Stunning 3D navigation of photo and video | PicLens

5 06 2008

I’ve just begun exploring the immersive experience PicLens is creating for photos and videos on the web. This nifty plugin for various web browsers will add an unobtrusive, gray play button to images or previews of videos on sites like YouTube, Flickr, SmugMug, Google Images, Facebook, and more.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about this “PicLens preview“, posted with vodpod

The developer, a Menlo Park, Ca., firm named Cooliris, was founded in January 2006 with support from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Cooliris is part of a momentous upcoming trend that will redefine searching and browsing by eliminating heavy textual references and instead providing previews and rich media directly – allowing for a more consumer-oriented, user-friendly experience that engages rather than befuddles. Read the rest of this entry »


TED | Talks | Bill Strickland: Rebuilding America, one slide show at a time (video)

7 02 2008

When you have 35 minutes to be inspired, please watch this “box of slides” with Bill Strickland. As I listened to his presentation, I felt invited to dream bigger and accomplish more than I’ve ever believed possible. The sheer scale and magnitude of impact this man has had – on the people in his school, on his funders, on his business partners, and on his friends in every town – convinces me I can do more with my own life too.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod

Building green

30 05 2007

Originally published June 2, 2006.

I visited Manhattan for the first time in several years over the Memorial Day weekend, and I kept my eyes peeled for a particular new architectural marvel among the city skyline.  Walking a few blocks north from Times Square on Broadway, my eyes caught the unmistakeable angular facade of the new Hearst Magazine Building, the first building to win LEED Gold certification in New York city (where they said it couldn’t be done).

The stunning structure of diagonal steel grids (no horizontal beams are used) emerges from the original Hearst structure at street level, creating a stunning juxtaposition of form and material.  Each triangular section is four stories high, creating a powerful sense of scale.

Some quick research on the building’s website, which has an excellent photo gallery and video tour, found these quick stats:

The “innovative ‘diagrid’ system (a word contraction of diagonal grid) that creates a series of four-story triangles on the fa�ade. No horizontal steel beams are being used, which is a first for North American office towers. In addition to giving the tower a bold architectural distinctiveness, it is providing Hearst with superior structural efficiency. As a result, Hearst eliminated the need for approximately 2,000 tons of steel, a 20 percent savings over a typical office building.”

“In addition, Hearst is using high efficiency heating and air-conditioning equipment that will utilize outside air for cooling and ventilation for 75 percent of the year, as well as Energy Star appliances. These and other energy-saving features are expected to increase energy efficiency by 22 percent compared to a standard office building. This is a welcome innovation in New York City, where rapidly growing electricity demand is threatening to overwhelm the local power supply.”

My green buildilng interest was further titillated by a full feature article in the current Harvard Business Review, Building the Green Way (free) – well worth the read on your train ride home!  Should the link ever fail, you can download the full article in PDF as well:


Sustainable development: mixed progress report

30 05 2007

Originally published May 25, 2006.

A few recent news items have triaged the current status of sustainable design in architecture and urban development.  In Atlanta, a model of new urbanism and smart growth has emerged in Atlantic Station, where urban lofts, high profile office space, hotel rooms, restaurants and retail have combined to fill a 138-acre plot reclaimed from an old steel mill (see property map image below).

Atlantic Station is tops on the list of the nation’s bold mixed-use/New Urbanism developments, many of which were previously featured in the Business Week article, Bringing Community to the City (also check out the slide show associated with the article).

While the model is exciting for its pedestrian scale, access to public transportation, and inclusive development, the New York Times (Building a City WIthin the City of Atlanta, photo below Tami Chappell for New York Times) suggests the paint is so fresh as to make the place sterile and national retailers dominate storefronts while boutique or local retailers have not yet built a noteable presence, making it awkward to create an image distinct from that of a transplanted suburb.  The sustainable part may be right, but it’s not yet clear if the design works.  (Atlantic Station is roughly only half complete at this point, and several more years of development lie ahead for the ambitious $2 billion project.)

As Atlantic Station is discovering, architects and designers are struggling to identify the place of sustainability in architectural design.  Sustainability and Design seem to be playmates on a teeter-totter – linked together, but often facing trade-offs that raise one element over the other.  In the case of architectural design, interest (and commercial demand) pushes toward architecture as high art, elevating Design above Sustainability.  As students and professors of architecture put it in this New Tork Times article – Architects are a Lagging Indicator for Sustainable Design – the architectural profession is not yet widely geared toward producing practitioners skilled in Sustainable Design – though emerging standards for clean building technology and LEED certifications seem to be effectively demonstrating shifts in demand.

On a hopeful (albeit smaller scale) note,  The Culver House in Chicago is a new glass-facade condo project emerging as a beautiful model of advanced, sustainable building materials and high design, finding a nexus of eco-building and Modernist design.  (see the BusinessWeek article: Condo Development, image reproduced below.)

My hat goes off to the pioneers developing Atlantic Station and other bold mixed-use developments across the country.  I hope you are successful in revolutionizing the way we live, the way we interact with our built environment, and the way we preserve and steward the built environment for future generations.

Economics of urban real estate

30 05 2007

Originally published March 7, 2006 

The New York Times ran a fantastic column interviewing Harvard economist Edward Glaeser about the inextricable links between urban housing prices and the life of a city.  Provocative insights into the mind of a gifted economist with an eye on the life of people and the places that house them.

NY Times – Home Economics (March 5, 2006)

Special thanks to my dear friend Kristi for forwarding this article…