Archive for October, 2009

The Importance of Transparency

Monday, October 26th, 2009

This modern minimalist glass cube was added to the classical style City Hall of Washington DC by architect Hani Hassan in the past year.  As a place for the process of enactment  of objective justice, it is appropriate that the entrance to the 223 year old building is equiped with a functionalist piece of logically crisp architecture.  Oddly enough to my own sensibilities,  it has been studied by psychologists that when shown an image of a courthouse and asked to imagine being tried in that building for a crime one did not commit, people are distinctly more comfortable with this event taking place in a building of the classical style over one in the modern style.  This is a crisis of divided representation.  One must see architecture not as a collection of distinct styles that can be chosen from in order to evoke a particular iconographic memory, but rather as a progressive  and responsive functional process of creative discovery and material problem solving toward a more just and verdant world.  As we progress stylistically and technologically in our design of the urban construct, so does the polis become more  free.  Imagine on the day that the innocent person is acquitted, they would be symbolically cleansed of suspicion and malign by the physical act of passing through an instance of Tabula Rasa space as they exit the forum.




Mini Mies

Monday, October 26th, 2009

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is the only building in Washington DC designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  Designed in 1972, it was his last piece of work before he died at the age of 83 without ever seeing its complete construction.  The 400,000 square foot public library is the central facility of the district’s library system but it has been plagued by mechanical failures for many years.  Mayor Anthony D. Williams and the library board wanted to replace the aged facility with a new building but the DC historic preservationist board sucesfully added the building to the National Record of Historic Places, effectively preventing immediate demolition.   There are tentative plans for renovation, including painting the dark steel facade silver, replacing the tinted glass with clear, and adding an additional floor with roof terrace (an option designed into the original structural frame).

Notice the famous Barcelona Chairs, originally designed by Meis in 1929.

See also:





Two Types of Line

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Offices of The Pan American Health Organization at 525, 23rd Street, N.W. in Washington, DC.


2009 Solar Decathlon

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

One sun, twenty teams, 10 events: The 2009 Solar Decathlon is currently underway on the National Mall in Washington DC.  The houses will be open to the public this weekend only, October 15-19.  I highly suggest you go check it out.  These twenty schools are incubators for some of the most exciting advancements in sustainable design happening today.  If you want to see the cutting edge of green, don’t miss this exhibition.  Here are some of my favorite entries:

Team Ontario/BC  (University of Waterloo, Ryerson University, Simon Fraser University) :


Cornell University:


Team California (Santa Clara University, California College of the Arts) :


Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany:


And last but not least, my own alma mater, Virginia Tech’s LumenHaus: