Monday, September 28, 2009

Libeskind to Design “City on Water” in Belgrade

Although it has its preliminary name, “City on Water”, city officials are looking at the project as an opportunity for a big investment in very center of the city of Belgrade and on the bank of the Danube River.

The master plan dictates a building of 2,200,000 square meters of business and residential areas, situated on land covering 96 hectares. The project includes not only new interesting skyscrapers but also Jan Gehl’s plan to revitalize the space within this city. Many green areas and parks will be added to the city, as well as major limitations on car traffic, so that pedestrians and cyclists could be given an advantage.

This common trend in today’s urbanism of bringing the people and cities closer to water would make Belgrade a favorable location for future investments and visits.

It is the first time these two architects are working together and that work has been done simultaneously on this project as one project. Collaboration has been very close so that everything has been included in the master plan that was suggested by both architects. This created development strategy, which is now a major vision for this project. 85 hectares of developed land and 11 developed on the water basin. The plan is divided between 30% for residential area, 30% for business area, with the remaining intended for green and water areas, roads and infrastructure.

The project will be carried out in phases. There will be five phases and they will be in five years length depending on needs and market. The future City on Water will be located on the right bank of the Danube River, in the place where Port of Belgrade is currently located. Besides residential and business facilities, there will also be cultural facilities, congress centre, school, nursery, and hotels.

The skyscraper, designed as a jewel in which two rivers, the Danube and the Sava, meet will be 250 meters tall. Everything is planned as a fusion of strategies of sustainable development, authentic Belgrade and Belgrade full of life. The project should employ around 100,000 people, out of which 45,000 would be newly employed labor.
-- Damir Sisirak, M. Arch. Student from Slovenia

Images from Studio Daniel Libeskind: Belgrade

Trump Tower Chicago -- One Student's Opinion

The Trump Tower in Chicago has residential, retail and hotel space, much of it unsold or waiting to be rented or leased. The riverfront walks are to be opend soon and hopefully the landscaping will follow, adding what could be the only highlight of this highly publicized building. It is the largest building to be built in North America since the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower). Even with its huge size, this new building adds little to the skyline because it doesn't make much of a statement. Its blue glass just reflects the buildings around it and in the evening can give off some nice colors from the setting sun. Yet it still can't compare to the Hancock, the Smurfit-Stone building, or the new Aqua building. These buildings make a bold statement and show you what they're made of. The Trump Tower has some setbacks to give it form and shape, but the building just looks like a Sketchup extrusion. From some vantage points it can look extremely fat and overbearing, while from others it can look slender, reaching for the sky. And an afterthought at the top is the antennae. It's out of scale and adds little to the buildings overall look and feel. There is some space on the terraces (green roofs) where there are plantings and concrete pavers for people to enjoy the outdoors. The only problem is that they are at such a height that the winds won't allow you to enjoy a conversation, a cigarette for those who smoke, or even the fresh air. The winds whip by so quickly that the plantings lay down flat on the pavers. Even the heavy concrete pavers had to be anchored down to keep them from blowing away. Overall this building optimizes the site and more attention was placed on the interiors and their materials than the exterior shapes and the way it could fit into the evolving Chicago skyline.
--Robert Hildreth, M. Arch. Student

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cash for Carbon?

This summer, the Obama administration launched its incentive program deemed “Cash for Clunkers”. The program took gas guzzling vehicles off the road and replaced them with more fuel efficient vehicles in an effort to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere. As I parted ways with my ’96 Silhouette, I, along with 700,000 other Americans, looked to the future: the future with a more fuel efficient vehicle.

The deal appeared to be all around great, but one question still came to mind: Am I really helping out the environment? The burning of gasoline and diesel in a vehicle produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, which in turn, alters the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Carbon credits can be purchased at $28 a ton to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint, but when comparing the efficiency of the plan to the cost needed to extinguish emissions, $500 a ton would be needed to cover the cost of destroying the existing car and manufacturing a new one. By replacing the used vehicles with gas conservative ones, consumers save money, but now have greater potential to take advantage of their low fuel bill and begin driving more. In this “efficiency paradox” the overall cost of energy plummets and the earth isn’t any better off than it was before. A smart thing to consider: additional taxes on gas. Within recent years when gas prices have skyrocketed, people stayed off the road. An addition of new taxes would limit the number of people on the road and collect extra money for the formation of green programs.
Americans need their vehicles, but Americans need the planet more.
--Jessica Iskrzycki, M. Arch. student

In Graduate Studio

A few weeks ago the graduate students embarked on their first project of the semester. The professors teaching the class are Stewart Wessel and Thomas McPeek. The project is for a local winery located near Carlyle, Illinois and the students traveled to meet the potential client August 26. The clients, Doug and Jodie Palm, have a passion for winemaking and have already produced wine from their first crop last year. They expect to expand their business to include a few more acres of vines as well as an entertaining facility to host guests and eventually banquets. Currently the couple and their two kids live on the property but eventually plan on finding other accommodations.

Doug Palm gave a detailed vision of what he imagines the winery will be in the next five or ten years. He has divided it into three stages. The first stage includes remodeling his basement to have its own exterior entrance in order to have wine tastings for the public. In addition, Palm would like to have gathering spaces for guests both indoors and outdoors. In the second stage of the development, the current house on the property would become a tasting hall and small restaurant facility to accommodate 100-150 guests. Also the outdoor dining area would be enlarged to take advantage of the spectacular views. With more guests coming to the winery, the production facilities would also have to grow significantly. In the third stage, a banquet facility that could entertain up to 500 guests would be added to the property.

The Palms did not seem discouraged by the fact that there are competing wineries in the area. In fact, they were excited to be considered part of the southern Illinois 'wine trail' and believe having wineries nearby will bring in more business. Doug and Jodie Palm were very enthusiastic during the meeting with the students. They know what they personally have in mind but would like to see the students' visions.

--Laura Widholm, M. Arch. Student

School of Architecture Lecture Series

The School of Architecture at SIUC is pleased to announce the lecture schedule for Fall 2009 and Spring 2010. Visit our Lecture Series web page for details.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

International Potluck 2009

After finishing my work with no waste of time I headed towards the Alumni Lounge of Student Recreational Center around 6 P.M. last Thursday (September 10th) for a special event in town, there was potluck and in addition, it was International Potluck organized by International Students and Scholars (ISS).

With a bunch of people from different countries gathered together for diverse food and fun, the environment turned out to be a very amusing and pleasurable. People from different countries participated in it including Nepal, India, Japan, China and many more. Each country’s people prepared some food which was a specialty and traditional in their own country and served to the people from different parts of the world. People were seen talking about foods so curiously and some were even seen serving to their own friends who were still waiting in queue to have the food. Some type of foods served by different countries were “Chana Curry” with “Bitten Rice” by Nepalese, “Fried Rice” by Indians, “Sushi” by Japanese, “Chicken” by Srilankan, and so on. The Program was sponsored by ISS with some amount of funds to buy stuffs for each participating country.

Everybody was invited to this event and more than expected came. People had to wait a little longer to get to the food table! But, everyone seemed to be enjoying very much despite of long wait. With the video of International Festival 2008, projected on one side and with really delicious food in front, it was apparent that everyone was busy enjoying the moment. Though the program was scheduled for up to 8 P.M., Dinner program was over by around 7:30 P.M. and after that people just enjoyed talking, music and some dance.

At the end of the day, the event was a success and I personally feel that it was a nice moment to remember in future from SIUC which I enjoyed a lot. Thanks to International Students and Scholars (ISS), and these type of programs of bringing peoples from different countries together should be promoted.
-- Namrata Shrestha, M. Arch. Student from Nepal

The Green Debate

To be, or not to be… Green.
This is a topic that has been bothering me for awhile, and I thought I’d make a post on the blog to get other people’s opinions on it. Being “Green”, “Sustainable”, “Smart” are all buzzwords lately, and for as many words as there are for it, there are ideas on how to “be,” whether it’s good environmental design, or the use of “smart technology.” I guess this is more geared to smart technology, ranging from solar panels to computerized building systems, as I hope that good environmental design should always at least be considered. I’ve heard time and time again in crits that “the technology just isn’t there yet”, or “let’s just wait until technology gets better.” These are just a couple of quotes from practicing architects. As up and coming architects whose jobs will be to specify the use, or gently urge our clients to use these technologies, we need to decide for ourselves if the benefits outweigh the costs. As the generation that has been given the job of “saving the planet,” do we just “wait for technology to get better” or do we use these technologies knowing that they won’t pay off, but maybe it will push technology just a little bit further with each project? Sure, the cost effective answer is to wait -- wait until technology gets better and cheaper. The problem is that this same answer was used 30-40 years ago during the energy crisis of the 70s. We waited. Not until technology got better, or cheaper, but until the problem got worse. So, do we wait? Do we hope that the problem goes away for the next 40 years until our kids are old enough to be faced with the problem? I took a little bit more biased position than I intended, but I want to hear other thoughts. Are there good reasons to wait?
--Jason Epley, M. Arch. Student

Deep in the Heart of Texas!

This past week graduate students as well as the senior interior design studio took a trip down south to Texas. The agenda included Dallas and Austin as the cities of interest. Our upcoming project (a boutique hotel) is situated in Dallas so we were able to do detailed site studies as well as check out the local architecture. We headed to the Stockyards in Dallas, checked out a W Hotel, toured the new Cowboys football stadium (shown above), and enjoyed the Kimball Art Museum. We were also given a fantastic tour of the architecture firm HKS. After two days in Dallas we were off to Austin for two more office visits with Noack Little Architects and Interior Design and PageSouthernlandPage. Each firm was vastly different in scale and management opening our eyes to the different avenues we have when choosing employment opportunities. Another one of the exciting points of the visit to Austin was checking out the University of Texas architecture program. which is the largest in the nation. We headed home Saturday evening to regroup and now we’re back to designing!

--Laura Stock, M. Arch. Student

More images from Texas: