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An Example of Green Renovation, the Brownstone

Vanessa Rae, excellent host of the Pulse Videocast, takes us through this video of green builder Blake Holden as he turns a dilapidated Brooklyn brownstone into a vintage green home. While reclaimed wood and materials preserve the look and feel of a classic brownstone, energy–saving features like blue jeans insulation and radiant heating minimize the home’s carbon footprint. Natural building materials prevent toxic indoor air pollution.

Eco-Centric Design Planned for Luxury Chinese Island

Sanya Resort

Sanya is a tropical oasis located on the Southern peninsula of Hainan Island.  A Chinese developer, Tiafeng, has teamed up with Kevin Kennon Architect to design a healthy, luxurious development for Sanya.  Check out some of the eye candy renderings below the fold…this is going to be a nice resort.  Matter of fact, I feel healthier just imagining myself there.  Slated to open in mid-2008, Sanya will include 350-room, 5-star Shangri-La Hotel, an 18-story apartment building, and a fluid, ribbon-like complex of 23 apartment and condo buildings.  All the structures will have roof gardens.  KKA specifically designed the development with privacy in mind, but opened up the architecture to the surrounding green space.  The buildings are meant to flow and blend into the environment, as opposed to standing out in contrast to the natural surroundings.  I can’t wait to see more specifics on this project.  Via

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Rafael Viñoly Walkie-Talkie Tower Gains Approval (S2)

Walkie Talkie Tower

Soon, London is going to welcome another interesting object to the city’s skyline.  If you’re familiar with 30 St Mary Axe, you know what I’m talking about.  Now, developer Land Securities will get the opportunity to construct a new, 37-story, Rafael Viñoly-designed building that commentators affectionately call the "Walkie-Talkie" Tower.  City councillors were split on whether to approve the scheme, but ultimately it received a 12-8 vote for approval.  Some councillors were worried about its location and the asymmetrical impact to London’s skyline.  Another councillor said the building design is "striking, remarkable and [an] exciting standalone building."  To be located at 20 Fenchurch Street, Land Securities thinks the building is necessary to meet the market’s demand for efficient large floor plates. 

Like most towers being designed these days, this one will also include sustainable design.  One notable green feature is the roof garden and park.  The sky garden will be open to the public on the weekends, making it the highest accessible park in London.  Also, there will be a cafe and restaurant on the park level.  Via BD Online

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ELEMENT Hotel, Details of Starwood's Green Extended-Stay Hotel Brand

ELEMENT Hotel

I’m pleased to share some information and renderings on ELEMENT, Starwood Hotels & Resorts new extended-stay hotel brand set to open in 2008.  The idea behind ELEMENT is to make smart choices intuitive and support the lifestyles of guests while they are away from home.  ELEMENT Hotels performed research on guest behavior, which revealed that socially conscious hotel guests are more likely to leave their good habits at home when traveling.  That’s because, depending on the hotel, it may be difficult to recycle, conserve water, or maintain a lower impact lifestyle.  ELEMENT Hotels aims to change that.  Key smart design features of this green hotel include the following:

  • Shampoo/conditioner dispensers will eliminate multiple mini-bottles;
  • Low-flow sink faucets and dual flush toilets will lead to an estimated conservation of 4,358.6 gallons of water per room each year;
  • Eco-friendly materials will be used throughout, including recycled content carpets;
  • Low-VOC paints for improved indoor air quality for guests and staff;
  • CFL light bulbs will be used throughout the building to reduce energy consumption; and
  • Biophilic design that maximizes natural light and sightlines to the outdoors will help connect occupants to their natural surroundings. 

Feel free to click on over to this PDF brochure to read more about the ELEMENT Hotel and what it will look like.  The hotel design is pretty incredible, as you will see from the images below the fold. 

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The Business of Modern Prefab, a Rocio Romero Perspective

LVL Home

Rocio Romero is a 35-year-old designer, manufacturer, and entrepreneur.  She’s well known for her minimalist, modern LV Home.  Do you know the history behind Rocio Romero?  Christy Marshall authored an excellent article on her and her growing business in modern prefab.  Romero is a graduate of University of California-Berkeley and Southern California Institute of Architecture (aka SCI-Arc).  One of her first designs was a summer house for her parents in Laguna Verde outside of Santiago, Chile.  That home was modified slightly and has become the LV Home that we see popping up all over the country.  As for pricing, here’s what you can expect:

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Are Starchitects Resistant to Environmentalism + Humanitarianism?

LA Times

There’s an opinion piece by Christopher Hawthorne in the LA Times about the potential absence of star architects, lazily referred to as ‘starchitects’, from the realm of humanitarian architecture.  When I say humanitarian architecture, I’m referring to such causes as environmentalism, poverty, or illness, etc.  Hawthorne laments the lack of a green Rem Koolhaus, smacking on about Peter Eisenman as the villain of green and Zaha Hadid as careless of anything other than her legacy.  To quote:

But it also means that the leaders of this new movement, who tend to be rather bland as media personalities, are overshadowed by older architects and designers far less interested in sustainability or fighting poverty — and far more experienced at attracting attention and wielding celebrity. In the last 20 years, the most appealing figures in the profession have cultivated a decidedly apolitical, even defiantly cynical outlook…

Among the green generation, who is heading up the charge? Well, nobody, really. This may be the first movement in architectural history whose followers are more famous than its leaders. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom are well-known fans of green design. Among green designers, on the other hand, we have the ambitiously principled (read: sorta vanilla) Cameron Sinclair, who leads Architecture for Humanity; the great, greatly mustachioed and soft-spoken Shigeru Ban; and William McDonough, who is beginning to project an Andy Rooney vibe.

Now, for my own thoughts…I’m not an architect, so I’ll let the pros chime in, but I will speak to the issue from the perspective of a developer or business owner that retains an architect for a project.  First, isn’t the person paying the commission the one fueling the star architect ego, egos that brazenly design with no thought for the world that the structure will occupy?  Doesn’t money dictate direction?  If I want a green building, and it’s my money, I’ll find the right person for the job.  Don’t these people have a grand stage because it’s been given to them?  Second, it seems like the leaders of the green movement aren’t singular figures, but they’re large firms such as SOM, Foster + Partners, FXFOWLE Architects, and Murphy/Jahn Architects.  It seems like it takes a village to raise a humanitarian building, not an individual. 

But, is this a contradiction with the architectural archetype in Howard Roark.  Are these starchitects just modern day Roarks?  But wouldn’t Roark try to use new materials and methods like green building + low-income architecture, etc.?  Matter of fact, as I recall, Roark did build a low-income project.  Tell me what you think…



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