Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lloyd Wright's National Life Insurance Building

This is Frank Lloyd Wright's National Life Insurance Building. A 25 story Goliath that was to be built on Michigan Ave at the end of the Magnificent Mile, Wright's concept involved a pylon core and cantilevered floor plates. It really would have been an amazing structure had it been constructed. If you want to read more, I got it from here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mark Laita's controversial "Created Equal" photo diptychs

Photographer Mark Laita's "Created Equal" is a series of portraits of Americans juxtaposed in rather provocative diptychs. Pairings include the likes of marine/war veteran, Baptist churchgoer/white supremacist, pedophile/child, and, seen above, polygamist/pimp. Turnstyle intervieed Laita and presents a selection of the Created Equal photos:

"How did this project come about and why did you want to work on it?
Mark Laita: Created Equal is different from my other work in that it’s not politically correct. Perhaps it’s a reaction to all the years of working for advertising clients, producing work that was pleasing to look at. Almost all commercial work has a committee or focus group making certain that the end result is “nice.” I felt the need to produce something that was raw and real, as life truly is, not just what we aspire to. The more shocking to our sense of what’s “right,” the better. That’s why I sought out the worst pedophile I could find (with a list of the most horrible convictions you can imagine) and a beautiful and innocent little girl (photographed with her mother’s consent of the pairing of images). If the viewer cringes from the pairing that’s great. I think a lot of us don’t think what you see in Created Equal exists in our city, but take a look at your neighborhood’s Megan’s list website sometime and tell me how “nice” your town is. Every city in the U.S. has sex offenders, prostitutes, drug addicts along with wonderful humanitarians, philanthropists and leaders. I aimed to depict our country as it is, not as we would like to think it is."


Monday, February 14, 2011

W57 - West 57th Residential Building by Big

W57 - West 57th Residential Building from BIG on Vimeo.

Durst Fetner Residential selects BIG to design a 600-unit residential building. The project entitled West 57th introduces an entirely new residential typology to New York City that will add an inviting twist to the Manhattan Skyline. The building is a hybrid between the European perimeter block and a traditional Manhattan high-rise. West 57th has a unique shape which combines the advantages of both: the compactness and efficiency of a courtyard building providing density, a sense of inti¬macy and security, with the airiness and the expansive views of a skyscraper.

In the past few years, Bjarke Ingels’ architecture has slowly, but steadily, been gaining international attention. From housing projects to commercial entities to design ideas, Northern European countries have found themselves host to an abundance of angular geometries, bold forms, and straightforward approaches characteristic of Ingels. As we reported early last week, BIG will now take its signature style to Manhattan with a not-so-typical response for the design of a New York apartment building for client Durst Fetner Residential (be sure to read our coverage here).

After the excitement of seeing BIG’s fresh architectural idea respond to the character and context of New York, now, the harsh reality of board meetings and zoning regulations are the project’s next obstacle to overcome in the quest for final approval.

With its dramatic slope and carved out center, West 57th is clearly an eye-catcher. Resulting from the improbable blend of a Manhattan high-rise and a European perimeter block typology, the residential form captures the advantageous essence of each while still taking on its own identity. As Justin Davidson for New York magazine explains, “For the desolate juncture of 57th Street and the West Side Highway, he [Bjarke Ingels] has designed an utterly unexpected form, neither tower nor slab nor even quite a pyramid, but a gracefully asymmetrical peak with a landscaped bower in its hollowed core. It looks wild, but it’s born of logic; true originality is the inevitable endpoint of rigorous thought.”

We couldn’t agree more. While the slope is quite strong – and definitely a unique angle for the context – the rising edge helps break down the scale of the mass to a pedestrian approachable entity at the sidewalk level near the waterfront. At its full height of 450 ft, the form provides ample room for residences and the slope terminates into an edge that is more acclimated to its context. As BIG’s video illustrates, the composition of the form does not allow the height of the building to overpower the viewer nor the waterfront atmosphere the city has been rejunevating over the past few years.

However, as Branden Klayko for the AN Blog reported, after the flashy presentation, the board became less interested in the design and more interested in the what the project could offer to New York on a developmental level. In particular, as Klayko explains, the board expressed concern over three issues: contextual sensitivity, affordable housing, and green space.

Councilwoman Gale Brewer commented on the design’s large courtyard element, noting that future issues may arise if the central courtyard solely serves residents, rather than the public. Others proposed that 140 apartments, roughly 20% of the building, become permanently affordable housing – currently, the developer has not agreed to this suggestion.

Another conversation was sparked by the 130,000 sqf of cultural space at the base of the tower. While Bjarke suggested that the International Center for Photography occupy a portion the space, the remaining square footage is envisioned for different retailers that will enliven the sidewalk life. Yet, Hell’s Kitchen locals were promised that Costco and Walmart would not be part of the mix.

With the approval process just beginning, we can expect the project will gain a lot of attention as the finer details must be worked out. Still in his 30s, we believe Ingels has a lot to offer the architectural scene and we’re excited to keep you updated with the approval process of W57th.


Bio-mimicry in Architecture: TED Talks

Michael Pawlyn: Using nature's genius in architecture

Winning Design Turns Abandoned Italian Bridge into Eco Village

We have been having a lot of fun profiling projects submitted to the Solar Park South competition which challenged designers to re-imagine a soon to be decommissioned bridge on the Reggio Calabria Highway in Italy. The winning proposal by French team Phillippe Rizzotti and Off Architecture turns the iconic span of roadwork into a vertical village, injecting a sustainable community into the countryside without the resulting impact stemming from development. A well-considered design, the verticality of the residences allows for privacy and views of the unspoiled landscape.

The jury awarded the plan for best meeting a series of needs including aesthetic, environment, economic, social impact and innovation.The proposal calls for a reinforcing 2 meter grid around the bridge which in turn supports platforms to build habitation on. The platforms could be walled in for apartments or left open to enjoy the view and Mediterranean weather.

The entire project is to be self supporting. A geothermal plant will and generator will provide clean, local electricity. Rainwater will be captured in tanks and filtered to feed the domestic needs through a centralized distribution system and heated by methane from a waste biodigestor. Even graywater will be filtered using phytoremediation and in turn be reused. The team won $20,000 Euros for the groundbreaking concept.

8 Bright Concepts for Portable Gadgetry – B | Technology

Technology helps you have what you need with you at all times. Computer, phone, iPod, keys, wallet, e-book? By now, all of these items can fit in a small bag (or maybe even a pocket of some XL pants).
Wires and “workstations” are outdated; we know that electronics don’t need to be stationed at your desk, locked in a maze of wires. They’re tools to be kept in your pocket or your handbag, whether your goal is to answer an email, or read a 1,000 page book.
But why be satisfied just because our digital essentials are portable? What if everything you used throughout your day was portable? Objects we accept as being bulky and having to be “stationed” in one spot don’t have to be. What if your Coffee Maker didn’t need to be parked on your counter, but could be thrown in your bag to use later, or folded up and hidden in a cabinet?
This gallery, designed by Creative Professionals on The Behance Network, stretches the limits of what can be portable, tackling notoriously bulky items like Projectors and Turntables, or more conceptual items like light sources and search mechanisms.

Art piece needs a temporary new home

Brooklyn based artist Ian Trask is trying to find a home for the above pictured cardboard sculpture. It’s been on a wall in the grand ballroom of Webster Hall for the last 8 months, and due to renovations had to come down. He is trying to find a suitable semi-permanent home so that he doesn’t have to discard the piece.

Do you have space for it? If so, get in touch with Ian.

NASA's black light poster-esque artistic renderings

LIFE's Ben Cosgrove compiled a glorious gallery of NASA artistic renderings that are probably best enjoyed while listening to "Midnight to Mars" by Ashra. "NASA's Wildest Artist Renderings"

For more NASA Images click here


Year: 2010
Size: 20″ x 20″ x 20″

Description: Working with an updated version of the script that produced the earlier Diploid Lamps, this new lamp is fabricated entirely without glue. Every connection is a locking tab that enables the lamp to be built quickly despite the nearly 1000 parts. For price, please email

Tree House / Robert Potokar and Janez Brežnik

The Tree House, designed by Robert Potokar of Robert Potokar Architecture Office and co-designer Janez Brežnik, is a wooden play structure that is elevated without requiring nearby trees to support its weight. The concept, originally designed in February 2008 as since been realized three times.

The freestanding, self-supporting house-by-a-tree is a playhouse designed with contemporary design principles, deviating from precedents that model real houses or garden sheds. Instead, the design was guided by the goal of creating interesting and different spatial experiences for children that inspire new forms of polay.

The house is made of spruce spruce plywood, protected on the exterior by a colourless nano-varnish. The roof is covered in a roofing cardboard that shields against most kinds of unfavourable weather conditions.

The furnishings are minimal and simply constructed from dowel pins that allowed children to participate in the making of their playhouse. The tree features a permanent and retractable bench, and scattered operable openings at different heights in the walls. The house also features a plexi-glass wall at one end that makes the house visually accessible.

Architects: Robert Potokar and Janez Brežnik of Robert Potokar Architecture Office
Location: Trnovo, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Construction: Tesarstvo Kregar
Project: February 2008
Completion: June 2008, July 2009, October 2010
Building area: 3.5 m²
Photographs: Andraž Kavčič, Robert Potokar, Robert Marčun


Saturday, February 12, 2011


It is almost that time again, who should win?

My predictions:
Steven Holl

2011 Jury Members

Lord Peter Palumbo, 2005-present (Chair)
Alejandro Aravena, 2009-present
Carlos Jimenez, 2001-present
Glenn Murcutt, 2010-present
Juhani Pallasmaa, 2009-present
Renzo Piano, 2006-present
Karen Stein, 2004-present
Martha Thorne, 2005-present (Executive Director)


20 Really Nice Examples Of Poster Design

Printed poster are a very nice medium for design and pic­tures. I like it to print some works on a big size, so that I can see all the details. Unfor­tu­nately I have not so many space in my rooms for all the poster I want. There are a lot of great artists who cre­ate very impres­sive and dec­o­ra­tive poster with great ideas. Here I selected 20 exam­ples which could inspire you.

SPEAK SPELL by Anthony Dart


Scarlet Fever

By Gray Scott
It’s interesting that you can’t quite tell whether this is a straight up illustration or a regular photoshoot with some pretty over the top heavy photoshopping going on (at least if it is, they’re not hiding behind a façade of fake perfection real people can never achieve).
Either way, the end result is gorgeous and ethereal.

Source: Zink magazine

How to Ergonomically Optimize Your Workspace

Whitson Gordon — We spend a lot of time sitting at our desks every day, and while it may not look like it, it can wreak havoc with our bodies. Here's how to set up a healthy, ergonomic workspace to keep you comfortable and injury-free.

Some of you may not realize how unfriendly your workspace is to your body, while others of you have already started experiencing repetitive strain injury (RSI) from an improperly set up desk. A number of different factors can cause injuries (yes, even at a desk), and they may not always be obvious—for example, slouching and keeping your shoulders tense can not only cause pinched nerves in your shoulders, but even hurt your wrists. If you haven't given a lot of thought to the comfort of your workspace, it's probably time to give it an ergonomic makeover. Here are the most important things you'll want to go through and change—both in your office hardware and in what you do when you're working.

For the purposes of this guide, we're going to assume you're using a sitting desk. If you really want to go all-out, many people (including some of the Lifehacker editors) have found standing desks to be an incredible boon to their comfort, and there are tons of great DIY solutions out there. If you're looking for a big change, I'd recommend reading up on that too—though for now, we're going to focus on the more traditional sit-down workspace.

What Your Hardware Needs to Do
While you could go all out and build a custom ergonomic desk, all you really need to do is make a few changes around your workspace. Here's where you want all your hardware positioned, and why.

Your Chair
People have been talking about ergonomic office chairs like the uber expensive Herman Miller Aeron line for years now, but there's no need to go plop down a bunch of cash just to be comfortable. Nowadays, you can grab much cheaper ergonomic chairs from a place like Staples or even upgrade your old chair with some DIY fixes. Note that some things are DIYable; some are not. Here are the things you need to make sure your chair has:

A comfortable cushion: One of the most basic and obvious things you need is a comfortable place to sit. A hard chair isn't going to do you any good; a proper office chair with a cushion is going to keep you much more comfortable. After all, you are spending hours at a time in this chair. Breathable fabric is great too, if possible.
Arm rests: Again, this is something you probably can't DIY, but you should have some arm rests on your chair for when you aren't actively typing. They should be low enough that your shoulders stay relaxed and your elbow bends at around a 90 degree angle.
adjustable seat height: It's a lot easier to adjust your seat height than it is adjust your desk height. You want to be able to adjust your seat so that your thighs are parallel to the floor and your feet are flat on the floor. You also want to have your arms at the height of the desk (or the part of the desk containing your keyboard or mouse).
Adjustable back rest height: This is one of the first things to go in the cheaper office chairs, and it was one of the biggest mistakes I was making in my own setup at home. You should be able to adjust your chair's back rest not only up and down, but its angle as well. Generally, you want the angle to be pretty far forward to keep your posture up—the further back you put it, the more likely you'll be to slouch. You'll also want the back rest of your chair to have...
Full size
Lumbar Support: You have probably heard this term a lot, but may not even know what it means. Essentially, our backs are slightly curved inward, meaning the backs of our chairs shouldn't be directly vertical. Instead, they should support our lower backs by coming forward. The graphic to the right illustrates the idea well: the left half is a chair with no lumbar support, the right image has this $10 support added on. Of course, you could just as easily strap a rolled-up towel or something similar on your chair, but you need that support if you don't want to mess up your spine.
The ability to swivel and/or roll around: It's hard to DIY this particular feature, but a chair with wheels and the ability to swivel is actually more of a necessary feature than you may think. When you need to reach for items on your desk, you can put strain on your body—so widening the area you can easily reach (and see without turning your head) can do wonders.
Your Desk
Just plopping your mouse, keyboard and monitor on your desk is not going to give you a healthy working setup. Here's how to make sure everything's set up in the right position.

Mouse and Keyboard Placement
You want your mouse and keyboard to be as close together as possible, with the alphanumeric part of the keyboard centered on your desk. This means you want to pay attention to the keys, not the keyboard itself—most keyboards are asymmetrical, with the number pad on the right. Instead of putting the whole keyboard in the center of your desk, keep an eye on the "B" key. You want that to be directly in front of you and in the center of your desk (or, rather, where you'll be sitting at your desk).

Whether your desk has a sliding keyboard tray or not shouldn't be much of a problem, as you have both an adjustable seat (right?) that can put the keyboard and you can adjust your monitors in a myriad of ways (see below). If you do have a keyboard tray, make sure your mouse is on the tray with it, not on the desk itself. You want your keyboard and mouse to be at the height where using them causes your elbows to be bent at or near a 90 degree angle, so you aren't bending your wrists to type.

While most monitors aren't super adjustable on their own, we've featured numerous DIY monitor stands that are ridiculously easy to build. I'm using the door stopper monitor stand myself, and it works perfectly. You want the point about 2 or 3 inches down from the top of the monitor casing to be at eye level. You also want the monitors to be about an arm's length away from where you're sitting.

The trickier half of the equation is to eliminate glare on the monitors. While some monitors can tilt, many can't, and you're likely going to solve this problem with strategic lighting placement instead of monitor tweaks.

Desk Height
As you're setting up all your hardware, you may want to take a look at this previously mentioned workstation planner. It will help you measure out the proper seat height, keyboard height, and monitor height for your setup, so you can double-check and make sure you've done everything right.

Everything Else
The last thing you'll want to make sure of is that the most important objects at your desk are easily reachable. You shouldn't have to reach for anything often, so use the space you have to store the things you need access to (note in the photo of my keyboard and mouse above, my Droid is the next closest thing). Everything else can go in drawers or other parts of the office. The swivelling and/or rolling chair helps with this: if your chair swivels, you have a larger space for which things are in direct reach.

You Need to Make an Effort
It doesn't matter how "ergonomic" your hardware may be, you still need to be pretty mindful of your body when you work or you'll never reap the benefits of your properly set up workspace. Here are the things you'll want to pay attention to every day to make sure you're being nice to your body.

We've talked about good posture before, and if you've done everything right up until now, you're in a fairly good position: your keyboard is directly in front of you and the right level for a 90 degree bend in your arms, and your monitor is at eye level so you shouldn't be craning your neck up or down to see. In addition, you should always make sure that you:

Don't slouch: this is an obvious one, but is pretty hard for some of us to remember. I found the biggest problem for me was that my seat back was much too far reclined. You want to be sitting up, with your back at about a 100 degree angle to your legs. By setting my seat back all the way forward and making sure I lay back against it, I'm finding it much, much easier to avoid slouching.
Keep your elbows close to your body and keep your wrists straight. This means you can't be reaching for stuff, as I mentioned before—if you find your wrists or elbows aren't playing nice, it's probably because your mouse or keyboard is in the wrong position.
Keep your shoulders and back relaxed: tense shoulder and back muscles will cause all sorts of problems. Make sure they're relaxed, which is probably going to require you not using the armrests when you're typing. Your keyboard should already be at the right level where you don't need to use the armrests, even if it goes against your instincts.

Take Frequent Breaks

It's no secret that sitting in one place staring at the same screen all day is bad for you. You want to generally take at least a five minute break away from your screen every half hour to hour. You'll also want to take some time every 20 minutes or so for the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look away from your screen and at something 20 feet away from you.

The best way to make good use of your breaks (and remember to take them) is with the previously mentioned Workrave and AntiRSI, for Windows/Linux and Mac OS X, respectively. Both apps will notify you when its time to take a break, and Workrave will even suggest some good stretches to do to keep your body loose and RSI-free (though we've shared some of those with you as well). Previously mentioned EyeDefender will also help schedule some quick breaks that'll ease the strain on your eyes. It's something extremely simple you can do that will make a world of difference.

Avoid Eye Strain

Taking those breaks will help your joints and your muscles, but also help relieve some of the eye strain you get staring at your computer all day. Minimizing glare with correct monitor placement will also help, but there are a few tweaks and pieces of software that might help you out. The first thing to do is make sure you have ClearType turned on in Windows, and increase your monitor's refresh rate. I'm also a huge believer in programs like Flux, which will keep your monitor much more eye-friendly at nighttime (if you tend to work later into the evening).

These are but a few of the most important tips to creating a healthy, comfortable workspace. They may seem simple or inconsequential, but they'll make a world of difference. Got any of your own tips for an ergonomic workspace? Share them with us in the comments.

Helvetica | The Positive Posters

Bisgràfic studio came up with an idea to join positivity and design with The Positive Posters. The project is a series of downloadable designs using Helvetica on a grid to include an optimistic phrase or saying that evokes a smile. They are available for download on — and there are even iPhone and iPad wallpapers. Go positivity!

Read more at Design Milk:

Miami Pier Museum of Latin American Immigrants / Maciej Zawadzki

The Miami Pier Museum of Latin American Immigrants, designed by Maciej Zawadzki is a horizontal monument dedicated to the immigrants who arrived in Miami, Florida on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The museum is situated on the coast line, on axis with one of the main streets in the city.

The form of the proposed museum is derived from the analysis of two phenomena. The first is the external form, symbolizing the emotions and tribulations associated with the migration of Latin American Immigrants, emphasizing the dramatic fate of immigrant communities. The internal organization is composed of twisting elevations symbolizing the enormous effort and difficulties that people have to overcome. Irregular aggressive shapes are visible from a distance – the scars of a tragic history.

The second factor is the unique relationship of the coastal environment. The hurricanes of this region were a main inspiration for the external expression of the form. Thus, the external form has a semblance to a large sea wave, generating a dynamic character associated with the shape of the building.

The interior spatial organization is distributed in such a way as to convey the struggles of Latin American Immigrants on their journeys to the U.S. The spatial anatomy, along with various exhibitions, create large ascending areas covered in a twisting roof, spaces that evoke an endlessness, emptiness and nature of the sea. The exhibition hall culminates in a contemplation terrace which points out to the sea in the direction of the south.

The structure was designed to absorb the major forces of the wind throughout the turbulent climatic conditions of the year. Facade materials were chosen that promote the aerodynamics and resistance to high winds and water loads on the structure.


TYPE'o on the Behance Network