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The restaurant pavilion at the Hotel La Concha by Toro Ferrer, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1958. Photo: Jon Rendell
by Danielle Del Sol
As Le Corbusier was casting in concrete and Philip
Johnson was building glass houses, ambitious architects
in Puerto Rico were also experimenting with the tenants
of International and Modernist styles.
The architectural elements that worked well with the
island's intensely hot, humid and hurricane-prone
climate — functional floor plans that accentuated
cross-ventilation, for example, and accents like
brise-soleils, which allowed enough natural light in to
illuminate interiors without overheating them —
were culled by a group of select architects and compiled
into a form of modernism unique to their region.
The result — a Caribbean-style of Modernism that
would come to be known as Tropicalismo — was more
than architecture for the sake of introducing the
avant-garde. Tropicalismo, says John B. Hertz, former
dean of the University of Puerto Rico's School of
Architecture, was meant to be "a vehicle to a world of
Shedding the colonial styles of the island's past, this
new form of architecture could help validate Puerto Rico
as an entity unto itself while also transforming the
sultry climate into part of a modern, marketable
narrative that would attract rich tourists and business
ventures to an island championing all things good and
State officials of the period, looking to grow and
embrace the new, decided that tourism was a "clean" way
to grow economic development, and launched a
hotel-building campaign that would allow state-owned
buildings to be leased to hospitality magnates.
For the new Hotel Caribe Hilton, to be the first Hilton
hotel project outside of the continental United States,
Puerto Rican officials invited two Miami-based
architecture firms and three San Juan firms to submit
Officials rejected the traditional Spanish Colonial
designs submitted by the stateside firms in favor of the
starkly modern design submitted by small, local firm
Toro Ferrer y Torregrosa.
The 2012 SmartGeometry conference was held at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (2008), in Troy, New York, designed by Grimshaw Architects. Photo: Matt Wade
Smart Geometry Update
by Terri Peters
The nature of architecture and the performance of
materials are deeply linked. The nature of material is
the nature of the stuff that surrounds us, and
architecture is concerned with the arrangement of this
As computational power increases, architects are able to consider larger and larger data sets. One way to focus those computing resources is to consider increasingly small building components.
This technological advancement is contributing to an increased interest in designing building materials. Nature provides examples of how materials can be designed - organized in ways that increase performance. But how can architects arrange the constituent parts of their buildings, right down to the molecular level, to achieve new levels of customization and performance?
This year's SmartGeometry conference tackled these concepts and others. The theme of the conference was on material design and digital design tools: investigating the architectural implications of hyper-specified materials, interactive responsive facades, responsive acoustic environments, bioactive wearable architecture, and more.
The four-day workshops and two public conference days were held at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in Troy, New York, designed by Grimshaw Architects.
Co-Director of SmartGeometry, Xavier de Kestelier of Foster + Partners, explains that the main ideas behind this year's "Material Intensities" workshop sessions was to consider material efficiency when creating environments, micro-climates and contexts that are congenial for social interaction, activities, and organization.
"We wanted to ask: how can multiple properties of the same material be harnessed?" he explains. "Addressing these big ideas calls for design innovation and dialogue between disciplines and responsibilities."
Augmented Distillery, at 4-10 St. John's Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, by Matt Drury. Image: Courtesy RIBA
Architecture People and Places
RIBA Forgotten Spaces Shortlist 2012, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
IBI Group, Vancouver, British Columbia
One World Trade Center by SOM, New York City
RIBA Forgotten Spaces Shortlist 2012, Newcastle upon Tyne
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the project shortlist for its Forgotten Spaces 2012 competition. Focusing on sites located within the RIBA North East region, and hosted by the eponymous regional office, the competition invites design proposals for left-over land.
According to RIBA, "A 'forgotten space' could be small or large - a grassy verge, a wasteland, an unused car park, a derelict building or underpass or flyover. The proposal could be simple or complex, commercial or public, a piece of public art or a new building, the only requirement is that it responds to the area and serves a function for the local community."
Out of 39 entries, 21 were selected for the shortlist. Projects include small urban designs, such as Angular Flight, Behind the Side, Forgotten River, and Pink Plaza — intended to heal and reconnect historically fractured urban fabric. The City Wall Circuit is a walking tour that traces the former town walls of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
A number of project for the adaptation of various existing structures were proposed, including: Forgotten Relics, conversion of a ruined stone building into a reliquary; Home Surveillance, a proposal to adapt a disused theater for use as a homeless community; and New City Industries, which plans to fill a disused steel frame structure with an adaptable architecture system. >>>
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BIM Collaboration Software
Tekla BIMsight is a free software tool for collaboration on BIM-based construction projects. Professionals in different AEC disciplines can combine their BIM models, check for clashes, markup, and share information in the same easy-to-use 3D environment. Facilitates communication among contractors, architects, structural engineers, and MEP detailers and fabricators...
Complex Geometries and IFC - CADimage, 2012.0816
Exploring the National BIM Standard - AECbytes, 2012.0816
Access Bluebeam Studio Via Vu iPad - PDF Insider Blog, 2012.0815
So Many .DWG Backgrounds, so Little Processing Power! - BIM Engine Blog, 2012.0815
Pixel Perfect - Daring Fireball, 2012.0813
Low-Cost CAD: Can a $500 Product Go the Distance? - Cadalyst, 2012.0808
Does Social Media Belong in CAD Applications? - Cadalyst, 2012.0808
Smart Geometry Update - ArchitectureWeek, 2012.0808
Product News - WAC LED Wall and Step Lights Need No Transformer
WAC Lighting has introduced the LEDme Line Voltage Step and Wall Lights, suitable for interior and exterior use on stairs, walls, and pathways. These lights are available in horizontal and scoop designs for seamless installation and can be wired without using an LED driver or transformer. Square and rectangular shaped units can be mounted to a standard junction box, while round lights come with a special junction box...
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Where and why would you add air-entraining (AE) agents to concrete?
What is a "Chicago Window"?
Classic Home 054 — Two-story house, by Christian F. Rosberg
"The entrance to this house leads directly into the living room, but an ample vestibule with coat closet would shut off drafts in cold weather. The staircase starts from the living room and, with the vestibule, frames an inglenook around the fireplace, adding a decorative feature to the room. The second floor provides three bedrooms of good size, well equipped with clothes closets. The porch overlooks the street and side lawn...
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