Friday, October 25, 2013

Amazon's Biodome Greenhouses

NBBJ and Amazon have been hard at work for over a year on a compelling, sustainable and publicly accessible design for the internet giant’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle. The Design Review Board has turned down proposals numerous times, citing issues with public connectivity, overall concept and landscaping. This time around, NBBJ appeased the board and was rewarded with unanimous approval for the biodome office space at the center of the 3-block campus. Changes to the design include making the three domes “visually lighter, and geometrically organic and sculptural,” according to the new design proposal. The new plan calls for improved public access to the domes and a total of 18,000 square feet of retail space. They also added a 5-foot-wide cycle track on Blanchard Street that connects to the planned track for Seventh Avenue.

According to the Seattle Times, work has already begun on the eco campus, which takes over 3 blocks downtown in the Denny Triangle area. Amazon’s campus will consist of three 38-story high-rise office towers, two mid-rise office buildings, a multi-purpose meeting center, a public park and the biodome flex work office and retail space at the center. The public has expressed approval in letters to the Design Review Board about the proposed project calling it “refreshing,” “organic,” and “very human-scaled.” With the Design Review Board’s approval, the biodome portion of the campus will move on to the city’s planning and development department for a formal approval of Amazon’s application, which typically takes four to six weeks. From there a building permit can be issued and excavation of the site can begin. There’s no word yet on when construction is expected to be completed.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Sagrada Familia...what it would look like when its done!

The completion of Art Nouveau architect Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Família basilica in Barcelona is simulated in this movie released to show the final stages of construction anticipated before 2026, 100 years after the death of the architect (+ movie).

The one-minute video published on the Sagrada Familia Foundation's Youtube channel shows each of the stages left and how the basilica will look when completed.
It combines helicopter footage of the current building with computer-animated renders to show spires, a central cupola and other remaining structures rise from nothing.

2026 completion of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia Foundation has also published six one-minute movies showing 3D animations of the completion dates for each phase, including the Sagristia in 2015, Torre de Maria in 2018 and Torre de Jesus in 2020.
When the basilica is finished it will have 18 towers dedicated to different religious figures, of various heights to reflect their hierarchy. There are eight towers completed so far.

2026 completion of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

Work began on Sagrada Familia in 1882 and Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi took over the direction in 1914. The completed basilica is due to open in 2026, 144 years after it began, to coincide with the centennial anniversary of Gaudí's death in 1926.
Since 1990, the build has been overseen by architect Jordi Faulí. He worked first as an architect, then as deputy chief architect, and was appointed Chief Architect in 2012.

2026 completion of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

Friday, October 4, 2013

Park(ing) Day 2013

It was only eight years ago that the international movement known as Park(ing) Day got started (in San Francisco or New York, depending on whom you ask).  In a short time, this fun way to demonstrate the squandered potential of ordinary parking spaces has become a global phenomenon.

Last month, in cities across the United states and around the world, people used parking spaces to express aspirations for their cities.  Our YEOW this week is local, as a few landscape architects from Baker participated in this year's Park(ing) Day in Old Town Alexandria.  Check it out!

Here's Park(ing) Day's official website:

Thanks to John Fennell for the great pictures!

I'm no expert but this seems more like a living room than a park...

Seems like a great place to Park

Lightning Farm

[Image: Triggered lightning technology at the University of Florida's Lightning Research Group].

This past winter, I had the pleasure of traveling around south Florida with Smout Allen, Kyle Buchanan, and nearly two dozen students from Unit 11 at the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Florida's variable terrains—of sink holes, swamps, and eroding beaches—and its Herculean infrastructure, from canals and freeways to theme parks and rocket facilities, served as the narrative backdrop for the many architectural projects ultimately produced by the class (in addition, of course, to the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, the results of which we watched live from the bar of a tropical-themed hotel near Cape Canaveral, next door to Ron Jon).

While there were many, many interesting projects resulting from the trip, and from the Unit in general, there is one that I thought I'd post here, by student Farah Aliza Badaruddin, particularly for the quality of its drawings.

[Images: From a project by Farah Aliza Badaruddin at the Bartlett School of Architecture].

Badaruddin's project explored the large-scale architectural implications of applying radical weather technologies to the task of landscape remediation, asking specifically if Cape Canaveral's highly contaminated ground water—polluted by a "viscous toxic goo" made from tens of thousands of pounds of rocket fuels, chemical plumes, solvents, and other industrial waste products over the decades—could be decontaminated through pyrolysis, using guided and controlled bursts of lightning.

In her own words, Badaruddin explains that the would test "the idea that lightning can be harnessed on-site to pyrolyse highly contaminated groundwater as an approach to remediate the polluted site."

These controlled and repetitive lightning strikes would also, in turn, help fertilize the soil, producing a kind of bio-electro-agricultural event of truly cosmic (or at least Miller-Ureyan) proportions.

[Image: Triggered lightning technology at the University of Florida Lightning Research Group].

Her maps of the area—which she presents as if drawn in a Moleskine notebook—show the terrestrial borders of the proposal (although volumetric maps of the sky, showing the project's fully three-dimensional engagement with regional weather systems, would have been an equally, if not more, effective way of showing the project's spatial boundaries).

This raises the awesome question of how you should most accurately represent an architectural project whose central goal is to wield electrical influence on the atmosphere around it.

[Images: From a project by Farah Aliza Badaruddin at the Bartlett School of Architecture].

In short, her design proposes a new infrastructure of "rocket-triggered lightning technology," assisted and supervised by a peripheral network of dirigibles—floating airships that "surround the site and serve as the observatory platform for a proposed lightning visitor centre and the weather research center."

The former was directly inspired by real-world lightning research equipment found at the University of Florida's Lightning Research Group.

[Image: Triggered lightning technology at the University of Florida's Lightning Research Group].

Badaruddin's own rocket triggers would be used both to attract and "to provide direct lightning strikes to the proposed sites," thus pyrolizing the landscape and purifying both ground water and soil.

[Image: Aerial collage view of the lightning farm, by Farah Aliza Badaruddin at the Bartlett School of Architecture].

The result would be a lightning farm, a titanic landscape tuned to the sky, flashing with controlled lightning strikes as the ground conditions are gradually remediated—an unmoving, nearly permanent, artificial electrical storm like something out of Norse mythology, cleansing the earth of toxic chemicals and preparing the site for future reuse.

[Image: Collage of the lightning farm, by Farah Aliza Badaruddin at the Bartlett School of Architecture].

I should say that my own interest in these kinds of proposals is less in their future workability and more in what it means to see a technology taken out of context, picked apart for its spatial implications, and then re-scaled and transformed into a speculative work of landscape architecture. The value, in other words, is in re-thinking existing technologies by placing them at unexpected scales in unexpected conditions, simultaneously extracting an architectural proposal from that and perhaps catalyzing innovative new ways for the original technology itself to be redeveloped or used.

[Image: Farah Aliza Badaruddin].

It's not a question of whether or not something can be immediately realized or built; it's a question of how open-ended, fictional design proposals can change the way someone thinks about an entire field or class of technologies.

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