Monthly Archives: July 2012

London 2012 Olympic Park opens. After six years of planning, preparation and construction, the Opening Ceremony on July 27 will mark the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The $1.1 billion Olympic Park contains several of the 2012 Games’ biggest sporting venues, including the Olympic Stadium and the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre, as well as the Olympic Village. And towering over the Olympic Park is Anish Kapoor’s controversial ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower, which is made from recycled steel and has received mixed reviews from observers.

Via Inhabitat


Park in Singapore shows what a river can do. Singapore is heavily dependent on Malaysia for its water supply but is now creating new sustainable parks designed to reduce its reliance.

Atelier Dreiseitl has designed a 62-acre Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park that recreates nature, transforming a 2.7-kilometer concrete-channel lined river into a 3-kilometer natural meandering system. At the same time, the new system slows down and stores some of the rainfall that hits the city-state. The park is a model for how cities can transform outmoded, broken systems into natural systems.

Via The Dirt

We need another kind of place. Tim Pittman blogs about how most of our current workplaces are designed around connection, and how mobile technology has affected our work and home lives.

“That invasion has collateral damage. The victim, as I see it, is the ‘third places’ that make our neighborhoods and cities vibrant, pleasant, and engaging places to live. These places, originally defined by Ray Oldenberg as places that are non-work and non-home, allow us to maintain time and space (both mentally and physically) outside the formal responsibilities of our daily lives. These are the spaces that let our minds wander and push us to develop productive social connections.” – Tim Pittman

Via Gensler on Cities

Transforming NYC’s High Line to public space. Mayor Mike Bloomberg this week announced the City’s acquisition of the High Line at the rail yards from CSX Transportation, Inc., a historic milestone for the High Line.

The elevated railway viaduct, originally built in 1934 to carry freight trains, now marks the latest step in a long history of CSX’s visionary support for the transformation of the High Line into a public park.

Via the High Line blog

Buildings that evolve with the city. Resilient cities need infrastructure that lasts and planning teams that are willing to step up to the plate. Developing cities that thrive through the ebb and flow of time are not simply about creating infrastructure that can persist, but about designing buildings that evolve as cities evolve.

The Tempe Transportation Center in Tempe, Arizona, has been constructed to adapt to the City’s needs for approximately 100 years. The longevity of the structure is depicted in its fundamental design plan as it focuses on combining resilient building materials with the natural benefits of a desert environment to create heat and water systems that are more energy efficient and spaces that provide natural sunlight and shading.

Via Sustainable Cities Collective


Hyperspeed train from LA to SF. Tesla Motor’s CEO Elon Musk recently revealed his plans for a new green vehicle, dubbed the “Hyperloop,” that would transport people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes flat.

Musk says the new transit system would be twice as fast as a plane, three to four times faster than a bullet train, and entirely powered by solar energy.

Via Inhabitat

Urban sprawl affects drought. The U.S. is currently experiencing its worst drought in over half a century, and suburban sprawl is only exacerbating the impact of the drought.

Large residential lots need significantly more water than neighborhoods built to a more walkable scale, contributing to water shortages. In addition, there is more pavement around watersheds that sends billions of gallons of rainwater into streams and rivers as polluted runoff, rather than into soil as groundwater. Sprawl and smart growth both need to be considered in how to move toward a more resilient future.

Via Sustainable Cities Collective

Gold Nugget Awards for Orange County firm. LPA of Irvine, California, won three Gold Nugget Awards – an award that honors creative achievements in architectural design and land use planning for residential, commercial and industrial projects.

The Student Recreation Center at Cal State Northridge received the Grand Award for Greenest Sustainable Commercial Project. The Multidisciplinary Building at Palomar College earned a Grand Award for Best Educational Project. The third Gold Nugget Award was for SoCal Campus for Southland Industries, a successful interior renovation of a 1970s warehouse into a thriving, collaborative office space for the company’s mechanical engineers and detailers.

Via LPA Inc. Blog

Preserving the Manhattan Project. What started as a small research project to develop an atomic weapon in advance of Germany grew to include thousands of scientists working around the clock and in laboratories across the country.

These laboratories retain architectural integrity and are eligible for National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmark designation. The Manhattan Project is part of the National Trust’s portfolio of National Treasures, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation seeks to designate these sites as the Manhattan Project National Historic Park.

Via National Trust for Historic Preservation Blog

What design blogs do you follow? Leave a comment with links to your favorite design blogs and you could win a free copy of Social Media in Action: Comprehensive Guide for Architecture, Engineering, Planning and Environmental Consulting Firms.

Are you like 88% of the A/E professionals we polled who are using social media to position their firms’ experts? Perhaps you should consider Sweden’s approach.

In December Sweden democratized their Twitter account by giving control of @Sweden to a new Swede each week. (You may have seen the headlines about the when Sonja Abrahamsson stirred controversy with her less-than-politically-correct tweets). This approach is now being adopted by other countries with the Netherlands as the latest to try it out.

Granted, Sweden’s objective, to entice tourists to visit, doesn’t directly relate to the field of landscape, architecture and engineering professional services. But the concept of associating a personality and their particular point of view with a brand, could be a great way to showcase the many facets of expertise within your organization.

If you have willing and qualified participants (and please be honest with yourself, not everyone is capable of being a thought leader – it takes knowledge, drive and communications skills), ask yourself if you trust your subject-matter experts to operate the account in a responsible way – professional but personal and gaffe free.

In addition to building your firm’s reputation for each of its areas of specialization, this approach could be a fun way to get more employees and leaders involved in your firm’s social media program. Offer your operators solid guidelines and tips so they are communicating effectively. Help them out by scheduling the first few tweets with them, so they can get a chance to learn from you and overcome any fear of tweeting. For those who are already using social media personally, encourage them to amplify what they are doing for the firm’s account by talking about it and retweeting through their personal accounts — maybe the firm will pick up some new followers as well.

Clearly, this idea is not for every firm, but for the right organization it could be fun. What do you think?

If you decide to try this out, please let us know so we can stay tuned!

Adventure playgrounds. Brendan Crain blogs how the playgrounds have changed and the how the “play structure” has become something that doesn’t use the child’s imagination and play.

“Over the past few years, we have siloed different types of play within playgrounds, just as we have siloed different types of uses in cities. Pieces of play equipment that might be transformed into fantastical alternate worlds when jumbled together are isolated (a slide here, a tire swing there), underlining that each piece is meant to be used in one specific way. But research and support have been mounting for years to back up what many of us feel on a gut level: these sanitized playscapes are junk.”

Via Project for Public Spaces blog
Related: The Strange Case of a Suburban Park

Architecture and a more connected future. What role does architecture play in this technology-driven age? More company leaders are looking to the future when it comes to workplace design.

“The conventional architect is becoming extinct. I believe that the world will cease to be built out of concrete, steel and glass. New buildings must mirror our current reality, which consists of bytes of information, shared technology and interconnectedness. Construction will evolve into something which is beyond architecture. A building should empower people through the materials it use.”– James Law, CEO and founder of Hong Kong-based firm Cybertecture, believes that great design can inspire creativity and increase productivity.

Via Mashable
Related: Cybertecture

Vision for Houston’s bayous. Kevin Shanley blogs that in the last 40 years, more grassroots organizations and programs seek to protect and enhance Houston bayous and reduce flooding in environmentally sustainable ways, supporting the vision of landscape architect Arthur Comey.

While Comey’s vision has demonstrated how parks and greenspaces can improve the economy, environment and health of the city, there is more work to do. Now is the perfect opportunity to purchase distressed properties along the city’s bayous in the hopes of further revitalizing and expanding Houston’s parks and greenspaces before those properties are sold for development or redevelopment.

Via APA’s Sustaining Spaces Blog
First published on SWA Bayou By Us blog

Urban biking a global trend. In cities across the United States, bicycles are becoming an increasingly popular form of urban transportation. A survey of 55 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. found that bicycle commuting rates increased, on average, 70 percent between 2000 and 2009.

The growing popularity of urban cycling has led to a proliferation of bicycle infrastructure in many cities. Over the past decade, Washington D.C. has laid down over 50 miles of bicycle lanes, New York is preparing to launch bike sharing programs and Los Angeles has temporarily prohibited cars from driving on designated streets for certain Sunday afternoons,

Via The Dirt

Transformation of vacant Wal-Mart. Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle converted an abandoned Wal-Mart in McAllen, Texas, into a functional and contemporary library.

The firm, which was recently named winner of the International Interior Design Association’s 2012 Library Interior Design Competition, installed a strip of laser-cut wood into the ceiling plane to visually divide the library, placing the computer lab on the left and meeting rooms on the right. The designers also used several hanging graphic elements to help break up the space visually.

Via Inhabitat

Architecture and Affordable Care Act. HOK healthcare experts share their thoughts on how the Supreme Court’s ruling on ACA will affect healthcare architecture and opportunities to bring value to clients.

“When we think of health care architecture, we are looking at a tool in the larger social context of healthcare delivery. When delivery of care is inefficient and expensive, with insufficiently good outcomes, or doesn’t cover all citizens, we are looking at problems that we as architects can help solve.” — Chuck Siconolfi, a senior principal and director of healthcare innovations, planning and design at HOK

Via HOK Life

Race to be green. Mayor Vincent Grey of Washingon, D.C., has initiated an ambitious new plancalled SustainableDC, that seeks to make the nation’s capital No.1 in sustainability in a generation.

Seven bills are being considered by the City Council, which include boosting energy efficiency, spurring renewable energy production, promoting electrical vehicles, protecting rivers, promoting urban agriculture and reducing toxic exposure among children.

Via The Dirt

Permanent play street in Queens. Jackson Heights residents and City Council Member Daniel Dromm won a hard-fought battle to close 78th Street to traffic for two summer months. Now, 78th Street is being turned over to the community and is on track to receive a bottom-up redesign that will make the new space more than just asphalt.

The Department of Transportation has two designs underway. One is to enable the street closure to function year-round while letting parents at the adjacent Garden School drive and drop off their children on 78th. The second is a longer-term vision of how the street can be remade as a space that works for people, integrated with Travers Park on one side and the Garden School park on the other.

Via Streets Blog