Friday, October 12, 2007

Generic posting due to chaos...

My world is imploding right now, so I'm just going to do a quick post...

Architects, Designers and Urban Planners should all check out Smart City Radio, a weekly, hour-long public radio talk show that takes an in-depth look at urban life, the people, places, ideas and trends shaping cities. Host Carol Coletta talks with national and international public policy experts, elected officials, economists, business leaders, artists, developers, planners and others for a penetrating discussion of urban issues.

They also have a wonderful archive of past shows. Check it out!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More communion, please....

Thisplaceis has an interesting post on sacred spaces. I found it interesting because my firm is currently prepping for our annual Principals' Meeting, a portion of which will be held at the recently opened Bar of Modern Art in Columbus, and I've always wondered about that rehab.

Developer Gary Gitlitz turned BoMA from an historic Baptist church into a bar/nightclub/100-seat dining room. Funny thing is....this is the I was fairly surprised when only I seemed to have reservations about the church-turned-into-house-o-sin metamorphosis.

Shin-pei Tsay, one of three contributors at Thisplaceis, brought up a location in New York that curbed my misgivings about sacred spaces in general (he also talked about absinthe, which gave me an instant flashback hangover). It's the New York City Marble Cemetery, a liger-like combination of somber reflection and socializing. Monday through Thursday it's your typical cemetery, but Friday through Sunday it's encouraged to be used as a park.

In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I believe that burial, in itself, is a selfish act. To me, it signifies a desperate grab at immortality by peeing on a tree and claiming it yours for all of eternity...or in this case a 6' x 4' plot of land. As a result, I'm now torn on these Eco-Cemeteries that appear to be popping up (or down) all over the place.

Anyway, so while I'm not planning on holding a burial after my party is busted God's police, I do, however, retain a large amount of respect for the land the ground-sleepers have chosen as their final resting place (lack of couth with terms like ground-sleepers notwithstanding).

To each their own...may their God/next life treat them well.

So prior to this I had never considered the notion that a place like a cemetery could be predispositioned as a shared-use space. Although the New York Marble Cemetery had (apparently) evolved into its shared-usedness (my word), why not make them into places of gathering/celebration/familia.

Likewise, is there really a problem with a church-turned-nightclub conversion if the conversion, when finished, is done tastefully, without disrespect to the prior history of that space? Although some might argue that a bar-conversion for a Baptist church like BoMA might not be the best renovation possible, the end result is, in all honesty, quite nice. And isn't a church intended for celebration?

Thoughts? Sacrilege or preservation?

Check out thisspaceis for pictures of the New York Marble Cemetery.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

That's Ecofantastic!!! Day 6...

Ecofantastic: A product/method/ideology so absurdly priced/developed/formulated that its irrationality transcends any purposeful usage and/or implementation into the present-day green movement, to the point of almost becoming fantasy.

Ecofantastic: Your platinum, diamond-encrusted small wind ecobling...

[Thanks, Deena]

Neighbors fight, states scramble over clean power

By Thom Patterson

Curt Mann's neighbors are livid, accusing him of erecting an ugly wind turbine among their historic homes for no other reason than to show off his environmental "bling."

The 49-year-old residential developer is remodeling his 1920s house to be more environmentally friendly, including installation of a 45-foot-tall wind turbine in his front yard. "It's really none of their business how I spend my money," Mann said.

The towering turbine, which overlooks majestic trees and Victorian rooftops, pits preservationists in Atlanta's Grant Park Historic District against a property owner and his individual rights.

"It's unattractive and it's a nuisance," said Scott Herzinger, whose home is three doors down. Mann "invaded the public view ... when he put that tower up."

In blustery regions, home turbines can cut power bills by up to 80 percent. But opponents claim Mann's wind turbine needlessly threatens neighborhood property values because Atlanta's low winds don't produce enough speed to make the device worthwhile.

At a cost of $15,000, Mann said the turbine will shave at least $20 per month off his power bill -- hardly a windfall. A proposed federal tax credit would bring Mann $3,000. Acknowledging it could be decades before his investment pays off, Mann said, "even if it was a 50-year payback, at least we've done something to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The opposite of small-scale is...

?This is just a little post to prove that most theories, no matter how "out there" in scale, are good for science as whole. In this case, the cost might be a little over the top (you try harnessing the energy of a star on a budget), but concepts like these need to be brought up, re-brought up, and then re-brought up again. Considering it's almost 40 years since its inception, I thought now might be a good time...

...keep in mind that it's the outlandish ideas that make the slightly crazy ideas look plausible, thus enabling the ultimate acceptance of radical thought processes. Necessary, yes?

The image below is a Dyson Swarm, an original concept by English-American Freeman Dyson. He's a futurist that opposes nuclear armament...that's a vision I'm more than happy to embrace.

The Swarm is undoubtedly the most plausible of Dyson's Sphere concepts. In Sphere theory, a star is completely encompassed with individual satellites and/or biospheres in order to harness all of the power and energy emitted from that star. In the aforementioned picture, the concept is the same as his sphere concept (described below) but on a much smaller in scale. In this case, numerous satellites or biospheres will share the same orbit, thus allowing us the ability to harness the power via satellite or live in the orbit. Pretty easy, yes?

Next we have DEFCON 2 of the Dyson Sphere theory (above). In this instance, multiple satellites are projected 15 degrees relative to one another, thus increasing the amount of energy you could harness.

Next is the Dyson Bubble concept where each satellite and/or space habitat is individually independent of one another. All of these concepts have some obvious advantages, seeing as each individual location could be built over an extended period of time.

Similar variations of this concept has been thrown around, specifically with future-science author Larry Niven and his early 70's story Ringworld (pictured below).

Finally, the most extreme concept from Freeman Dyson is the Dyson Sphere (below), in which the entire star is encapsulated in a...errr....sphere. This concept traps all of the energy radiated by the star within the sphere, giving us enough power sustain a population trillions of times our current population for a bajillion million years.

So why is all of this important? Freeman Dyson first developed this concept in 1959 in his article "Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infra-Red Radiation."


Let me write it again...1959...on a napkin.

Even though it's been said that the sphere concept is a bit dubious in scale (apparently there are some small gravity issues), the swarm and bubble concepts are potentially feasible. Can you imagine?

Not bad for a guy who developed these theories long before we landed on the's kind of like Euclid mapping out the potential of a Pentium 4.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I'll also let you know that he also thinks there's no reason to worry about global warming. As a result, I guess there's a long-standing quack or genius debate.

Which camp are you in?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Up the Pacific without a paddle...

The country I was stationed in, Kiribati, is in the news again. You don't hear much from this coral atoll until concerns about global warming are publicly addressed. Considering the highest point in Kiribati is only six feet above sea level, you can imagine what a little bit of melted iceberg might do to their shores (Kiribati doubles in land mass at low tide).

Once again, extreme weather patterns are swooping across the Pacific and as a result, Kiribati is suffering economically.

Southern Kiribati Suffering Through Extended Drought
By By Batiri Bataua in Tarawa
Sunday: October 07, 2007

The southern atolls of Kiribati have been hit by drought. Many fruit bearing trees are affected and in particular coconut, the main economic and social backbone of people living on the outer islands.

Officer in charge of copra trading within the country, Awaki Baare, from the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Cooperative says the trading has dropped tremendously from the southern islands.

“We used to send money twice in a month for purchasing, but now its only happens once,” he said. “Copra trading with the Central Kiribati and the Linnix (Line and Phoenix Islands) is still strong and ongoing. But Northern Kiribati is gradually reducing.”

Reports from the Meteorological Station confirmed that the southern islands are in a drought season. Rain has not fallen, and if the drought continues, the situation will be critical.

According to Dr. Iete Rouatu, Director of Statistics, this drought period could cause economic and social problems.

“Copra cutters will lose their source of income,” he said. “Islands and church development projects would be affected. Not only that, companies relying on copra would also be affected. The Kiribati Copra Society, which exports copra abroad, the Kiribati Copra Mill, which manufactures coconut by-products, the shipping companies, which provide transport and a lot more.”

Rouatu said it’s an advantage to government because it will spend less money and subsidies, but the worst hit are the people on the outer islands, who rely on copra revenue as their main income.

I'm snapping my fingers...

Composed upon Brooklyn Bridge, July 6, 2003
How the city’s infinite motions seem stilled
in the sun’s horizontal blue gaze–her tips
and contraptions, her manifold upright lips’
lisp of steel and breath on sky, her curved sill
of shoreline, bridged and built as if the mills
of God have been replaced by quicker equipment,
her people heading home; now, before the dip
of the sun spills red, how this equal light wills
me to see the whole as one. For an instant,
her interlocking parts of bedrock and air,
asphalt and wind, metal and flesh, infant
cries of traffic and windows’ crowded state–
all these seem to pause and fuse, a jubilant
pair of mighty lungs with breath upheld in prayer.

A square footage virus...

Ebola or commerce?

You be the judge.

Could this be the end of an era?