“Less is Less, But Enough.” Architecture Uncomfortable Workshop

Architecture Uncomfortable Workshop

Last week, Ray Harryhausen passed away. For decades, Ray created special effects for Hollywood, using stop motion animation and old fashioned camera trickery to bring artifical villans to the big screen. When asked how computers have revolutionized special effects, Ray replied “you know, in a thirty-second commercial you see the most amazing images, the amazing image is no longer spectacular. It’s become mundane because it’s over used. The computer seems to be able to do anything. So people take it for granted.”

And even though he was talking about mythological characters and fake dinosaurs, he might as well have been talking about architecture.

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May 16, 2013 / By

Dozens of Windows in Beirut, and Another into the Internet

109 Architectes Saint Joseph University Beiruit

Have you ever gotten excited about a fenestration pattern? If you’re unfamiliar with the word, fenestration is really just a fancy way to say window*. But when you find yourself talking about the fenestration pattern, you’re inadvertently talking about more. You’re talking about how the windows are composed along the skin of the building and picking up a logical pattern to their placement or picking apart how illogically the openings are distributed. I first heard the word being wielding around by a professor who was using it during a studio critique to not only tell someone their project was ugly, but to also make the student feel stupid for having to guess his meaning from context clues.

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May 15, 2013 / By

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.

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May 13, 2013 / By

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.

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May 7, 2013 / By

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.

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May 3, 2013 / By

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.

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May 1, 2013 / By