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Hill House – Andrew Maynard Architects

Design is complex. There is little that is more complex to design than a home, however fundamental issues offer an architect a starting point; where is the sun? How do we capture it in winter, how do we exclude it in summer?

The thin allotments that dominate Melbourne’s northern suburbs often provide indomitable constraints to solar access and therefore require the production of unorthodox ideas to overcome these constraints and convert them into opportunities.

The site faces north therefore relegating the backyard, the family’s primary outdoor space, to shadow throughout the year. In the 90s a two storey extension was added reducing solar access even further while creating deep dark space within the house. A family of five wished to create a long-term home, which could meet the requirements of three small children and their slow transformation into young adults over the years.

Rather than repeating past mistakes and extending from the rear in a new configuration, the proposal was to build a new structure on the rear boundary, the southern edge of the block, upon the footprint of what had been, until now, the back yard. The new structure faces the sun, the pure cantilevered box above acts as the passive solar eave, cutting out summer sun, while letting winter sun flood in.

Following the decision to build at the rear of the block a ubiquitous modern box was first imagined. Soon it seemed necessary to pursue the opportunity to activate this new, once shaded, now sunny facade. A seat along the new northern facade? Perhaps a series of steps like the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti? But how does one lounge in the sun on steps. Perhaps a slope instead …. And the hill house evolved/emerged.

The new structure faces the original house. The backyard is now the centre of the house activated by the built form around it. Beyond solar gain, the benefit of the new structure being in the backyard is that it borrows landscaping from its neighbours’ gardens. The high windows about the entertainment cabinetry and the dining area are enveloped in trees. Internally one gets the sense that Hill House is enveloped by bush rather than part of the suburban mix.

Along one boundary a 2m high fence was created, but unlike most houses the Hill House has a one metre wide fence; a corridor lowered into the site to achieve head height. This in turn creates a lowered dining area. One rises into the living space. The change in floor level creates a bench seat for the Maynard designed ZERO WASTE TABLE.

Front Street no longer provides the main entry to the home. Family now enters via the side lane. The original house, now private dormitory spaces, no longer has a typical relationship to the N#@$%k street’s “front” door. The original house, as with most narrow blocks throughout Melbourne, demanded that visitors walked a long corridor past bedrooms to the living area. Stolen quick glances into dark private spaces always occurred along the journey. At the Hill House the entry is reorientated. The kitchen, the nerve centre, the hub of the house, is the new greeting point. Beyond is the park. Adjacent is the living space, the yard and the “kids’ house” beyond.

The old house is converted into “the kids’ house”. The old house is as it once was. The rear of the simple masonry structure, though spatially connected, is not reoriented, a face is deliberately not applied. It is left honest and robust. With a restrained piece of “street art” to be applied.

Andrew Maynard Architects was established in 2002 following Andrew’s receipt of the grand prize in the Asia Pacific Design Awards for his Design Pod. The core principles in the establishment of AMA was a balance between built projects and broad polemical design studies. This is demonstrated in AMA’s highly crafted built work and socio-politically based concepts both of which have been widely published and have garnered global recognition.

Andrew Maynard Architects explores architecture of enthusiasm – AMA treats each project as a unique challenge, offering unique possibilities and prides itself in experimentation. All of AMA’s designs are concept rich, left of centre and sustainability conscious; styles and singular themes are avoided. AMA specializes in ideas rather than building type, whether the project be a house in Fitzroy, a library in Japan, a protest shelter in Tasmania, a plywood bicycle or a suburb eating robot. Andrew Maynard Architects continues to be published in many prestigious international journals such as Mark Magazine [Amsterdam], Architectural Record [US], Architectural Review [London], Monument. Houses A + T [Spain], Architecture Australia, Wallpaper [London] and Pol Oxygen. AMA’s conceptual and built work has been exhibited in New York, Budapest, Melbourne, Sydney, Osaka, Milan, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and more.

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“Tech” of the town – Cornell’s Roosevelt Island Campus Plan Unveiled in NYC

ISLE STYLE: An Escher-esque visualization of Cornell University’s bold new plan for a high-tech engineering campus on Roosevelt Island.

Proclaiming it a “defining moment” that will revolutionize the city’s economy, Mayor Bloomberg yesterday offered a first look at Cornell University’s gleaming-new graduate school for applied sciences that will be built on Roosevelt Island.

“It will transform our economy,” the mayor declared at a press conference just 72 hours after Stanford University stunned City Hall by announcing it was dropping out of the yearlong competition to attract a premier engineering school that will serve as one of his administration’s enduring legacies.

Bloomberg described the proposal submitted by Cornell and its partner, Israel’s Technion, as “far and away the boldest and most ambitious.”

“Their proposal called for the most students, about 2,000 a year, the most faculty, about 300, and the most building space, over 2 million square feet,” he said.

Cornell announced last week that it had received a $350 million gift, the largest in its history, from an anonymous donor for the project.

That deep-pocketed donor was revealed yesterday as Charles Feeney, a Cornell alum who made billions as the founder of the Duty Free Stores.

Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corp., estimated that the number of engineering graduates here will increase by 85 percent once the campus is fully functional in 2037. Operations are scheduled to begin in leased space in September.

In addition to classrooms, labs and dorms, the $2 billion campus will includes “incubator space” for start-up companies and what was described as “spinout space” for commercial applications of research-and-development projects.

Cornell is also immediately establishing a $150 million fund for new tech ventures that agree to stay in the city for at least three years.

“History will write this was a game-changing time in New York City,” the mayor said at Cornell’s Upper East Side medical school.

Officials predicted that Cornell would eventually help generate 30,000 high-tech positions along with 20,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs at the school.

The 11-acre school is to be built on land now occupied by Goldwater Hospital, whose patients are to be moved to the former North General Hospital Harlem.


Cornell-Technion’s proposed graduate school for applied sciences

* Location: 11 acres on Roosevelt Island now occupied by Goldwater Hospital

* Total square feet: 2 million

* Completion date: 2037

* Permanent jobs: 8,000

* Temporary construction jobs: 20,000

* Jobs created from high-tech spinoffs, licenses and corporate growth: 30,000

SOURCE: NYC Mayor’s Office

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Aspen, CO – Local architectural firms start to rebuild their staffs

Uptick in business has them cautiously optimistic about a rebound

Some of the larger architectural firms in Aspen and Basalt have hired additional employees this spring after cutting up to half of their staffs during the recession.

Poss Architecture and Planning, Harry Teague Architects, Cottle Carr Yaw Architects and Design Workshop’s Aspen branch have each hired three or four workers in recent weeks. Partners in each firm said business is up this spring and they are bringing on additional workers to help with projects on the books.

“This year is just different from last year in a positive way,” said John Cottle, a partner with Cottle Carr Yaw Architects.

However, the owners of each of the firms said they remain very cautious about the business outlook because there is so much uncertainty beyond the next year or so. Bill Poss said 2007 and 2008 were the best years in his firm’s 35-year history. He doesn’t expect business to return to that level in some time. On the other hand, any uptick in business over 2010 is welcomed.

“Last year was pretty bad,” he said.

Architectural firms are somewhat like a canary in the coal mine for the construction industry. Projects they work on translate into work for contractors and subcontractors six months or so later. Poss said he is constantly being quizzed by friends in the construction world who want to know if his business is picking up.

The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. His firm is working on a large hotel in North Carolina that had been temporarily placed on hold when the recession hit. It is an encouraging sign that the owners have felt the economy has recovered enough that they are moving ahead with the design, Poss said. “That’s about a 12-month deal” for his firm, he said.

Poss is getting more calls this year than last year from property owners in the Roaring Fork Valley who are considering building homes. While the interest is encouraging, he noted that “nobody’s pulled the trigger, so to speak.”

Consumers of architectural services, like consumers of all types, are shopping for the best prices. His firm has reduced its prices, which required it to cut costs. That meant laying off employees after the recession struck, and cutting salaries for the remaining staff.

Poss said he and his partners recently hired three more drafting people and interns and are considering hiring a fourth person. Even so, the firm isn’t anywhere close to where it was three years ago in terms of the staff count when it employed 56 people. That fell to about 22 at the lowest point and is now creeping back toward 30 workers, he said.

Poss said business has always been cyclical. He has experienced a downturn every five to seven years. This downturn was different because it was so severe and long. He said laying off so many employees was unpleasant because it had so many consequences.

“I had to lay off 30 families, not just individuals,” he said.

Harry Teague, another longtime veteran architect in Aspen, said it has been common over the years for the staffs of architectural firms to expand and contract, depending on the firm’s number of projects. Employees who were laid off from one firm could usually find work with another.

“The roller coaster is not particularly unique to this time” he said.

What was different in this cycle is that business dropped off for virtually all firms at once, according to Teague. That was tough because people who were laid off had a tough time finding new jobs with different firms.

Teague said his firm’s work is also picking up this year so he has hired four people, boosting the total to 12. He described the positions he hired for as a mix of architects, project managers and designers as well as interns.

Teague’s firm is working on a project at the Aspen Music School campus on Castle Creek Road, including the replacement of a building that can no longer be used. His firm is also designing a school in Crestone, Colo., a home in Telluride and a home in the Roaring Fork Valley. He is also the architect for a river center proposed by the Roaring Fork Conservancy in Basalt. That project is scheduled to be reviewed by the Basalt Town Council and Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday.

Overall, Teague said, it does feel as though the level of activity is increasing.

Cottle said his firm is staying busy with a combination of local, regional and even international projects, a combination of residential and commercial.

“Aspen is stronger than most of the other places where we work,” he said.

The firm is receiving more calls of inquiry so far this year compared to the last couple of years, he said. Cottle is encouraged because potential clients are exploring a variety of projects and seem serious about moving ahead.

The firm recently added four positions, one permanent and three tied to current projects, Cottle said. It’s too soon to tell if business has truly turned around, so he and his partners will remain cautious with their projections and with their hiring. Cottle said they don’t want to get in a position of hiring workers for permanent positions only to lay them off again. That’s rough on everybody, he said.

Cottle Carr Yaw employed 38 workers from 2000 through the end of 2008 and intentionally didn’t expand beyond that point. They laid off roughly half the staff during the lean last couple of years and are back to 20 employees with the recent hires.

Kurt Culbertson, chairman of the board for Design Workshop, said the firm hired two entry-level workers and two mid-level experience workers in its Aspen office within the last six months. The position were for landscape architects. They are looking to fill another two positions.

The firm — which also has offices in Denver, Tahoe, Austin, Salt Lake City, and Asheville, N.C. — works on everything from resort planning to residential gardens. The Aspen office is benefiting from an increase in business overseas as well as domestically and in the Roaring Fork Valley, according to Culbertson. He said some potential clients are even looking into real estate development, which has been on hold for the last couple of years.

Culbertson said the Aspen office of Design Workshop reduced its staff by about half after the recession.

“It hasn’t been fine times,” he said.

He’s been with the firm through five recessions, this one being the worst. The name of the game is living to fight another day.

“You can’t hire people back if you’re not in business,” Culbertson said.

Via The Aspen Times

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Instant View: July housing starts rise less than expected

NEW YORK | Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:06am EDT

(Reuters) – U.S. housing starts rose but to a much weaker rate than expected in July, while permits for future home construction fell to their lowest level in more than a year, according to a government report on Tuesday that pointed to a weak housing market.

U.S. producer prices rose in July for the first time in four months, pulled by higher prices for food and consumer goods, a U.S. government report showed on Tuesday.


HOUSING STARTS: * The Commerce Department said housing starts rose 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 units. * June’s housing starts were revised to show an 8.7 percent fall, which was previously reported as a 5 percent drop. * Analysts polled by Reuters had expected housing starts to rise to 560,000 units. * Compared to July last year, groundbreaking activity was down 7 percent. * New building permits, which give a sense of future home construction, dropped 3.1 percent to a 565,000-unit pace last month, the lowest level since May 2009. * That followed a 1.6 percent rise in June and compared to analysts’ forecasts for a slip to 580,000 units.

PRODUCER PRICE INDEX: * The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted index for prices paid at the farm and factory gate rose 0.2 percent, in line with Wall Street analyst expectations, after dipping 0.5 percent in June. * In the 12 months to July, producer prices increased 4.2 percent after rising 2.8 percent in May. * The year-on-year increase was also in line with forecasts.



“The market’s looking for some inflation and we got some on both the core and overall (PPI), which should ease some deflation fears.

“But on the other side of the coin, we had the housing starts data which got a bounce from the prior month, which was expected, but the bounce was a little softer than we thought.

“We’re still getting data post-housing credit that is still weak and not indicative of a market that can sustain itself.

“That ties into a lot of other data recently that has the market worried about a double dip. We still think it’s slow growth rather than a double dip, but each week that passes you tend to get a little more concerned if you don’t get better activity indicators.”


“It’s a mixed set of data, with a disappointing reading on housing starts and building permits and a slightly stronger PPI report. Actually, at this point some signs of inflation would be soothing to markets amid fears of deflation. But ongoing problems with the housing markets are so great that it will likely offset any positive effect from an increase in prices.” “Forex markets are just taking a breather after the violent swings of last week in euro/dollar and dollar/yen. Traders are still looking for a catalyst to take the dollar in one direction or the other.”


“This is more of a payback from the end of the tax credit. It is not that surprising given the NAHB numbers that were out yesterday which showed really abysmal buyer traffic and expectations for future sales are about as low as they were back before the tax credit was even passed.

 “We had the previous month’s number revised down a little, and we had a nice pop in multi-family, which people kind of forget about because it is so low right now, without that the drop would have been worse.”


“Both these indicators are languishing. It’s nothing new to see the housing market stuck in a rut. On PPI, the core inflation is up a little more than expected year-over-year, which might cause some moderation in U.S. yields. That would help the dollar recover a bit against the yen. But the sentiment out there is there are still problems to come, and with the 10-year yield at 2.60 percent, there’s absolutely no reason for the dollar to rally against the yen right now. We expect another run at 85 yen and then a move to the 84.70-80 area.”


“The slow growth will continue. It perfectly reflects the mood we are in with the under-utilization. We are barely moving forward.”

MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures pare gains after housing, PPI data. BONDS: U.S. Treasury debt prices hold losses. DOLLAR: U.S. dollar remains lower versus euro.

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NYC Council Approves New Domino Project

The landmarked Domino Refinery complex will be preserved and adapted for residential, commercial, and cultural uses, including 30- and 34-story apartment buildings. Rafael Viñoly Architects developed the overall master plan as well as the conceptual design for all new buildings on the site; Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners developed architectural concepts for the refinery; and Quennell Rothschild and Partners developed the landscape design. The master plan will transform the industrial complex into a modular, mixed-use, and multi-income residential development that emphasizes open space and public access to the river while preserving the refinery and its famed 40-foot-tall Domino Sugar sign. The project will create approximately 2,200 residential units, 660 of which will be affordable. The more than 223,500 square feet of retail will include a grocery store that will adhere to FRESH zoning standards in addition to approximately 143,000 square feet of community facility space. A nearly one-acre open lawn will anchor a new public waterfront esplanade.

Read more posts from the NYC AIA via eOCULUS here.

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Island House by IROJE KHM Architects

From the Karmatrendz Blog

Floating site on the river

This site, where is floating on river and confronted the graceful landscape, was strongly recognized to me as a part of nature, from the first time that I met. From then, I started to visualize “the architectural nature” as a place of recreation. Form of site = Form of architecture = Maximum efficiency of landuse. While maximizing the efficiency of landuse, the leaner concrete mass, that cherishes the courtyard where is filled with the water and the greenery, was laid out on this site along the irregular formed site line. This courtyard is “The architectural nature” and a central recreation space as extended river that communicate the river and architecture. Continuous circulation of stepped roof garden – Creation of new green land in this site The whole part of the step typed roofs, where is moving upward with various level, are directly linked to the bed rooms in upper floor. Finally, this stepped roof gardens are linked to both sides of the inner court at where swimming pool is. The inner court where is filled with the water and flower and fruit, and the whole of the roof gardens are circulated as the continuous landscape place and that is the place as “architectural nature” in concept. Sucking in dynamic-surrounding landscape Naturally, all of the rooms inside this site-shaped-mass are laid toward the picturesque landscape to enjoy the graceful scenery surrounded this site. The huge panoramic view framed with sloped ceiling line that is composed with the lines of stepped roof gardens and the bottom line of the inner court, is the major impression of inner space of this house. Promenade inner space of skipfloor made the promenade roofgarden-space of skipfloor. Skip floor plan of inside of this house produced various dramatic spaces. Floating boxes with bamboo garden – Dynamic, unrealistic sequence of interior space. As “The architectural nature”, floating white polyhedral masses that have the built-in bamboo gardens, produced the various stories of vertical space Landscape architecture – Harmonizing with the surrounding landscape The shape of the mountain type composed of irregular polygonal shaped concrete mass and metal mesh was designed to harmonize with the context as “the architectural mountain”. There was the intention to be a part of the surrounding context that consisted of the river and the mountain. Architectural Island – Island House As a result, this house was to be “The island house” as an “architectural island”.

More photos and information from the Karmatrendz Blog

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Sunset Cabin in Canada by Taylor Smyth Architects

Like I said yesterday…The residential projects featured on the design and architecture blogs are fantastic and abundant.  Take a look at this cabin designed by Ontario, Canada firm Taylor Smith Architects.  And when your done visit their website for more interesting projects.

The client has a house on the shores of Lake Simcoe in Southern Ontario.  TSA was hired to build a second smaller structure down the hill from the main house to accommodate a more peaceful alternative to the main house as well as another vista for the sunsets.  The 275 square feet one room cabin features a green roof, wood-burning stove, and horizontal cedar slats with openings that let in light.






Awesome cabin right.  I like to envision myself living in the houses (I’m sure you do too) – it motivates me to search for new ones.

Photos via Design Milk

For more projects visit Taylor Smith Architects website.

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