested in how things are made and what they are made of. Design is a huge part of my life, I try to take in everything around me for inspiration; from traveling, to fashion and even food.

In the year and a half that I've been living here school-free I've applied to many jobs, though sparse I still searched them out. Most job postings came up asking for at least 5 years experience or more, which was intimidating for a recent graduate. I found it difficult to gain the requested experience as no one was willing to take a chance on me. It was then that I decided to change my approach, and have begun networking day and night over these past few months. I've met some incredible people who are both fascinating and very helpful in offering advice for a struggling design graduate like myself. 

I've asked a few of my friends with whom I graduated how they obtained their current jobs in design and if they struggled with finding a position. Natasha, a junior designer at a local firm explains "I job-shadowed at the firm when I was in my last year at Dawson. Being one of the few that had a passion for traditional residential design in our year, the teachers decided to pair me with this firm. It was the right fit and allowed me to absorb what the design world is like outside of school." We were all very fortunate to have had a job shadowing program at our school, it offered great networking and a real take on what design is like outside of school. I would recommend to students that don't have a job shadowing program to start networking and maybe start one for your school. If not try and shadow with a local architect or designer, they always appreciate free help and its a great learning experience.

Natasha elaborates on how it wasn't what she was expecting once she started working in the field: "At the beginning I felt thrown into the job. It's difficult coming straight out of school and being only 20 years old at the time, expected to know everything. I was fortunate to have a wonderful project manager who was there to answer any questions and concerns I had. He was my mentor throughout the process." Though some students come out of school feeling overly confident while the material is still fresh, a mentor is essential in this business. "School taught me a lot, yet I still feel that the best experience you can have is 'real life world experiences.' A text book can only teach you so much. You need real situations to learn the do's and don'ts of design" explains Natasha. 

As is true for many jobs, first impressions are everything and it always helps to know someone. I've recently been given some great advice and was told to start attending as many local design events as I could. I looked into the School of Architecture at McGill University, which has some very interesting lectures coming up that I cannot wait to attend. These kinds of events will attract all kinds of designers, architects and students alike - all great people to talk to and one never knows what might come of it. When asked about what advice she'd give to recent graduates Natasha advises: "The interior design world is so small, so make a good impression! Good word goes a long way." She recounts that someone referred her to her current position and helped her get the job, she also adds; "DO NOT over sell yourself. They [students] must not forget that they are now starting at the bottom. Don't over step your boundaries and always be willing to learn. Absorb as much as possible and keep an open mind." 

I have yet to find a mentor but strongly believe I am on the right path, networking is half the battle and opens up many opportunities that may or may not be posted to the public. I've already looked into and applied to some great internships that otherwise would not have been brought to my attention had I not met people and networked. To those struggling graduates out there I say not to worry, you're not alone, and to devote some time into the research of all things design in your area.

March 4, 2012

Happenings of an Architecture Blog

Things have been slow on Talkitect.com recently. It is an unfortunate side effect of being overly busy in other parts of my life. I recently purchased a new house and have been working hard at renovating it - new hardwood floors are in, painting has commenced, I'm considering bathroom redesign options like double sink bathroom vanities. I'm learning how to drywall next weekend and closing up a door. Soon I'll be taking down a wall between the kitchen and living room. This summer I'll start replacing the windows, replacing the hot water heater and improving the insulation. My dad helped rewire some of the light fixtures and switches. I will start posting some images of the progress here soon. I also joined the marketing team at Opsis Architecture and have been swamped working on proposals and their new website and social media campaigns. However, I am hoping things will begin to change soon. There are a couple of exciting things that will hopefully get Talkitect up and running again with more frequent posts. I am happy to introduce a couple of new contributors to the blog. You should soon start seeing posts from Kevin Young, Amanda Ingmire, Pierce Atkinson and Nigel Fenton. You can visit the about page for a short profile of some of our new contributors.

I am also working hard at finding sponsors and other revenue streams to keep the blog going and eventually allow me to pay for the content the new contributors create. This has been a slow process but hopefully our advertising revenue will start growing soon. I recently joined a blog advertising site  - blogads - that works at connecting bloggers with prospective advertisers. I am hoping they will help me find relevant companies that would like to advertise on talkitect. For more information about the company click here: making money blogging

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