Technology Vision

Guggenheim Museum Licenses Colors; Towel Bars and TP Holders Coming In 2012

guggenheim fine paints.jpgQualifying for most hilarious licensing deal of the month, The Guggenheim Museum in New York is licensing paint colors.  It's a natural, from a focus group viewpoint.  Think about it.  Museums have both paint-ings and they also paint their walls.  Sometimes in non-white colors!  So they took colors from famous/old paintings to create a fan deck that looks like, well, like most paint fan decks, except with fewer true greens and oranges. 

Guggenheim CLASSICAL colors.jpg
Don't get me wrong, I love me some creative licensing.  Frankly I don't care if it's off-mission or off-brand or off-message or whatever constructions end up limiting original thinking.  But if you're going to go off-road with your product, it should at least rock the party microphone.  These colors are very, very nice!  But are the hues really any different than just picking the same color chips from other fine paint company's existing palettes?  And are the colors really unique to Guggenheim?  If Fine Paints Of Europe (whose paints rock, by the way) did this with a Cezanne in MoMA wouldn't the end result be the same?  The product looks nice, but the branding feels flat. 

My favorite part of the press release: 

For more information about the Guggenheim Museum's licensing program:

Master's Chair

kartell-welcomeblack1.jpgSometimes referencing three other things all at once in a design is a ridiculous mess (however fabulous the result may be).  Sometimes, it rocks.  Witness Kartell's new Masters Chair, which references silhouettes of famous chairs by Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Eero Saarinen.  The resulting chair is some kind of seriously whacked out Thonet No. 14, capturing the lightness and alien spirit of that chair.  In plastic.

If only they'd added Adolf Loos to the mix.

As seen on Cool Hunting.

The Ethics Of Dust

ethicsofdust.jpgJorge Otero-Pailos, an architect/artist, is our favorite kind of preservationist.  His bio is all we need to know: "his work rethinks preservation as a powerful countercultural practice that creates alternative futures for our world heritage."

And how.  Our favorite project of his is The Ethics Of Dust, consisting of a large latex sheet that pulled off ancient pollution from the Doge's Palace last year at the Venice Bienale.  Backlit and freefloating, it's like a Shroud of Turin for architects: a study of time, and the value of recording even the decay of an important icon.

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Anish Kapoor Does All Towers At Once

KA---POW.pngLike the love child, or a genetically spliced clone of, the DNA of the Eiffel Tower, Tatlin's Tower, and Umschreibung, Anish Kapoor has unveiled his proposal for the London 2012 Olympics: ArcelorMittal Orbit, which seriously makes no sense to me, is that one, two, three corporations mashed together or is that the name of the work?  2012 is the new 2007.

However, the insanity of it almost rescues it.  Perhaps Tower Of Power will perform at the opening ceremony?

Tipped off by Art Lovers at The Awl.

Oscar Niemeyer: Never Say Die

Torre de TV Digital.jpg
Oscar Niemeyer, the guy who designed Brasilia in 1737, is still alive, and designing buildings!  He just finished the design for Torre Digital, a new TV tower for the capital of Brazil, on his Atari 2600, and the rendering has now been shared with us. Facts about the tower:

Location: Brasilia, Brazil
Height: 180m (about 62 stories)
Number of Glass Domes: 2
Programs in the domes: 1 restaurant, 1 art gallery
Surrounded by: 1 Curved ramp over a reflecting pool (what else?)
Best translated pull quote (by Secretary of Culture): "I'm very optimistic, because this will be one of our sights. I'm sure."
Amount of Crazy in the Design: 100%

Building Buildings Out Of Photographs

23crowd01_span-articleLarge.jpgThe folks at the University of Washington are on the cutting edge of creating models of buildings out of millions of internet based photographs.  With the wittiest of titles, Building Rome In A Day is a proof of concept that cities could be represented in computer models by using nothing more than the jillions of snapshots people take of places.  They're not the only ones involved in this sort of thing, but we think they are the most interesting.

So far they've created some sparse point cloud models and simple mesh models.  nothing ready for Iron Man 3 quite yet, but give it time.  We think the possibilities of this are very exciting.  Imagine fluid, dynamic models of cities changing based on internet photography and videos.  Cities could be captured and backed up.  You could experience a city of the past.  A street from your childhood.  Whole new film and game narratives arise.  

Check back in a few on this one.

Contractor Follies

As part of our Arquitecto ou Engenheiro? Que? Series, we bring you Contractor Follies from the United States, where everything (and anything) goes when it comes to home contracting. Dare to dream, DIY contractors! If you are prepared to laugh, click on the slideshow for all the captions.

Olafur's Light Fixture

starbrick.jpgOlafur's studio has started to make stuff that are something like products that people can buy.  The first one, a skateboard for Mekanism, starts out as a good idea, with its ripply reflective awesomeness, but with its limited run of 90, each costing 3,000 Euros, and Mekanism not returning our inquiries into purchasing them, it's hard to believe that anyone would actually be able to acquire one, much less use it actually skateboarding you might scratch this precious precious artwork.

Part two seems to be Starbrick, a new product developed for lighting maker Zumtobel.  The concept is cool: one of Olafur's Studio's geometric constructions is lit with cutting edge LEDs to create something bizarre enough to be unique and worthy of Olafur's name being put on it, but not so crazy that it couldn't sit above the dining room table.  The brick is modular, as are all of Olafur's ever-expanding geometric creations, and the exciting thing for me will be playing with that modularity, and seeing how big and bizarre we can get.

LEED Starts To Get Interesting

LEED isn't resting: they've just launched a Pilot Credit Library.  As you may know LEED's system allows for a limited number of innovative credits to be applied toward a building's rating.  These innovative credits establish their own criteria, and then are approved or rejected by the USGBC. The credits are then put in a database online for other architects to research and maybe replicate.

With the Pilot Credit Library, LEED is taking this to the next level.  They are formalizing the innovative credits so they are easier to find.  And, more radically, they are crowdsourcing the criteria.  It's a Wikipedia approach that may entirely negate the need for versioning their credit system: the credits simply keep getting revised by the LEED members and the USGBC review process.  It's brilliant, simple, and will make upgrades more responsive to technology and what users are interested in.  That last part is key: if people are really serious about energy efficiency, then they can think up some revolutionary awesome credit, use it as a Pilot Credit, and get it approved so that others can take the same route, without having to do all the research.  It's a chance for designers who want to push LEED in a particular direction to take action.  Have at it, folks.

This Is Sustainable Housing, Folks

11006.24.029-22.jpgThis is what we're talking about when we say Sustainable Housing, people. Not just technology but hooking up the right technology to the right uses, in service of creating new communities and connections.  The Eltonia is a New York City housing project that has the city's first roof-mounted wind turbines, is a 100% smoke-free environment, is New York State's first LEED Platinum building that is affordable housing, and is going to house the first ever study of green building on respiratory illness.  Talk about taking LEED for a test drive!

From the press release: "South Bronx has some of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the five New York City boroughs.  The Mt. Sinai study, which has already started with future tenants, will investigate the effect LEED standard green buildings have on respiratory health."

From us: awesome!  And check out those windmills!!

LEED Gets Serious About Energy Performance

US-Energy-Consumption_xl.jpgA few weeks ago I wrote this piece about LEED and building energy performance.  LEED buildings don't measure energy performance after a building is built, and it is no secret, except to the New York Times, that some of the buildings just don't save energy.  At all.

The USGBC, the body that oversees LEED, sent out a press release (not to me!) a few days before my post announcing a set of information gathering, idea presenting, and comment having set of conferences.  The result of these conferences is to gather input to someday create a new standard for LEED, that of measuring building performance.  They're fuzzy on the details, but this goes to the point I made before: LEED is evolving and on the right track.  If this press release came out in 2011 I would say they are dragging their heels a bit, but to have it come out now suggests they are at least committed to getting it done.  Even if they are only in the "let's totally talk about it phase".  They're punting to the future a bit by gathering input, which is probably the only way to get the building owners on board: slow it down.  We're all for careful deliberation as a way to increase buy-in, but just remember, this is the easiest way for us to cut global carbon emissions.  There is no time to dawdle.

BIG Wins Kazakhstan Library Competition

1251244471-anl-rendering-03.jpgBefore summer ended, news floated around that Tropolism favorite
BIG won first prize in the competition for the National Library in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Like OMA in Seattle, BIG chose to make the project all about a cool circulation path, which results in a mountain-like object.  I happen to think it's a very beautiful mountain-like object.

Check out ArchDaily's super-complete collection of renderings and diagrams for the project.

Video Life Of Small Urban Spaces

One of my favorite, formative books, The Social Life Of Small Urban Spaces, was of course a transcription of many written, photographic, and filmed records of how people actually use public space.  So you imagine my excitement when I saw that some of the video is now on youtube.

Alpine Hut Goodness

Bild138.jpgSwiss architecture firm Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler did this renovation of a two century old alpine hut in 1997.  They managed to bring out the beautiful existing qualities of the hut (its heavy timber beauty), while adding some gorgeous stone elementalness of their own.

LEED Certified Buildings Not Always Saving Energy

(Pictured: Cooper Union Building by Thom Mayne/Morphosis, which is going for a LEED Platinum Certification)

Shocker!  LEED certified buildings do not always save energy.  They never said they would be!  The New York Times gets wind of what has been known for a little while, that some LEED rated buildings, particularly the ones at the lowest end of the LEED scale, particularly the ones that got certified when the LEED rating was young, aren't saving energy.  Read this 2008 article by Henry Gifford (warning: PDF) to get a LEED critic's view on the matter.

Things to know:
1. Chad Smith is a LEED Accredited Professional, as of earlier this year!
2. LEED was developed to make owners, developers, builders, and I guess architects and engineers all happy.  Which means it is very popular yet is imperfect and has a few glaring loopholes, like this one: that LEED accreditation does not automatically mean the buildings will have lower energy consumption.
3. The whole LEED accreditation system is undergoing a revamp, to focus more on water use and energy consumption. Future buildings may be more energy efficient?  LEED won't nail this down because there still isn't a systemic demand to monitor the building's performance after it is certified by LEED.  But the two most pressing sustainability issues in buildings are water use and energy consumption, so they are on the right track.
4. One of the reasons LEED and green building is so hot right now is because LEED has been very popular.  So like Wal-Mart bringing organic food to each of their stores everywhere, LEED has brought the idea of sustainability to the world of building in the United States.  It's a huge success, but one that is not fully realized.
5. It is difficult to get a higher LEED rating without being somewhat more energy efficient.  So a LEED Platinum building: probably saving energy.  But no one actually knows!
6. The Times article implies that buildings can install a bunch of bamboo flooring and get a LEED rating.  In fact, Renewable Materials is one of the hardest points to get in the LEED system.  Basically it's bamboo anything, cork flooring, and like wool carpets...and that's it.  As a percentage of construction, you'd need to cover every surface in bamboo to make it work.  So no one is installing that much flooring in lieu of other sustainable strategies.  
7. But yes you could get most of your points saving water and putting your building on a sustainable site, and still be running a barely-OK HVAC unit.
8. I said it in February 2009: in 5 years we are going to look at LEED Silver as a ridiculously low standard.
9. Some LEED buildings are undoubtedly kicking ass on the energy consumption measure.  Let's hear about those too?

Tropolism Has Moved!

We are officially on a new host.  Life is good.

There are probably a few rough edges around here.  PHP is difficult yo!

Pictured: 364 Crown Walk under construction, Fire Island Pines, New York, August 2009.

Tropolism Is Moving

Tropolism is moving to a new host!  If you see us out of service, don't panic. We're simply moving to a new host.  In the coming months you'll also see T2 T2.0, as we evolve and expand.  

Tropolism has always been about the process of architecture.  You'll see us writing about that more explicitly.  

Pictured: 364 Crown Walk under construction, Fire Island Pines, New York, August 2009.

Radiant Copenhagen


Radiant Copenhagen documents the future of Copenhagen. Marking up a GoogleWiki maplike thing, artists Anders Bojen, Kristoffer Ørum, Kaspar Bonnén, and Rune Graulund have created a new future, one that is at once probable and entirely fantastic. Kind of like reality. It's brilliant because it's played out over our new way of discovering architecture: through markups, tagging, satellite imagery, and as a companion to the real city we are surfing the internets in.

Arquiteto ou engenheiro? Que? Parte Dois

Back from Brazil! In this second installment of Arquiteto ou Engenheiro? we bring you more contractor comedy gold, mostly from South America, one from Europe, and one which look like a mishap in suburban Georgia.

Hemeroscopium House

The Hemeroscopium House, by Ensamble Studio in Madrid, is a refined combination of heavy infrastructural pieces. The pieces are stacked; the resulting spaces are a house. Most awesome is the pool deck, entirely under what is typically used for highway or parking superstructures: a giant precast beam. The surreal scale of the elements--nothing except the furniture appears people-scale--reminds us of OMA's work. Yet this is almost post-OMA, in that there is a clear pleasure to living underneath a highway overpass. The deck you walk on is polished and smooth, the pool and furniture are gorgeous, the landscaping mellow. There's no brutality to this brutalism, only refinement and play. In short a place to live.

Via Architect, which also has a big gallery of pictures.

Tropolism Films: Brooklyn DIY


Last week’s world premiere of Brooklyn DIY brought a motley crowd of artists, performers, and groupies to MoMa. Through interviews and photographs, the film documents the “creative renaissance” of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Employing an ambiguous timeline, the narrative favors subjective experience over specificity. However, the disjointed “mapping of memory” is grounded by focusing on a handful of seminal moments that defined the neighborhood.

Right this way for the full film review...

Pretty Pictures: Stone Spaces #1




1. Ningbo Historic Museum by Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio. Photo by Iwan Baan, found at ArchDaily.
2. Pedreres de s'Hostal, by Josep Triay Tudurí, via Pruned.
3. The historic quarry of Denia, Spain, at Vicente Guallart.

Furniture Friday: Kerk Apartment

Kerk_apartment_by_Stijn_Bisscheroux.jpgBehold the built in greatness of the Kerk Apartment by Dutch firm Stijn Bisscheroux. We do love it when furniture gets all architectural on us.

Via Materialicious.

MONU #10: Holy Urbanism

Archinect has a great piece on MONU Magazine's issue #10, titles "Holy Urbanism". The issue focuses on how building by religious organizations, and religious experiences in general, affect cities. It's a brilliant topic rarely discussed ever by anybody, so it's long overdue for the zine set.

Especially thrilling is the fact that you can browse the magazine on Youtube. Stunning.

Pretty Pictures: Under Construction #1




1. Ocho al Cubo House, Toyo Ito, via Arch Daily.
2. The existing conditions concrete shell for Vakko Headquarters and Power Media Center, REX Architects, via Arch Daily.
3. Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture, Steven Holl Architects.

Arquiteto ou engenheiro? Que?

More from Brazil!

From a friend in Brazil comes an email loaded with pictures of construction mishaps in Brazil. They range from the puzzling to the hilarious to the overzealous to the treacherous. Click on the slideshow to check out the full gallery. If only New York had so many examples of constructed comedy...


2min15 paris, sin nombre. from le flâneur on Vimeo.

2mins15 is a new blog of architects and flaneurs posting short videos of their cities (Paris, Valencia, Buenos Aires and Caracas). The results are interesting, and definitely part of the psychogeography collection we have here at dear Tropolism.

Crazy Coney


In what must be the most bizarre, yet most refined, inventive, and weirdly beautiful collection of images yet, the Municipal Art Society has posted a flickr album with a selection of results of their Imagine Coney project. Curbed smartly whittles the results down further for those who can't be bothered to slog through the 36 images in the album. Or favorite is pictured, Historic Path.

WTC Model


The American Architectural Foundation has donated the original model of the World Trade Center to the September 11th Museum. The Museum has another name but it is ridiculously long and focus-grouped and I refuse to use it. The 7-foot-plus model wonder of the world was constructed by Minoru Yamasaki Associates and has survived because of great care.

I saw this model in 2004 when it was displayed at the Skyscraper Museum and it's a powerful thing. That museum is close to Ground Zero but a bit off the beaten path in Battery Park City. Visiting during the day I had the model to myself. It was a powerful experience: the model was my new memorial. The model is huge, a technical achievement in its own right, not just in construction but in the extreme stewardship needed to keep it in good shape. And yes, it's significant and ironic that a paper and plastic model outlived a huge building complex. It's a powerful reminder of what was lost seven and a half years ago.

Whole Earth, Online


For those fans of the Whole Earth Catalog, that awesome counterculture publication from the late 1960s that inspired everyone from architects to computer programmers, is now online. The original DIY zine, the catalog was as much about information delivery systems as it was about what to do with the hippie information it provided. So it is only fitting that now it's archived here, with us.

Flat Flat


There has never been a concept too experimental that it needn't be built in Harajuku. Jean Snow points us to Flat Flat, a space where visitors can experience the online games portal Hangame. As a retail space it is an oddity: highly expressive, yet not much there except a bunch of computer screens. As a concept it is arguably redundant (if the games are online, isn't the point that you play them against people far away?), which also makes it highly unique.

Also we're really into the neon ceiling.

Picture found at designboom.

Tropolism Books: The Infrastructural City

Title: The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies In Los Angeles

Editor: Kazys Varnelis

Publication Date: December 2008

Publisher: Actar

ISBN: 9788486854250


Review by John Southern.

During the last ten years of economic mirth a lot has changed in regards to the contemporary city, both in how it looks and how we inhabit it. Since the late 1990’s both cities and private capital have invested heavily in glamorous architecture and staggeringly beautiful landscape projects whose role it was to enhance a particular metropolises cultural cache in relationship to its global neighbors. Technological innovations in consumer electronics coupled with the increasing prevalence of the Internet have enhanced cosmopolitanism and network culture rather than creating isolation that early critics feared. And while the money poured in aesthetic beauty and civic narcissism reigned supreme.

Now, as capital flows across global markets evaporate and those markets begin to collapse, politicians and civic pundits alike are all whispering the same word: Infrastructure. While a new museum or concert hall will be a hard sell over the next decade they theorize, a new bridge or light rail project will not because of the construction jobs those projects generate. Even President-elect Barack Obama has stated that part of the U.S. economic recovery will hinge on heavy government spending and investment in infrastructure. As building commissions dry up it is only a matter of time before architects try to align themselves with these new State and Federal patrons, casting aside formal seduction in favor of survival.

They will no doubt find that infrastructure does not need them and in fact faces a crisis of its own. It only takes a book like The Infrastructural City to make this apparent.

Click here to continue reading the review...

24 Hour Guggenheim


Last night at 6pm, the Guggenheim began its 24-Hour Program on the Concept of Time. Presenters included architects, artists, philosophers, writers, anthropologists, etc. Like any academic conference, lucidity and brevity comingled with pointless meandering. I suppose temporal musings may demand the non-specific thought processes that I saw last night and this morning. Below are highlights from the conference--at least the way I remembered and experienced the moments.

Continue reading and more pictures by roving New York City correspondent Saharat Surattanont.

Amish Builders: Criminals Or The Next Wave?


As the building and architectural profession starts to morph into its post-recession and post-overdesign phase, it's worth looking at some alternatives. One is Amish builders, who, with a few constraints, can custom build your house in all the highly crafted splendor that has inspired architects for a long time. Although apparently some folks put their talents toward building...this.

On the other hand, the restrictions include not building things to code, at least for their own structures. The unresolved question is huge: are Amish buildings exempt from building codes because their religious beliefs have them reject electricity, indoor plumbing, and graded lumber? In the past, obviously they have been. But a new set of building codes, including New York State's 2007 revision, have had many local officials fining Amish for their new buildings, with some court cases emerging in New York.

The Amish are fighting back. Filing suit in a federal court, an upstate Amish community claims full-on religious discrimination. Over their beliefs as it pertains to buildings. It's an intersection of beliefs, architecture, and building code that is unique. Stay tuned.

Kengo Kuma Designs Houses For Muji


Muji: for those of us in the United States and Europe, it is a wonder for inside your home. In Japan, it is also possible for it to be the home itself. You wouldn't know it unless you are able to read Japanese: Muji keeps these pages untranslated, and furthermore their design simplicity does not extend to their website. Tropolism favorite Kengo Kuma has designed some prototype homes for them (our favorite it the Window House, as you can see in our article over there at Yanko Design). He wisely sticks to a super-configurable model and shies away from too much prefab repetition. They aren't quite as radical as his other houses, but they have their pleasures. Greg Allen gives us another take on these designs.

Greg goes one further and translates the awesome Muji Village concept. It appears to be little more than a far-away rendering and some floorplans (awesomely displayed as take-home art posters. Take that NYC real estate brokers!), but as a feel-good concept, they have rocked the party mic. We'll keep you posted when it takes shape.

Less Stuff Is Better Design


I know I've been harping about this since I first got the idea for the Two Dozen list in 2004: the Roaring Two-Thousands created a lot of drek by designers because they were "designers", not because the designs were actually great. A lot of my writing has been focused on pushing designers to do better. What better opportunity for designers to really push design when all this money is sloshing around? Why not make things more efficient, more accessible, more inventively designed, and more beautiful, even if it costs a bit more? When the cycle downturns, we'll be happy to get scraps from the woodpile to make our stuff. Since September, most of us have been looking for that scrap pile.

Michael Cannell over at The Design Vote wrote a great article in the New York Times encapsulating these sentiments, looking quickly (as in long-blog-post quickly) at where product designers and architects are going to go from here. He champions sustainability in the production of goods and a good project by Lorcan O'Herlihy architects in Los Angeles that champions density over size of lawn. Welcome to the end of the decade, folks. We couldn't be more thrilled.

Hand Made Fonts


Designboom served it up the last few days with two pieces about hand made fonts. The first is about an Estonian firm called, yes, Hand Made Font. The second is by Dutch firm Autobahnwho made fonts by squirting stuff like ketchup and toothpaste (pictured) into letterforms and then letting them slide a little. This is a firm that is not afraid to make a mess in service of art. We thought they looked festive enough to be in keeping with the New Year theme today, and so we present them for your consideration. Until 2009!

Canadian Floating House


It's been a long time since we scoped out some floating homes, so we were excited to see this one, by MOS . The house is in Ontario, was completed in 2005, and is great because it's literally a floating house. No signs of boatness to be found anywhere.

Found floating on Arch Daily.

Artists Subway, With Trees


The Starn Brothers, every 1989 college student's favorite artists, are back! They are finishing up construction on a large installation in the South Ferry Station of the New York City Subway called See It Split, See It Change. Their focus on unnerving closeups of nature has not changed, nor has their geeky obsession with new materials. In this case a curved, fused glass printing technique that will last a century and took a year to develop. We're gonna be the first ones there.

Neutra Renovation, Again


Speaking of Marmol Radziner renovations of Neutra houses, we came across this recounting of a visit to the Sten-Frenke house. The article includes a link to an amazing slideshow over at Pentagram, who collaborated on the renovation. The photograph I have included is of the renovated house, and is by none other than Tropolism favorite Julius Shulman.

Pretty Pictures: Garden Towers #1

Helvetica And The New York City Subway


Even though we are architects, we have a special hobby called typefaces. We love them. We collect them. Our favorite are the sans-serif fonts developed in the middle of last century. We collect books that heavily feature them. And so this long, in-depth, and heavily illustrated article about the story of the typeface Helvetica (and Standard!) in the New York City subway is nothing short of rapture for us.

And we're not the only ones.

Tropolism Books: The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture

Title: The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century Architecture

Author: The Editors of Phaidon Press

Publication Date: December 1, 2008

Publisher: Phaidon Press

ISBN: 9780714848747


Few architecture books dare to take on the mantle of Atlas, but The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century Architecture seems to comfortably wear it. The book is a sequel to 2004's The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture--whose general outline and format the current book shares--and by looking at the measly amount of buildings that showed up in magazines between now and then, you would think that the new book would have lots of projects reprinted. Not so: almost all of the 1,037 buildings did not appear in the 2004 book. But when you consider the deluge of projects that have shown up online in that time, it's nothing short of astonishing that the book encapsulates such an encyclopedic spectrum. The project covers 6 world regions, and many of them, like China, seem remarkably well-covered.

Click this way to read the complete, large-format review...



Three years ago we published one of our favorite lists: the NYC Ice List. Today we are happy to announce a maybe addition to the list: the Brooklyn Bridge Park Ice Rink. You know, under the Brooklyn Bridge, where the New Brooklyn Bridge Park will someday be located, maybe. As that article says, they are starting it THIS MONTH (said on the last day of November). The rink awesomeness is designed by landscape architects dlandstudio, they of the first ever Pop-Up Park, which was located this summer just on the other side of the bridge.

Word is the ice rink is getting fundraising help from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, so perhaps we'll see this on the Ice List for real next year.


007 Data Center


No this is not a movie set. It probably will be, though. Or perhaps it was designed after seeing You Only Live Twice? At any rate this data center 30m under Stockholm, designed by Albert France-Lanord Architects, is futuristic as seen from the classic Bond era. It's also an interesting problem for an architect: given an existing enclosure, one that really can only be changed by dynamite, what would you do? Well, design a kick-butt movie set, that's what.

Exploded by Arch Daily.

The Most Awesome Yoga Studio Ever


Yoga Deva is a yoga studio in a strip mall in Gilbert, Arizona. Yet is has the distinction of being the most awesome yoga studio ever. The project derives its power by being hyperminimal while at the same time sensual. Visitors enter through a long entry hall with rich walnut, plaster, and aluminum leaf wall finishes. However the main space turns into a quiet study of different lighting conditions; one only need to see the photographs to see how powerfully the light changes in the space. The main space's curved ceiling and innovative translucent scrim on the entire window wall perimeter are particularly stunning. It is a great place to practice your mind/body connection. It is the work of Blank Studio of Phoenix.

Check out the web album to see the rest of the gorgeous picture set by photographer Bill Timmerman. All pictures courtesy of Blank Studio.

Pretty Pictures: Rust #1

rust1.jpg villa%20de%20madrid.jpg 4caixa.jpg

1. Performer's House in Denmark by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, 2005; via Arch Daily.

2. Plaza Villa de Madrid in Barcelona by Arquitectos Baena-Casamor-Quera, 2003. Via Daily Dose of Architecture.

3. CaixaForum Madrid, Herzog & de Meuron, 2007.

Casa em Arruda dos Vinhos


Portuguese firm Plano B's Casa em Arruda dos Vinhos is a small, one-room cabin that has all its green check boxes marked off. It's DIY. It's rammed earth. It's small. It has its own freaking blog. But what's best about it is that it's also elegant, with its clean, minimalist, glossy interior, giving new glamor to green.

Via a barriga de um arquitecto.

Star Trek Gets Architecture


Architecture enthusiasts who saw Quantum of Solace this weekend, or those (like us!) who watched the HD trailer to the next Star Trek movie frame-by-frame, saw the unmistakable criss-cross trusses of Fay Jones's iconic 1980 Thorncrown Chapel in one second of the planet Vulcan. What that that big podium or what Spock is doing in front of it, we have no idea. We love the inclusion of spectacular buildings in splodey science fiction. It gives a palpable material reality to the stories, both because we know these spaces in real life, and they have the grain and character of well-designed buildings. A computer generated set by a professional computer modeler just does not create the same effect.

Perhaps we should start designing our buildings with more of this cinematic flavor in mind? How it appears on film, yes. But also deep consideration of what kind of production values you are looking for. What kind of film would this building work well in? Buildings are always turned into sets long after they are built. Is it possible to develop a specific architecture that is ready for films of a specific type during the Schematic Design Phase?

Freeze frame from io9.

Imagine Coney: First Glance

From our roving correspondant, Saharat Surattanont, we get this report on Imagine Coney:

Last night, the Municipal Art Society (MASNYC) showcased their proposal for the redevelopment of Coney Island. Underscored by the financial realities of such an endeavor, their master plan of “big ideas” outlined the process for revitalization. The stated goal was to develop a viable economic paradigm without sacrificing the authentic flavor of Coney Island.

Step right this way to read the rest of Tropolism's coverage...

Pretty Pictures: Night Houses #1

sleeperlight.jpg red%20lines.jpg houseonbeach.jpg 1. Sculptured House by Charles Deaton, as seen in the Woody Allen Film, Sleeper. 2. Aatrial House by KWK PROMES. 3. House on the beach by Javier Artadi Arquitecto.

El Croquis Goes Digital


One of the pleasures of my job is getting updates like these: El Croquis is offering digital versions of its magazines. In one swoop the twin problems of acquiring and storing their oversize formats is disappeared. Of course you don't get the pleasure of having a huge page with a flawless image or superdetailed plan, but there are advantages to the digital option. We'd rather have a proof copy of the master PDF file, but we'll settle for the Zinio system for the time being.

Continuous City


The Builder's Association, the artists collective responsible for several on-stage media theater works over the last decade, is coming back to BAM. You may remember their last show, Super Vision, which was as thrilling technically as it was a tad undercooked theatrically. It was like live blockbuster movie, but with a plot that revolved around how our lives, so fully enmeshed in technology, so easily discoverable through how our personal information is networked, was vaguely unsettling. Not full-on Kafkaesque Modern disaffection, but a cloudy resignation. That project was a collaboration with New York City architectural renderhouse dbox (warning: full screen browser resizing ahead).

Builder's is back at BAM November 18th with Continuous City. This time it's even more collaborative: you can post your own video to the project.

Pretty Pictures: Resampled Space


BLDGBLOG is back in fine form with a survey of the work of artist Filip Dujardin, who manipulates images to create his architectural fantasies. Yet these images are sublime because they amplify the weight and grunge of the existing industrial photograph material from which they are born. It is that they are plausible which gives them power.

Coop Himmelblau on Grand Avenue Is Built


The crazy rendering we published back in 2006 turned out to be a real, live building. Coop Himmelblau's High School #9 is completed; our favorite write up is the amusing visual essay by Hello Beautiful!

Thin Concrete Pavilion


The Experimental Pavilion explores the possibilities of using special high strength concrete. The concrete's strength allows for super-thin forms of its columns and walls. Of interest is that the pavilion was created monolithically in two pieces and craned in. Prefabricated concrete elements generally have to be stronger than cast-in-place pieces in order to withstand all the stresses of transport and delivery, making this pavilion's material that much more remarkable.

We love that it references Phillip Johnson, too. Via sub-studio design blog.

Pretty Pictures: Drafting #1

Tropolism TV: Ultimate Skyscraper


The National Geographic Channel is featuring One Bryant Park on its Man Made series. The episode airs Thursday, November 6, at 9PM ET/PT. It's a great mini-documentary on the building, and gives some great insights into how large-scale sustainable building is happening these days. What's particularly great is how articulate and passionate Richard Cook is about this way of building.

Shiny Metal Tower Joins Chelsea Wood Tower!


Our favorite wood building in New York City is about to get a neighbor! 245 Tenth Avenue is clad in (very) shiny, stamped metal panels. And surprise it's by friends from my alma mater, Della Valle Bernheimer.

More pictures after the jump, including one with Chelsea Wood Tower.

GPS Film


Picking up where we left off in last week's newsletter, we bring you GPS Film, a new cinematic concept that attempts to integrate traveling through the city with a cinematic, authored experience. The films sense your location with your GPS-enabled smartphone. So far only one film has been produced with the system (you have to travel downtown Singapore to experience in situ), but we think this is a type of film that we're going to see a lot of in the coming years. We are imagining films hooked to every nook and cranny of the city, and an infinite chain of films to walk through.

Finding Double Negative


Greg Allen does the homework and finds one of our favorite works of Land Art, Double Negative, using the GPS device in the car of his in-laws. The large yet simple cut in the earth, famously difficult to find in the era of cars without GPS and the before-time of non-internet, is now super easy to find! He also found it on Google Maps in a really great satellite photo of the work.

Imagine Coney: Now A Real Website


Ha ha, joke's on us. Here we thought MAS was just going to accept ideas for its Imagine Coney project through public forums and such. No, they were just hanging onto a wonderful website where you can click "Submit Idea" and it goes into their internetwork (text only, images need to be emailed in). Or, you can real-mail them something called a "CD". The website is really beautiful, too. Be sure to submit your stuff before November 12th.

PS if you still want to go rogue and send us your stuff too, we'll still publish the best ideas we receive.

Concrete Ammonite


In keeping with two of our favorite themes here at Tropolism (arctic residences and drawing) we direct your attention to Concrete Ammonite, the work of Lewis Wadsworth. Like a cross between John Hejduk and Lebbeus Woods, Lewis's work combines a densely layered architectural fantasia labyrinth (or is it many?) with densely layered narrative. What is powerful about it is the text is readable, like fiction, and it provides an expanded understanding of the images. Not only is a narrative about a labyrinth created, but the author at the same time talks about the process of drawing, and the blog itself becomes the architectural work, like an illustrated Borges.

Sound Mirrors


Between 1916 and the 1930s English military engineers built sound mirrors, listening devices that allowed the detection of early attack by air or sea craft. They are the forerunner of radar. We think they are powerful because they are reminders of how massive architectural interventions are (sometimes) replaced by massless electronic solutions.

Also as seen on anArchitecture.

Pretty Pictures: Zig Zag #1

1507744409_12.jpg 2744752543_d19a925d3f_o.jpg AE007a.jpg

Top to bottom

1.Casa Binimelis-Barahona by Polidura + Talhouk Arquitectos, photograph by Aryeh Kornfeld.

2.Armatures for a Fluid Landscape, photograph by Toshio Shibata.

3. Trutec Building by Barkow Leibinger Architects; photographer unknown.

Bureau Of Architects


The latest wave in social networking has finally come to architects with Bureau of Architects. It's a nifty network for everyone in the design sphere, but without the extraneous geegaws of The 'Book. What's particularly great about this micronetwork is that it turns out to be not so micro: the applications and feeds that are included are going to be stuffed full of images, competition dates, and news feeds before too long, making this a very useful meeting place for the architecture world.

Be our friend?

Tropolism Books: More Mobile: Portable Architecture for Today


Title: More Mobile: Portable Architecture for Today

Author: Jennifer Siegal

Publication Date: November 1, 2008

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

ISBN: 978-1-56898-758-3

The last few years have seen an explosion of explorations of the structures, armatures, tools, and systems that constitute a new nomadic living. The explorations chosen for this book range from smart fashion installations to surrealist fantasies to RVs for the West Elm set. But they all have one thing in common: they expertly explore what architecture can be in the wireless age. They suggests that transitional, temporary, and moveable placemakers are not merely appropriate for our digital lives, but they can even be comfortable. All of the projects here challenge what is expected of house and home, from the art installation tricked-out sleeping bags of Studio-Orta to Andrea Zittel's A-Z Wagon Station (pictured). They challenge conceptually what can be made into a home or public space, the way Archigram's work does. Yet many of them go far beyond being polemics of our time; some (like Zittel's work) strive to being useful, giving us entirely new architecture even as they strip most of the materials away.

This book can be purchased at Amazon.

House Within A House


I know sub-studio posted about this a few days ago, but I think it bears repeating. I have loved the Wohlfahrt-Laymann Residence by Meixner Schluter Wendt since we wrote about their spaceship Star Wars thing way back in April. In this very unique house addition, what looks like an existing ski chalet from central casting is completely enclosed in a new box, creating some great interior spaces with what used to be the exterior of the house. The sophisticated cut outs in the new box relate well to the interior layout, and some new sculptural additions to the existing house are also added, also on the interior of the new box. Got that? Check out their great diagrams and plans if you need to get up to speed.

Furniture Fridays: Nightwood In Brooklyn


Nightwood in Brooklyn is a shop that revives old chairs and recycles furniture scraps, all the while maintaining a clean look. But not too clean: the furniture keeps enough of its rough edges without getting too rustic on you. Our favorites are the Dusk Plank Dining Table and the Sunrise Chair (pictured). The shapes never get too modern, which means they rely almost entirely on the character of the individual scraps to push a design into new territory, meaning this is less the work of a designer and more the work of a curator/editor. Which is awesome.

Discovered through the always-fresh Remodelista.

Stair Porn


Stair Porn. The title (and design) of this blog says it all: it's about stairs of every kind, leaning toward the awesomely designed. The categories of stairs on the sidebar are going to turn this into a great architectural reference. It's run by the same people who do the brilliant Materialicious. Pictured is a stair by Gio Ponti with the comment "All we need now is for Sophia Loren to walk down those stairs."

Note to Stair Porn: include my West Village Duplex stair?

Next Generation House


One of our favorite architecture studios has recently posted about their Next Generation House. Sou Fujimoto Architects is the land of awesome houses, and the heavy-timber Jenga game that is this house is no different.

Tipped off by sub-studio design blog, where even more awesome pictures can be found.

Boulders and Color


Speaking of Boulders and Things We Just Love, we are in love with this graphic design idea by Sagmeister Inc. for the boulderesque Casa da Musica in Porto. Stefan Sagmeister says it best: “We failed to avoid using the building shape” said Sagmeister in yesterday's lecture at the design forum Vienna, "so we looked for a different approach". Instead a color calculator uses colors from a poster's image, or portraits of people whose name are on the business card, to generate the coloration of the logo. It's ever-changing, and a brilliant interpretation of the chameleon like shape of the concert hall.

Herzog & DeMeuron's Tate Modern Mountain


While we were intrigued with Tate Modern 2.1, revealed way back in 2006, the stacked box pyramid we think has since found better expression and program and site in their proposal for the Parisian mega-pyramid of residences, mostly because the Paris project is much larger, and so the box thing turns into a pyramid from far away. It looked too jumbled to be Tate 2.1.

We are much more excited with Tate Modern 2.2, a smoother pyramid that works better with the existing power station and neighborhood, without losing its crazy awesome loudness. Check out their site geometry image at the bottom of this page for how it was generated. It also keeps with today's boulder theme.

Zaha And Chanel Do Up Art


The Chanel Pavilion Of Contemporary Art, Seriously or whatever it's called gives you all of its formal secrets before you get it. It's swoopy. It's modular fiberglass. It's Chanel! It's hard to miss that on the outside, but the utopian aspirations are given a distinct flavor. There are creepy helpers scurrying around in their black coats and black ball caps: they only look like jackbooted fascists in a retro-sci-fi movie, even though they say they're just taking tickets. It's helpful to write about this project in three parts:

Architecture: Zaha designed a swoopy container. It's interesting, but the swoops get old fast, and the construction is still very Early-Swoop-Technology: some great fiberglass panel stuff but all the connections are held together by schmutz. And a few well placed screws where things didn't quite work out. All the ceilings are made with a terribly cheap looking stretched tent fabric material. Things that art containers need, like lighting, are relegated to black painted openings between stretch fabrics. Often the unpainted 2x4 wood blocking under the track lighting is visible. Gorgeous. But the ambition is incessant, which is why we love Zaha, and you have no choice but to accept it (otherwise just go find a rock in the park to sit on). Check out the excellent slideshow at Curbed.

Art: With few exceptions, highly derivative or too understated to stand against/work with The Container. For some reason they all have Chanel as their theme. It's meant to be a theme that ties them all together. It's not a very good idea. However there is a powerful slideshow by our favorite bondage photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, and some very disturbing photographs by David Levinthal. And a piece by Leandro Erlich called Le Trottoir (The Sidewalk) that one needs to experience for something like 50 minutes, not the 5 minutes they give you before you're shuttled away.

Narration: The Container cocoons you in many ways, notably by covering your ears with headsets and an MP3 player that you cannot touch without screwing everything up. They let you know. And so you are torn from your companions and given a decent soundtrack and narration by Jeanne Moreau (who we love). At first I thought it was Zaha. Easy mistake to make: the narration script is hilariously pretentious. The problem is that the art isn't really sequenced the way the continuous soundtrack and narration suggest, it's just a bunch of separate pieces (that vaguely relate to the space and Chanel, yes) and someone has put cinematic schmutz in the gaps between them. We applaud the idea of seeing what is mostly New Media Art this way, but it's light years behind interactive media as accessible as Call Of Duty 4. It's a way of seeing art that is under explored. The Container poses the problem, but the results are mixed.

Buildings On Video


0300 TV does what I was groping at with my post about that AIA site a few months back: simple video check ins on great buildings, some familiar, some not. With a minimum of interface. It's obviously a travelogue from someone based in Chile (today is Chile day at Tropolism) but we think it's the start of something great.

The site also contains videos on related topics, with interviews, art installations, and commentary about contemporary urban and media issues.

Gonzalo Mardones Viviani Arquitecto


Tropolism means looking for beauty wherever it exists. The office of Gonzalo Mardones Viviani Arquitecto in Santiago, Chile, seems to encapsulate this sensibility perfectly. While their work includes the usual stable of nice-Modern houses and small public works buildings, they also have some standout projects. The El Parque Neighborhood residential development turns what could have been a boring roofscape into a neighborhood-sized sculpture. The suburbs never looked so good.


Our favorite, however, is the powerful, understated Oratorio at Tierras Blancas, a sacred space defined by simple heavy timbers. The timbers are the barest mark of human intervention, allowing the existing hills that surround the space to act as a cathedral of nature.

AIA Makes Videos


In celebration of the American Institute of Architect's 150th Anniversary, they have launched Shape Of America, a video diary of American (presumably United States) buildings.

As of this writing, there are only seven buildings profiled. We like the assortment of off-the-beaten-path buildings (the upcoming video on 1963 Air Force Academy's Cadet Chapel by Walter A. Netsch) and the big name superstar buildings (at least for the FAIA set, like 1937's Taliesin West by Big Frank 1). Also, we love snapshots of old buildings in their current state, seeing what worked and didn't work in groundbreaking architecture. The video of Exeter Library shows just such snapshots, complete with cracked concrete and repointed bricks.

There are some quirks that read as crazy to this young internet user. The search function is buried in the lower right and clicking on View Entire Conversation leads one to...random long letters written by more FAIA members. It would have been much better if they'd just set up a channel on youtube and run an embedded blog. Also, the graphic design: what is up with those fat red gridlines they have insisted on using since the 1980's? Looks like a little less committee and a little more student intern control would have been in order, but all in all looks to be a good google-able resource once they get a critical mass posted.

Tropolism On TV


Tropolism got a little mention on's teeny featurette on architecture blogs.

Madison Square Pop-Up Park 2.0: Now With 100% More Boulders And Dirt!


This is a big week for Madison Square Pop-Up Park 2.0 as it evolves from traffic control diagram to interesting for-real Pop-Up Park. Now with 100% more boulders and dirt! The boulders have already become a favorite of people looking for that previously-unavailable shot from +7' elevation of the Flatiron Building. And people who just want a boulder to sit on. Think about it: outside of Central Park, where can you really do that in this town?

Also of interest: installation images of the sand-like granulated covering. They put down an adhesive, rake the sand over it, and leaf blower it into final place. It's like a raked Japanese garden done by the DOT. Can you tell we're in heaven about this whole thing?

The topsoil (pictured in front of a truck from the installers, NYC's own Town and Gardens), is for the dozens of huge planters that are also arrayed on the park. Pictures as always in our Picasa photo album on the project.

The Madison Square Waterfall


Overlooking our first instance of Pop-Up Park 2.0 is a building (yes yes it's 200 Fifth Avenue, stunning new luxury la la la all very important) being powerwashed, as it has been for several weeks now. Complete with blue tarp and scaffolding you can walk under. I pass under this temporary structure several times a day, and always feel a little of the spray as I pass under it. The tarp glows a bright blue, and to get by it you need to jump over a little gurgling river of runoff all around the block.

Just as Pop-Up Park 2.0 is an example of public space being claimed as serendipitous proto-park (TM) the powerwashing is an example of public space being claimed as serendipitous art. Because all the elements of an Olafur Eliasson installation are there. And if you don't get the blue tarp reference, I have included a picture of Your Inverted Veto, an installation at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (a gallery I designed) in 1998.

Farther down the rabbit hole, you will see my implicit (and so far silent) appreciation for Olafur's NYC Waterfalls. I wholeheartedly agree with those who say that the falls fail as objects, or that their water is not like a real waterfall, or that the New Yorkness of New York City overwhelms these constructions. In fact, I think that accurately describes whole segments of Olafur's installations: they are uninteresting objects, and their surroundings are far more interesting. But these descriptions wildly miss the point. As serendipitous effects in the city, or in nature, they are incredibly powerful. They invert the relationship between surroundings and work. In case this point is being debated as an intention, I offer the title of this work (which I also worked with Olafur on).

I have yet to see the waterfalls up close, and do not intend to "visit" them. Instead, I have intentionally seen them unexpectedly, accidentally, without intention. On the F train crossing the Manhattan Bridge at sunset (when two were visible at once); on the approach to LGA from IAD, over Brooklyn (when all four were visible); on a taxi also over the Manhattan Bridge (when I could only see one). They are the perfect art for the vehicles of transportation infrastructure: moving, pumping, flowing, spraying, pooling. And yes, a little inadequate if you crop the picture. They make more visible (and more poetic) the intricate dance of heavy transportation engineering. The sublime nature of New York City is turned up to 11.

The Madison Square Waterfall recreates this effect. This is the first positive test of the success of Olafur's NYC Waterfalls.

See the expanded ever-experimental Tropolism Picasa Pop-Up Park 2.0 album for more waterfall pics.

Pop-Up Park, 2.0


Is this Pop-Up Park 2.0?

Since we first coined the phrase way back in ancient times, May 2008, the term has entered public consciousness. Dlandstudio has begun to own the term. But the DOT may come after them: their reorganization of the sea of asphalt just west of Madison Square Park, the place where many a tourist has risked life and limb for that oh so amazing shot of the Flatiron Building, has gone way beyond new traffic lines and asphalt paint for bike lanes. They have added a sandy granulated covering to the areas colored beige in their reorganization diagrams..

In a sense, this is 2.0 of pop-up park. Use some cheap materials (asphalt paint, sand, and some traffic cones) to see what happens when you create a little public space out of traffic re-egineering. All that is needed now is about a hundred Bryant Park tables and chairs and we'll be seeing them digging the whole thing up as a major park addition in 2011.

Check out Tropolism's highly experimental Picasa album of our walkthrough of the unfinished Pop-Up Park 2.0.

Pop-Up Park, In Action!


The Brooklyn Bridge Pop-Up Park, the very same park where we coined the term "Pop-Up Park", is suddenly open! Just in time for Olafur's Waterfall Day 2008.


Like a pop-up store, the pop-up park builds brand awareness. Except in this case, it's more like public-space-useability awareness. And nothing says public space awesomeness than the bare bones of what's there now: Lawn, benches, some plants, and a great place to get summer eats. And, refreshingly, it's all low tech, yet modern. We mean this as a compliment: it's not some overwrought construction for PS1 Warmup (SHoP, nArchitects, and Work AC's entries being the exceptions, of course). It has the feeling of a summer deck the community put together, BYO Lawnchair.


Pictures from special correspondent Susannah Drake, founder of dlandstudio, designers of this episode of Pop-Up Park.

Tropolism Is MoPo's #9


We were happy and surprised to learn that Tropolism is #9 in the 2008 MoPo, the list of Most Popular architecture blogs in the world. Ah, the power of a great publicist. Kidding! Eikongraphia uses a bunch of internety measures to determine their list.

But it wasn't the fact that we coined the term pop-up park last week (a friend overheard people using that phrase on the Brooklyn Bridge two days later, after seeing it on television, after coming from us). Or our awesome book reviews. It's you, dear reader. You are the ones that truly make Tropolism great!

Tropolism Books: Minka: My Farmhouse In Japan


Title: Minka: My Farmhouse In Japan
Author: John Roderick

Publication Date: November 1, 2007

Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press

ISBN: 978-1-56898-731-6

John Roderick leaves his metier of journalism (he was an Associated Press correspondent in Asia for almost forty years) and enters the much trickier realm of architectural memoir with Minka: My Farmhouse In Japan. It is his experiences as an American journalist in post-war Japan who purchases a minka, reconstructs it, and makes new home out of it.

Click Continue Reading for the full review.

Flower Machine Continued


Pruned continues the thread about flower factories in Europe, starting with this stunning picture of tulip fields in the Netherlands.

Stadium Seat Mosaics


In yet another study in the sublime scale of stadiums, StrangeHarvest gives us dozens of shots surveying the world of stadium seating. As mosaic. We're always a fan of obsessive catalogs.

Notes On The Two Dozen List


In 2005 I fleshed out an idea I first proposed in 2004: that a slew of midsized residential buildings would be built, all designed by celebrity architects. And so the Two Dozen List was born.

The mid 2000's in New York City have seen a unique confluence of money, skyrocketing real estate prices, hyper-demand, and cheap credit. The competition between developers, combined with a rise in interest in architectural design by the general public, has led to the hiring of our beloved celebutantes as brand novelties to distinguish one development from another. The moment is now passing: credit is tight, leading to projects down the pipeline being shut off. While the competition for buyers will certainly continue, it is likely that high-priced talent, or at least the famous names, will not be invited to create design masterpieces quite as often.

The similar size, shape, and sites give us a unique opportunity to compare these talents, and ask some great questions. How powerful were these architects in the development process? How well did they redefine what is possible in this context? How many boundaries did they push? How did they approach, and solve, the great problems of the New York Skyscraper: the slab and the curtain wall?

I will post my personal version of this list this week. Tropolism will begin to review the projects on my list that have not been reviewed to date. In addition, guest writers will post their own lists, here and elsewhere. Finally, we invite you to submit your own entries for a reader's choice list, which will of course be published here. Enjoy!

Snee-osh Cabin


After seeing DIY houses by the dozen in all the architectural publications, it is easy to let them all kind of blur into one plywood-floored, artfully exposed CMU background.

Snapping us out of our ennui is the Snee-osh Cabin by Zero Plus Architects. With its minimially invasive structure and beautifully detailed wraparound glass, it's a prime example of the elegance one can get when you go that extra mile to marry a project to its site.

Via The Mid-Century Modernist.

Temporary Tower In France To Get Temporary Addition


In the unlikely event you do not read Archinect, we bring you this news. The Eiffel Tower, itself a temporary structure, is going to get a temporary addition to celebrate its 120th anniversary, designed by Parisian firm Serero Architects. We're not sure if this is clumsy irony or really, a really sophisticated absurdist play. What is undeniable is that the new temporary observation continues the bolt-together Industrial Age technology with 21st Century profiles to create a unique new tower. The French don't fool around.

Tipped off by io9.

Shelby Farms Park Winners Announced


Pruned points us to a sophisticated set of designs for Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee. We tend to see these as iterations in designs that started with Fresh Kills Park, made a big splash at Orange County Great Park, and have now continued to the Midwest/South. American landscape design is finally asking the big questions about the function of large parks in cities and suburbs, and we're happy to see the ideas keep flowing.

Passive Houses


Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture will be showing off their set of passive solar houses at the Hem & Villa housing fair in Malmö, Sweden this summer. The passive solar concept is simple (and ancient): massive walls store the heat of the sun which keeps the house warm, as well as using smartly placed windows to directly warm the house during the day. These strategies tend to work well in dry climates with large day/night temperature swings (like the American southwest, where thermal wall technology was used by Native Americans long ago).

The architects call their designs Passive Houses. Pictured is Villa Atrium, a donut-shaped building with a tree growing in the central courtyard. The ideal climates for these designs are not specified. What is remarkable about these is that not only do they use an ancient concept to create energy efficiency, they do it while creating modern, playful houses.

Maps Of Manhattan:


Maps Of Manhattan combines two of our obsessions: the representational power of maps and the density that is our home base. The Skyscraper Museum's Manhattan Timeformations remains one of our favorite online versions of this genre (and we will dare to date ourselves by reminding you that this project existed on paper/mylar long before it was put it into a computer).

So you might imagine our delight when we came across the online home for's physical map of Manhattan, locating all the public artworks on this fair island. What started out as (I think) an LMDC funded map to attract tourists to Lower Manhattan has blown up into an encyclopedic go-to for public art. Of course, the only way to improve upon it is to make it a searchable database, which it what gives it a place here at Tropolism.

Koolhaas Has Officially Lost It


Koolhaas and OMA have officially lost their marbles. One of them found its way into the new design for Dubai, as a Death Star like 44-story sphere floating on the water. This kind of lunacy we can respect. Mr. Ourousoff gives us the details.

Chicago Wavy Building Not Just Rendering Anymore


Over the weekend Daily Dose pointed us to the crazy-wavy Chicago building called Aqua, which, despite its so-so renderings, is turning out to be completely awesome in real-life rendering. Also known as reinforced concrete.

(If concrete is poured in Chicago, does anyone notice? Sorry, I didn't want you to think I'd mellowed out too much on Chicago. I've mellowed out just a little.)

The construction photos remind us of a love child between Harrison's swoopiness at NYC's Metropolitan Opera House and Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City. Complete with plinth holding the waviness above the city grid. The project was designed by Studio Gang Architects. Check out their website for more pictures, including a great inspiration picture of an eroded boulder and some more construction photos. This may be an example of the built work being better than its renderings.

Ceramic Wicker


From Roldan + Berengue, arqts. in Barcelona comes a very interesting assemblage inspired by the ultimate in architectural references: a Kurasawa film. Taking their cue from the opening scene of Kurasawa's 1985 Ran, where the main characters are seated in an outdoor room defined by a fabric wall, the architects have created a textile-textured wall using bent ceramic tile modules and irregularly shaped support vertical units. The project, particularly floorplans, bear the unmistakable fingerprints of another Catalan master we like. Not only that, the thing got built for this product fair.

Turning Bamboo Into Building Products


Core 77 has a great piece on turning bamboo into building products, including a follow-up piece here. Most of this isn't news to anyone who has taken an continuing education course on the topic, but it's a great overview nonetheless.

Zaha Continues to Rock Innsbruck


After Zaha's much trumped-up by kind of 'eh' ski lift thingy, she continues to rock out in Innsbruck, Austria (as one does) by doing a whole system full of stations. Out of concrete and swoopy white glass. Pictured. Yeah, just scroll down that link alone for pictured swoopy white glass goodness. And if that doesn't do it for you, check out the crazy light show from the grand opening of the system.

For our full coverage click Continue Reading.

1970 Pepsi Pavilion Blows Minds To This Day


Pictured is the Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka. Greg Allen says it best:

Holy freakin' crap, why has no one told me The Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka was an origami rendition of a geodesic dome; obscured in a giant mist cloud produced by an all-encompassing capillary net; surrounded by Robert Breer's motorized, minimalist pod sculptures; entered through an audio-responsive, 4-color laser show--yes, using actual, frickin' lasers-- and culminating in a 90-foot mirrored mylar dome, which hosted concerts, happenings, and some 2 million slightly disoriented Japanese visitors?

Geodesic; mist; 4-color laser show; mirrored mylar. After those words we don't even need to know the rest of the details.

Flower Machine


Via StrangeHarvest: pictures of flower factories. Happy Valentine's Mechanization Day!

SHoP Brick Undulation


SHoP designed yet another building that may be eligible for the ever-outdated two-dozen list, once it's built: 290 Mulberry Street. Curbed gives us an overview today on the building's highlights. We would also like to point out a couple of great images from a lecture announcement last summer (given by their "Director of Design Technology and Research", I kid you not); the undulation looks like it's made out of prefabricated brick panels. We are looking forward to seeing this one in cover.

Florescent Field


Pruned points us to an awesome installation by Richard Box, called Field. The project involves unwired florescent tubes arranged in a grid under high-voltage power lines. The EM field powers the lamps to an ambient glow. It's like a 00's reply to Walter De Maria's 1977 Lightning Field. Except Lightning Field for the LCD monitor generation.

PS1 Goes Agricultural, Finally


Work Architecture won this year's PS1 Warmup Series installation with their cardboard-tube urban farm. While the New York Times gives us some back story (heavy on the Barry Bergdoll, obviously the driving force behind the change of direction), we think that Pruned says it best:

Where sightseers once splashed about in silly algorithmic frotteurism, they will be treated this summer to an $85,000 community garden, whose “rural delights” will probably not go to supplement the nutritional needs of the disenfranchised but rather will go to make bloody marys and beer for architecture students.

Seriously folks, "silly algorithmic frotteurism" pretty much says a lot about a lot these days. That, and Pruned's brilliant comparison to Wheatfield by Agnes Denes.

We see this one as the successor to PS1 Warmup Series' last successful installation, the one in 2004 by nArchitects. The intervening years can now be forgotten, just as we forgot Lindy Roy's whatever install.

UN Studio's VilLA NM Destroyed By Fire


We start off the day with sadness; UN Studio's VilLA NM was destroyed by fire during the night of February 5th. The house was completed last year. Full story at Daily Dose.

Water Cube Beijing Opens!


The state-sponsored craziness that we wrote about two years ago is now open! And it looks just like the rendering! The Beijing Water Cube, the National Swimming Center constructed for the Olympic Games, next to a nearly complete Herzog & DeMeuron Bird's Nest Stadium. We think it's stunningly beautiful. Except we're not sure what's crazier, the interior or the exterior.

Via Daily Dose, who has more pictures and links.

Swoopy Buildings: Dubai Autodrome


For the swoopy building of the day, we propose HOK Sport's Dubai Autodrome. When we first saw this picture, we figured Zaha had slipped one through without us seeing. But indeed this is from 2004, and it's from HOK Sport, which undoubtedly means they hired staff from Zaha shortly after they received the commission.

One of the things we like about HOK Sport is that they don't get all high-minded about it. It's just crazy form, and in 50 years we'll still be able to love it. "The Marketing Building (also designed by HOK Sport) has been designed to create a feeling of motion and balance with the surrounding track and infrastructure." Which means we italicized all the buildings. This kind of simplicity, we can respect. We're tired of pure formalism masquerading as something else.

Via our new favorite website DTYBYWL.

Beautiful At Barnard


Recently the P/A Awards were announced, by whatever magazine is announcing them these days. Our enthusiasm for these awards faded not because of some nostalgia for the days of Progressive Architecture magazine. It's simply that the cutting edge of architecture has gone blog viral. By the time the print media gets to it, it's old news. The newest of the new gets chewed up and tested by the internets, and the increase in chaff is easily matched by the increase in voices talking about design.

The one highlight in this year's P/A award comes from old-fashioned great building design, from Weiss/Manfredi. It's their Barnard Nexus project, at Barnard College in Manhattan. It's not just a pretty rendering: the details of the glass curtain wall, mimicking the brick and terracotta of Barnard's and adjacent Columbia University's main building cladding, is sophisticated, beautiful, and yes, progressive.

Pretty Picture Thursday: LEGO Edition


Yes, that is the Sagrada Familia Cathedral by Gaudi...rendered in LEGO. From Piece of Peace exhibition in Shibuya.

More of these at DTYBYWL.

The South Pole Gets New Building


The South Pole got a new building. Replacing the 1975 geodesic dome at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, architects Ferraro Choi designed a low-impact building that does two things really well. The building is elevated and shaped so that it creates air movement that sweeps snow away from its underside, preventing the special Antarctic building hazard death-by-snow-drift. It also is supported on columns that can be extended, so that when the snow does drift the building simply raises up. There is an awesome flash animation of this process, created with what is undoubtedly the first version of PowerPoint.

The building includes amenities such as a hydroponic greenhouse and some recreational areas. While this high-tech structure sounds like paradise for escape-from-civilization freaks, please remember that its inhabitants are in the middle of nowhere, and are only allowed two showers a week. Don't take our word for it, you can check in on the station yourself with one of the many webcams (with weather updates!) out there (seriously, do we need more than one of these?).

Lego Anniversary


Geek Architecture News: at 1:58pm (timezone unknown) today, the LEGO brick celebrates its 50th anniversary. Via Slashdot.

Build Your Own Apple Store


We are specifications junkies. We admit it. See the recent book review. And we would never have posted about the city colors if they hadn't included the exact pantone numbers.

And so this article about how to build your own Apple store, over at Oobject, which includes exact specifications, was destined to excite us. Add it to the list.

Radical Cartography


To continue the thread of interesting mapping of data, we present a long-bookmarked favorite, Radical Cartography. The simple interface yields dozens of mapping exercises, from the data-filled to the unconventional. Our favorite: Area Codes.

City Colors


One of the things we like to celebrate is color. Certain design professions have more sophisticated approaches and dialogues about color than architects: interior designers and graphic designers, to name two. The latter category, in the person of Todd Falkowsky, has created a series of color strips for each of Canada's provincial and territorial capitals. The result is interesting, particularly the observation about how intuition informs the process. What we'd like to see is a whole color pallette, not just a test strip of three, for each urban area. Huge samples that would represent each city.

Via Brand Avenue.

Olafur's Tokyo Tiles


Olafur Eliasson is apparently conquering the world. From Archidose comes the news of an installation of around 7,000 platinum-glazed ceramic tiles in a courtyard of a house by Tadao Ando, in Tokyo. You already know of our love for golden legos; this just brings us one step closer to our dream.

The original article at Architectural Digest focuses more on the building, and has a good slideshow of the project.

Urban Age


We have long known about the conferences sponsored by Urban Age, but only recently did we discover their wonderful website. It's a handy repository of all the data generated do date from their conferences and research. Some of this work undoubtedly shows up in their new book (note to Phaidon: send us a review copy already), but it is irresistible to flip through it online.

Not only do they have pretty, if simple, comparisons of basic information of their key cities. They also have some extensive raw data from each city collected in both PDF and protected spreadsheet formats. Happy reading.

Every 15 Minutes Of Beauty


New York City's Standard Hotel, the gorgeous building going up in New York City's Meatpacking district, proudly straddling the High Line as it rises, now has a website to match the building's awesomeness. The construction photo updates every 15 minutes.

Via the ever-vigilant Curbed.

Buckminster Fuller Dome Destroyed


Greg Allen directs us to the destruction of the Union Tank Car Dome of 1958 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The dome was the first geodesic dome on an industrial scale, and was demolished without notice last November.

Or was it? Greg points out that the building had had the attention of some preservationists for about ten years, yet no one bought it, even when it was going for only $500,000. That's less than half of the median price of a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Greg's observations about what is missing from the process of saving important but not-yet-landmarked modernist structures are not to be missed.

Gerhard Richter's Cologne Cathedral Window


There have been many articles and images of Gehard Richter's design for the stained glass window in Cologne Cathedral since it was unveiled last August. Our favorite was pointed out by Greg Allen: it's by Ralf Stockmann.

Library Of Congress Images Goes Web 2.0


Long fans of the Library Of Congress image website (which has been around for 8 or 10 years, they were one of the first free online image banks), we are now excited to see them moving to the next phase of the interwebs by creating flickr albums. This department obviously has gotten a lot of money to play with the 'net. Good for us!

Many of the images do not carry copyright restrictions, such as the pictured This girl in a glass house is putting finishing touches on the bombardier nose section of a B-17F navy bomber, Long Beach, Calif., and they all include links back to the LOC website.

Olafur's Waterfalls Revealed


Pictures and coverage of Olafur's New York City Waterfalls were published by Bloomberg yesterday. Curbed tipped us off to this, and to a photo gallery of Olafur and the mayor doing official announcing stuff.

Our favorite part: that the waterfalls are not only powered by the river current, but they are supported by exposed scaffolding mimicking the kind used to build New York over the last century. Looks like we won't be traveling away from NYC this summer.

Eiseman's Columbus Convention Center Flooding


At first glance of this photograph we thought that an interior designer convention was marveling that the crazy-grid carpet from 1992 had not yet been replaced. It turns out that these are structural engineers inspecting a portion of Eisenman's Columbus Convention Center for structural damage after a big flood last week.

But seriously, Columbus folks. New carpet already.

The Circus Of Delirious Shopping Carts Part 3


Another long-lost and favorite meme of ours comes back through reader mail (keep those emails coming, folks!) in the form of some links to abandoned theme parks, many in Japan. Making the exploration of these ghost parks even more thrilling, beyond the Joel Sternfeld-like eeriness of the pictures themselves, is that they are collected on sites written in either German and/or Japanese, neither of which we read.

Our favorite is the Shiga Spiral, pictured. Happy exploring!

Observations On Unhelpful Architectural Writing


Architectural critics, like all art critics, are stuck between bald snap judgment and the extension of art history known as architectural history. It's a strange place to be, and the critics we admire tend to create new conversations about architecture in general, through their insightful opinions (IE Paul Goldberger) or their insightful riffing on architectural history (IE Robin Evans, RIP).

Click Continue Reading for the rest of the critique of the critics.

Tokyo Architecture In Pictures


If you are like us, with our love affair with Tokyo, and, like us, miss its special mix of stunning architecture that doubles as larger than life retail, you will appreciate these two flickr sets.

The first is by Ralf Dziminski and covers some of my favorite spots, including this corner on Omotesando, pictured above.

The second, larger set is by nouknouk and also captures the overlap of retail messiness and retail architecture.

Both pointed out by Jean Snow.

Mies Van Der Rohe's Service Station


Continuing our favorite topic of the month, another reader tips us off to another classic 20th century gas station by a famous architect: Mies Van Der Rohe's Esso gas station on Nun's Island from 1969.

We knew about this one, but were unable to find a photograph of it. Fortunately, zadcat from flickr has posted the photograph above. Extra bonus link provided by the zadcat: a survey of "ugly" gas stations in Montreal. You know where we stand on ugly (some of our favorite buildings are ugly!). And you know where we stand on Mies and drive-through culture (neon does wonders with all that glass!). So this is probably our favorite gas station ever. That is looks like the exterior is unmodified makes us love it even more, with that big awesome gas station sign out front.

Gas Station Design Wars Continue To Rage


In what has rapidly become our favorite new meme, yet another reader has directed our attention toward yet another beautiful gas station. This one appears to be actually functioning, and still gorgeous after 70 years, based on the photos in this great gallery. It's by Arne Jacobsen, in Copenhagen, and dates to 1937.

The Beautiful Gas Station, A Contender


A few months ago (which is like four entries ago) we linked to The Most Beautiful Gas Station of the world. Our tardy reading of Tropomail this weekend tipped us off to a contender for the title: a gas station by Jean Prouve, as installed at the Vitra headquarters (pictured). Tipped off by the photographer, Vigggo.

Art: Culture In The Age Of Supply And Demand


Sorry to be so tardy on this. Greg Allen gives us another insightful article on the effect of an Art World with lots of rich people buying up everything in sight. And he is searching for the art that is going to be around when the rich folks stick to investing in real estate.

And, he links to a huge and interesting PDF document from the Olafur Eliasson studio. Just in time for the holidays!

Tropolism Websites: Sorry, Out Of Gas


We usually don't link to websites from architects: our inbox is filled with them, and the navigation alone usually causes us to run the other way. This one got our attention though. The CCA has launched a companion website for their imaginative exhibition Sorry, Out Of Gas. With this exhibition, CCA has taken the world of architecture to Green 2.0: seeing energy crises and environmental concerns in a cultural and recent-historical context, as a way to shape the dialogue and practices of the present day.

The website interface is simple, and the information is presented as a series of slideshows. We think the touch of having the slide transitions look like real live slides flipping forward (in the days before digital slide programs) is particularly elegant. It's a way of visiting the exhibition that is effective, and saves you the trip to Montreal. If the installed exhibition is big documentary photos on a wall, I'd rather see it online anyway.

Also presented is a work that was found in the press kit: An Endangered Species, a booklet amusingly illustrated by Harriet Russell.

Nouvel Tower Renderings


We can't get enough of this design. And we stand by our statements after seeing the plethora of renderings at Dezeen.

Nouvel Redefines Towers In NYC


It's difficult to believe, but after Jean Nouvel's sensitive-yet-stunning 40 Mercer, his sparkly-yet-stunning 100 Eleventh Avenue, Jean Nouvel comes through with another groundbreaking design for Manhattan. This time it's for a mixed-use tower next to MoMA. The height will rival the Chrysler Building, and with its open lattice structural top, it may rival the old bird's iconic status as well.

Also of note is Ourousoff's article on the building, which calls attention to the most important issues the building addresses. How private developers are doing more daring architecture than MoMA itself commissioned only a few years back. How this will hopefully correct MoMA's craptacular gallery situation. How an architect can produce a design for a tower while playing with the essential elements of towers that up until now felt played out (the structural system, the curtainwall, the profile), yet all the while creating something new, of our time, and dazzlingly buildable.

Our favorite part is that the developer has chosen to build what others might consider unsellable floors: the penthouse apartment with a huge elevator/stair core. It is brilliantly described as "the pied-a-terre at the top of the Eiffel Tower from which Gustave Eiffel used to survey his handiwork below."

Preserving The Awesomeness That Is Richard Neutra


In today's New York Times, a happy preservation story about Richard Neutra's 1946 Kaufmann House. What is most intriguing is that this is a preservation project undertaken by a couple who just really like architecture. By "really like" we mean "obsessed to the point of doing an insane amount of research." And just so you know, this kind of obsession is something we respect. We hope they publish a book: We Preserved It, And So Can You!.

The Most Beautiful Gas Station In The World


Greg Allen does his thing and uncovers the most beautiful gas station in the world. And we have to agree. Which is saying a lot. We grew up in Ohio, where there are plenty of beautiful gas stations. In a 'Wal-Mart construction is sublime beauty when it's empty' kind of way.

The architect is Peter Celsing and it was built 1954-56.

The only competition would be one other gas station. We will take this moment to remind the world that Mies Van Der Rohe designed a gas station (scroll down), and we have forever been in love with it.

Shigeru Ban In Chelsea


Adding to an already impressive couple of blocks in West Chelsea, Manhattan, is Shigeru Ban's new design for The Metal Shutter Houses. That's the name for a condo with nine duplex apartments with jaw-dropping exterior features. Renderings are unveiled today in the New York Times. Simply amazing, and surely to rate high on the two-dozen list, whenever we get around to updating it with Nouvel's second apartment building, Herzog & DeMeuron's 40 Bond Street, and the like.

Spaceport News: Foster And Partners Design Unveiled


Someone thankfully advised Virgin Galactic to come to their senses after releasing their underwhelming concept ideas for a spaceport design: they held a design competition and hired Foster and Partners. The recently announced design, while being far from the Star Wars style Rebel Base we have always imagined, promises to be a thoughtful building prototype for an equally unique flying experience. This might just be the Saarinen TWA terminal for the Space Age.

Maya Lin Systematic Landscapes


Forgive us for being so slow on the ball on this; a travelling exhibition of Maya Lin's gorgeous new installations, Systematic Landscapes, opens at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis this week. Pictured from the show is Water Line, as captured by Jen S on flickr.

Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen Serpentine Gallery Pavilion


From Future Feeder:

0lll’s exhaustive photo diary of the Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion 2007 by Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen

Brilliant as ever.

World Building Projects


At, a collection of very tall building projects. Not a complete list, but worth checking out.

Zaha's Shiny Shard


A London correspondent tipped us off to something that is old news over there: Zaha Hadid won a competition for the London Architecture Foundation's new building. And redesigned it. We like the redesign better than the original project, probably because it's like a giant silver version of her gold lego project.

Prouve's Maison Tropicale Is In Queens


Prouve's Maison Tropicale was designed for the African climate, but for a little while, it has a new home in Queens, New York. And, it's for sale. The New York Times gives us the details on the restored house, as well as details on the other two surviving specimens. The house is open today to the public, and is located in Long Island City, on a plot just south of the Queensboro Bridge.

Update: After running over there today, I can report that the dates the house is open are May 17-June 5, 2007. No hours were posted. It was locked at 11am today.

And yes, we've been away for a while, celebrating our second anniversary.

Guggenheim 5th Avenue: Cracking


Yesterday's New York Times served up some technicolor imaging of Frank Lloyd Wright's cracking Guggenheim facade. For anyone that has seen a set of historic preservation documents, this kind of documentation is routine. However, the image from the times takes it to a whole new level of awesomeness.

Tropolism Buildings: Torre Cube


We've often expressed our admiration for Enric Miralles. Long overlooked in our praise has been his former partner, Carme Pinos. The early design brilliance of projects like the Igualada Cemetery are of equal credit to Enric Miralles and Carme Pinos. As a distant observer of their work, and as someone who knows people in their milieu, we surmise that Miralles had the surrealist imagination, and Pinos tended toward rhythmic ordering, modularity, and beautiful material connections. Miralles' work seemed to devolve into indulgent shapes (the Scottish Parliament's execution is a great example of this) without the regulating force of Pinos. Together, they were amazing.

Somehow we missed, until now, the Torre Cube in Guadalajara, Mexico (pictured). The project is an office building with natural ventilation. Offices are arranged in staggered prismatic volumes supported by three curved concrete cores. The atrium and openings between the volumes create a natural ventilation effect. In addition, there is a double skin to the building: the offices are enclosed by glass and are shaded by a sliding wood panel system. These panels can be manually moved to create optimum shading for different work environments and times of day/year.

And, it's beautiful as all get out. Carme, it's time to get a website already.

Tipped off by Via Arquitectura.

Abu Dhabi Update: Louvre Signs On


The Louvre is going franchise. For $520 million, Abu Dhabi has licensed the Louvre name for its previously-titled "classical museum". Read all about it in the New York Times today. While the article is full of details like art exchanges, price tags, and a cursory overview of the financial and political relationship between France and the United Arab Emirates, what really interests us is the new rendering of the underside of Nouvels' dome (pictured), previously reported on here. For us, the global branding of art, a result of the commoditization of art, is of little interest. We want that amazing building to be real.

Abu Dhabi Update Part 2: Zaha and Nouvel


This Abu Dhabi wonderland update we are showing off pictures of the models for the designs by Jean Nouvel (pictured) and Zaha Hadid.

Nouvel's scheme for a "classical museum" (possibly a branch of the Louvre) features a huge, flattened dome over an open-air arrangement of smaller buildings. It's like a village, shaded with a space dome. We think it's gorgeous.

Click Continue Reading to see a close-up of the Nouvel dome, and to experience the Zaha model goodness.

Abu Dhabi Update Part 1: Overview, Ando, and Gehry


A few weeks ago we mentioned a new design by Zaha Hadid for a planned arts supercomplex in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. A special UAE correspondant has provided us with photographs of the exhibition. We weren't prepared for the amount of detail and vigor that went into the models and design of each proposal, and for our correspondant's wonderful close-up photography.

Click Continue Reading for amazing pictures with the Tadao Ando and Frank Gehry proposals.

Graffiti Research Lab

dripsessions.jpgOne of the reasons we love Gordon Matta-Clark is that his presence in the art world is so unique. He did things to buildings that were disruptive, in a direct, physical way. He played with the very stability of structures, as well as the psychological stability of the interiors.

Graffiti Research Lab may seem more up Coolhunting's alley, but we were turned on when a fellow architect sent along the link to The Drip Sessions, which incorporates a lot of DIY technology, from paint bottles to high-power projectors, all in service of creating light graffiti on New York City buildings (pictured). This project is our favorite, because it is one of the most beautiful. It can be interpreted as an act of defacement, or enhancement, depending on your perspective. Perhaps the best part is that the video is like an instruction video. I want a drippy paint bottle too.

Some of the other projects are more guerilla, like the brilliant and politically charged Threat Advisory Tower. Although the guy leaning over the parapet freaked us out. Life/safety, yo, we have a license for a reason. We received a more unadultered thrill watching the Light Criticism project in action, when hoodie'd artists walk up to and tape up black masks over those stupid moving billboards that endlessly repeat the same ad for television shows, and in the process create a moving work of art.

Cardboard Monday Part 1: São Paolo


This morning our parent site Cool Hunting unleashes upon the world pictures of Daniela Thomas and Felipe Tassara Architecture at São Paulo Fashion Week. Their installations in the Bienale building by Oscar Neimeyer are entirely composed of white cardboard. The casual nature of the material offsets the coolness of Neimeyer's famous sculptural white concrete to create new spaces and functions inside the existing building.

For more cardboard love, see some more pictures at Moto-à-Porter.

For even more cardboard love, check back here later today.

The Shrinking Freedom Tower


We're a bit slow on the draw on this one, but we can't let the week end without pointing it out. Rafael Viñoly, one of the architects who worked under the THINK New York banner during the WTC competition, gave a lecture at 7WTC on January 18th describing how unnecessary the Freedom Tower is. The above diagram was copied from Gothamist, who also provides a complete description on the lecture.



BLDGBLOG points us to a gorgeous site hailing from London called StrangeHarvest. I like to think of it as an English cousin of BLDGBLOG, reflecting an appetite for constructed environments and their relationship to nature. Case in point: the post about astroturfing Texas Highway medians from the January 1971 issue of Texas Highways, whose current manifestation is This stuff keeps us warm at night.

Unique to StrangeHarvest are some original visual artworks. Our favorite: the highway collages.

New York City's 50 Best Webcams


I've always said that New York is the best place on earth to experience the internet. The city is mapped online, and vice-versa. The city's life is extended online, and stuff on the internet shapes the phycial form of the city. I said that in 1998, in an article that ANY rejected. (They probably saved my writing career). I always knew I was right, but I didn't really feel vindicated until today.

It is with great pleasure that we discovered, via the ever-vigilant Curbed, NewYorkology's list of New York's 50 Best Webcams. (Are there more than 50? Is there a site that has ALL of them?) For those of you interested in progress at the WTC site: three webcams will take you downtown, without all the hassle of the financial district. Want to take a jaunt up the Hudson River Park, except from your Powermac G4? Check out the 20 Hudson River Park cams. New York, here I come.

Skin + Bones: Fashion and Architecture at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles


Happy opening night crowds hovering around Greg Lynn’s bubble wall for the Slavin House.

When a colleague mentioned the title of the “Skin + Bones” exhibition to me a few months ago, I had to repress the impulse to vomit. It’s rare that I have such episodes without a heavy night of drinking, but the thought of pinning such an obvious title to such a tired topic evokes turmoil in even the most solid of stomachs.

Had I known that the exhibition would be so well produced, so perfectly in sync with the thesis of mixing fashion with architecture, I might have saved myself the gastronomic discontent. In fact, I think that even the most cynical of mind will find this show a delight to the eye, and a moderate mental work out to the mind. It’s certainly “theory-lite”, but it fulfills the need to simultaneously educate the public about something they tend to take for granted: Fashion + Architecture.

Click Continue Reading for the rest of the review.

Broken Chain: The Genes of the GenHome Exhibition


On a sunny afternoon in late November, I rolled over to the MAK Center at the Schindler House on Kings Road in order to make sense of GenHome - An exhibition of digerati-leaning architects who are engaged in “Genetic Modifications” of the Schindler House. The show was guest curated by Eran Neuman, Aaron Sprecher, and Chandler Ahrens of Open Source Architecture, and features work from both local and global practices such as Greg Lynn’s LA-based practice FORM, and Servo.

And that’s about all I could make of the content of the show.

Click Continue Reading for more.

Pretty Pictures Friday:


We love visiting modern architecture from places outside of our educational canon: Asia, Africa, South America, Canada, New Jersey. You know, the world outside of the USA and Western Europe. What a pleasure it was to receive an email about, a commercial gallery of Russian architecture in Moscow and St. Petersberg, spanning from the czars to now.

Being the modern architects we are, we of course went straight for the Constructivist and Brutalist categories for Moscow, and were delighted to find many buildings we've never heard of, and some modern classics we thought long-demolished. Winner in crazy Brutalist (but why we like Brutalism, obsessive expression in only concrete) is "Apartment building" (pictured), credited to A.Meerson, E.Podolskaya, M.Mostovoy, G.Klimenko, and dated 1978.

Specifier Magazine


This week is New Architectural Magazine Week at Tropolism. Didn't you hear?

First up is a great magazine out of Australia called Specifier. Its publication includes a lot of information on architectural building products, and relates them to projects worldwide. Kind of like Architectural Record, only not so half-assed. Specifier has only recently gone online, which is how we found out about it (thank goodness for our magazine-surfing intern). Our favorite: being able to read and see pictures of the current issue, like this article about the marvellous Metropol Parasol in Seville.

OMA Fun Palace In Beijing


The New York Times is nothing if not consistent. Another article on OMA/Rem Koolhaas? Send in Robin Pogrebin for more softball pitches. The article on the MoMA show about OMA's new buildings in Beijing does give us a sense of what to expect with the show, but as usual provides little illumination on the building beyond what the architects practiced to say about it. Apparently, when an architect says they are building a fun palace, you just put it in quotes and hope someone else gets the reference. If it's a reference.

Saarinen's TWA: Looking For Life


Preservationists have been holding their breath about Saarinen's TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport, dormant since 2001, ever since JetBlue announced they were building their own terminal really, really close to it. Without doing anything to it.

The New York Times reports that the Port Authority is soliciting development proposals for the building. The high notes: Saarinen's original design and details will be restored and preserved, and you can still walk through the space ship tubes to get to the Jet Blue terminal. The low notes: what, really, does one do at an empty terminal building in the middle of an airport forever clogged with traffic? And, as Frank Sanches of the Municipal Arts Society aptly points out, how will such a huge restoration project make this an attractive development? Questions abound.

Preservationists (and Saarinen lovers, like myself) can breath out, and breath in. And hold the breath a little longer.

Denari, Illuminated


The Flickering Field of Fluoroscape: Illuminated perspectives on Neil Denari.

On a culture-filled Sunday this past September 17th I tromped down to Downtown Los Angeles to take in several fantastic “Spectacles of Culture”. First, I visited the Banksy show, which was held in an out-moded industrial structure off of Santa Fe Blvd. in the heart of LA’s industrial district. Banksy, the merry prankster of the street-art world, jammed the warehouse with examples of his work, and an live elephant as well. I shall not comment on the show as it has already been done to death by the press and therefore can be summed up with the phrase “if you were there, you’d know what I’m talking about”.

The event was, however simply the primer for the next stop which was to take place at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). Click Continue Reading for the rest of my review and another picture.

High Waters In New York (And Elsewhere)


There are recent articles in several places about global warming (like last week's survey in The Economist) and all of them vaguely refer to the fact that a rise is ocean levels would be devastating to urban areas near water, like New York or London. Future Feeder points us to a great Google Maps mashup that describes, exactly, what your neck of the woods would look like with a little rise in ocean levels. Great for disaster fanatics and long-term real estate investors.

Daily Dose Double, Part 1: 40 Bond Street Mockup


Daily Dose has posted a couple of wonderful posts lately. First of all, the completely-unreported-by-New-York-blogs news that the Herzog and DeMeuron designed 40 Bond Street, here in Manhattan, had put up some kind of construction mockup of the glass trim. The speculation from the photographs is well-documented by DD. We add that the original press on this was for a "cast glass" exterior, not a curved float glass element; the mockup looks like the prismatic effect of cast glass is lost by having curved glass. Perhaps this was just a test of an option under consideration.

The Abandoned Pods, Part 2


A month ago we pointed out something posted by our friends at Tranism about some abandoned housing pods outside of Taipei. It was our response to the craze over some overhyped pods in a recent New York City loft conversion. We got several dozen emails asking us more. We asked for more. Tranism has delivered more; see their site for many more pictures, and the unusual (for western cultures) reason for its abandonment.

Toledo Glass Pavilion Opens


Last week saw the opening of the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art. Sanaa, the Japanese architectural firm led by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, designed the curved-glass-walled structure. It joins one of Frank Gehry's early lead-coated-copper-clad structures at the Museum. The New York Times' Nicolai Ouroussoff writes a great description of his tour of the building, which includes a moment of frisson from his visit to Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan.

Also of note are the slideshows posted by the Museum throughout the pavilion's construction. They are a wonderful document of the construction process for a Sanaa building.

Versailles In The Pacific


Pruned posts a long and fantastical article called Versailles In The Pacific. It begins with the announcement of a device called AMOEBA (Advanced Multiple Organized Experimental Basin, of course), which gives humankind the ability to write the letter "S" into the surface of water. We weren't astounded, until Pruned did a Thomas Edison on us and speculated about the practical applications of this discovery:

Of course, we cannot wait until a larger version of the AMOEBA gets built, something continental or oceanic in scale. And then rather than propagating saccharine heart shapes and smily faces or boring letters and numbers, one could inscribe the Gardens of Versailles in their entirety somewhere in the South Pacific.
Unfortunately, there is also the possibility of weaponizing AMOEBA waves in the same way one could easily turn any natural earth systems, e.g. earthquakes, into a national security threat. Because once the machine falls into the hands of al-Qaeda, they can then easily wipe Los Angeles off the map with a tsunami. In the shape of Versailles.

Check out Pruned for more tasty images. This is the stuff that gets us out of bed each morning.

Tate Modern Expands


Herzog & de Meuron have been selected to expand the very popular Tate Modern with what we like to think of as Tate2.

The image used by other websites to announce this project (the first image on the link above) looks undercooked and like a Liebeskind leftover. But the image we are posting today put us in an entirely different mind about the project. That it will be a crystalline, brutalist structure, worthy heir of the Crystal Chain (or Mies's early skyscrapers), iconic to the south (which is admittedly Tate Modern's least interesting side) yet a quiet background mountain from the Millenium Bridge approach from the north, over the Thames.

Also of interest is the planning for the project: an entirely new approach and entry sequence from the south; restructuring of a powerstation; the use of the expansion as a way to link the museum with the neighborhoods to the south; the new pedestrian links in a 'hood with some not-pedestrian-friendly roadways.

Also of interest is the rendering of the Philharmonic Hall project in Hamburg, scheduled for completion in 2009, which appeared in Tropolism in October of last year.

The Abandoned Pods


As a comparison to the faux pods being drooled over over by New York's real estate mavens, we draw to your attention super-cool actual pods, now abandoned, on the outskirts of Taipei. As our friends at Tranism note, "if this existed somewhere in United States and were to be redeveloped, it would probably a cost an arm and leg to live in". We'd buy one, even if they were in the Hamptons.

NOLA Competition Open To Voting!


Global Green (and the ever-present Brad Pitt) sponsored a competition to promote sustainable design in the rebuilding of New Orleans, and the six finalists selected are now posted. The competition finalists are open to voting; we encourage you to vote and be heard, particularly because all of the entries mix modern design, sustainable design, and vernacular practicality without resorting to overt historicist pastiche. They didn't invite any of the New Urbanistas to the jury.

Our favorites were split between the submission by Metrostudio (no URL) in New Orleans, pictured above, and an entry by Workshop APD. Click Continue Reading for more images and observations...

Frank Gehry Adds To West Chelsea Skins


We seem to remember telling you how much we love lists. Another addition to the List Of Interesting Curtain Wall Experiments In West Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City is the InterActiveCorp building Frank Gehry designed for Barry Diller's company, between 18th and 19th Streets on the West Side Highway.

The building continues Gehry's technical innovations in panelized buildings where each panel has a unique shape. However the building carries the innovation to a level that surpasses even the American Center in Paris, where each block of limestone carried a unique curvature, or to an extent the curved brick at Case Western. The IAC building's panels are curved glass curtain wall units; has he done this before?

Click Continue Reading for more observations and a picture show...

Pod Living, The Old School


In Manhattan's overheated and soon-to-be-totally-over celebrity real estate moment, apparently all that is required to sell some apartments is the inclusion of a few pieces of unique furniture in the renderings. Greg Allen writes a brilliant comparison of old skool pod living and the overhyped and underdesigned Jade by Jagger. Nuf said.

Rural Studio Develops $20,000 House


Rural Studio is at it again. Journalist Oliver Schwaner-Albright tips us off to an article he wrote for the FT weekend edition. The studio is designing a prototype for a house that will be built for $20,000, including labor and materials, so that they can take advantage of a federal loan for the rural poor. The idea is to build decent housing that a person living on public assistance could actually own -- a $20,000 mortgage is met with $64 monthly payments. Brilliant.

Tropolism Exhibitions: New Blood In the Water


Left to right: Throw a rock, hit an architect. Does anyone smell fire? The A+D's new home.

I’ve had the pleasure of surviving several parties associated with the recent AIA Convention here in Los Angeles last week, but none were so fascinating as the one held on Friday, June 9th in honor of the New Blood: Next Gen exhibition at the A+D (or Architecture + Design for those not in the know) Museum. I’d had a similar, far more intoxicated viewing of the show a week prior when it unveiled itself to L.A. The redux could not have been better.

For one thing the drinks at the bar were weak to the point of water (to keep those visiting architects from points afar under control no doubt), and to top that off, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was opening its David Hockney: Portraits show across the street. Perhaps it would have been fitting to have visited LACMA first and absorbed those famous works of celebs and lovers gone by. However, this was impossible. Due to lack of operating budget, or fear of being overrun by all of those rabid visiting architects, the museum closed early, ejecting everyone across Wilshire Blvd. and into the brightly illuminated A+D Museum.

Where they probably wished the drinks were stronger.

To read the rest of the review, click Continue Reading...

Pretty Pictures, Olafur Eliasson Edition


We here at Tropolism like Olafur Eliasson. Not just because we know and work with O, but because we are continually entranced by his projects. A sampling of some new work can be seen in the Flickr collection of O's last show at Galery Aedes in Berlin, posted by Republish, including a pattern we used in an unbuilt commission for a Chicago residence (pictured above).

Umschreibung At KPMG


In keeping with our theme of staircases this week, we thought we'd bring you one of the more beautiful stairs we've seen, ever. It's a sculpture/experience by Olafur Eliasson. We saw gorgeous digital prints of it in Tanya Bonakdar's private viewing room a couple of weeks ago. However, we weren't familiar with the actual object until today. It's a continuous loop of a are always moving on it, although sometimes up, sometimes down.

The stair is called Umschreibung (Rewriting), and was completed in 2004. It's in the courtyard of the global accounting firm KPMG in Munich. There are articles on it (all in German) at Arcguide and Artinfo24, with more pictures on Olafur's website.

Suspended Staircase


Tropolism means build beautiful details. In that vein, we were pleased to see this suspended wood staircase across a gorge in Traversinertobel, Switzerland. Engineer Jürg Conzett and his associate Rolf Bachofner solved the problem of connecting two different elevations over the gorge by creating a staircase. The staircase replaces a rope bridge for hikers that was wiped out by a rock slide.

Via We Make Money Not Art, where you'll also find links to construction photographs.

Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar

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In case you missed last Friday's opening, Olafur Eliasson is the inaugural installation at Tanya Bonakdar's expanded gallery on 21st Street, Chelsea, Manhattan, New York. The show is stunning, even by OE standards. My favorite piece is the compass piece. To describe any more would kill it.

For some interesting observations on Olafur's work, and Olafur as an author, read Greg Allen's What He Really Wants To Do Is Not Direct.

Landing Lights Park, Borough of Queens


I found this one in the Paper version of WIRED Magazine. The Borough of Queens is looking to redevelop Landing Lights Park, a half mile strip of land adjacent to LaGuardia Airport. Side stepping a more traditional approach, the Borough decided to import the park in the Second Life; the online community, and asked the residents to redesign it. The elements whether it be benches, swings, jogging paths will then be implemented into the physical park. What ever the result, this is a great experiment in how we can use technology to open public space decision making to more people.

Do Tanks,Democracy Island is the group, and place, organizing this and several other "County Fair" type meetings online in Second Life. Democracy Island takes on a kind of Science Fair format where presenters can set up booths and hold meetings. participants can then moved from one meeting or booth the the next.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

OMA At Serpentine Gallery


Given my time at Columbia University's graduate school in the middle 1990s, when buildings rendered as clouds were de rigueur, I tend to skip over news that OMAKoolhaas designed a bubble for the 2006 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. I skipped over Diller+Scofidio's cloud building, too.

However, the folks over at We Make Money Not Art have provided some very interesting precedents for this project, and it makes me think that a floating bubble in a London park would be rather wonderful.

The Circus of Delirious Shopping Carts, Part 2


Perhaps it was all my upbringing on post-structuralist fiction surrounding abandoned carnivals that is the source of this fascination. No matter, perhaps you share such a fascination, too! The fine folks at Mountain7 have a lovely abandoned-carnival slideshow to shroud you in some architectural ghosts, for a while.

Check out the rest of their blog for more mapping of the wastes of Hampshire.

Here There Be Monsters, Part 2


Our post about the new installation at Materials and Applications inspired a friend at Drowninginculture to send in his gorgeous snaps of the bamboo piece. Click "Continue Reading" so see a more Gilligans Island version (complete with LA hippie and child). Except Gilligans Isle with shopping across the street. And DJ booth in the water.

Revenge of the Skylines


Our previous entry about skylines appears pathetic and sad next to the dazzling photographs of unlabeled skylines at this site. Who knew St. Louis looked so lovely at night? Warning: the site is maddeningly slow. But the pictures are worth it.

In particular, this photograph of New York early morning, when the World Trade Towers were still standing. The colors are surreal, of course, but the composition of the image is nearly perfect. That building nestled perfectly between the north and south towers? The Woolworth Building. The rest of New York seems to have stood up for this photograph as well.

Here There Be Monsters


The latest installation at Materials and Applications had its formal reception this weekend. Although the Bamboo Bridge has been present for a week or two, this was the first time many people creaked their way across the bridge over a pool filled with bubbling fountains, and a rubber boot wearing D.J. The information at Materials & Applications promises that this monster will continue to grow, and evolve during the course of its residency. I am already impressed by the excellent use of zip ties to lash together the bamboo.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

Open-Source House


Given our penchant for Flickr these days, it will come as no surprise that we are intrigued by the Open Source House. It is the senior thesis of Rahm Rechtschaffen, a student in architecture at Catholic University in Washington DC. The project so far is a little rudimentary, but the premise is interesting:

Open Source House is an experimental architectural design project. The goal is to design a house while making the design process and design documents available to all potential users of the house for comment and contribution. The hope is that the project will produce design ideas that no individual contributor to the project could have produced on their own.

What's interesting is to see the difference between elements that architects design with ( form, scale, ornament/material) and the elements the open-source community will see as primary.

Tropolism Buildings: The De Young Museum of Art


The new de Young Museum of Art in San Francisco by Herzog and De Meuron is an experience of unfolding, revealing a range of unexpected and captivating spaces. The building cannot be understood by a single vantage point, but rather reveals itself as one moves through it. From a distance the de Young appears uniform wrapped in a continuous copper skin. The skin is punctured in an inconsistent texture, giving a clue to the complexity which lies within.


Read more, and see more, by clicking Continue Reading...

2 Columbus Circle Has A Tenant


You are not going to believe this, but 2 Columbus Circle, the much-argued-about renovation (or preservation! depending on who you ask) project designed by Allied Works, is happening because there is a tenant who bought the building and needs the space! We were stunned. But it appears in the New York Times yesterday (sorry, two drawing sets due this week) and includes a rendering of the lobby.

About that. After creating such a lovely exterior, we are wondering which intern or rendering staff person created the generic furniture, ceiling, and off-the-shelf glass doors for this project?

Special add-on bonus: Curbed links to the hilariously killed ShameCam. Robert AM Stern's new art deco building gets in the way. See? Contextualism always wins.

SANAA's Glass Pavilion For The Toledo Art Muesum


Way back in 1990, when I was an undergraduate at Washington University, trips home to Lima, Ohio were an architectural drag, from the point of view that there was little but amazing barns to look at. No modern architecture at all, and only a tiny bit of suburban detritus to study. I love barns, but there weren't that many of them.

However, two buildings within a couple hours' drive popped up. Contemporary buildings by famous architects whose work I was studying. First, The Wexner Center. Yes, the building isn't a great art space, or even a great critique of art space, and it certainly has enough pastiche and bad detailing and bad circulation for an entire oeuvre complete. But it rocked my college brain having such a wildly absurd failure in gray Christmas-break-time winter Ohio.

Second was Gehry's addition to the Toledo Art Museum, something between his later Bilbao-esque buildings with lead coated copper scales and his earlier 80s pomo-volumes-fracturing thing. Again, not so great building, but interesting having work by an architect I otherwise admire close by. It kind of fit Ohio to have average works by famous architects sitting semi-ignored in the middle of such a diffuse population.

SANAA is about to change that. The construction photos of their glass pavilion for the Toledo Art Museum, as well as the mockup (pictured above) of the curved glass walls show a building that is both quiet and revolutionary. In Ohio. I get it.

Detroit Demolition Disneyland


Land+Living has an extensive piece on Detroit Demolition Disneyland, an Anonymous group who has begun covering abandoned structures in gallons of orange paint. The great thing about the action taken on these buildings is that is allows us to see what we normally would not: that the status quo in Detroit is decay. It seems to me that this public action can bring so much more weight and meaning to the problems in Detroit, rather than constantly repeating the words Sprawl and Revitalization. Over the course of one night these Orange buildings become a place again, instead of a place that used to be. DDD's work reminds me of Group operating in Los Angeles under the name Heavy Trash. They also have an affinity for the color orange, and are helping us see what normally we would not.

I highly recommend checking out Google Earth for Detroit. The extent of urban decay visible from the sky is almost unbelievable.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

First Spaceport In The World To Be Crap-Ass


The New York Times spreads word about a second company to enter the race for space-luxury travel, as if it's something to celebrate. A spaceport will be built in the United Arab Emirates. This, of course, is to compete with the Virgin Galactic spaceport promised for Las Cruces, New Mexico. Unfortunately for humanity, and doubly so for those who will shuck out $200,000 for a ticket, they will be flying out of the most crap-ass ground-based aeronautical terminals ever conceived. Yes, even worse than the sub-sub-sub-orbital airports FRA or MDW.

Click the link below to read about the particular grossness of each spaceport...

Hand Up


Treehugger has posted an article about this project by Elizabeth Demar called the "Hand Up Project". Demar, with the help of a paleontologist, a mechanical engineer, Auto-cad, and a laser cutter has created a small plastic shell for hermit crabs she claims is based on a design by Guiseppe Terragani. The article raises a head spinning array of questions about the designers interaction with the environment planned or otherwise, and the environments ability to adapt. Do we really need to be building tiny shells for Hermit crabs? Maybe not but Rapid Prototype, Prefab Mobile Housing for other species has got to be the next big thing if you ask me; it's got too many buzz words to pass up.

Cabinet magazine did a more in depth article a few years back.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.



If you are still attached to your computer tonight at 7:00 PST, click over to SCI-arc live. SCI_arc's lecture series is now being broadcast in real time over the web every week. SCI_arc's lectures run a wide swath of topics, and Tonight's lecturer Taft Green is no exception. A Los Angeles based sculptor recently featured in the fantastic Thing exhibition @ UCLA's Hammer museum. Taft's work is like cartography on silly putty.

I tuned in to the lecture last week and was impressed with the quality of sound and image, it's almost better than being there live. Special bonus for those of you who start at 7:00 sharp; Eric Owen Moss typically gives a baffling epic introduction occasionally focusing on the guest lecturer.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

OMA OMG: Kentucky Edition


The Office for Metropolitan Architecture is coming full circle with its Museum Plaza skyscraper in Louisville, Kentucky. You can read the local news report, some fascinating OMA archive recycleing analysis, and a link to some great process models and a video.

As usual for OMA, the building is a brilliant organization of a complex program, which ends up as an unorthodox form. Yet there's what appears to be a huge plinth/plaza in the project, and it isn't clear what the edges are like. Has OMA a brilliant solution to the plinth, too? The one part of the video that gives us a little urban chill is the one that says "Connect To Context", and a couple of stair towers appear. Uh, we tried that in the 60s and it didn't work: elevated plazas not continuous with the street level get no foot traffic. Perhaps the reality of OMA's plinth just doesn't show up on the video. We'll be looking for more.

Processing (Beta) Exhibitions


From the 'Don't Fully Get It But Your Under-25-Y.O. Readers Totally Will' Department: a basic programming language called Processing, created to aid in visual representations of information.

It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool. Processing is developed by artists and designers as an alternative to proprietary software tools in the same domain.

Of interest to the editorial staff here at Tropolism, and following our (totally pre-planned) theme of the week, is the open-source nature of this project. And, the architectural aspirations of many of the projects on the stunning Exhibitions page, with its extra-add-on-bonus-treasure-trove sidebar with even more art projects. Our favorite featured artist is the trippy and awe-inspiring Flight Patterns project by Aaron Koblin.

The Wordless Appearance, Part 2


Tropolism is happy to announce its own Flickr pool. This is a forum for Tropolism readers to share their corners of the city. The pool is public, so simply click "Join This Group" on this page, after setting up your Flickr account. I advise you to set up your account today; Friday's surprise announcement will involve this archive of photographs. Special bonus: the photograph above, our launch photograph, is posted and annotated by your editor.

Another Gold Scrim

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Continuing Tropolism's theme of, er, shiny gold buildings: 8 woningen Kettingstraat in The Hague, by the Dutch architecture office Archipelontwerpers. A shimmery, totally-doing-the-Gehry-thang scrim at a revitalized section of the historic urban fabric. What is of more interest to us, however, is the rest of the project: behind eight historical restored facades are eight modern houses. We love this kind of hybrid.

Via we make money not art.

Friday: Architectural Photography Day


Yesterday we elided over a gem of a database of freely accessible architectural photography called Galinsky. It is not unlike the Japanese one we scouted last year. Freely accessible architectural photography: truly open-source architectural experience. It's music to our eyes.

But what really turns us on is the snapshot nature of the photographs. Buildings I've seen a thousand times show up differently here. Buildings I've seen the same photographs over and over occur differently, too, because the pictures are not professionally shot, and are often of things architects would be interested in: detail.

Toyo Ito's Structural Awesomeness


The good folks at Architechnophilia have reported on yet another Zaha Hadid design that did not win a high profile international competition. Until she does another gold-brick-lego building, we're over reporting that stuff.

Of interest to us was the actual winner of the competition: Toyo Ito. Ever since his Mediatheque building in Sendai, with its airy structural tube framework, we've been thinking about how to hold up our own structures in more innovative ways. His office cranked out yet another design, this time for the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House. We're not sure what all the blobby forms do, because the house translator is still on vacation. However, it looks like another fantastic, yet buildable, structure.

The View From Above


If you know how to use a computer and log on to the World Wide Internets, you've seen the series by Olivo Barbieri called "Site Specific". Metropolis publishes, and we blog.

But we cannot pass this up. For anyone who is accustomed to seeing the world as bits of balsa wood and gobs of plaster these photos have a haunting yet familiar feel. Metropolis claims that they are real, but I still have my doubts. Check out the Santa Monica pier, it's uncanny.

Now that you're excited: here's a link on how to build your own tilt-shift-lens from DigiHack. Tropolism means why buy art when you can make it yourself?

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

Draw Something


Open-source computer-generated drawing program from artist Rob Myers. It's only a matter of time before someone turns this into a plug-in for SketchUp, or AutoCad. Click 'continue reading' to see Tropolism's first non-authored drawing.

Wood Clad Frenzy In San Francisco


Despite the complaining we read on other websites, we here at Tropolism say "Tropolism means imitation is the highest form of flattery." In this case it is both the entry we are linking to and the content of that entry (sorry to go meta on you). The entry: our entry about a new Manhattan residential building clad in wood has inspired Treough Blog to tell us about a San Francisco residential building clad in wood, too! The building: while it's difficult to see the two as inspiring each other, since they were probably designed around the same time to zero publicity, we are unable to refrain commenting on the West Coast entry. The comment: read what Treough wrote.

The New Real City, Future Architects Edition

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I went to SCI_ARC's Thesis presentations this weekend.

It appears that Maya-, Nurbs-, and Script-based form making have established a strong place in the visual language of the school. The majority of the work has a quietness, a demur sexiness. In contrast to the explosion of splines and reflections it was a few years ago, to softly lit, smoke like models and renderings. The evolution and advancement of the work in this specific area is interesting, but it has sapped much of the chaotic energy that Thesis at SCI_ARC feeds from. Selected works will be on exhibit in the SCI_ARC Gallery JAN 20th -29th.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

The New Real City


Google is already such a wonderful companion to The City. We are now able to amble about town unprepared and google stuff on our mobile devices whenever we need to know something about where we'd like to go. In this sense, the best place to have access to the net is in The City: the density of information makes available the density of people. And back again. The drawing program Sketchup has added another layer to this density: the Google Earth plug-in, enabling designers the option of exporting their model into Google Earth, so they can view their project in context. As Information Lab mentions, the possibilities extend far beyond Arch Design 200 studios putting their models into site context for the first time: more immediate inhabitations of the real/information City, like locative gaming, will be affected.

This kind of thing is what excites us about technology, and its affect on architectural practice, because the realm of architectural experience is opened up to other fields. Gaming as a way to experience architecture, for instance. It makes studio professors like Evan Douglas, who was at Columbia U when I was (and who I like), pursuing pure computer-only forms, seem really backwards and flat in its future-sounding rhetoric:

"As we enter through this new phase of morphogenetic and technological expansion we unleash a range of material and programmatic opportunity capable of altering the very destiny of architecture."

How did he come to this conclusion? What facts support this claim? What, exactly, is the programmatic and material opportunity? It just looks like wavy walls and floors to me (check out the's just a wall-hung artwork there). It is very apparent to me how the SketchUp Google Earth Plugin can possibly affect our practice, and how we use and experience the resulting architecture. The morphogenic stuff, not so much (the images are beyond cool, however). But we're open to it: Tropolism means we are ready to be convinced!

Water Cube: Beijing


Wacky in a way only state-sponsored architecture can be is the National Swimming Center in Beijing, going up right next to another of H&DM's stadiums (no, not this one). The center is enclosed by what appears to be a wall whose structure is an irregular spaceframe (made to resemble the cellular pattern of soap bubbles) and is clad in what appears to be a frosted or patterened glass. All of this from a wonderful photo gallery at Structurae. The building was conceived by Australian-based PTW Architects. Structural design by Arup, of course.

Tipped off by We Make Money, Not Art.

Interstate 10 Over Lake Pontchartrain: Almost There


We here at Tropolism loves us some highways. Engineered beauty! So it's with great delight, yet without much surprise, that we discovered our first news item of the day: the New York Times reporting that the repairs to the causewaaaay for Interstate 10, over Lake Pontchartrain, are nearly complete. It's simplistic to believe that rebuilding neighborhoods could be this easy, because roads are engineered projects, and they have a large and efficient impact the economy; rebuilding 50,000 privately and separately owned residences, each with individual needs and character, is a completely different matter. But what if we could rebuild, say, 25% of the homes like we rebuilt I-10?

Tropolism Goes Mapping, 2


Tropolism's editorial staff is travelling again (DTW to EWR, sorry, no update on the hole at IAD). We would like to invite you, again, to participate in our community map over at Frappr. Enjoy!

Map Archives View The World As A Diagonal


We admit our addictions and obsessions. We love diagonals. Give us something architectural with a tetrahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron, or pentagram in it, and we're yours. Future Feeder heard our silent cry and points us to a map archive that will keep us in business for many years.

The Holiday Pit


Tropolism will be posting here and there for the next few days. We are travelling. Some of the places have no WiFi, and some have something called "dial-up", which we've totally never heard of. First stop: Dulles airport, where, at 7.30am yesterday morning, I was greeted with this lovely vision: a pit full of structure, digging around Saarinen's useless main terminal. My favorite part: the scaffold-like columns holding up the little building in the foreground. Tableaus like this remind us that Tropolism means we can do anything, if we put our minds to it. And, that architecture can come first, and we can figure out how to use it later.

Playing With Blocks


When we were little, we played almost exclusively with Legos. In fact, our best childhood fantasy was that we could construct the whole world out of a perfect and infinitely variable system of interlocking, and brightly colored, blocks. Go figure. Now, we must settle for java-based "psycho-social building experiences". But we'll manage.

Via Future Feeder.

Folksongs For The Fivepoints


Continuing our theme of ways people map the city, we discovered, through BoingBoing, the Folksongs for the Fivepoints project. You can remix the sample sounds of the Lower East Side and create your own folk song. A glorious noise.

Push-Button Architecture


Speaking of "let's start a prefabricated housing company now!", Adam Kalkin is back. He's still got his pervy edge, this time with his how-the-hell-did-he-fund-this (i know the answer to this question, otherwise i wouldn't ask it) prefabricated house company. Okay, I've made fun of his company. The Push-Button House is beautiful. Useless and marketed only to the super-rich collector of architecture, but beautiful.

Christmas Humor, New Orleans Style

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Tropolism means having a sense of humor. It means also a sense of civic pride. One of the reasons I'm so attached to NOLA is that its citizens often combine these two in a way which is effortless, and makes sense. Not unlike New Yorkers, although the character of our satire has a different flavor.

Above and after the jump: exclusive photographs from special architect correspondant Tatiana, of the annual and beloved Christmas toy train display at Lakeside Mall in Metairie. The talent of Frank Evans, an obsessive railroad-toy display designer, comes through with spraypainted X's on the houses, collapsed roofs, and a comment on the evacuated Broussard Pump Station #1. Read all about it in today's Times-Picayune, tipped off by our friend and diligent NOLA describer, Sturtle. You'll note that the people interviewed all had an appreciation of the depth of humor, the civic pride, and the craftsmanship that went into the display. The perfect architectural moment.

And, more pictures after the jump.

Tropolism Nominated for World's Best Urban Architecture Blog


Dear Readers: Thank you for nominating Tropolism for "World's Best Urban Architecture Blog" over at Gridskipper. We are flattered, particularly in such esteemed company. And for those of you who would like to see us make it to the voting round, just post a comment to their page saying so. We'll love you forever.

The Banquet Hall


We began our Thanksgiving break a tad early, so we thought we'd sign off this afternoon with a site you can dig your teeth into. It's called Abandoned Japanese Buildings (we made that up, the fact checker/translator totally slipped out at noon today). The site is about abandoned Japanese buildings, and include gorgeous walk-throughs on how the photographer got in. No translation necessary. Thank you for making Tropolism a success, and enjoy your feast!

Via swissmiss via veer.

Update: Jean Snow points out that the site's name translates to "Haikyo Deflation Spiral".

SAILS: Self-Assembling Itelligent Lighter-Than-Air Structures


This just in from the ever-vigilant Yuri Gitman comes word of The Mascarillons. They are...well...they are this:

"The Mascarillons are the first rigid aerobots developed for the [ SAILS ] project. They are flying cubic automata able to develop collective behaviors and assemblages through swarm-intelligence protocols."

Either this is the coolest thing ever, or expect a visitor from the future attempting to destroy the project before it learns enough to take over. I've a parallel interest in these structures, stemming from another source, and so I was interested to check out the origins section, combining nerdy technical ideas and architectural fantasia.

Pretty Pictures, Daily

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To compliment the wordlessness of architecture, this Japanese building photo blog gives us buildings familiar and not, with lots of gorgeous new views. We love to look.

Via DailyDose

2 Columbus Circle Camera


2 Columbus Circle now has its own webcam. Except they're trying to create shame. Of course, I see it as a wonderfully useful tool to check the progress on a great renovation, so it just goes to show that public protest works both ways: to reinforce arguments on both sides. Here's a snippet of a hugely persuasive argument from the people-without-an-alternative-solution:

"Welcome to the 2 Columbus Circle SHAME CAM, a live webstream keeping a round-the-clock eye on this world-famous, imminently endangered building designed by Edward Durell Stone and completed in 1964."

Useless adjectives abound. This side of a run-on. No thought. Save it all!

Via Curbed.

Software for Buildings and Food


Capping off our Virtual Reality week, we bring you something found through the folks at We Make Money Not Art through Interactive Architecture Dot Org (the last title makes us shudder, too, but the website is interesting). They both note Arch-OS, a workshop/research group devoted to developing software for buildings. After sidestepping the jargon (cybrids, anyone?) it appears as if they are working from systems running the gamut from mundane, like energy management and data systems, to absurd, like the Random Elevator Button Project.

WTC Memorial Chat


Peter Walker, the landscape architect working with Michael Arad on the World Trade Center Memorial, will chat live with visitors to website next Tuesday, November 8th at 12pm EST.

Tipped off by the evergreen Pruned. We're with them: where's Arad?

Tropolism Goes Mapping


Tropolism has set up a Frappr map. Now's your chance to build a visual display of our little urban world! All you have to do is put yourself on our map! I just did it, it takes about 15 seconds. What does our online city look like?

Second Life Skyscraper


We don't believe in virtual reality. Tropolism means it's all just real. That belief has wonderfully not impeded virtual worlds from springing forth, and virtual real estate enough to keep a thousand Curbeds up and running. The folks at Rocketboom have interviewed (and toured) the first citizen of Second Life to build a skyscraper. And what a sky it scrapes! You'll be happy to note he did so without the aid of any computer design tools.

I've always theorized that architectural aspirations exist in all of us. This is appropriate: we all inhabit spaces that were designed or built by others, and so it it only natural we would have opinions about them. In Second Life, you can create your own space. One skyscraper at a time, if you have the patience for it.

Pretty Lights at 55 Water Street, Part 2


Jim Conti let us behind the Beacon (I so did not type that) a bit.

Click for many more pictures and the inside story...

Floating Homes in The Netherlands: The Next Hamptons


We are all over the floating home in the Netherlands thing. In fact, we like anything that floats on the water. Which is why we read this very lovingly.

Think of us as people who leak a news story before the Times does all its factchecking. We particularly adore the slideshow, with the living room that opens onto water. I'd love to dive outta that.

Pretty Lights at 55 Water Street, Part 1


Tropolism isn't all about hard-hitting journalism. We like pretty lights as much as the next blogger. We also like talking to our friends. This is why when Jim Conti, the lighting designer for 55 Water Street, told us that there were different programs to the LED lights at The Beacon, we asked him to tell us more.

Part one after the jump...

Cool Stuff That People Send Me


One of the Joys of Blogging is having folk from the World Wide Interweb posting correspondance that directs me hither, yon, and further yon.

For instance, this gorgeous panorama of Manhattan, from our favorite tall building.

Or this, a temporary habitat that, while unweildy and completely inconvenient, would work if you had a porter to set it up for you while you unfolded your 17" Powerbook.

Or this, yet another site devoted to mapping our world through Google.

PS all of the above came from Artist/Inventor/Toy Dissector Yuri Gitman, so y'alls are behind a bit. Do write!

More Floating Houses From North Central Europe

0,1020,522143,00.jpg More floating houses from the world of North Central Europe. This time, a Dutch solution to a flooding problem. Really, who else would have achieved this, with built example to boot? No concept models here, these are real.

Dig deeper in the article, and you'll see some pretty hideous (aka Dutch PoMo) house designs. However, it's like having a floating house off the coast of Sayville, or in the marshes of Metarie, so we're really looking at the urban concept here. What if all the homes in the 9th Ward had been able to float off their pilings?

Thanks ALD, through Archinect.

Floating Homes


Tropolism isn't sure what to make of these.

They're models, plopped on the bay in Hamburg, taken with a close-up lens. Marketed as real. Hey, if Sciame can do it, why not the German prefabricated floating home company, or Floating Homes?

Floating Homes claims their first prototypes will be floating "at the 'City Sport Hafen' near the Hamburg Hafencity." More after you click on "continue reading".

More Action


Technology extends the story. Satellite pictures taken from NOAA are remixed with Goole Earth, and voila, useful information.

In the afterward for The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell discusses the tendency for our information-laden lives to require word-of-mouth in order to give us information we trust. Information from friends.

Tropolism Online: Nolli y2k+5


We like to think of sites like Tropolism as what the Nolli Plan of Rome of 1748 would have been if they had IEEE 802.11g: as a way to look at the city from a lot of different angles, a way of taking apart the line between public and private, a way to discover continuities, a way to map every, every hidden corner.

Check back in a couple of years to see how we're doing.

In the mean time, the people at the U of Oregon have put together a more literal formulation: satellite images plus scan of Nolli plan equals eNolli! It is an overlarge bibliography with a bunch of essays and some incredibly overwrought and underimportant overlays. Tiber River really needs its own layer? But it's still fun. I never get tired of looking at the Atlante de Roma in my drawing room, and now I can do it online, with the Nolli plan always hovering in a transluscent background layer, like it always is. This is the point where I would giggle, if you were here.

The Green House

For those of us who want Green Architecture to not look like a hemp basket.

Friday New York Mapping

It's the day for New York mapping! Intersection of New York Tropolism with Interwebism!

NYCBloggers brilliantly maps us by our subway stop. They've even made special accomodations for the Borough With No Subway System (no, not New Jersey). Yet another reason not to move to Hoboken!

Nature, and Second Nature

After months of whois searches, a new name emerges, because as you know Second Nature abhors a vacuum.

The URL thicket that is what we call the World Wide Interweb is not as overgrown as you might be led to believe, were you doing my job.

And so we are getting a new name. Stay tuned.

The Secret Star of MOMA Architecture

Remember those two shows I saw at MoMA a couple of weeks ago? I nearly forgot to tell you: the secret star was someone I've seen around, but whose name was always in the background. The shop's work was in more than one exhibition. Huge piles of artifacts were by this studio. I'm speaking of the model craftspeople at Kennedy Fabrications. (Warning: Shockwave site approaching. Also not very up-to-date). They built the gorgeous High Line model I pictured, as well as models in the Groundswell show.

Of note is their command of many techniques. Architectural modelling is much like drawing: it requires mastery of the skill of matching technique to underlying idea. Some models were lit, some were photorealistic, some were super-abstract. But they were all large works of art that took a great deal of energy and coordination to execute.

Modelmakers: contractors of the miniature.

Satellite Architecture and Art

In honor of the fledgling Google Sightseeing, I humbly submit images of interest to architects. There are some wonderful additions over at Daily Dose, too.

Chicago buildings by Mies (a partial list):

The Farnsworth House


Lake Shore Drive Apartments

The IBM building, Mies' last project (with Marina City Towers next door, of course, by Paul Goldberger)

Chicago Federal Center and Post Office (in shadow)

Aalto's MIT dormatory

Corbusier's Carpenter Center

Spiral Jetty

More to come.