Friday, November 9, 2007

Those in metal houses throw bricks...

Metal Shutter Houses: A flash-saturated, annoying-as-hell-to-navigate website, but the houses are amazing. The condo project in West Chelsea was inspired by the metal shutters scattered throughout the city on the sides of industrial buildings. The mechanical shutters are almost like those slotted 80's glasses where the person inside can see out, but the outside-in is blocked:

Mechanized metal shutters, made of horizontal perforated slats, make up much of the building's fa‡ade. When the shutter is closed, the resident is able to see out, but the city cannot see in. Press a button and the shutter rolls up into the ceiling, not unlike a garage door, though with considerably more finesse. Behind the shutters, the terrace is separated from double-height living rooms by windows, which are also motorized and able to fold up into the living room, making the exterior and interior one.

Read more about the project HERE.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Come fly with me...

In 1993, aircraft emitted 350 million pounds of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides during landing and takeoff cycles, more than double 1970 levels, according to a National Resource Defence Council report. These two classes of compounds are precursors of ground-level ozone, which can interfere with lung function.

During the summer, between 10% and 20% of all East Coast hospital admissions for respiratory problems may be ozone-related.

I watched this video and all I could think of was disease. We look like a virus.

More on flight patterns HERE.

Their taxis have masseuses...

What's the coolest (sorry) thing about the Wild Wadi Water Park in Dubai? As you can see from the picture below, it's definitely not the design. So what is it? The 33 metre high Jumeirah Sceirah water ride? Their Flowrider surfable wave? The Master Blaster uphill water roller coaster?

Nope. It's the air conditioned bus stop outside.

With more than 500 of them planned for the architecture-crazy city, everyone is crying environmental foul. Poppycock.

Numero Uno: Summer averages dance in triple digits, with the August record pushing 120 degrees! I think that would justify a need for air conditioning.

Numero Dos: They're installing these to help the environment.


Yep. Help the environment. Think about it. How many bus takers are going to wake up, put on their kandura, and wait for 30 minutes in 112 degree weather? Not to mention, traffic jams are already commonplace in Dubai. Just last year, the situation was so bad that they started using satellites to monitor the city streets. And while a new interchange for the Dubai Marina and Emirates Hills is alleviating a portion of the problem, the city continues to expand at more-than-rapid pace.

The Jumeriah Beach Residence has more than 6,000 residential units and the Jumeirah Lake Towers are on the other side of Sheikh Zayed Road. The Palm Jumeriah has 3,000 villas. There's 50+ story residences like the 21st Century Tower. You've got the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel. There's tourism at the Burj and plenty of other people staying at one of the many 1,000 unit 5-star hotels. Hoardes of people working and living in 60+ story buildings, like the Rose Tower, Al Yaquob Tower, and the HHH Tower.

That's a lot of people in one place.

The Salik road tolls are in place and, as mentioned, the interchange is alleviating some problems. But the Dubai Metro ($3.89 Billion!), the abras, and the city streets are only going to be able to handle so much. The more people on the bus, the better.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

New two new USGBC websites...

In coordination with Greenbuild 2007, USGBC announces two new Web sites: a redesigned, and
The New is now cleaner, smarter and easier to use. Whether you are new to green building or have been building green for years, you'll find everything you need with fewer clicks and less clutter.

Highlights include:

- a resource section to make it easier for projects to access credit templates;
- easier access to online reference guides and LEED reference documents;
- resources for members and chapters; and
- educational offerings and workshop listings.


Visit to:

- View free, live streaming videos of the conference's keynote and master speakers, including former President Bill Clinton;
- Read a journal covering the event highlights; and
- Share your perspectives on green building issues via interactive polls.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wha wha whaaaaaaaat?

I know the above Walmart photoshop is pushing the envelope a bit, but it does feel like we're saturated in green news from the megacompany. They're hosting environmental consortiums, making their stores environmentally *cough* friendly, and even going so far as to recycle their former employee's vests.

So what has all this alleged environmental leadership done for the company? According to activist Adam Werbach, not much. As former President of the Sierra Club (at 23!) his clients were outraged to find out he had joined teams with the big boys. He was quickly fired just for associating with them.

Apparently, Walmart's reputation still precedes them. Can they ever recover?

Working With the Enemy

Once the youngest president of the Sierra Club, Adam Werbach used to call Wal-Mart toxic. Now the company is his biggest client. Does the path to a greener future run through Bentonville?

From: Issue 118 September 2007 Page 74 By: Danielle Sacks

“To this day, they won't speak to me," says Adam Werbach. His clients--or rather, his old clients--fired him when word got out last year that he was doing work for Wal-Mart. Of course, many people make compromises to do business with the largest company in the world--accept lower profit margins, absorb relentless performance pressure. But for Werbach, 34, a lifelong environmentalist, the cost of working with Wal-Mart has been personal. Some of his old friends don't speak to him. His former colleagues think he's sold out. And then there are the threats. "I attended this event and someone came up to me," recalls Werbach, his discomfort still fresh. "He said, 'I wouldn't feel safe if I were you. People have gotten hurt.'" Werbach has stopped speaking in public without special security.

He has made a leap that is either visionary or naive, depending on your perspective. He's been a leader in the environmental world, president of the Sierra Club at just 23, author of a 1997 book Act Now, Apologize Later that called Wal-Mart "a new breed of toxin" that "could wreak havoc on a town." He was such an iconoclast, he'd publicly challenged old-line environmentalists in a speech in 2004.

But in signing on to Wal-Mart last year, he went too far, driving off even those nonprofits who still did business with his small consulting firm, Act Now. They didn't want the help of someone who would sell his services to the Behemoth of Bentonville.

Folks at the Sierra Club, which funds the watchdog Wal-Mart Watch, begged him to reconsider, and activists John Sellers and Barbara Dudley wrote an open letter headlined, "The Death of Integrity: In Working With Wal-Mart, Activist Adam Werbach Is Abandoning His Principles."


Read more HERE.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sorry Bill Hicks, but there is (some) brilliance in advertising...

There is a large, gaping black part of me that adheres to the to the sticky stand-up of Bill Hicks (NSFW: LANGUAGE), loathing every ounce of advertising and every microdrop of marketing therein. The dirt and grime of the bad marketing seems to always absorb every ounce of the good. But on some very rare occasions something will be so beautiful - be it tragic beauty, visual beauty, fluid or otherwise - that it'll knock me on my wallet faster than a Disaronno on the rocks (Its warm and sensual taste makes me wish it would never end).*

German agency Kolle Rebbe Werbeagentur GmbH won a prestigious Black Pencil Award in the Illustration category at the D&AD Global Awards for its “War Orphans - Somalia, Iraq, Chechnya” posters. Designed for Misereor Charity, the posters are visually commanding, demanding your imagination to stretch beyond the painted steel and cement and visualize the fractured lives of those in war torn areas.



Chechnya :

In this day and age, the one characteristic consistently lacking in advertising is the message. Or maybe it's not so much that the message is lacking, but the fact that contemporary advertising never fails to distort. Although in this instance the work is (unfortunately) beautiful, these posters are not just intended to attract the eye. It, instead, travels beyond the aesthetic, concentrating the message and conveying an uncensored emotion: not to buy a Coke because you're hip and young, or drive a truck because "This is our country," but to feel that there is not a difference between a bullet hole in a painted picture and a bullet hole in a person. The bone becomes the cement.

How often do you feel when you watch television? How do you usually feel when the marketing execs tell you how you're feeling?

If you felt anything, I encourage you to check out Misereor's work.

From their website:

MISEREOR was founded in 1958 as an agency "against hunger and disease in the world". In its capacity as the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany, it offers to cooperate in a spirit of partnership with all people of goodwill to promote development, fight worldwide poverty, liberate people from injustice, exercise solidarity with the poor and the persecuted, and help create "One World".

To fight the causes of hardship and misery as manifested chiefly in countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America in the forms of hunger, disease, poverty and other forms of human suffering...-

Thus enabling the people affected to lead a life of human dignity, and to promote justice, freedom, reconciliation and peace in the world.

The assistance we provide is designed to stimulate and support self-help and pave the way for sustainable improvement in the living conditions of the poor.

*I am not, in any way, endorsing this horrible commercial. I do, however, endorse the use of dark liquors.

The 40 virgins are the players...

30-something Wired author, Clive Thompson, has found a remarkable parallel of desperation. In this week's commentary, he expounds on the desperate actions of suicide bombers through the medium of Halo III (I promise I'll get back to architecture and design after this post!).

Suicide Bombing Makes Sick Sense in Halo 3
By Clive Thompson 11.05.07 12:00 AM

I used to find it hard to fully imagine the mind-set of a terrorist.

That is, until I played Halo 3 online, where I found myself adopting -- with great success -- terrorist tactics. Including a form of suicide bombing.

This probably bears some explanation. I'll begin by pointing out a basic fact: A lot of teenage kids out there play dozens of hours of multiplayer Halo a week. They thus become insanely good at the game: They can kill me with a single head shot from halfway across a map -- or expertly circle me while jumping around, making it impossible for me to land a shot, while they pulverize me with bullets.

I can't do those things. I haven't got enough time to practice as they do: I'm an adult, with a job and wife and kid, so I get maybe an hour with Halo on a good day. I wind up sucking far, far more than most other Halo 3 players, and despite the best attempts of Xbox Live to match me up with similarly lame players, I usually wind up at the bottom of my group's rankings -- stumbling haplessly about while getting slaughtered over and over again.

So after a few weeks of this ritual humiliation, I got sick of it. And I devised a simple technique for revenge.

Whenever I find myself under attack by a wildly superior player, I stop trying to duck and avoid their fire. Instead, I turn around and run straight at them. I know that by doing so, I'm only making it easier for them to shoot me -- and thus I'm marching straight into the jaws of death. Indeed, I can usually see my health meter rapidly shrinking to zero.

But at the last second, before I die, I'll whip out a sticky plasma grenade -- and throw it at them. Because I've run up so close, I almost always hit my opponent successfully. I'll die -- but he'll die too, a few seconds later when the grenade goes off. (When you pull off the trick, the game pops up a little dialog box noting that you killed someone "from beyond the grave.")

It was after pulling this maneuver a couple of dozen times that it suddenly hit me: I had, quite unconsciously, adopted the tactics of a suicide bomber -- or a kamikaze pilot.

It's not just that I'm willing to sacrifice my life to kill someone else. It's that I'm exploiting the psychology of asymmetrical warfare.

Because after all, the really elite Halo players don't want to die. If they die too often, they won't win the round, and if they don't win the round, they won't advance up the Xbox Live rankings. And for the elite players, it's all about bragging rights.

I, however, have a completely different psychology. I know I'm the underdog; I know I'm probably going to get killed anyway. I am never going to advance up the Halo 3 rankings, because in the political economy of Halo, I'm poor.

Read more HERE.