3six0 participates in the Met School mentoring program

Over the past two years 3six0 Architecture has been participating in the mentor program of Providence’s Met school. The Met School, short for Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, is a state-funded school district that serves 690 high school students. The school was created under the direction of Doctors Dennis Littky and Elliot Washor who were given the opportunity by the state of RI to create a “school of the 21st century” that would involve “hands and minds.” The Met is divided into six smaller schools, with four of them sharing a campus on Providence’s South Side. The schools are intentionally kept small at 120 students and the curriculum focuses on “Authentic Experiences”:

“Education research tells us schools need to be smaller, with more parent involvement and more personalized curricula. Brain Research shows people learn by making sense of information, by connecting things, and learning by real context. Learning theory asserts the value of hands-on experiences. Development psychology says kids are fragile and must be nurtured by adult mentors to thrive. Gang research tells young people need to feel a part of a culture, something larger than themselves. The Met incorporated all of these notions and opened its doors in the fall of 1996 with 50 freshman in the Shepherd Building in downtown Providence.”
The Met School

Alejandra Vidal, Met school junior, interned at our office this past January to June. Brandee Lapisky, her Met advisor, introduced Alejandra to us when she expressed a desire to learn about green architecture practices. Alejandra and I decided to divide her internship into two parts, with the first part focusing on research into passive methods of heating, cooling and shading used in the design of structures to create comfortable environments and reduced dependence on energy. The second portion of the internship would be her own design proposal involving both a real client and a project that would be ultimately constructed.

Jack Ryan and Alejandra Vidal at 3six0 office (center photo)

Jack Ryan and Alejandra Vidal at 3six0 office (center photo)

The mentoring experience has proved to be a rewarding experience for both Alejandra and 3six0.

To learn more about the Met school or about becoming a mentor, visit: http://www.themetschool.org

OUR BLOG HAS MOVED

Our blog hasn’t changed, but we moved it to www.3six0.com/blog where you can view our new website. Thank you!

Material Behavior 1

snc12427According to the placard outside this church in Davos, Switzerland, seven hundred years ago the builders built the steeple true and straight. Soon after the tower was complete it started twisting clockwise. Why did it twist?  Another blogger  jokingly suggested the  Coriolis effect was to blame (think water down a drain and  hurricanes). If that had anything to do with it then all the twisted steeples of Europe  would rotate in the same direction. Apparently not. Theres as much  clockwise rotation as there is counterrclockwise. Another theory is that all these steeples were twisted “by design”, built this way. that’s a tough one to prove, especially since  these steeples have all been rebuilt/restored and the non of their cladding is original.

Apparently the green wood structure as it dryed and shrank , was the culprit behind the rotation of the steeple in Davos, (from the on-site information). Plausible? Without seeing the structure it’s hard to envision.  A pastor in New Jersey speaking of his own church steeple problems suggested another possibility: after a tremendous  wind storm,  the tower had to be replaced, he said, because it had become twisted. The possibility of external wind forces  contributing to the twist is compelling because it allows for clockwise or counterclockwise results while not discounting the internal force resulting from shrinking timbers. Sunflowers are a good example how twisting might be the result of two simple “forces” one internal and the other external. Sunflower seeds grow at a certain rate according to  genetic instructions (internal forces) As they grow they bump into each other and are forced into a twisting geometry (external forces).

The steeple at  L’Eglise du Grand Marchin, Belgium was one of the 40 or twisted steeples of Europe before it was destroyed in a fire. Despite it’s obvious “flaw”, when it came time to rebuild in the same timber technique, a decision was made to match the “flaw”, to transform it into design. A remarkable moment where material behavior is transformed into architectural “language”, the syntax is now purely synthetic, denoting something it is not : a twist formed through time, material, and force. Perhaps this is more proof that the twisted steeples of Europe were never intended to be so.twist2

clocher05 p42010971 witchshatjgp

Art Fund Pavilion Top 20

Over 600 teams from 52 countries submitted their proposals for a semi-permanent summer pavilion to the recent “Art Fund Pavilion” competition in London. 3six0 finished in the top 20. The competition called for the design of a pavilion that can be transported and stored, with practical considerations for disassembly and reassembly (i.e. stackable components, modularity, longevity). The presentation boards were required to illustrate three intended scenarios: pavilion as formal presentation space, as exhibition space, and as informal gathering space. You can read the full competition brief here: Tent London.

Board 1
board 2
board 3
board 4

“The pavilion design is created from both a conceptual approach and a constructional logic that share the same generative order of three intertwined bands. The bands coil in space to create three helical formations. There formations are limited in width to 300mm and are segmented into lengths no longer than 2400mm to meet manufacturing and handling requirements. The three bands are assembled into an intertwined configuration to create the pavilion volume in which individual bands spatially and structurally strengthen each other.

The seams between the bands are celebrated for their architectural potential. Bands, individually or collectively, reach into the interior of the volume creating glazed openings, skylights and horizontal display surfaces. Small gaps between the bands of panels house linear strip lighting, track fixtures and electrical power strips. The plywood panel construction is left exposed on the interior of the pavilion and finished with a clear coating.

The exterior of the pavilion is clad in metal sheets that match the seaming of the plywood panels. All metal panels lap subsequent panels in such a way that the pavilion is still able to be disassembled. Openings between the bands are glazed while the West and East ends of the pavilion are left open to the courtyard and protected by the overhanging roof panels above.” -3six0 entry text

Local artists ‘deconstruct’ loft

Allison Paschke, a local artist, is awaiting the start of construction of a 3six0 designed residence (see model of wall design below) at her loft in the Jewelery District in Providence.

Jewelery District Loft Wall

Jewelery District Loft Wall

But, she’s not waiting idly.  She has organized and curated an exhibition of nineteen artists (see the exhibition images) that aptly explores the themes of architecture and ‘deconstruction’.  In anticipation of the demolition required for the renovation, the artists were given free license to paint, nail, drill and even tear open walls.  The result is widely varied and immensely engaging.  There are colorful murals, mysterious miniature constructions, and entrancing translucent glass panels that enliven the space with color and curiosity.  Walls peal back to create new paths through the space.  There’s several installations that seem to grow on the walls:  a sticky wallpaper that has become fuzzy from collected dust, elegant little paper shelves that have colonized a wall, and an pixelated topography that floats a few inches off the wall and casts shadows.

Together it gives the visitor the sensation that they have stumbled into an abandoned space where the curious has replaced the quotidian.  As if, while nobody was watching the space was colonized by creative little creatures of re-invention.  In that sense, it is easy to imagine this installation expanding to other abandoned, foreclosed or otherwise unoccupied spaces in the city.   It may just be the little bit of magic that is needed to enliven spaces at the edge of oblivion.

The show is open from 12-5pm until Sunday April 12, 2009.

Kyna Leski and Chris Bardt in Design New England Magazine

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Principals at 3six0, Kyna Leski and Chris Bardt, were recently selected by Design New England Magazine to choose furniture, accessories, and color palettes that reflect the essence of Providence, RI:

“Providence is a small seaport city that has concentrations of formative culture. Institutions like RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), Brown University, and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble feed a sophisticated audience. Our sources of inspiration can be found in the historic Benefit Street houses, Narragansett Bay, and the ‘grit’ that survives from the industrial era.”

For a color palette, 3six0 selected a silver-leaf wallpaper from Starck and Benjamin Moore wall paint #715 “In Your Eyes” blue. Furniture selections include the Cloud Chair by 3six0 and the Farah walnut sideboard by E15.  For accessories, 3six0 chose a toilet-paper holder by M. Zito for Agape Design, a leather zip-rug by Jim Zivic, and the Potence wall-mount light by Jean Prouve for Vitra.

Additional choices, which were not published, include:

1. Wishbone Chair by Carl Hansen & Son 2. Bocci flush-mount electrical outlets  3. Function Tiles by Droog Design 4. Loom Chair by Matteo Grassi

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Shanghai

To understand recent transformations in Shanghai it is critical to understand the short history of the city. Here is a brief summary:

History of Shanghai

Prior to the 1842 Treaty of Nanking ending the first Opium War, Shanghai was a rural fishing village along the Huangpu River. As part of the treaty concessions, Shanghai along with the four other coastal cities of Xiamen, Fuzhou, Ningbo and Guangzhou were selected by the British to become treaty ports. The British and Americans were quick to develop the fishing village of Shanghai into the “Paris of the East”. Exempt from all local laws the foreigners were able to create a city in a western style. By the 1900’s the international image of Shanghai’s financial success became The Bund – the waterfront boulevard along the west bank of the Huangpu River. The hotels, banks and trade houses along the Bund were designed by foreign architects and in the neoclassical style popular at the time in Europe and the United States. To the Chinese populace The Bund also became a symbol of foreign dominance.

The Bund 2009

The Bund 2009

The Chinese began developing various plans to reclaim the symbolic heart of Shanghai as far back as Sun Yat-sen’s initial plan of 1919. Many plans have involved the undeveloped east bank of the Huangpu River, known as Pudong (Pu referring to the Huangpu river and Dong meaning east in Chinese), but these plans for Pudong were considered too ambitious and the focus remained on Puxi, the area of the existent city. Attempts to create new civic centers Puxi all ended with results less than hoped for and these new developments were unable to unseat The Bund as Shanghai’s symbolic center.

In the mid 1980’s China as a nation began to open itself up to foreign investment with the Open Door Policy. The opening of the nation to foreign investment followed the three decades of isolationist policy under the leadership of Mao Zedong. Eyes turned again to Pudong and in 1990 this area of farmland and villages was named a Special Economic Zone (S.E.Z.) by the Chinese Government. China now had its chance to redefine the global image of Shanghai.

View of Pudong in 1990. The Bund in foreground.

View of Pudong in 1990. The Bund in foreground.

Pudong was divided into several development areas with Lujiazui, the area directly across the river from the Bund, designated as the new financial hub of China. A team of French urban planners hired as consultants suggested three closely placed signature towers surrounded by many secondary high rise buildings would be a winning formula for developing a memorable skyline. Since one of the major ambitions of the Pudong development was to create a new symbolic image of Shanghai, this plan had great promise to city officials.

Pudong viewed from The Bund 2009

Pudong viewed from The Bund 2009

Visiting Shanghai I found it hard to perceive the scale of the recent development and growth of the city. Everywhere I traveled there seemed to be buildings under construction, new overhead highways and recently completed bridges across the Huangpu, but I was only seeing portions of what was happening. Even from the top of the World Financial Center the scope of the city’s growth was obscured by overcast skies.

View of Puxi from World Financial Center

View of Puxi from World Financial Center

Finally when visiting the Shanghai Planning Museum and seeing the city model I understood the scale of the transformation. I was overwhelmed by both a sense of excitement and fear. Excited by the transformations and everything new in the city and a fearful that the city is growing too quickly and perhaps blindly.

Shanghai Planning Museum

Shanghai Planning Museum

Thomas J. Campanella , “The Concrete Dragon” (New York, Princeton Architectural Press, 2008) was referenced in writing the above entry on the history of Shanghai.

RISDspeaks: a place for urgent messages

risdspeaks

For those of you familiar with John Maeda, you may know that since he became president of the Rhode Island School of Design last June, he has been upping RISD’s profile and expanding its presence both offline and online. As an outside observer (I go to school up the hill), I can’t help but envy RISD’s tech renaissance and wish that my school would follow suite. The school’s latest project involves Posterous.com and RISD’s brilliant faculty. The new blog was started by Daniel Pelz with Maeda’s encouragement, and 3six0‘s very own Kyna Leski is among the first contributors. Continue to check back to RISDspeaks for more insights on design and the world.

RISD Faculty Biennial

The RISD Faculty Biennial just opened at the Chace Center last week and 3six0 has several pieces on display.

Model of Stix restaurant in Boston

Model of Stix restaurant in Boston

Model of chapel at Shephard of the Valley Church

Model of chapel at Shephard of the Valley Church

In addition to full time faculty members, Kyna Leski and Chris Bardt, all four part-time faculty members in the office, Aaron Brode, Olga Mesa, Jack Ryan and Manuel Cordero, each submitted office work for inclusion.  Go check it out…it’s on display until March 15, 2009.

How Can Architects Help Our Communities?

On December 17, 2008, the AIA New York launched its Not Business as Usual initiative in an effort to unite the architecture and design community around issues relating to the current economic crisis: a slowdown in new projects, downsizing of firms, current projects put on hold, a lack of positions available to recent graduates. An “Opportunities Fair” to be held on February 25 will bring together representatives from community organizations, non-profits, schools, and training programs to share information about volunteer opportunities, continuing education, and other opportunities. This made me think, how can architects and architecture firms contribute to our communities during this economic crisis? Certainly we can offer our professional services pro bono, but we can also offer non-professional skills that would still greatly contribute. Might we volunteer at a food bank or repair a rundown school? Could we clean up our parks or run for the cure? Could we get inventive and create volunteer opportunities that might also draw on our skills as designers and experts of materials?

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