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    josh owen: 'stoop bench'

    In case you missed this article from DesignBoom - it features Josh Owen's 'Stoop Bench' which is on display - along the Schuylkill Banks park (pictured below) along with several other DuPont Corian® based designs by Philadelphia area designers. As if you needed yet another reason to cruise this park.

    'stoop bench' by josh owen

    philadelphia is a city of stoop dwellers. the townhouses that line the streets
    of center city and the myriad surrounding neighborhoods all have stoops.
    with this in mind owen came up with of the idea of moving the 'stoop' off the typical
    urban grid and applying them to a park or perhaps districts with no stoops.




    I'm a huge fan of infrastructure - particularly public transportation, but most of it I find fascinating. The architecture issue of the NYTMagazine this year featured the image at left. This issue certified my infrastructure adoration as well as taking its place as the wallpaper on my computer.

    It is completely valid to wonder - infrastructure?! I know, its not the first thing folks are generally interested in. One of the selling points of my current apartment is that I can hear both the freight and commuter trains at a politely demure volume from the comfort of my sofa. Another selling point, of both my apartment and the city of brotherly love, is the Schuylkill [pronounced skoo-kill] Banks park. Not only can you enjoy the beauty of bridges, tracks, boats, bikes, and the like - but its also a scenic park that has a trail extending 22 miles, for those diehard bike and running enthusiasts.

    Here are some images as evidence:

    Should you ever find yourself on this path, wander along it, enjoy it and take a few minutes to stand under the Market Street bridge. It is here that you will see a pleasant bit of graffiti as well as be able to hear the subway and trolley lines that run underground. The bridge has two air shafts that serve the underground tracks. This is an amazing spot - you can see the cars on I-76, and on the local roads, hear the Amtrak and SEPTA regional trains across the river, and hear the subterranean lines as well. It is a smörgåsbord also known as city - it is what has made it possible and keeps it going - it is a small part of the big word that I love: infrastructure.

    Just a tidbit - Philadelphia was once an engineering tourist destination for its waterworks, which is now a lovely restaurant and scenic vista along this very river park.

    More pictures from the Schuylkill Banks park and much more are available here



    This is a pair of shoes designed by architect Frank Gehry for J.M Weston's Autumn/Winter 09 collection:
    Images via DesignBoom

    Just to remind you - this is what his buildings look like:

    I suppose, in theory, there is some whimsy to his shoes that is reminiscent of his buildings - they both make me think of cartoons, surely. However, I guess I have to wonder what I thought shoes designed by Frank Gehry would look like.



    Potential is an intrinsic part of my everyday - it is how I view the world and design and potential are also inseparable, allow me to explain.

    First off, potential is always present and always awaiting activation. When I step out the door to go to the grocery store I can see all possible paths - I could go three blocks north and then two blocks east, or two blocks east and then three blocks north, or zig and zag with the changing of the lights, etc. When there is more than one option you must select a path, each with its own potential. Potential for seeing things, for meeting people, for tripping on your own laces...Choosing one path does not deny any potential, it isn't deniable because it isn't certain, all you are doing is activating the potential of the path you've chosen. Hence, I can live every moment and see the vast range of potentials from any decision, but can easily make a decision, and have little patience for hemming/hawing. Think of it this way, 99.99% of the decisions you make are of little consequence - so just make a decision, rarely do you make a choice that obliterates the option to change your mind especially you keep your self open to change.

    Now, what does this have to do with design? Ideally, design optimizes the potential of something to what the user/client requests/requires. In interior design I think of a hollow white cube of a space filled with twinkling gold dust. As the client and designer discuss the clients needs, the designer turns that golden dust into solid decisions - a wall here, window there, this size, this arrangement, this palate...all activating the potential for the desired use of the space. Of all the potential that space possessed - it has been tailored for a particular use - optimizing the potential for that use.

    The trick with potential - though I see this as a wonderful thing, but I could see it as a trick - you might only see what you are already looking for. If you only can think of a shoe as looking like this:

    You might never be able to see the potential of a shoe like this

    let alone a shoe like this
    Not that one of these shoes is better than the other, its an illustration of difference - just allow for the fact that we may not always recognize an object until we explore it.

    I could go on and on about potential and the potential mind-set in relation to the technological culture, and the paradigm shift that is a inherent in becoming a part of such a culture.

    Instead, I'll leave you with this video and allow you to look back at what was a vision of the future and hope you imagine what this video might look like if made today:


    Sorry Blogpsphere

    I haven't been this sick in years. New posts once my fever breaks and I can properly function.


    Thoughts about town

    Take a look around you and you can see where design exists and where it has been compromised and where it is not much more than aesthetics. Below is a little exploration of a view places around town. A snippet of some of the things that catch my eye.

    The day this was taken was a beautiful sunny day, you can get a glimpse of this in a small portion of the above photograph (reflected on the building facade). What this image shows is that there is a dead civic zone. A public space was built into this city block as it is in the heart of the city. What this picture doesn't tell you is that the buildings we're intended to run North-South, not the East-West of their present layout. They were turned to maximize the rentable floor space within each building. The trade-off - blocking all but the briefest amount of sun from this public space thus rendering it cold, windy and otherwise unpleasant, and hence unoccupied. If you do view the space between the two buildings it does frame city hall - which glows brightly in the warm sunshine.

    The above office building was gutted some time ago, and they systematically replaced all the windows - to the effect of reinforcing the true "curtain" nature of them (non-structural) as well as showcasing the structure by glazing in front of all of the buildings exterior columns. I'm waiting to see how they develop this exposure and how they plan on interacting with the sidewalk, as the removed the existing portico.

    This is a bathroom, not many people take pictures in bathrooms, but you would be surprised how much design can be (or not be) in such a small and very utilitarian space. This particular one has a special layout - the camera is facing the entry point, a window to its back. The stalls are all to the left and there is a fair sized open space to the right with a full length mirror on the wall facing the entry point. The tile is rather bold in its horizontal stripes and the sink area is a bright area with pale blue-green counter top (this same color is repeated in some of the chips in the floor). The question is, why the diagonal path from the door to the sinks? Why is the natural light cubby-holed to the sink area? As you might be able to tell, this diagonal also means the stalls are in a someone stepped formation, also somewhat awkward.

    Underground pedestrian concourses are not always the most popular spaces, and although I would agree that this once could use a good cleaning, I think this is a beautiful space. Light pours in from the street above and bounces around off the metallic tiles and back-lit glass block. There is the curve in the ceiling that has a fixture beneath that uplights the round and complements the form. This is part of a much bigger network of tunnels, but this particular portion runs over 3 blocks long under the core street of center city and connects to three transit lines, a shopping center, and the convention center complex all without having you wait to cross a street. I think my bias is showing.


    oscar niemeyer - watch the video interview (11 min total)

    Excerpted from: DesignBoom

    oscar niemeyer
    image © camilla maia

    oscar niemeyer was born on dec. 15, 1907, in rio de janeiro and, despite his advanced age,
    continues to practice his profession. by continuing to explore the modernist aesthetic and
    refusing to depart from formalism and purity, niemeyer has turned himself into an eccentric humanist.
    he works from his office in rio and always cites his long-standing fear of flying that allows
    him to politely decline every invite for traveling.

    'curves make up the entire universe, the curved universe of einstein.' he adds.

    niterói contemporary art museum, rio de janeiro, brazil 1991-96
    'a central pillar, with the architecture floating free in space, like a flower' he said.
    image © kalle anka

    the niterói museum shows the most the extensive collection of contemporary brazilian art
    see more contemporary images by gorka lejarcegi

    museum oscar niemeyer (novo museu) in curitiba, brazil 2001-02

    the museum by night