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Tag Archives: sustainable design

Small Furniture, Big Impact

posted on 08/07/2018

Providing a comfortable environment with reliable furniture and supplies is an essential part of any student’s learning. That is why UNICEF, the United Nations agency aimed at improving the lives of children and their families in low- and middle-income countries, launched an international tender to design ergonomically correct, child-friendly, and sustainableclassroom furniture for children globally, particularly in Sub-Saharan African communities—where consistency, quality, and new design could be challenging.

Based on a competitive process, UNICEF selected Mary Burnham and Jeff Murphy, partners at Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects in New York as the architect firm that would design the classroom furniture. The team created prototypes of two new desks and a chair that fully meet with UNICEF requirements, and that could also be made by the region’s small-scale, local manufactures. The designs were developed on an open-source platform and made available to all.

DESIGNING CLASSROOM FURNITURE THAT MATTERS

“We were attracted to UNICEF’s humanistic agenda and their commitment to education and serving children,” said Murphy of his inspiration for getting involved. Burnham and Murphy started by surveying school furniture use and common fabrication methods in Rwanda and Malawi. They then presented their research and design approaches to UNICEF’s Innovation Unit in Copenhagen, where a team of external experts provided feedback and helped them decide on the final three designs.

MCLENNAN LEAVES HIS HANDPRINT ON SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

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Made with wood, painted metal tubes, and simple joinery, the new UNICEF furniture designs were tested in Copenhagen and by field researchers (Malawi students). After final tests and a few minor changes, prototypes of the desks and chairs were sent eventually to Malawi, where they serve as model pieces to be copied by local fabricators. Since the project’s initial start in 2012, a total of 4,186 sets of furniture have been or are in the process of being installed across Rwanda, Malawi, and Ethiopia in 10 schools and 32 classrooms.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

UNICEF creates Target Product Profiles (TPPs) to communicate requirements for products which are currently not available on the market, but which fulfill a priority need to be used in the unique context in which UNICEF and its partners operate. TPPs include information on how the new product will be used, by or for whom, and the minimum and ideal performance criteria. The purpose of TPPs is to guide industry to develop products that meet UNICEF’s needs, however, they do not act as the final procurement specifications, but rather as a list of desired requirements that combined describes the ideal product considering the context. Learn more about TPPs and sign up to receive updates by clicking here.

WE LOVE DESIGN. YOU LOVE DESIGN. HERE’S EVEN MORE.

American-Made, Atlanta-Proud | Acoustics 101 Part 5

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Living Walls Put the ‘Green’ in Greenbuild

11/20/2018 | BY ADRIAN THOMPSON

Nothing says dedication to green building like putting actual greens on a building. Displayed at more than one booth during this year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago were several examples of exterior and interior living green walls.

SageGreenLife green wall example.
(Photo provided by SageGreenLife)

A growing trend, these living walls have become an easy way for companies in a variety of sectors — healthcare, office, hospitality, etc. — to incorporate sustainable design into their building or facility while also promoting the health and well-being of employees.

How Does It Work?

Nathan Beckner, horticulturalist and plant designer for SageGreenLife, showcased during GreenBuild just how SageGreenLife’s exterior and interior walls work exactly – it turns out to be much simpler than one thinks.

SageGreenLife Corporate Wall

SageGreenLife’s living walls, for example, are comprised of a PVC backing board and drainage mat on the bottom, and then battens hold up tile and irrigation on the top. “The tiles fit between the battens and each one is irrigated individually,” explains Beckner.

“So that’s really key to show how it’s different from other systems because each row of ours has its own dedicated line, so it’s really going to be able to control the water. You can really dial it in and have as minimal water waste as possible,” he continues. (Photo provided by SageGreenLife)

Important to the installation process is providing easy access for future maintenance and changing out plants. Beckner points out that when designing green walls for exteriors, one must consider the location of the plants, their exposure to the elements and the region’s weather.

See how one parking garage in Bloomington, IN, took its climate into consideration and decided to use annuals for its colorful exterior display.

A Green Wall Gave Life to this Parking Garage

Squares of colorful flowers and plants spill out of an entire column of windows – giving what was once a standard, utilitarian six-story garage a lively addition to its exterior.

See how this parking garage in Bloomington, IN, took its climate into consideration and decided to use annuals for its colorful exterior display.

“For interiors, it’s a completely different animal” adds Beckner. “You have to take into consideration high traffic. Are a lot of people going to be touching the plants? This happens often. A lot of interaction with social media also happens so you have to make sure the plant material is durable enough for the space.”

SageGreenLife office set
(Photo provided by SageGreenLife)

What are the benefits?

Yawkey Gallery of the Charles River provided by AmbiusWe hear time and time again that having plants inside can bring about a plethora of positive outcomes. While exterior plants are easy on the eyes and make for great visuals, it seems that the benefits of interior plants are more profound.

(Photo: Yawkey Gallery of the Charles River provided by Ambius)

“There’s a lot of benefits on installing green walls in interiors, especially in office spaces,” says Zack Sterkenberg from Ambius, another living green wall provider on display at Greenbuild. “There’s been studies that have proven just the view of greenery increases productivity and health and wellness.”

Plants are natural air purifiers and have proven to be mood boosters, enhance concentration and memory, help increase compassion and improve relationships. Even moss has proven to possess acoustical benefits when incorporated into a facility’s interior.

When asked why companies should consider installing a living wall, Ambius architect Matt Hills says it just depends on what the company is looking for.

“Are they looking to attract new talent?” Hills asks. “Green walls are great for branding, so if somebody walks in – especially someone from the millennial generation – they’re looking for a company that’s thinking about the environment, that’s thinking about what they are interested in and sustainability, and green wall branding is a great way of doing that.”

Picking Your Plants

If considering installing a living green wall, the most important part of the process will be selecting the right plants and space to put them in. Both SageGreenLife and Ambius have a wide range of plants available to use for exterior and interior projects.

Ambius living wall
(Photo provided by Ambius)

It’s crucial to take light into consideration – some species like ferns, evergreens and snake plants can tolerate low light while others like cacti and chrysanthemums need a bit more. You can learn more in Perks of Plants: How to Pick the Right Plant for Your Space.

Remember that regional species are best for exteriors, while interiors have a bit more flexibility when it comes to the selection process.

Living Walls - SafeGreenLife I Hear Design Podcast

What does it take for a living walls company to make sure even the worst brown thumbs keep their system alive?

Kadie Yale, interiors+sources’ editor-in-chief, sits down with Nathan Beckner, lead plant designer of sagegreenlife to discuss their latest collaboration with Gensler

“If it’s more for a visual look, we have designers that put together design options based on industry trends and also feedback from the clients,” says Sterkenberg. “So if the client is looking for a specific type or feel to the wall, we can design small plants, large plants, etc.”

George Washington University provided by Ambius
(Photo: George Washington University provided by Ambius)

Sterkenberg also adds that because some plants remove different chemicals than others from the air, clients can customize specific plants to incorporate into the wall to take out varying pollutants.

See which species can give you a breath of fresh air in 5 Purifying Indoor Plants.

5 Air Purifying Indoor Plants

Research into air purifying indoor plants like the Golden Pothos (pictured) has yielded several top species that are especially good at absorbing VOCs with their leaves and roots.

See which greenery can give you a breath of fresh air in 5 Air Purifying Indoor Plants.

 

With sustainable design and a sharp focus on health and wellness continuing to evolve the building process, it’s likely the popularity and sight of living green walls will continue to flourish. While building and facility managers don’t need a green thumb to take care of their space’s living wall, it is always helpful to learn what to expect with them once installed.

Get growing!

Janelle Penny, senior staff writer at BUILDINGS, contributed to this article.

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How the Architecture of Hospitals Affects Health Outcomes

OCTOBER 15, 2018

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MATHISWORKS/GETTY IMAGES

A key determinant of everything that matters when it comes to health interventions — the experience, cost, and results — has been hiding in plain sight. It is the buildings and spaces in which patients are treated. The size and layout of a room, whether a bed sits in the middle or against a wall (even which wall), how much space is maintained for patients to walk versus how many beds or operating equipment can be accommodated, have not been considered predictors of health outcomes in the past. That’s changing, as architects and health care organizations come together to incorporate principles of social design into the built health care environment.

“Social design,” a term whose roots go back several decades, fully entered the lexicon around 2006. It refers to the design of relationships, including those that are invisible and intangible. Unlike design thinking, an iterative process for developing alternative ideas and strategies based on understanding a “user” and a specific problem, social design addresses the needs of whole communities or societies. In health care that means reimagining the role a building can play in the health of its inhabitants and the locale in which it is situated.

INSIGHT CENTER

Consider the collaboration between Dr. Neel Shah and nonprofit architecture firm MASS Design Group. Shah, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, directs the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs, a partnership between the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Cofounded by Michael Murphy, a Harvard-trained architect who has devoted himself to improving the social impact of built environments, MASS is changing the way hospitals are designed and constructed. Murphy has written extensively about the offenses his profession commits against the vulnerable and powerless, especially with hospitals, prisons, and public housing.

In 2014, Murphy made a presentation on the history of hospital design at Ariadne Labs. His observations about the impact of hospital design on patient health and dignity struck a chord with Shah. For the next year, Shah and a MASS research team — led by Murphy, Amie Shao, and nurse-turned-architect Deb Rosenberg — embarked on a study of the growing crisis in unnecessary Caesarean deliveries in the United States, which result in hundreds of thousands of cases of avoidable suffering due to surgical complications and lead to $5 billion in wasted spending each year. They looked at 12 diverse facilities for evidence of how unit design affects Caesarean rates. (Previous studies looked only at room scale, not unit scale.) They found, among other things, that hospitals with relatively more operating rooms and relatively fewer labor rooms tended to do more surgery.

But the story is much bigger than one narrow area of clinical care. In other work, MASS has demonstrated that every aspect of the design of hospitals and clinics is an opportunity to improve patient experience and outcomes. The Butaro District Hospital in Rwanda has become a benchmark for how prioritizing patients’ health can prevent the spread of infectious disease and send patients home faster. Working with Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health, MASS helped design the hospital to mitigate and reduce the transmission of airborne disease through overall layout, patient and staff flow, and natural cross-ventilation. The use of local materials — like volcanic rock from the Virunga mountain chain — and local labor-intensive practices enabled a site-appropriate, sustainable design and stimulated the local economy.

The Cholera Treatment Center in Haiti, developed in partnership with Haitian health care provider Les Centres GHESKIO, incorporates a wastewater-treatment system designed to prevent recontamination of the water table, stopping the spread of disease. Local metalworkers crafted the facility’s façade; local craftsmen helped produce furniture tailored to the needs of cholera patients.

In the work of MASS and in the insights emerging from the research initiative on clinical care in childbirth a number of key social design principles can be seen — principles that are adaptable to any built environment in which health care is delivered. Those principles include the following:

Make sure your vision reflects the ultimate objectives. Shah set out to examine whether health care facilities are designed to deliver, as he says, more health or just more health care. For example, hospitals have traditionally measured their success in terms of bed occupancy. Consequently, their design features many private rooms and little space for walking. But current medical thinking holds that for a great many patients and conditions, getting up and around is essential for recovery. The traditional hospitals are delivering health care, but not necessarily health, which should be the ultimate objective.

Seek input from people who don’t think like you. Patients, families, physicians, nurses, administrators, and architects look at issues through different lenses. They are all important to understanding why things happen the way they do. For example, various stakeholders in the Butaro District Hospital asked why a hospital ward should follow traditional layouts, with patients lying with their heads at the exterior wall while doctors and visitors have views out the windows behind them. What happens when sick people have a view of the countryside instead of staring at other sick people all day long? Why employ traditional designs for ventilation when they depend on a power grid that often fails, exposing patients to airborne diseases that make them sicker than they were when they entered the hospital?

Make the invisible visible. Make maps and draw the systems at work in your facility, including patterns of traffic, people who talk to each other and those who don’t, and room and building layouts. Drawing is the only reliable way to make sure diverse people are seeing the same thing. Shifting the language we use from verbal to visual uncovers the hidden dynamics that form our thinking and behavior and unleashes new thinking. An architect’s instinct to measure size and traffic flow in labor units helped make the causes of the C-section epidemic visible.

Experiment continually. Planning, especially facilities planning, almost inevitably stifles ongoing innovation. Planning builds in assumptions about the future at a time when things change faster than ever — in health care no less than in other areas of our lives. It freezes design — of processes as well as space — in place. And it often puts an end to transformation until the next distant planning cycle. Counterbalance long-term planning through constant experimentation that proceeds on the belief that complex problems can be unraveled and innovation hastened by really listening to feedback gleaned from prototypes that keep designers’ work connected to the needs of the communities they serve. This model is emerging in interdisciplinary innovation labs like the Helix Centre at Imperial College London, the Center for Innovation at the Mayo Clinic, and the Consortium for Medical Technologies at Massachusetts General Hospital, where clinicians, designers, engineers, patients, and business professionals engage in continual innovation.

Adoption of these principles of social design can not only help lead to better health outcomes but also help hospitals thrive at a time when patients increasingly seek information to guide their choice of health care facilities. Those decisions often include elements of design, though consumers may not frame them that way, thinking instead in more concrete terms like whether a facility has dedicated walking spaces to help speed convalescence and shorten hospital stays or waiting areas that don’t feel like bus stations. And some consumers will include in their deliberations larger social goods like the facility’s relations with its neighborhood and its reputation for delivering health, not just health care.

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Introducing sustainable design early leads to more resilient projects

Many companies are influenced by the misconception that only some projects can qualify as sustainable.

 

OCTOBER 03, 2018 |
GENSLERON
Leland Federal Building

The G.T. “Mickey” Leland Federal Building in Houston. Image © Joe Aker.

Ten years ago, the goal was to convince clients that sustainable design was the solution to climate change. Those days are gone. Now, the majority of our clients have a deep understanding that climate change, air pollution, water quality, and deforestation are threatening the future of our cities. They also know that the built environment plays a significant role as both the cause and the solution. In fact, many Fortune 500 companies now see sustainable design as an opportunity to improve their social, environmental, and long-term economic performance—what many refer to as the Triple Bottom Line. Some have even hired “Directors of Sustainability,” employees whose sole focus is to develop corporate sustainability strategies that align with the company mission statements.

In this new reality, the biggest challenge for Gensler’s clients—including several who are on the Fortune 500 List—is not the lack of concern about the built environment, but the ability to develop a sustainability and resilience plan that aligns with the company’s Triple Bottom Line (i.e. its social, economic, and environmental goals). Unfortunately, too many companies are influenced by the misconception that only some projects can qualify as sustainable. Many people still think that high-performance building projects that are LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certified are either too expensive or too complicated to achieve, and that those certifications are reserved only for a few select developments. We try to convince our clients that this isn’t the case. Besides, a few select high-performance buildings by themselves will not go far toward achieving the LEED goals of slowing or even stopping climate change. We need to find sustainable solutions that can guide the design of all projects, whether they involve new buildings of existing ones.

 

START WITH SUSTAINABILITY

At Gensler, we bring sustainable ideas to our projects at the very beginning. This critical first step can transform a risk-averse, cost-conscious construction industry and allow for an open-ended dialog that facilitates a more deeply integrated and visually rich design solution.

 

INTEGRATE A SUSTAINABLE PROCESS THROUGHOUT

We also provide our clients with a holistic “integrative process” (see illustration, below) that can reduce ambiguity and stream sustainability and resilience throughout a project. A successful integrative process can lead to the implementation of basic design strategies related to ecology, renewable energy, water conservation, indoor air quality, and local architecture, making the process accessible in a language that everybody can understand.

 

STARTING EARLY ALLOWS US TO LEARN AND ADAPT AS WE GO

By implementing a process early, we’re able to provides opportunities for integration of sustainability and resilience, and it furthers a deeper understanding of our clients’ challenges and goals. Only through a holistic integrative design we can begin to act fast and tackle the social and environmental problems we face today.

Sustainability shouldn’t be the goal of just 1 percent of building projects. We need to achieve 100 percent better outcomes.

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William McDonough Champions Sustainable Design With the Circular Economy

Poetic visionary and tireless evangelist for the closed-loop industrial cycle known as Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough is the prototypical TED Talks rock star of sustainable design. Approximately 8,000 products bear the C2C imprimatur, a certification created by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. The former dean of the architecture school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, he now serves as a visiting executive lecturer, while William McDonough + Partnersoperates nearby, working on such projects as environmentally forward manufacturing plants for Herman Miller and the Ford Motor Company.

McDonough grew up in Tokyo after World War II, so the globetrotting lifestyle comes second-nature to him. He’s as agile at strategizing ways to reuse consumer and industrial waste as he is when discussing ancient philosophy. After his latest trip to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland—where he designed the ICEhouse, short for Innovation for the Circular Economy—he paused to remind us how designers can save the planet.

Interior Design: The ICEhouse has become the cool hangout for the Davos cognoscenti.

William McDonough: It’s been a quiet place to meet outside the conference center, without badges—a small pavilion full of emptiness. Someone who didn’t know my personal background said it must have been designed by someone who was born in a Japanese paper house. And that is true.

The walls are only 1 inch thick, but they are fitted with Aerogel translucent R-15 nanotechnology insulation. Really space-age. You think you’re going to freeze, and actually you’re warm. The light is perfect, too. It’s slightly magical—and also a way for people to physically be inside the circular economy.

The ICEhouse’s Aerogel R-15 nanotechnology insulation. Photography by William McDonough + Partners.

ID: What is the circular economy?

WM: Instead of simply taking, making, and discarding, we can remake things— and start designing for that. The ICEhouse is constructed from a few simple materials, with nylon carpet from my C2C collection for Shaw Industries. Everything can be reused or recycled, ad infinitum.

ID: How have people reacted to the ICEhouse?

WM: Two CEOs told me that the best meeting of their life occurred there. When they had an idea, it became light, beauty, perfection.

William McDonough in front of the ICEhouse in Davos, Switzerland. Photography by Nick Maxted.

ID: What sort of ideas?

WM: SABIC announced a plan to take back plastic trash from “bottom of barrel,” all the stuff you can’t normally recycle. It’s going to upcycle it using pyrolysis, or non-oxygen combustion, at a specially designed plant. Essentially, the process leaves behind a sludge that contains all the inks, glues, and other contaminants that can’t be recycled while pulling out the hydrocarbon. We get back the oil that makes recyclable plastics and stop putting fugitive carbon into the world.

ID: What’s fugitive carbon?

WM: Carbon is innocent. Carbon is a tool in the hands of humans. The user gives it a value, positive or negative. Fugitive carbon is released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, deforestation, food scraps in landfills, and so on. Carbon can be toxic. But there’s “living” carbon, which is organic, flowing in biological cycles, providing fresh food, healthy forests, and fertile soil. That’s also different from “durable” carbon, which is locked in stable solids such as coal and limestone or recyclable polymers that can be reused.

It’s important, at this moment of the fourth industrial revolution, to learn a new language. Being less bad is not being good. We have to be more good. That’s what we have to tell children.

Plantronics headquarters in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. Photography courtesy of William McDonough + Partners.

ID: How many kids do you have?

WM: Two. And I consider myself an honorary child. The world needs adults operating under child supervision. Children think Cradle to Cradle is obvious.

ID: What’s on the C2C horizon?

WM: International Flavors & Fragrances has launched a C2C scent—and such companies don’t typically give out a formulation to review against C2C standards. Also, new C2C plastics are coming out. We even have C2C-certified T-shirts. Every single molecule of those shirts has been designed for human health, made by people who are properly rewarded, using 100 percent renewable energy and water that is so clean that they reuse it. So we can do this. We can live like this.

Fashion chain C&A’s recyclable cotton T-shirt, C2C-certified Gold. Photography courtesy of C&A.

ID: Do you have time for architecture these days?

WM: We always like to have a house in progress—we’re finishing an exquisite one in Santa Cruz, California. In Luxembourg, we’ve been commissioned to design a hotel based on principles of the circular economy. With various clients around the world, we’re working on solar arrays that also help grow food. Our solutions don’t do only one thing at a time. We can do solar plus food plus water. Plus, plus, plus.

ID: What was your first product conceived as Cradle to Cradle?

WM: It was Eco Intelligent polyester for Victor Innovatex, almost 20 years ago, when I was first thinking about indoor air quality. We surround ourselves with things that we breathe, see, and touch. Why shouldn’t they be healthy and beautiful? When you’re working with a matter of principle like this, you just keep going. Sure, it’s tough, but it’s great work, so get on with it.

The aerobics studio at Nike’s European headquarters in Hilversum, the Netherlands. Photography by William McDonough + Partners.
Also certified Gold, Method cucumber gel hand wash. Photography courtesy of Method.
For Shaw Industries, his nylon carpet Essay of Clues, Cradle to Cradle–certified Silver by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. Photography courtesy of Shaw Contract Group.
Steelcase’s C2C-certified Think chair, disassembled. Photography courtesy of Steelcase.

> See more from the February 2018 issue of Interior Design

Continue reading William McDonough Champions Sustainable Design With the Circular Economy

Minneapolis’ Super Bowl LII stadium sports innovative sustainable design

Whether you are a football fan or not, you probably know that Super Bowl LII is scheduled to happen Feb. 4 at the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Beyond excitement for the game itself, there’s a lot of buzz about the stadium itself, which can seat up to 70,000 fans.

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Top 10 Design Stories of 2017

2017 was a busy year for the design industry. Here’s a look back at ten stories that inspired and challenged us. 

First Phase of Second Avenue Subway Completed

The new 72nd Street station, part of the first phase of the Second Avenue subway. Photography by Charles Aydlett, courtesy of AECOM-Arup JV.

Progress on the eagerly anticipated Second Avenue subway line in New York City moved forward, with new stations opening to the public on January 1. When completed, the line will run a total of 8.3 miles and transport over 200,000 daily commuters.

Women Made Gains in Architecture, But Diversity Remains an Issue

Denise Scott Brown outside of Las Vegas, NV. Photography by Robert Venturi, via ArchDaily.

The architecture industry has gotten a bad rap for its lack of diversity in the field, but some small gains were made this year. Legendary architect and educator Denise Scott Brown was awarded the Jane Drew Prize for women in architecture, and Carme Pigem of RCR Arquitectes was awarded the Pritzker Prize, along with her male partners. She is the third woman to ever receive the prestigious award. 

This Year’s Design Trends Were Bold, Brilliant, and Bizarre

Canvas Worldwide’s L.A. headquarters features iridescent glass throughout. Photo courtesy of A+I. 

The muted palettes and rigid geometric forms of minimalism saw a backlash from new and established designers looking for something to break up the monotony. Iridescent coloring, unconventional forms, and frenetic maximalist arrangements made a breakthrough this year. 

Oslo Airport’s Expansion Sets the Bar High for Sustainable Design

Interior shot of Oslo airport’s recently opened expansion. Photography courtesy of Nordic Office of Architecture.

Nordic Office of Architecture’s Oslo airport expansion is the greenest terminal in the world, receiving the BREEAM excellence in sustainability rating. The Scandinavian airport reaches Passive House standards of energy consumption through clever building orientation, environmentally friendly materials, and biophilic design.

Louvre Abu Dhabi Opens to the Public

The dome of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, known as the “Rain of Light”, echoes forms of traditional Arabian architecture and was inspired by date palm fronds. Photography by Roland Halbe.

Pritzker Prize winner Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in November to wonder and applause from the design community and the general public. The museum boasts impressive numbers, including 55 individual buildings and 23 galleries, all covered by a dome comprised of 7,850 lattice work stars and measuring 590 feet wide. 

Neave Brown Receives Royal Gold Medal

American architect Neave Brown exited the architecture field at age 73 to focus on fine art. Photography by Garath Gardner. 

Modernist architect Neave Brown designed some of London’s landmark social-housing complexes, including the Alexandra Road Estate and the Dunboyne Estate. He is the only living architect to have all of his work listed. 

Biophilic Design Continues to Bloom

EcoLogicStudio’s H.O.R.T.U.S (Hydro Organisms Responsive to Urban Stimuli) room at this year’s Astana Expo. The tubes are filled with photosynthetic micro-algae, an organism that is gaining popularity as an alternative to fossil fuels. Photography courtesy of NAARO. 

Biophilic design gained more ground this year, with several hotel and apartment lobbies featuring lush green walls, and exciting new designs, like BIG’s San Pellegrino flagship factory or SOM’s India Basin, making biophilic design more and more popular. This year also introduced the Living Future Institute’s first annual Stephen R. Kellert Biophilic Design Award, awarding the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore with the inaugural first place prize. 

Architects Call for Change After Grenfell Tower Tragedy

A temporary school built by Portakabin surrounds the ruins of Grenfell Tower, which caught ablaze earlier this year. Photography courtesy of Getty, via Dezeen

As it became clear that subpar external cladding caused the tragic Grenfell Tower fire earlier this year, architects around the globe responded by demanding better practices and code for high-rise buildings going forward. RIBA demanded an end to combustible cladding, and incensed industry professionals suggested the U.K. government’s long history of cost-cutting policies directly lead to the disrepair and ultimate destruction of Grenfell.

Tech Giants Embrace Bold Architecture

Google’s London HQ will be as long as the city’s tallest tower is tall. Rendering courtesy of Google, via Dezeen

Tech giants Apple and Google publicly revealed their plans for bold, new headquarters in Cupertino and London, respectively. With big names like Norman Foster (Apple) and Heatherwick Studio and BIG (Google) spearheading these projects, each building pushes the boundaries of what is feasible for workplace design. 

President Trump’s Border Wall Stirs Controversy in Design Field

Five of the eight border wall prototypes favored by President Trump erected on the U.S.-Mexico border. Photography by Mike Black, via Reuters.

When President Trump made his plans for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border known, architects were divided over the ethical ramifications of bidding for the project. Many designers felt that the wall reflected xenophobic values and stood against the architect’s professional code, while others saw no moral reason to not bid for the project. 

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3 big ways sustainable design will shape future cities

There’s always been something fantastical about imagining the cities of the future. As a society, we’ve curiously studied utopias and dystopias, drawing similarities between our own world and theirs. We watch science-fiction films that conceptualize flying cars, teleportation machines and floating green parks. Some of us even fantasize about cities above the clouds.

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