World's First Zero Carbon City

Just 20 miles from Abu Dhabi in the Arabian Desert a sustainable city has broken ground and gearing up to be an iconic model for the world to marvel at.  Designed by Foster & Partners, the city, called Masdar would be almost a perfect square, nearly a mile on each side, raised on a 23-foot-high base to capture desert breezes.  Beneath the intricate maze of pedestrian streets, a fleet of driverless electric cars would navigate silently through dimly lit tunnels. This sounds kind of like an old Terminator movie from the early 90's.  A city with no human drivers and where streets are not dominated by cars, only in the desert could this develop so quickly.

A blend of high-tech design and ancient construction practices has morphed into an impressive model for a sustainable community.  This is impressive for a region that not too long ago, local tradition compromised the drive toward modernization.

In the design process Mr. Foster began with a careful study of old arab settlements, including ancient citadels and mud-brick apartment towers dating from the 16th century.  This process allowed him to understand the fundamentals and how these communities had been made livable in such a harsh hot climate.  Among the research the office learned that settlements were often built on high ground, not only for defensive reasons, but also to take advantage of the stronger winds.  Tall, hollow wind towers were used to funnel air down to street level cooling people at the surface.  The narrowness of the streets, which were almost always at an angle to the sun's east-west trajectory, to maximize shade, accelerated airflow through the city.  With implementation of these combined approaches, they could make Masdar feel as much as 70 degrees cooler.  This is incredible for a place that can feel as hot as 150 degrees F.  The city is expected to be powered 90 percent by solar, and the rest generated by incinerating waste.  Masdar will definitely be a place for planners, architects, and governments to learn from as we all prepare for population rise, fresh water shortages, greater need for renewable energy, a greater demand on food production, and fluidly sustainable transportation methods.

Check out an extended article at nytimes.com


First Hybrid Auto Shop Coming Soon to Philly

H3 Hybrids, a hybrid-only micro dealership and auto repair shop is set to open up in Fishtown on Frankford Avenue.  Owners Alberto and Kathryn Rivera say the shop will be the only independent (non-dealer) hybrid shop on the East Coast.  The business received the approval of the residents at a Fishtown Neighbor's Association meeting. They will now need approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustments to open up both as a repair shop and dealership.  The dealership will only house a handful of cars showcasing new technology.

This news mad possible by philly.brownstoner.com

Philly Developer May Bank $100 Million in State Funds

Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein of the Piazza and other developments in Norther Liberties may be the recipient of almost $100 million in state money to fund his proposed shovel ready projects for Northern Liberties.  Blatstein is set to receive $45 million for a new hotel-mixed-use project near his Piazza at Schmidt's development; $25 million to build an 86-suite, boutique hotel at Second and Poplar Streets; and another $25 million to redevelop a state office building at Broad and Spring Garden.  Of course with all this state money being thrown around there are bound to be critics.  Some believe that in the midst of a state recession and steep cuts in social-service programs and funding for libraries and state parks, these capital dollars should go toward public projects.  Blatstein believes these projects will create lots of jobs and tax revenue, fueling future development in developing neighborhoods.

I personally am all for it!  Although our transit projects (City Hall Station) need a lot of money as well as projects like the Free Library expansion and Dilworth Plaza renovations.  There is hopefully enough money to go around for everyone to get a piece of the pie.

Check out philly.com for more


G8 and Sukkah City 2010

Sukkah City 2010 was unveiled Monday in Union Square, New York. With over 500 submissions only twelve were chosen by a panel of celebrated architects, designers, and critics to build their structures for public viewing from September 19-20.  Out of the twelve one will be chosen by New Yorkers to stand throughout the week-long festival of Sukkot as the peoples choice Sukkah of New York City.  Our very own G8 was one of the many entrants to this highly anticipated yearly celebration.

While traditionally sukkahs are temporary structures built to bring people together in celebration, G8's Sukkah design represents a greater coming together, and hopefully a more permanent one.  The walls and ceiling are created by rows of four-sided rectangular frames.  Each frame is wrapped in a flag representing countries of the world where Jewish people celebrate the Sukkah tradition, as well as organizations and communities that make up the multi-national city of New York.
The row of frames creates the walls, ceiling, and base for the floor through a combination of solid and void space. As you enter, the even spacing between frames reveals glimpses of the outside world as your view within changes and shifts with the images of the flags.  The continuity of spacing draws your eyes upward to reveal the "schach", made of traditional palm tree branches.  The repetition suggest a continuation of structure, space, and tradition. The collective frames represent the unified existence these groups represented in the sukkah.

The uncovered part of the floor the "non-ending" row gives the possibility of adding additional frames, more groups.  The elevated frames further displays the frames and provokes a feeling of leaving one world and entering another that is more harmonious and peaceful.
This contemporary design adheres to tradition, but broadens the concept of family and guests celebrating under the sukkah, to a family of nations coming together in Union Square Park to continue the tradition in a new colorful way.

Visit sukkahcity.com to view the winners and other entrants.


$1.2 Billion Temple 20/20 Project

Temple 20/20 is a visionary plan to make Temple University a destination campus over the next decade.  The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that the university has mapped out a series of projects that aim to achieve several objectives for the school and its North Philadelphia Neighborhood without expanding upon its 105-acre footprint along North Broad Street.  The school is hopeful the new projects will revitalize and bring new life to North Broad Street and re-establish the artery as the gateway to the campus. Upon completion the plan will create more green and academic space, develop additional campus housing and link the core of the campus to North Broad Street.

The school has 12,000 students residing on campus and wants to add over the next several years enough beds to accommodate between 16,000 and 20,000 undergraduate students, bringing more students onto the campus.  Temple plans this summer or fall to begin construction of a new student housing structure that will add 1,700 beds and cost $150 million.  This is awesome news for any investors and developers building, renovating, or planning to purchase property in the near future around Temple University.  The big bonus for developers is that Temple does not guarantee housing for student after their first year, so that leaves thousands of students knocking on your doors!

I apologize for the quality of the images.  They are from a slide show posted on Planphilly.com


Embassy of Drowned Nations

This particular project is the Global Solutions first prize winner of Sea Change 2030+, An International Urban Sea Level Rise Ideas Competition for Sydney Harbor.  The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) invited individuals and teams to showcase innovative ideas for planning, designing, and managing for adaptation to urban sea level rise.  The Embassy of Drowned Nations is a proposal by the Sydney-based landscape architecture office Oculus.
An Ellis Island of the future, this amazing project reaches out to the thousands of displaced refugees of sea ravaged Asian- Pacific Nations.  This bold venture extends a hand of connection and friendship by providing a meeting place and forum for adapting to climate change. The idea of the Embassy of Drowned Nations is much more than a lament for a lost past, it's an iconic engagement in a brighter future through building a world-class place for welcoming and regenerating the spirit of human adaption to global warming.  Apart from temporary housing, the embassy will also host a research and cultural center devoted to climate change.

Designers: Bob Earl, Shahreen Alford, Simon Bond, Liam Butt, Katie Cooper, Daniel Firns, Ali Gaunt, Rosie Krauss, Ben Nacard, Simon Trick.

The Future In Solar Shading

Check out one of the coolest solar shade displays yet.  This would make a great sound and light show!  The architect, designer, and manufacturer are Buro Happold, Hoberman Associates, and Adaptive Building Initiative.
The last two Designs are of the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and the last is a FLARE system done by WHITEvoid Interactive Art and Design

Organic Fortress

I stumbled upon this interesting and unconventional project on Architizer .com by Carlos Pascal of Pascal Arquitectos. Located in Mexico City, Mexico the Goldsmith Apartment Building is raised with little to no attention to the exterior walls, focusing all life and interaction on the interior.  The building, constructed of concrete was organized in irregular geometric patterns, with a beautifully textured interior courtyard dressed in camaru wood, brass, transparent crystal, white ceramic crystal, and limestone.  The project aims to capture the sense of depth perception, color, and smell through colorful geometric panels placed at random, extruding planting boxes of mandarin orange trees, recessed and staggered balconies, sky- bridges, and climbing garden walls.