Thursday, 26 May 2011
Catching the sun as it plays across the building’s surface, the undulating façade system for the University of Houston’s Health and Biomedical Sciences Center is an innovative design solution that responds to challenges in topography and program.
The risk of flooding on the low-lying site disallowed a basement, shifting all mechanical space to the top of the building. Likewise, the building program’s secure research spaces – typically located below grade – are also at the top level. Since both the mechanicals and research program require windowless spaces, the upper half of the building façade has few openings.
Recognizing the potentially overwhelming proportion of a solid façade, the design team used reflection ...[more]
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
An interesting article from yesterday’s NY Times discusses a new exhibit/critique of preservation by Koolhaas in NY. Nicolai Ouroussoff writes that in the exhibition Mr. Koolhaas “paints a picture of an army of well-meaning but clueless preservationists who, in their zeal to protect the world’s architectural legacies, end up debasing them by creating tasteful scenery for docile consumers while airbrushing out the most difficult chapters of history. The result is a new form of historical amnesia, one that, perversely, only further alienates us from the past.” I would argue this is a fair criticism of styled big-box architecture and other developer driven “luxury” destinations including hotels and shopping malls…
But what ...[more]
Thursday, 7 April 2011
Has 3D modeling superseded the physical sketch model as a design tool? No, and here’s why.
At an internal “Design Open Studio” a few weeks ago, the conversation focused on the continued relevance of physical sketch models as an exploratory tool in the design process. While the proliferation of 3D modeling programs may suggest that the days of building sketch models are over, the fact is that hands-on model making is still a vital tool for us to iteratively explore design ideas in three dimensions. Unlike even the most flexible modeling software, which is ...[more]
Thursday, 31 March 2011
Last July we held a large-scale affinity mapping charrette as a way of gathering data about people’s day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. The affinity map proved to be a very effective tool for aggregating the collective wisdom of the crowd.
Collective intelligence in the digital realm is an idea that’s gained more traction in the past couple of years. Think of the crowdsourcing used to build the Linux operating system or Google’s search algorithms. What makes affinity mapping unique is its use as an analog tool to document collective intelligence. Even better, it creates a physical representation of the group’s collective thinking: the Post-It diagram.
The process of creating that physical artifact ...[more]
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
As architects, we often take the seemingly banal decisions that we make for granted. However, many of the devices that we employ carry social and historical implications that have had a profound effect on the way humans function. Corridors were not an inevitability. Often overlooked in the grand sweep of architectural history, they have had an enormous impact on the way we live, work, and communicate.
Despite their ubiquity today, corridors did not exist until the late 17th century, and were only first widely used in the 19th century. Before their ...[more]
Friday, 18 February 2011
As a long-standing tradition Shepley Bulfinch reaches out to our clients in an annual mailing. For years, this took the form of a signed card or letter, accompanied in recent years by a commemorative poster. What started as a holiday gesture has become an important statement that exemplifies our core values.
Like every project our annual mailer starts with a written strategy: a design brief. This year we drew on our annual internal staff survey for inspiration. Within a section of the survey on differentiation a few key words and ...[more]
Friday, 4 February 2011
I recently read this article and thought we should have a clear position on the developing debate in the planning sphere. Are we New Urbanists? Are we Landscape Urbanists? How do we define our attitude toward development and landscape as a firm? How do campuses relate to these issues?
Boston Globe article: A fight grows in urban planning
Let the debate begin…..
- Luke Voiland
Friday, 28 January 2011
How do you match the resounding success of our 2010 Fellowship Poster, designed by Experimental Jetset? By inviting Michael Bierut of Pentagram to design the 2011 poster.
I’d like to share some insights about the design process, strategy, and design thinking behind the poster itself. Our design brief to Michael was essentially to match the quality of the candidates we’re seeking as this year’s Fellow: someone who combines a high-level and perhaps rare combination of extraordinary design talent, creativity, passion, intuition, appetite and ...[more]