Defpoints


Blubberland
August 6, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Green, Landscape, Urban Design

A new book from MIT Press, Blubberland by Elizabeth Farelly, considers our excesses—space, McMansions, too large cars, supersized plates, plugged-in everything—and asks why it is so hard to abandon habits, relatively recently formed, that we know are destructive to our health, our environment, our social well-being.

In a short text in Architectural Record, she defines blubber’s spatial features—those vast empty calorie shopping malls and cul-de-sac neighborhoods dotted with McMansions and perfectly manicured lawns.

From Blubberland:

I, like you, drive too much. I buy too much–of which I keep too much and also throw too much away. I overindulge my children, and myself. Directly as well as indirectly I use too much water, energy, air and space. My existence, in short, costs the planet more than it can afford. This is not some handed-down moral stricture, nor any sort of guilty self-flagellation, but a simple recognition of fact. The consequences are obvious, and near enough now to see the warts on their noses. For my own future, as well as my children’s, I must change. And yet–this is what’s weird–I, like you, can’t. Cannot abandon comfort, convenience and pleasure for the sake of abstract knowledge. Can’t stop doing it. This is interesting.

It’s interesting because we think we are so rational, so intelligent, and yet we behave, both individually and as a herd, in such unintelligent ways. That’s what drove this book into being.



Housing Lenders Fear Bigger Wave of Loan Defaults
August 4, 2008, 8:25 am
Filed under: Economy, North America

More bad news on the housing / economy front from the New York Times.



Sting likes Bob Stern!
August 3, 2008, 3:44 am
Filed under: Architecture, North America, Urban Design
The highest priced new apartment building in New York City. Photo by Todd Eberle, Vanity Fair.

The highest priced new apartment building in New York City, 15 Central Park West. Photo by Todd Eberle, Vanity Fair.

Sting, Bob Costas, Norman Lear, Sandy Weil, and Denzel Washington live in the new Robert A.M. Stern building on Central Park West. In Vanity Fair Paul Goldberger discusses how this retrograde-looking building turned out to be the most successful in recent New York development history:

nothing appeals to people, particularly rich people, like something new that doesn’t look too new. . . . What Stern actually designed, it turned out, was a building in which every apartment looked like an old Park Avenue apartment after someone had renovated it.

Architect Robert A. M. Stern stands on the concierge desk at 15 Central Park West.

Architect Robert A. M. Stern stands on the concierge desk at 15 Central Park West.



Jean Nouvel on NPR
August 1, 2008, 1:57 pm
Filed under: Architecture
Jean Nouvel

Jean Nouvel

2008 Pritzker Prize winner Jean Nouvel was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today.



New Precast Concrete Sucks CO2 Out of the Air
July 31, 2008, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Green

From Clean Break, a Nova Scotia-based company has developed a precast concrete that sucks carbon dioxide from the air!



Be prepared
July 30, 2008, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Economy

Architectural billing is still down, although there was a slight uptick in the architectural billing index for June (but this just means the decline slowed, rather than an increase in work).



Rising construction costs
July 30, 2008, 5:08 pm
Filed under: Economy, North America

What to do about it, from the Observer:

As the economy sours, ever-rising construction costs seem to be an in-vogue subject: Last night, the New York Building Congress released a report on the topic; the

Manhattan Institute put out recommendations for controlling cost escalations earlier this month; and, on Monday, the Bloomberg administration announced a set of initiatives to lower costs of city projects.

The basic problem–costs have been going up at least 10 percent annually for the past few years–doesn’t seem to have any easy solutions, as the reports (both of which involved consultation with the same firm, Urbanomics) recommended a broad array of changes that could lower costs to varying degrees.



“only an idiot would have said no”
July 30, 2008, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Asia, Politics

Jacques Herzog on choosing to build in China:

Only an idiot — and not a person who thinks in moral terms would have turned down this opportunity — would have said no. I know that there are architects who now claim that they would never have even considered building in China. This is both a naïve and arrogant position, one that reflects a lack of knowledge of and respect for the incredible cultural achievements this country has continuously provided over the last 5,000 years and still provides today.



7-sq-mile sheet of ice drifts away from Canadian ice shelf
July 30, 2008, 1:37 pm
Filed under: Green, North America
A chunk of ice is shown drifting after it separated from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf off the north coast of Ellesmere Island in Canada's far north on Sunday July 27, 2008. The sheet is the biggest piece shed by one of Canada's six ice shelves since the Ayles shelf broke loose in 2005 from the coast of Ellesmere, about 500 miles from the North Pole.  (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sam Soja)

A chunk of ice is shown drifting after it separated from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf off the north coast of Ellesmere Island in Canada's far north on Sunday July 27, 2008. The sheet is the biggest piece shed by one of Canada's six ice shelves since the Ayles shelf broke loose in 2005 from the coast of Ellesmere, about 500 miles from the North Pole. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sam Soja)



Laurie Anderson worked at McDonalds
July 30, 2008, 12:18 pm
Filed under: art, Work Life

The new issue of Smithsonian magazine has an interview with Laurie Anderson.

You’ve also worked at McDonald’s.
Yeah. I began to think, “How can I escape this trap of just experiencing what I expect?” I decided maybe I would just try to put myself in places where I don’t know what to do, what to say, or how to act. So, I did things like working at McDonald’s and on an Amish farm, which had no technology whatsoever.