Posts by Alex Dent

Photographer Peter Hoffman Documents an Oil Spill

Peter Hoffman Fox River Derivatives Gasoline Photography

Peter Hoffman Fox River Derivatives Gasoline Photography

These photos aren’t the end product of some sweet new Instagram filter, but of gasoline.

Photographer Peter Hoffman traveled along the Fox River in Illinois, photographing the river’s meandering surface through rural and suburban areas. Before he developed the film, Hoffman drowned the negatives in gasoline and then set them on fire, throwing water to halt the process just before the film was completely destroyed. Hoffman uses fossil fuels to disturb his film in order to reflect the very real environmental disturbances caused in the pursuit of oil. He specifically cites the Deepwater Horizon Spill in a statement about the series and in further commentary about his work he says:

“I wanted to transfer that feeling I had, which was maybe something like a sense of powerlessness or dread, to the image making process. I wanted to lose control, having the resulting work border on ceasing to exist in any recognizable form.”

Continue reading

Steven Holl, the Gymrat – The Campbell Sports Center at Columbia University

Steven Holl Campbell Sports Center Columbia University

Steven Holl Campbell Sports Center Columbia University

When I hear the word “gym” I tend to think back to the shiny-floored, harshly-lit gymnasium that I endured in order to graduate with the required Physical Education credits. In these spaces, the only thing louder than the buzzing of those mercury vapor lamps was probably all the clues that screamed, “HERE! Here is the gay eighth grader without any eye-hand coordination, athletic intuition, or self defenses.” My discomfort in gyms was a residue that I didn’t start to scrub off until I was in my final year of college.

Continue reading

Meet the Smallest Flying Robot: the RoboBee

RoboBee a tiny flying robot inspired by bees

Earlier this week, we talked about a bee habitat designed by Architecture students in Buffalo, and now we are bookending the week with more about bees and the design of the world’s smallest flying robot. But what do bees have to do with tiny flying robots? A team of science folk from Harvard has spent more than a decade trying to build a swarm of tiny, biomimetic robots that are inspired by the industrious insects. And if bee populations continue to decline, we may one day depend on buzzing swarms of these mechanical wonders to pollinate crops.

Continue reading

Science Cures AIDS! Again.

HIV particle modeled by Visual Science

When I graduated from architecture school, I knew almost nothing about science or the body. As an example, I though our digestive system simply separated food into solid or liquid and then pushed both down toward our no-no parts. I was amazed to learn about how food is broken down and either absorbed or excreted. Somewhere in this lesson, I picked up the tidbit that pee actually comes from your blood. Yeah… your blood. Grossly simplified, the nephrons in your kidneys filter blood, removing waste products and send them down to your bladder. In the microgravity of space, your bones don’t need to be as sturdy, so osteoclasts start acting on your bone matrix, leeching calcium and sending it into your bloodstream. The calcium is removed and excreted. So not only does pee come from your blood, but an astronaut can pee out his or her bones.

Continue reading

Buffalo’s Elevator B(ee)

University of Buffalo School of Architecture Students Bees Elevator B

If you’re a bee living in Buffalo, New York, you probably spend most of your time waiting for summer to happen. And when the warm months finally arrive, you probably set up shop wherever you are and immediately start making honey. Last year, some Buffalo bees found themselves living in the window of an office building that was boarded shut and the were not welcome. So the kind architecture students at the University at Buffalo, built the bees their very own gleaming tower. And it looks awesome.

Continue reading

Typefaces for People with Dyslexia

Typefaces for People with Dyslexia

I was really fascinated by this article about a typeface designed specifically to help people with dyslexia make fewer reading errors. Folks who have dyslexia tend to have trouble reading because the text doesn’t sit still; their brains flip, rotate and rearrange letters while they try to make sense of the words. This apparent movement stems from structural differences in parts of the brain, and I was surprised to learn that there are quite a few typefaces designed specifically to address this disorder. There are likely many more, but I easily found Open Dyslexic, Dyslexie, Lexie Readable and Read Regular.

Continue reading

Designing a Better Supermarket

NL Architects Sanya Lake Park Supermarket China

It wasn’t until I had lived other places that I realized how terrible the grocery stores in Mississippi are. I was wandering around a Gelson’s or Albertsons when a coworker griped about how “disgusting” this particular store was. It wasn’t the worst I had seen in L.A., really it was just average, but it was still better than any grocery store in my hometown. And who likes being told that their food comes from a sad, gross place? Or the food they ate for 18 years. Economically, it makes complete sense for a grocer in rural MS to have less frills than one in Beverly Hills or even Los Feliz, but I still somehow felt deficient and isolated. Seeing images of the Sanya Lake Park Super Market, I feel a similar ache of what might have been.

Continue reading

The Thing About Skateboarding and Landscape Architecture

Janne Saario Second Nature Skateboard Landscape Architecture

Janne Saario Second Nature Skateboard Landscape Architecture

When Janne Saario says “there’s just me, material, and physics” you might think he’s talking about how he feels on a skateboard, but he isn’t. Saario is a professional skateboarder from Finland, but recently he’s undertaken landscape design and has finished a handful of skateparks across northern Europe. But his quote also isn’t about the sculptural forms he’s created in places like the Steel Park in Lulea, Sweden either. Instead, it’s about his time spent in rural Finland at a summer cottage where he spends the warmer months hunting, gathering, and sometimes finding dead birds.

Continue reading

University of Balitmore’s Boxy (and State of the Art) School of Law

University of Baltimore Law Center by Behnisch Architekten

After days of spectacular schools in other parts of the world, today we’re in Baltimore looking at a law school on American soil. It’s the University of Balitmore’s new School of Law and the project is proudly anchored into American concrete. ‘Murica! We’ll have to ignore that the firm responsible for the project, Behnisch Architekten, has an office in Boston but is still European enough to use architekten. In Maryland, the firm has not merely stacked boxy volumes on top of each other, but pushed the volumes together, creating a complex interior atrium from the inside out. While I suspect that the building will function mechanically and programmatically, the expression seems distracting.

Continue reading