Category cities

Algae-powered, German-engineered, ARUP-designed… what’s not to love?

The word modern seems to have lost it’s luster. Hyper-modern better describes things that truly push the envelope… and this building does just this.

I think what I love most about this project is the overlapping of disciplines. Energy and architecture are somewhat strange bedfellows.

Most of us think we’ll eventually fly around (thanks Jetsons). We’re already using tri-corders (thanks Star Trek and Apple) to stay in touch. But I’m guessing very few of us thought we’d see the day when a building would be powered by algae.

Architecture powered by scum. If that doesn’t say 2014 than what does?

Wild project. Of course it’s in Germany. I love this.

Painting the town red, blue, yellow, green, chartreuse, beige…

1Stripes seem to be having a moment.

Everywhere we look we see stripes. The Meininger Hotel Berlin Airport offers one more example.

Think of every building you’ve ever seen… ok now think of the color scheme of every building you’ve ever seen. I’m guessing your brain isn’t overflowing with color.

99% of buildings are predicable, gray, boring… one-dimensional. It’s almost like architecture lost its color pallet, entirely.

Enter the Meininger. It may be the complete opposite of every building in your memory bank; it has the look of a large-scale fantastical color experiment.


2When I first saw photos of this structure my memory was tugged back to Rem Koolhause’s European Flag proposal.

Rem’s flag is perhaps the most interesting, fresh and modern flag design outside of a design class experiment. And that, the fact that his flag was passed over (officials opted for the instant-classic ring of stars), draws me to this building even more.

This building is not a concept sketch. It’s real. That gives it heft and meaning. We’ve all seen concept car sketches we knew would never make it into the mainstream.

It’s one thing to propose radical change and another thing entirely to follow through.

3I love this building on multiple levels.

I love the stark lines; i love the harsh rectilinear forms stacked up like a Lego experiment.

I dig the flatness of the colors and their random application. The non-patterned lines make it clear this is not a rainbow or some other cliche pattern. I also love the way the light plays across the shapes, highlighting a wall of stripes while making other walls fade away as if masked with a black transparent filter.

Kudos to the architect, Petersen Architekten.

Reserve a room here.


Stacking large boxes in Singapore

Some ideas are so… so simple. This is one of them.

I remember designing a structure when I was a kid. It was two rectangles, one on top of the other. The upper half was twisted off to one side. It looked a lot like… this.sing
Sometimes we think “past” an idea. We make it more complex because we believe it needs to be complex to be novel or interesting. Complexity, most times, dilutes the essence of the original idea and introduces users to tangents of the main idea. Complexity confuses.

I’m intrigued by The Interlace project in Singapore for these reasons. On one level it is simple. Just twisted boxes on top of each other. Yet on another level the angles introduce new ways for communities to interact, new places for gardens and communal spaces to develop. I bet the shadows are also fairly interesting throughout the year. Instead of vertical high-rise shadows this complex yields more interesting… geometry-inspired shadows.

It was designed by Ole Scheeren from OMA in the Netherlands. I have no idea about the green/LEED elements of this project, I just love the simple yet novel design. 

Optical glass house

I love it when people think about an idea with a fresh perspective. We tend to see more innovation when people start with a blank canvas and innovate rather than start with what exists and end up changing 3%.

This is one of those ideas… a gorgeous dwelling made with optical-quality glass blocks in Hiroshima, Japan, by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Architects.

More pics here.

Urban motocross and the hyper-fragmentation of everything

The first time I saw this trailer I was blown away.

The truth is that I probably over-reacted… I should have assumed that anything from anywhere is potentially applicable everywhere else.

The world we live in is now a place where all the dots have been connected.

Everything is shared, everything is consumed, elements are reinterpreted, seeds are planted, wild mutations take root… unlikely, odd blossoms are seen instantly by… everyone. The cycle repeats itself… endlessly.

NWA meets Supercross meets The Outsiders… this film feels like multiple films were haphazardly, genetically spliced together.

Wild in the streets. 12 O’Clock Boys. Yes, it was funded via Kickstarter.

Another galaxy lands in Beijing

The Galaxy Soho, a project by Zaha Hadid Architects, was unveiled in Beijing earlier this month.

The word “moonscape” comes to mind.

The above photograph by Ben Lepley captures the spacey vibe, clean colors and flowing lines. A plethora of other photos can be found on the architects site here.

What I love beyond the organic forms and shifting landscape is the fact that the entire complex is only 15 stories high. It’s approachable even by pedestrians.

It’s hard to make a statement in a city unless you go up and odd. Yet many of the taller projects are hard to truly grasp and/or appreciate unless you have a very specific vantage point which isn’t crowded by other, competing projects.

Smaller projects somehow seem more human-scale. I love this complex and look forward to the day I can see it in-person.

Great little video below as well. It’s wonderful to have this spoken about by locals living in and around the construction and project. Wild juxtaposition between new and old… which has become a quintessentially Beijing attribute.

Flying through Los Angeles

It’s always best to go forward.


This video by Colin Kennedy does that. It provides a driven and raw view into the city of angels. It reminds us that LA isn’t the prettiest cities on the globe… not even close. Still, you have to love the intensity of the skater (Austyn Gillette), the dense editing and the well-timed soundscape.

Ladies and gents, speeding through Los Angeles.

Everything that happens will happen today

David Byrne and Brian Eno represent ground zero to me when I think of people that constantly reinvent what we think of as “music.”

This video offers a fresh look into their minds and practices… it gives us a window into the collaborative nature of making music at their level. What I like even more about video is how casual and personal it feels. The whole thing doesn’t seem overly staged or rehearsed. It’s almost as if you’re there, as a friend would be, listening in on some tracks in the process of being mixed… hearing what they like and don’t like.

Listen to the David Bryne & Brian Eno album, Everything that happens will happen today here.

Fresh vignette by Hillman Curtis.

Handmade mechanical watches from Brooklyn

Ever since I could tell the difference between an automatic watch and everything else… I was smitten with the former. As all-things-digital have become more commonplace this love for analog, mechanical watches has only deepened.

My first automatic was a Seiko Diver’s watch I bought off a fisherman at a flea market somewhere in the Florida Keys. I’ll never forget that moment or that watch (which I lost surfing a decade or so ago).

An automatic watch does not necessarily equate to a high-priced watch but all high-priced watches are automatics. This relationship simply suggests that watches that aren’t automatic were designed as a disposable or semi-disposable consumer product. For proof of this go ahead and list your favorite quartz on eBay.

The below video caught my eye as I heard about the “modding” movement a few years ago. Modding is when people take existing product and modify it. It’s not a new phenomenon, I’ve modded more than a few consumer products over the years… but this one seemed… more interesting. I ended up connecting with a person in Hong Kong who was starting with Seiko 5 movements and essentially custom making watches. It made perfect sense… why not take high-quality watch movements and… create something new, something better?

This isn’t an Asian phenomenon… as this video proves.

Straight outta Brooklyn.

Location, location, location: Renzo Piano’s new Whitney

As I write this I’m sitting in the much-adored High Line in the Meatpacking District of NYC. The revitalization of this area seems to be getting better and better every day. It must be quite the case study for urban planning turnaround projects.

When I heard Renzo Piano was designing a new Whitney Museam I was intrigued. I love his work and this project is a bit personal to me as my wife Andrea used to work at the existing Whitney on 75th Street. When I heard it was going to located in this area and straddling the Hudson River I was instantly smitten.

This project feels similar to the Guggenheim Bilbao. That museum, also a satellite of a NY icon and also straddling a river, almost overpowers that region. I take that back, it DOES overpower the city of Bilbao. It acts as a stand-alone monument, a one-man show.

The Piano-proposed Whitney seems to have learned a bit from that project. It embraces the wide vistas of the Hudson, takes in massive quantities of natural light from the south and yet it doesn’t seem too in love with itself. It’s design offers a modern juxtaposition to nearby industrial, turn of the century warehouses and also seems to feel right at home. I love it.