I went to an open house a number of months ago for a new project by KUBE architecture. From the street, this Georgetown home, designed by Janet Bloomberg, seems to be yet another Georgian town house. When you open the door you find yourself transported to a modern space more at home in Los Angeles or manhattan than the 18th century streets of DC’s 2nd ward, yet the starck transition works. It sets you up for a series of well lit rooms that play with the modern trope of compression and release but manage to avoid the pitfall of hyper-glossy surfaces that are too often found in contemporary spaces. Instead Janet has chosen a muted palet of textural elements which alternate between the sheen of brushed metal, the warmth of rich wood veneers and the pleasantly imperfect nature of unglazed ceramics. The house is anchored by a floating stair whose verticality is emphasized by a curtain of steel cables running from the ground floor to the second story. While an interesting architectural element, the steel cables at times present a bit of a challenge in visual and physical comfort. When I visited the house was very crowded, the steel cables [...]
Today I came across an e-mail informing me that Autodesk had released the new 2011 versions of their CAD and BIM software, AutoCAD and Revit. If you are familiar with these products feel free to skip the following two paragraphs for my opinion about BIM and CAD, if not, read on. For those of you who are not familiar with the world of architectural software it is broken into two different conceptual models: Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and Building Information Modeling (BIM). CAD software has been around since the 1980′s and is a digital analog to hand drafting. In it, users work in either a 2-D or 3-D environment defined by points and lines (or vectors). CAD software is a time saver in that instead of each drawing being an independent sheet that needs to be redrawn whenever changes are made, the drawing lives virtually within the software and changes can be made rapidly without effecting other areas of the work. In addition drawing elements can be quickly scaled larger or smaller to create details or other drawings. Since CAD is a replication of the drawing process it is used by many different industries. For three dimensional work it can [...]
The DC area is filled with architecture firms, but I have been hard pressed to find many that are real players in the current avant-garde architecture climate. Most of the big name firms that have local offices focus on government work and not theoretical/concept work. To wit, I am compiling a list of the best firms in the DC metroplex for publication as a future post to hopefully dispel the belief that good design cannot be found in DC. Does anyone have any suggestions of architecture firms that go beyond the norm? I am specifically looking at firms that have an exemplary design identity.
According to the Washington Post (click here for the article) Jean Nouvel has been awarded the Pritzker Prize. A more fully illustrated blog post can be found at Gizmodo (click here for the post). This intrigues me because Jean Nouvel is one of the contemporary architects whose buildings were used quite often as precedent studies in school. He joins other distinguished contemporary precedent study architects like Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Herzog and de Mueron. I have only seen one of his buildings in person, the institute of the Arab World in Paris. I was only able to see it from the outside, but that is where most of the design concept lies. The skin, which is patterned off of an Islamic geometric progression and screening methods, is made of a geometric/fractal-like pattern of operable irises that adjust to limit the solar gain. When I visited the building, it appeared to have some issues with the operation of these irises. Some of them were stuck in the open and others in the closed position.
So I’ve been reading a bunch of management and business books lately at the urging of my boss. Specifically they’ve been Good to Great by Jim Collins, Mindset by Carol Dweck and Results by Gary Nielson. All of these have a similar idea in them: Don’t be afraid to look in the mirror and see what is wrong with your company/person. Once you identify what your non-successes are, then you can decide to either focus on them, or let it go. It is only through continued analysis and correction will you be able to excel and succeed. Taking this to heart I’ve been analyzing the failures of all the firms I’ve worked for and I feel that they are all the same. The symptoms are different; but in the end, it comes down to employment policies. The common symptoms are a problem with diligence in regards to projects. Important things like making sure opening measurements are to standard masonry sizes and skew angles are whole numbers seem to get lost between design and construction drawings. This problem is like an onion, the ultimate cause is only revealed by peeling away symptom by symptom until we find the core issue at [...]