Archive for the ‘architecture’ Category

Amazon HQ2 Helix Looms Over Virginia

April 26, 2021

Amazon HQ2 Helix Looms Over Virginia

After saner jurisdictions rejected the project, Amazon selected Northern Virginia for the site of its HQ2 development. Some neighborhoods under the retail behemoth’s footprint will change their names to protect the innocent.

The flagship of this tax-break-enabled building bonanza will be The Helix, a 350 foot tower resembling the Poop Emoji, with an outdoor spiral of landscaped trees available to hikers who relish a pointless trek to nowhere, very Zen. Suggested seasonal uses of the Helix’s outdoor path include a water slide and ski run, or perhaps it will follow the lead of the 150-foot tall Vessel scultpture at New York’s Hudson Yards and become a world-class suicide swan-dive magnet.

The best views of the giant tower will probably be across the Potomac in DC, where residents can shudder and draw the drapes.

More:

“Amazon’s next headquarters is a glass poop emoji covered in trees,” Jacob Kastrenakes,The Verge

“Soft Serve Cone Or Christmas Tree? Amazon HQ2 Helix Sparks Debate,” Michael O’Connell, Arlington Patch

“The Helix is a distraction. Amazon’s new headquarters will change more than just its Arlington neighborhood.,” Philip Kennicott, Washington Post

Update:

“Amazon’s ‘The Helix’ is too tall for airport standards, officials say,” Kristen Schneider, WJLA-TV 7

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Image (“Amazon HQ2 Helix Concept, after Jan Luyken and Willem Goeree, 1682″) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Home: Knowledge, Bathing, Drama, Music, and Food.

January 15, 2020

Architect Takeshi Hosaka built himself a house that would supply the five elements that ancient Romans said were needed for a perfect life: knowledge, bathing, drama, music, and food. He did it in 190 square feet.

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House of the Future, Past

August 20, 2019

Buckminster Fuller designed the Dymaxion House in 1927 as “the home of the future.” The only surviving prototype of Fuller’s vision, located at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, was meant to be a model of an affordable, mass-produced residence, but the design never caught on.

More:

“What are the lessons from Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion House?” Lloyd Alter, Treehugger

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How to keep tall buildings from blowing over.

May 20, 2019

When you look at New York’s new, skinny, “supertall” skyscrapers, you wonder why they don’t just blow over. Architects give them twisted sides, tapered pointy tips, and gaping holes to reduce the wind’s effects and keep the buildings still.

A Vox video by Christophe Haubursin and Gina Barton.

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An Empty Vessel in the Big Apple

March 25, 2019

An Empty Vessel in the Big Apple

Hudson Yards has opened, a new office, upscale condo and luxury shopping development built over an active trainyard on New York’s West Side. The city and state chipped in $6 billion for the project, but maybe that’s not as bad as it sounds.

What is bad, undeniably, is the 150-foot-high, 16 storey, copper-covered selfie magnet looming over Hudson Yards plaza called Vessel. The structure, consisting of 154 flights of stairs, may be a perfect metaphor for New York: you keep climbing but get nowhere.

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Washington, City of Bollards

September 12, 2011

Washington, City of Bollards

“It used to be that D.C. architecture consisted of graceful Georgetown mansions, neoclassical federal buildings — and, of course, the monuments. When the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts was founded in 1910 to guide Washington’s architectural development, it reviewed designs such as those of the Lincoln Memorial and the Federal Triangle. Over the seven years I’ve served on the commission, however, an increasing amount of time is spent discussing security-improvement projects: screening facilities, hardened gatehouses, Delta barriers, perimeter fences, and seemingly endless rows of bollards. We used to mock an earlier generation that peppered the U.S. capital with Civil War generals on horseback; now I wonder what future generations will make of our architectural legacy of crash-resistant walls and blast-proof glass.”

Wittold Rybczynski, Meyerson professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. Read more:

“The Blast-Proof City,” Wittold Rybczynski, Foreign Policy

“I Came, Eyesore, I Conquered,” Witold Rybczynski, Slate

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Capitol Visitor Center Floods

June 5, 2009

Capitol Visitor Center Floods

Above: Flooded dance floor, Al Gore Ballroom, U.S. Capital Visitors Center

The brand-new United States Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), 50 feet underneath the plaza and East Front of the Capitol building, flooded yesterday. As blogger FamousDC observes, “bailout actually needed this time.”  The carpeting of the Tom DeLay Pitch n’ Putt Golf Course is thought to be badly mildewed, though the Larry Craig Public Baths fared better.

The 580,000 square foot underground CVC, which includes the Sonny Bono Memorial Dinner Theatre, Wilbur Mills Exotic Dance Academy, and Interns Gone Wild Lounge, also has some provisions for tourists.

Congressmen were scandalized by the $621 million cost of the facility, $300 million over budget, and may hold hearings on the matter as soon as the CVC’s duplex Sauna and Hearing Room is back in operation.

 

Tourists interested in the full CVC Simulated Capitol Theme Park Xtreme Experience should consult this website; for plain visitor information, look here. 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

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DC OKs Demolition of Brutalist Church

May 13, 2009

DC OKs Demolition of Brutalist Church

Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Washington, D.C. Oh, wait ….

The DC Historic Preservation Review Board had designated the 37-year-old Third Church of Christ, Scientist a Historic Landmark and prevented its demolition, against the wishes of the congregation, the Mayor’s Office, and anyone with at least minimal eyesight who passes 900 16th St. NW. The structure is in the mercifully-extinct style of “Brutalism,” a term derived from the French béton brut, “raw concrete.” It is a huge concrete blockhouse.

Yesterday Harriet Tregoning, Director of the DC Office of Planning, acting as Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation,  issued what appears to be a final ruling on the issue:  junk the joint.

The report observes that “design errors” and “defective workmanship” make the building unsuitable for human pursuits of any kind, even with huge operating expenditures for lighting, temperature and humidity control and ventilation. The DC Government will permit the structure’s demolition. The full document is here. Some excerpts:

— The building’s design and choice of materials, particularly the use of uninsulated concrete, were experimental and it could not have been predicted when the building opened in 1971 whether it would succeed as a place of worship.  …the experiment failed badly.

— Adaptive reuse of the church building is not a viable option.

— The use of uninsulated concrete also resulted in the inability to stabilize the wide range of temperature and humidity levels that exist within the building.

— …the Church could operate in the existing building for only three to five years before exhausting its cash reserves.

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Beauty and Barricades

April 10, 2009

Beauty and Barricades

From the National Building Museum:

Beauty vs. Barricades
Charles H. Atherton Memorial Lecture
April 14, 2009
6:30 – 8:00 pm

Robert Campbell, FAIA, architectural critic for the Boston Globe, examines how to balance the need for security with accessibility, transparency, and aesthetics in D.C.’s built environment.

Members: $12.00
Students: Free
Public: $20.00

Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. more information here.

National Building Museum
401 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
(Red Line Metro, Judiciary Square)

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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