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Events

Architecture and the City Festival
September 1–30, 2014
The American Institute of Architects, San Francisco chapter (AIA San Francisco) and the Center for Architecture + Design announce the 11th annual Architecture and the City festival, the nation’s largest architectural festival of its kind. Taking place in San Francisco every September, the month-long celebration features behind the scenes and walking tours, films, exhibitions, lectures and more, providing opportunities for participants to engage with the local architecture community and experience design in a myriad of ways throughout the city. The 2014 Architecture and the City festival theme, Home: My San Francisco, will examine the shifting nature of home, the different elements that contribute to its definition, and its relation to the urban fabric. Over 40 festival programs will explore the cultural richness and diversity of our local architectural and design community as well as provide a platform for conversation about our changing landscape and its implications for a city in a time of rapidly intensifying housing needs.

Gearing Up for Better, Healthier, and More Efficient Homes
September 19, 2014
The USGBC will present, Gearing Up for Better, Healthier, and More Efficient Homes, at the upcoming AltCar Expo on Friday, September 19th at 9:30am.   Designed for building & design professionals, the lecture addresses the need to erect higher performing buildings and the push towards zero net energy buildings. Panelists include:  Tim Kohut, AIA Architect, Green Dinosaur; Lena Ashby Senior Sustainability Coordinator, Green Dinosaur; and Joel Cesare, Sustainable Building Advisor, City of Santa Monica.

10th Annual KAYAK and SUP Coastal Cleanup Day Event
September 20, 2014
On Saturday, September 20, from 8:15am–1:30pm, The Bay Foundation (TBF) will host its 10th Annual Marina del Rey Kayak Cleanup Day Event as part of the greater annual Coastal Cleanup Day (CCD) which draws over 14,000 volunteers from across Los Angeles County to hundreds of events. As the longest-running kayak and SUP cleanup site, the TBF event is immensely popular each year and spaces fill up early.

San Francisco Living: Home Tours
September 20–21, 2014
AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design are excited to announce the 12th annual San Francisco Living: Home Tours, a two-day open house event featuring a select number of modern residences. The popular weekend showcases a wide variety of architectural styles, neighborhoods and residences, including single-family homes, contemporary renovations and multi-family residences, and is the first tour series in the Bay Area to promote residential design from the architect's point of view. Throughout the weekend, tour participants can see some of the city's latest residential projects from the inside out, meet design teams, explore housing trends, and discover innovative design solutions that inspire unique San Francisco living.

Detroit Design Festival
September 23–28, 2014
Presented by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), and supported by the Knight Foundation, the fourth-annual Detroit Design Festival spans all design disciplines and brings together commerce, culture, education, and entertainment with a full, varied program of exhibitions, openings, installations, shows, talks, open studios, fashion shows, product previews, performances and workshops.

Archtoberfest San Diego 2014
October 1–30, 2014
Archtoberfest San Diego 2014 is a collaboratively-operated initiative aimed at establishing an annual, month-long program of public events and activities pertaining to architecture, design, planning and sustainability.

Westedge Design Fair
October 16–19, 2014
The curated fair features over 150 leading and emerging, domestic and international furnishings brands. Catering to both trade and consumers, the event offers a complete experience for attendees, including panel discussions and workshops, culinary activities, custom installations, and a series of special events.

4th Annual Found L.A.
October 19, 2014
On Sunday, October 19, 2014, the non-profit L.A. Commons (www.lacommons.org) will host its 4th annual Found L.A: Festival of Neighborhoods, and its first based on a mayoral theme, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Program. Angelenos will explore the main arteries of neighborhoods around the city, developed and not so, and meet the people in the center of activity there.

New Urbanism Film Festival
November 2014
The primary goal of the New Urbanism Film Festival is to renew the dialogue about urban planning with a broader audience. The Festival brings in movies, short films, speakers, on the topics of architecture, public health, bicycle advocacy, urban design, public transit, inner-city gardens, to name a few. 

 

 

 

 

 

Competitions

Deadline: October 31
Show Us Your Baldwin
Baldwin

Deadlne: November 30
Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award
International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA)

Deadline: December 8

2015 Diversity Scholarship
Gensler

Deadline: December 31
Kitchen Design Contest
Wolf and Sub-Zero 

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Industry Partners

  

  




















 

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Tuesday
Sep032013

Elements: Material Matters

Architect and writer Blaine Brownell researches innovative new materials on his Web sites Tansstudio and Transmaterial, including a curtain constructed of LEDs and repurposed beverage containers. Image courtesy Blaine Brownell.If you're not familiar with Blaine Brownell, you should be. The Minnesota-based architect, writer and co-director of the Master of Science Program in Architecture—Sustainable Design track at the University of Minnesota, has devoted a decade and a half to the study of emergent materials and applications. His books include three volumes in his Transmaterial series along with several other titles, most recently 2012's Material Strategies: Innovative Applications in Architecture. We recently chatted with him about the genesis of his Transmaterial series and his thoughts on emergent materials. You can read more on his work and his research at his Web sites, Transstudio and Transmaterial.

What inspired you to start the Transmaterial series?

I remember being interested in materials at an early age. I had a picture picture book with black and white photos of natural materials shot up-close, and the reader was expected to guess what object each detail belonged to. I remember a vivid, grainy photo of the seeds of a sunflower. Only after you turned the page would you see the entire flower. This impressed upon me the power of material details.

I credit my professional interest in materials to my graduate advisor and mentor, Mark Wamble, an architect in Houston who teaches at Rice University. While working on the redesign for a public plaza in Houston's theater district, Mark asked me to research new, innovative materials for the job. Although I embraced the challenge, it was a steep learning curve for me. This was in 1998, and the Internet was not the great search tool that it is now. I remember a lot of phone calls, catalog reviews, as well as a few factory visits to find the right materials for the project. Moreover, the experienced senior technical architects didn't know a lot about new materials—which startled me. It was after this memorable experience that I realized the importance of material research in architecture, and the fact that architects could use better resources for material knowledge-building.

What do you look for in the materials pitched to you?

I look for innovation, which in this case I would describe as a transformation of expectations—whether it is a standard that had been superseded or a novel idea that has been realized. There must also be an implied use; which is to say that novelty for novelty's sake isn't sufficient. Lastly, the material should have the potential to transform the physical environment in some meaningful way—hence the term "transmaterial." 

What are some trends/ideas/concepts that we should be on the lookout for?

Some of the larger trends are fairly well-known—such as more sustainable approaches to material development, or the fascinating discoveries in the field of nanotechnology. In terms of my current research, I've been focused on the following areas of interest, both in writing as well as design speculations:

The carbohydrate economy—an economy based on materials and material flows predicated on renewable resources, which promises to focus even more attention on agriculture and increase the competition for food. An example design speculation would be engineered sod brick: http://transstudio.com/new-sod-house/ 

Information/material convergence—bits and atoms continue to blur; materials are increasingly imbued with information (tagging, tracking, digital interfaces, smart technologies) just as virtual space is becoming more of a parallel to the real world. An example would be the Visiwall, an OLED architectural cladding system: http://transstudio.com/visiwall/

Light/material interplay—light is critical to understanding materials, and severral new lighting technologies blur the line betweeen materials and energy. Examples would be the PET Wall (image attached) http://transstudio.com/pet-wall/ and Pipe Light: http://transstudio.com/pipe-light/

Is there anything in particular that has caught your eye that you were really taken with or inspired by?

I'm particularly taken with materials that upend our expectations. Based on our long experience with materials, we anticipate them behaving a certain way. We have similar presumptions about the way that materials are used, and this situation is exacerbated by the mass production of objects and homogenization of places.

Examples of material innovation that have caught my eye include Wang Shu's use of the wapan tiling method in the Ningbo Historical Museum facade, or Benedetta Tagliabue's use of hand-woven straw mats over the complex curtain wall of the 2010 Spain pavilion. 

In what area do you feel there's the most innovation currently?

Biomimicry, bio-inspired design, bio-engineering—this trajectory is developing strongly within multiple disciplines, and we're just beginning to understand the ways in which to emulate natural systems and processes in human-made technologies. 

Where could there be more innovation? 

Deep integration in design. What we call integrated design is really just a process management practice that ensures minimal errors. The parts still remain discrete, fabricated by different trades with varied expertise.

Deep integration is what great architects practice when they synthesize the complex mess of products and assemblies that make up buildings into a simple yet powerful whole. Achieving this outcome is actually difficult, and considered beyond the requirements for standard practice—yet why should it be? If manufacturers understood more about the other parts of a building that their own materials affect, they might be able to offer more innovative products with increased interoperability. 

What are some of the most compelling sustainable materials being developed these days?

Materials that are born versus made. In other words, materials that are grown renewably versus manufactured in a conventional way that involves considerable energy, pressure, and processing.

How do we reconcile sustainability with new materials that, while technologically advanced, may not because of manufacturing methods or materials, be in fact sustainable choices?

Sustainability keeps us honest. Like any other good cause, it can be abused or misunderstood (e.g., greenwashing). However, sustainability forces us to face the tough realities about toxins, greenhouse gas production, water consumption, fossil fuel depletion, environmental overburden, etc. 

In terms of new materials, sustainability offers a means for constant improvement. No material is a fixed, in changeable entity, but rather may be considered a territory for experimentation and change. Therefore, the reconciliation you ask about is continually happening as scientists discover better chemical compositions and manufacturers retool their existing processes.

When's the next Transmaterial due out?

I've focused my efforts beyond transformative materials to transformative material applications. In other words, I'm interested now in how we use new materials, as well as how we can create new uses for existing materials. That said, I have written two books since Transmaterial 3, which are Matter in the Floating World and Material Strategies. Both of these books attempt to illustrate methods of innovation in material applications. I still update the website transmaterial.net, however, which has many products not found in the books. 

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