In September 1958, Bank of America began an experiment—one that would have far reaching effects on our lives and on the economy. After careful consideration, they decided to conduct this experiment in Fresno, California. The presumption was that no one was paying much attention to Fresno, so if the plan failed, it wouldn’t get a lot of media attention.
Bank of America sent out 60,000 pieces of mail to people in Fresno. Inside was a little plastic object that has become in equal parts emblematic of opportunity, convenience, and debt.
A collection of resources exploring the physical design of freeway and highway infrastructure — from the shapes of interchanges to the cinderblock patterns on freeway sound walls. It’s about the way freeways look, the way they appear (or don’t) to the driver and passenger, how they use the land, and how their concrete forms have been sculpted and grafted onto the landscape.
How roadside noise barriers are designed to absorb sound and evade attention
The freeway sound wall may be as overlooked as it is ubiquitous. Lining interstates and highways and freeways across the United States, these concrete and cinderblock structures are a blur in the peripheral vision of our automotive world.
This is partially by design: sound walls serve the utilitarian role of blocking and containing the tremendous noise generated by high speed transportation, and they’re built to do their job without distracting the people driving past in thousand-pound vehicles at more than 100 feet per second.
Calling for better designed telecommunications infrastructure.
The mobile phone in your pocket or purse is part of a vast communications system that is mostly beyond our vision, much like the internet. But as journalist Andrew Blum explains in his new book Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, the bits and blogs of the seemingly wireless internet still travel to us on hard infrastructure and get stored in physical places. Similarly, the voices and texts and data that we regularly zip back and forth on our cell phones travel as radio waves we can't see and are connected through fiber optic cables buried beneath our feet.
Interloop—Architecture saw an opportunity to rework the much-begrudged object required in every building.
The exit sign—humble, omnipresent, code-mandated—is begrudged by designers. Perched above doors and in the nooks of long corridors, its fluorescent letters glow, gleefully indifferent to any adjacent color palettes, finishes, and details. Though essential in emergency situations, the exit sign is often the bane of architecture practitioners.
Michael K Chen Architecture turned to science to perfect the design of a green wall in Manhattan.
Though green walls sound nice in theory, they can be a mess in practice. The mounting armatures often are complicated and costly to build; vertical irrigation easily becomes uncalibrated; and plants receiving uneven water levels or sun exposure quickly die out.
BART cars are about to get their first real overhaul since the system launched in 1972.
On September 11, 1972, crowds lined up for hours to be the first passengers aboard the sleek and high-tech trains of the new San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system. In the lead-up to the opening, newspapers had envisioned a gleaming future for train travel in America.
Shigeru Ban, winner of the architecture world's top "Oscar," the Pritzker Prize, sets an important example: creating buildings for people, rather than glamor and prestige.
Earlier this month a brand new art museum opened in the posh mountain resort town of Aspen, Colorado. As a relatively high-profile museum, the project gathered an expected amount of attention from the architectural press. On top of that, the building drew an atypical amount of mainstream attention due to the fact that its designer, the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, had recently been named the 2014 Pritzker Prize laureate, the highest honor in architecture.
Andrew Pressman’s new book offers a tipsheet for how to collaborate more effectively. Hint: BIM is not the magic bullet.
Contrary to the long-glamorized Howard Roark model, architecture is a team sport. But getting a team to work together seamlessly can be a challenge. In his book, Designing Relationships: The Art of Collaboration in Architecture, Andrew Pressman, FAIA, argues that effective collaboration is a prerequisite for good design work. Pressman, a professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico and a lecturer at the University of Maryland, runs his own architectural practice in Washington, D.C.
Grounding architecture within a larger building ecology.
Regional issues such as stormwater treatment and energy production have become major elements of the design of architectural projects, even at a very small scale. As demand for natural resources rises and the impact of pollution spreads, taking these issues into consideration is likely to become a more important part of urban planning and architecture. This year’s national AIA convention recognizes the shift with its theme “Regional Design Revolution: Ecology Matters.”
But many argue that the long-term thinking of regionalism is still a burgeoning concept.