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The Hearst Tower marks a fresh start for building and for New York City. Its ambition has many layers, all of which are healthy, deep seated, and admirable. The new structure is located on the west side of Eighth Avenue near 57th Street and rises 44 stories above an original, 1928 building at its base. The tower was completed in 2006 and was the first skyscraper to sprout in New York after 9-11 as well as the first to earn the distinction of LEED Gold Certification by the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. Carefully considered, the Hearst Tower is a stirring symbol of resurgence, the pursuit of excellence, and social progress through innovation. It is an unqualified success and is the work of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster. Continue reading
Late one night in 1867 a young man worked after-hours on his own project in a Western Union office in Louisville, Kentucky. The precocious and untrained 20 year-old was experimenting with battery components when he accidently spilled sulfuric acid on the floor, which proceeded to drip in between the wooden floorboards and onto his boss’s desk below. Continue reading
Biomimicry and nanotechnology meet in a new innovation that will allow nanobots or miniature robots to swim inside the bloodstream. These little machines are so small that thousands can crowd on the head of a pin. Researchers at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, in Canada, led by professor of computer engineering Sylvain Martel, have coupled live, swimming bacteria to microscopic beads to develop a self-propelling device. Continue reading
“in wildness is the preservation of the world.” –Henry David Thoreau
The spiral has been a popular motif in the arts for centuries but it resurges today as a result of a renewed awe of nature. The areas of fine art, industrial design, and architecture provide strong examples of this trend. A good jumping off point is Santiago Calatrava’s 54-story Turning Torso building erected in Malmø, Sweden. Continue reading
Well, there’s not much, but if you find yourself in the international terminal in Milan’s airport in need of an espresso, you’re in for a headache because of poor design. The Caffe Tazza d’Oro emits enticing smells of freshly brewed Arabica and the sharp, violent sound of milk steaming but its seduction leads to a disappointment. In fact, you’re fortunate if you can obtain a drink at all via a system of purchase and pick-up that must have been dreamt up by bored comedians. Continue reading
An aspect of design that gets short shrift in the media is quantitative measurement. Designs – be they of cities, buildings, coffee cups, or posters are too seldom analyzed with an economist’s perspective. Far too often, designs are recognized for being innovative, particularly functional, or formally beautiful and that’s all. I believe this obscures the reality that design is essentially an attempt to respond to a need within the constraints of scarcity.