Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vertical Eco City

By Zac Collins

I had a preliminary thesis presentation yesterday, and I have to say, it was a very beneficial meeting. We discussed a lot about my concept of using biomimicry for my high rise. The more we talked about it and how we could implement some ideas, the more excited and interesting the discussions were becoming and in general, an excitement for the project. So my next step was to divulge myself into the biomimicry world and learn more about it. I started researching buildings that used this concept and come to find out, a lot of them are high rises; very appropriate for my project. I came across a very interesting building that is still in the concept/design phase. Nothing is being built, or planning to be built, but this notion of “city” towers, or mile high towers where a whole city can live in one building really is becoming a hot topic. I came across a specific one that is called the “Two Mile High Ultima Tower” and it uses biomimicry for sustainable practices. It’s very impressive. Read some of the article below. Enjoy!

We’ve seen a whole slew of gigantic, volcano shaped, city-in-a-building towers, each promising to be the largest building in the world. First it was the wacky X-Seed design for Tokyo, and then even Norman Foster got into the game with his proposal for the massive ‘Crystal Island” development in Moscow. Well now, architect Eugene Tsui is taking the gigantic volcano tower concept to a whole new eco level, by taking design inspiration from the natural world. His new design for the Ultima Tower – a 2-mile high Mt Doom-esque structure – borrows designprinciples from tress and other living system to reduce its energy footprint. We are always intrigued by architecture that uses biomimicry– the borrowing of principles from nature’s designs – and Tsui’s concept for this towering, ultra-dense urban development has certainly captured our attention with its thought-provoking design.

Population growth rates and rural-urban migration are creating a trend of chaotic urbanization that brings environmental, economic and social challenges. Within the next 7 years, 22 megacities across the globe are expected to have populations that exceed 10 million people, according to the UN. The Ultima Tower is an innovative green design concept proposed to resourcefully use earth’s surface and allow sustainable distribution of resources within a dense urban setting.

Designed to withstand natural calamities, Ultima Tower is highly stable and aerodynamic. Rather than spreading horizontally the structure rises vertically from a base with a 7,000 foot diameter – inspired in part by the termite’s nest structures of Africa, the highest structure created by any living organism.
Surrounded on all sides by a lake, the building would use building integrated photo-voltaic solar cells to meet most of the electrical energy requirements. The tower would also use Atmospheric Energy Conversion to exploit the differences in atmospheric pressure at the bottom and top of the tower and convert this differential into electrical power. Wind turbine energy would also be used to power the tower.

Taking a cue from the principles of transpiration and cohesion (Joly-Dixon’s cohesion-tension theory) as used by the tree to move water from roots to aerial parts, the designers are working on a method of carrying water from the bottom of the tower to the top utilizing water potential difference between the two points.
Other significant features of the design include bodies of water placed at 12 separate levels, 144 elevators at the periphery of the building, use of vertical propulsion through compressed air, specially designed windows with aerodynamic wind cowls, reflecting mirrors to bring direct sunlight into the building, open garden balconies, electric cars run by propane and hydrogen gas, complete absence of internal combustion engines or toxic pollutants. The whole building is envisioned by Tsui as a large ecosystem teeming with structures that are ‘living and breathing’.

Article from:

Lambert Airport St. Louis

By Matthew Owens

My thesis is to design a new passenger terminal for Williamson County Regional Airport. So as an independent study I have been taking an airport planning course through the aviation department this semester. I actually finished up the class this last week, turns out it was a six week course that meets from 8am to 4pm on Saturdays, not how I thought I would be spending my Saturdays, so I am glad to have that over with. I enjoyed the course taught by Dr. NewMyer whom is also serving on my thesis committee. I got a lot of really good information out of it and I know it will help make my thesis that much stronger.

One of the interesting things that we got to do in the planning course was to take a trip to Lambert International Airport in St. Louis. On this trip to the airport we got to speak with the director of airport planning, got to ride around the airfield and around the terminal building, we also got a tour of the control tower and got to check out concourse C, which was the concourse that was severely damaged in a tornado last April.

As you may or may not remember there was a tornado that ripped right through the airport last April. The airport was closed for almost twenty-four hours, not letting flights in or out. The damage that the airport sustained was quite large. The majority of the windows in the main terminal building were blown out; debris was strung out all over the airfield, and concourse C was hit hard. In our talk with the director of airport planning, he showed us actual video surveillance of the airport when the tornado hit. It was pretty amazing to see the people scrambling for cover while debris starts to fly all over the place. Fortunately no one lost their life and no one was severally injured, only a dozen or so people had to go to the hospital to be treated for cuts and bumps. Concourse C was hit the hardest since the path of the tornado went right over the top of it. Large sections of the roof were completely blown off and most of the windows were blown out, so concourse C has been closed since last April while they have been reconstructing it. Luckily the airport had a concourse that was not being used at the time, so they could transfer the operations of concourse C to that concourse. The construction costs to repair concourse C is now up to 100 million. The planners for the repair took the opportunity to upgrade the facilities in the concourse, so concourse C will have the latest and greatest of technologies throughout it.

I snapped a photo looking down the concourse which as you can see is pretty close to being completed, they are hoping to have it open and functional by this April.
By Erik Illies

Again I am on my way northward to the city known as Chi-ca-go… it’s told that they have good pizza and good baseball, but I know better! What they do have good is some progressive policies in place for sustainable practices and incentives toward their urban development process. I was fairly suppressed to find that they have vertical farms written into their zoning ordinances along with a slew of requirements associated with them. Very good for me since now I don’t have to backwards/ sideways/ and from up underneath interpolate how this vegetative monstrosity of mine would be zoned!

Conveniently enough, as well, I found a site that is mostly abandoned former manufacturing buildings and is already zoned for future development. How lucky! It’s surrounded by dense residential neighborhoods, a school, commercial corridor, and has a Metra transit stop on-site. Too Cool!!! But enough about my awesome site and how well it falls into my intended design scheme… how about some architecture talk.

News of this first came from a colleague of mine, so I should give Jason Skidmore his due credit…. There, he has his credit. In Sweden there has been broken ground for their first Vertical farm. It’s called the “Plantagon” and is a 36 meter tall sphere with growing floors that spiral up and around inside of it. So far I’m extremely jealous if the name, and very intrigued in how their spiral floor will work.

Looks awesome though:

Seven Ingredients for Good Design…

By Audrey Treece

I am moving right along with my thesis work and after a great preliminary review; I am ready to start really designing. I have done tons and tons of “research” (although Dr. Wendler doesn’t understand what it means) and truly feel that I am at a point to move on. I have used all of the “research” that I have done to really wrap my head around the problem and fully understand the who, what, when, where, why and how of my project.

One resource that has been the most valuable to my project is by Anita Rui Olds titled the Child Care Design Guide. She wrote a book designated entirely to the design process of child care centers, if you didn’t already pick that up from the title, and covers everything from the dilemma of child care all the way to understanding the design process of architects. It has been the best resource guide that I could have got my hands on.

Part three is titled Ingredients of Good Design. It is complimented with seven chapters or topics that she, from all of her research and studies, believes are the most important to pay attention to during the process. The seven ingredients include healthy buildings, sounds, light and lighting, windows, doors and security, color, interior finishes and furnishings. After reading through all of these chapters, I realized that these “ingredients” are applicable to just about any project that you would work on. Although she references child care centers specifically, I highly suggest that all designers should take a few minutes to read through this part of the book and really think about how it affects their design. There are a lot of ideas expressed that are important to the well-being of people and how they use your building.

If you are like me and don’t have time to spare to read, refer to an excerpt from my preliminary presentation. We will call it the cheat sheet….

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


By Molly Moran

Zero energy buildings, or ZEBs, have several definitions:

1. net zero source energy buildings means that it has an onsite power plant that at a minimum produces as much energy as the building uses,
2. net zero site energy buildings produces the same amount of energy that it uses, but the entire site is closely monitored for energy usage,
3. net zero energy cost buildings uses both energy efficient design and renewable energy devises to counter the initial cost of construction and materials back, and
4. net zero-energy emission buildings uses both energy efficient design and renewable energy devises to reduce or equal the carbon impact that the building has or has made.

Once a ZEB type is selected there are numerous methods and systems that can contribute to the building’s success. Using net zero site energy description I plan on developing a zero site energy high-rise that can produce, store, and return energy to the grid.

Net zero site energy is the energy quantity obtained by on-site renewable energy systems is equal to the amount of energy used by the building. The general public usually assumes that a “zero net energy building” refers to this type of building. The National Renewable Energy laboratory explains net zero site energy building’s definition as, “A site ZEB produces at least as much energy as it uses in a year, when accounted for at the site.”

In most case studies a single solitary system does not achieve zero energy by itself. Zero energy is usually achieved by several, or several dozen, complicated interconnected systems that add and subtract energy consumption down to zero. Renewable energy systems commonly associated with ZEBs are wind turbines, solar facades, solar shading, and geothermal. Architectural features incorporated with ZEBs systems are daylighting designs, green roofs, radiant floors, and double skins for insolation. Even small devices like CO2 harvesters, ambient lighting sensors, and new technology like piezoelectricity can be utilized in a zero energy building.
By using a variety of renewable energy systems, architectural design, and new technology I will generate a net zero site energy high-rise that will minimize its carbon impact and thrive on the energy it produces.


St. Louis Trip

By Micah Jacobson

My wife and I were able to visit St. Louis over the weekend. We visited the Science center and stopped by to look at the progress on the art museum addition. I wanted to do more research on museums, since that is what I am designing for my thesis. I was particularly interested in the structures exhibit in the St Louis Science Center. It is located on the bridge that links the Science Center to the planetarium.

There were many very cool, hands on activities about how structures work and particularly how the arch works as well as some really cool Lego Architecture displays. For anyone headed to DC soon, the National Building Museum is having a Lego Architecture exhibit that is really cool, I wish I could go.

I was able to get some good ideas as well as learn and have fun. The Science Center has a recent addition also, though it doesn’t stand out from the older building as much as the new addition to the art museum does. It was designed to look more or less like the original.

Visit: for construction pictures. Te artist rendering is a little deferent from the finished product ( ).

Overall it was a fun trip, except for leaving my memory card at home and having to use my iPhone for all pictures, good thing I recently upgraded from my old junky phone!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

HWKN Wins 2012 PS 1 Young Architects Program

By Sean Koetting

New York-based HWKN has been selected for this year’s MoMA/PS 1 Young Architects Program. Their proposal, called “Wendy,” uses standard scaffolding to create a visually arresting object that straddles the three outdoor rooms of the PS 1 courtyard. Tensioned fabric coated in smog-eating paint provides shelter and programming areas including a stage, shower, and misters. “Their proposal is quite attractive in a number of ways. It’s very economical in terms of design,” said Pedro Gadanho, the curator of contemporary architecture at MoMA. “One object creates a variety of programmatic and ecological conditions and its scale rivals the height of the PS 1 building.”

All the materials can be disassembled and reused, and according to Gadanho, the jury was particularly impressed with the combination of standardized parts (the scaffolding) and cutting edge technology (the smog-eating coating). “It’s pro-active, it’s not apologetic,” he said. “It begins to point to a new way to think about sustainability.” The designers, led by principals Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner and project architect Robert May, estimate the fabric will remove as much smog as taking 250 cars off the road. The pavilion will open in late this June.

Thanks for reading,
Sean Koetting

Originally posted on | Wednesday, February 8, 2012 | Alan G. Brake

Outlined Overview of Ethic Rules and Canons

By Molly Moran

7 Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct

CANON I – General Obligations
Advance knowledge, respect architecture, contribute to its growth, consider social and environmental impact, and exercise professional judgment.
ES1.1 Knowledge and Skill: Strive to improve their knowledge.
Rule 1.101 Demonstrate a consistent pattern of care and competence.
ES1.2 Standards of Excellence: Seek to raise the standards of aesthetic excellence, architectural education, research, training, and practice.
ES1.3 Natural and Cultural Heritage: Respect cultural heritage while improving nature and the quality of life.
ES1.4 Human Rights: Uphold human rights in all their endeavors.
Rule 1.401 Do not discriminate.
ES1.5 Allied Arts & Industries: Promote allied arts and building industries.
CANON II – Obligations to the Public
Embrace the law governing their affairs and promote the public interest.
ES2.1 Conduct: Uphold the law in their professional activities.
Rule 2.101 Do not knowingly violate the law.
Rule 2.102 Do not influence connections with an existing or prospective projects.
Rule 2.103 When working for the public do not accept payments or gifts.
Rule 2.104 Do not engage in conduct involving fraud.
Members shall:
(a) advise their employer or client against the decision,
(b) refuse to consent to the decision, and
(c) report the decision to the local building.
Rule 2.106 Do not assist a client in conduct that the architect knows is illegal.
ES2.2 Public Interest Services: Be professional for public interests.
ES2.3 Civic Responsibility: Be involved.
Rule 2.301 Disclose when you are being compensated for public statements.
CANON III – Obligations to the Client
Serve clients in a professional manner.
ES3.1 Competence: Serve their clients in a timely and competent manner.
Rule 3.101 Take into account laws and regulations.
Rule 3.102 Perform professional services only when they are needed.
Rule 3.103 Do not alter the scope of a project without the client’s consent.
ES3.2 Conflict of Interest: Avoid conflicts of interest.
Rule 3.201 If judgment is affected by another project disclosure info. to clients.
Rule 3.202 When acting as interpreter of contract documents be impartial.
ES3.3 Candor and Truthfulness: Keep clients informed about the clients’ projects.
Rule 3.301 Do not mislead clients about the results.
ES3.4 Confidentiality: Be respectful of clients’ wishes.
Rule 3.401 Don’t knowingly disclose information that would affect their client.
CANON IV – Obligations to the Profession
Members should uphold the integrity and dignity of the profession.
ES4.1 Honesty and Fairness: Pursue their activities with honesty and fairness.
Rule 4.101 File a complaint with the National Ethics Council if you have evidence of someone breaking this code.
Rule 4.102 Do not sign or seal work for which you are not in charge of.
Rule 4.103 Do not knowingly make false statements.
ES4.2 Dignity and Integrity: Promote the dignity and integrity of the profession.
Rule 4.201 Do not make misleading, deceptive, or false statements.
Rule 4.202 Others conform to this code’s conduct.
CANON V – Obligations to Colleagues
Respect the rights and contributions of their colleagues.
ES5.1 Professional Environment: Be fair to employees.
ES5.2 Intern and Professional Development: Mentoring isn’t a punishment.
ES5.3 Professional Recognition: Give credit where credit is due.
Rule 5.301 Recognize the contributions of colleagues.
Rule 5.302 When leaving a firm do not, without the permission, take firm’s work. Rule 5.303 Do not withhold permission from a departing employee to take copies of work so long as they are not confidential.
CANON VI – Obligations to the Environment
Promote sustainable design principles in their professional activities.
ES6.1 Sustainable Design: Be environmentally responsible.
ES6.2 Sustainable Development: Advocate the design, construction, and operation of sustainable buildings and communities.
ES6.3 Sustainable Practices: Use sustainable practices.

1.1 an architect shall act with reasonable care and competence.
1.2 An architect shall take into account all applicable state and municipal building laws and regulations.
1.3 Only once by education, training, and experience will an architect preform professionally.
1.4 No person shall be permitted to practice architecture if such person’s professional competence is substandard.
2.1 One project one billable party, unless otherwise written in contract.
2.2 If there is business or financial association to a project disclose info. to client. [give up association or give up project.]
2.3 Do not take compensation for endorsing suppliers.
2.4 Render decisions impartially.
3.1 When making public statements disclose whether you’re being paid to or not.
3.2 Be honest about qualification, capabilities, experience, and scope of work you are doing.
3.3 If client, against architect’s judgment, violates state or municipal laws and potencaly endangers public safety, the architect shall
(i) report to the local inspector or other public official
(ii) refuse to consent to the decision, and
(iii) if uncompromising terminate your services with project.
3.4 Shall not deliberately make a false statement or fail deliberately to disclose facts in application for registration or renewal.
3.5 Shall not assist the application for registration.
3.6 Report violation of these rules.
4.1 Shall not knowingly violate any state or federal criminal law.
4.2 Don’t bribe people.
4.3 Comply to registration laws and regulations governing his professional practice.
4.4 Employer must employee according to Federal Fair labor Standard Act 1938 and Equal Employment Opportunity Act 1972.
5.1 If you provide architecture services employ at least one architect.
5.2 An architect may sign and seal technical submissions only if the technical submissions were:
(i) prepared by the architect;
(ii) prepared by persons under the architect’s responsible control;
(iii) prepared by another architect registered in the same jurisdiction if the signing and sealing architect has reviewed the other architect’s work and either has coordinated the preparation of the work or has integrated the work into his/her own technical submissions; or
(iv) prepared by another architect registered in any United States jurisdiction and holding the certification issued by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board if
(a) the signing and sealing architect has reviewed the other architect’s work and has integrated the work into his/her own technical submissions and
(b) the other architect’s technical submissions are prototypical building documents.
5.3 Beyond reasonable entertainment and hospitality architects are not allowed to influence potential prospects.
5.4 Don’t get involved with fraud or wonton disregard for the rights of others.
5.5 Don’t make misleading deceptive or false statements or claims.

Airport Zen

By Matthew Owens

Air travel has become a somewhat dreaded experience these days. Passengers need to allow hours before scheduled flight to allow enough time find parking, then to get through security, hoping not to get any extra searching by the TSA, then rushing through the terminal searching for their gate hoping to make it in time to catch their flight. The time it is taking in the preflight process has been getting longer and more stressful for passengers, on top of the stress and fatigue already associated with traveling.

San Francisco International Airport has taken measures to reduce stress levels in traveling passengers and create a better experience flying in and out of SFO with the implementation of a new yoga room, in terminal 2 designed by Gensler. Passengers coming or going can stop off in the new yoga room, which has plenty of mats for passengers and features a Zen like atmosphere. The yoga room offers a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the busy, noisy, and stress filled terminal. SFO is definitely not fitting the mold of the typical American airport. The typical airport is all about moving passengers in and out as quickly as possible while pushing passengers to spend their money in shops and restaurants that line the terminal. SFO is creating a much more user friendly airport environment with the implementation of their new yoga room. But this is the first time SFO has attempted to create a better passenger environment or brought attempts to humanize the airport. Other passenger friendly amenities include the SFO museum, a reflection room, an aquarium, and a spa. SFO also offers DVD and DVD player rentals, and also provides free Wi-Fi throughout the airport, which is not free or even available at other large international airports. SFO is not as concerned with exploiting travelers as other airports here in America. They are more focused on creating a user friendly environment, and the San Francisco airport is becoming more of a destination rather than a node for which travelers pass through.

Other airports could and should take a look at the atmosphere SFO is creating in their terminals. Such amenities are aimed at de-stressing airports and aircraft travel. Things do not always run smoothly in air travel, delays and layovers are common especially during the winter months. Implementing amenities that are passenger friendly such as yoga and reflection rooms, and spas help stranded passengers deal with being in an airport for an extended time.

Graduate Assistantship

By Laura Thomas

Last fall I started my graduate assistantship with Shannon Sanders McDonald. Shannon is a new professor and a licensed architect in Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and is NCARB certified. The majority of her built work was when she was working for firms in the Chicago area at which time she turned her attention to writing the book, The Parking Garage, published by the urban land institute.

During Fall 2011, she taught our Graduate Studio ARC 551-Comprehensive Architectural Design as well as ARC 481-Environmental Design. Currently in Spring 2012, she is teaching Senior Studio ARC 452-Integration Studio. While she has a broad spectrum of interests from urban planning to parking garages, her focus has been on transportation, especially Personal Rapid Transit systems, three dimensional elevators and new mobility devices.

I started off my assistantship creating databases for her to aid in finding resources to continuing writing journal articles. These databases included Automated Parking Garages, New Mobility Devices, Personal Rapid Transit, Urban n Spatial Planning, and a database of Journals that she can submit articles to.

More recently however my research has been focused on the railways of Illinois. Where they still exist, where they have been abandoned and where train depot are located. I've also researched where all of the barge depots are to see how they relate to the train lines. The third main element to consider in the web of transportation infrastructure are the interstate and highways. The purpose behind this research is to see where, if any in this web of train, rivers, and roads, opportunities exist to reconnect the population with old and new ways of transportation.

University of Illinois has millions of dollars in grant money to further research and develop new transportation strategies, focusing on St. Louis. Doesn't U of I know that this is Saluki territory? Hopefully this research will be the beginnings of creating a base for SIU to take the grant money from U of I and increase our transportation department here on campus.

This research is interesting and something that we as architects need to be aware of in doing urban planning. We must realize that population density in large cities is only going to increase and providing parking or other means of transit for the masses is going to be an increased concern for architects and city planners.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rotterdam Refinery

By Jason Skidmore

In my daily peruse through the blogosphere I come across many architectural designs, most of which just don't stand out very much. I skipped straight over this design of a multi-story office complex in Europort, The Netherlands. There is something that allures me about The Netherlands. I think I want to visit there at some point. That is beside the point. This is a perfect example of how just reading the headlines of a story about a design never gives you the full picture. From now on I may make it a point to visit architecture sites and not view them on Google Reader (which is my feed reader of choice). Just glancing over a design on Google just doesn't do it justice. Luckily I was on the hunt for something to blog about this week and came across this design that has some really neat design ideas within it. First off the building is inserted into man-made dunes on the site. It is located within the transitional zone between the industrial landscape of refineries and the wetlands of the Brielsemmer. One end of the building comes out of the landscape and the other end is clearly visible. To respond to solar challenges the facade gradually changes from transparent to opaque. The visuals of the design are incredible. I really like the interiors. The incorporation of different materials makes this place dynamic and fun without sacrificing the corporate feel. Conference room, think tank areas have flooring that looks very grass like. A look that in my opinion is very inviting and I would think that it would help a person cognitively. It brings the wetlands into the building. Lots of glass and interior courtyards allow for adequate natural day lighting of the entire office space. See for yourself, below are images and a link from

Weekend Trip....

By Erik Illies

This weekend I will be traveling northward to Chicago where I will visit a budding nonprofit “vertical farm” facility. Known as “The Plant” it is a sustainable food production facility inside of a former industrial building in the distressed “Back of the Yards” neighborhood of south Chicago. Specifically, it used to be a meatpacking facility and totals 93,500 sq. ft. in area. Theirs is a very interesting/ compelling approach to the vertical farm model in that they chose to renovate existing infrastructure as opposed to a new construction facility (like I’m proposing). However, both approaches share many of the same design/ performance principals, of which I will share in this posting!

First off, The Plant is a net-zero energy complex utilizing biomass incineration as an energy generator. They use food wastes generated by their own facilities operations and those of neighboring businesses to create biomass (solid wastes from living plants) that are then burned in highly efficient low emission arc gas incinerators that create steam that powers a generator. Pretty cool! I plan to use this as well, and I also intend to engage the local restaurants and homes for food waste. This serves a couple of cool purposes… 1. It creates electricity from a source other than fossil fuels, and diverts literal tons of food wastes from landfills. It’s also a way of synthesizing nature’s symbiotic cycle where there is never any “waste” per-se, only re-appropriated energy. Wow, that’s kind of transcendental and stuff… I like that!

Secondly they are located in an economically impoverished area. Their facility will eventually, potentially, create 125 new jobs in a new technically advanced specialized market. This is particularly awesome because they are acting as a change agent or catalyst to the area, hopefully spurring a new economic development in an otherwise forgotten section of the city. This is a key component of my intended system, and I have begun calling this type of industry a “pioneer” of economic development. Some would call this another face of gentrification, and probably rightfully so… However, gentrification isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. Typically we’re used to seeing it imposed by land developers and civic imminent domain “abuse” directed at serving the good of only those who can afford to move there. This model, and the one I’m proposing, instead utilize the current stock of community to support the development and try to raise their overall standard of living (no one new, now extra money required). Now gentrification takes on a different softer face and becomes a “good” thing when controlled and ethically well intentioned. But, this will probably remain a topic of valid debate for both sides, but that’s better than a stagnant status quo!

I’ll post more in the next entry, but for now I must prepare for my trip. I hope to bring my proposals/ assumptions/ progress to them and compare it to the things they’ve actually done thus far. My hope is that the revelations that shall follow will mostly support the progress I’ve made so far, but at the very least it will help to direct my research down a more experienced knowledgeable path. Very exciting stuff regardless, and I think is a great example of the enduring spirit of human kind to help one another. If it feels good, it is good! For the most part… but mostly it is!

Check them out for yourself:

Spread Good Vibes!!!

Health While Driving....

by Debra Eilering

For those of you (like me) that feel they spend way too much time in their cars … did you ever think about monitoring your health while driving???

Ford Motor Company joins with Microsoft, Healthrageous and BlueMetal Architects to study how connected devices can help people monitor and maintain health & wellness. "People are spending more time in their cars, and with the tremendous growth in mobile healthcare solutions, Ford is dedicated to understanding the value of being able to connect to health and wellness-related services while driving," said Gary Strumolo, manager of Infotainment, Interiors, Health and Wellness at Ford Research and Innovation. “Our connectivity platform – Ford SYNC – provides easy, voice-controlled access to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and therefore it makes sense to research areas that are important to our customers."

As people spend more time in their cars, the ability to manage health and wellness on the go becomes more important. There are several reasons why the automobile is an ideal platform for research and development in this area:

• It's convenient and private
• It facilitates personalized access to the information, products and services people need
• And it's a logical place for them to manage their health while they are more often stuck in traffic

But how do we design an automobile to facilitate health management into the personal vehicle in a non-intrusive way??

The system would capture biometric and vehicle data as the basis for real-time health and wellness advice and monitoring. The driver can also tell the app aspects of his or her health routine – such as the number of glasses of water consumed during the day, or what medications have been taken. That information is then uploaded into Microsoft's HealthVault personal health record platform, processed with other health data, and used to create graphical reports the driver can access after having left the vehicle. The technology is not considered a medical device nor intended to be a diagnostic tool.

Just something to think about: A Research2Guidance report finds that mobile health applications generated about $718 million in revenue in 2011, a sevenfold increase from the amount generated in 2010.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Atmospheric: Programming a Community

By Dempson Haney

The benefit of a community center for Vincennes establishes the need for such a facility. The new community center would also become the first community center for the city of Vincennes. The next question was what kind of community center would be best utilized. Would the center be recreational, having weight rooms and various sport facilities? Or a multi-purpose program which would allow the community to dictate the use of its space? The decision became quickly clear.
A multi-purpose community center could form to the needs of Vincennes. Its spaces could be rented out for business meeting and parties, a place for weeding receptions, conventions, arts and crafts, dance classes, place to hold extracurricular activities for local schools. The center would become the central location for community information. The program is as follow:

Coordinator Office: 150sq. ft.
Storage: 300sq. ft.
Kitchen: 200sq. ft.

Lobby: 200-300sq. ft.
Multi Purpose Room one: 1500-1800sq. ft.
Conference Room: 400sq. ft.
Multi Purpose Room two: 600-800sq. ft.
Café: 150-200sq. ft.
Restrooms: 400sq. ft.
Mechanical: 2500sq. ft. total: 7050sq. ft.

The program doesn’t include any exterior spaces. The multi-purpose rooms are to be able to open up out into the site to expand the programs possibilities and integration with the landscaping. A second part of the programming (which is not included) is the expansion of the current visitor’s center which was built in the 1970’s. The expansion and make over would integrate the existing visitor’s center with the new community center, and acting as a whole on the site. The expansions include additional gallery/museum and storage space.

Atmospheric: Site

By Dempson Haney

My blogs for the remainder of the semester are going to be of my thesis and its progression throughout the semester. Starting the Atmospheric Series is my first attempt at my abstract.

Choosing a site for ones thesis can become a grueling task. Out of the entire world, you need to pick one location. The steps I took to figure out my site were as follow. First I needed to decide what kind of space my thesis would best be applied to. With total design and phenomenology, it was apparent I needed to focus my attention on a public space. A public space would allow my thesis to effect the most people at one time. Museums are typically overused and a park did not allow me to incorporate total design into a structure, except for maybe a pavilion. It was decided that a small community center would be the right program size since I am taking on the challenge of designing all furniture and fixtures as well.

Where to locate a community center was the next problem. I remembered back when I first visited the Antheneum by Richard Meier in New Harmony, Indiana. New Harmony is a small, very historic town and down by the river is this pure white abstract form (the Antheneum). This small community hired a world renowned architect to build a great piece of architecture and cherish it. My experience visiting New Harmony is what led me to wanting to give communities that once could not experience great architecture, the ability to. I live 20 min. north of Vincennes, Indiana and it was quickly apparent that they had no city community center. One has recently just been built (by a local group) that can be rented out. The building is very remote from the residence of Vincennes. They have to travel across a highway in order to get to it. It was now apparent what city my project was going to be located in.
Downtown of Vincennes is the Memorial Bridge and across from that is the George Rogers Clark National monument and park. It is of only two national monuments outside of Washington D.C. the other being Mount Rushmore. The front half of the site is representative of the original master plan in 1939. The back half of the site (cultural landscape) was added later. It is that back half of the site that I chose for the location of the Vincennes Community Center.

The site is across from a main residential area of Vincennes. Located south from the site is the location where Vincennes holds it Rendezvous ceremony, which is period reenactment. Located South east is a plot of land that is where the new Indiana Military Museum is going to be built. North of the National park is the Historic Downtown Main Street, The Old Cathedral, and east Rivet (private school). West of the site chosen is a grand view of the Wabash River with the Memorial Bridge crossing over into Illinois.

The community center would make better use of the park grounds and create a unified park district downtown. The residence of Vincennes would be able to drive or walk to the community center and the attractions that surround it while still maintaining a park atmosphere.

Atmospheric: Thesis Abstract

By Dempson Haney

My blogs for the remainder of the semester are going to be of my thesis and its progression throughout the semester. Starting the Atmospheric Series is my first attempt at my abstract.

Architectural atmosphere is more than just a physical well being but also the metaphysical. It could be defined as phenomenology, or collaboration of all senses; touch, smell, sight, and sound. While this is true, a space can also overwhelm one’s soul with emotion; approaching the metaphysical aspect of atmosphere, it takes place on a spiritual level. The space fronts an overwhelming sensation before one’s conscience has a chance to comprehend the space and its details. Atmosphere is not just the physical attributes individually but also when a series of attributes are used to conjure a single presence. For example, when a designer wants a space to feel warm; not referring to the physical temperature of the surrounding air, but rather the combination of specific flavors of smell, color, light, and even texture to persuade the mind into thinking the space is of a warm nature. Looking at it from a metaphysical stand point, one’s presence within the space is needed in order to create this spiritual connection. Atmosphere cannot be experienced through pictures or even film, but only direct participation. The impression it leaves behind will reverberate our senses, but not in the entirety which it was presented and becomes nothing more than a vivid dream. The correlation between atmosphere taking hold all aspects of the human sense, and total design taking hold all aspects of a building design and its contents, then begins to emerge.

Art has a way of expelling these emotions that only a human can experience. Only the human species can truly create art because it is an abstract expression that can only be “seen” by another person. When an architect practices total design; they design nearly every detail of the space like it were art, they are in full control of what the guest experiences from the space. Where fine art encompasses an underlining feeling or meaning; architecture creates atmosphere. Architecture is the art of space and therefore atmosphere is that underlining feeling or meaning.

Atmosphere is not limited to merely the man made products of our built environment, but also its surrounding landscape and how it is presented. The act of systematically altering the landscape to coincide with its spouse nestled inside creates a visual and coherent unification of space. The plantings can be used to accent an atmosphere’s qualities; further pushing the envelope. Such a conjugation brings the total design to a macro level on site.

Total design is an ongoing process of experimentation. It shows a better understanding of detail. So then is it possible to say that total design is the efforts to physically and spiritually lead the senses into a single architectural atmosphere or is it merely a byproduct.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Twenty-first Century Schools

By Audrey Treece

As I really dive into my thesis work this semester, which is an exploration of early childhood centers, I have been buried with books, articles and magazines trying to get as much background knowledge as I can on the education system.
One advantage of being friends with the SoA librarian is that I always have a set of eyes on the new material that comes in. It is not uncommon for me to come in and have a new magazine sitting on my desk and I always appreciate it because there is only one of me and I can’t keep up on everything all the time.

That being said, I came into studio the other day and found the January issue of Architectural Record on my desk. The issue is about “Schools of the 21st Century.” It is filled with examples of the newest schools and also packed with material advertisements of products that I may not have realized existed if I didn’t see them in the magazine. If you have an interest in schools, I highly suggest taking a peek into the January issue.

As I am looking at all of articles and projects, I have to ask myself… what classifies these schools a part of the twenty-first century school category? The magazines does not elude to any clear cut answers, however, the best I can do is come up with some common characteristics.

Some of the common characteristics that the featured schools have are an emphasis on using the architecture as part of the learning experience. The schools are engaging the architects early in the process and promoting a building that can adapt to different pedagogies. Educators are using the building to engage students and feel that “good buildings, do matter.”

Aside from the architecture itself, the “schools of the twenty-first century” are paying particular attention to sustainable features and sophisticated building materials. Some of the administrators are claiming that their numbers, as they pertain to graduation, retention and interest, are up. The buildings are giving students views, good lighting and a place to call theirs which in return makes the students respect their surroundings and want to be there.

Educational buildings are evolving to emphasize the value architecture can play in the learning experience. I am finding more and more information to prove that this is happening. I get excited to find out new data and it is definitely helping keep my interest in my thesis. I can’t wait to see what will end up on my desk next.

Go “Big” or Go “Tall”?

By Zachary Collins

Upon doing more in-depth research for my thesis project (Hotel complex in Las Vegas) I came across some information that was very interesting to me. And it kind of made me stop and think about how I might proceed with my thesis. This information, along with other findings might influence an alteration of my project scope.

Out of curiosity, I decided to “google” the largest hotels in the world. Several pages came up for the subject. I picked a couple and looked at them. Come to find out (surprisingly to me!) Las Vegas hotels were mentioned…a lot. Now, the word “largest” was interpreted into how many hotel rooms there are. According to the website that I’m basing this information off of, Las Vegas hotels held 17 out of the 25 spots for largest hotel! I was stunned. The third largest hotel in the world is the MGM Grand at 5,690 rooms (Left Picture). It was beat by the Izmailovo Hotel in Moscow with 7,500 rooms (Middle Picture) and the First World Hotel in Malaysia with 6,118 (Right Picture). Las Vegas holds the 3rd-10th spots, and then trickles down through the list. This really amazed me.

Then I had a thought, if this was based off of how many rooms there were, I wonder what the tallest hotel would be? So back to google I went and searched for the tallest hotels in the world. To my astonishment, Las Vegas was rarely mentioned, respectively. On one website, it did not make the top 20. Another site, Las Vegas didn’t hit until spot 32! That spot was held by the Encore at 631 feet (48 stories) left picture. The top 2 ranks of tallest hotel went to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai at 2717 feet (163 stories) center picture, and the Abraj Al Bail Hotel in Mecca at 1972 feet (120 floors)right picture. Although the Burj is not a stand-alone hotel, there is a hotel located within. And the Abraj Al Bail is a hotel tower. One site had the Burj at number 1 and the other site did not (basing on hotel tower vs hotel use). So with this information, I was yet again amazed.

So this brings me to the point of where to take my thesis now. According to Las Vegas statistics, only 80% of hotel rooms are rented at really discounted prices to stay competitive. And in general, tourism is not at its best there. Do I put another high-rise tower in adding even more for tallest hotel or building in the world (not necessarily most rooms though)? Or do I go the opposite direction and design more of an exclusive, boutique style hotel with limited rooms but lavishly done with latest technologies and the utmost luxury for guests? It’s a decision that I have to make really fast.

Blind day for architecture

By Andrew Wyne

In posting blogs over the last few months for architecture I have talked about many subjects, but the one I’ve neglected as of yet is that of my thesis. I figured it was about time to discuss the main ideas of what I’m studying as well as talk about a few experiences. The main idea driving my thesis is; architecture is driven, design wise, by the visual aesthetics and as of late the other sense have been, unintentionally, down played or forgotten. I am promoting that the visual sense be unplugged in such a way that it is not the most dominant sense being used in experiencing a space.

There are a few different practical applications of this type of building concept; however the main would be a space for the blind. As part of my research I have been talking to various vision impaired organizations. But one of the most interesting things I have done as part of my research was to talk around blind for a day. Unfortunately for safety reasons I could not drive blind, and when it was all said and done I was only blind for six hours which is just short of the 8 hour work day. But in reasoning I accomplished all the major things that one would do in a normal day. I walked to class as well as used the restroom and other things.

I had a poll with me so to not run into major objects, however even with a poll there seems to be quite a few things that can slip past and hit your knee, head, or hands. After the event of being blind had taken place it was very informative and I learned a lot as to what to consider for my thesis building, however there were quite a few things that would have helped me in getting around campus. Hand rails, possibly one of the best inventions ever, helped me several times on stairs. I don’t know how many times it kept me from falling as well as guiding me up the stairs. One thing I would have wished for outside when walking outside on the sidewalks were a reference as to where I was. The sidewalks had no distinctive texture or feeling so I knew what building I was at or which sidewalk I was traveling to which building.

So there is a lot to think about in the coming months about how the best way to guide a visually impaired person around a building, whether that is through texture, smell, or sound. There are many options to be utilized in the creation of this building. If you have any suggestions as to what might be useful for my research in this matter feel free to email me at and I will be happy to look into those subjects.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Semester is off to a rough start

By Laura Thomas

Week 3 of the semester and I'm already overwhelmed. For some reason it's taking a while to get adjusted to the schedule this spring. The classes are at awkward times breaking the days up into weird chunks of time. Another big change this semester is that a few of us are taking a 6-7 Zumba class at the rec. It's a great outlet from all the stress and anxiety brought on by grad school and one of the few things I look forward to. By the time I get home from that, shower, and cook supper and do daily chores, it's 9 before I get started on my homework.

Oh the homework. I really thought that this semester would be a little bit lighter on homework so we would be able to concentrate on our thesis. Wrong. Reading, reading, and more reading. If you recall from previous blogs, I don't like reading, nor am I very fast at it. An average week for homework includes reading around 210 pages. This isn't fun reading either, it not a Twilight novel but a very detailed specific text that you must know and discuss. This reading is consuming most of my time because again, I'm not a fast reader.

On top of this I'm supposed to be reading and researching for my thesis. After reading 200+ pages I don't want to pick up 1 of 20, 300 page books that I still have to read and document for research. My thesis should be of the upmost importance right now but it's not. Everything is flipped. Instead of spending 2-3 days on my other classes leaving me 4-5 days to work on my thesis, I'm spending 4-5 days on my other classes and 2-3 days on my thesis. This has got to change or I'm not going to make it.

I take solace in knowing that I'm not alone in this struggle. Everyone is struggling and trying to figure out how out to juggle everything. To try and to fix the situation I developed a schedule this week for when I am going to work on a class. If I don't have everything read by the end of that time, it simply won't get read.
On a brighter note, I do really like all my classes so far this semester. The professors are great and I think I will get a lot out of them. My favorite class this semester is Designing Outdoor Spaces. It's online which is unusual to me and that itself is an adjustment but it's nice to be able to do it when I want to. Speaking of that class I need to get back on my schedule, read the weekly 70-80 pages for it and take a quiz.

The Baffler

By Sean Koetting

Anthropologists Lawrence H. Keeley, Marisa Fontana, and Russell Quick recently published a research paper for the Journal of Archaeological Research entitled " Baffles and Bastions." The paper provides a detailed history of militarized building designs, such as, V- sectioned ditches, bastions (or a bulwark, is a structure projecting outward from the main enclosure of a fortification), and defense gates ancient planners used defend against their enemies.
As one might expect, nearly all of the defensive features analyzed occurred at entry points including peripheries, borders, and thresholds. Referred to as enceintes (A structure or an area protected by an encircling fortification) these barriers built to prevent unwanted access nearly all thwart vision to a specific location and posses other similar functional characteristics.

The archaeological diagrams featured above illustrate, in plan view, the various techniques used to design baffled entryways. These design are particularly interesting because, although they all derived from different cultures and periods in time, many use a similar strategy to expose and take advantage of their enemies vulnerabilities should a breach occur. The architecture forces the invaders to expose their flanks and rear to defenders fire by orienting them to the left, exposing their unshielded right side. Moreover, the spiral staircases found in most of these castles and fortresses spin clock-wise as you go up, making it much more difficult to swing a sword with the central pillar in the way.

Thanks for reading,
Sean Koetting.


Underwater World

By Andrew Wyne

No. I am not talking about a theme park, although that would be pretty great. As technology increases we try more and more to build structures higher and higher. We keep pushing the limits for as high as the buildings can go. Well there has been a turn for something a little different. Not quite building as high as possible. One man is going the other way with it, and not building into the ground.
Joachim Hauser is the designer of a structure which is called Hydropolis. It is the first underwater hotel, located in Dubai. There is a station at the surface of the water but then there is a train that takes the guests down 66 feet under the surface of the water to the sea floor below. The rooms are shaped like a bubble that is made of glass for looking at the ocean floor. Details put together by the team of designers and safety features of the facility can be found at either
It has also been said that Hauser was merely taking a trial run with the underwater hotel. There are rumors of a hotel on the edge of space that Hauser would like to design. Of course that would double the already multimillion dollar bill that was used for Hydropolis. However the main idea is that since Hydropolis was so complicated with it being under water that it would be a similar type of difficulty in outer space. Granted it is different with zero gravity and no oxygen but as far as the next tourist attraction hotel is concerned, a space hotel would be amazing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


By Matthew Owens

2016 marks the 100 year anniversary of Chicago’s Navy Pier. Navy Pier is Illinois most visited tourist attraction with more than nine million visitors last year. Of course the Pier was part of the original Burnham plan, and was constructed in 1916. Its intended use was port for lake freight ships and a warehouse, as well as docking space for passenger liners. At one point in the Piers history it was home to the University of Illinois Chicago, which sure would have been an interesting experience for students, not so much in during the spring semester though I’m sure, too cold. This is where the University got its start and was there until it was relocated to its current location next to the circle in the 60’s. After the University of Illinois Chicago left the pier has been a public space for Chicago, and now a symbol of the city and its most visited attraction.

In honor of the 100 year anniversary of the Pier Chicago is proposing what they are calling the ‘Centennial Vision’ a redevelopment of sorts for the Pier. Navy Pier Inc., the newly formed non-for-profit group is in charge of conducting an international search for a design team to reimagine the Piers’ outdoor public spaces, or Pierscape as they are calling it. There are key spaces which are too be addressed with the overall goal to enhance the experience of Navy Pier. Ultimately submitted entries will be narrowed down to five select design teams that will present their scheme to the Navy Pier Inc. as well as advisors, and board members, which will be open to the public. It just so happens that the presentations are tonight and tomorrow night (as I write its January 31st) and will be held at the MCA, which I have heard is full, so if you decided to head up to Chicago to catch the presentations, I hope you have already rsvp’d. So if you are like me and will miss the presentations this week, it is not your only chance to view the design proposals, by the end of the week, February 2nd, the finalists will have all work displayed at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Not sure how long the work will be on display but it would sure be interesting to check out, maybe the work will get posted on line?

The estimated cost of the new Pierscape will be over $155 million and of course be completed before the Piers centennial celebration in 2016. The winner of the design competition will be announced next month sometime.

Urban Geography and Cities of Tomorrow

By Molly Moran

From the first several chapters of Michael Pacione's Urban Geography: A Global Perspective and Peter Hall's Cities of Tomorrow one can surmise that all things are interconnected from local business to the global environment. And nowhere is it truer then within the complex working of a urbanized city. Using descriptive words like urban and urbanization are deeply rooted into local, regional, political, and global issues that need to be reviewed individually as well reviewed as a whole. The issues, depending on how they are addressed, can be causes and consequences of urban change and problems.

To begin with, a global web of triggers affect cities. There are seven general global triggers: economy, technology, demography, politics, society, culture, and environment. These triggers vary from region to region, culture to culture, city to city, even neighborhood to neighborhood, but can still be used as a template to start studying global dynamics in any environment. Economy is usually the prime driving force of urban change. The evolution of economy have significantly altered urban standard and cities goals. The ever expanding globalization of service, product, and companies has left little of the world untouched by its influence. Technology, a global trigger, has assisted the economy in its spread around the world. Advances in transportation, information, and machinery have pushed for maximum production of all things and space. another global trigger is demography; which is the movement of people directly affecting the size, configuration and social composition of an urban city. Politics share a close relationship with the economy. Political polices usually affect economic profit and therefore urban change. This relationship also works the other way too; economic ventures could sway or change political polices. The next global trigger is society which can be summed up as Pacione states, "a popular attitude towards ethic or lifestyle minorities can determine migration flows between countries and cities, as well as underlying patterns of residential segregation within cities." Culture, one of the last global triggers, plays a role in society, but it also affects cultural industries and the regeneration of historical urban districts. The last global trigger is the environment. The environment is affected by the other six triggers. For example, a factory build take up space in the environment. To produce a produce the factory acquires material, material that is a part of the environment in some way, transforms it and deposits the wasted material back into the environment. This changes the natural environment causing urban change which further changes the environment. This cycle is one of the critical or 'hot' topics of today's global concerns.

All of these triggers have a reaching affect on cities around the world. One affects several if not all and continue to tag and change one another like a unsupervised game of tag in a small room. Obviously, this evolving criteria can easily get out of hand, but how does it manifest it an urban city? In Peter Hall's Cities of Tomorrow he begins by identifying 1880s through 1900s London's slums as a critical area in need of drastic change. How the overcrowded plight of the slums came into light was with the help of literature. The Bitter cry of Outcast London by Andrew Mearns was a detailed observation of London's slums comparable to The Jungle in that it described the vice and suffering of the slum residents that it made people appalled and sick. And thus action was incited not to alleviate the problem by to alleviate the conscious of the better off. Again, similar to The Jungle change was made not to better the working class conditions, but the be more hygienic with food processing. In London's case the housing conditions were the main focus of early planning and solutions.

As I understand it the methodology for solving London's slums when like this: "All slum residents are either criminals, mental, unable to find work, or make so little they can leave. If they can't afford to leave we'll make cheep transportation and relocated them out of the city. They'll have more room, better air and light and they can still get to the city to work." This did and didn't work will it did allow some to evacuate the overcrowded slum may still could not afford to buy a cheap cottage, necessities, and the cost of rail fare, so a majority stayed in the city. another problem was the it was assumed that slum residents would all jump at the idea. It was a lifestyle issue; the better off designed with their standards in mind and didn't get any representation from the lower class; this lead to riots and disorder. And another problem was the work and wage or lack of both. Work was sparse and factory wages were small. Leading a 'good and honest' life was hard when high risk high reward of gang life was all around the London slums.

Slums were a worldwide problem for large cities planning committees did try, but often failed. Large blocks of small tenements afford little light, ventilation, and uplift. But within cities there were a few charities that sought to alleviate the quality of life for slum residents. The Hall house in Chicago afford shelter for women and children, classes, day care, even a form a tolerance programs for the elderly. The Hall house's goal was acclimate individuals to a new demography, politics, society, culture, and environment.

The conclusion, the global triggers Pacione described can be used to observed both current cities and past cities. The global affect of these criteria change and evolve continuously and impact human life and lifestyle. The causes of urban change is directly related to the actions of industry, culture, and finance. The consequences of urban change is the change, change for the good or change for the bad depends. For future planning one need to understand the affects the triggers had on the city in the past and be educated when altering those criteria to positively change the city's future.

Hall, Peter. (1990) Cities of tomorrow :an intellectual history of urban planning and design in the twentieth century Cambridge, MA : Basil Blackwell,
Pacione, Michael. (2009) Urban geography :a global perspective London ; Routledge

Facebook's Oregon Data Center

By Jason Skidmore

Facebook has a data center in Oregon that uses as much power as the entire county does. That is 28MW of power. Facebook is growing and will continue to grow. This means that power needs of its data center will only increase. This Facebook campus has one data center fully operational and another data center that is identical to the first one being built. There are also plans to build a third data center at this site. If the additional two require the same amount of power as the first one, it would translate into the need for at least 78 MW of power. According to the Crook County Economic Development Manager Jason Carr, the region will be able to support the individual power needs with no problem.

This area of Oregon is said to be ideal for using fresh air to cool the servers. Apple has also expressed interest in building its own data center in Prineville. These kind of operations boost the local economy. A study from ECONorthwest, states that the Prineville Facebook facility has generated $142.7 million in economic activity in the state of Oregon alone. This is generated through Facebook employees and construction workers in the area. Facebook has been praised for their efficient use of water. Facebook only uses 28 gallons of water per minute, while other existing industrial users use between 60 and 173 gallons per minute. These facilities demand water and fresh air for cooling the servers. One Google data center in Finland not only has adaptively reused a dead paper mill for its building, they also return the water they use to the source at the same temperature they brought it into the facility. This way there is little to no ecological impact to the adjacent lake.

See the following links for the full story: