Category Archives: Architecture

The New, Green Museum

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The California Academy of Science in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has long been dedicated to the study of nature, and after 8 years and half a billion dollars in sustainable renovations, Italian architect Renzo Piano’s design is a pioneer in sustainable architecture. Unlike traditional theater museums, this museum is built inside the park, well underneath it to be more specific. The 2.5 acre living roof is the signature element. After walking the grounds in silence and observing the hills from a run down building, Piano sketched a simple rolling hill with a line underneath and with only his sketchbook, Piano beat the other five competitors.

Not only has Piano’s design been compared to Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiraling Guggenheim Museum and Frank Gehry’s titanium Guggenheim in Bilbao, the new museum is expected to capture the attention of the public with its design and green focus. Hoping to receive the highest ranking from the U. S. Green Building Council, a platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the living roof absorbs storm water and according to the museum will prevent 3.6 million gallons of polluted water from entering into the eco-system. The living roof is also home to wildlife and California wildflowers. It is said that the roof keeps the building 10 degrees cooler and turns carbon dioxide into oxygen.  Solar cells produce 5-10% of the museum’s energy as well. The structure is insulated by nearly 216,000 pairs of Levi’s jeans, paying homage to the native San Francisco denim company.

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Underneath the living roof, the museum houses the Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, Kimball Natural History Museum and includes a four story rainforest, a coral reef, a 100,000 gallon tank with Pacific coast marine life, a swamp, a habitat for penguins and exhibit on climate change and global warming.

Piano explains, “You almost never get a chance to build something in the middle of a great park, so it needed to be transparent…here you need to know about the connection with nature, so almost anywhere you are in this building you can see through to the outside.”

California Academy of Science: http://www.calacademy.org/
More on Renzo Piano: http://architect.architecture.sk/renzo-piano-architect/renzo-piano-architect.php

NANCY GANDRUD

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Green Architecture, Brave New World

For some urbanites, a sustainable lifestyle means unplugging their MacBook at night, carrying a reusable tote bag to Whole Foods, and buying organic cotton t-shirts at American Apparel. While doing all these things can certainly help to lower one’s carbon footprint, believe it or not, there are even greater ways to live green. Enter a new wave of architects and designers, who (literally) take green lifestyle to new heights.

As natural resources dwindle, it is no wonder that sustainable architecture is a rapidly growing trend. Carbon neutral buildings and green housing projects are cropping up in cities around the world. Many countries now have their own rating systems for green buildings, such as the well-known LEED standard in the US. Companies like URBN Hotels are revamping the concept of eco-hotels by updating them for the urban jet-set. These new hotels feature minimalist aesthetics, recycled materials, and 5 star luxury, just for starters. From New York to Singapore, green housing projects are also making appearances. The benefits of living in one of these apartment complexes include solar powered energy, water-based air conditioning, and rain-water collection systems. Even the pre-fab home has seen a recent rise in popularity since it’s mid-century beginnings, with a new exhibit at MoMA in NYC dedicated solely to these DIY properties. Lastly, another emerging and innovative concept is the “smart building,” which incorporates bio-mimicry techniques into architecture, creating buildings that are seamlessly integrated with their surrounding environments.

What is interesting, and relevant, about all these new concepts is that it takes sustainability to a whole new level. In these new eco-buildings, people don’t have to consciously change their behaviors to live green; rather, it becomes their surroundings that are changing instead. Instead of focusing on changing the way people act, these buildings are designed to directly change the way people live by infusing sustainability into their daily lives. WU

Master of Modernism

There are few architects who are able to successfully blend minimalism and functionality.  Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, is one of the few.  He is the mastermind behind architectural beauties such as Osaka’s famed Church of Light, high-end shopping mall Omotesando Hills, and Roppongi’s 21_21 Design Sight. In New York, he brought us Morimoto.  Working mainly in Japan, Ando is famed for his clean, Modernist buildings.

Recently, Ando has completed one of his latest projects on this side of the Pacific.  His new masterpiece is the Stone Hill Center, at the Clark Art Institute in Williamston, MA.  True to his roots, Ando brings us another architectural work of art that bridges Japanese simplicity with 20th century Modernism. What makes this, and many of his previous works, noteworthy, is his use of lines and light.  In his buildings, Ando utilizes clean geometric shapes that play with the dynamics between shadow and light, creating spaces that feel pristine and zen-like.  Most importantly, Ando does not let his minimalist aesthetic interfere with accessibility.  He understands that, no matter how beautiful a building is, at the end of the day it must be functional.  The linearity of Ando’s walkways and stairs flow seamlessly to create subconsciously simple paths of navigation.  With the completion of the Stone Hill Center, Ando has once again brought 20th century Modernism to the 21st century.  WU


Visit Ando’s latest masterpiece, the Stone Hill Center, at the Clark Art Institute.  225 South Street, Williamston, MA  01267.  413.458.2303.  http://www.clarkart.edu

All photos courtesy of the Clark Art Institute.

GenArt Genisis

In Greek, Ninaki means something small or precious. It is fitting that Ninaki Priddy would be destined to design jewelry.

Jewelry design was not the original plan, she started out as a biology major (many great designers start off in science). This proved to be the main inspiration for her first collection.

An LA based jewelry designer of Mexican-American heritage, Ninaki is also a sculptor and architect. Her organic forms are captured from still frames of movements, put together to create fluidity in form. The bold collection morphs into continuous whimsical shapes with touches of natural elements.

Recently, she won the accessory design competition for the GenArt Styles International Design Competition. We think this is a first of many to come.

This year, Ninaki plans to expand her line to include necklaces, earrings, ear-cuffs and hair-pins. Yes, custom ear-cuffs, her unique take on modern ornament.

New jewelry design for a new generation of women. NATALIA

Lights on LD Tuttle

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Tiffany Tuttle, a California native, founded LD Tuttle in 2005. A shoe and handbag designer, Tiffany Tuttle has managed to take classic favorites and bring about a sexy twist to create a contemporary rock ‘n’ roll flare. Her Spring/Summer line for 2008 takes on metallic and layers it with matted tonal colors, juxtaposed with colors like poppy red and yellow. Tiffany Tuttle’s collection of flats and heels uses elements of architecture with geometrical shapes. Her subtle details of lace, belted straps, and zippers closures at the heel add feminine detail and definition.

Her Fall/Winter line for 2008 takes on dark greys and blacks. Snow white, olive, fuchsia and metallic is added to the line to help break up the monochromatic color scheme. Her collection of boots has created a softer elegance of the male counterpoint. Her leather boots tightly wrap around the legs and when unbuckled or unzipped the boot gently drapes down.

Tiffany Tuttle places great emphasis on recognizable pieces that she brings about through her creative elements – cut outs, contrasting textures, and subtle detail. Her designs are being sold internationally and online. (http://www.ldtuttle.com/home.html). HANNA

Sold on Skandium

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Not too long ago, I discovered a brilliant shop along Marylebourne Road in London. Skandium is a hub of modern Scandinavian furniture, lighting, kitchenware, and glassware for the home and office. Unlike Ikea, the products are made with quality and built to last. Skandium was named after the rare earth metal scandium, a rough dark metallic that turns pink or yellow when exposed to air. Skandium unites functionality and simplicity and provides a fresh aesthetic to traditional English homes. Developed by a collaborative team of many architectural designers such as, Arne Jacobsen, Poul Henningsen and Alvar Aalto, Skandium design is both ergonomic and beautiful. Their designs are mainly associated with clean lines and clutter-free interiors. Although its designs have minimal ornament its pieces are far from simplistic. The works maintain a contemporary refinement and classic elegance fit for today. Good news, Skandium designs developed between the 1930’s and 1960’s have become valuable collectors items, much like Bauhaus. Today’s Skandium products may be the collectables of the future. NATALIA ALLEN

Less is More

Micro-Compact House

In the age of modern sustainability, the concept of luxury encompasses more than the collection of high-end baubles, it’s increasingly about exclusivity of experience. The Micro-Compact Home, or M-Ch, offers a unique short-term living space fully contained within 2.6 meters squared. Developed by a collaborative team of researchers and designers based in London and the Technical University in Munich, M-Ch incorporates design details most “at home” in the automotive and aeronautics industry. While currently only available in geographical Europe, the exterior is customizable (paint and/or graphics) and recyclable after an average 5-year lifespan. Basic expansion packages are also available, as modified doors can connect two units in a modular fashion. Plans for Stateside introduction are forthcoming; perhaps a streamlined weekend home will become the must have-item for Memorial Day weekend 2008. http://www.microcompacthome.com

Kenya Robinson for DESIGN FUTURIST