Environmental “Misunderestimation”

Though I can’t say I’m a huge fan of George W. Bush, I have to admit that one of his infamous coined words seems to be appropriate for my topic for today: misunderestimate.

One trend that seems to be applied to more and more problems today is underestimation. We as Americans seem to want to deny most of our large issues. Climate change, oil spills, deforestation of rain forests, many environmental conflicts and issues fall into this category, along with the most recent British Petroleum oil leak in the Gulf.   Continue reading “Environmental “Misunderestimation””

From Indestructible to Pervious: A Timeline of Architecture

When humans started creating what we call “architecture”—standing buildings made for a purpose—their motivation was simple. They were not stuck with problems of aesthetics or design. They created structures for their own protection from the elements.

Over time, these spaces came to hold meaning for us, and we desired to make them more permanent. As we began to form societies and changed from nomadic hunter-gatherers to farmers and eventually expanded to citizens of cities, our architecture became more constructed, invasive. Architecture began to allow mortals to leave an indelible mark upon the earth: the Egyptians and their pyramids, the Greeks and their temples, and the Gothic artists and their cathedrals. There are structures that have lasted thousands of years—and will stand for thousands more.

I don’t want this post to simply be a history lesson. But to understand where architecture is going and what it needs to do, we have to see what it has done.   Continue reading “From Indestructible to Pervious: A Timeline of Architecture”

Earth Aid and the New Green Wave

In the past, I’ve talked about green trends in architecture and design. I’m usually very cautious about new hip and popular “green” programs or products. There are flaws in a number of programs and materials out there, who are simply riding the “green wave” to more profits while not necessarily upping the ante when it comes to lessening our carbon footprint.

A new program called Earth Aid, however, seems to be a well-planned, well-designed, and well-thought-out program that is simple and easy-to-use, and encourages people to make an impact.   Continue reading “Earth Aid and the New Green Wave”

Pending Patents: Protection or Prevention?

About two years ago, I participated in a design competition for RIM Blackberry. Luckily, my team won second place, but aside from that we learned a good deal about interface/product design and the influence of patents on the world of design in general. In the process of researching and developing our team’s ideas, we ended up looking through dozens of phone patents from many different companies.

Every week, corporations like Apple, Windows, RIM, and other major design players put out dozens of patents. Most of this is under the radar of the general public and the design world (other than those few in the know), thereby taking many design ideas out of general play.   Continue reading “Pending Patents: Protection or Prevention?”

No More Excuses


Ecotect Example Output
Ecotect Example Output

This is my last semester at Penn, and in the architecture department, that usually means it will be the most difficult and time-intensive semester of your undergraduate career. So while my Econ-major friends are taking 3 credits and having fun on the weekends, I’m spending free time working in teams and learning how to use a new piece of software: Autodesk‘s somewhat unknown Ecotect Analysis.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter about the dichotomy of work vs. play; most of us architecture students would much prefer learning a new piece of software or discussing the latest smart building material over a night of drinking, so this is pretty exciting stuff. I had never heard of Ecotect prior to about a month and a half ago, and what I knew was very limited.   Continue reading “No More Excuses”