20Sep

Architecture vs. Engineering

As human beings, our instinctive need forces us to find safe ways to live and shelter. Psychological studies unveil that this is caused by a survival method. Our number one priority as living things is to remain safe and far away from any significant danger. In very early times, we had to deal with rain, snow, extreme heat and other climate conditions. We had no access to any solid shelter or a way to completely be protected from all these things. However, our response to this situation was to create stronger houses. Houses were made out of wood, leaves, and mostly plants.

Thousands of years later, we started a period known as the stone era. In this period of time we were able to build structures with stone. It was easy to see how stone was a lot stronger than wood when it came to rain and wind. Also, rocks remained fresh during very hot climates. Wood, in the other hand, tended to start fires when it was too hot. Little by little we started discovering different new technologies that were helpful for our ways of living. A long time later, we started using various mixtures that worked as a pasting material between rocks more efficiently. This was the principle of cement. As our chemical technology became more advanced, so did our architecture.

About 100 years ago, buildings were already all over cities. Also, it was easy to see that they were many stories in each building. No one was creating single story projects anymore. People was able to see that our technology and knowledge allowed us then to finally make bigger things and take more advantage of the space we used.

The truth is that we have never been independent from our contexts and what surrounds us. Of course, we lived as nomads for some time, and that was the reason why a strong existential instability came to us in that time. However, the more we accept our need for shelter, the better we can start using our knowledge to improve our way of living.

Today, structures are mostly built by two groups of professionals; engineers and architects. There are a lot of persons that are not clear about the difference between these two. Some say that architects only take care of the design; others say that engineers only revise designs and approve them. However, they are both very necessary, especially when it comes to today’s modern structures.

Architects are directly specialized in creating a functional, efficient area that not only looks well, but also accomplishes al its objectives. So they are not just about designing layouts, but also taking care of every little aspect that makes a structure actually work. What do engineers do then?

Well, in most of all countries, engineers take care of the pure scientific aspect of a project. By this I mean all the calculations, measurements and safety measurements that building a structure can require. Most of all engineers are also able to design very competitive layouts and complete several architecture jobs. However, architects are normally not 100% capable of creating designs as exact as n engineer would. Obviously, engineers receive several courses that an architect never gets to learn such as physics, more math and others.

What advantages does architecture has over engineering? Well architecture is a lot more artistic, and the career itself is oriented to an artistic direction. Architects also take management courses that make them capable of completing several managing jobs as well. Architects can be hired as graphic designers or other artistic jobs differently from engineers whose labor is purely scientific.

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09Sep

LAVA Presents the House of the Future

LAVA Presents the House of the Future LAVA, which stands for the initials for the company’s original name in Spanish (Laboratorio de Arquitectura Visionaria), presents what they call “the house of the future”. They describe this new house as a place in which human beings, technology and nature live all in harmony. LAVA is one of the eleven architect groups that are working on houses for the future in the “Arquitectura +11 Show”. The team that wins will have the honor to build its house of the future in a new mall in Beijing. In fact, the mall will have a separated space meant for this house in which a controlled climate system will take care of providing a perfect micro-climate through the whole year. This will make the house seem to be in some kind of sunny, fresh, bright place.

Well, the real target of inducing architects to create more modern designs is purely a matter of evolving. The world today has different problems, characteristics and orientations compared to the ones it had 50 years ago, for example. Due to this, professionals have to look for the way to evolve along with the world in order to remain fresh, efficient an up to date. Why is being updated so important for architects?

Architects are the ones in charge of printing beauty into any kind of building. More than paying attention to the base building, they focus on its lay out. People change their minds very quickly when it is about likes and opinions. It is easy to see this in what people wear, buy and use every day compared to what they did some years ago. Therefore, a commercial key to architecture success is evolution; keeping people surprised with every new design.

Besides proving clients with a fresh, updated style, architects are also finding a way to reconnect their design with nature virtues. For example, the creation of ecological homes, also known as green buildings is one of the most famous expressions of architecture’s care for nature today. Also, the existence of NetZero buildings clearly shows that not only architects, but also civil engineers are really into protecting the ecology. If we analyze architecture 50 years ago, it would be easy to notice that these were not the contemporary preoccupations then. Architects were targeting big luxury buildings without really thinking about the environment’s health. This is no longer what anyone is looking about.

It shouldn’t surprise us to see hundreds of new futuristic designs in today’s architecture. In fact, according to studies, it will take less than another century to eliminate houses as we know them from the world. By this of course I mean that by that time no one will be building these houses anymore. New technologies are being developed in the architecture niche every year. Civil engineers are also developing very complex concepts that were considered inexistent some years ago. We are heading to a new era of building, and as our needs and cares change, so does our designs and orientations.

LAVA is just one of the many futuristic architect firms in the world. More firms and heading to futuristic designs every year, and just a few remain classic in what they develop. As it is easy to see, clients that are looking to create their buildings are also normally trying to find a modern style rather than a classical old one. Of course, some clients are looking for old-school touches in their buildings, but they are still looking for the best technology and material optimization possible.

Technology won’t stop improving for as long as human beings exist. Architecture won’t stop developing, and consequently, the way we live won’t stop either. As we adapt, our needs change, and this causes more evolution.

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31Aug

Joliet Uses Government Grants to Renew Old Architecture

In Joliet there is a new, or maybe old, way of building things. Instead of highrises downtown the council hopes to use the grant for a new train station to renew the architecture that is already in place. Anyone who visits the area can clearly see there is an era of days gone by. The architecture of the buildings is from a time when buildings were made to last and designs were included in the building blocks of a structure. These buildings were meant to say something to visitors rather than just to house a destination. Many people now enjoy walking through the beautifully restored downtown and simply enjoying the architecture as if it were art.

In October of 2010 the Illinois government announced a long term  vision to replace the Union Station and many of the rails surrounding it. In addition, a new parking lot would be built to hold 500 additional cars. The original structure will remain but traffic will be rerouted to the new commuter building for rail passengers. The project is scheduled for completion in 2013. All together the cost of the project will be $42 million dollars and $32 million of that will come from a government grant. &.5 million will come from city funds and the remaining amounts will come from contributors or railroads.

The new Multimodal center, as it is formally known is not yet under a design contract with any contractor. However, it is thought that Knight Engineers will win approval by the committee on Sept 8 which is the next meeting. Knight Engineers has been recommended by cit council staff members that have reviewed design ideas from several contractors.

Once complete, the Multimodal should provide an avenue for all forms of transportation including trains, cabs, buses, private vehicles, and bikes. The facility will house bus lines, train stations, car rentals, and cab services. There will be specific lanes for bus transportation turn arounds as well as bike lanes. Groundbreaking will begin in the fall for the first stage which is the parking lot. The council hopes for a quick groundbreaking in order to stimulate the economy by building jobs.

While the design has not been approved for the new buildings many councilmen and women have stated that they expect the building to fit into the downtown scene as if it was built when the other buildings were erected. Many of the buildings have a feel of the 1920’s. In fact almost all of the buildings in the area have been renovated to look the same as the did when they were built.

Fitting the architecture of the new station into the downtown area will not be an easy task. Joliet Illinois has many beautiful buildings. The original station building was designed by Jarvis Hunt and constructed by Adam Groth Company. The structure was erected in 1912. Architect Jarvis Hunt was one of the leaders of the “City Beautiful” movement. Hunt designed many Union Stations across the US as well as the Kansas City Star building.

The original Joliet Union Station was constructed using Bedford limestone and cost $250,000 to build. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places August 1, 1978. During 1989 to 1991 the station was renovated in order to make it ADA compliant.

When complete the new Multimodal building should make travel easier within the city and to surrounding areas such as Chicago. Hopefully, the council will stick to their plan to renew the antique architecture used in the original structure. After all the new Union Station could be the center piece of a city focused on renewing the past.

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20Aug

Tips for Becoming an Architect

It is certainly hard to find a job that fits all of our specific needs. This is not truth only in architecture, but in about any other career. Jobs are normally not what we want, or not what we were looking for exactly. There are always factors like payment and working hours that can make a job not totally pleasant. The best way to actually start as an architect is asking around your area’s architect firms. One of them might need a fresh starter.  Always present yourself as a person with fresh ideas and a lot of talent on what you do. Make sure you have some samples of drawings and your design that really reflect your ideas and personality. Make sure you carry a good amount of copies of your resume with you. Remember that those firms that don’t need architects in the moment might need them later. This way your name will become a little more famous in the industry.

Make sure that you get your degree, and your title very nicely ordered. No company is interested in hiring anyone out of the street just because they can make a couple of nice drawings. Any serious firm will want to test you and make sure you fit all their needs as well as their style. It is certainly hard to enter in one big firm as a fresh starter. This is why it is important to look for the best opportunity, but never reject a little firm that opens its doors. The best way to start is from the bottom. So then you will have the chance to know some bigger architects who, after knowing you, can hire you for their projects.

Remember that little firms are normally a lot nicer to work with than huge companies. This is a reality in almost all careers. In big companies, an employee is nothing more than a number that produces some other numbers in the computer. It is hard to break into offices to talk to your boss and get his or her help in something. However, in small companies, you might be one of the 5 or 10 architects working, which gives you a great chance to get along with your superiors. This is why small companies open their doors to fresh starters. They know that architects that have just graduated are totally willing to do their best and make strong efforts. That’s the kind of people that can work in a small company. Older architects might seem to work a little more calmly and not make such a great effort.

Remember that not all architects firms that need workers will make it public, or place an advertising outside that says “Architects needed”. It is your call to stop by and kindly offer your services to the person in charge. Never leave your information or request in the secretary’s desk. Make sure you try to take it to the highest level superior you can. This way you ensure that the one in charge will get to read your proposal, and maybe think about it. Never let the situation let you down. It is proven that 1 of every 10 firms consider their job proposals. However, they normally save interesting resumes in order to have people for later projects. This is why you will leave a copy of your resume, and some samples of your work. If you are good, and your school is well recognized, it is almost for sure that you will get a job even faster than you think. However, the most important thing to do is move and visit as much firms as possible.

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15Aug

The Tallest Building in the Entire World

It was until January 2010 that the tallest building of all times was completed in Dubai. It is known as the Burj Khalifa, and it is currently one of the most incredible constructions there are. Its peak is strongly standing more than 2,700 feet above ground. That is just about 1000 feet taller than the second tallest building which is the Taipei 101. It is true that this incredible tower almost doubles the last tallest building of the world. This majestic building brings the crown back to the Middle East area for the first time in hundreds of years since the great pyramids.

It’s Structural Design – this unique tower is designed in a three lobed buttress style. This way it is able to combat the forces of the wind which really represent a threat at that height. This is probably one of the biggest concerns that engineers and architects have when building a tall building. The speed and strength with which the wind blows at such distance from the ground is totally stunning. It is designed in a way that it uses about half of Chicago’s Wills Tower floor area, and it measures about twice. This is because the structure is extremely thin and tall, which enhances the overall look of the tower, and also makes it totally efficient when it comes to wind treatment. The building is designed to not be affected by wind, despite where it can come from or its speed. It also gives a great opportunity to have window accesses in the interior layout.

The concrete used to build the Burj Khalifa is not just any common concrete. It is actually one real piece of technology and research. It is made out of silica fume and fly ash. This makes it have almost a liquid’s consistency. This makes itvery easy for builders to get the building standing as it is easier to pump it into the construction. This material also makes the building a lot easier to go-through for the air. This allows the air’s strength to hit the building violently.

Movement of air and Water – the water system inside the tower is truly an art piece. The tower is technically a series of 30-story buildings pilled one above the other. This way it is a lot easier to distribute the water up and down the building without having to build impossibly long tubes. So each 30-story pack has its own water system. More than 250,000 gallons of water flow through the building every day. This is why the system had to be divided.

Vertical Traffic – the Burj Khalifa counts with 57 elevators which are considered to be the fastest of the world. However, they still take about 2 minutes to transport people a distance of 1640 feet. A study proved that walking down the stairs of the entire building from the top to the bottom would take no less than 45 minutes. This proves us the stunning height of the construction.  There are three sets of stairs per floor. They allow the building to be fluently evacuated in the moment of an emergency, differently from other tall buildings that offer 2 sets per floor the most.

It is totally for sure that the Burj Khalifa will stay in the first place for a long time, as it is one third higher than the previous recorder holder. As time will keep passing, we will be able to see how the building will become a lot more famous in every country, not only due to its looks and its great luxury, but also because of the engineering challenge it clearly represents.

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10Aug

The Most Endangered Places of America

Every year, The National Trust for Historic Preservation creates a list of the most endangered places in America. This is done with the objective of making something in order to change these facts. This way we can keep historic places from falling into pieces. We are responsible of keeping every piece of culture there is intact in order to save our history. This 2011’s places include a mountain, a Chinatown, a house from a famous jazz artist and other surprising places. The National Trust never came with such a list before. So it is interesting to know what they have to say about these places.

This year, The Trust also introduced a new concept. This is a “watch list”. What they mean by this is some kind of observation list in which they include those places that seem to be in danger of being endangered. This way it is easier to keep track of places and prevent them from being on the endangered list.

The president of the Trust, Stephanie Meeks, commented that the objective of creating such a list is encouraging people from around these places to take care of their landmarks and historic places. It is also meant to impulse people to look for a solution for the place as well, even if they don’t live near it.  So basically this list’s objective is to make people aware of the places and the important pieces of history that are about to end unless we do something about it.

This Year’s most endangered historic places are:
Bear Butte Meade County, S.D. – This is a very tall mountain measuring more than 4,400 feet tall. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, people tend to call this mountain the Mato Paha. The Trust reports that this mountain is actually a sacred place for about 17 tribes, and this is the main reason why it has to be respected and kept from being destroyed.

John Coltrane House, Dix Hills, NY – This house belonged to John Coltrane. He was one of the most known jazz artists of history. He lived in this house with his family for a long time until he died in 1967. A group in that time took ownership of the place. However, this group is today going through a difficult economical moment and counts with no funds to hold the house.

Isaac Manchester Farm, Avella, Pa. – A 400 acre farm in which eight generations of a family lived is something to really take care of. This is actually considered a time capsule of the whole farming process there was through the years and its evolution. Sadly, it is threaten by cal mining in the area.

Greater Chaco Landscape, N.M. – There is a wide variety of historical, native places in north New Mexico. However, oil and gas exploitation in the area are really representing a strong thread for this exceptional piece of American history in New Mexico.

National Soldiers Home Historic District, Milwaukee, Wis. – this campus has hosted thousands of veteran soldiers. This is why the place is considered a real piece of the bravest soldiers in the United States. This is a place in which thousands of incredible heroes have laid their heads to rest after serving their country. Today, it suffers from deferred maintenance.

China Alley, Hanford, Calif. – Chinese immigrants came to American land, in California, about 130 years ago. They actually plant their roots in the San Joaquin Valley and built themselves what we know today as the china town. These days, people consider this area to be a touristic place, which is almost entirely truth. However, people that work and leave there have caused strong damages in the installations, and the authorities are not moving a finger to stop so.

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05Aug

The New Concept of Interior Designing

Almost every one of us had some kind of fantasy about how our room could look like when we were children. People normally go through this mental process which is actually a result from our natural instinct of looking for an ideal and safe place to live in. This is exactly what makes us feel attracted to certain interiors. Even though we all have different likes when it comes to interior designing, we are all sure about what we like.

About a hundred years ago the concept of interiors was very rigid, and let’s says it was not possible to change what people considered right and what people considered wrong. Now, of course, some people really liked the style of expensive interiors in that time. However, a big majority of the people was not very attracted to it. The thing is that every one of us has a different set of likes when it comes to colors, shapes and textures in an interior. These likes are somehow built during the childhood with things we see, play with and understand. Due to this, in that time, people had different feelings about interior beauty as well.

However, it was not something they could actually bring to reality and build easily. This was due to the very small amount of materials, technology and knowledge there was then. It is important to mention the extremely shocking advance that designing has had in the last 100 years. It is amazing how we came from building nothing but weak houses, to hundreds of stories in a single building in less than 100 years.

The point I want to reach with this is that amazingly there has been a noticeable change in our way of thinking as well. Today, we can simply build our interiors as we wish. It is possible to materialize almost any design we have found or made. This brings us the possibility to create a huge gamma of different interior personalities. This has brought interior designers to understand the new need of people when it comes to enhancing their houses’ interiors. Personality is what people are looking for today. I am sure that if you get to think about how you would like your interior to look like you would come up with some kind of reflection of your personality. Knowing this is a great tool whenever it is about designing are interior or having your interior designer by somebody else. This will help you know where your likes come from, and then create what you want according to them.

This is the real concept of interior designing today. It is no longer about symmetry and order. Designers now look for the way to match personalities with their designs. This way they assure that clients and all other people will be satisfied with the results as they are very close to their likes and personalities.

Modern designing overall is no longer a matter of rules or ordered patterns as it was before. Some time ago, it was order and perfection what people looked for, and they were kind of forced to like things this way. However as time has passed people have come to become more free in this aspect, and everyone seemed to start creating their own concept and their own perfection, especially when it came to their houses’ interior as it was the place where they spent most of their time. Today, it is all about personality and designing the place where people feel extremely safe, comfortable and happy.

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30Jul

The Crystal Cathedral

Have you ever heard of the crystal cathedral? Have you ever seen images of this architectural masterpiece? It is really something to check out and admire.

The Crystal CathedralThe crystal cathedral is settled in Garden Grove, Orange County, California. It was Dr. Robert H. Schuller and his wife Arvella. They built their church in a piece of land that was known until then as “Garden Grove’s Community Church”. The sanctuary building was designed by the very well known architect Philip Johnson.  It was built using 10,000 rectangular glass panels. This is one of the most beautiful and impressing cathedrals in the entire world. One of the many things that characterize this cathedral is its 280 tubes organ which was built by Fratelli Ruffatti. This organ still works and is still played in the church. People describe the sound to be unique and almost heaven sent. Of course, this organ is today invaluable.

As a curious fact, we can mention that the crystal cathedral and its pastor, reverend Robert H. Schuller, were represented in one episode of the Simpsons, in its ninth season. The famous Homer Simpsons is pushed naked through the glass roof of the church while the reverend is actually preaching. This gives us a notion of the fame level that this church has.  It has also been the object of many programs in channels like Discovery Channel, History Channel and others.

What most people don’t really know is that this piece of art is actually the result of a one-man idea. For many years, reverend Schuller dreamed about building a majestic cathedral out of Crystal Cathedralglass only. Everyone kept saying that this was totally impossible. That the idea of building a glass church was highly dangerous due to earthquakes and other natural disasters, especially because California normally suffers various earthquakes. These were actually facts. A glass building would certainly fall with a minimal earth shaking, of course, with the technology of that time. However, the reverend had a characteristic that most people don’t have. This sparkle that makes an idea materializes into a piece of art. He had a goal. He looked for years for a person that would take a leap of faith and say “yes” to his proposal. But he never did.

Of course, now we can see what the reverend was looking for. If he wouldn’t insist so much, and loved his goal, the greatest cathedral of all times wouldn’t exist.

CrystalThis proves a fact that has become a lot more noticeable year per year. The possibility of creating impossible constructions is increasing a lot more every year. 50 years ago, when the reverend was trying to build the awesome cathedral, it was impossible to eve think about a glass building. Today, we can see glass buildings all over cities and shinny constructions that would’ve been considered impossible years ago. Why has science been so up ahead during the last years? The truth is that humanity has no idea of why technology has evolved so much in the last century. Of course, architecture showed great advances mostly during the last fifty years. Now the crystal cathedral is a revolutionary building considered as one of the possible wonders of the world. The majestic look and feeling in the place really makes it a heavenly place. Today, having a goal and bringing it to reality is a lot more possible than before.  This fact should push designers, and people building their houses to explode their ideas and making unique pieces of art. Now, we are on the possibility of creating almost anything we can imagine. Architecture becomes a lot wider every day.

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