"Sitting on the Wall"

In his beguiling photo series "Sitting on the Wall: Haikou V," Chinese artist Weng Fen captures young women and new cities on the precipice of change.  in the images, faceless adolescent girls sit on cement partitions in cities like Hai-kou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, gazing out toward sleek hi-rises in developing commercial districts.  Their backs face us, giving no hint of a personal identity, save for their slightly varied school uniforms.  Meanwhile the booming new buildings dominate the background, their postmodern facades signifying an increase of investment and oncoming changes throughout the city.  The images highlight the growing divide between disenfranchised urban populations and residents in more central areas, as cities increasingly look toward development to attract capital and the upper classes.

Chicago Navy Pier

Updated Renderings for phase-one of Chicago's 3,300 foot long Navy Pier were released by James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) and nArchitects alongside an announcement by the Chicago Mayor's office that confirmed the project will receive $55 million in public funding.

Highlighted features include the south-facing Wave Wall and grand stairway, inspired by the Spanish Steps in Rome, along with an interactive splash fountain-turned-winter ice skating rink at the beginning of a heavily vegetated promenade.  The Wave Wall will connect the pier dock to an upper level amusement park, providing a large south-facing social space with views of the lake and access to more than 500 linear feet of retail spaces below.

Other features include the slender glass Info Tower and a series of Lake Pavilions.  By combining boat ticket kiosks with undulating polished stainless steel canopies, the Lake Pavilions will provide shade and shelter along the pier, while reflecting the rippling water of Lake Michigan back onto the dock.  Construction is expected to start this fall and be completed in time for the pier's centennial in 2016.

D.C. Gurney Town House

This contemporary renovation of a D.C. century old town home by architect Robert M. Hurney has proved a tremendous success.  The townhouse is part of a continuous network of buildings in a Washington D.C. historic district.  Regulations required that the traditional limestone facade remain intact.  The bottom floor of the facade has been reworked within the existing limestone composition in an effort to provide a separate entrance and storefront for a commercial tenant in the lower level.  The rear facade, located in a alley has been completely reworked to provide more light into the building.

The building was previously used as commercial space on all three floors.  The eighteen foot wide by one hundred foot long structure occupies the entire site.  Interior spaces were typically dark with nine foot high ceilings, the result of a previous renovation.

In this new renovation the majority of existing floor joists are retained in an effort to reuse the existing structural system and not disturb the historical limestone facade.  To change the redundancy of continuous nine feet high ceilings, a 12 foot wide section of the third floor, the width of the row house, is removed.  Located directly above this opening, a similar sized skylight infuses the interior with light.  Similarly, another section of the third floor is removed to accommodate a stair system.  Above the new steel and aluminum stairs, a rooftop addition opens to adjacent terraces and provides outdoor living spaces with rooftop views.

Exposed brick walls, painted white are juxtaposed to blue epoxy floors.  Floor openings with bridges, skylights, and a three story  galvanized steel wall animate the spaces and integrate the floors vertically.  Glass and steel elements compose the spaces and unify a diverse but consistent palette of materials, resulting in a modern spatial quality within a traditional town house typology.


Ben Stiller Spreads Hope and Opportunity in Haiti

Ben Stiller sticks to his commitment of reshaping Haiti's future by providing access to education and basic necessities with the opening of the rebuilt Children's Cévérine Community School on the outskirts of Maissade.  "Education is one of the keys to ending the vicious cycle of global poverty." Stiller explained in an article in Architectural Digest. "And in Haiti, schools become centers for access to water, food, and other basic needs."

The School was funded through an online campaign called StillerStrong, he launched after his 2009 trip to the country just six months before the devastating earthquake.  The actor visited Haiti with the international aid organization Save the Children.  Even then the country's poverty and desperation were unfathomable.

The initiative, which garnered $350,000, involved the production of a series of comedic videos starring the like of Conan O'Brien, Owen Wilson, Robert De Niro, and former President Bill Clinton.

In the wake of the 2010 earthquake, Stiller furthered his philanthopic efforts by establishing the Stiller Foundation, with the goal of assisting children worldwide.  The organization began the Hatian School initiative to rebuild crippled institutions and their communities.  In partnership with Architecture for Humanity, the program helped resurrect two badly damaged facilities – the Ecole la Dignitee in cayes de Jacmel and the Collége Mixte le Bon Berger in Montrouis– and is currently working on the Ecole Baptiste Bon Berger in Port-au-Prince.

Minnesota Vikings Unveil World's Largest Transparent Roof on its New Stadium

HKS Sports & Entertainment Group will design the new $975 million stadium for the Minnesota Vikings slated to be ready for the 2016 playing season.  The stadium will feature the world's largest transparent roof, zinc framing and walls of glass.  The 65,000 seat structure will function as a  multi-purpose building that can be used for a variety of events.  The transparent roof made with ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), will allow athletes and spectators to see the sky above without spending millions on a retractable roof.

The building also features four operable 95 foot glass doors that open to the public.  Climate control and energy conservation, geography, history and technology were driving considerations for the design, which will now be presented to the Minneapolis Stadium Implementation Committee and the City of Minneapolis for review.

Sky City; World's Next Tallest Building

The world will soon crown its newest Tallest structure some time in 2014, called Sky City.  A planned 220-story prefab tower in Changsha, China, will soon claim the world's tallest building, steeling the title from the beautiful Burj Khalifa.

Broad Sustainable Building, the tower's builders, will begin construction this June, with prefabrication taking place off site lasting 3 months.  it will then be assembled in a record seven months for a structure of this magnitude.  The tower will reach a height of 2,749 feet, featuring residential, office space, organic farms, recreation spaces, schools, a hospital, retail and much more.  Sky city will house 4,450 families in apartments ranging from 645 square feet to 5,000 square feet with 92 elevators.  Sky City will be a vertical city that will accommodate 100,000 people and offer all amenities necessary to sustain a healthy life.

Using just a portion of its site, Sky City will be home to the most extreme urban density existing today. The sustainable tower will be surrounded by parks, providing open space to all residents.  Many energy efficient strategies have been implemented such as 8-inch thick insulated walls, triple glazing, exterior shading that cuts down on cooling by 30 percent, and a co-generation plant that will use waste heat from power generation for heating and cooling.  Transportation will be provided by low-energy elevators and for those who like to walk, a six-mile long ramp will run from the first to the 170th floor.  BSB assures that the building will be able to withstand a Magnitude 9 earthquake and will have a three hour fire resistance rating.

Watch This Video on Sky City Below!


KAG- Premier Campus Office in Kagithane

The Kagithane Gardens located in Istanbul, Turkey is a business district that focuses on the users working and living qualities and addresses its presence in Istanbul as a new form of contextualizing Urban living.

The building is formed by JDS Architects' desire to make it interact with its environment.  It opens itself up to the neighborhood and offers spaces to the users and the passers by such as plazas, intimate gardens and generous terraces.  The volume of the block is literally carved out to invite the surroundings in.  The local hilly landscape, characteristic to Istanbul, is continued in the meandering of the volume both in plan, adapting to the site's edges, and in section, weaving into itself in a series of gentle curving slopes, echoing the nearby Bosphorus waves.  The vibrant commercial life of the ground floor burst out onto the plazas and the landscape.  upstairs the offices open out onto the green terraces, populated with lush vegetation, tempering the hot Springs and Summers.


The volume reads clearly while still opening itself generously to the city from afar.  As one gets closer, the interiors become more discreet, protected by louvers that help shade from the sun.  The project acts as a catalyst of business life for a new Istanbul, that promotes contemporary culture, architecture and lifestyle.  


Feria Valencia Events Center

The new Feria Valencia built in 2007 by architect Tomas Llavador in Valencia, Spain stands as an emblematic building that represents the city architecturally conveying a message of modernity, capable of reflecting its new spirit as a prestigious business center and institutional site.  This role was specifically given to the Events Center.

To reach the Center, visitors walk under a pointed arch that opens into the glass vault above the central hall of the building, a reception area for visitors.  The height of the hall and the light weight materials used in construction make it a truly striking space.  This area also visually links the four floors of the building and diffuses the natural light that filters through the dome.

The roof structure is integrated by steel discs that serve as nodes and by steel bars that support triangular glass panels.  A second disc, positioned above the first one, fastens each triangle by its apex.  The outside layer provides solar control and ensures greater reflectivity protecting the space from excessive light.  The northern and southern sides of the building have ventilated facades that help avoid condensation and the surfaces.

The program of the building includes four conference rooms with the capacity for 80 persons each, two assembly rooms for 120 persons convertible into a single space with a dynamic panel system, an auditorium for 400, a second one for 750, meeting room for 65 persons, press rooms, VIP room, treasury, event office and restaurant, as well as five meeting rooms for 20 persons, storage and restrooms.

Feria Valencia has the largest exhibition center in Spain and one of the largest and most modern in the world.  With a total of over 230,000 square meters of floor area has eight multipurpose halls, meeting rooms, conference rooms and 68,000 m2 for parking.  The event center has a complete infrastructure for holding and organizing conventions, conferences and other large events.

The 21st Century's Quickest Economic Class

FastCompany revealed a Reddit user's clear-cut infographic, that gives a good sense of where businesses should be looking in the next 100 years.  The infographic puts into perspective the small chunk of the planet that now holds half the population in relation to the entirety of the planet, Southeast Asia and India.  While this is no surprise, the map is a reminder of the emerging Asian powerhouse.  As the continent's population continues to grow, so will its middle class, its purchasing power, its consumption of resources, its manufacturing capabilities, and its political clout.

But when contextualized with a bit more data, it's also a reminder that those countries are just getting started.  While the circle hosts more than half of the world's population, only about 1 billion of the world's roughly 2.5 billion Internet users call it home.  In China and India only 38% and 10% respectively, of the population uses the Internet, respectively, as opposed to nearly 80% of Americans.

As more of those countries in the circle begin to follow the lead of uber-connected Japan and South Korea, the economic, social and cultural transformations will surely snowball, unleashing the creative energy of countless startups, political movements, and cultural producers, the like of which we are only just starting to see.