A Point In Design

Architecture News – A Point In Design Is Moving
March 19, 2012, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Architecture News

Hello readers,
For the past 2.5 years I have hosted my blog A Point In Design on WordPress.com’s site. However, I found that the theme and formatting restrictions were a bit limiting to what I could display to the world. So without further redo, I announce the creation of my new blog A Point In Design which can be found here . Be sure to check it out. The new blog looks somewhat similar to this blog with a few more features. For example, I have added rotating slideshows featuring the works of a particular architect that I feel is noteworthy. These slideshows will be updated monthly. I will also be introducing more video content. Feel free to comment at the new site. The new site is best viewed with the Mozilla Firefox browser. I will add support for the other browsers and telephone viewing as soon as I full test them out.

As for https://apointindesign.wordpress.com, this will be my last and final post for this blog. I will keep the blog online for those that wish to view the old posts. All new content after today 3/19/2012 will be posted on the new blog.

Thanks to all the viewers who have read my blog for the past 3 years and I look forward to seeing you all at my new site.

Joseph C. Cascio
Blog Author

My 100th post dedicated to Oscar Niemeyer
December 4, 2011, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Architecture News, Trips to Famous Buildings

Niemeyer Center

For my 100th blog post I thought that I would post this video of the new Neimeyer Center in Aviles, Spain designed by the still working 103 year old architect Oscar Niemeyer. Niemeyer is best known for his work on Brasilia (1956-1964) the capital of Brazil. His work has a futuristic almost utopian quality to it which I find very appealing. Watching the video, i was stuck by the perfection of these buildings and the power of the simple lines. These buildings are striking. I suspect this center will be the architect’s final project, but it is a fitting tribute to a genius in the profession.

More Photos of the Niemeyer Center

Trips to Famous Buildings – The Twilight Houses
November 18, 2011, 5:53 pm
Filed under: Architecture News, Trips to Famous Buildings

To commemorate the launch of the latest Twilight franchise film, I though that I would create a post that showcases the Cullen houses featured in the films. In my mind the architecture was the most interesting thing about the series. The books were a high school English teacher’s worst nightmare; Stephanie Meyer never described the characters beyond the meaningless adjective ‘interesting’ and the author spent more time describing Bella’s truck then the protagonist herself. The acting in the films was also uninspired and perhaps unintentionally funny.

The Icy Gaze

Enough about the movies, back to architecture. The film makers used several houses for the Cullen residence. The first house featured in the movie Twilight was the Hoke House designed by Skylab architect Jeff Kovel for a Nike executive.

The second Cullen house featured in New Moon is located in Vancouver and is currently for sale for just under $3 million dollars. It was designed by architect Brian Hemingway.

Below are more photos from both houses.

Links to Respective Architect’s Websites
Skylab Architecture
Brian Hemingway

Architecture News – The Physics of Cities & Economies
September 19, 2011, 4:15 am
Filed under: Architecture News

This was a fascinating lecture given by Geoffrey West, a physicist on the development of cities presented at the most recent TED Conference in July 2011. The material is a little dense and somewhat difficult to follow, but the gist of the lecture being that cities, economies and even businesses follow a clearly traceable growth pattern (hockey stick shape) where growth is initially robust then falls into a linear growth pattern, then finally levels off and begins a slow decline. My initial reaction to his findings was that his research was simply an exercise demonstrating regression to the mean (regression analysis to all those who took econometrics/statistics); yet thinking back to my days in economics West’s results do make sense. The law of diminishing marginal returns, the rate of return equalization principal, Kondratieff Wave Cycle theory, Marxian economics and the work of Manfred Max-Neet, the Chilean economist all echo West’s findings, although this was not discussed in the lecture. Below is the lecture.

Returning to Architecture, West’s discussion of what cities will look like in the future was also thought provoking. He showed two slides, one of the slums of Rio and another city (which looked like Sydney) with Central Park like recreational areas pondering which was the image of the future. Architects have taken various approaches to urban planning over the years, from L’Enfant’s grid plan for Washington DC, to Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin creating high rises around parks. The high rise model was adopted starting the 1950s, but the parks were always left out for budgetary or space reasons. West seemed to think that the slum model is where we are heading and in a zero growth economy he may be right. Your thoughts on the future of cities?

Slums of Rio

Architecture News – Fort Boyard
August 8, 2011, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Architecture News

Fort Boyard

This unique architectural landmark located off of the coast of France intrigued me. The idea of building a fort in the sea was proposed by Louis XIV in 1661, but the idea was abandoned due to the difficulty of building in an indefensible location. It was not till the rein of Napoleon did any work begin on the project. The foundation was laid at low tide and then slowly built into an eliptical structure 61 meters long and 31 meters wide by 20 meters high. The fort was completed in 1857 some 56 years after construction began in 1801. The fort was designed to hold 250 men and serve as a defense post for the French military. In later years the fort served as a prison and today it serves as a tv set for a French Reality show called Fort Boyard.

What really struck me about the building was how many building styles and typologies that this fort embodied. You can see elements of the Roman Colosseum, a prison (watch tower), a fortification (arrow loops), a stage and a barracks. Alas, the fort is only viewable from your tv screen as visitors are not allowed, unless you are a contestant on the tv show.

The Watch Tower

Rounded Colonnade

The French game show which first aired in 1990 on the RTL network (Radio Television Luxemburg) is something like Fear Factor where contestants have to complete challenges in an allotted period of time to get keys to open rooms in the fort. The show has proven popular and is still in production 20 years after its debut.

Architecture News – New World’s Tallest Skyscraper in the works
August 3, 2011, 3:41 am
Filed under: Architecture News

A new record breaking skyscraper is planned for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia that will be 3280ft tall at its highest spire. The cost of said project is around 1.2 billion dollars. The ride to the observation tower will take 1 min 40 seconds traveling at speeds of 23mph. The commission went to Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture to design the skyscraper. At least someone is getting some work out of this monumental waste of resources. Below are renderings of the proposed tower complex.

The design is very similar to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mile High Illinois project for a mile (5280 ft) high skyscraper in Chicago in 1956. Notice the similar projection for the observation deck between the two buildings.

Drawing of Mile High Skyscraper

Architecture News – Tadao Ando Water Installation
June 26, 2011, 2:08 pm
Filed under: Architecture News

Below is a video of a water installation designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando for the Connaught Hotel in London’s Mayfair district. I thought that this was really cool in the way it created an almost micro-climate of fog within this block radius, then quickly evaporated draining away below the glass lenses. In a way it mimicked the steam and smoke that would have risen up from the underground subway stations when a train arrived at the station during the Victorian era. Light, water and sound are all in play in this installation. Click the video link to see the video of the installation.

Architecture News – A 320sq ft house
June 3, 2011, 4:13 am
Filed under: Architecture News

I came across this story today and thought that I would share it with you. This family of 3 opted to move from their 2000sq ft home and downsize to a 320sq ft home. The video takes the viewer through the space and talks with the family members. I don’t think that this project was designed by an architect but rather by a builder, but it is impressive how they managed to integrate the functions of several rooms into a very small area. The social implications of living in close quarters is also explored. I was inspired to think about how I could possibly improve on their design. Too often architects inspire with ornament rather than with function (the exception being consumer product design). In the years ahead, I feel this type of living will become much more common place as tight credit and fewer jobs will necessitate living smaller.

As a comparison, this guest pod called a Living Roof by NAU with its rotating bench system is ingenious, but likely far more expensive than the $20k 320sq ft house. The Living Roof does boast many green technologies including solar voltaic and wind turbine power generation. Personally I feel that the technology used in this pod could be best adapted to airline seats.

Rotating Pod

Section Through Pod

Living Roof Floor Plan & Section

Architecture News – Jacques Herzog Speaking at Harvard Thur
May 3, 2011, 2:37 am
Filed under: Architecture News

If you are interested in listening to a big name architect talk about his work, Harvard Uni is hosting a free lecture by Jacques Herzog of Herzog & DeMeuron fame (architects of the DeYoung museum in San Fransisco) this Thur 5/5/11 at 4pm. If you aren’t in the Cambridge area to see it in person at the Graduate School of Design’s Piper Auditorium you can catch the lecture online via this link.

Harvard Webcasts

Solar Decathlon Winning Design
November 2, 2010, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Architecture News

This story from the ArchDaily website really caught my eye. Several of the nation’s best design schools (including my former alma mata) participated in this contest to design a zero emissions building. The winning design was submitted by Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture. The design is based on Mies’s Farnsworth House. Below are photos of the house and its floor plan.

Elevation View

View of Pond

View at Night

Lighting Controls for the House

View of Living Room

Ground Floor Plan

Link the ArchDaily Article