Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Half Dose #22: Mother's

For advertising agency Mother, Clive Wilkinson renovated "Derwent Valley's Tea Building in Shoreditch, a burgeoning arts community on the fringes of the City of London."

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Since Mother's inception in 1996, their employees have worked around a communal table. As the company grew, so did the table, until now the concrete table in their new digs accommodates 200 and resembles an interior racetrack, a la Fiat's rooftop track in Turin, Italy.

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To connect the different floors, stairs interrupt the table, blurring the line between table and floor. At some points one is the extension of the other, making for quite the impression on potential clients.

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Links:
:: Mother, London
:: Clive Wilkinson
:: Interior Design
:: Frame Magazine

CrapPier

I'm coming a bit late to this issue, but just today I saw images of the draft master plan for Navy Pier. According to Hello Beautiful! - who has a large chunk of its latest show (worth a listen) devoted to this plan - the city of Chicago,
asked a Canadian company specializing in theme and water parks to propose a new design to bring Navy Pier into the future. Their suggestions include a floating hotel, an indoor water park, and a monorail stretching the length of the pier.
Here's Forrec's imagery:

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Said monorail bisecting the existing mall/winter garden space.

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Forrec's proposal to bring Navy Pier into the future seems to resemble an old-fashioned postcard, planes and all.

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The inside water park to keep tourists off the streets of Chicago.

For further amusement, read Blair Kamin's biting critique of the plan.

Butt Crack Binding

This weekend as I traded in some books at a used bookstore in my neighborhood* I saw the distinctive binding of Diller + Scofidio's Flesh. If you're not familiar with the book, the front cover is a right butt cheek (Diller's?) and the back cover is a left butt cheek (Scofidio's?), making the binding, yep, the butt crack.

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Cover sans crack binding

Seeing this crack peering at me at the very back of the store, it reminded me of a time when I worked in a bookstore in college. Although I worked there less than a year, I was entrusted with some money every month to stock the store with architecture books, something apparently still going strong. At the time I dug (and still do) D+S, so it was an easy choice to order Flesh: Architectural Probes (its full title). Well, the owner saw the binding and stubbornly refused to put it on the shelf, instead keeping it out of sight behind the counter and making it rather difficult to sell.

A few weeks later or so it was sold by my astute friend Eric who had been working at the store longer than me, perhaps gleaning more tricks of the trade than I. He told me that one day a girl came into the store and was buying an architecture book or two, so - remembering about the dirty book behind the counter - with shifty eyes he quietly said to her, "hey...ya wanna buy a raunchy architecture book?" Actually, whatever he said exactly I don't remember, but I do know she walked out with the book.

As I glanced at the butt crack sitting in a dark corner of the store (perhaps unintentionally) this weekend, I couldn't help but think of this story.

*Unfortunately I don't remember the name of the new (to me) bookstore, though it's located on the south side of the 1900 block of west Irving Park and has a decent selection of books (I walked away with the 3rd edition of Mechanism of Meaning by Arakawa + Gins) in a small storefront space.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Mayne Street

Every once in a while a building comes along that fulfills your faith that architecture can be a noble profession...
So gushes Blair Kamin in a review where he heaps praise upon Thom Mayne's soon-to-be-opened design for the Campus Recreation Center at the University of Cincinnati.

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These photos from a tour of the center show the all-too-familiar dynamism of Mayne's architecture.

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What appeals to Kamin (and me) is the urban qualities of the architecture, not a stand-alone building but an assemblage of the Rec Center as well as the Tangeman University Center by Gwathmey Siegel and the Steger Student Life Center by Moore Ruble Yudell. Common geometries (curves) and common materials (zinc and other metals) tie the buildings together, though it's the car-free Main Street that links them together spatially.

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(via Archinect)

Monday, Monday

My weekly page update:
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Magritte's in Tokyo, Japan by Atelier Tekuto.

The updated book feature is Living Big in Small Apartments, by James Grayson Trulove.

Some unrelated links for your enjoyment:
B******s to Architecture
"Irreverent opinion on (mainly UK) architecture and architects" (added to sidebar under blogs::architecture)

Hello Beautiful! Blog
Aka "Teatro Lifson", a new blog for the weekly arts show on Chicago Public Radio.

dialog
"Blogging directly from New York City about architecture and other interesting things." (added to sidebar under blogs::architecture)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ten Fours

Rob decided to pass along some annoyance, though I rather like this sorta thing. So here goes:

Four jobs I've had:
1. Caddy
2. Vegetable preparer (I washed lettuce in a basin full of cold, cold H20)
3. Dishwasher
4. Bookstore clerk
Four films I can watch repeatedly:
1. Groundhog Day (no joke)
2. Being John Malkovich
3. School of Rock (formerly Dazed & Confused)
4. Taxi Driver
Four places I've lived:
1. Northbrook
2. Manhattan (The Little Apple)
3. Castiglion Fiorentino
4. Chicago (4 places in the city, coincidentially...wait. 5 actually)
Four television programs I like to watch:
1. The Simpsons
2. Lost
3. This Old House
4. Poirot Mysteries (on dvd)
Four places I've been to on vacation:
1. Italy
2. Japan
3. Wales
4. New York City
Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Grilled Cheese
2. Pancakes
3. Pesto
4. A good cheeseburger
Four websites I visit daily:
1. Bloglines (most of my "browsing" these days)
2. Archinect
3. The Archi-Tourist (Another plug for my latest undertaking)
4. Yahoo! Mail (yea, I know, kinda boring)
Four places I would rather be right now:
1. In a piazza somewhere in Italy
2. Under a canopy of stars (or somewhere where I can at least see stars)
3. At a bookstore
4. On the couch
Four bloggers I am annoying:
1. Eric (it's about time for an update on your page)
2. Neal
3. Frank (that should be easy, seeing you've already done it)
4. Marcus

Friday, January 27, 2006

They Make $$

An interesting building and installation over at the always-reliable we-make-money-not-art:

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A ball gown made of steel
A small apartment building in The Hague by Archipelontwerpers reminiscent of Frank Gehry's "Fred and Ginger" building in Prague.

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Dark places
A badass looking installation for the Dark Places exhibition at the Santa Monica Museum of Art by Servo, like something out of a sci-fi movie.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

competitions:

Glancing around CAF's Exhibitions page, I found a link to the web page competition: public process for public architecture, which is currently on display in the Cityspace Gallery. Curated by Edward Keegan, "the exhibition will introduce the general public to the competition process for selecting the architect or the design of a building," specifically American buildings. The case studies include:
:: The White House (1792)
:: Tribune Tower (1922)
:: Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1980)
:: Harold Washington Library (1988)
:: World Trade Center (2002-present)
:: Freedom Museum (2005-present)
The extremely thorough and graphic-heavy site* should keep you busy for a while, especially with the local Freedom Museum (housed in the 1922 Tribune competition building), set to open this spring.

*Inexplicably, the exhibition is hosted on the web site of Cynthia Plaster Caster, an artist who "began making plaster casts of rock stars' erect penises in 1968...[and] in 2000 she began casting breasts as well."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wrigley Update

The Chicago Tribune posts graphics and images (registration req'd) for the Wrigley Field bleachers renovation, part of a larger plan that also includes a parking garage, restaurants and retail.

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For the passer-by, the most notable change will be the walkway will cantilever over the sidewalk.

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Granted this ain't exciting architecture, but it's been a heated debate...

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...because of these neighbors and their right to peer into Wrigley Field during games, charging admission and receiving $$ that might otherwise go to the Cubs (and its parent, the Chicago Tribune). Notice the construction at the bottom of the image.

Notions Update

Last April I posted about an ongoing project Initiated by A. Laurie Palmer with support from Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago called Notions of Expenditure, a "request for speculative proposals to re-design exercise equipment to generate and store energy; and/or to retrofit gyms to function as local power sources linked to the grid."

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At the time there were only two projects uploaded, but now there's close to twenty, worthy of an updated post here. Also, the comments to my earlier post have recently attracted people undertaking similar endeavors who have questions I unfortunately can't answer. So look those over, and if you can help them out, please do.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Half Dose #21: S(ch)austall

My friend Brandon brought this small building to my attention, and now I'm passing it along to you, dear readers.

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Winner of a 2005 AR Award for Emerging Architecture, this showroom by Stuttgart-based FNP Architekten is a renovation of a pigsty, the humorous relationship between these two uses apparent in the project's parenthetical naming (saustall=pigsty; schaustall=showroom).

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To deal with the crumbling 18th-century structure, the architects created a "house within a house", a wood container that fit within the old stone walls but without touching them.

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A new roof protects old and new from the elements. The awards jury mentions that the existing windows now look fashionably random, even though they are derived from the building's original function, a decidedly humorous take on the renovation. In the end, the project is more dignified than humorous, the architects able to extend the life of an old building through simple yet clever means.

Links:
:: FNP Architekten
:: AR Award (PDF link)
:: DBZ-online

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday, Monday

My weekly page update:
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Fujy House near Madrid, Spain by Fujy Sustainable Architects.

The updated book feature is Commodification and Spectacle in Architecture, edited by William S. Saunders.

Some unrelated links for your enjoyment:
Progressive Reactionary
"How is architecture affected by the political climate? More importantly, how can architecture affect the political climate itself?" (added to sidebar under blogs::architecture)

butter paper
"Australian and new zealand architecture and design resources." (added to sidebar under online journals)

ArchitectureINK
"Architecture Ink is brought to you by creative designers and observant citizens from around the world." (added to sidebar under online journals)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Low-rise

I'm not talking about jeans, I'm talking about buildings. In places like Chicago, tall buildings tend to get all the press. But not all sites are suitable for 30+ story condo and office towers - especially with the city's parking requirements - so the occasional low-rise building rises with a bit of flair or at least some design sense. The best the city has seen lately is definitely Ralph Johnson's Contemporaine in River North. But has that design spawned more quality output? Let's look at some recent and under-construction buildings and see.

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630 North Franklin

This eleven-story residential building in River North is by the same developer as the Contemporaine, CMK Companies. Credited to both Brininstool + Lynch and Perkins + Will on the Emporis web site, the design is more flat and restrained than the Contemporaine. Half the residences face the street, while the other half face the back alley. The only corner units face the elevated tracks, a somewhat unfortunate circumstance. Both the units and the building are ultimately pretty typical, only clad in a a full-height window wall with a random window pattern as an attempt to give it distinction. The "band of light" at the parking garage looks like it could give further distinction at night.

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156 West Superior

Just down the street from 630 North Franklin is a narrow, nine-story residential building by Seattle's Miller Hull Partnership, developed by Ranquist Development whose tastefully modern houses and small condos dot the Chicago's west side. This design appears to be a departure for Ranquist, as Miller Hull strives to relate to "the Chicago steel and glass I.I.T. School." An exposed steel frame with diagonal cross-bracing is articulated in front of a full-height glass wall on the building's south and north facades. Balconies anchor the southeast and northeast corners and a mix of masonry and metal panel covers the side elevations. While the bracing doesn't stand out, as in the Hancock, its subtle presence gives the facade a layering and depth not found in many multi-family residences these days.

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HUB 116

Further south, but still in the River North neighborhood, is HUB 116 (a seemingly techno-savvy name that is actually just a truncation of its address: 116 West Hubbard), an eight-story office building developed by Dumas Associates and designed by Obora-Phillips. The distinctive feature here is obviously the swiss-cheese roof that's cantilevered from leaning columns, apparently extending the roof beyond the street facade. The rendering clearly shows a post-modern articulation of base-middle-top, a tripartite division that architect's can't seem to abandon. Here, unfortunately, the changes are abrupt, without apparent relationship to each other or the building's context.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Links-a-lot

As you can see from my paltry posts lately, this week has been busy. To partially make up for this, I've provided some links below that will hopefully be of interest and are worth a look and/or a read.
:: A bookstore organized by color (via)
:: Hidden Landmarks of Manhattan
:: Defying Death (on Arakawa)
:: Scandal Becomes Her
:: Green Yale Degree
:: Cardinals Stadium (by Peter Eisenman, below)

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:: Two films to see
:: Map of World Heritage Properties
:: The Bird Man
:: Renzo Piano Interview
:: Now you see it...
As always, many links via.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Cheaper Than a Condo

Once again Taschen goes over the top, this time with Richard Meier.

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This Artist's Limited Edition (100 copies worldwide, including a signed and numbered print) is a steal at only $1500...well, it's a steal compared to a multi-million dollar condo in one of his Perry Street towers.

(Thanks again to Jeff S. for feeding me the good stuff)

Books of the Moment

Taschen is set to publish four books in its Contemporary Architecture by Country series: Switzerland, Japan, Netherlands, and United Kingdom in April. Like the publisher's other architecture titles, such as the Architecture Now! series, these promise to be full of delectable eye candy.

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(via dezain)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Red Berghoff

In the Sun-Times today, David Roeder has a good piece about the GSA's interest in the Berghoff property, bringing into question the circumstances behind the family's closing of the restaurant (set for February 28). Beyond that unofficial speculation, the article tries to illuminate the city's landmark policy, which rated close to 10,000 buildings in the city about a decade ago (transcribed below). Note: these ratings are separate from official Chicago landmarks.
WHAT COLOR IS A SHADOW LANDMARK?

The City of Chicago developed a kind of shadow landmark system by color-coding buildings that might have architectural or historic importance. A shadow designation is easier to impose than official landmark status. The highest ratings are red and orange. Any attempt to demolish a red- or orange-rated building triggers a 90-day hold on permits while city employees determine whether the property should be saved.

RED BUILDINGS
Red buildings have the highest ratings. There are 171 red buildings in Chicago, of which 140 are official landmarks.
Examples include:
Carson Pirie Scott store, 1 S. State
City landmark? Yes
Wrigley Building, 410 N. Michigan
City landmark? No
Merchandise Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza
City landmark? No
Rookery Building, 209 S. La Salle
City landmark? Yes
Marshall Field, 111 N. State
City landmark? No

ORANGE BUILDINGS
Orange buildings are deemed slightly less significant than red buildings. About 9,600 properties carry the designation. Few are city landmarks, but many are within landmark districts, thus limiting an owner's right to alter or raze them.
Examples include:
Oriental Theatre, 32 W. Randolph
City landmark? No
Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe
City landmark? No
Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State
City landmark? No
Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton
City landmark? Yes
Chicago Daily News building, 400 W. Madison
City landmark? No

RETAILING LANDMARKS?
Both the Marshall Field's and Carson Pirie Scott stores are Chicago icons and designated "red" buildings. One is a landmark and one isn't.
But as we can see by the city's recent behavior (PDF link), these colored designations can sometimes lose their meaning and purpose.

SAIC Web Chat

Core77 reports that "The School of the Art Institute of Chicago...is adding three new graduate programs in Fall '06: Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects." (Another new degree the school will also be offering is a Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies.)

Tonight from 6-9pm, the school is hosting a chat specific to the design programs mentioned above. More information here.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Monday, Monday

My weekly page update:
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Ecologic Farm in Haren, Netherlands by Onix.

The updated book feature is Seven Interviews with Tadao Ando, by Michael Auping.

Some unrelated links for your enjoyment:
Subtopia
"A field guide to military urbanism," by Archinect editors Bryan Finoki and Geoff Manaugh. (added to sidebar under blogs::urban)

archipedia
"The free open-content atlas for world architecture that anyone can edit." (added to sidebar under guides)

Wikitecture
"Wikitecture is the online Wiki for architects, architecture students, and anyone who wants to know anything about architecture...[it] is meant to be a resource for those who want to learn more about architecture."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Modern List

The Modern List is an impressive new site "for the design conscious interested in experiencing modern architecture, design, art, food and culture."

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At the moment, only Manhattan and Seattle are available, though more are in the works, including Chicago.

The 'Burbs

A couple recent posts indicate a trend, or backlash, against anti-sprawl advocates and towards pro-sprawl positions that see the phenomenon as not only a good thing, but something natural and unavoidable, a trend that finds its greatest voice in Robert Bruegmann's Sprawl.

First, Safety Neal posts on a Joel Kotkin piece in the Wall Street Journal. The author specifically discusses sprawl in Portland, Oregon, a city that enacted legislation to halt sprawl. Apparently it backfired in Portland by pushing development even further out from the city. Kotkin goes on to quote statistics that confirm what pretty much everybody knows: people like the suburbs.

Basically Kotkin indicates that sprawl continues unabated, despite widespread criticism of it and legislation against it. Neal asserts "our current patterns of consumption and overpopulation cannot continue unabated," even though "we will continue to see the growth of suburbia into farmland, wetlands, and wilderness areas." Climate change, dwindling resources, and soil erosion - among other concerns - will eventually steer us away from sprawl and its harmful ways. But, like Neal, I can't raise a toast to suburbia and its decedent ways.

Second, Mr. Massengale posts a link to "A Car in Every Garage" by Margy Waller, who states,
To be a fully functioning citizen in this country today, a car is a virtual necessity; so the federal government should subsidize a set of wheels and the commute to work.
This position is completely uncritical of the suburbs and sprawl, much like other proponents of these non-urban conditions. There's a pervasive confidence in the market, that people voice their opinions not only by voting but by spending money. Hence the rise in popularity of hybrid cars and the dip in SUV sales; people are saying they want fuel efficient cars. But this belief system only goes so far, most noticeably because it is myopic and unconcerned with environmental and other negative, long-term impacts. To have the government give subsidize driving would speed up many of the concerns mentioned in regards to Neal's post above, while also creating even more dependence upon automobiles at a time when we should be finding ways to broaden transportation options.

Waller's argument is ultimately liberal, focused on low-income families and individuals. She's trying to find a way to bring more and better job opportunities to those who can't afford automobiles. She admits her plan is costly ($100 billion/yr) and argues that it would be better than programs to increase public transportation, though she doesn't seem to address the discrepancy between where low-income people live and where they work, nor the displacement of the same people from the cities to peripheral suburbs. These are part of the problem, too, though her solution is more of a short-term, band-aid solution than a long-term one.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sunny

The sun finally made an appearance in Chicago today.

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The scenic view out my living room window.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Nelsons-Atkins Bloch

Steven Holl's design for the Bloch Building addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO has seen its fair share of controversey, long before its 2007 completion date. While these exterior photographs probably won't quiet any skeptics, they should give people a better idea of what to expect come completion.

These were sent to me by my old classmate Jeff who currently resides in Kansas City, though we don't know the author of these photos. If that's you, let me know and I'll give you credit here.

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Update 01.12: In response to KevinS's question/comment, the answer appears to be "yes...and no":

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Book of the Moment

As Built is a monograph on the London studio Caruso St. John Architects, published by a+t ediciones. a+t publishes some damn fine - but pricey - magazines twice a year.

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Although I've featured St. John's work on my weekly page, I'm not familiar with much of his work, though I feel I should be. It has a quiet appeal, a certain calm that's refreshing these days.

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As the editors put it well enough, the studio "has carried out a series of projects that is characterized by coherence, sobriety, and a search for emotion through built reality."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Charred Wright

First a church by Sullivan on Chicago's south side, now a house by Wright in nearby Gary, Indiana. Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?), the pre-fire condition of the Wynant House - built ca. 1915 for the president of a local insurance company - wasn't much better than its post-fire condition, below.

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It's been determined that "torches used by workers putting final touches on a new church roof sparked the blaze" at Pilgrim Baptist Church, though the cause of the Wynant House fire has yet to be determined.

(via Archinect)

Spertus Underway

Found myself walking down South Michigan Avenue this morning, so I clicked these pics of the construction site of the Spertus Institute's new home.

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The groundbreaking for the Spertus was October 7, though it appears that was more a ceremonial start than a construction start. From the looks of things today the demolition needs to be hauled away and then excavation can start for the building's foundation.

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Click image for larger view

It might not be too exciting yet, but it's good to see things underway on what should be a great contribution to Chicago, and more specifically the Michigan Avenue streetwall overlooking Grant Park.

Half Dose #20: Mercat de Santa Caterina

What started as a renovation of an existing market turned into an urban redevelopment in and around the Avenida Cambo in Barcelona. But this dry description belies the executed work, designed by the late Eric Miralles's office EMBT.

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The most distinctive feature of the design is the colored tile roof that undulates its way across the market below, visible to our feathered friends and those lucky enough to live in the adjacent buildings. Cantilevered portions create shade, and relief from inclement weather, as well as an interesting interaction with the existing market.

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The sinuous structural system makes itself known in all aspects of the design, as it punctures through the roof, reaches the ground outside the old market walls, or overtly supports the wood roof above.

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The complex project is actually three levels, with two below grade that include loading/unloading, parking, and an organic waste depository for the surrounding area. In many ways, its contribution to the city takes place at the two poles of above and below, not just the facades and inside, as might be expected in this type of project.

Links:
:: Mercat de Santa Caterina
:: EMBT
:: 0lll.com
:: archiseek
:: Fotos de arquitectura
:: Floornature

Monday, January 09, 2006

Monday, Monday

My weekly page update:
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Chamanna Tschierva in Bernina, Switzerland by Hans-Jorg Ruch Architektur.

The updated book feature is Smart Architecture, by Ed van Hinte, Marc Neelen, Jacques Vink, and Piet Vollaard.

Some new blogs - at least to me - for your enjoyment (all added to the sidebar under architecture::blogs):
Interactive Architecture dot Org
"A weblog about the emerging practice within architecture that aims to merge the digital virtual with tangible and physical spatial experience."

Architecture and Morality
"Musings on Architecture, Urbanism, Politics, Economics and Religion."

archlog
"Architecture on the bias" set to "promote the books, events, and 'friends of' ... Princeton Architectural Press."